Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sunday Chat & Chews -- will "X" fluff on This Week?

Again, I don't watch the Sunday Chat and Chews. If you do, here are the announced guests. All programs air on Sunday, check your local listings.

We'll start with ABC's This Week and there is a reason.
First the guests:

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., ranking member, Foreign Relations Committee; member, Judiciary Committee
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., chair, Republican Policy Committee; member, Judiciary Committee
Fr. Charles Curran, Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University
Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy, American Enterprise Institute
Voices: Jason Kamras, 2005 Teacher of the Year

Now note this:

"Just back from Iraq, Fareed Zakaria joins The New York Times' Elizabeth Bumiller and George Will at the roundtable to discuss the flare up in violence in the country, the Bolton nomination and the energy bill."

In the past, on PBS, Bumiller has been able to refrain from offering opinions & predictions by instead sticking to the facts. (Something that the guidelines encourage Times reporters to do, in fact.) But if you're interested in watching, see how she handles herself next to the Georges and whether she remains a reporter or casts herself as a palm reader.

(And for the record, the energy bill, Iraq and the Bolton nomination aren't really things she's covered for the paper as anyone who reads the paper can tell you.)

Let's move on over to NBC's Meet the Press where the guests are:

JOSEPH BOTTUMEditor, First Things Contributing Editor, The Weekly Standard
THOMAS CAHILL Author and Historian
E.J. DIONNE Washington Post Columnist
REV. JOSEPH FESSIO, S.J. Provost, Ave Maria University Founder, Ignatius Press
JON MEACHAM Managing Editor, Newsweek
SISTER MARY AQUIN O'NEILL, RSM, PH.DDirector, Mount Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women

Saving CBS's Face the Nation for last. As everyone knows I'm not a Blinky fan, but Bob Schieffer may be the only one on the big three not hosting a "lifestyle magazine" tomorrow.
Were I to watch one (which I won't), I'd go with Blinky. As stated before, it's only a half-hour and you haven't wasted your whole Sunday morning by staring at a TV set, plus (again), it's an actual news program tomorrow, not a "lifestyle show."

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

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Dahr Jamail radio interview this afternoon and speaking in Chicago tonight at 6pm

From Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches:

April 23, 2005
Chicago, Illinois
Time & Date: Saturday, April 23rd, 6pm
Location: Sonotheque nightclub, 1444 W Chicago Ave
Details: 21 and over. View Map/Directions -
Sponsors: Voices in the Wilderness and Chicago author Luis Gabriel Aguilera of Full Spectrum.
Contact: Luis Aguilera at
For complete information for all of Dahr Jamail's events in Chicago please visit
Posted by Dahr_Jamail
Chicago, Illinois
Event: Dahr Jamail - Radio Interview on "This Is Hell", WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago
Time & Date: Saturday, April 23rd, 12:15 PM
Details: Chuck Mertz of This Is Hell will speak with Dahr Jamail about his recent experiences and more. You can tune in on the internet by visiting This is Hell -
For complete information for all of Dahr Jamail's events in Chicago please visit

The e-mail address for this site is

general note

We'll do the round up for the Sunday Chat & Chews later this evening.

For those wondering why there wasn't an evening post after the Democracy Now! post, I was working on the Ann Coulter post that's up today.

I worked and reworked and reworked again on that entry. I'm still not pleased with it but I didn't notice the time until the paper hit the door. At which point, I decided to say what Kat would, "It is what it is."

For those wondering about Ava and my piece on media whiners, it will either go up here Sunday or it will go up at Third Estate Sunday Review on Sunday. Why there?

Ava's not sure what's ready and what isn't. And if it's looking like a scramble, an all nighter, we're happy to pass on that (at which point any and all can add to or subtract from what we've written).

Since it is Saturday, there will be a Chat & Chew post but I'm not sure of what else. If the scheduled roundtable discussion takes place, that will take several hours.

At any rate, e-mail address for this site is

Laura Flanders Show & Ring of Fire

From the Air America home page:

Ring of Fire
Want to add fuel to the fire? Call the Ring of Fire hotline anytime! 1-866-389-FIRE
Next weekend, Ring of Fire starts taking calls from listeners. If you'd like to talk with Bobby and Mike on the show, get a head start by calling the hotline now. Leave a message, and if your call is selected, the staff will call you back. On April 30, Ring of Fire also expands to two hours, 5:00-7:00 p.m. Eastern, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Pacific. Join us -- and call us -- Ring of Fire.
The Best of Ring of Fire, Year One
Mike and Bobby celebrate their first year on air with favorite interviews from past shows and current updates on the stories.
"Dead Peasant" insurance policies. Did you know that in some states, your employer can take out a life insurance policy on you without telling you and then collect all the money when you die? Mike talks with Scott Clearman, an attorney who sued Walmart over this ghoulish practice.
civil rights activist Julian Bond assesses the Bush administration's record on social justice and racial equality, in an eloquent interview with Bobby from our first Fourth-of-July show.
Her name is similar but her battle is different:
Julia Bonds talks with Bobby about the horrific "mountaintop removal" method of coal mining. The coal industry is slicing off the tops of majestic Appalachian mountains and dumping the waste in streams and valleys. Julia is a ninth-generation coal miner's daughter who is standing up against the devastation of her homeland.
Mike and Bobby talk with one of their heroes, acclaimed journalist and author
Bill Moyers, about the fight to reclaim the media from the far-right corporate monopoly. Bill warns that a handful of companies are starting to dominate access to the Internet, which he calls the "last, best hope" for a free press in America. (along with Air America, of course!)[permalink]

The Laura Flanders Show
This Saturday Air America Radio presents the absolute best of The Laura Flanders Show.
Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jesse Jackson Sr. come on the show to talk about real election reform. Plus, Monty Python's Terry Jones and master musician Nile Rogers! Who says we can't gracefully take matters into our own hands? All on the Laura Flanders Show this weekend.... [permalink]

By the way, I'm not ignoring Marty Kaplan's So What Else Is News?, there's just no information posted about it on the home page and on the page for the show itself, it's not been updated (as I type) since last weekend.

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Ashcroft going to court, abuses alleged in Afgahnistan, Portland concerned over FBI & Patriot Act, and White House booking torture jet?

Let's start with David Johnston's "Rice Ordered Release of German Sent to Afghan Prison in Error." Ignore the valentine to Condi and focus on the facts (they're buried deep in the article):

By then, Mr. [Khaled el-]Masri, 41, a car salesman who lives in Ulm, Germany, had been flown on a C.I.A.-chartered plane to the prison under a secret American program of transferring terror suspects from country to country for interrogation, officials said. At the prison in Kabul, Mr. Masri said, he was shackled, beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs by interrogators who pressed him to reveal ties to Al Qaeda.
[. . .]
The disclosure of the decision to free Mr. Masri shed new light on the transfer of suspected Qaeda operatives around the world. Until now, it was believed that the transfers were carried out by the C.I.A. under presidential directives issued after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Ms. Rice's involvement suggests that the White House may have played a more hands-on role than was previously known. The officials who discussed the matter on Friday suggested that she had intervened as needed, but would not describe the extent to which national security officials at the White House were in charge.
In January, Mr. Masri's account of his ordeal was the subject of an article in The New York Times. At the time, officials at the C.I.A. and F.B.I. would not confirm or deny the details of his case, although they acknowledged that they had been contacted by the German authorities investigating his allegations of mistreatment.

Whether the way the story's assembled is the fault of David Johnston or "David Johnston" (implying others rewrote Johnston) doesn't matter. The lead isn't that sweet Condi ordered a man released -- the man had been tortured. The lead is that the NSA and, apparently, the White House were hands on involved in the use of the torture jet. That's the big news. A little less focus on Condi's belated actions and a little more focus on the news would have been appreciated in that article. It also would have been great if the Times could have gotten to the point -- to why this story matters beyond one circumstance -- before the last three paragraphs.

Eddie notes Sarah Kershaw's "In Portland, Ore., a Bid to Pull Out of Terror Task Force:"

While Mr. Potter focused heavily in his announcement yesterday on the security clearance sticking points, he indicated he was also concerned about how the F.B.I., which last year wrongly arrested and detained a Muslim resident of a Portland suburb, Brandon Mayfield, and then apologized, was handling the protection of civil rights for area citizens in their antiterrorism efforts.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who drafted the resolution that would remove the officers from the task force, was more blunt about his concerns about the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and how the F.B.I. was enforcing it, including its tactics in the high-profile Mayfield case.
"It would be disingenuous to say I have not been influenced by this kind of national sense - international, really - that we have taken this hard swing to the right in terms of guaranteeing personal freedoms of the citizens of this country," Mr. Leonard said.
Referring to the F.B.I., Mr. Leonard, a former Portland fire department lieutenant, added, "We as a city are not ceding over our police officers to them."

A city commissioner cites concerns over the Patriot Act, so naturally the Times puts that at
. . . the end of the story.

