Saturday, April 16, 2005

Amy Goodman in Taos,NM & Las Vegas, NV tomorrow -- heads up

Rachel e-mailed a Democracy Now! e-mail (you can sign up for those at the Democracy Now!) web site and asked if we could note Goodman's upcoming appearences again. Yes, we can, and we can also note that the Un-Embed the Media link on the left of this page will take you to the book tour.

But before we do that, I want to note a paragraph in the e-mail which is usually stated by Amy Goodman in each episode of Democracy Now!:

Democracy Now! airs on over 300 radio and tv stations, including Pacifica and community radio stations, NPR stations, public access tv stations, PBS stations, and on Free Speech TV (DishTV Ch. 9415) and LinkTV (DishTV Ch. 9410, DirecTV Ch. 375), World Radio Network's European Service and on the Community Broacasting Association of Australia service.

A number of members have been fortunate enough to watch Democracy Now! on TV or listen to it on radio. (I watch online.) If you're a member who can receive on TV or radio, judging by your e-mails, you've started utilizing that resource. But if you have those resources but aren't aware of them, I'll take the blame for that because I always stress the Democracy Now! web site here. Charlie, who's unable to hear online (which prevents listening or watching) was very excited to find out that he could hear the broadcast on his radio.

At Democracy Now! (online) you can find maps that will help you find out if Democracy Now! broadcasts in your area (and if you have DishTV, you can pick it up anywhere in North America).

Here are Goodman's upcoming speaking dates beginning with tomorrow:

* Amy Goodman in Taos, NM:
Sun, Apr 17
9 AM
Bataan Hall, Civic Plaza Drive
$5; tickets go on sale at 8:00AM
For more information, call 776-8486 or go to

* Amy Goodman in Las Vegas, NV:
Sun, Apr 17
*The Reading Room
3930 Las Vegas Blvd.
South Suite 201
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Book signing event Free and open to the public

* Amy Goodman in Nashua, NH:
Tues, Apr 19
*TIME: 7:30 PM
Borders Nashua
281 Daniel Webster Highway
Free and open to the public
For more information, call 603-888-9300

* Amy Goodman in Fairfield, CT:
Wed, Apr 20
Sacred Heart University
University Commons
Free and open to the public.
For more information, call 203-371-7755

* Amy Goodman in West Hartford, CT:
Wed, Apr 20
A Public Forum Presented by the West Harford Citizens for Peace & Justice.
Conard high School Auditorium.
110 Beechwood Road
Sponsors include AFSC, PACE, CT Coalition for Peace & Justice, Pax Educare,
Bookworm, and many others TBA.

* Amy Goodman in Los Angeles, CA:
Thurs, Apr 21
*TIME: TBAKPFK benefit with Tariq Ali
More details to be posted soon.

* Amy Goodman in Claremont, CA:
Fri, Apr 22
*TIME: Noon
Humanities Auditorium on the Scripps campus
981 N. Amherst Avenue
This event is free and open to the public
For more information: or 909.607.7025
Sponsored by Scripps College Gender & Women's Studies and Intercollegiate
Media Studies of the Claremont Colleges

* Amy Goodman in Glendale, CA:
Fri, Apr 22
Glendale Community College
Kreider Hall
1500 N. Verdugo Rd.
Glendale, CA 91208
Tickets: $5 suggested donation

* Amy Goodman in Berkeley, CA:
Fri, Apr 22
Florence Schwimley Little Theatre
1920 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA
Tickets are $15.00.
They can be purchased in person at 2239 Martin Luther King Jr Way inBerkeley
or by calling 510-848-2288

* Amy Goodman in San Francisco, CA:
Sat, Apr 23
*TIME: 11 AM
San Francisco New Life Expo
Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th Street at Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tickets available at the door or call 415-382-8300
Saturday General Admission:
Three-Day Weekend Pass:
Students & Seniors (60+) with ID:
$10 per day, at door only
For more information, go to

* Amy Goodman in Ashland, OR:
Sat, Apr 23
*TIME: 6:30 PM
Book-signing Benefit
SOU library
Tickets are $35 ($25 for students), including book.
For more information, go to

* Amy Goodman in Ashland, OR:
Sat, Apr 23
*TIME: 7:30 PM
SOU's Britt BallroomTickets are $10 ($5 for students)
For more information, go to

* Amy Goodman in Los Angeles, CA:
Sun, Apr 24
LA Festival of Books
Panel Discussion, Are We Making the World Safe for Democracy?
UCLA Royce Hall
Tickets are free and can be obtained by ticketmaster.
Details can be found at

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The Laura Flanders Show tonight and Folding Star (A Winding Road)

The Laura Flanders Show starts in moments, here's the line up for tonight's show:

Want to fight back and win? We'll talk to people who did just that! PAUL WEST on Rain Forest Action Network's, successful kids-based campaign to pressure banks to stop underwriting global warming. Then EILEEN CLANCY, documentary film maker and member of I-Witness Video, the group whose footage got 90 percent of RNC-related arrests thrown out of court and may even result in criminal charges against the police. Plus LINDA BYRKET, whose video evidence of the Ohio voting debacle, was put into the Congressional Record, by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI. Then, Revolutionary dub poet, LINTON KWESI JOHNSON talks about his new DVD and CD titled, "Live in Paris with The Dennis Bovell Dub Band."

Quick note for A Winding Road and Folding Star's entry Wednesday about the state of the Democratic Party:

At this point in our history, we should all be painfully aware that we do not exist alone in this world, that the actions of our Government have global repercussions. The United States can only continue to play the bully for so long before it finds out that as big and as tough as it may be, when all the other kids on the playground team up against it, it's in trouble.The Bush Administration has made a habit of alienating the rest of the world and the confirmation of Bolton is going to take us one more giant step down that path.
We're facing just under four more years of Bush and Co, and who knows how many more wars they're cooking up. It's quite obvious to most who are paying attention that they have plans for Iran in the very immediate future.
Do we want a bully like Bolton at the UN trying to sell a war to an organization he believes doesn't exist at all, except as the pawn of the United States? Someone who blows a gasket when what he personally believes can't be backed up by intelligence agencies and wants the analyst who dared speak the truth fired?
Thanks to Bush & Co, we've already demonstrated to the rest of the world that we're either a country willing to lie our way into war or, best case scenario, a country that has incredibly faulty intelligence agencies. We need to be rebuilding our credibility now. We need someone with at least a shred of their own personal credibility who believes in what the United Nations stands for, someone who won't rush to embrace questionable intelligence for questionable means.
As I noted yesterday, this all really comes down to Senator Chafee. While he is a moderate Republican, the man seems so far to be bending to party pressure, making noises in tune with his Republican colleagues on the Committee. [. . .]
It would be nice to see Republicans in Congress show more backbone for a change, to see them realize that they're not George W. Bush's personal staff. They're there to provide a CHECK and BALANCE to Bush.
But with the majority of the Republican Party controlled by the far right, it's usually a cold day in hell if we're seeing any real independent leadership in Congress these days from anyone on the Right.
I'm just as fed up with many of the Democrats, by the way, for falling into general party thought rather than thinking for themselves.
Today, I heard Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Leader, proudly note that his party has come to the Hill to Legislate. As an example, he used the fact that they helped pass legislation that had been in the works for decades. He named the Class Action Fairness Act specifically.
You remember that one, right? The Bill that stripped the state courts of the right to rule on class action lawsuits against corporations, and moved them directly to the far more Corporation friendly Federal Courts.
This is something that Senator Reid notes proudly as his party coming to the Hill to Legislate?? This slap in the face to all working class Americans, this giant tongue kiss to Corporate America?So, Reid is really saying that his party has come to the Hill to Legislate for Corporate Interests. But, wait, the Republicans already cornered that market, didn't they? So where does that leave the rest of us?
Where are the true leaders who put what's right above what the party dictates is the thing to do??

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Saturday's New York Times -- Rudith Miller, where are you?

On the front page of the Times, you learn that "Stocks Plunge to Lowest Point Since Election." This continues the reporting that Jonathan Fuerbringer did yesterday in the Business section of the Times (and we noted his article yesterday). From this morning's article:

Stocks tumbled to their lowest levels since the presidential election yesterday, extending a recent slump that has come amid fears that economic growth is slowing.
The sell-off yesterday was ignited by surprisingly weak earnings from
I.B.M., and steepened throughout the day. It was the worst single day for the market this year and capped the worst week since August.


Well I guess I slept through the final vote on Negoponte because on A28, Scott Shane tells me about "how difficult the challenge awaiting John D. Negroponte, the veteran diplomat chosen by Mr. Bush as the first director of national intelligence" is (in "Panel Rebukes C.I.A. and F.B.I. for Shortcomings in October"). Has Negroponte been confirmed?

No, he hasn't, the Senate has yet to vote (he has passed the committee). And whomever is responsible for writing that sentence should have reworked it. Put it into sports, the only thing the Times seems to grasp (well sports analogies anyway), a story this spring that contained a sentence such as "winning eight gold medals at the Olympics will provide all sorts of new challenges for Michael Phelps as he attempts to return to normal life after the Olympics." The predictions belong in the horiscopes. Negroponte's not yet confirmed. Currently, nothing awaits Negroponte other than a vote in the Senate. If confirmed, he will then have things awaiting him.

(I truly hate it when sentences like that make it into the paper because my first thought is always, "Wow, I missed that." Then I raise an eyebrow but assume the writer must know what they're talking about. Then I have to do research. Get the sentences correct from the start and spare readers this hassle.)

From yesterday's Democracy Now!:

Negroponte Confirmed By Senate Committee
Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee has put the man who coordinated the bloody Contra War of the 1980s one step closer to being in charge of US intelligence gathering. John Negroponte was approved yesterday in a closed-door vote, clearing the way for the full Senate to vote on his nomination as the country's first Director of national Intelligence. The Committee also approved Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden as deputy director.

