on the common ills, e-mails and blogging

surprise, it's saturday and in fifteen minutes, i'll be joining betty, c.i. and the third estate sunday review gang to work on the third estate sunday review's latest edition. but here i am posting because unlike c.i. i don't enjoy using the breaks from third during the night to rush over and post.

sometimes i want to grab a snack, or a smoke, or make a phone call. or just relax. or, yes, grab a quickie.

i want to start off talking about e-mails. i've noted some from time to time here and i get some e-mailers noting that i replied to them and mentioned them here but why didn't i write them back?

i'm not getting c.i.'s level of e-mails - thank god - but i do get a little less than a hundred a day most days. if you're wally or sherry or some 1 who's e-mailed from the start, i do reply. these are readers i really have a relationship with.

but if you're writing to ask me to talk about something and i note it here that's the reply.

i'm not online for hours and hours each day. i hit the common ills when i am online. if i missed a part of democracy now on television or didn't understand a point, i'll go there to read a transcript. i'll check out buzzflash if i have time and danny schechter's site and bob somerby's and jude and jill (and lauren) among others. but often times that's it besides blogging here and reading the e-mails.

i know c.i., and ava at 3rd estate sunday review, feel replies are important. if i'm mentioning you here, that's a reply.

i still marvel over c.i.'s taking the time on tax day to help an e-mailer get their taxes done. that's great, that's wonderful but if i even wrote back to an e-mail like that, i would just say 'good luck with your taxes.' maybe i'm not caring enough. which would explain why so many e-mails each week start off with 'you bitch!' lol.

but i'm blogging, i'm not running a half-way house or a pen-pal club.

c.i. called this morning about a blogger who is having a problem finding something to say. my input was sought. i'm happy to help and i'll repeat here what i said to c.i. if it's time to blog and i have nothing i want to discuss, i'll go to democracy now and find a headline. i've done that twice. i then credit democracy now and discuss that story.

i get a lot of e-mails asking what's worth reading online so there are times when i'll do an entry that just steers you to a story here or there.

i've never suffered from blogger's block but i have suffered from lack of time.

betty called me thursday about that. she was dead tired. thomas friedman's columns run on wednesdays and fridays. on top of work and her normal duties as a mother, she'd had to go to a recital for her oldest kid wednesday night. by the time they got home it was time to get everyone to bed and oh, by the way, i need ___ for school tomorrow. so it was get everyone dressed and go run to the grocery store and then come back and start the get everyone ready for bed again.

so there was no time on wednesday for a post. it was thursday night and betty was exhausted from work and everything else. i said 'betty, don't worry about it. just do an entry friday.'

for most bloggers i exchange e-mails with that's the biggest problem, finding time to actually pull something together.

betty's blog, thomas friedman is a great man, is such a great site because she's telling a story and she does that with her kids each night. she will read them a bedtime story some nights but most nights they just want mom to tell them a story. she's a natural writer and a natural story teller and it comes across when you visit her site. she's very talented.

but she's a single mother with several kids (i know how many but i'm not sure if she's ever talked about that so i don't want to reveal anything she hasn't) working like crazy to provide for her family and care for them. she needs to give herself permission to not feel guilty when there's not time for 2 entries a week. when something goes up at her site, it's funny and it has a point. she's parodying friedman and his rantings. i'd rather have that pure gold once a week than have her forcing herself to churn something out when she really should be taking the time to relax or go to sleep.

and i stay on c.i.'s case about that all the time. this week, c.i. was exhausted from e-mails and postings. i said 'you're 1 person, you're posting repeatedly each day, give up the guilt over the e-mails.' and i mean that.

the common ills is the first site i visit anytime i get on the computer. whether it's a heads up to some event or appearence or whether it's a link-fest, as c.i. calls some entries, or members weighing in or c.i. weighing in, that took time to put together (and is always worth reading).

but c.i. has a job and a life. and i really think some people place too many demands on c.i. to the point that if our conversation on the phone goes over ten minutes, c.i.'s going to feel guilty about not using the time to reply to e-mails or get something up at the common ills.

if you read the okrot, okrot we all run from orkot (love the title suggested by common ills member kara), it's easy to think, 'wow that probably took a lot of work to put in every one's comments and to try to put them in some sort of order.' but what you're not grasping is that for the ones that went up c.i. had to wade through every e-mail because maybe some 1 wanted to weigh in but didn't put okrent in their title. over a thousand e-mails had to be read for that.
i wouldn't do that. more power to c.i. and it's probably why those member contributions are always so great. but i don't have that kind of time and i honestly don't think c.i. should be devoting that kind of time to it.

but there are people who write me who think that they deserve a personal response. i read a lot of magazines. from time to time, i'll drop a short note to an editor or writer (via snail mail) saying good article. i'm not expecting that the writer or editor is going to reply. there's no reason to. i'm saying 'good job.' they wrote something really wonderful and i took the time to let them know some 1 enjoyed it.

that's all that was needed on either side. if i wrote katrina vanden heuvel a letter to tell her how much i appreciate the nation and her editor's cut blog, it would be a long letter. i'd hope it would reach her and let her know how appreciated she is, but i wouldn't expect that she'd say 'let me drop everything to stop and write back.' the gift she gives is what i'm thanking her for. i don't want her postpoing that gift to respond to every letter she receives.

and i pay for the nation and it's her career.

i really think people are expecting a lot from bloggers. there's no staff assisting most of us. most of us are not making a living from a site. we're putting our spare time and energy into this citizen journalism. if you like jude's writing or someone else's let them know. say 'great job at iddybud, i really love your work' but if you really love the work, then that's what you should want. not a back and forth series of e-mails.

a female blogger e-mailed me this week about a nasty e-mail she received. she was told that she wasn't a feminist. not because of the issues she wrote about or her opinions but because a woman wrote her about questions regarding college scholarship. the blogger took the time to write back and recommended that the woman visit a few web sites and said good luck.

