The 'Kinsey' distributor, Fox Searchlight, let the press see an e-mail from a National Public Broadcasting media manager stating that the real problem was 'the content of this movie' and 'controversial press re: groups speaking out against the movie/subject matter' that might bring 'viewer complaints.'
Maybe in the end Channel 13 got too many complaints about its own cowardice because by last week, in response to my inquiries, it had a new story: that e-mail was all a big mistake - an 'unfortunate' miscommunication hatched by some poor unnamed flunky in marketing. This would be funny if it were not so serious - and if it were an anomaly. Yet even as the 'Kinsey' spot was barred in New York, a public radio station in North Carolina, WUNC-FM, told an international women's rights organization based in Chapel Hill that it could not use the phrase 'reproductive rights' in an on-air announcement."
Words Worth Noting
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Only Justice Thomas dissented from the decision, saying that none of the factors cited by Justice Kennedy 'presented anything remotely resembling clear and convincing evidence of purposeful discrimination.'"
Monday, November 15, 2004
Best thing I've read on this issue. Leon Wieseltier explains why it's really not the economy that's at issue and why you don't need to feign faith to have morality:
"liberals have once again been harshly taught that homo economicus--more concretely, homo Shrumicus--is a fiction. Money is often not the most important thing in the world for poor people, perhaps because they have so little of it. They do not define themselves only, or mainly, by what they lack; whereas they are rich in loves and principles, and so the communal and national and cultural and spiritual dimensions of their identity may loom larger than the economic dimension. (The Bush administration has demonstrated, by contrast, that economic man is more likely to be found among the wealthy, for whom money often does seem to be the most important thing in the world, perhaps because they have so much of it.)
So liberals must indeed develop a fuller and more vivid comprehension of the Americans whom they rightly wish to help; but that is all the intellectual contrition that they need muster. For they have values even when they do not have faith; and they should not contrive to have faith so as to gain values, unless they wish to degrade faith by promoting it mainly for its political utility, as some conservatives do."
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Though the Republicans won nineteen of the thirty-four Senate seats that were up for grabs last Tuesday, for a gain of four, the number of voters who cast their ballots for Republican Senate candidates was 37.9 million, while 41.3 million voted for Democrats—almost exactly Bush’s popular-vote margin over Kerry. When the new Congress convenes in January, its fifty-five Republicans will be there on account of the votes of 57.6 million people, while the forty-four Democrats and one independent will be there on account of the votes of 59.6 million people.
"So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate.
And please let me, or any other liberal, know if there is anything else we can do to abase ourselves. Abandon our core values? Pander to yours? Not a problem. Happy to do it. Anything, anything at all, to stop this shower of helpful advice.
There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?"
"Democracy is not easy and it is not for the timid. Despite this setback I promise you I will continue to fight for people who know we can do better in our part of Indiana and in our country ... I am going to stay involved in our public debate and I encourage you to do the same. We must continue fighting for what we believe in.
What the hell, man. Break's over. We don't let these kind of people down."
Thursday, November 11, 2004
"The 22 percent of voters who told pollsters that 'moral values' were their top election issue - 79 percent of whom voted for Bush-Cheney - corresponds almost exactly to the number of voters (23 percent) who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. They are entitled to their culture, too, and their own entertainment industry. And their own show-biz scandals. The Los Angeles Times reported this summer that Paul Crouch, the evangelist who founded the largest Christian network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, vehemently denied a former employee's accusation that the two had had a homosexual encounter - though not before paying the employee a $425,000 settlement. Not so incidentally, Trinity joined Gary Bauer and Fox News as prime movers in 'Redeem the Vote,' the Christian-rock alternative to MTV's 'Rock the Vote.'
But the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering 'rampant' lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging 'irresponsible sexual behavior' and taking 'network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes.' The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of 'parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere' was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's 'Schindler's List.'
It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, 'The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment.' That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't."
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
While we're considering whether Alberto Gonzales is a wise and moderate choice for AG, let's recall that the White House Counsel's most notable act thus far was his recommendation to the President to declare Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters outside the scope of the Geneva Convention's rules for Prisoners of War. The road to Abu Ghraib was paved with determinations like this one from Mr. Gonzales.