Note Carlotta Gall's "U.N. Monitor of Afghan Rights Accuses U.S. on Detentions:"

A United Nations human rights monitor has accused American military forces and contractors in Afghanistan of acting above the law "by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions and committing abusive practices, including torture." In a report released Thursday, the Afghan police and security forces were also criticized for similar actions.
[. . .]
In particular, he raised concern about the cases of eight prisoners who died while in American custody in Afghanistan, and said the cases should be immediately investigated.
[. . .]
The reported violations included arrest and detentions of nationals and foreigners without legal authority or judicial review, and a list of abusive acts on detainees from forced nudity, hooding and sensory deprivation, to "sexual abuse, beatings, torture and use of force resulting in death."

Kara e-mails to note Raymond Bonner and Norimitsu Onishi's "Japan's Chief Apologizes for War Misdeeds:"

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday offered the most public apology in a decade over Japan's wartime aggression in Asia, apparently in a move to press China's top leader to meet him and to counter accusations that Japan has been whitewashing its past militarism.
[. . .]
The apology did not include anything that Mr. Koizumi's predecessors or he himself had not said before. But it came on the heels of violent anti-Japanese demonstrations in China and was made by a prime minister who has antagonized China by praying annually at Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many Asians as a symbol of unrepentant militarism, and by many Japanese simply as a place to revere the dead. The apology was also made in a public forum before world leaders, in contrast to more recent apologies, which have been issued in Japan.
Asians here, who have long accused the Japanese of lip service on the matter, greeted the apology skeptically. Those doubts deepened later Friday when a member of Mr. Koizumi's cabinet and 80 other lawmakers prayed in a spring ritual at Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals are among those enshrined.

Those are among the most powerful stories in the paper and guess what? Not a one of them made the front page.

But take a look at what Rob e-mails to highlight:

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, left, the former Army bioterrorism expert who is suing the Justice Department for publicly naming him as a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax attacks, won the right in federal court to demand answers in the case from former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court rejected government requests to stay the deposition. The suit argues that illegal leaks to the press and public comments by Mr. Ashcroft destroyed Dr. Hatfill's repuation.

That is reduced to one paragraph in national briefing (page A11; Eric Lipton is the author of the paragraph).

But you know what? The Times can't let go of Popearama fever. They've got another front page photo and another front page story. And inside the paper two pages are turned over to Poperama where you find the front page story continued as well as four more stories offered.

Elected municipal officials are complaining about the Patriot Act, J-Ass will have to answer for his actions in court, evidence suggests the White House was more involved with torture jet than was known publicly prior, Japan offers a sort-of apology, and a UN monitor accuses the US of abuses in Afghanistan. But hey, keep covering popearama. It's easy to do. You just speak to "aides" who tell you what you want to hear, you print it as though it were relevant, do a fluff story on the Pope and e-mail, etc. It's a funny kind of approach to "news," but the Times just can't let go of Popearama.

(John F. Burns has a story that attempts to correct the mistaken impressions left by yesterday's reporting re: helicopter shot down. He too is buried inside the paper.)
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Ann Coulter: Time put an aging "sex bomb" on the cover -- tick, tick

This is the post that originally began thanking Bora of Science and Politics for the links we added (science links). The post began with "I'm tired and it probably really showed in the last entry" and it more than showed in this entry that I saved to draft.

But a number of members e-mailed asking what I was talking about when I said Ann Coulter wasn't a "cover for a general interest magazine." So we'll address that because I do think that it's a part of the story and one that's not been covered.

As for the article itself, Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler and Media Matters are among the people doing strong work dealing with John Cloud's article.

Let's deal with the cover before I get lost in an aside.

There is no justification for putting Ann Coulter on the cover of a general interest magazine.

When questioned on that choice by Brian Montopoli (Candy Perfume Boy), John Cloud attempted to deflect with the fact that Michael Moore made the cover last summer.

That 'logic' has nothing to do with Ann Coulter. If it does, then there's something seriously wrong at Time magazine.

Michael Moore made the cover as his documentary broke records at the box office. And his documentary was already news.

Let's set the stage because Ann Coulter is not a cover just because Michael Moore was one.

The controversy around the film started when Disney took the stance that they didn't do political (though they have no problem being political with ABC Radio) and refused to allow Miramax to release the film. This was part of the long break down with the Weinstein brothers and Disney. So it was news right then. Add in that it was an election year and this was a political documentary.

Then you had Fahrenheit 9/11, a movie, winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. That in and of itself does not make Moore a cover. Many films win the Palme d'Or (this was the first documentary to win "in nearly fifty years"). So we've got a movie that a huge corporation (Disney ABC Time Warner AOL et al) refused to release. In refusing, they further trashed their relationship with the Weinsteins -- a relationship Disney sorely needed to maintain because films like Captain Ron weren't helping fight their image as a sausage factory grinding out low level trash. After Disney refuses to release Moore's movie, the film wins one of the most prestigious international awards. It's now news.

When the film is due out, there is talk of boycotts. It's a little documentary film, it's not expected to make a huge fortune. What happens is, it's breaks every box office record for a documentary in this country. It even goes over the hundred million dollar mark and enters the blockbuster terrain -- unheard of for a documentary.

An immensely popular film with a controversial topic and a Hollywood back story of intrigue (Disney & the Weinsteins) is a cover story. That's a cover.

That had nothing to do with Michael Moore's politics, not on on Times' end. What Time was doing was highlighting a dramatic story about a film a major studio passed on distributing that turned out to be a critical success and a blockbuster at the box office -- one that people were talking about.

Reducing the merits for a Moore cover to justify one on Coulter doesn't wash. The woman was, to steal from a TV critic writing on Sandy Duncan, "yesterday's mashed potatoes ten years ago."
And Coulter didn't just pop up on the latest cover (April 25th), in the April 18th issue she was included in the "Top 100." So something strange is going on and it goes beyond the rules or standards for which celeb graces the cover.

Let's deal first with the sexist notions in general interest magazines. If a woman's over a certain age (Coulter is), she's not a cover unless . . . She's riding an amazing comeback (Tina Tuner), she's had a health scare (choose your celeb), she's revealing something about her personal life that no one ever spoke of publicly (though usually all "news" is already well known -- think Ellen, she was out and out for years before Time did the "Yep, I'm Gay" cover) or she's dead.

It's sexist. I disagree with it, but that's how it works. That's how a woman (singular) gets a cover of a general interest magazine. The only exceptions to that rule is if the woman's a first lady, serving in the adminstration (doesn't hurt to be a "first"), etc. (There is the scandal exception, but I don't think Ann Coulter's been busted for anything other than distorting the facts and bad taste.)

So we've got a woman of a certain age on the cover. Right away that raises questions in many people's minds because we're not used to that.

But we're not done. There are other biases in cover selection. People, Rolling Stone, et al, have long learned that there is a hierarcy for covers: it basically goes that big TV stars sell better than movie stars who sell better than musicians who sell better than authors at the top of their game in terms of sales. Got it?

(A true movie star, a Julia Roberts, for instance, a few years back, could trump a TV star but there are very few true movie stars.)

Now death or dying tops all. Throw Jim Morrison on the cover and he'll sell better than your average music star today, for instance.

So Time, a general interest magazine, elected to do a celeb cover. And they didn't go with a big TV star. When Newsweek put Pierce Brosnan on the cover during the end of Remington Steele, they did it with a "He's So Vain" cover. That's because Remington Steele hadn't been a hit show. It was a niche show, that sometimes performed very well, but it was not a broad based hit as the show's over all ratings reflected. So Brosnan was used to illustrate a story, a "trend story," on male vanity. Brosnan wasn't "newsworthy" enough on his own, in those pre-James Bond days, to justify a cover on a general interest magazine. This despite the fact that Remington Steele drew more viewers than any of the cable chat & chews Ann Coulter has appeared on.

Time didn't go with a movie star when they put Coulter on the cover. They didn't go with a musician either. But they also didn't go with a book writing star. Authors do not make the covers of general interest magazines very often and, when they do, they are either used to illustrate a larger story (often "trend") or they make the cover because they've broken all sales records.

Coulter was put on the cover representing a profile on Coutler. This wasn't a trend story on the right wing pundits. This was about Coulter. And her sales don't justify that.

Forget that her sales are already questionable because they have the dagger by them on the charts (indicating bulk buys -- which generally mean they're being bought in bulk to push them up the charts), she hasn't written the hot diet book, the hot prophesy book, the hot anything.
Accepting her bulk buys as geunine sales, you're still left with the fact that her sales are repsectable but hardly amazing.

An author with that kind of sales record isn't a cover story.

Coulter's not coming off a health scare, she's not having a tremendous sales impact where everyone's jaw is dropping as she breaks one sales record after another (translation, she hasn't written a Harry Potter book) and she's not in the midst of a scandal.

By industry standards, she has no place gracing the cover.

Covers don't just happen. They're thought out, they're discussed. (Again, we're speaking of the covers of general interest magazines.) Many magazines (including Rolling Stone) test their covers ahead of time. (I don't remember if Norah Jones made the cover of Rolling Stone for her second album but I remember seeing the mock up test cover -- with her in blue jeans. I think Beyonce ended up being chosen out of that round of test covers.)