but the woman felt the reply was 'insufficient' and that it was evidence of a masculine manner of thought because a true feminist would drop everything to assist in the name of 'sisterhood.'

the blogger was feeling so bad and i said 'fuck it.' really that's what i feel. this woman blogs once a day and she doesn't blog about college to begin with. it's as though some 1 e-mailed helen thomas asking for help with selecting a mini-skirt. just because you love thomas' writing (and i do) doesn't mean that she's your be all end all resource.

if the e-mail had come in here (sexandpolticisandscreeds@yahoo.com) i wouldn't have replied. i also wouldn't have done an entry on it. i'm not covering college scholarships and know very little about what goes on there currently.

if some 1 is replying to every e-mail query, they either have a staff or they're driving themselves crazy.

blythe e-mailed a funny story today and i laughed when i read it and i'll note it was a funny story here. but even if it wasn't saturday which is usually my time for me day and time for the third estate sunday review in the night and early morning, i wouldn't have felt the need to reply.

if some 1 e-mails asking if i could write more about something and i can, i will. if some 1 suggests a topic that speaks to me, i'll write it. if some 1 wants to know some good things to read online or even suggest some things to read online, i'll note that.

but i'm not someone's personal assistant and i haven't promised to be a pen pal.

sherry and wally (and they aren't the only 1s) get a reply because they've been here from the start and they're like friends now. but when raylene e-mails to scream at me today for not replying to the e-mail she sent friday night, i have to wonder what needed a reply. it hadn't even been 24 hours, raylene. but i don't agree with you. i am pro-choice. you're not.

i'll never change my mind on the issue so even if i had read your 1st e-mail before i read your scream-fest, i wouldn't have replied.

i don't accommodate here. i'm not harry reid. i'm not trying for 'big tent' and trying to start a dialgoue with you.

you say you're a democrat and think that means we're exactly the same except for the issue of choice. we're not exactly the same. i'm a feminist and you're complaining about working mothers. some mothers, betty for instance, don't have the choices and options that you do. it's great that your husband pulls down 75k a year but betty, for instance, keeps the roof over her kids' heads and food on the table.

i'm not interested in joining you under some big tent. i'm a feminist. i'm pro-choice. i support the right of women to work. and i fully grasp that for economic reasons and sometimes sanity it's not a "choice" for many mothers.

you worry that the horrid phyllis has been misunderstood.

i worry that she will never shut up.

you're a strange sort of democrat but that's what we get when we buy into the 'red state' myth and start trying to appease the social conservatives instead of engaging with the base.

then i've got an angry e-mail from gary who is miffed at me for not replying to his query on tuesday about my measurements.

gary, let me know how big your cock is and we'll post it here.

seriously, who are you gary? and what makes you think i want to share my measurements with you?

i read the e-mails. i'm not c.i. in that i'm not going to stay up late making sure every e-mail was read. i'll read when i have time and if i fall behind, i fall behind. but there seems to be some idea in the heads of several that because they took time to e-mail i'm supposed to take time to reply.

if you're e-mailing me about a topic you feel hasn't been addressed, i'll think about it and if i agree, i'll write it here.

but i think some of the angry folks e-mailing should stop e-mailing and start their own blogs.

quit trying to influence me via e-mails and use that voice to speak for yourself online. click on the 'get your own blog' button at the top of this page and start writing.

think about buzzflash for a minute. i imagine those guys and gals used to write e-mails asking why their favorite paper wasn't covering this or that. they could have continued doing those e-mails. instead they started the buzzflash site and they highlight the stories that matter and they and their readers write about issues that matter to them. buzzflash is our strongest site on the left and it probably came about because people decided to put their voices and interests out there.

if they'd continued to just do e-mails to papers, we wouldn't have the highly valuable resource that we now have. so i'd suggest that some of you think about getting your own sites.

i'll do like c.i. there and respond to any questions a regular reader asks me about blogging.

but, to get back to c.i., when we spoke on the phone today about this question of a blogger, c.i. was guilting over being behind in the e-mails (there were 235 unread when we spoke). c.i. had errands and engagements throughout the day and they weren't going to get read.

i went to the common ills after we'd spoken and saw three amazing entries on the new york times. the first 1 dealt with the invasion of life style stories on the front page. the second dealt with inside the paper. the third 1, my personal favorite, was c.i. taking on the tome poems of somini sengupta that pass for 'news stories' in the new york times.

and i got really mad because i started thinking 'what do people want?' do they want a sengupta piece that's funny and accurate or do they want all their e-mails replied to personally? you can't have everything.


monster-in-law and ruth's interview

let's start by highlighting some stuff.

but wait. let's start off with what's going on with blogger?

i don't know. i've got e-mails from readers who bookmarked and readers who come over from a link and they had to click twice because the 1st time took them to a 'not found' page. i have no idea what's going on.

now let's talk about ava and c.i.'s rebuttal to david & lisa, 2 critics who had personal issues to work through and felt that a review of monster-in-law was just the place to start addressing their issues. if you haven't read ava and c.i.'s rebuttal, here's an excerpt:

"Feminist" Lisel dubs Fonda's character "a narcissistic bitch." Take back the night, Lisel, with your abundance of sisterhood!
(Lisel also uses the "feminist" term "old cow" in her review. Someone send her a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Or Women Coming of Age.)
Lisel's offended that the film's not a drama and that Fonda's not playing one of the First Lady of the Screen roles. Those First Lady of the Screen roles always delight middle-brow critics and almost always kill off the career faster than you can say Greer Garson.
But Lisel, who writes about film, is offended that Fonda's playing "a narcissistic bitch." More than that:
a narcissistic bitch who wages war on a younger woman before undergoing tit-for-tat humiliation in a punitive comedy that tramples on decades of feminist progress with a blithering giggle.
Help us out Lisel, we're not remembering you from any of the marches. Are you current with you NOW membership dues?
Regardless, your concern for feminism comes way too late in your career to strike either of us as sincere. We also question your ability to understand the dramatic concept of conflict. People have to be at odds, Lisel, or we're watching one of those dreary, pointless, talking head films that you so love to praise.