"May 17 - The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for 'war crimes' as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue.
The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes and that it might even apply to Bush adminstration officials themselves is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002, memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention."
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Maureen Dowd, Lawrence O'Donnell, Jon Stewart, Eric Alterman and his friends - to name just a few of the already outspoken voices from the campaign- have all become more vigorous in their critiques since the election. They're pretty mad. And they're really not going to take it any more. The question is though, will the cacaphony of voices cancel each other out in the already weary marketplace of ideas? If so, could the left be more effective by conceding the stage to the extreme right for a while? More on Dowd et al.
"Under-30 voters came through in big numbers this year, with more than 20 million casting a ballot for president, researchers found. The turnout bested their 2000 showing by more than nine percentage points and heartened activists who worked to get young voters to the polls. "
Dr. James Dobson, one of the most important leaders mobilizing that voting bloc as Founder and chairman of "Focus on the Family," has wasted no time publicly laying down the gauntlet for republican moderates. First Dobson issued a warning to a white house staffer on the day after the election not to take them for granted. Now he's made this warning more specific and more public in his appearance this morning on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
Dobson said this about head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, who was brave or foolish enough to say he would oppose anti-Roe v. Wade court nominees in a press conference on Wednesday:
"Senator Specter is a big time problem for us. We're very concerned about him. I campaigned against him. .I thought that the comment that was made by the senator. was one of the most foolish and ill-considered comments that a politician has made in a long time. President Bush came to Pennsylvania 30-plus times to campaign for him. And the next day after he wins this mandate, he wins this enormous victory, he goes on the air and sticks his thumb in the president's eye. That makes no sense at all. Senator Specter is a problem not only because of the judiciary but because he has been the champion of embryonic stem cell research and so many other things. He's remembered most for having sabotaged Robert Bork. He is a problem and he must be derailed."And lest you think Dobson is alone, he adds this point:
"The republican senators know they've got a problem. They're aware that Senator Specter has put himself in opposition to the president. He stands in the roadway, with the great mandate that has been given to this president now and he is in opposition to it. They know that and they also know that millions of people are upset over it. You couldn't get a phone call in to Washington D.C., into the capital on Friday because of these comments and that's not gonna go away."And on and on. Dobson and his friends are also gunning for the senior Democratic member of the committee Patrick Leahey, whom he dubs a "god's people hater." Warms my heart. I really hope Dobson continues to speak out. It's the best thing that could happen. Hopefully, this could help save us moving forward.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is quickly backtracking after the swift Christian-right backlash against his pro-choice comments. Buried in this article, however, is an important truth about the great obstruction the Republicans have been flogging across the country:
"During Bush's first term, Democrats blocked 10 of his judicial nominees to U.S.
Appeals Courts, the nation's second-highest courts. At the same time, the Senate
confirmed 203 of Bush's court appointments."
So nothing less than a blank check decorated by a rubber stamp will do? Shouldn't these facts be discussed in the 1st sentence of media reports on this issue rather than buried in the close? People deserve to have the facts. Clearly we Democrats need figure out how to communicate their message through the so called liberal media.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
A lot has been written about the youth vote, much of it conflicting. They showed up. They didn't show up. Here are the hopefully definitive numbers:
"Early on election day, exit polling data suggested that young voters were not turning out in the numbers activists had expected.
But once the votes were tallied, the research group CIRCLE found that almost 21 million Americans under 30 had voted � 4.6 million more than in 2000.
The turnout among young voters rose from about 42 percent to 51 percent, according to CIRCLE, which is based at the University of Maryland."
"The crowd went wild, and they went wild again when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush's periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it -- and ''it'' was the faith.
And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me.
''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence.
"They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!''
"In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.
"...In the end, Bush doesn't have to say he's ordained by God. After a day of speeches by Hardy Billington and others, it goes without saying.