Now let's note Eric Lichtblau's article on page A6, similar problem. Whomever wrote the headline (reporters don't write the headlines) needs a talking to. "Afghan Trips Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate." That is not based on Lichtblau's reporting. "Afghan Allegedly Trips Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate" or "Afghan May Have Tripped Over Rules He Upheld to U.S. Senate" fit the story. Last time I checked, a jury of one's peers was not composed solely of one one headline writer for the Times. Perhaps the headline writer was predicting how the case would turn out? At this point, the man has been charged, he has not been tried and the headline's wording is incorrect.

A5 has Douglas Jehl's "Bolton's Pressure on C.I.A. Analyst Angered Colleagues" which Krista e-mails to call our attention to. From the article:

An attempt in 2002 by John R. Bolton to remove the national intelligence officer for Latin America from his post prompted John E. McLaughlin, the deputy director of central intelligence, to intervene against the request, according to current and former intelligence officials.
Mr. McLaughlin's previously undisclosed role is being reviewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as it considers the nomination of Mr. Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations. In testimony last week, Mr. Bolton acknowledged that he had sought to have the intelligence officer, Fulton T. Armstrong, reassigned.
The incident is one of at least three being reviewed by the committee in which Mr. Bolton sought the removal of subordinates or intelligence officials during his time as an under secretary of state. Senate Democrats who oppose Mr. Bolton's nomination intend to highlight the infighting as an indication that Mr. Bolton's actions toward subordinates were inappropriate enough to require action by other senior officials.

Also on A5, Judith Miller continues her grudge f*ck against the UN with "Swiss Investigates Possibilty of Bribery in U.N. Contract." When Judith goes scoop, nothing goes right . . .

(Sorry, Eli.)

Cedric asks, "Where is Rudith Miller when we need her?" Last I heard, she was on the run from a crazed Judith Miller determined to silence her. ("Rudith Miller" was a humorous spoof of Judith Miller many months ago and so Judith Miller attempting to silence her or track her down is a joke. For the record, to the best of my knowledge, Judith Miller doesn't attempt to physically track down anything except when commanding military units in Iraq. Unsuccessfully.)

Lynda e-mails to note Anne E. Kornblut's "Inquiry Finds Radio Host's Arrangement Raised Flags:"

Officials at the Education Department expressed concerns about a contract with the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams last year, even bringing it to the attention of a White House policy adviser when it came up for renewal, according to an internal department report released on Friday.
The report, by the department's inspector general, found no evidence of unlawful or unethical behavior in connection with Mr. Williams's contract but criticized top department officials for "poor management decisions" and lax oversight.
"As a result," it said, "the department paid for work that most likely did not reach its intended audience and paid for deliverables that were never received."
The report did not address questions about whether hiring Mr. Williams to promote President Bush's signature education initiative amounted to covert propaganda.

Billie e-mails to note David D. Kirkpatrick and Carl Hulse's "Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue:"

Democratic senators accused Senator Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader, of exploiting religion for partisan ends by taking part in a telecast portraying them as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's judicial nominations.
"Our debate over the rules of the Senate and the use of the filibuster has nothing to do with whether one is religious or not," Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said at a news conference with Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader from Nevada. "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven."

Hulse and Kirkpatrick may have an early case of Saturday Night Fever (or Sunday Morning Stupors -- see "Clubbing With the New York Times") because their article compares Frist's infomerical to speeches by John Kerry delivered in churches. (They quote a person doing the comparison and they let it stand without challenge so I think it's fair to say that they compare the two.) Frist isn't making a speech. He's doing an infomercial. (And showboating on religion which I didn't think God was for, but I'm not able to diagnose anyone's health via videotape, so presumably we must defer to Saint Frist of All Things Small and Petty.) There is a difference. I don't recall anyone criticizing John Kerry for making speeches in churches (perhaps they should have, perhaps they shouldn't have) or, for that matter, George W. Bush (presumably, the Bully Boy's supporters were just glad Bully Boy had finally drug himself into a church, even if he did have to borrow money for the collection plate on at least one church visit after the campaign).

To cast the filibuster as a God vs. the ungodly seems far different than anything Kerry or the Bully Boy, on those rare times the Bully Boy made it into church, said in church during the
presidential campaign. My opinion. As always, I could be wrong. (And admittedly, feel-good stories such as those "reporting from ____ church, this reporter" articles always put me to sleep.) But if Saint Frist is setting himself up for a career change to a tele-evanglist, more power to him, and Godspeed, Saint Frist, Godspeed. Any route that takes you from the Senate and out of politics, Godspeed.*

In National Briefing, Albert Salvato does what should always be done when reporting on statutory rape, he actually tells us the consent age in Ohio. So let's note that and credit him for that.

I also wanted to comment and criticize the Times on their "corrections" (positive criticism as well as negative criticism) but I'm frankly too tired. Put it on the "later today list" along with Luke (wotisitgood4), A Winding Road and other items that have been waiting. And remember this is Saturday, a day when I help The Third Estate Sunday Review. So don't be surprised if the "later today list" ends up not happening today.

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*I'm going by Webster's "Godspeed." Some sources utlizie "God speed" and that might be the correct form. But after searching it online and finding it in various forms, I pulled down Webster's and will let them have the final say.

Damn that Bob Somerby . . .

Damn that Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler. Each day lately he makes it harder and harder to pull quote by writing these incredible pieces with so much information that picking one section means implying that others aren't worth noting.

On a good day, members and myself can usually do a good job of pull quoting from something. And if I'm the one pull quoting from one of his entries of late and am at a loss of which important section to utilize, I can usually justify the pull quote based on one of two things: he's addressing the New York Times (which we focus on here) or he's describing the war on Al Gore that the press declared (an issue that he writes passionately about). If it's the former, that's our focus more often than not, so I don't ever feel bad for emphasizing that. If it's the latter, since he's been such a strong voice on the distortions of Gore's statements and records, it deserves to be noted and I can justify that.

But today (actually yesterday, it's now Saturday and we're referring to Friday's entry) he blows away the two backups I usually have for picking one section from an entry that covers so much and does it so well. When all else fails (or if it's a Klein piece I want to enjoy/savor in print form), quote the opening.

There's no way to do any form of justice to Somerby's piece today (actually Friday) without noting it in full, so we'll throw fair use out the window and quote it in full.

Just joking.

We've done magazine spotlights on The Progressive and The Nation recently. (We'll do In These Times soon as well. The last issue I received in the mail had a cover story that would have had the community groaning -- and e-mailing to complain -- not because of the points made in the article but because of the reliance on the false stereotype of "Red" states and "Blue" states. That's the only reason we haven't done a spotlight on In These Times.) (I'm speaking of the two entries where the magazine themselves were addressed, not just a "check out this." And on The Nation one, Gina felt I didn't speak enough as to why I found the magazine a must read. She's probably correct. So it could be argued that there were not two magazine spotlights but one and a half.)

The print medium is not the beginning and end of the world of good journalism. (And my reasons for avoiding The Nation online when possible -- other than the web only features -- is because I'm used to/reliant on getting an issue in the mail and being able to read it away from the computer screen.) There are many wonderful pieces that appear online only.

And if someone asked me to pick only one web site by an individual to highlight, I'd pick The Daily Howler. Which isn't to say I agree with every opinion Somerby shares (the community and I disagreed with Somerby on the issue of Lawrence Summers), but Somerby argues his case well and it's a joy to read his writing. (And speaking for myself, not the community, disagreements would make up less than ten percent of the time.)

Community member Dallas and I often exchange e-mails on The Daily Howler (Dallas also loves The Howler) and recently he asked what I thought Somerby's best service was. Dallas' offered that he provides a constant check on the press. I'd agree that's valuable and a good point. I'd offer that Somerby backs it up.

It's not a surprise to any informed news consumer that the mainstream media so often gets it wrong. (Everyone gets it wrong sometimes. I probably get it wrong more often than any.) But Somerby's not just calling out, "Wrong!" or "Wrong again!" Instead, he's documenting how it was wrong.

Why does that matter?

(Consider this an op-ed and all statements my own personal opinions which anyone's free to disagree with either in a private e-mail or in comments to be shared with the community.)

We love the narrative. That's what story-telling is all about. That's what it's always been about.
When a movie is made of an actual event or of someone's life, facts will always lose out to the narrative. What's emphasized about Billie Holiday's life in Lady Sings the Blues, for instance, says more about the kind of movie Berry Gordy wanted to make than it does about Billie Holiday's life. (I enjoy the movie Lady Sings the Blues and am not attempting to slam it. But the fact remains that the film plays fast and loose with the actual facts and events.)

When you or I retell our day at the end of the day, we'll pick out the biggest event (or what seems the biggest) and work other events into the tale in relation to that event. That's the narrative and I would say we're all guilty of it but it's such a human characteristic that I don't think we can be "guilty of" it anymore than we can be guilty of breathing.

When a professional storyteller (say a novelist) is imposing a narrative, it's part of what they do and part of the form they're working in. But a novelist (or screenwriter) usually doesn't claim to be objective.

The mainstream media claims to be objective. Obviously, any story that makes it into print contains the reporter's opinion of what was the most salient detail (and the editor or editors).
That's probably understandable and hopefully the person's been trained in some way (self-educated or college educated) to pick out aspects that are rated to be important (on whatever scale).

But as feature writing has seeped into hard news, the use of the narrative has gone beyond what many think the news should do. A meta narrative is being imposed upon a piece to put it into a larger scheme (strange considering how the press has so lost their sense of perspective). To use one of the issues Somerby has devoted a large amount of attention to, the war on Al Gore.

The meta narrative became that Gore is a liar who will say anything to get elected so the details included in stories (often false and when not false, often stretched the point that they should have broken) were shaded to fit the meta narrative.

Perspective would be to say that Gore spoke out for this; however, he said this previously in a speech or voted for this while in the Senate. Meta narrative is not perspective. It's the tool/device of creative writing. And it's seeped into the hard news. (I'm speaking of print news. I have no use for TV news.)