Your celeb cover is supposed to boost your magazine's sales. Coulter is a celebrity, a very low level celebrity.

They don't make the cover.

With your cover choice, you're trying to garner interest and so there's a whole set of rules when a general interest magazine chooses to go the celeb route.

Putting Ann Coulter on the cover is like putting Charo on the cover on the basis of Love Boat guesting. It makes no sense. She hasn't broken sales record. She's not even done anything interesting of late.

And make no mistake, the covers have become marketing. That's why Time will put a film turned out by Warner Bros. studios on the cover and pronounce it a hit . . . before the film's released. (Time Warner ABC Disney CNN AOL et al. "Synergy" means marketing your own. The way Today treats each episode of The Apprentice as "news.")

When Bob Somerby's speaking of Time's attempt to "mainstream" Coulter, that may be one of the things he's talking about. A celeb cover is mainstream.

When you pick a celeb cover, you are trying to ride their big moment of fame and sell more copies of that issue as a result. Coulter isn't riding a wave right now.

So why is she on the cover?

That's part of the reason that people keep talking about this. People have been marketed too for so long that, when the marketing screws up, they realize a mistake was made.

The issue isn't just that Time did a lengthy profile on Coulter. Her placement on the cover has also helped keep tongues wagging.

Leaving aside the shoddy article, putting Coulter on the cover is a publishing/marketing
mistake and not because she's "controversial" (many celebs are) but because she's not a cover. Your average industry person could tell you that. They'd argue the hottest story right now from the fright-wing would be getting Bill O'Reilly on the record about the sexual harrassment allegations or, better, getting Rush to talk about his drug problem. Ann Coulter treading water
in her well settled career doesn't even make the top ten fright-wing stories in terms of newsworthiness or heat.

What a lot of the criticism over this choice is about is people instinctively knowing what is and what isn't a cover. Magazines have instilled this in readers. Which is why when Julia Ormond was being hyped as a "star" during Sabrina and Legends of the Fall, the public knew better. And they know better with Coulter (who's far from the fresh face Ormond was when the press was hyping her).

America is scratching it's collective head. Some of the responses directed at Cloud (who seems so surprised) are probably the result of that awareness. But the fact remains that he wrote a very shoddy article and when people raise valid points about it, he wants to attack.

This entry was prompted by Larry's e-mail Thursday asking outright, "What qualifies Coulter for a cover?" Nothing qualifies her, at this late date, for a cover. Larry wonders if Coulter's profile resorts from some "spell she seems to have on self-loathing gays?" I have no idea whether John Cloud is self-loathing, he is openly gay. Which appears to be why certain people rushed to draw a firm line between the article he wrote and Cloud himself -- such a firm line that it came close to justifying bad reporting. They made comments like, "He's a nice guy and I'm not going to comment." Why aren't you going to comment? That was left unstated and, unless you were in the know, you didn't grasp that certain individuals appeared to be policing their remarks out of some sexual solidarity.

And that's really too bad because his article is a really bad article -- one I see no reason to pin on his sexuality. (But then, I don't buy the idea that Coulter can weave a spell on anyone, regardless of their sexuality or any tendency towards 'self-hating.' I do believe that people
who want to mainstream/mainline her will work overtime to do so -- for their own selfish reasons.)

It was disappointing, but not surprising, to witness certain individuals taking a pass on him. Even after he attacked David Brock so viciously in the CJR Daily interview. Maybe there's hostility towards Brock for passing (staying closeted to the public) for so long? But some of the loudest voices took a pass on this criticism (I'm thinking specifically on two) and perhaps it would have been more honest for them to have stated, "Look, I'm gay and so is John, so I'm not going to criticize him."

We added Brock's Media Matters to the permalinks last night because I was so offended by the personal nature of the attack Cloud launched on Brock. Larry asked me what I thought of that
attack? I think Cloud, if his statements were genuine, is a very sad person. I think that someone who doesn't believe a person can change or that redemption can be found is very sad. I don't know Brock (or Cloud or Coulter).

As a strong defender of Anita Hill, I spent a long time loathing David Brock. I read Blinded By the Right with hesitation and a desire to find something, some reason, to label him false or an opportunist. I didn't find it.

Brock lied about Anita Hill and launched repeated attacks on her. (False attacks.) He got honest about that a number of years ago. To claim, as Cloud did, that because of Brock's earlier life nothing he says presently can be believed seems a very sad statement about where Cloud's at.

Physically, where he is at is Time magazine (which some considered to be a prestigious magazine). So he needs to realize that he's earned some shame with this article all by himself.

No one forced him to churn out a badly written, badly researched article. And he can't blame that (as he tries to) on Time's fact checkers. Time's fact checkers are supposed to check his writing. However, it was his responsibility to know his subject well enough to write about her.

He didn't.

By Cloud's standards, this is the end of the road for Cloud. If he were to realize he made a huge journalistic error, by his standards, it wouldn't mean anything because he lied throughout the article. I'm not willing to condemn him for all time for one period in his life. The fact that he wants to deflect valid criticism of his embarrassing work by moving towards personal attacks doesn't bode well for his future. But he could change and I hope he will. I also hope that if he changes, people will be more generous to him than he is to others.

By Ann Coulter's standards, to wrap this up, she has no reason to complain about the cover. Most women would have a right to complain about that cover. What it attempts to do is to turn her into a sexual object. Time knew they couldn't sell it on her face. They tried to create a sex angle.

Comments that Bill Clinton was shot in a similar manner are nonsense. We didn't all gaze on Clinton's legs. But having spent her public life railing against feminism while presenting herself as a sex object, it's a little late in the game for her to be shocked to discover you have to walk it like you talk it.

It must be very upsetting to her because she's not getting any younger and by her crowd's standards (her crowd being the group she appeals to), she's a spinster. She's not lived the fright wing life of "tradition" she preaches. By what she hectors and lectures about, she should have gotten married long ago. Strict constructionists, traditionalists, really ought to live what they preach. But here she is, more than long in the tooth, unmarried, no children, and finally on the cover of Time where she's reduced to being passed off as a sex object.

Coulter can avoid many realties but I doubt she avoids the mirror. The school girl hair is a look she won't be able to successfully pull off much longer. Short skirts, ditto.

This isn't a feminist. This isn't a woman who says "I will live my life on my terms!" This is a woman who preaches "traditional ways." She's got Michelle Malkin breathing down her neck (among others) and Malkin's younger and prettier. At this stage in the game, Madonna had already laid the groundwork for her move towards "respectability." Coulter's done nothing of the sort. (No matter how hard Times tries to pimp for her.)

Miguel Estrada may feel Coulter's exactly the same as she was when he met her fifteen years ago, but Coulter's got to know "exactly the same" fifteen years later is a bit like saying, "She looks good for her age." 16 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (leaving aside the bulk buys) isn't a publishing miracle or even that amazing. The number one book on the nonfiction bestseller list (as printed in last Sunday's Times) was Blink (Malcolm Gladwell) and it's already logged 12 weeks. At number six was Jon Stewart & The Daily Show's America (The Book) which has already logged 28 weeks on the list.

Cloud dubs her a sex kitten. (Yes, it does seem a strange judgement for a gay man to make, but Rosie O'Donnell used to drool over Tom Cruise.) Whether she was born in 1961 (as was listed on a driver's license) or 1963 as she claims, she's over forty now.

And the white stockings she sports on the Time cover don't make her look girlish at forty-three or forty-one. Having pushed limited (and limiting) stereotypes, the fact of the matter is she's far from girlhood, far from sex kitten-hood. Having rejected feminism (and attacked it repeatedly), she's left with the stereotypes she has so fondly engaged in. And by those stereotypes, she's an aging spinister and nothing more. She may wonder each morning, "Have they caught on yet?"

Peggy Noonan took the fast train towards her version of respectabilty, smoothing over edges and cultivating the bizarre speaking voice she now uses. But Noonan was assisted by the fact that, although she was pretty in an earthy manner early on, she never publicly cultivated the image of a sex kitten. The tabby known as Ann has grown old, she's not a kitten anymore. And aging sex bombs hear the tick-tick and see the mini-implosions in the mirror.

Part of Coulter's anger over the cover is that the all mighty Time magazine reduced her to a pair of legs. The profile was pure sugar -- diabetic readers should be forewarned -- but Coulter knows that's what's remembered isn't the profile, it's the cover. And this could have been the moment when the sex bomb was presented in a serious manner via a more serious

Time may have felt like her last shot at being treated as a serious thinker (yes, she appears to fancy herself that). It didn't happen. Now there's really nothing left for her to do but continue her sex kitten/sex bomb act that wasn't really convincing to begin with and, all these years
later, is starting to appear a bit ridiculous to her core which expects women to pursue those traditional goals of marriage and family.

Having attacked and rejected feminism, Coulter's left embracing the stereotype of the unmarried-spinister aunt sporting too much skin for her age. And in her crowd, pity will soon be replaced with thoughts like, "Well maybe if she watched that mouth and acted more lady-like, she'd have a husband by now!"