To me, I just believe God controls everything, and God uses the president to keep evil down, to see the darkness and protect this nation,'' Billington told me, voicing an idea shared by millions of Bush supporters. ''Other people will not protect us. God gives people choices to make. God gave us this president to be the man to protect the nation at this time.'' "
Read "Without a Doubt."
Friday, November 05, 2004
Heidi Julavits - novelist and co-editor of the Believer:
"To be honest, I didn't really care much about the feelings of that 51 percent -- I far more cared about rectifying our terribly tarnished image throughout the world...Now, however, I realize that we have to treat our own country as a foreign country, with whom our relations are strained beyond the point of communication...
I cannot -- cannot -- understand why 51 percent of the people in this country voted for George Bush -- and that is a problem. We need to understand why, and if we understand why, then perhaps our attempts at communication will be more effective."
Thursday, November 04, 2004
"Some people think you cannot break a dog that has got in the habit of killin' chickens, but my friend John Henry always claimed you could. He said the way to do it is to take one of the chickens the dog has killed and wire the thing around the dog's neck, good and strong. And leave it there until that dead chicken stinks so bad that no other dog or person will even go near that poor beast. Thing'll smell so bad the dog won't be able to stand himself. You leave it on there until the last little bit of flesh rots and falls off, and that dog won't kill chickens again.
The Bush administration is going to be wired around the neck of the American people for four more years, long enough for the stench to sicken everybody. It should cure the country of electing Republicans."
"City residents talked about this chasm between outlooks with characteristic New York bluntness. Dr. Joseph, a bearded, broad-shouldered man with silken gray hair, was sharing coffee and cigarettes with his fellow dog walker, Roberta Kimmel Cohn, at an outdoor table outside the hole-in-the-wall Breadsoul Cafe near Lincoln Center.... 'I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland,' Dr. Joseph said. 'This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland.' 'New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us,' he said."
His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say." "They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."
Yup. that's the way to win friends and influence people. Perhaps we Dems could begin to regroup by not contemptuously disparaging our fellow Americans no matter how justified one feels.
"Indeed, even close observers of Ohio politics might have missed the Bush campaign's emphasis on social values because much of its outreach efforts occurred away from the mass media. While the two campaigns slugged it out on big-city TV stations with commercials about the war and the economy, Bush's Ohio campaign used targeted mailings, phone calls and doorstep visits to talk about values, said John C. Green, a University of Akron professor who studies religion and politics. Green described one piece of mail from the Bush campaign that featured a beautiful church and a traditional nuclear family. It was headlined, 'George W. Bush shares your values. Marriage. Life. Faith.' 'It could not have been clearer if it had quoted from the Bible,' Green said. "
"Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush. (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.) Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.
'Everybody seems to hate us these days,' said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. 'None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.' "
Bill Clinton intuitively understood the challenge, and John Edwards seems to as well, perhaps because of their own working-class origins. But the party as a whole is mostly in denial.
To appeal to middle America, Democratic leaders don't need to carry guns to church services and shoot grizzlies on the way. But a starting point would be to shed their inhibitions about talking about faith, and to work more with religious groups.
Otherwise, the Democratic Party's efforts to improve the lives of working-class Americans in the long run will be blocked by the very people the Democrats aim to help. "
The election results reaffirmed that. Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on.
This was not an election. This was station identification. I'd bet anything that if the election ballots hadn't had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, 'Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?' the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way."
"Just as Zell Miller was so over the top at the G.O.P. convention that he made Mr. Cheney seem reasonable, so several new members of Congress will make W. seem moderate.
Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that 'the gay agenda' would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between 'good and evil' and said he had heard there was 'rampant lesbianism' in Oklahoma schools.
Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, 'I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children.'
John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or 'servant leader,' as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage. "
"on the GOP Base: Per my piece from this morning and my previous post, here's an extremely telling piece of exit polling data from yesterday: Not only did Kerry win by an 86-13 margin among self-described liberals, he also won by a 55-45 margin among self-described moderates. So how'd Bush pull it off? He won 84-15 among self described conservatives, and, more importantly, he made sure conservatives comprised a much bigger chunk of the electorate than they did in 2000. (Conservatives comprised about 34 percent of the electorate yesterday, versus 29 percent in 2000--a huge shift, raw numbers-wise.) Anyone anticipating a conciliatory second Bush term should stop and consider how much Bush owes his base."