as for david, here's ava and c.i. had to say regarding him:

Now we'll move on to the other one who went gunning for the film, David. (Rebecca's dubbed them David & Lisa.) David's convinced himself that Viola is an ethnicist, she's against Charlie due to her Hispanic bloodlines. We wondered (we includes Hispanic Ava) how the hell David pulled that one out of his ass? And if he could shove it back up there? If he can't, will he allow us to?
If David had bothered to check, he'd find out that the issue he and he alone sees isn't "played up" because the script wasn't written for Lopez. It was adapted to her once she was interested. That meant adding touches here and there. David doesn't grasp a great deal. He also complains that Wanda Sykes is African-American. Or rather that Sykes was cast in the role of Viola's assistant and he has a problem with Sykes being cast in the part and being African-American. We're not sure what Davey's suggesting here? That Skyes shouldn't have turned down the role or that she should have bleached her skin?
While Lisel's concerned that audiences might see a character with edges (see our review of The Electric Horseman to realize how badly Lisel represents all that is wrong in film these days), Davey's upset that Fonda's apparently blowing her wad by not doing drama (see our review of Nine to Five). Why oh why won't Fonda make small independent films? That's what Davey wants to know. While Lisel fumes that Fonda should get herself over to a TV drama pronto (we're sure there's bound to be some new Law & Order or CSI version casting shortly).

besides being some excellent writing, i bring it up to remind you that monster-in-law makes a great weekend event. grab some friends and head to a theater to check it out.

now let's talk about common ills community member ruth whom i just love. ruth does ruth's morning edition report at the common ills. she's funny, she's smart and committed to peace with a perspective that goes way beyond 2 assholes notion of 'clean these panties!' saving the world.

last night ruth did an interview with c.i. over at the common ills. i know c.i. does strong interviews (check out the 1 with folding star) but ruth is just so amazing. she's got a lot of guts, a lot of passion and a lot of integrity. ruth, i stand in awe of you.

here's a sample of the interview which was like a really great hour of npr's fresh air. ruth and c.i. are discussing kenneth tomlinson who's out to destroy npr and pbs. c.i. is in italics:

Ruth: It bothers me because I didn't enjoy my religious beliefs being lumped in with people I share nothing with. Mr. Tomlinson spoke as though all Jewish people, because they were Jewish, felt one way which is simply not true. He portrayed as a monolithic, right-wing group. There is a faction of that among Jews in this country but it's a small overall faction. In the larger picture, you do have people who are apethetic and you do have people who feel that the faction is knee jerk and not reflective of any consensus. Diane noted that he was citing the views of advocacy group. Mr. Tomlinson cut her off, as he did frequently, and the issue she attempted to raise was that this group was a sub-section of the American Jewish community. This may have been, it probably was, why I had so much trouble offering anything to the community other than what I did. Mr. Tomlinson stereotyped and traditionally stereotypes have harmed all Jews regardless of their political or personal beliefs.
What you offered was a kind of heads up.
Ruth: Exactly. But it troubles me, and I'm probably not addressing this correctly, that Mr. Tomlinson wanted to advocate a position and instead of honestly stating that he was utilizing a right-wing group of hawks to back up his opinion, he attempted to portray the divide as "The Jewish people are offended." That's not the case. He was using us for cover to hide behind. Then we had Congressman Sherman call in and make similar claims. This was an important part of the broadcast to me and the best I feel like I'm doing right now is going around circles.
Okay, let me offer something and you can respond to it. Tomlinson wants to argue that the coverage of NPR, the reporting, is anti-Jewish, he used that term repeatedly. To make the claim, he appears to equate support for the policies of the Israeli government's actions with being Jewish? Is that a correct reading of your impressions?
Ruth: That's it in a nut shell. Israel is foreign government, a government, not a religion, not a club. No government is beyond criticism. Somehow Mr. Tomlinson appears to feel that because I'm Jewish, my loyalties are with, automatically with, a foreign government. I am American and I am Jewish. I'm also a widow. My husband passed away several years ago. If I wanted to live in Israel, I'd live in Israel. It's not my home. The United States is my home and I felt offended that, because a group of right-wing hawks want to act in a manner similar to the way right-wing Cuban exiles in Florida might act, Mr. Tomlinson wants to equate my religion with some allegience to a foreign government. Mr. Tomlison is doing that to push his own agenda and may or may not be aware of it. But as an elderly Jewish woman, I am quite aware of the nonsense of "Jewish conspiracy" and the nonsense of "divided loyalties" and how both have been used historically to stigmatize Jewish people. He's using it to advance his own agenda and may or may not be aware of how offensive his stereotype is but it is offensive and, historically, that stereotype has resulted in actions that harmed all Jews. That a voice, with power on the CPB, wants to promote stereotypes that are in fact harmful honestly disgusts me.
We have a members in our community who are very intelligent, much smarter than I am, but we also get visitors every day and in case anyone's confused on this point, I'd like to you to elaborate on the "Jewish consiparcy" myths.
Ruth: Historically, they've been used to do harm to Jewish people. Whether it's that we control all the money in the world or that we're sacrficing babies or whatever nonsense has been put out there in this stereotype, it always creates the impression that we're not fully vested in the larger communities in which we live. We're, instead, according to the stereotype, attempting to control the world. The result is that a Hitler or whomever comes along and uses the stereotype to justify harm to all Jewish people. That's the extreme harm that can come, a loss of life, an extermination of a people. But the stereotype is harmful on a day to day basis as well.
There is a faction, of Jews in this country, with loyalties that might appear to lie partially or completely with the Israeli government. But it's a faction. When Mr. Tomlinson equates being Jewish with support for a government, a foreign government, he falls back on a dangerous stereotype that's brought great harm to all Jews. I find it offensive as a Jewish woman. I hope that the use of such a stereotype reveals Mr. Tomlinson's ignorance because I hope that he wouldn't engage in dangerous stereotypes he knew were false just for political gain.
And, while we're addressing the issue of the government of Israel, it should be noted that not all Israelies support the actions of the Sharon government.
Ruth: Correct. There are divisions within their own country. You can see it with the actions of the refuseniks who refuse to serve in the Israeli army or with the opinions regarding the wall that would act as physical barrier or border. I hope that this is just a case of Mr. Tomlinson being an outsider looking in that results in his reducing all Jewish people to a monolithic group sharing one set of opinions and beliefs. But regardless of why he's doing it, what he's doing is stereotyping and using a historically dangerous stereotype. As someone servince on the CPB board --
Corporation of Public Broadcasting.
Ruth: Corporation of Public Broadcasting, right. As someone serving on a public board, he has no business in engaging in stereotypes. I honestly feel he should be removed from the board immediately. He should be asked to step down because he has promoted a very dangerous stereotype that has been historically harmful. Public broadcasting, NPR or PBS, is a domestic organization that's meant to represent the American people. By equating my religion with a foreign government, he's cast me as less American than some. That is offensive to me and suggests that he is unable to represent the people of this country. He did not merely acknowledge that a segment of Jewish people in this country might feel a certain way. He repeatedly implied that this is how all Jews in this country feel, that to be Jewish was to subscribe to this one belief system. That is not the case. When Diane asked him for examples of bias in the reporting, he was unable to provide any. I bring that up again because he is going impressions and stereotypes and anyone doing that needs to be working at a private organization and not one responsible for serving the public.
You spoke earlier of National Congress Radio.
Ruth: Tomlinson only values the voices he wants to value. That's evident when he listens only to one group of Jews. It's also evident when he places so much weight on the opinions of Congressman Brad Sherman, for instance. The wall that CPB is supposed to provide between the Congress and the people at NPR or PBS is being torn apart. Congressman Sherman, who later called in to the program, was cited repeatedly by Mr. Tomlinson. I'm confused as to why a Congressman's opinion matters more than the public's. It is National Public Radio. It is not National Congress Radio. I believe they already have C-Span as their voice and NPR belongs to the public. With e-mailers and callers, Mr. Tomlinson openly mocked their opinions. It is National Public Radio, not National Congress Radio. Jeff Chester made a similar point when he called in to the show.