Having come to fame after the Backlash, Coulter made a choice to endorse the backlash. She limited her own options (publicly) and those of others. She embraced and spread stereotypes.
And seemed determined to prove to the world that a long mane of blond hair and a short skirt could overcome obstacles such as the much noted apparent Adam's apple. She boxed herself in, probably thought that by forty, she'd be living the life she preached for others. Didn't happen.
Now she waits for the jeers of "fraud" (from her own crowd) to start coming in. And she sees herself on the cover of Time posed as a sexual plaything . . .

When sex bombs implode, it's not a pretty sight.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Democracy Now: Exxon Mobile; Armenian Genocide; Matthew Rothschild; Margaret Kimberly & Bob Somerby

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "Always worth watching"):

Headlines for April 22, 2005
- Resistance Group Shoots Down Chopper in Iraq
- Ret. General Calls Iraqi Resistance 'Viable and Resilient'
- War Costs Taxpayers $300 Billion
- Soldier Convicted in Fragging in Kuwait
- Ecuador President Swears in Cabinet
- House Passes Energy Bill
- Negroponte Confirmed By Senate
- Howard Dean Supports Bush on Iraq
- Rice backs Belarusian opposition

Report: ExxonMobil Spends Millions Funding Global Warming Skeptics
A new investigation by Mother Jones magazine has revealed that ExxonMobil has spent at least $8 million dollars funding a network of groups to challenge the existence of global warming. We speak with the author of the report, a member of one the organizations that receives money from Exxon and a journalist covering environmental and climate change issues. [includes rush transcript - partial]

The Armenian Genocide: 90 Years Later Turkey Continues to Deny the Extermination of a People
This week marks the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide when more than a million Armenians were exterminated by the Young Turk government through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Almost a century later, Turkey continues to deny the genocide. We speak with Colgate University professor Peter Balakian, author of "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response" and Zanku Armenian of the Armenian National Committee of America. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Matthew Rothschild's latest "This Just In" focuses on the Negroponte vote/embarrassment:

John Negroponte was confirmed as Director of National Intelligence.
The vote in the U.S. Senate was 98-to-2.
Only two Senators were disgusted enough by Negroponte's dirty hands to dissent.
Only two Senators recognized that Negroponte's support for torturers in Honduras when he was ambassador there ought to have disqualified him from such a high office.

Shirley e-mailed Margaret Kimberley's latest "Freedom Rider" from The Black

Our government is treating us the way exterminators treat vermin. We are ruled by people who mask evil ideology with the artful use of language, so an advertising slogan is in order.
"Roaches check in, but they don't check out."
The United States government is now proposing that the roach treatment be meted out to American humans who want to visit Canada, Mexico, Panama and Bermuda. These countries currently do not require visiting Americans to have passports.
The United States can't force these nations to change their laws, so they are changing ours. The Department of State is proposing that Americans returning from these countries be required to have passports in order to
re-enter the United States. We'll be able to check in, but not check out without letting Uncle Sam know where we have been.

From Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler today, let's note the opening:

OUR SUGGESTION: If you want to understand your world, we’ll suggest you read every word of today’s lengthy but incomparable HOWLER.

Truer words have not been typed today. Somerby dealing with the realities of Ann Coulter's notations. (A subject he's addressed in depth in real time.) So read it.

If you need further prompting, here's an excerpt:

That was the end of the piece. None of the ugly terms inside Coulter's quotes appear in this editorial. In fact, there's no name-calling done here at all; there are no "ad hominem attacks." Yes, Coulter was lying--as she constantly does--when she said that the editorial didn't concern Thomas' judicial philosophy, but she committed a vicious offense when she slandered the New York Times so grotesquely. Taylor was too kind--he was much too kind--when he said that Coulter had "fudged" her claims. In this paragraph, Coulter puts nasty language in the mouth of the Times--language the Times never used. She directly, blatantly misled her readers, even as she engaged in the very type of "ad hominem attack" she was pretending to criticize.
This, of course, is vintage Coulter--and yes, it's pure pathology. To the good, Taylor had caught one part of her lying, even if he was a bit too mild in his condemnation. But uh-oh! With Coulter, the pure pathology runs so deep that there's often a second layer of lying, and that was true in this event, although Taylor, understandably enough, completely failed to take notice.
Yes, Coulter's basic claims were bogus--but so were those footnotes, the ones Taylor cited! When Taylor looked in the back of the book, he noticed that the footnotes didn't cite the New York Times; they cited a Joycelyn Elders Playboy interview, and they cited statements by Lowery. As we've seen, Taylor reported this in Salon: "[N]otes in the back of the book identify the sources as former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elder's interview in Playboy, and Joseph Lowery at a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference quoted in the New Yorker." But uh-oh! That string of invective isn't from Elders; Coulter was up to her old tricks again. And in this case, she also was plagiarizing.

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Three links added (and thanks to Bora of Science and Politics)

From an overlong entry last night that was saved to draft (it still needs work), let's note this:

But we've added three links. Tomorrow is Earth Day and I e-mailed Bora (aka Coturnix) of Science and Politics to ask for suggestions. Bora advised Tangled Bank First Anniversary Edition and The Tangled Bank were good resources for scientific discussions. Normally, blog adds go through our panel but Bora knows more than I do about science and with Earth Day being tomorrow . . .

The Tangled Bank will offer an archive of all entries and the First Anniversary Edition will track the most recent entries over a two week period. (I hope I understood that right. If not, it's my mistake.)

Bora had other suggestions (and thank you for those) which hopefully we'll be able to add tomorrow evening but I'm hungry and tired and just wanting to stop for the night.But we added another entry tonight, Media Matters. I had wanted to write something about John Cloud's attack on David Brock but I don't have time. (Maybe tomorrow.) I will say that the remarks seemed stunning coming from a supposed objective journalist and that I was offended for Brock.

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(The entry deals with why Ann Coulter isn't a cover for a general interest magazine. If I can make it readable, it will be posted later today or tomorrow.)

New York Times: Collie not crazy bout Bolton?

In this morning's New York Times, one story sure to catch attention is Douglas Jehl's "Bush Backs His U.N. Nominee, but Powell Warns of Volatility:"

But associates of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, said he had expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton in conversations with at least two wavering Republican senators.
The associates said Mr. Powell, in private telephone conversations, had made clear his concerns about Mr. Bolton on several fronts, including his harsh treatment of subordinates.
[. . .]
Mr. Powell has not spoken publicly about the Bolton nomination. But his associates said he had told two Republican senators, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, that he had been troubled by the way Mr. Bolton had treated an intelligence analyst and others at the State Department who had disagreed with him.

Lynda e-mails David D. Kirkpatrick and Sheryl Gay Stolberg's "Frist Draws Criticism From Some Church Leaders:"

As the Senate battle over judicial confirmations became increasingly entwined with religious themes, officials of several major Protestant denominations on Thursday accused the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, of violating the principles of his own Presbyterian church and urged him to drop out of a Sunday telecast that depicts Democrats as "against people of faith."
[. . .]
Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, plan to conduct a conference call with journalists on Friday to criticize Senator Frist's participation in the telecast. The program is sponsored by Christian conservative organizations that want to build support for Dr. Frist's filibuster proposal.
Among those scheduled to speak in the conference call is the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, a top official of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., in which Dr. Frist is an active member.
"One of the hallmarks of our denomination is that we are an ecumenical church," Mr. Kirkpatrick said in an interview on Thursday. He also said, "Elected officials should not be portraying public policies as being for or against people of faith."

Ben e-mails to alert us to John Schwartz's "NASA Is Said to Loosen Risk Standards for Shuttle:"

NASA officials have loosened the standards for what constitutes an acceptable risk of damage from the kind of debris that led to the disintegration of the shuttle Columbia as it was returning from space two years ago, internal documents show.
The move has set off a debate within the agency about whether the changes are a reasonable reassessment of the hazards of flight or whether they jettison long-established rules to justify getting back to space quickly.

Experts who have seen the documents say they do not suggest that the shuttle Discovery - scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 22 - is unsafe, but a small but forceful minority say they worry that NASA is repeating a practice that contributed to the Columbia disaster: playing down risks to continue sending humans into space.

Keesha e-mails to note Scott Shane's "Negroponte Confirmed as Director of National Intelligence:"

The Senate confirmed John D. Negroponte on Thursday as the country's first director of national intelligence, with key senators urging him to assert his power quickly over the nation's 15 spy agencies, improve their sharing of information and upgrade their intelligence collection on terrorism and other threats.
The 98-to-2 vote was a strong endorsement for Mr. Negroponte, a 65-year-old longtime diplomat, as he seeks to lead the intelligence agencies out of a period of intense criticism for their failure to prevent the 2001 terrorist attacks and their inaccurate reporting on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The only no votes came from two Democratic senators, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Mr. Wyden said he opposed confirmation because he believed that Mr. Negroponte had played down human rights abuses when he served as ambassador to Honduras in the 1980's and that Mr. Negroponte had given evasive answers to questions at his confirmation hearing on April 12.