Ok, today I gotta give major credit to Maureen Dowd, who came out swinging:
"With the Democratic Party splattered at his feet in little blue puddles, John Kerry told the crushed crowd at Faneuil Hall in Boston about his concession call to President Bush.
'We had a good conversation,' the senator said. 'And we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing.'
Democrat: Heal thyself.
W. doesn't see division as a danger. He sees it as a wingman.
The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel."
"In Ohio, 24 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as 'white evangelical/born-again Christians.'
Gay marriage was a key part of Karl Rove's turnout strategy, and stood out as one of the cultural fault lines dividing the two Americas. Overwhelmingly, Americans say they oppose same-sex marriage, yet favor civil unions and other rights for gay couples. But the issue became a catchall for the concerns of Christian conservatives, who were already fed up with the many restrictions "activist" judges had imposed on them: rulings protecting abortion, banning school prayer and limiting religious displays in public buildings."
Then there's the candidate who needs but one name: Hillary. She has no peer in fund-raising prowess, name recognition and sheer star power. And she put her own ambitions on hold to campaign hard for Kerry. But she's also the most divisive Democratic figure in the country, and she revs up the GOP base as much as the Democratic faithful.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
1. Democrats need to move right.
2. Democrats need to move left.
3. Democrats should sit tight and await the inevitable demographic shift that will put them on top again.
They're all wrong. Let's take them one at a time."
Hate to point this out (no, actually, I don't--I've been saying this for a while now), but the "huge fundamentalist Christian revival" took place about thirty years ago, not last month, and it has always been explictly political. If I may condense a few decades of history into one sentence, the perfect storm that led to what we now call the Christian Right was this combination:
Angry reaction by conservative evangelicals to court rulings on school prayer, Bible-reading in public schools, and abortion motivating them to enter the political realm for the first time
Outrage among Catholics, who had previously kept kind of quiet while focusing on assimilating amid anti-Catholicism, after Roe v. Wade, mobilizing them into a politically active force
The realization by Republican strategists that they need to form a cohesive electoral block and that their best bet for winning the South was partnering with white church leaders, since those institutions were the last acceptable bastion of racism
Rock-solid coalition of Christian Right and Republican Party.
And as a result, for a good twenty years now, people have assumed that if you're religious, you're a Republican and that if you're a Democrat, you can't possibly be religious. We know that isn't true. What's more, John Kerry's campaign (particularly in the last stretch of October) made great strides toward knocking down that mistaken belief. But unfortunately, it's going to take more time until perceptions match reality.
I gotta say, it doesn't help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use terms like "moral values" and "moral issues" as shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a "culture of life" or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton's eight years in office?)
"Religious" does not mean Republican. And "moral" does not been conservative. There's going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it's incredibly important to make sure we're neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize "the faithful."
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Yes, it is. I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.
But over the last few days I've been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I."
The long lines could pose a problem for John Kerry, who needs to do very well among minorities in heavily Democratic South Florida in order to offset Bush's margins in the state's Republican regions to the north. So far, he's been doing just that. But can working people afford to take off six hours from the job on Tuesday? So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that few voters have ended up ducking out of long voting lines. But will that remain true on Election Day? "
It is no secret that there have been a lot of moments in my life when I have been embarrassed at the positions assumed and actions taken by that incredibly amorphous and uncoordinated thing called the Democratic Party.
Not tonight. And not this fall.