that's just a sample. i read that this morning and was just amazed. it's such a strong conversation. i called ruth this evening to get some information on the interview. they'd spoken briefly during the day and ruth had a family event to attend so they had to do the interview late. she said she was tired and she could tell c.i. was so she wasn't expecting a great deal. but after they got the hellos and how are yous out of the way 'the interview just took off.' ruth enjoyed doing and enjoyed reading it even more.

she says, 'it really was a conversation. while it was going on, we were just talking and after it was over, i went to bed thinking that i wished it had gone better and i'd prepared more because other than the media matters item i really didn't have anything in front of me. i got off to a late start this morning and wasn't able to log on to my computer and check to see how it turned out. tracey and my oldest son both called me before noon to tell me how great it read and that they were proud of me. i didn't have time to log on until a half hour before you called. reading it, i thought now that c.i. knows what to do. it seemed like we were just talking and i really felt like i had not offered anything. but c.i. just made it so easy that i felt nothing was going on.'

c.i. is a wonderful interviewer but ruth's being modest about her own abilities. if you haven't read the interview, please do.

at 1 point, c.i. was going to interview ron of why are we back in iraq? for the third estate sunday review. but ron blew it off - i'm sure he apologized! let's not forget to suggest that! - so it never came off. that's why c.i. interviewed folding star. that was a last minute 'get.' it was midnight and ron had bailed and c.i. felt like there was a big hole in the third estate sunday review as a result and felt personally responsible. folding star was kind enough to agree to interview with c.i. even after turning down the third estate sunday review prior. (folding star is a very private person.)

now i need to get ready because a group of us are seeing tonight's second showing of monster-in-law. i intend to write sunday and possibly saturday.


crotch rot - my editiorial sex analysis of daniel okrent as requested by terry

common ills community member terry requested i do a sexual analysis of the new york times public editor daniel okrent.

it's been so long since i've done 1 of those, but i'm happy to take a shot. obviously what follows are my opinions. despite the peter pan haircut, i'd place him at four or five years short of sixty.
he is clearly part of the babyboom and as a white male of that era a lot comes across in his writing.

what most comes across is a need to be liked by the wrong people. he's the type who flirts at the b-b-q like crazy and thinks it's a compliment to his wife. at the same get-together, he's ignoring her like crazy because he is so desperate to ignore what he has and pursue what can't be.

he loves his ass grabbed in bed, gives him a real thrill. in his mind it's the equivalent of a spanking, something he forever toys with but doesn't want to upset the apple cart or risk not being in control.

he suffers from crotch rot. from the neck up he takes tremendous time on grooming then pairs that with a little boy blue sweater. this indicates that he spends increasingly less time on grooming as you move beyond the neck.

the fumes from his pubes may explain his half-baked writing. but they are of no comfort to a partner for not only do they stink, they're dried out and the skin beneath is damp. hence 'crotch rot.'

oh my god! daniel crotch rot! i just got that.

he enjoys having oral sex performed on him but he's not really interested in returning the favor. this is not necessarily an indication of selfishness on his part so much as it indicates that he has a nasty crotch himself and considers that the norm. he has a fear of the vagina.

his partner gets many yeasts infections each year deriving from his lack of good hygene.

he's not big on deodorant. a week at home could find him doing only the 'saturday bath.'

he doesn't suffer from premature ejaculations but he might as well since his focus during sex is all over the map.