It was a strong endorsement for death squads as well, my opinion. Note that Tom Harkin and Ron Wyden stood strong.

Skip the Times trying to report on the helicopter brought down in Iraq (as usual, they rely on official sources to the detriment of the truth and their own image). Go instead to Patrick Cockburn's "Fresh bloodshed rocks Iraq as rebels set sights on Allawi"(from The

Iraq was engulfed in a fresh wave of violence when insurgents shot down a helicopter killing 11 people, and al-Qa'ida in Iraq claimed one of its suicide bombers had come close to assassinating the Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
The MI-8 commercial helicopter contracted to the US Defence Department was hit by a ground-to-air missile 25 miles north of Baghdad yesterday. All on board were killed: six Americans, two bodyguards from the Philippines and the three-man Bulgarian crew. On 30 January, nine RAF flight crew and a soldier died when a C-130 Hercules was downed, almost certainly by a ground-to-air missile, also north of Baghdad.
Al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which has no real connection with the al-Qa'ida of Osama bin Laden, claimed in an internet statement that a pick-up truck packed with TNT and mortar rounds rammed Mr Allawi's convoy close to the Green Zone in Baghdad. When his guards opened fire the bomber blew himself up, killing one policeman and wounding four.

It's Earth Day, remember? Let's note Andrew C. Revkin's "Climate Research Faulted Over Missing Components:"

The Bush administration's program to study climate change lacks a major component required by law, according to Congressional investigators. The program fails to include periodic assessments of how rising temperatures may affect people and the environment.
The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, conclude in a report to be released today that none of the 21 studies of climate change that the administration plans to publish by September 2007 explicitly address the potential effects in eight areas specified by a 1990 law, the Global Change Research Act. The areas include agriculture, energy, water resources and biological diversity.

And let's give credit where it's due, Rachel Maddow stressed this story this morning on The Rachel Maddow Show. Remember, if the show is on too early for you, you can listen to it online at Air America Place. Also on this morning's show, you'll hear clips of Henry Hyde admitting that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was probably motivated by a need for 'payback' for the attempted impeachment of Richard Nixon.

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[Note: Post corrected, it was Henry Hyde, not Newt.]

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler (today and Tuesday's)

There was a Tuesday Daily Howler. I didn't see it and in e-mails with Dallas, we both assumed Bob Somerby was taking the day off. Apparently several people missed it because there's a note on today's Howler about it.

From Tuesday's Daily Howler:

Let's state the obvious: It's hard to find a bigger crackpot than pseudo-conservative crackpot Ann Coulter. But don't tell that to Time's John Cloud, the latest scripted, overpaid boy assigned to make Coulter seem sensible. Just how big a fool is Coulter? It’s not as if major mountains of evidence aren’t staring Cloud right in the face. In his 5800-word profile of Coulter in the current Time, for example, he does find time to include this small clue:
CLOUD (4/25/05): To be sure, Coulter's historical efforts can be highly amateurish. Her writings on the Civil War--she calls Confederate soldiers "a romantic army of legend"--could only be penned by a (Northern) dilettante. And although she has admiringly cited the work of cold war historian Ronald Radosh, he says she misinterpreted that period in Treason. "There were Soviet spies in postwar America," he says. "But McCarthy was really a nutcase ...

She's like the McCarthy-era journalists in a way. She's just repeating what they said, that the only patriotic Americans are on the right." Radosh, a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, also says Coulter has exaggerated his own troubles as a conservative in academia. "She called me a victim of the left and the academy. That's partially true, but I've had plenty of jobs in academia." Coulter responded that Radosh had complained to reporters in the past about being blacklisted. She also called him "a chickens___."
Classic Coulter! She doesn’t have the slightest idea what she's talking about--and then, of course, she calls Radosh names for daring to mention this fact. But store-bought Cloud just can't seem to see it. He fails to say what he surely must know--that an army of historians, libs and cons, savaged Coulter's historical rantings in Treason.
And by the way--did Coulter "misinterpret the cold war period" in that book? Uh-oh! That's what the bulk of the book was about! But Cloud is too polite to say so. Yes, the store-bought fellow is deep in the bag, trying to avoid the merely obvious.
[. . .]
Cloud just couldn't find many errors when he went through Coulter's work! It's odd to think that he had such a problem. On yesterday's Imus, for example, Jonathan Alter was able to think of a big one, working off the top of his head:
ALTER (4/18/05): The problem is that--I mean, she's bad for America. Just take, for instance, saying that twenty percent of the American public--which is what liberals make up these days, maybe a little bit less, but it's still a reasonably large percentage--that all these people are traitors. And that's what she says, that's not an exaggeration. And she goes on televison and says it over and over and over again. Now does that help us understand where this country needs to go or how we need to get out of our problems, that kind of just insane name-calling?

Twenty percent of your neighbors are traitors! Somehow, Alter managed to recall this "mistake," the very "mistake" which came to our minds when we reviewed Carney's profile of Coulter last week (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/15/05). To tell the truth, it’s an easy "mistake" to remember, because it's such a big, whopping screamer. Indeed, Alter used an appropriate word to describe it: he called it "insane." Indeed, this is the "error" which virtually defines the crackpot nature of Coulter's work. But go ahead--search Cloud's profile. Time let him type almost 6000 words--and he somehow forgot to include it! Does Coulter really say--over and over--that twenty percent of your neighbors are traitors? Yes she does--but search Cloud's work. The store-bought fellow typed 6000 words, lamenting his failure to find her mistakes. And somehow, despite all his dogged research, he somehow didn’t stumble on this one! Somehow, he didn't recall Coulter’s trademark mistake—the ludicrous, blatantly crackpot claim which makes her work seem almost insane. Somehow, Alter recalled this mistake. But though Cloud wracked his brain, he forgot it.

There is a lot more to Tuesday's entry (there always is), both on Coulter and also social security.

Let's move on to today's Howler:

But then, Cloud seems to be on a larger mission; he seems determined to peddle the scripts that are now being built around Coulter. One of those scripts we've already seen: Coulter's mistakes are exaggerated. This script, as we've said, is amazingly bogus, but Cloud seems eager to type it. But this is hardly the only script currently being built around Coulter--and it's hardly the only script on active display in Cloud's profile. After all, Coulter has a second large problem--her amazingly large and nasty mouth. Aside from her endless "error"-mongering, Coulter is pathologically nasty. And a second script is being crafted to smooth that problem--a script John Cloud adopts well.
Just how nasty is Coulter's big mouth? Let's return to the end of Slander--to that "one mistake" she strangely makes, the one about Dale Earnhardt. Yesterday, we saw the next-to-last paragraph in her book, the graf in which she falsely claimed that the New York Times ignored Earnhardt's death. And yes, that was a blatant "mistake" about the Times' actual coverage. But with Coulter, "error" typically paves the way to explosions of nasty venting. And so it was after her "error" on Earnhardt. Believe it or not, this is the way she closes her crackpot book:
COULTER (Slander; page 205): Except for occasional exotic safaris to Wal-Mart or forays into enemy territory at a Christian Coalition dinner, liberals do not know any conservatives. It makes it easier to demonize them that way. It's well and good for Andrew Sullivan to talk about a "truce." But conservatives aren't the ones who need to be jolted into the discovery that the "bogeyman" of their imagination are "not quite as terrifying as they thought." Conservatives already know that people they disagree with politically can be "charming." Also savagely cruel bigots who hate ordinary Americans and lie for sport.

Amazing, isn't it? Because the New York Times failed to honor Earnhardt's death, Coulter says that "liberals" are "savagely cruel bigots who hate ordinary Americans and lie for sport." Except that the Times did honor Earnhardt's death in the very way Coulter prescribed--and except that it was Coulter herself who had just misstated this fact. But this is classic clowning by Coulter--the kind Cloud couldn't seem to locate. For the record, this crackpot passage refers back to a rumination on page 204, in which Coulter says, without qualification, that "liberals impute inhumanity to their political opponents and are unfathomably hateful and vicious." In her next book, Treason, Coulter moved on, bizarrely typing this:
COULTER (Treason; page 1): 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.

So liberals "side with the enemy," are "savagely cruel bigots," "lie for sport" and are "unfathomably vicious." Obviously, no functioning person could actually believe such idiotic generalizations. But these are the sorts of things Coulter types, joining them to the string of small insults that define her dim-witted public persona. Hillary Clinton? She's "pond scum," says Coulter (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/15/05). And of course, Clinton is also “unfathomably vicious," as we learn from Coulter's broader remarks.
Remarks like this create a problem for those who want to mainstream Coulter. Though America's talk-show pseudo-conservatives find these bizarre remarks appealing, most people will see them for what they are, unless they're handed some sort of way to air-brush the lunacy away.

I really hate doing a cutting of Somerby because it never does the writing justice. (For instance, Dallas and I exchanged four e-mails today -- a busy day for both of us -- about today's Howler only.) So please considering making The Daily Howler a regular stop when you're online.

If you read a cutting and think, "Eh, what's so great?" realize that I've screwed up and chosen the wrong thing to highlight.