The Democratic Party has (a very few ventures into demagoguery on "outsourcing" and employment numbers aside) conducted itself with honor and courage. It has told the truth about its political opponents. It has put forward an alternate vision of America--one that values our allies and builds the Grand Alliance without which the War on Terror will be long and bitter indeed, one that levels with the American people rather than pulling the wool over their eyes with phony intelligence and specious reasons for actions, one that values our soldiers and their lives not to send them into combat in insufficient numbers with inadequate materiel. The Democratic Party has argued for concern with the future of America--while our adversaries argue for the creation of enormous fiscal messes for future generations to clean up. The Democratic Party has argued for equality of opportunity--while our adversaries argue for the great principle that society should be arranged so that the children of the wealthy and the powerful automatically grasp wealth and power themselves. The Democratic Party has argued for effective government--while our adversaries have presented an example of governmental fecklessness and incompetence that I do not believe has been matched anytime in American history.
This year's political campaigns have been conducted against an incumbent, in a time of national danger, with Ralph Nader (once again) spotting the Republicans a point or two of the vote. It ought to be a blowout: it is very difficult to beat an incumbent in America today. The fact that it is not a blowout but is at the moment close is testimony to the truth of the Democratic message, to the wisdom of the American people, and to the skill of the Democratic Party's activists.
Tonight, I'm very proud to be a Democrat. And so all Democrats should be.
Monday, November 01, 2004
A carefully worded statement released by his office shortly before the other eight justices began hearing arguments gave no indication when, or whether, the 80-year-old chief justice might return to the bench.
That silence invited immediate speculation that he would soon retire."
Sunday, October 31, 2004
I think it's officially time for us to take a deep breath and take it down a notch:
"Last week an 18-year-old Marine recruit in West Palm Beach, Fla., was arrested for threatening to stab his girlfriend, partly, the authorities said, because she planned to vote for Senator John Kerry."
Let's hope this thing gets resolved on Tuesday.
“THE law has no business in the private bedrooms of consenting adults, such as homosexuals and prostitutes, former attorney-general and justice minister, Dr Oswald Harding is insisting.
HARDING. some things are just not the law's business
Harding remains unconvinced by the argument that the law should be used to enforce moral codes, and argued that the private activities of consenting homosexuals and prostitutes should not be criminalised.”
“He further posited that the Wolfden Committee's report reflected those of noted philosopher John Stuart Mill in his Essay on Liberty to the effect that the function of the law "is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation or corruption of others, particularly those who are vulnerable because they are young, weak in body or mind or inexperienced". “
To my mind this is an important and courageous stance. Hope for us yet.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
"The rally had the energy of a rock concert and the air of a college pep rally -- a mood enhanced by rock musician Jon Bon Jovi, who warmed up the crowd."
Friday, October 29, 2004
A War President isn't self-proclaimed. A president becomes a true War President by leadership that inspires followers at home and abroad. And most importantly, a War President never loses sight of the goals of true peace with honor. "
Thursday, October 28, 2004
"Bush and his team have shown contempt for many of the bedrock elements of liberal democracy, including public access to information; a press that interrogates its leaders; a give-and-take between parties that represent different interests; a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; the preference for reason over the use of force; and the support of legal safeguards to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power by the executive. They have routinely violated the bounds of acceptable political behavior in a democracy.
... the anything-goes attitude comprises
more than the sum total of these instances. It's a philosophy, a set of premises
and prejudices, that scorns deliberation and dissent, exalts brute power, drips
with disrespect for the spirit (if not the letter) of the law, stiff-arms
compromise, and mocks the popular will."
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
"While Bush has pandered relentlessly to the narrowest urges of his base, Kerry has sought to appeal broadly to the American center. In a time of primitive partisanship, he has exhibited a fundamentally undogmatic temperament. In campaigning for America's mainstream restoration, Kerry has insisted that this election ought to be decided on the urgent issues of our moment, the issues that will define American life for the coming half century. That insistence is a measure of his character. He is plainly the better choice. As observers, reporters, and commentators we will hold him to the highest standards of honesty and performance. For now, as citizens, we hope for his victory."
It's a Kerry landslide, but there's a lot of criticism to go around.
"Robert Wright, Contributor: Kerry
He's a long way from being the Messiah, but at least he's not the anti-Christ."
Monday, October 25, 2004
Because owners trump employees every time. Because journalists are just employees with mortgages to pay and careers to worry about. Because bureau chiefs can be fired (as at Sinclair); editorial decisions can be overturned (as at CPD); stories can and do get rewritten or squashed every day (as at Fox News).