What Al Gore wore wasn't a character revealing trait. He was slammed for what he wore in some instances, he himself; and in others he was also slammed because others supposedly picked out what he wore. Which was the truth? It's an unimportant issue but having made such a big deal out of it, the press should have decided which was the issue.

But the meta narrative was "Gore is a liar" so they didn't even bother to figure out which aspect to go with. "Phoney Gore picked out more phoney clothes to wear" was at odds with "Phoney Gore can't even dress himself." But the same reporters could alternate both "perspectives."

When I'm watching a movie, I know that I'm getting the set up in the first ten minutes (more and more the first five) and in that first ten minutes, I'll get the moment that jolts us into the first act. I know to look for the midpoint and that we have to be carried into the second act around minute sixty-seven or sixty-eight for a comedy (which usually run around ninety minutes). That's an artistic form and there are rules and conventions (which some trailblazers break).

The news isn't supposed to be that way. Good reporting doesn't require "art." (For instance, when I've praised John F. Burns in the past -- in the past -- I noted that he did the basics and covered them well: who, what, where and when.) It requires telling what just happened.

And perspective isn't the writer's (or editor's) personal theme that they've latched onto. That's really sloppy reporting, in my opinion. A reviewer will do that. But a reviewer isn't writing hard news. Hard news is supposed to be about what happened, so why is it so often about fitting something into a preconcieved framework? Cherry picking bits and pieces to prove your opinion before you even witnessed the event?

Now maybe objectivity is all a pose (I wouldn't argue with that) but when the mainstream press wants to argue that they are objective, they can't do that and continue to rely on meta narratives that they are imposing.

The meta narrative also means avoding asking questions because the reporters already "found" the story before the event takes place. Therefore, why ask questions or show skepticism when all you have to do is find the bits and pieces necessary to back up the meta narrative you've already imposed?

With the war on Gore, the press overwhelmingly let the RNC set the agenda. They ran with those talking points. If they thought it would make them buddies with the RNC, they were mistaken. Unless they've gone over to Fox "News," they're still (wrongly) labeled the "liberal media" and exceptions aren't often made for individuals.

How dumb is the press covering politics? I often wonder that. There's never been a campaign I've worked on where in some manner it wasn't stressed that you do two things: kiss their ass and make sure you provide good snacks. Keep 'em fed and flattered and you can usually count on good press as long as you're feeding and flattering better than the opposition.

And I've seen that work when utilized and fail when not. (I can remember one woman who was raked over the coals and lose her seat in what largely appeared to result from her refusal to provide more than basic cold cuts.)

But maybe they're not stupid and spoiled (and there are exceptions in every category so anyone reading this who wants to insist in an e-mail, "That's not me!" consider yourself the exception and save the e-mail)? Maybe they're just another person in our society addicted to access and working on their anecdotes?

Maureen Dowd had a column entiled "I Got a Nick Name." Hold on, and I'll see if it's in BushWorld (now out in paperback). Yes, it is. It starts on page 125. She writes about the various nicknames the Bully Boy has for members of the press. (I believe her nickname is "Cobra;" David Gregory's is "Stretch.") Dowd's not (as I read her) trumpeting that she had a nickname. (The administration has ignored Dowd -- thereby missing the point of kiss their ass and feed 'em well.) Now maybe, if for instance, Margaret Carlson is dubbed "Half-wit" by the Bully Boy, it's a great anecdote for her and one she'd never tire of telling? (To the best of my knowledge, the Bully Boy's never dubbed her Half-wit. So we'll take the opportunity to do so.)

And maybe the access that comes with that is just too damn too much to let actual reporting interfere? Certainly the "Maverick" McCain press can be traced to the illusion he's created of access.

But there's been a huge breakdown in journalism where feature writing has seeped over into what was supposed to be hard news. And that should frighten you because as hideous as the rules imposed by the administration on journalists who want access are, they can get a lot worse.
Any feature writer can tell you that long gone are the days when you could spend days with the subject you were profiling, long gone are the days when you could write whatever about the subject. Now each interview with a celebrity tends to come with a list of guidelines (often including which subjects are off limits) and they sometimes usually include when the article will be run.

If the press doesn't address the reality of hard news soon, expect things to get much worse.
I'd trace the breakdown to when celeb covers became common place at Time, et al. (Long before the synergy that created "AOL TIME WARNER DISNEY ABC . . .") When p.r. reps realized that the cover wasn't just a boom for their client but also for the magazine, they began imposing guidelines. (Pat Kingsley is either the worst or the best example of that -- depending on whether your the press or her client.)

There's a lot of talk (which is true) about the fact that news divisions have been cut back and about how the various mergers have led to "cross-promotion" (what we used to just call hype).
That has happened. But there's also the very real fact that what we think of as hard news has disappeared or eroded. And this isn't about "attracting young readers." This predates the new panic over, "Young adults don't read us!"

Katrina vanden Heuvel rightly pointed out that the Times elected to front page a story on Judith Regan (questionable choice for a front page -- but remember, the Times is trying desperately to become a player in L.A. -- and failing miserably -- and the story was Regan goes to California).
vanden Heuvel noted that in this front page story (which making the front page of the main section should require it be a hard news story) the issue of Regan's love nest visits with the recent failed Homeland Security nominee weren't even raised.

How do you do that? How do a hard news story on a woman who's most famous (infamous) in recent months for shacking up at Ground Zero?

Either Regan's publicist made sure that issue was off limits (and raising it would end the interview) or else the line between feature reporting and hard news is not just blurry, it's invisible now.

The meta narrative was "Judy goes to LA where she will no doubt be a huge success just like here!" (Which not only sets the Times up to be a player in coverage of L.A. but also, subtext, says to L.A., "New Yorkers have great ideas too! Don't short change us, L.A.!") And anything that painted ambassador Regan as anything less than the huge success light was eliminated from the story.

As I remember it, one of her best sellers, by Michael Moore, wasn't released willingly and required pressure on the company to get it out. That detail would interfere with the glowing portrait, so it's not included.

If, as a country, we're having trouble grasping complexities, part of the reason might be because we've lost them as the meta narrative has rushed to turn everyone into saint or sinner. And the meta narrative is a creation of feature writing.

I don't want to come off like someone's who's stood against feature writing. (I still enjoy it when it's actually good. That's less and less these days.) In school, I did feature writing. I competed in feature writing contests (and did well). (Note: There was no desire to be a reporter on my part. The paper wouldn't have been turned out if people didn't all throw in what they could. There were issues when it was basically myself and one other person putting out the whole thing.) (Her more so than me.)

I liked feature writing and could do it easily because it's light and frivilous (both of which I can be -- more often than I should be at my age). And I've heard the debates on the pro and cons of feature writing and hard news for sometime. I did feel (and still do) that anything is topic for the front page of the main section. But not written in anyway. If you're going to do a hard news story, your requirements are greater than with a piece of feature writing.

Howell Raines was slammed for running a piece on Britney Spears on the front page of the main section (of the Sunday edition of the New York Times). (That sentence has way too many "of"s, I know.) (But in a feature piece, you could get away with it if you did it humorously -- I didn't, I'm just being lazy.) But Britney Spears can be a front page story. (I wouldn't read it, but . . .)
Provided you're doing something other than a feature on Spears. Spears can be an entry point in a serious article/hard news on what sort of image sells today, for instance. (I believe her sales have eroded -- though no one seems to notice -- and as such, unless that was the topic, she'd be a bad pick for a state-of-music front page story.)

This debate predates me (I heard it all the time growing up from my grandfather who worked for a newspaper). But somehow, when someone wants to write about why people don't read papers as much now or why the newspapers aren't the trusted sources they once were, no one wants to remark on the erosion of hard news. Somerby (getting back to the topic) has spent parts of the week noting that an op-ed columnist wants to tackle the issue of how the media is seen but doesn't want to address anything other than comments/complaints from the right.
I'd agree with Somerby on that.

I'd also add that the columnist seems unaware that his own industry has lost it's way (not just the columnist's paper) and fallen into feature writing passing as hard news. (Feature writing can often be nothing more than p.r. When people complain that the news industry has served as a p.r. mouthpiece for the Bully Boy, whether they realize it or not, they may be noting the decline of hard news.)

Imposing the meta narrative is a tool of columnists, reviewers, and feature writers. It's not supposed to be a tool for hard news. And if concerned columnists want to explore topics about the decline in readership or trust, they'd do well to note that topic. (One I can't imagine any of them being unaware of since it predates all of them.)

When Somerby backs up his points of the meta narrative (and that's what I see him addressing -- as always, I could be wrong), he's not just saying "They got it wrong!" He's showing how they shaped something. Sometimes he's focused on hard news, sometimes he's focused on a columnist, sometimes he's focused on some "larger message" that they're selling us.

This is a serious issue (to Dallas and myself at any rate, though once upon a time it was a serious issue to the press itself) and it surprises me that no one's thought not only to explore it (no one at a paper) as a regular op-ed or that a paper hasn't realized that Somerby would be a great op-ed addition. There was a time when the kind of criticism he provides would be appreciated because it would delight and enrage readers.

For selfish reasons, I'm glad that Somerby hasn't been snapped up. Two days a week in a paper would be a big step down to someone who enjoys reading him five days a week. But considering that he takes no advertisements at his sites and that he, like everyone else, has to eat, it does make me sad that no one's offered a paid op-ed job. (Or for that matter, a regular slot as a guest on Air America.)

He makes you think and provides you with something beyond a simplistic "wrong!" Again, I have disagreed with his opinions on occasion, but even then I've enjoyed reading his arguments.

Somerby might argue, and he'd be correct, that of course he wouldn't be hired by a paper. The ones being hired are the ones who stay within the established lines of what is now acceptable criticism. (Thank God for FAIR, but the periodical MORE is missed -- by me anyway.) These days errors are "systematic" and carry no personal responsibility. And you don't call someone to task (unless they are a competitor). Certain op-ed writers decry the "partisan" nature that they feel our country has descended into (as though people just woke up and decided "I'm going to be partisan today for no other reason than because someone online is") but they refuse to address any criticisms of their own industry.