he enjoys sex games. not in the b&d sense or water sports, but in the let's-pretend sense.
his favorite is he's the pitcher on the high school baseball team and his partner%2


weapons in space, what next?

sherry has called my post yesterday 'the good news news like katrina vanden heuvel of the nation does every now and then.' do i link to katrina? if i don't i'll see about getting that up by this weekend. sherry's praise was nice and unworthy. but i'll grab a compliment when it's tossed.

wally e-mailed to say 'it was you!' that c.i. was posting about last night. it was me. i did have a few choice words for gail collins of the new york times. for those who missed the post, c.i. was talking about the times and during that mentioned an e-mail about 'how dare you say those things about gail collins!' that just went on and on.

it was me, not c.i. goodness, what's a gal got to do to get her props?

i don't think c.i. would have written what i did. it was more of a personal attack based on looks and c.i. tries to keep it about the work. that's why i have the 'screeds' in my blog title.

i am anne sexton's 'her kind' come to life!

wally wondered if i would mention the times much once it goes to a for pay site? the answer is probably not. i may start mentioning the washington post. my ex-husband has been reading the blog and he asked me this weekend 'do you really hate the times?' i told him the times is so not worthy of a strong emotion on my part. he said he could flip it over and get the washington post. so i'm thinking about that.

if i do, it won't be a washington post report. i won't comb through the paper the way c.i. does the times. god bless c.i. but i don't have the stomach for that nonsense with a paper. as it is i usually read krugman, dowd and herbert, the style section on sundays, the magazine and any fashion magazine they drop in to the sunday paper. otherwise the headline has to catch my eye because i've usually got friends over or am on the phone. the only time we have silence here is when democracy now is on. when that's on the t.v. every 1 knows to be quiet. i used to watch peter jennings but with him out due to his illness the evening news is out. i can't take blinky bobby at cbs and you all know what i think of the disgusting brian williams.

in case any 1 missed democracy now, shame on you and let me share a headline with you:

Bush Administration Moves Toward the Weaponization of Space
The New York Times is reporting that the Air Force is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding weapons in space. The directive - which is expected within weeks - is seen as a substantial shift in U.S. policy. The Times reports that the move would likely be opposed by the international community and that it could create an arms race in space. General Lance Lord -- who leads the Air Force Space Command - recently told Congress "we must establish and maintain space superiority." According to the Times, the Pentagon has already spent billions of dollars developing space weapons and preparing plans to deploy them. Three years ago the Bush administration withdrew from the 30-year-old Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which banned space-based weapons.

that is just such a frightening story to me. it's not bad enough that we've weaponized the planet, now we want to carry it to outerspace? and you know if bully boy carries it up there, others will too. you know how bullies always have to get into a size contest.

i heard that story today and all i could think was 'where does it end?' more and more it looks like it never ends. it looks like it will just go on and on.

and here's something to think about. we don't have the money to take care of the homeless. we don't have money to provide nationalized health care. we don't have money for any social programs but we've got the money to put weapons up in space?

bread and roses are neglected yet again.


on folding star, jim, dona, ty, jess, ava, betty and c.i.

can i brag on some of our community members who blog?

i've been catching up today on things i read quickly and really savoring them. i want to steer you to folding star's piece on real i.d.s at a winding road:

Finally, I hope you're all fully aware that we Americans are about to have national identification cards forced upon us. The provision, the REAL-ID Act, was neatly tucked away in a bill that no one dared to vote against, one that provided funding for the 'war on terror' and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Though Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee took to the floor to protest the inclusion of the act in the bill, he and the other 99 Senators ultimately voted in favor of it.
The Act will turn our Driver's licenses into what amount to National Identification Cards, setting national standards that make them more than what they are now, just a license to drive a car issued by individual states under their own standards. What's more, the states will have to bear the cost of these changes, which is primarily what Senator Alexander was protesting.
The good news is that several state Governors are already speaking out against this act, some talking about challenging it in the courts. So all hope is not yet lost. But do you see where we could be headed? National ID Cards now, passports to travel between states next? We're getting less and less free every single day under this administration and this Republican dominated Congress.
How ironic that the Republicans still like to pretend they're the party that keeps 'big government' out of people's lives! Irony is lost on these people, though.

over at the third estate sunday review, i want to steer you towards their editorial:

Though like many Americans, we long ago realized that Bully Boy says one thing and does another, the issues at stake here are too great to ignore. That should be obvious to even Bully Boy.
Luis Posada Carriles has engaged repeatedly in activities that should bar him from receiving political asylum. The U.S. should move quickly to hand him over to Venezuela where "[h]e escaped from a Venezuelan jail in 1985 while awaiting the result of an appeal against a conviction for the bombing. "
As the international community awaits to see if the "proof is pudding," the United States should not postpone acting on this issue.
Anything else would appear to condoing the actions Carriles has been convicted of.
Like many, we applauded the refusal of Margaret Thatcher's son into this country after his involvement with an attempted coup. That Bully Boy could stand up to Thatcher but waffles on Carriles reveals how the adminstration will determine any action based on how they think it will affect elections.

blog betty never fails to make me laugh but i hadn't read her early morning saturday post until today. i was aware of it because an excerpt went up at third estate sunday review but i hadn't read the post. it's hilarious. even the title makes me laugh. for those who've missed betty's thomas friedman is a great man, betty is doing a humorous site. she writes it as bettina. she is thomas friedman's wife. he drugs her and tells her the pills are vitamins. he's convinced her that he and nicholas kristof have rescued her so she needs to be grateful to him. as betty's unwound the story, we've seen bettina wake up a little each entry. now thomas friedman is out pushing his new book all over the country and he's taken bettina on the road with him in
'8 Days on the road to hell and heartland:'