One thought Dallas had was, "Would Newsweek have been so quick to print such a valentine on a woman who regularly compared Katie Couric to Eva Braun?" I don't think so (I could be wrong). Which isn't to say (and Dallas wasn't suggesting this) that "syngery" at work allows AOL TIME WARNER DISNEY ABC et al to lift up an attacker of a host of Today to benefit Good Morning America.

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Matt Taibbi on Friedman, Joe Hagan on PBS 60 Minutes?, Media Matters refutes Fox "News" lies about Jane Fonda

Lloyd e-mailed Matt Taibbi's "FLATHEAD: The peculiar genius of Thomas L. Friedman" from the New York Press:

I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant--but one had to assume the worst
"It's going to be called The Flattening," he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing.
It turned out Alex had bad information; the book that ultimately came out would be called The World Is Flat. It didn't matter. Either version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s.
So I tried not to think about it. But when I heard the book was actually coming out, I started to worry. Among other things, I knew I would be asked to write the review. The usual ratio of Friedman criticism is 2:1, i.e., two human words to make sense of each single word of Friedmanese.

Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I'll give you an example, drawn at random from The World Is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here's what he says:
I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins.
Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one.
This would be a small thing were it not for the overall pattern. Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

From the New York Observer, Cindy e-mails Joe Hagan's "Don’s New Tempest: Hewitt Conjuring PBS 60 Minutes:"

Tick, tick, tick, tick …
Nearly a year after his retirement, Don Hewitt, the 83-year-old inventor of 60 Minutes, is
talking with PBS about creating a new project—an hour-long program consisting of three separate documentary segments.
In other words, Mr. Hewitt’s new idea is … 60 Minutes.
"With general reality being shoved aside by NBC, ABC and CBS for contrived reality TV, public television is in a position to bring back CBS-style news," Mr. Hewitt said by phone from his office at West 57th Street. "In that regard, I think an hour of television a week, devoted to two, three or four well-crafted, judiciously edited documentaries on a variety of subjects would be a winner."
Technically, Mr. Hewitt can’t pull the trigger on any new projects until his CBS contract expires in June, and he said he doesn’t intend to.
But he’s ready to dream. And so, he said, he’s taken three existing documentaries—"one shocking, one entertaining, one poignant," he said, declining to elaborate—and edited them into an hour-long test pilot. Mr. Hewitt said he gave CBS parent Viacom a first look at his project, in keeping with the terms of his contract. They passed on it, he said.
"I want to do it 60 Minutes–style," said Mr. Hewitt. "I want to take the great moments from documentaries, just like we took great moments from our documentaries and made them 60 Minutes pieces. And I think there’s a world of that stuff out there."
As the network newsmagazines fight for air time and the cable-news outlets go on 24-hour tabloid chimney alert, where’s well-meaning documentary news to go? Well, PBS. Considering the shrinking air time for network news, PBS could find a huge infusion of available talent in the coming years—for instance, Nightline host Ted Koppel and his longtime executive producer Tom Bettag, who will depart ABC News in December. No, they’re not announcing anything, but Mr. Bettag did say PBS had great potential to make up for what’s been lost at the networks.
"There is a real opportunity for PBS, in that the networks are under enormous pressure from advertisers to deliver an 18-to-49 audience," said Mr. Bettag, "which is not the easiest news audience to have. If PBS could find a way to deliver news to the 49-plus audience, it would be a real service to the citizenry."
But anyone who wants to create a news show for PBS faces byzantine issues: inconsistent time slots across member stations; in-fighting over political bias; and the need to constantly kiss up to corporate sponsors, who aren’t exactly in huge supply right now. Just ask Pat Mitchell, PBS’ chief executive, who announced she would step down next year, after suffering the feudal system for five years. That included political heat from Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spellings over the appearance of some lesbian moms who were set to appear in passing on the kids’ show Postcards from Buster. (The show was never aired, angering liberals in turn.)

From Media Matter's we'll note "Fox News military analyst Hunt revived baseless Jane Fonda smear:"

Fox News military analyst Col. David Hunt, revived the baseless claim that actress and anti-Vietnam War activist Jane Fonda passed secret notes given to her by American prisoners of war to their Vietnamese captors, resulting in the POWs' torture and murder. In fact, the only surviving POW named in the rumor reportedly says he never met Fonda and that the accusation is "a figment of somebody's imagination."
On the April 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hunt stated:
HUNT: This is about forgiving a woman who took notes from guys that were tortured for years, six, seven, eight, nine years, like [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ], and take the note and give it to -- give it to their prisoner -- their guard. That is unconscionable. I'm not sure she can be forgiven.

Col. Hunt repeated false accusations. That would mean he either didn't know better or he is a liar. Back to Media Matters:

The accusation against Fonda apparently originates from a chain letter that has been widely circulated via email. According to the letter:
[The POWs] had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his SSN [Social Security number] on it, in the palm of his hand. When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: "Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?" and "Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?" Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper.
She took them all without missing a beat. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him the little pile of papers. Three men died from the subsequent beatings. Col. [Larry] Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know about her actions that day.
But Carrigan does not corroborate the letter's claims. David Emery of the Urban Legends and Folklore website at has
"It's a figment of somebody's imagination," says Ret. Col. Larry Carrigan, whom I reached by phone at his home in Arizona. Carrigan, who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, says he has no idea why this story was attributed to him. "I never met Jane Fonda," he told me. It goes without saying he never handed her a secret message.

Media Matters notes that the false rumor has been dealt with by the Oregonian (September 19, 2000) and by The New York Daily News (May 25, 2001).

Read the item and sorry if I pushed fair use. (As members know, I'm fonda' Fonda.)

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Carter Commission, David Cobb, Student Walk Out, reclaiming the commons in June in Philadelphia

So, Jimmy Carter and James Baker are sitting at a table, and Carter starts talking about the disastrous election of 2000 in Florida.... It sounds like the start of a joke. It was actually the start of the first meeting of the Baker-Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform in Washington, D.C., on April 18th. Baker didn't do much bragging about his role in Florida. In fact, there was more than one occasion during the meeting on which Baker notably kept silent. But, more on that later.
The primary question in the minds of many people I spoke to in the meeting and outside it was: "What the heck is James Baker doing on a commission to reform elections?" Former President Carter said more than once that Baker had been his first choice to co-chair the commission and was his second favorite Republican (second to Gerald Ford). Carter and Baker once worked together on monitoring elections in Nicaragua. Baker said he was encouraged to participate by President Bush and Republican party leaders.
Some background on the creation of this odd-couple commission can be found on Brad Blog, which reports that a group called the American Center for Voting Rights appeared out of nowhere on March 17th, was the only voting rights organization to testify at a U.S. House committee hearing on the 2004 election on March 21st, and praised the Baker-Carter Commission on March 24th just 24 minutes after its creation was announced to the surprise of real voting rights groups. ACVR, as Brad Blog reports, was created by Jim Dyke, the Communications Director for the Republican National Committee and Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, the lead National Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. The group's tax status is 501c3, which requires that its activities be non-partisan, and its representative never mentioned in congressional testimony its relationship with the RNC and Bush/Cheney.
Those involved in voting rights issues are aware that, unlike Republican-chaired hearings in Washington, hearings held in Ohio in the months following last year's election included many points of view and resulted in a 102-page report on election fraud in that state. The driving force behind those hearings and the subsequent January challenge to the Ohio results in Congress was Ranking Democratic Member of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers.
Hence the second question in many people's minds on Monday: "Why the heck wasn't Congressman Conyers testifying at this meeting?" The short answer is that the commission would not allow him to do so. This letter that Conyers sent to Carter on April 11 should shed some light on why.
In this letter, Conyers does two things that were not done by any speakers on Monday. He questions the inclusion of Baker on the commission, and he questions the validity of the official results in the Bush-Kerry election.
That's right. An election reform commission has been created in the wake of massive public outrage over an election, and following the historic challenge in Congress of the Ohio results, and not a single speaker at Monday's meeting raised the question of whether the election system functioned adequately to conclude that Bush won the 2004 election.
[. . .]
Last week, Progressive Democrats of America and a coalition of other organizations submitted a list of recommendations for the commission to propose:
* Constitutional right to vote for all citizens, without exception
* Paper ballots as the official record of all votes cast
* Open source code for all machines used to count and/or tabulate the votes
* Independent analysis of all voting machine software and hardware before and after elections
* Unified national standards for national elections
* No vote machine company executive or employee involvement in campaign work for any candidate
* Random audit of 10% of elections
* 10-day period for voting
* Election day registration
* Voter identification by any official form of identification
* Independent non-partisan administration and multi-partisan observation of elections
* Voting rights restoration to convicted felons
* No computer networking of vote machines
* Publicly financed elections for federal offices and free access to public airwaves to all candidates
* Fair ballot access laws and access to debates for all candidates and parties
* Federal holiday for national elections
* Instant Run-off Voting and Proportional Representation
* Equal protection for voting rights nationwide
* Augmentation and reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act