Everything's always "fine" and everyone's doing a wonderful job inside the circle, to hear them tell it. Lloyd sent me an editorial from the LA Times which was an apology for some racist (I believe it was racist) coverage in the far past. He'd wanted a comment on it personally (which he got) and one here (which he didn't, I've been running behind all week -- more so than usual).
I don't remember the editorial now. (It's rare that one of the 800 to 1000 e-mails that come in a day don't copy and paste something and they tend to all blend and blur after awhile unless I comment when they're fresh.)

The opinion I shared with Lloyd was that the LA Times apology was like the Times apologies. ("The Times" refers to the New York Times throughout. When speaking of the Los Angeles Times, it is noted as the "LA Times," otherwise, "the Times" refers to the New York Times.)
It comes very late (the WMD apology was an exception), after all the participants are gone, and
it puts the blame on systematic problems while noting that they wished someone had brought it to their attention at the time. The fact of the matter is that it's usually something that was brought to their attention. Criticism in real time is usually ignored and it's often a case of "reiventing the wheel" because the media doesn't make us aware of earlier criticisms. For instance, Birth of a Nation, a racist film, was not endorsed by all when it was released. (Check out the history of the NAACP if you truly believe that everyone was saying, "Way to go D.W.!")

And the above might not be fair to the LA Times. I'll admit that I honestly don't recall the subject of the editorial/apology. What I do recall is what I wrote back to Lloyd. Where's the apology for Jean Seberg? Where is it?

Will it ever appear? Or will they continue to act as though that was all the doing of Joyce Haber and that no one else was involved in that smear campaign? When an editorial staff (later editor of the paper) passes along a tip and vouches for the source, Joyce Haber (who was serious about her job but not a hard news journalist) is going to run it. At what point does the paper apologize for that? When all the participants who've gotten a pass (or one) is long forgotten?

That's how these apologies/clarifications tend to be handled. Long after everyone's gone and with some note of how at the time, there was no criticism or questioning of the original reporting.
As though the paper, whichever paper, had just suddenly discovered a problem on their own or just been made aware of it.

If confronted in real time, the people responsible might be forced to be creative. Yes, I vouched for that tipster, yes, that's my hand writing, but I just can't recall any details now. Or, even better (different person, same issue), I was trying out a "motor scooter" and fell off it that day during lunch, so I'm not responsible. (That really is an excuse that was offered.)

So these apologies always come late ("if they come at all" -- Tracy Chapman, "Behind the Wall" from her self-titled debut album).

And it's hard for me to get overly excited about apologies that don't come with any responsibility.

Bob Somerby provides real-time criticism and, provided The Howler is up for many years to come or some of the criticism from it is turned into a book by Somerby, it will be very interesting in fifty years or more to read the "clarifications," "editorial notes" and "apologies" that will be forthcoming. "We had no idea" carries a lot less weight when you don't have to dig through microfilm to find out that yes, they did have an idea; yes, they were informed in real time of the problems with the reporting.

The press has never been perfect and it never will be because people aren't perfect. (I'm certainly not.) And any commentary on the loss of trust in the press should carry with it comments on the long history of demonizing the press as the "liberal media." And a columnist (it was a Times columnist which is why we're not naming, he's not the problem, the attitude is, which is why we're addressing it) should address that. He or she should also be prepared to address the reality of the erosion of hard news.

Focusing on criticism from the outside and not examing the very real move from hard news reporting to feature writing isn't something that should be easily dismissed.

It's an issue that Daniel Okrent (still waiting to see if he comes across where the Times pushed "paper of record" -- doubt he will) dismissed, without addressing. Writing of the way the paper was versus how it is, he offered that no one would want to read the cut and dry way the paper once reported. Well of course he'd think that way, he's not from the newspaper world, he's from the magazine world and from the magzine world of feature stories.

His whole life has been teasing the reader interest, finding a sensational angle to hook/hype the story.
He's the last person apparently that we could look to for a defense of hard news. (Why he was ever chosen as the public editor of the Times . . .) I'm not that excited about the new public editor (based on reporting from people who've worked with him at the Wall St. Journal) but maybe, if nothing else, he can address the surrender of the standards of hard news to feature writing.

On a day to day basis, five days a week (six if we're lucky enough to get a weekend Howler), Bob Somerby addresses the meta narrative with concrete examples. How supposed different voices are somehow speaking unison. It's not just that one repoter got something wrong, it's that so many did and the reliance on imposed meta narratives in supposed hard news reporting is often the cause. Which seems to suggest that papers are no longer comfortable with being "the first draft of history" and now desire to be the last draft. Won't happen.

Historians will dispense with the easy praise so many currently earn. Historians can do that because, as with these "editorial notes" and apologies, they come several years down the line.
James Wollcott's dubbed certain individuals Attack Poodles (read the book, it's informative and will make you laugh). And let's hope that their present moment of fame and all the goodies that fame provides are enough for them because there's no legacy for them. (No noble one anyway.)
Truth telling matters and as Rebecca noted last week, Robert Parry is not known today for being a popular writer (or jovial TV pundit), he's known because he wrote about what others didn't want to.

Which brings us, finally, to Friday's Howler. Somerby's addressing how certain indivduals not only shy away from informing you that the emperor has no clothes on, they also cover for the court jestors and stenographers. In this case, Time magazine fluffs for Ann Coulter. I'm not sure whether it was Time or People that pioneered the instant-feature (hype, hype, hype, detail, hype, hype, hype) but they're of the same parent company and they've crossbred many times over. The result is that Coulter can be a noted person (one of one-hundred) and therefore, Time's happy to fluff. From The Daily Howler:

But Carney's magazine wants to pander to people who find themselves drawn to Coulter. Therefore, Carney is paid a very good wage to type a paragraph like the one that follows. Yes, this actually is the way he ends his three-paragraph profile:
CARNEY: In her books, Coulter can be erudite and persuasive, as when she exposes the left's chronic softness on communism. But her signature is her gleeful willingness to taunt liberals and Democrats, to say out loud what some other conservatives dare only think--that Bill Clinton is a "horny hick," for example, and his wife "pond scum." It's what makes Coulter irresistible and influential, whether you like it or not.

According to Carney, Coulter–who thinks that twenty percent of the public are traitors–is frequently "erudite and persuasive, as when she exposes the left's chronic softness on communism." But as Digby pointed out earlier this week, Carney is cleaning up for Coulter when he presents this mild construction. What does Coulter actually say in Treason, the book to which Carney alludes? As Digby notes, this is the way she starts her critique of the left's great softness on Communism:
COULTER: Liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason. You could be talking about Scrabble and they would instantly leap to the anti-American position. Everyone says liberals love American, too. No they don't. Whenever the nation is under attack, from within or without, liberals side with the enemy. This is their essence. The Left’s obsession with the crimes of the West and their Rousseauian respect for Third World savages all flow from this subversive goal. If anyone has the gaucherie to point out the left's nearly unblemished record of rooting against American, liberals turn around and scream "McCarthyism!"

Is Coulter sincere--or is she just playing the rubes, separating them from their money? We
don't have the slightest idea. (For what it's worth, she has always struck us as the one public figure who may well be mentally ill.) But as almost any sane person can see, that is the work of a screaming nutcase if we assume that Coulter is sincere. Indeed, Treason was such a nut-cake book that a long string of major conservative writers stepped forward to denounce it when it appeared. But not Carney! Carney pretends that Coulter made an "erudite" presentation, a presentation that was quite "persuasive." In fact, Treason was denounced as the work of a crackpot all across the conservative world. But Carney is playing Time's readers for fools. So Time's readers don’t have to be told.
Why did Carney write this odd profile, ending with this odd summation? After all, a person like Coulter can be quite "influential" without being "erudite" (or "persuasive," if judged by normal standards); why did Carney feel he had to pretend that Coulter makes perfect good sense? Simple answer! Like Coulter, Carney is being paid good money to play the rubes for total fools. His owners want to sell them mags, and they want Carney to keep them happy. So Carney typed what he was told. He's paid good money for typing this drek--and like good boys throughout human history, he was willing to work for the dough.

There's much more worth reading, the entire thing in fact. Damn that Bob Somerby.

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See the joke was that CJR Daily gets the correction wrong . . .

On April 3, 2005, an entry appeared over at The Third Estate Sunday Review entitled "CJW Daily from Corporate Journalism Whores (parody for your laughing pleasure)." It's a funny piece. And, disclosure, Ava and I thought it up while tossing mocking references back and forth to CJR Daily. We had something of a comedy performance by the time we were through and really didn't have any idea that it was anything worth writing down until, to provide some much needed laughs the Saturday April 2nd, we offered our spoof to the others. (Jim, Ty, Jess and Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man.) At which point, everyone got to work on taking a comedy bit and turning it into something more.

Most of the jokes were ones people got. For instance, calling Watler Cronkite (see the entry) "Wilson Cronkite" was a joke alluding to how CJR Daily reduced Kathleen Hall Jamieson to "Kathleen Jamieson." (Though, as has been noted, maybe we should all be glad they didn't take it further and call her "Kathy Jamieson.")

But throughout the "Wilson Cronkite" piece, there are intentional errors. Walter Cronkite hosted the news on CBS, evening news, and we knew that. A few concerned people wrote in to The Third Estate Sunday Review about that and Ava's still getting e-mails on that. To cut down on her having to explain it and to note a flaw that we've alluded to here but never really addressed, I told her I'd do so. (And community member Dallas also made this possible/necessary by hunting down the specifics on something I've repeatedly alluded to here.)
(No community member e-mailed here about the issue. Either they were aware of the intention behind the joke because it's been alluded to so much here or they felt that since it appeared in The Third Estate Sunday Review, they should take the question to The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

Walter Cronkite did not work on Good Morning America or Nightly News (or anything else we intentionally put in). The joke was to get to the correction which is in fact wrong.

CJR Daily ran a 'correction' to a post that was not correct and that's what we were spoofing.