For the last eight days, I've been in every flea ridden, cheap motel room you can imagine. The kind of rooms where the glasses, plastic, in the bathroom have spots on them even before you take them out of the plastic. My husband Thomas Friedman's latest book isn't doing as well as it should be doing or as well as he expected it to be doing. So we've gone from one city to another, with him doing multiple signings in each city. The crowds have been rather sparse. In fact, only my husband Thomas Friedman refers to them as "crowds."
I refer them to as "couples" and the occasional "threesome." Or rather I did until I noticed how the latter got Thomas Friedman's bushy eyebrows wagging. As if his libido needs any more excitement right now. Most night's it's like he's snorting or mainlining Viagra. I don't mind all that much, the five to six minutes give me a period to reflect and organize my plans for the next day. Right about the time that he's crying out, "Gut check time!" I've finished my personal inventory.
But the "neighbors" are far less than tolerant than I am. It was the rare night that management didn't ring up the room to ask us to hold it down. Thomas Friedman would get off the phone and lecture me about the noise level. I have no idea why, I'm not even bothering to fake moans of late. And I'm certainly not the one repeating, "Mommy! Mommy! Oh Mommy!" a half dozen times before finishing with the hollered cry of "Gut check time!"
But I'm grasping that Thomas Friedman, besides being hugely jealous of the actress who is outselling him, is also not one to grab the blame. One might even suggest that he's one to push the blame off on others.

finally or firstly there is c.i. as community members of the common ills none of us would have thought of blogging if we hadn't been part of the common ills community. tasha e-mailed me last night wondering how i decided to start blogging. because of the common ills. i e-mailed her back about that and she had never heard of the common ills but checked it out and enjoyed it. i'd told her about folding star, betty, jim, dona, ty, jess and ava and she was under the impression that with three web sites coming up as a result of the common ills, c.i. must have been blogging for years. no, the common ills is 6 months old thursday.

think about that a moment, ok? besides the sites i named above, you also have the gina & krista round-robin which is the e-mail newsletter/discussion done by gina & krista that goes out once a week. you have the biweekly newsletter from the uk computer gurus advising you about security and other computer issues. and at the site itself, besides having members contributing all the time by e-mailing in things they want noting, you have people like rob and kara doing evaluations of the times in their own entries. you have ruth doing ruth's morning edition report where she covers npr's morning edition. you have isaiah providing the comic strip the world today just nuts. and kat who started doing cd reviews back in december with her kat's korner.

i mean is this not amazing? it hasn't even been 6 months.

i don't know if you know the site the new york times annotated. jim gave me a heads up to it.
it pulls from various blogs and takes entries on the new york times and groups them together by the story they are commenting on. the common ills gets cited over there. so, following jim's tip, i go over there and see that this sunday's entry about the 3 crackpots who call themselves environmentalist but are supporting the building of nuclear plants has 3 pages worth of blog entries. and here's the thing, only c.i. shows any skepticism. the other entries champion it or accept it. c.i.'s saying 'there are millions of enivornmentalists and 3 is hardly a revolution.' it's a good point. a basic 1 and a common sense 1. but common sense flew out the window with all the bloggers. it's a very basic point. that the environmental movement, even just in this country, is made up of millions and that 3 people 'breaking from the pack' is not really news. but only c.i.
noted it. if you want to read that entry go here.

but it goes beyond 1 entry and that's what i want to focus on because tasha reminded me that there are new readers coming here for the 1st time and that they may also be unaware of the common ills.

right before st. patrick's day the press, the neoliberal press, decided to wage war on sinn fein.
they tried to humilate them and take them down. you might not have noticed. c.i. said the story didn't have traction and it turned out that it didn't. but for awhile there, if you were a reader, you read these editorials and these stories that were just dog pilings.

c.i. didn't run with the 'pack.' c.i. spoke out and called it what it was. and so did community members dominick, eli and krista with their own posts at the common ills. but who else?
the majority report gets credit for having a guest on who spoke about the reality in ireland.
counterpunch gets credit for covering it.

but this was a big deal and there wasn't a great deal of people saying 'woah, hold on, this is a tentative peace that was built in the 90s after years of strife. this press is 1 sided and akin to throwing a match on gasoline.'

that's why people like me became members in the 1st place, for the brave stands. for c.i.'s ability to speak out when others didn't. on the bullshit myth of the 'red states,' c.i. dealt with that in a 4 part series (and more) in the 1st month of the common ills and warned you that it wasn't just republicans who would try to use it, it was also dlc democrats who wanted to push the party to the center. or when no 1 wanted to question the 'unstoppable' simon rosenberg as he tried to be dnc chair and everywhere you went you heard what a great guy he was. only c.i. told you that rosenberg had the war lust for hugo chavez, that he support the invasion/occupation of iraq then and now, that he was dlc as late as may of 2004. on and on and on. all based on the public record.

i read the common ills today from sunday straight through. and i see so much that goes on there that doesn't go on elsewhere.

that includes here. i usually write a few paragraphs on a few topics.

good god, c.i.'s doing essays over at the common ills. this morning's entry on the shining on of daniel okrent, the need to talk up his dismal performance as public editor, and i'm not just agreeing with it, i'm also thinking, 'good lord when did c.i. get the time to write this?'

with the third estate sunday review, when we all are lucky enough to be able to assist the 3rd gang, i notice things. like when an entry is falling apart, c.i. will say 'what if you quote' and give an example. jim will tell you that when it all looks bleak and like nothing will go up there and they'll miss a sunday, c.i. will come up with an idea.

that's really a gift. to be able to face the turmoil and do it with optimism. when everyone's thinking something's not going to happen, c.i. will say 'what if . . .'

now jim will tell you, he and i were on the phone dicussing this today, that he likes the turmoil. he likes the excitement and the 'oh my god we're not going to pull it off!' and it can be fun and i enjoy it as well, to be honest. but dona's talked about how it can get on her nerves. so jim passes the phone to dona for me to talk to her about it. and like she said, 'when i'm about to scream at jim and maybe throw something at him, that's always the time that c.i. says we don't have to trash something, we can just fix it with whatever.' dona was talking about the thing on okrent too. 'who's going to do that?' she asked. 'who else? you're standing up to some big press names with that entry, not just okrent but the inner circle that's applauding him. so you hear a lot of silence on the issue. but c.i. rushes into those silences, seems to think that it's most important to speak truth when the silences gather.'