Witness the latest media controversy brewing in one of the most populous and strategically important areas in the ultimate battleground state of Ohio:
"Discussions continue at the Cleveland Plain Dealer to resolve an impasse
between the paper's editorial board and its publisher about who to endorse for
The paper's editorial board, as E&P first revealed,
decided last week that it wanted to endorse Sen. John Kerry, but Publisher Alex
Machaskee, who has final say, prefers President George W. Bush. The paper backed
Bush in 2000. "
Whereas Sinclair's power grab was a boldfaced, almost comical embarrasment, this fight over the Cleveland Plain Dealer's delayed presidential endorsement exposes a more commonplace and insidious reason that media ownership matters. It illustrates that power (owners) will flex its muscle whenever it chooses, and can usually do so with much less fanfare and consequence than in this election. These maneuvers almost always take place behind the scenes, invisible to the public. And consolidation only multiplies the impact. There is no question. Media ownership is a democratic issue.
And they are trying to figure out how they can get some negative impact of out this to the more conservative parts of the country: the Bible belt, Southern Ohio, perhaps in Arkansas where Democrats are showing some light.
Certainly Bill Clinton carries some negative baggage but here in this city, it's not just a city of brotherly love, it's a city of Clinton love... This is like Lazarus coming out of the tomb."
Forget polls. This really perks up my day. If you've seen or even read about the new RNC commercial that uses wolves as a metaphor for terrorists you'll understand the genius of this web site, which critiques the commercial from the wolves' [imagined] point of view. Totally hilarious but informative commentary!!! One quote (from one of the wolves): "They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial! When the camera crew showed up, we wondered why they were all driving Hummers. Our agent assured us it was a Greenpeace commercial and they paid TWICE our hourly steak rate."
In addition to being funny, the site contains important information on the Bush record on the environment. What a creative, smart, and to call attention to the absurdities of the Bush-Cheney campaign and their horrendous record.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
A bad marriage: "The ill-con ceived ballot drive to amend Ohio's Constitution to deny legal status to any consenting adult relationships outside the traditional bond of male-female marriage is a terrible idea. "
But the moody chasm between early October and late-October is vast. And in late-October, the media is exhausted, frustrated, scared and eager to lash out. Conveniently, they also happen to be shocked, shocked by Stewart's dead-serious scolding of Crossfire hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala last Friday. And so they have turned. "
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Let's get one thing straight. It is not an insult to call a proudly public lesbian a lesbian. It's an insult to gasp when someone calls her a lesbian. That's how all the gays I have spoken to the past 24 hours perceived the press response. You're embarrassed for us. And it's infuriating. "
Election Scorecard - Where the presidential race stands today. By William Saletan, David Kenner, and Louisa Herron Thomas
Thorough state by state data and predictions on Slate.com.
"If you can explain to me why in the name of Johnny Damon the Junior Senator spent the morning murdering waterfowl in Ohio, you're a shrewder political mind than I am. And Mike McCurry? If you're going to concoct a phony stunt like this, it would be better if you didn't go before the assembled hackdom on the plane and say that your campaign is trying to connect with some 'regular-guy' stuff, thereby reminding all and sundry that he, you know, has to do that. Can you imagine McCurry at any time in the previous Administration, explaining a Bill 'n Hill photo op thusly, 'We have them holding hands because we needed to demonstrate that the president doesn't spend all his time shtupping the hired help.'
Look, folks, the guy is a war hero. The guy killed people, for pity's sake. Are we really at such an immature stage in this political culture that having done that isn't macho enough in the face of C-Plus Augustus and his manly-man Divine Duodenum method of governance? The answer, of course, is yes, but I just thought I'd ask the question anyway."
*Brooklyn College English Professor & author, The Book on Bush, What Liberal Media?)
And so a president who promised to make America safer by making the Muslim world more free has failed on both counts. This magazine has had its differences with John Kerry during his career and during this campaign. But he would be a far better president than George W. Bush."