You need to go to "Hidden Angle: Taking Pot Shots" from October 22, 2004. The author is Susan Q. Stranahan. In that piece, Stranahan reports on coverage of John Kerry and Jodi Wilgoren. Stranahan doesn't make the point that Bob Somerby did at The Daily Howler, which is how two reporters (one for the New York Times and one for the Washington Post) covering the John Kerry campaign were also able to apparently pop over to Dick Cheney's
event in the same state and quote him (in remarkably similar passages).

Stranahan focuses solely on the New York Times (in the text) and on the report filed by Jodi Wilgoren. While repeating Wilgoren's reptition of Cheney's remark that to go duck hunting, John Kerry had borrowed a jacket, Stranahan -- taking Wilgoren to task -- makes a mistake that Wilgoren didn't make, she presents only one view: Cheney's claim that Kerry borrowed the jacket.

Later, the piece was ammended to include a "correction" in the form of an "Update:"

In fact, as the Washington Post reported, Kerry borrowed the camouflage jacket. He did not buy a new one as Vice President Cheney indicated.

There's a problem with this correction (labeled an "Update") and it's that Stranahan or someone appears to want to provide cover for not noting that earlier. To read the post and the "Update," is to be left with the impression that, dealing with the Wilgoren article, they were left to believe that Cheney's comments were correct and thank God for the Washington Post.

That's simply not the truth. Stranahan should have read the Wigoren piece more carefully. And the "Update" should have noted that the same thing was reported by Wilgoren in her Times piece that Stranahan was reporting on.

Wilgoren included that detail in the piece Stranahan was reviewing. And the second comment on the "Go to Comments" page noted that:

Another question is why was an UPDATE needed via the Washington Post? In Wilgoren's pice, right after quoting Cheney, she immediately noted that he'd borrowed the jacket:
"I understand he bought a new camoflage jacket for the occassion, which did make me wonder how regularly he does go goose hunting," Mr. Cheney said to a chorus of boos. "My personal opinion is his new came jacket is an October disguise, an effort he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun-owner rights at every turn."
In fact, the outfit was borrowed, along with the shotgun, from the farm's owner, and within hours Mr. Kerry was back in tailored suit and rose-colored tie for another photo-op [. . .]
Again, in Wilgoren's paragraph right after the Cheney quote, we have the info that is later necessary for an "update" and via the Washington Post.
[Do not consider this an endorsement of Wilgoren's writing. I'm merely noting that in her article for the Times -- the one that CJR Daily is dicussing -- she covered this issue. The Washington Post wasn't needed for an UPDATE, in fact, no UPDATE was needed.]

I agree with the majority of that posted comment except I'd add to "no UPDATE was needed" this: "if Stranahan had read the Wilgoren piece more closely."

She didn't. Now maybe she or CJR Daily got taken to task for the piece, for reprinting a falsehood (Kerry bought a new jacket) which was GOP spin and as such didn't bear repeating in the watchdog forum that CJR Daily is supposed to be? Or mabye Stranahan or someone at CJR Daily later read the Washington Post piece and noticed that the jacket was not borrowed. Thinking this fact was noted there, and only there, they felt the need for an "Update."

But the fact remains that Wilgoren's original article included that the jacket was borrowed (immediately below the Cheney quote -- and Stranahan quotes the Cheney quote so she read at least that far from Wilgoren's article).

So to write that "In fact, as the Washington Post reported, Kerry borrowed . . ." is flat out wrong. "In fact, as Wilgoren noted in her next paragraph and as the Washington Post reported, Kerry borrowed . . ." is closer to the truth.

At the time of the "Update," no one may have been aware that Wilgoren reported that in her original article. (I have no idea who wrote the "Update." Perhaps it was someone other than Stranahan and Stranahan herself might have been aware that Wilgoren's piece included the paragraph. If so, Stranahan may have felt, as Bob Somerby did, that you don't include a known falsehood at length and then in the next paragraph, after the chuckles die out, fleetingly note, "Oh by the way, Cheney is incorrect.")

But when going to the trouble of doing an "Update," someone should have checked Wilgoren's original article, the one Stranahan was commenting on, because the information that the jacket was borrowed is in that article.

As it stands, the "Update" implies that Wilgoren left that piece of information out of her reporting. Wilgoren did include that in her report.

And while missing it that day might have been possible, there are writers that give me a headache and in that period, I wouldn't fault Stranahan for bailing on Wilgoren early on, the fact remains that three days later in their "go to comments" a CJR Daily reader noted that Wilgoren had included that fact in her article and even went to the trouble to quote the paragraph it was from.

Maybe CJR Daily doesn't read the comments? Maybe they're just offered to let readers vent and CJR Daily is too above it all to note reactions to their pieces? I have no idea.

But the "Update" has been allowed to stand (Dallas copy and pasted and sent this in this week) and impression from the "Update" is that Wilgoren missed a detail but thank God the Washington Post didn't! That's not reality.

And that's why one of the joke's of "Suzy Q.'s" Blog Report in the CJW spoof was to make mistakes repeatedly and then run a correction that still got it wrong.

As with most jokes, it loses something when it's explained. But I've alluded to that mistake from time to time here and when Ava passed on that she was still attempting this week to explain the joke to concerned Third Estate Sunday Review readers who were attempting to inform The Third Estate Sunday Review that the mistakes were intentional and part of the joke, I thought we'd touch on it here. When Dallas then went to the trouble of hunting the entry down for me, it was something I intended to address all week but kept putting off due to time limitations.

Stranahan may not have authored the "Update." Whomever did, however, appears unaware (to this day) that no article from the Washington Post was needed to round out that Kerry borrowed the jacket since the details were included in Wilgoren's original article cited by Stranahan. The correction (labeled "Update") leaves the impression that Wilgoren didn't include the detail. Wilgoren did include the detail and the "Update" should have been ammended long ago to note that. (My opinion.)

And noting this is not praising Wilgoren's reporting on the Kerry campaign. It's not praise worthy. It's embarrassing, my opinion. Also my opinion, Wilgoren's recent reporting is a remarkable turn around and far from the fluff and mean spirited nonsense she turned in during the Kerry campaign and immediately after. Because I found her so useless reporting on the campaign and immediately after, I thought she was completely useless. I was wrong. And I can say that without cringing (I'm often wrong). CJR Daily needs to admit that their "Update" is wrong and correct it since the web page remains and will apparently do so for some time.

(And note, Lois Romano is the author of the Washington Post piece cited in the "Update" CJR Daily refers to.)

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Two apologies

I have two apologies.

First, I'm sorry, I thought I was lying down for a nap and instead slept for hours. (And hours.)
I'll highlight The Daily Howler and some other things tonight before officially going to bed.

Second, Eli notes that thanks to this morning's entry, he's had "When Love Goes Wrong" in his head all day. Me too. A stray thought ended up reappearing throughout the day as I hummed or sang, "When Judy goes scoop, nothing goes right." I think they should use that for all of her (Judith Miller's) personal appearences and anytime she's on the NewsHour or any other show willing to book her.

It was a stray thought this morning, "When Loves Goes Wrong," as I hurried around trying to do several things at once and get out the front door. But if you know the song, you know it's a very melodic one. As Eli points out, "There are far worse songs that could get stuck in my head." Agreed.

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[Note: "When Loves Goes Wrong" was written by Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael.]

Sunday Chat & Chews

We'll start off by noting, yet again, that at the "about" page for Meet the Press, Gloria Steinem continues to be listed as "Gloria Steiner." It's Steinem. The continued refusal to fix this problem when you are aware of it is beginning to look like something more than sloppiness.

For anyone who wants to weigh in but is sick of the online form, the address for Meet the Press is and maybe continued pressure will make them correct their typo which has been allowed to stand for two years now? Three? Longer?

Here's the paragraph in question:

Since those beginning days, "Meet the Press" has interviewed First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush appeared on "Meet the Press" the first three years of her husband’s presidency. Other notable women appearing as guests over the years on "Meet the Press" include: Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Jane Fonda, Phyllis Schlafly, Geraldine Ferraro, Gloria Steiner, Elizabeth Dole, Madeleine Albright, Tipper Gore, Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Temple Black and Caroline Kennedy.

Let's start with Blinky & CBS's Face the Nation (check your local listings if you're interested in watching this Sunday progam):

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer
Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Ethics Issues
Role Of The Filibuster In The Senate
Rep. David Dreier
Chairman, Rules Committee
Republican - California
Rep. Charles Rangel
Ranking Member, Ways And Means Committee
Democrat - New York
Jan Crawford Greenburg
Legal Correspondent
The Chicago Tribune

I'll assume Jan Crawford will address the "role of the filibuster in the Senate" since the other guests are House Representatives.

So Dreier's going to speak ethics? That's pretty interesting. Will Blinky ask him about the shared home and whom Drier shares it with? (This is public record, I'm not breaking any news here.) (And note, the suggestions of an ethical issue do not have to do with the sexual orientation, just that alleged orientation being in conflict with the rep's stance on issues and the fact that the roommate works for Drier.)

Moving on to the second train wreck (at least Blinky doesn't let Face the Nation pander to junk news), we'll note ABC's This Week:

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., former majority leader
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., member of the Judiciary Committee
Maria Shriver, first lady of California and author of "And One More Thing Before You Go"
Students from Georgetown University and Catholic University

Then, dissecting the week's political news: our classic roundtable, George Will, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson.

If by classic, they mean stale and out of date, they're on the money. Again, if you're going to play the Blinky drinking game during Face the Nation (down a shot each time he blinks), have plenty of alcohol on hand. I guess for This Week, you could take a shot everytime Cokes or Sammy tells George Will, "You're right" (in any variation on the line). Or you could wager with your friends as to whether Cokes will wear the classic pearls or those trashy metalic ones that make her look like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons? But you can't play clutch-the-pearls journalism (or "journalism") without a set of pearls, so rest assured she'll be wearing them.