and that's what you get with the common ills. somedays you're getting highlights and some editorials. but besides steering you to the stories that matter, c.i.'s doing those brave stands that are just so amazing.

i called up c.i. today and we were having a conversation when i mention i'm going to be writing about this and i get 'please don't.' and i understand that because the issues are what matter to c.i. which is why c.i.'s ripped off, and it happens quite a bit as members know, c.i.'s doesn't make a stink about it but takes the 'i'm so glad these things are being addressed' attitude.

that's part of the optimism of c.i. that i don't have. i've noted before that i'm much more cyncical. i'll tell you something else, something betty asked me to put in. when she's working on an entry, she 'always knows i can e-mail or call c.i. and ask if it makes sense or does it need something more. i always say thank you and mean it but if you're writing something up about the common ills and c.i. i hope you'll note that. c.i. can be yawning on the phone or sounding really under the weather and i'll say never mind but c.i. will listen to me bounce ideas until i feel like comfortable about what i'm working on.'

i can back that up because i can go to a c.i. and say this line is funny but not as funny as i want and c.i. will say invert this or use this term and it's been a big help. in the early days especially i doubted every other post and was always thinking that i couldn't do it. c.i. is the community cheerleader who roots for you and tells you that you can do it.

if you haven't checked out the common ills you need to. it is an amazing community. c.i.'s created something that members really enjoy and trust. for less than 6 months, i marvel at the impact that the common ills has had, on me on every member. credit for that goes to c.i. and the members for that.


bill moyers speech from this weekend and reminder that the new republic is not a liberal magazine

so how are you? wally wrote the nicest e-mail saying thanks for the thing i did here over coffee this morning. truth? i had no idea what i'd linked to until i read wally's e-mail. i am not a morning person. i am an evening person, a late night person, an all night person. i am just not a morning person.

i have to wake up slowly and ease into the morning. even before i get out of bed i'm doing some modified yoga stretches. and i may very well then go back to sleep after. the snooze button wears out on my alarm clocks. they'll start to stick and i'll have to go out and get another clock all the time.

this morning i was doing 1 of my stretches when i groaned 'oh shit!' braeden looks over at me and asks what but i'm already scrambling out of the bed. i hit the on button on the computer and hop to the kitchen to start the coffee. run back here while it's booting up. pull up the net and braeden was kind of enough to bring me coffee.

so i'm glad that the links gave enjoyment to wally and shirley and lisa and jobi and the other 15 who wrote to say thanks for having a post up because they'd checked sunday and figured it would be monday evening until something went up here.

i want to note a few things.

1st off if you didn't see it at the common ills, bill moyers full speech from this weekend was broadcast today on democracy now and here's a part of it:

Jonathan Mermin writes about this in a recent essay in World Policy Journal. You'll also want to read his book Debating War and Peace: Media Coverage of US Intervention in the Post-Vietnam Era. Mermin quotes David Ignatius of The Washington Post on why the deep interests of the American public are so poorly served by Beltway journalism. "The rules of the game," says Ignatius, "make it hard for us to tee up on an issue without a news peg." He offers a case in point: the debacle of America’s occupation of Iraq. "If Senator So-and-so hasn't criticized postwar planning for Iraq," says Ignatius, "it's hard for a reporter to write a story about that."
Mermin also quotes public television's Jim Lehrer, whom I greatly respect, acknowledging that unless an official says something is so, it isn't news. Why were journalists not discussing the occupation of Iraq? "Because," says Jim Lehrer, "the word 'occupation' was never mentioned in the run up to the war. Washington talked about the war as a war of liberation, not a war of occupation. So as a consequence, those of us in journalism," says Lehrer, "never even looked at the issue of occupation." "In other words," says Jonathan Mermin, "if the government isn't talking about it, we don't report it." He concludes, "Lehrer's somewhat jarring declaration, one of many recent admissions by journalists that their reporting failed to prepare the public for the calamitous occupation that has followed the liberation of Iraq, reveals just how far the actual practice of American journalism has deviated from the First Amendment idea of a press that is independent of government."
Take the example, also cited by Mermin, of Charles Hanley. Hanley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Associated Press whose 2003 story of the torture of Iraqis in American prisons before a U.S. Army report and photographs documenting the abuse surfaced, was ignored by major American newspapers. Hanley attributes this lack of interest to the fact, (quote), "it was not an officially-sanctioned story that begins with a handout from an official source. Furthermore, Iraqis recounting their own personal experience of Abu Ghraib simply did not have the credibility with Beltway journalists of American officials denying that such things happened."
Judith Miller of The New York Times, among others, relied on that credibility, relied on that credibility of official but unnamed sources when she served essentially as the government stenographer for claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. So the rules of the game permit Washington officials to set the agenda for journalism, leaving the press all too simply to recount what officials say instead of subjecting their words and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead of acting as filters for readers and viewers sifting the truth from the propaganda, reporters and anchors attentively transcribe both sides of the spin invariably failing to provide context, background or any sense of which claims hold up and which are misleading.
I decided long ago that this wasn’t healthy for democracy. I came to see that news is what people want to keep hidden, and everything else is publicity. In my documentaries, whether on the Watergate scandal thirty years ago, or the Iran-Contra conspiracy twenty years ago, or Bill Clinton's fundraising scandals ten years ago, or five years ago the chemical industry’s long and despicable cover up of its cynical and unspeakable withholding of critical data about its toxic products, I realized that investigative journalism could not be a collaboration between the journalist and the subject. Objectivity was not satisfied by two opposing people offering competing opinions, leaving the viewer to split the difference. I came to believe that objective journalism means describing the object being reported on, including the little fibs and fantasies, as well as the big lie of people in power.
In no way – in no way does this permit journalists to make accusations and allegations. It means, instead, making sure that your reporting and your conclusions can be nailed to the post with confirming evidence.
This is always hard to do, but it's never been harder. Without a trace of irony, the powers that be have appropriated the Newspeak vernacular of George Orwell's 1984. They give us a program vowing no child will be left behind, while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged children; they give us legislation cheerily calling for clear skies and healthy forests that give us neither, while turning over our public lands to the energy industry. In Orwell's 1984 the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist, Winston, "Don't you see? Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050 at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we're having right now. The whole climate of thought," he said, "will be different. In fact, there will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