The above is from an article sent in by Heath, David Swanson's "The Half-Baked Baker Carter Commission" (DC Indymedia). Moving from the Carter Commission to this month's earlier National Election Reform Conference, Lyndsey e-mails Rose Davis' "David Cobb at the National Election Reform Conference" (Tennesse Indymedia):

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the National Election Reform Conference held in Nashville on April 9th. David Cobb was one of the many speakers at the conference. David was the 2004 Green Party Presidental Candidate. He continues to work on raising awareness regarding the fundamental flaws of the 2004 election by educating citizens about the wide evidence of voter intimidation, disenfranchisement, and voter fraud around the country that occurred in the 2004 election. Mr Cobb has been instramental in educating citizens about the illegitimate seizure of our government and economic institutions by helping design and implement grassroots strategies that exercise democratic power over corporations and our government. David Cobb asked us to have a look at the legacy of our first "democratic" governments where only rich, white men were allowed to vote. We must create a true democracy by using the tools available to us, such as community radio(WRFN,Radio Free Nashville), bloggers and the indepentent media. We must educate ourselves and others by learning the truth about what really happened during the last election especially in the states of Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina and all across the country. As you know, David Cobb and The Green Party raised the funds needed in just a few days to allow a recount in Ohio. But I'll bet you didn't know that of the 88 counties in Ohio, only 3 counties actually recounted their votes. You know, democracy is a radical idea. A democratic culture is one in which the people who are going to be impacted by the law actually have a voice. The CEOs of the multinational corporations rule us- as surely as the masters lead their slaves. These CEOs decide how much toxins are going into our food, our air, and water. They make decisions about our health care and our privacy.We need to have true democratic elections where every vote is counted and counted correctly by nonpartisan people. We need random recounts before the elections are certified. We need instant runoff voting using paper ballots, where you give your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices. They do this all over the world. This is not a radical idea. It is as easy as 1,2,3- a very easy and fair system. The only people who don't like this system are the incumbents. The same people who make the laws.In most states in the last election, people were ony given three choices in who to vote for. They were told that if they wrote in a vote for Davis Cobb, their vote would not be counted. Many people had the idea that they would be throwing away their vote of they voted for any one other than George Bush or John Kerry. The fact is, that most people voted against a candidate rather than for one. This is outragous. The only time you truly waste your vote is when you vote against your principles. If you are a Peace advocate, then you must vote for the Peace Candidate. The Green Party is the Peace Party believing that WAR SHOULD BE USED ONLY AS THE LAST RESORT.
[. . .]
The Green Party stands on these Four Key Pillars- Social Justice, Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom, and Nonviolence. If you would like to learn more about the Green Party and David Cobb, you can go to There is also The Green Hour on WRFN 98.8, Sunday nights at 7pm.

From San Diego Indymedia, Thor e-mails "Breaking News from The Student Walk Out:"

About 350 students held a rally at City College on April 20th to protest the proposed budget cuts being put forth by the Governor.
After the rally, they held a spirited, loud march wiht drums, noisemakers and booming music through downtown to the State Department building where the Governor's office is. After rallying at the State Department building, the group began to march back. Present were supportive faculty members, organizers, college students and high school students from SDSU, UCSD, City College, Miramar College, Southwest College, SD High and more.
A breakaway march of about 50-75 people split off from the main group, outside of the lines of motorcycle cops and horse cops in riot gear. After an intense confrontation where the police pushed people, hit them with their motorcycles and bicycles, threatened them with batons and brought out a visciously marking police dog, the breakaway still refused to return to the main group.
Although they tried to move their march to the sidewalk, the police still refused to let them go and tried to negotiate the route. After the students refused negotiations, the police finally gave up and let the march continue on the sidewalk back to city college. Numerous attempts were made to retake the streets, but the police used their horses to push people back onto the street.

Clicking on the link will take you to additional reports on the walk out.

From Santa Barbara Indymedia, Lisa e-mails Philadelphia Rage's "June 18-21 *** Converge in Philadelphia *** BioDEMOCRACY / Reclaim the Commons!"

BIODEMOCRACY 2005: Reclaim the Commons!
Call to Action: Converge in Philadelphia, June 18th to 21st, 2005
CALLING ON ALL PEOPLE who resent the demise of democracy and hold to the promise of authentic popular empowerment! All who dare to paint poems of resistance on walls of oppression, dance in city streets in defiance of police states, and plant seeds of sedition in the shadows of Empire: come to Philadelphia! As the world’s leading agents of eco-devastation and medical malpractice meet here in June, we cannot stand quiet.
Join us to challenge the corporate crime, poisons for profit, and flagrant lies of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (, at the time of their annual international convention, with a creative uprising for truth, life and justice!
We recall a custom much older than two-party Republics, in which croplands, grazing land and forests were a public domain that benefited the whole community and belonged exclusively to no one. In today's global society, our commons encompass the biological strata that sustain life on earth -- air, water, food, medicine, energy, biodiversity -- plus the means of communication, education and transit that connect us culturally.
Today, to a degree unprecedented in human history, corporations have seized this public wealth and privatized it to reap growing profits for a small and ever-shrinking elite. As public access to and control over the commons has eroded, so has true democracy. For democracy to thrive, for racial, economic, social and environmental justice to take deep root, and for sustainability to flourish ... we must reclaim our commons!
With their industrial exploitation of biotech research, agricultural, pharmaceutical and weapons-manufacturing corporations are now busily locking their greed into the most primal area of the commons, the genetic structures of life itself. At the expense of public health and ecological harmony, their profit-driven success hinges upon the global proliferation of dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs), disregarding the health needs of the poor while sinking money into science-fiction treatments of questionable safety, and governmental funding for deadly biological weapons deceptively classified as "biodefense."
The corporations gathering in Philadelphia this June are contaminating the world with genetically engineered crops at the expense of our health, popular food sovereignty and biodiversity. They are profiting from unsafe and costly designer drugs, whose side effects can be worse than the conditions they're aimed to treat, while raising the false hope that biotechnology carries the solution to all human ills.
In the name of "biodefense," they are profiting from the costliest expansion of research into high-tech weaponry since the Manhattan Project, developing new bioweapons and resurrecting old ones, and exposing our communities to the hazard of uncontrollable biological agents. To reclaim our nutrition, health and security ... we must resist their biotech!
Sustainable, community-based alternatives to corporate biotech are possible and viable, and we are making them real! At our counter-convention in June, we will not only shine an educational spotlight on the dangers of GE food, medicine and weapons, but will also exhibit the grassroots eco-solutionstaking shape in our own communities.
The Philadelphia area is home to a fabulous array of community gardens and organic farms, food co-ops and urban nutrition initiatives, radical health collectives and advocates for universal public health care, groups of student environmentalists and war resisters, interfaith leaders for human rights and renewable energy, and diverse neighborhood coalitions against police brutality, the gutting of public services, and environmental injustice ...
We welcome this opportunity for local residents to come together and learn from each other, and for visiting activists to share energy and ideas from your home communities! With a shared commitment to putting our values and vision into action, we can and will counter their corporate bio-devastation with our peaceful uprising for BIODEMOCRACY!
To be involved with the BIODEMOCRACY 2005 mobilization, please contact:
Philadelphia RAGE (Resistance Against Genetic Engineering) at phillyrage (at) -- (215) 222 4711 (ask for Nathaniel) -- or leave a message toll-free at 877-806-2871.
For updates about the mobilization -- send a blank email to: biodev-subscribe (at)
And check these websites in the coming months:
"Because disease and starvation will not be solved by corporations!"

The e-mail address for this site is

Richmond Indymedia Center has a weekly radio show

Sabrina e-mailed asking if we could note this from Jason Guard's "Weekly Radio Show on WRIR 97.3 LPFM" (Richmond Indymedia):

This week on the Richmond Indymedia Center's weekly radio show Muna Hijazi will bring you the highlights from this site as well as two interviews: Zarina Zarif, a local activists and college student and Mike Town, an organizer with the Sierra Club-Appalachian Region. Please tune in at Noon or listen online at RVA IMC Weekly Radio Show on WRIR 97.3 LPFMThursdays from Noon-12:30pm

If the broadcasts aren't archived, anyone interested can mark their calenders for next Thursday to hear Muna Hijazi or they can sample the station live (via radio or online streaming).