Over at NBC's Meet the Press (all shows air Sundays, check your local listings for the time):

REP. ROY BLUNT (R - Missouri)
House Majority Whip
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D - Massachusetts)
New York Times
NBC News

Dexter Filkins and Cokie Roberts on TV the same Sunday? Why do broadcasters hate

Remember, if you're not watching Meet the Press, you're living your life.

Will Dexy pulls his gun on Russert? Doubtful. Will he cross the line between reporter and cheerleader? (Doesn't that one seem like a trick question?)

Will the world go on if you miss the inside the beltway gossip?

Yes, it will. But watch if you must. Hope this helps you pick.

Sam e-mailed asking, "If you had to watch, like you'd die if you didn't, which one would you watch? Well death can be noble but I'm guessing you mean I have to pick one. In which case I'd go with Blinky. It's a half-hour show, so it's over that much quicker. Plus, it's a Cokes and Dexy free-zone.

Oh, one more thing you can watch for if you watch Meet the Press. Is Dexy reporting or is he predicting? I have no idea if Elisabeth Bumiller's been on TV in the last twelve months or not. But she did grasp, to her credit when I've seen on her TV, that she was a reporter and stuck to facts (or her concept of facts). Watch and see if Dexy makes predictions or leaves the area of observation to editorialize.

He's not supposed to do either.

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Democracy Now: Debt Slavery, War Tax Resistance, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, The Black Commentator

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching).
Headlines for April 15, 2005
- Three Roadside Bombs Rock Baghdad
- Four Charged in UN Oil for Food 'Scandal'
- Bolton Faces More Allegations That He Tried to Fire Analysts
- Negroponte Confirmed By Senate Committee
- Controversial Judge Griffith Confirmed
- Bill Frist Says Dems 'Against People of Faith'
- Bush Doesn't Do E-Mail

Debt Slavery? Congress Approves Bush's Bankruptcy Bill
A major overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws won final congressional approval Thursday, in a move that will make it harder for Americans to rid themselves of debt by filing for bankruptcy. We speak with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and David Swanson of [includes rush transcript]

War Tax Resistance: Refusing to Fund War on Tax Day
Today is Tax Day - while millions of Americans are scrambling to file their income taxes on time, others are protesting the use of tax dollars to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by refusing to pay some or all of their taxes. We speak with a member of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. [includes rush transcript]

Chicano Leader Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales 1929-2005: "He was the Fist. He Stood For Defiance, Resistance"

Chicano political and civil rights activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales died Tuesday at his home in Denver, Colorado. He was 76 years old. We speak with his friend, columnist Roberto Rodriguez. [includes rush transcript]

Over at Editor's Cut, Katrina vanden Heuvel's addressing "George Bush’s iPod Playlist."
Noting the New York Times story, she comes up with a list of songs that should be on the Bully Boy's iPod and asks for additional songs. We'll also include her p.s. because we didn't think Judith Regan belonged on the cover story either:

So, thinking of those thousands of empty slots on Bush's iPod, I'd like to nominate a few new songs for the leader of the free world's playlist. Here's my top ten:
Kid Rock, "Pimp of the Nation"
Eminem, "Mosh"
Beastie Boys, "It Takes Time to Build"
John Mellencamp, "To Washington"
George Thorogood, "I Drink Alone"
The Castaways, "Liar,Liar"
REM, "The End of the World As We Know It"
Steve Earle, "The Revolution Starts Now"
The Clash, "I'm So Bored with the USA"
And that old jazz standard, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"
I'm sure you readers have lots of better nominations. Please click
here to let me know what you think and we'll see what we can do about getting Dubya's IPod some new music.
P.S. Judith Regan Goes West: What was
that story about Regan and her new West Coast, Murdoch-financed, multimedia empire/salon doing on the front page of the Gray Lady yesterday? If the New York Times is going to do second-rate versions of New York Observer stories, could they at least drop in a graf about Regan's trsyt with Bernie Kerik down near Ground Zero.

As Francisco noted in his e-mail asking that this be highlighted, Cedric should be pleased to see one of the songs he picked as song of the year in our year-in-review on the list.

Tori e-mailed to highlight Matthew Rothschild's latest This Just In which is entitled "The Scandal of John Negroponte." From that This Just In:

According to a raft of recently declassified documents that can be found at the National Security Archive website, Negroponte frequently met with the head of the Honduran military, General Gustavo Alvarez. It was General Alvarez who oversaw the work of the notorious Battalion 316, which kidnapped and tortured hundreds of Hondurans and murdered at least 184, according to a prizewinning series by the Baltimore Sun in 1995.
In an October 13, 1983, cable, Negroponte wrote about an airplane trip he had just taken with General Alvarez, whose "commitment to constitutional government" Negroponte saluted. "Alvarez's dedication to democracy is frequently questioned by critics of our policies here," Negroponte wrote. "The critics are motivated either by a stereotype of political life in Honduras as unduly influenced by the military, in disregard of the facts, or out of sheer ignorance of the fact that Alvarez on repeated public occasions has pledged his complete loyalty to constitutional rule."
To put Alvarez's "dedication to democracy" in perspective, let's return to the Baltimore Sun's piece on Battalion 316.
"The battalion was organized by Colonel Gustav Alvarez Martinez, commander of the Honduran military, and remained under his authority after he became head of the Honduran armed forces in 1982 with the rank of general," the Sun reported. "Execution orders came down to the battalion from Alvarez" and a subordinate.
One member of Battalion 316, Florencio Caballero, told the Sun about the killing of a 35-year-old teacher and political activist. "By order of Alvarez, to be sure that no one would ever find his body, they took him from Tegucigalpa and stabbed him to death," Caballero said. "Then they cut his body to pieces with a machete and buried the pieces in different places along the road."
Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive notes that Negroponte's own cables and memos do not reflect any concern about these human rights abuses.
"Conspicuously absent from the cable traffic," writes Kornbluh, "is reporting on human rights atrocities that were committed by the Honduran military and its secret police unit known as Battalion 316. . . . Negroponte's cables reflect no protest, or even discussion of these issues during his many meetings with General Alvarez, his deputies, and Honduran President Robert Suazo. Nor do the released cables contain any reporting to Washington on the human rights abuses that were taking place."
There's a reason for that, as the Baltimore Sun noted. Had Negroponte reported on these abuses, aid to Honduras could have been cut off. So Negroponte insisted that the embassy reports to Congress not include any mention of the human rights abuses.

Lastly, Keesha e-mails in to note the conclusion of The Black Commentator's "Blacks Pushed Down and Out:"

So we see that dropouts are institutionally manufactured, not the inevitable product of some sickness in Black society. The Urban Institute report recommends each new student be provided "with a single lifetime school identification number that would follow him or her throughout his or her entire school career. Until this nation implements and carefully monitors such a system, we will never know exactly what happens to students."
It's a sound idea, but one that will never be accepted by the class that George Bush represents, who reject any social responsibility for life outcomes, even the outcomes of very young lives. Why get an accurate count of dropouts, when they -- like everyone else, in the corporate vision --- are on their own? A true accounting of the catastrophe might conjure up the words of President Lyndon Johnson to Howard University's graduating class on July 4, 1965: "We seek not just freedom but opportunity -- not just legal equity but human ability -- not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result."
Equality as a result, even a decent education as a result, died as a national purpose amidst the flickering embers of affirmative action, nearly two decades ago. Today, affirmative action is in a persistent vegetative state -- technically alive, but unable to impact the world around it. If results are not relevant, there is no point in getting a good count. No Child Left Behind, as administered by Bush, is a tool to fail and erase from the rolls not just individual youngsters, but whole school systems, so that the bells of total corporate freedom might ring.

What has been lost to America -- or never really found -- is the general belief in a social contract. The human deficit is immeasurable.

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[We'll be noting Bob Somerby's column today later tonight.]

Judith Miller returns to the New York Times front page, America left skeptical

Judith Miller's on the front page of the New York Times. Does anyone want to read that?

Me neither. When Judy goes scoop, nothing goes right.*

So let's instead note the Washington Post story (same topic) entitled "American Indicted In Iraq Oil Probe" by Colum Lynch and Michelle Garcia:

A Texas oil executive, his two companies and two foreign associates were indicted Thursday on charges that they illegally paid millions of dollars to Iraqi officials in exchange for lucrative deals to buy discounted oil from the government of Saddam Hussein.
A separate criminal complaint charged Tongsun Park, a South Korean businessman who was at the center of a congressional influence-peddling scandal in the 1970s, with acting as an "unregistered agent" of Hussein's government and with trying to bribe a U.N. official for relief from economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
[. . .]
A federal grand jury in Manhattan charged that David B. Chalmers Jr., founder of Houston-based Bayoil USA Inc. and Bayoil Supply & Trading Limited; Ludmil Dionissiev, a Bulgarian citizen who lives in Houston; and John Irving, a British oil trader, funneled millions of dollars in kickbacks through a foreign front company to an Iraqi-controlled bank account in the United Arab Emirates. If convicted, the three men could each be sentenced to as long as 62 years in prison, $1 million in fines, and the seizure of at least $100 million in personal and corporate assets.

Just wondering, is there a reason that John Irving is named in the fifth paragraph of the Post story (and it's noted that three are involved in the headline) but Miller's reporting (with Julia Preston) doesn't mention Irving (or that there's a third person charged) until paragraph eighteen? Is this a friend of Judith Miller's? She can go strangely silent about her friends.

Not just Chalabi. Take David Kelly -- the notice on his death she wrote is still one of the strangest things she's ever turned in -- no easy trick. In that article, she failed to inform readers of her daily contact with Kelly and seemed to suggest that there were questions about what elsewhere in the Times was supposed to be a suicide. (She also spoke of people weighing in on his affect and mood, considering her contact with him, it was strange she didn't include a "this reporter . . .")

For whatever reason, John Irving (not the well known author) doesn't get mentioned until paragraph eighteen and the opening paragraph refers to only two. The Post tells you, in the opening paragraph, that the American was indicted as well as "two foreign associates." The Times waits for paragraph eighteen. (After speculation about Jack Kemp and Jimmy Carter.) (Read the Times article if you're curious.) It's sad that Miller's credibility is so low that we have to wonder why the British John Irving isn't mentioned (by name or even implication) until paragraph eighteen? But she's set herself up for those questions.