Hear me: an unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too.

now i want to steer you to bob somerby and his daily howler. he is talking about how the right lied about the guests who stayed over at the white house back when we had a real president, bill clinton. and he notes that your brave 'liberals' refused to stand up. he quotes one particular "liberal" publication:

Baldly false. But in this, as in so many matters, Washington's "press corps" did what it does best; it omitted the relevant facts, replacing them with fake "facts" it found pleasing. Meanwhile, did your "liberal" magazines challenge this clowning? Here was the New Republic's first comment:

The just-released list of 831 Clinton friends who slept at the White House in the president's first term offered more than an inside look at how the administration peddled influence. It also provided an inadvertent picture of the sorry state of America's cultural life. The Clintons divided their guests into five categories. Some in the "Arkansas friends" group, we regret to inform, were rather crass characters. But the real shocker came in the fifth, and most highbrow, category, the exalted "Arts and Letters," which sounds like a new section in the Times. Only sixty- seven qualified for this prestigious designation. Among their number, such artistic and literary giants as Ted Danson, Judy Collins, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Ted Turner and Chevy Chase. Thank goodness Clinton didn't have to raise the money necessary to win a close race in 1996. He might have opened up the Lincoln Bedroom to mere commercial entertainers.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Perhaps you'd forgotten the sheer inanity of this magazine in the days of the late Michael Kelly.

michael kelly? one of those cons playing at being centerist. a writer who never had much to offer but turned himself into a complete carny barker during the lead up to the war in iraq.
the new republic is not liberal. when stephanie goes on air america to do those commericals she'll claim they are liberal. al franken will claim the same thing. they are not a liberal magazine. they are joe lieberman in print. if lack of truth in advertising were punishable by prison terms, a lot of the so called 'liberals' at the new republic would be serving life sentences.

quick morning entry while i sip my coffee

so busy pursuing the pleasure princple that i had no time to blog sunday!

1st i'll note this from danny schechter's news dissector:

OK. OK, bizarre things happen. Sometimes it seems as if everything is bizarre. Just yesterday, we heard about a hand grenade supposedly tossed President Bush's way at that well-staged We Love Democracy rally in Georgia. Apparently, the Secret Service had no clue about it. The story went from big deal to not-in-the-news.
Sometimes paranoia is not just the province of the paranoid. They know that fear is a political driver and that threats -- big ones like the commie threat, bigger ones like the al-Qaeda threat -- motivate the public to render unto Caesar while accepting and paying for everything that MUST BE DONE because, well, "you never know." I may be just paranoid to believe this:
"New Evidence: Terror Alerts Were Used As Electoral Weapons
by Chris Bowers
"Remember the chart that showed the relationship between Bush's approval rating and terror alters? The chart clearly suggested that terror alerts were used more frequently during times of unpopularity for Bush. Now, new evidence, from Tom Ridge himself, suggests that there was indeed massive outside pressure on the department on homeland to security to often raise the terror alert despite flimsy evidence:
"The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.
"Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or 'high' risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled."

then i'll slide on over to the third estate sunday review and suggest that you check out the latest roundtable where we discussed a number of topics including the movie monster-in-law, john bolton, the occupation and a topic we would blog on if we had more time:

Ava: One of the e-mails we had this week was from Chuck in Dayton. He wondered if we could all name one issue other than the occupation that think bears focusing on?
Ty: The prison systems in this country. The corruption in them, the lack of accountability. The public's ability to turn their back on the issue.
Rebecca: Good one. Is this supposed to be something we haven't blogged on?
Ava: Yes.
Rebecca: Well then I won't say polio. I think the war on truth, in all it's various battles, is pretty frightening. I've touched on this with regards to the media, but I'm thinking in terms of the people you'd meet just going out to buy a carton of milk or to see a movie. I don't know what to call it . . .
C.I.: Suspension of disbelief.
Rebecca: Okay, that's a good term. But I would wonder where it's coming from? Gore Vidal talks about our decaying educational system and has for years. So is that the reason for the attitude? Does the attitude lead to the decay of the education system? Is it circular? I don't have the answers but I think it goes beyond the idea that we can bring the truth to others and everyone will open their eyes. I think we can do that with a great many people and that we're seeing the nation wake up, but I'm fascinated, in a bad way, by the desire of so many to suspend disbelief and ignore reality.
Jim: Alternative ways of addressing problems. I'd be hitting on CodePink's book every day if I had the time. Writing things here, maybe passing on posts for C.I. to put up at The Common Ills. It's as though we've lost our sense and memory of history and we now believe that any problem has only the one solution of war, war, war. It goes to reclaiming human decency. I'm really concerned about that.
Dona: I think I'd do something similar. But about the way we treat others in this country. From the handicapped to the immigrants to the ones we define as "the other" for skin tone, religion or nonreligion, sexuality and all the rest. We've been on a blood lust for four years, if you ask me, and we can't even reach out to a neighbor. Which is why I fear the faith based charity crap. We don't want to deal with our neighbors and I think a lot of people would be happy to pass it on to churches just to be done with the discussion.

and lastly, i'll steer everyone over to isaiah's latest comic at the common ills. i will be blogging this evening.