E-mail address for this site is

Tomorrow is Earth Day but as Knute Berger notes, the Bully Boy isn't "keen on nature"

Most Americans don't know it, but there's a world's fair this year, the first of the new millennium. It opened in late March in Aichi Prefecture, near Nagoya, Japan, just ahead of the 35th anniversary of Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22. The theme is "Nature's Wisdom," and the expo site is intended to be a kind of high-tech Ecotopia showcasing hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles, "intelligent multimode transit" featuring driverless low-emission buses, recyclable biomass plastics, and cutting-edge robots. It's not the first fair with a green theme (Expo '74 in Spokane had that honor), but the focus is timely in this age of global warming and rapid industrialization.
One invitee to the fair--though he doesn't know it yet--will be Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. In late September, near the fair's end, Expo '05 will host a conference of mayors and civic leaders from cities that previously have hosted world's fairs. The topic will be the legacies such events can leave their cities, ranging from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Seattle Center, our lasting civic amenity, which has been the envy of fair planners since 1962. (That and the fact that our Century 21 Exposition was one of the last fairs to turn a profit.) Consider the example of our Canadian sister, Vancouver, which reduced much of its Expo '86 site to rubble and sold off the land to developers.
The confab is also timely given that Seattle Center is being managed in a way that might revise the appraisals of those who have heaped praise on our legacy. Our civic jewel is troubled. It is slowly being privatized, downsized, and stiffed by deadbeat tenants and is about to have its historic Alweg monorail torn down and premier open space bisected by a new monorail line--if

it ever gets built. It's quaint that we once regarded Disneyfication as a threat to Seattle
Center, when actually a worse threat is its being nibbled to death by civic ducks. Maybe a
trip to Aichi would stiffen Nickels' resolve to stave off the opportunists and keep the Center
for posterity. With Nickels strolling toward re-election virtually unopposed, it seems like a September junket could fit into the schedule.
The organizer of the conference in Aichi is the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the Paris-based group that organizes and sanctions world's fairs. They'll be the ones issuing an invite to Nickels. Nearly 100 nations are members. Not surprisingly in the George W. Bush era, the U.S. is no longer one of them. At a time when world's fairs are actually becoming a global phenomenon, especially in the developing world (Korea in 1993; the next biggie in Shanghai in 2010), the U.S. is now a reluctant participant in these "grand intercultural symphonies," as Expo '05 calls itself.
After giving the BIE the United Nations treatment and failing to pay dues for a number of years (about $25,000 per year--the cost of a country club membership), the U.S. dropped out of the organization entirely in 2001, meaning that we cannot host a fair nor participate in the process of deciding who will get the next one. In terms of international trade and cultural exchange, it's like dropping out of the Olympics. Of course, given the way we've treated the United Nations, maybe the BIE is getting off easy. After hosting fairs in two centuries (the first in New York in 1853), the U.S. has apparently had enough.

Few in America noticed our withdrawal, however, and even fewer cared. (The last fair we hosted was the colossal flop in New Orleans in 1984.) But the world took our withdrawal as yet another example of American unilateralism. (Consider also the Kyoto accords on climate change, trashed treaties, occupied Iraq, and the boos of Vatican mourners when Bush's image flashed on the screen at Pope John Paul II's funeral.)
America's lack of interest in fairs is a bit puzzling, because they are one of the oldest modern tools for promoting free trade and globalization. In fact, in a speech at the opening of the very first world's fair--the Great Exposition in London in 1851--Prince Albert outlined a Victorian economic vision that would be completely recognized and supported by today's free traders and the neocons. Prince Albert saw a world increasingly bound together by a global economy with the British Empire at the center of the worldwide web. It's not far different from how Bush and company see America's position today. World's fairs are festivals celebrating the Panglossian imperialism that is so much in vogue in our "freedom and free markets" rhetoric.

The above was e-mailed by Todd and it's the opening of Knute Berger's "U.S. to Earth: Drop Dead: 'Nature's wisdom' is on display at a world's fair in Japan. But Bush's America is not keen on nature, wants to run the world, and hates fairs" from The Seattle Weekly.

Yes, tomorrow is Earth Day. Though the Clinton years weren't perfect, we used to note things like that, didn't we? We had press coverage on them in the mainstream press. The Bully Boy's not interested. We'll look keenly to tomorrow and Saturday's New York Times to see if the Times will once again adjust their positions to reflect the current administration.

There are many resources online for information about Earth Day, but we'll note EarthdayNetwork. For more information on the 35th Earth Day, check it out.

On the same topic, KeShawn e-mailed Kathryn Eastburn's "Climate change" from the Colorado Springs Independent:

On a warm spring Wednesday afternoon, the halls of the New Life Church, a gray, white and blue monolith planted on the far northern border of Colorado Springs, are teeming with life. Voices of hundreds of home-schooled kids who use the building for group classes once each week reverberate off the walls of the cavernous front lobby.
In the new sanctuary -- a state-of-the-art recording and performance arena that seats 6,500 but can squeeze in 8,000 if needed -- a Lyle Lovett recording blasts over the loud speaker: "That's right you're not from Texas ... Texas loves you anyway."
Upstairs, past Sunday school classrooms and beyond a maze of hallways is the office of Rev. Ted Haggard, who founded the 12,000-member New Life Church after receiving a revelation from God on the side of Pikes Peak nearly 20 years ago. As New Life has prospered and grown, so has Haggard's stature in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), overseeing 45,000 congregations and representing 30 million church members nationwide.
Currently president of the NAE, Haggard recently surprised the media and the environmental movement by announcing that evangelical leaders are committed to spreading the word that protecting the environment is a profound religious responsibility and that environmental issues, including global warming and climate change, will be at the forefront of the organization's agenda.
On Sunday, April 10, the New York Times Sunday Magazine featured an interview with Richard Cizik of Washington, D.C., Haggard's colleague on the NAE board; in it, Cizik affirmed the association's newly adopted focus on the environment. At the same time he carefully distanced himself from the term "environmentalist."
"One, they (environmentalists) rely on big-government solutions," said Cizik, who said he prefers to characterize what he's doing as "Creation care." He took issue with the environmental movement's alliance with population control issues and with the "kooky religious company [they keep] ... some are pantheists who believe creation itself is holy, not the Creator. ... There's a certain gloom and doom about environmentalists. They tend to prophecies of doom that don't happen."
Still, Cizik said, the NAE's involvement represents a potential political watershed for environmental issues.
"If the evangelicals can't convince the president, then no one can," Cizik said, regarding the need for a shift in government policy.
In a subsequent Independent interview at New Life Church last week, Haggard didn't mince words.
"I've been an environmentalist all my life," he said, his trademark grin cutting through any discomfort with the issue.
"It's awkward -- I'm a conservative Republican environmentalist, which means I don't have a home."

Lori e-mailed Shawn Stone's "Monkey Business : The Religious Right's insurgency against evolution is far from over." From this Cleveland Free Times article:

If nothing else, at least some of the folks who support evolution have a defiantly bracing sense of humor about the ongoing struggle. In an April Fool's Day lead editorial titled "Okay, We Give Up," the editors of Scientific American were caustic and concise: "In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided . . . We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts." With mock solemnity, the SA editors resolved to henceforth dedicate themselves to "fair and balanced science."
WHY IS THIS THEORY so threatening to so many?
Biological evolution, as first laid out by Charles Darwin in 1859 and generally accepted by the vast majority of scientists, refers to the process of changes in a population over time. (A long, long period of time.) Some of the changes are based on random genetic mutations. Others are based on "natural selection," the concept that successful members of a species will survive, breed and pass on their favorable traits, while those with less-than-favorable traits will pass these on in fewer numbers, and eventually disappear. Oh, and as a PBS Web site on the basics of evolution puts it, "All organisms, both living and extinct, are related." In other words, that early mammal -- the one who looks like Screwy Squirrel -- is our ancestor.
But while the public may be divided, the people who study this stuff -- biological and geological scientists -- overwhelmingly say the evidence is behind evolution. "Evolution is not the fringe," explains Jason Cryan, director of the Laboratory for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics at the New York State Museum. "The other side is the fringe."
This has been borne out by surveys both serious and silly. A 2002 poll of Ohio scientists, conducted by faculty members at Case Western Reserve University, concluded that 93 percent of scientists did not know of "any scientifically valid evidence or alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution."
The National Center for Science Education started Project Steve two years ago, which has (so far) collected the signatures of over 500 scientists named "Steve" who attest to their support for evolution -- a sly attempt to mock similar unscientific surveys collected by supporters of non-evolution- based theories.
Cryan's research centers on lantern-fly DNA sequencing. As he explains on his Web site, he uses "DNA nucleotide sequences from nuclear and mitochondrial genes to infer phylogenetic trees (similar to genealogies), thereby hypothesizing evolutionary relationships among insect groups." In other words, he travels around the globe collecting various kinds of lantern flies, and then analyzes their DNA sequences to see how they're related.
According to Cryan, the whole creation vs. evolution argument is framed incorrectly. "It's artificial." Among members of the scientific community, he explains, the theory of evolution is, essentially, universally accepted. It's not a matter of belief; it's not -- as he says is the case with "intelligent design" -- a "faith-based endeavor."
But isn't evolution a "theory"?
This, Cryan says, is a misunderstanding of the what the word means in a scientific context. As described in information available from the National Center for Science Education, "theory means a logical, tested, well-supported explanation for a great variety of facts." It is not a "guess, or a hunch."
Cryan co-lectures in a course on evolution for biology majors. Choosing his words carefully, he says that he is surprised at how "misunderstood" evolution is, even among bio majors. Part of the problem, he suggests, is the time crunch in secondary education, which makes it difficult to "cover evolution in any meaningful way." He also laments that there is also a general lack of scientific education among the general public -- and, he adds, it certainly doesn't help when the president of the United States says that "the jury is still out" on evolution.

Remember, tomorrow is Earth Day.

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