Kara notes David D. Kirkpatrick's "Frist Set to Use Religious Stage on Judicial Issue:"

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.
Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."
Organizers say they hope to reach more than a million people by distributing the telecast to churches around the country, over the Internet and over Christian television and radio networks and stations.

Having trashed his medical reputation in recent weeks by implying that AIDS could be passed on by means other than those supported by medical science and by diagnosing Terry Schiavo via videotape, Frist now appears determined to make questions about his spiritual committment. Religious showboating will lead to that.

Brad notes Jonathan Fuerbringer's "Stocks Plunge to New Lows for the Year:"

The major stock market gauges fell yesterday to their lowest levels this year, as investors worried about slower growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.2 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 1 percent, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index closed down 1.4 percent, despite a strong earnings report from
Apple Computer.
After the market closed,
I.B.M. said that its first-quarter earnings fell short of estimates. The surprising announcement may lead stocks lower today. Shares of I.B.M. fell 5 percent in after-hours trading.
The Nasdaq, down 10.5 percent for the year, has given up all the gains from last year's postelection rally, which turned 2004 to a pretty good year from a bad year. The Dow, off 4.7 percent on the year, and S.& P. 500, down 4.1 percent in 2005, have given up most of their postelection gains.

Brad: It's the Bully Boy's economy but no doubt he'll yet again find someone else to blame. Maybe he'll try something along the lines of "I've only been in office for five years!" Maybe he'll insist it's a sign to cut taxes. Tom DeLay's already blaming the 'liberal media,' so if worse comes to worse, I'm guessing Bully Boy will trot out Bill Clinton to pin this on. Remember, it's never the Bully Boy's fault.

So true, Brad.

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*"When Judy goes scoop, nothing goes right." If you've seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, hum the Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael song "When Loves Goes Wrong" that Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell sing in that film. Just substitute "Judy" for "love" and "scoop" for "wrong:"

The sun don't beam
The moon don't shine
The tide don't ebb and flow
A clock won't strike
A match won't light
When Judy goes scoop
Nothing goes right

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Scott Ritter says "Semper Fraud" and The Rachel Maddow Show

Trina e-mails asking that we highlight Scott Ritter's "Semper Fraud" (which he discussed with Randi Rhodes on her show Wednesday). From the article:

Such questions were fraught with political implications, and when raised within months of a national election for the presidency, both Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller decided that any investigation into how the Bush administration used this flawed intelligence – the so-called "Phase Two" of the Select Intelligence Committee's report – would wait until after the election was done. The need for "Phase Two" was underscored by the recent release of the Presidential Commission on Intelligence and WMD, which found that the U.S. intelligence community was "dead wrong" on Iraq. However, the chairman of that Commission noted that it wasn't in his mandate to investigate how the bad intelligence was used by policymakers. This is not surprising, given the fact that it was President Bush himself who set that mandate. But the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, charged with conducting appropriate oversight as a separate but equal branch of government, has no such limitations. In fact, to not go forward with the "Phase Two" investigation would represent a gross dereliction of duty on the part of those senators so charged.
But avoidance of responsibility to the American people, and to the American military – Marines included – seems to be what Senator Roberts is all about lately. On April 10, in an appearance on NBC News' Meet the Press, Roberts was as slippery as he was disingenuous when dealing with the issue of investigating how policymakers made use of the bad intelligence on Iraqi WMD. "I'm more than happy to finish this, and I want to finish it, but we have other things that we need to do," he said when asked about the "Phase Two" report. "I don't know what that accomplishes over the long term. I'm perfectly willing to do it, and that's what we agreed to do, and that door is still open … so we will get it done, but it seems to me that we ought to put it in some priority of order, and after we do get it done I think everybody's going to scratch their head and say, 'OK, well, that's fine. You know, let's go to the real issue.'"
The real issue is the over-1,550 American military personnel who have lost their lives based upon the decision to invade Iraq. The more than 11,000 wounded Americans. Tens of thousands of dead Iraqis. Every one of these tragic casualties represents a reason to ask the hard questions, and demand honest and complete answers. The men and women who are fighting in Iraq are doing so because they took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. As the chairman of the Senate Committee responsible for the oversight of one of the largest failures of intelligence in American history, Senator Roberts is walking point for everyone who has been touched by this war, combatant and noncombatant alike.

Rachel Maddow's radio show debuted this morning on Air America. It was a strong first hour and Kent Jones came on near the end to provide many laughs. If Air America wants to get behind this show, the smart thing to do is to repeat it directly after The Mike Malloy Show.
Those who want to listen via radio (or who have no choice in the matter) but can't catch the show at such an early hour (five a.m. to six a.m. eastern time) might be able to catch the hour long show at night. If you missed The Rachel Maddow Show, remember that Air America Place is archiving episodes.

I'm sure Maddow was nervous on the first day of her solo show but she didn't show it. It was a strong show that was focused and didn't meander this way and that. If you were a fan of Unfiltered, I'd recommend that you check it out. (It's not Unfiltered. You can't have Unfiltered with just one person. Rachel Maddow, Lizz Winstead and Chuck D made Unfiltered what it was.
Guests such as Mike Papantonio helped out as well. But The Rachel Maddow Show is a strong show and if you were an Unfiltered fan, I think you'll enjoy it. Maddow's doing her own thing here and she's off to an incredible start.)

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Planespotting: Airport Police Try to Seize Camera Containing Evidence of Same At Shannon

Airport Police Try To Seize Camera Containing Evidence Of Same At Shannon
While planespotting OUTSIDE Shannon Warport in broad daylight last Sunday, some planespotters found themselves on the receiving end of a fit of madness from one of the APOs who decided somehow that he had jurisdiction outside his patch.
[. . .]
Following the EYFA Anti-War Conference in Co Clare last week, some of the participating peaceniks held a vigil in Ennis, where they distributed leaflets and food to the fine people of the banner county.
We informed the locals that there has been a huge increase in troop movements through Shannon. (95,584 in the first three months of 2005 alone. There has also been more frequent sightings of C-130s and US Navy logistic flights at Ireland's de facto warport.)
Over a hundred leaflets were handed out to the public, who also appreciated the free food.
Afterwards, 7 of us went to Shannon to check up on our local US military airstrip. As usual we went to the industrial estate bordering the airport, rather than into the airport itself.
[. . .]
I told him that he had no jurisdiction outside the airport as he was not a Garda.
"How do you know I'm not a garda?!" he snapped back at me.
"You're wearing an airport police inspectors uniform" I replied.
At that point I warned him that it was a serious offence to impersonate a Garda and that he should not pass himself off as a member of An Garda Siochana.
(We have this on tape, and he knew we were taping it, that’s probably why he was engaged in a tug of war with the camerawoman – so the tape would be admissible in evidence should the DPP choose to prosecute this man)
Rather than admit that he was not a Garda, this man kept up the pretence. "I am an authorised officer" he said.
"Yes, under the Air Transport and Navigation Acts" I replied, "that gives you jurisdiction inside the airport. We are not IN the airport."

The above is from Tim Hourigan's "'Good German' and Shannon Airport 'Police' Inspector Impersonates A Garda Siochana" over at IE Indymedia (Ireland). What? You thought it was just in Colorado that Bully Boys pose as something they're not and attempt to evict lawful citizens?

Yes, we're in the Indy Media Review. (And my apologies for no evening posts last Thursday due to problems with Blogger. We did miss the Indy Media Review as a result.)

Bolton and Negroponte aren't the only people causing concerns. Patrick steers us to Boston Indy Media where you'll find a heads up via Massachusetts Global Action's "Deval Patrick: 'Too much baggage...' say activists:"

Current Coca-Cola employee, Deval Patrick, has "too much baggage" to represent the Commonwealth says, Kim Foltz, Campaign Director of Massachusetts Global Action (MGA). "With his recent $2.1 million cash infusion from Coca-Cola and confidentiality agreement, we're worried that he cannot have anything but serious conflicts of interests when it comes to water issues, labor rights, and the health of our kids."
A growing network of organizations, including MGA, the India Resource Center, and Corporate Campaign, has grave concerns about Coca-Cola's practices.
Activists are challenging Coke's depletion and contamination of water resources in India, while trade unionists are exposing the corporation's complicity in paramilitary intimidation and suppression of labor unions in Colombia.
"Meanwhile," Foltz adds, "Deval Patrick is that he is being paid to be silent about Coca-Cola!"
Amit Srivastava, director, India Resource Center, notes that Patrick has "never spoken out against Coca-Cola's practices in India. These include selling soft drinks with high pesticide levels and depleting of water resources in at least four communities."
In addition, Foltz notes, "Coca-Cola's systematic targeting of children and young people in the United States have profoundly negative health impacts."
A candidate "needs to tell me that my child's health is front and center of their campaign.
No Coke hack can tell me that," complains Suren Moodliar, parent and local labor rights activist.
Foltz notes that her organization "will be monitoring the upcoming campaign for evidence of corporate influence."

Lloyd e-mails to note Anna Thompson's "Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney Urges Reform of Voting Process at Historic Conference" (Tennesse IMC):

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney adressed the closing of the National Election Reform Conference Saturday, April 9th in Nashville. Congresswoman McKinney is the first black female elected to Congress from the state of Georgia. Elected in 1992, she served five consecutive terms. In 2002 she was the subject of an intense campaign by the Republicans to run her out of office for questions she asked about Bush Administration knowledge of events surrounding September 11th. After a two year hiatus she returned to the public arena and successfully regained her seat. She addressed the National Conference on Election Reform regarding the historical suppression of the black vote and modern attempts at gerrymandering and voter suppression.
"Thank you for coming together and doing this in the South. Most issues that move Americans to act are not happening in the South. When did the Bush administration know about September 11th? I suffered mightily for asking that question. Like you I feel victimized by a system that is slipping away from the grips of the American people. In 1992 I was the first black woman elected to Congress. Soon afterwards, my district was redistricted into a new district that was only 30% black. I was supposed to lose but I didn't, then came September 11th. Republicans came out of the woodwork.""Now here in the South African Americans have had to grapple with their right to vote in every election. Now African Americans are still angry about what happened in Florida in 2000, but it didn't stop there. In Florida I watched what happened. The same kind of crass effort to stop the vote has happened in Georgia. It happened in my district and across the South."
[. . .]
"Before I was ushered out of Washington DC I had met with an African American accountant. He had devised a voting method entitled 'TruVote.' His machine was the kind of machine that you are asking for. It gave you a paper receipt, it generated a randomly generated number and if you called a 1-800 number then a computer would tell you what race you voted in and it gave you the numbers of votes cast in that district and would tell you what offices you voted for. TruVote had the solution. I called Mr Gibbs and I wanted him to go with me to California and demonstrate his machine. Two nights later I heard he had been in an accident in which he perished. He was supposed to go to Ohio to testify and so Avon Gibbs loss is our loss, is America's loss. I hope part of this election reform activism recalls his memory."

Gary e-mails to draw our attention to this by imc "News: Civil & Human Rights Amherst Takes Strong Stands Against U.S. Use of Torture." It's from Western Masachussettes Indy Media and details the efforts by the local Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Amherst:

On Monday evening, the Town of Amherst’s Select Board voted unanimously to sign on to a letter rejecting U.S. use of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, drafted by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. That same evening, by a vote of 7-1, Eugene’s City Council approved a resolution based on the letter. Many more communities are expected to join Eugene and Amherst in the coming weeks, as the BORDC’s grassroots coalition seeks to challenge the Bush Administration’s tacit approval of torture and rendition post 9/11.The letter asks the United States government to affirm that it will not through its own actions, or through others acting on its behalf, engage in any acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment anywhere in the world. The BORDC asks local government bodies, veterans groups, retired military officers, and national organizations to sign on to its letter because U.S. use of torture places U.S. and allied military forces at greater risk of similar treatment if they are captured. The BORDC plans to deliver the letter to President Bush and all members of Congress in early May.Nancy Foster, Amherst community member and longtime civil liberties supporter, introduced the letter to the Amherst Select Board. The five-member Board praised Foster and offered their unanimous support for the letter. They plan to send their own copies of the letter to Amherst's Congressional representatives, in addition to endorsing BORDC's letter.

Again, for disclosure reasons, I volunteered with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in my area. I'm really glad (and proud of you) that so many community members are seeking out their local committees and seeing how they can make a difference.

Lily visited Portland Indy Media and found "NPR ¿'news'?" by Progressive Democrat. What is about Portland IMC that makes them turn out such strong media criticism. (The Third Estate Sunday Review highlighted Jen Amos' "Commercialized Progressive Talk Radio Shows Its True Colors" this past Sunday.) This week Progressive Democrat tackles the issue of NPR:

Sometimes NPR isn't so bad, maybe almost pretty good . . . sometimes. But other times, like today, NPR covered two stories with a definite pro-Bush slant, just to make sure that no one would doubt that its reporting is "balanced"! Especially wouldn't want to step on the toes of any of its corporate or "non-profit" foundation supporters!
1. "Politics of the Weak Dollar" (first in a three-part series). The falling dollar was covered from the point of view, in a quote repeated twice and told as though from a neutral expert, that the Bush administration's responsibility for the fast-approaching dollar crisis is limited to a policy of "benign neglect." No mention of the role played by the egregious deficits under Bush, propelled primarily by the Iraq war and Bush's insistence upon cutting taxes for the rich. Compare NPR's coverage with a more balanced report by the Christian Science Monitor -- not a Democratic, and far less leftist, news source. Here are excerpts from a report as of late last November:
The dollar is now down 50 percent against the euro since October 2000, and hit a its lowest level since 1995 against a basket of foreign currencies last week. Up to now, the White House has let the Treasury deal with the dipping dollar. In comments to the press in London, Treasury Secretary John Snow threw cold water on any move to join the Europeans in managing the dollar's fall. "The history of efforts to impose nonmarket valuations on currencies is at best unrewarding and checkered," he said. Decades ago, such an attitude was labeled "benign neglect."

We'll take this moment to get a report from community member Ruth who is following NPR for us.

Ruth: The thing that stood out the most on Moring Edition this morning was this:

April 14, 2005 - After confirming plea deals in Georgia and Alabama Wednesday, confessed bomber Eric Rudolph will serve life in prison. Afterward, he said his 1996 attack at the Atlanta Olympics was meant to embarrass the federal government. In reference to a fatal 1998 bombing at an Alabama women's clinic, he said "abortion is murder."

The intro into the segment contained no mention of any bombing other than the Olympics. And when the issue of his bombing of a gay dance club was mentioned, the reporter quickly rushed into how Rudolph's own brother was gay. The report played out to me like an excuse as opposed to a factual accounting. (The introduction to the segment was much worse.) It was as though his actions were being minimized. And what is terrorism but the actions of Rudolph?
NPR listeners had to make that connection themselves because the report played out like poor misunderstood Rudolph.

We'll hop over to Australia to note our friend Luke of wotisitgood4. Natalie draws our attention to his post "lie sin:"

* you know how much i hate all these stupid ricin stories - there's been a bunch of them in the last few years, but there hasnt been a single legitimate one, and this one looks dodgy too - the details are so murky.
* the beeb is playing it up like alqaida wants to destroy the world with a long scary piece headlining their bulletins. the beeb has moved so close to cnni in the last year that its difficult to tell the two apart. the beeb, in print and on teeve helpfully tell us "If they had succeeded officials in the UK believe the impact on our lives would have been as great as 9/11." - but the details seem a whole lot murkier than the headlines...
* " the plan was to smear nicotine poison on the handles of cars and houses" LINK
* "Even a small number of beans was capable of producing a substantial number of fatal doses through inhalation or injection.”" LINK ie. *not* touching doors handles
* "The jury found Bourgass guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance by using poisons and explosives for which he was given a 17 year sentence." LINK
* the cases "cost an estimated £50m" and 8 out of 9 folks werent charged LINK
* the acquitals " also undermines the justification for the Iraq war. Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State, used the plot to back his case for the conflict before the UN. Tony Blair also claimed the ricin "find" was evidence of the threat of weapons of mass destruction to Britain." LINK
* "Defense lawyers said that despite one of the biggest police investigations of recent times, there was little proof of a major plot." LINK
* " "no traces of manufactured ricin had been found," despite the initial reports that traces of the toxin had been found" LINK - which reminds me of the ricin 'find' in a parisian train station a while back - the ricin was later downgraded to table salt or some such.

Liang draws our attention to UCSC Students Against War's "UCSC Students Kick Military Recruiters Off Campus." This April 5, 2005 article is from Santa Cruz Indymedia:

Earlier today, about 300 UC Santa Cruz students led by Students Against War (SAW) kicked Army, Navy and Marine Corps recruiters out of the annual Career Center Job Fair, marking yet another success for the nation-wide counter-military recruitment campaign.
Joined by Watsonville's Brown Berets, SAW protesters gathered for a rally at the campus bookstore and occupied the streets in a traffic-stopping procession up to the Stevenson Event Center where the Job Fair was being held.
Students were motivated by fiery speeches about the racist, sexist, classist and heterosexist biases of the military, all of which are in violation of the UC Santa Cruz's non-discrimination policies.
As the march began, a small group of students infiltrated the Job Fair and surrounded recruiter’s tables, chanting and linking arms. This small group was soon joined by more students from the march who pushed their way through front and side doors, chanting, "Whose Campus? Our Campus!" as Job Fair administrations attempted to literally shove them out the door.
Ultimately, 100 students were able to surround recruiters' tables while the remaining 200 marchers stayed outside the Event Center, blocking the entrances and chanting in support of those on the inside.
Student negotiators struck a bargain with the Career Center Administrators after SAW protestors had occupied the Job Fair for about an hour.
Protesters agreed to stop the disruption and leave the Job Fair once recruiters left the site and did not return. After all the military recruiters received a police escort out of the Event Center, protesters were granted a make-shift booth where a few representatives could remain at the Job Fair to educate students about anti-military, pro-peace options for future employment.

You'll find photos at the link above. And others are also doing counter-recruiting. Indybay IMC
has "Counter Recruiting in the Central Valley: Activists Threatened With Arrest:"

Counter recruiting activists handed out fliers, talked to students, and were threatened with arrest at a job fair at Fresno City College. Army recruiters objected to the activists and claimed they were interfering with their job. After complaints were made to the event organizers the counter recruiters were asked to leave. Instead of leaving they were joined by more supporters and continued to hand out fliers and talk to students. Fliers and brochures were distributed throughout the day by FCC students and community supporters.
The counter recruiters were told that the community college had rules prohibiting free speech and that if they wanted to hand out fliers they would have to fill out a form and wait at least ten working days. Campus police were more concerned with a littering problem than the First Amendment. Read the story here Last month the Reedley Peace Center held a vigil for peace and heard a presentation by high school students about their efforts to counter the lies of military recruiters on campus. Additional counter recruiting efforts are being planned in the Central Valley. To find out about upcoming counter recruiting events go to the Peace Fresno web site.

At a time when elected officials and political mouthpieces posture and distance themselves from advocating for peace, thank God the college campuses are alive.

We'll close by noting what Mike e-mailed in from Boston Indy Media, homefries' "The Coup in Nepal: An Interview with a Boston Eye-Witness:"

In the midst of a civil war, Nepal's king recently staged a coup, suddenly shutting down media coverage and arresting hundreds of people. Sage Radachowsky is a Boston-based ally to the struggle for democracy in Nepal. He was there on February 1st, 2005 when the king took over. Listen to this radio interview to learn more about the conflict between Maoists and the king, hear stories of what life is like there, and learn about the U.S. reaction.

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