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Out of the mouth of babes: it's Kerry in a landslide.
Ron Suskind, who exposed the ruthless internal operations of Team Bush, tells Salon that many Republicans, too, are frightened by the White House's "kill-or-be-killed desire to undermine public debate based on fact."
It is one devil of a challenge. One man's conversation with God guides the globe and human affairs. How exactly do you frame that inside the secular writ of informed consent based on facts? I think those who are forcefully running the White House electoral machine -- and the soul of this machine is an extraordinary operation -- understand this with great alacrity.
What grade would give the mainstream press in covering Bush?
Oh, God. Let me just say that I think we have the most skillful and most energetic press corps on the planet. What they've had to wrestle with is a very evolved and eloquent operation to undercut what they do. Without giving them a letter grade, I think that everybody in the fourth estate realizes that the White House has won most victories, especially after 9/11, when they then had that to use as part of their tool kit....
You seem to have luck with Republican sources, and specifically with those from Bush's faith-based community and his advisors. Do you think they're among the most disillusioned?
Absolutely. They're among the most disillusioned because it comes from a direct, personal experience with the president of the United States.
So they thought there was a connection with Bush. They thought there would be a follow-through, that he meant what he said during the 2000 campaign?
They thought a whole variety of things, and then they saw what "is" is. And some of them were troubled by it, and some of them have been, frankly, frightened by it. These are Republicans who in significant numbers have been coming to my office. One of the jokes is that my office is now the government in exile for Republicans. They come because they're concerned -- not as members of a political party but as American citizens. That's what they say over and over. And they take not insubstantial risks to come.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I’ll start by highlighting the words of the openly gay, maddeningly brilliant, conservative Catholic columnist, Andrew Sullivan, who can be counted on to be honest and fearless in his criticism of partisan b.s. on both sides of the aisle.* Here’s what he had to say about Marygate in the New Republic last week:
“Was her privacy violated? Of course not. She is an openly gay person. She
once had a job at Coors specifically designed for gay and lesbian outreach. She
was once a member of the Republican Unity Coalition, a now disbanded group
seeking gay inclusion in the GOP. Her lesbianism is a matter of public record.
More important, she is critical in running the campaign of the vice president.
How much more public could she possibly be? She cannot hold down a public
campaign job as an open lesbian and then cry foul when this is brought up."
“The truth is that Kerry and Edwards have absolutely nothing to apologize for.
And an apology would only legitimize the anti-gay prejudice that permeates the
premises of an argument like Safire's. After all, if Kerry congratulated the
president on the conduct and charm of his straight daughters--as he did in the
first debate--no one would accuse him of being out of line, of invading
someone's "privacy." And yet by congratulating the vice president on the conduct
and dignity of his gay daughter, he is somehow beyond the pale of decency. It
only makes sense if you believe that lesbianism is something to hide, be ashamed
of, or cover up. Obviously that's Safire's view. But he should be explicit about
that and defend it, rather than relying on it as a premise for his case."
The real truth about Mary is that I think it’s very likely that MOST of America still feels at least some of that shame – that being a lesbian is wrong, “something to hide, be ashamed of, or cover up” as Andrew describes.**
I think it's because of this sentiment that progressives allow gays in America to remain in a state of limbo, living precariously within the confines of a sort of post-colonial era/Dred Scott v. Sanford stage of American social and legal standing (you know, 3/5 of a real, i.e. straight person). In such a climate, it’s better to not mention one's sexuality, better to “pass” for straight if you can than to admit you’re gay, much like light-skinned blacks passing for white used to.
If that seems too harsh, one might even argue that gays have attained the equivalent of blacks' post-civil war, but pre-civil rights movement status, enjoying Plessy v. Ferguson style “separate but equal” rights. According to that ignoble doctrine:
"A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and
colored races -- a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races,
and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the
other race by color -- has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races...The object of the [Fourteenth A]mendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either."
Is this the compromise we "progressives" really want to advocate? This separate but supposedly “equal” sort of citizenship?
Yes, this is the feeble Democratic Party position, which endorses civil union, but not the “sanctity of marriage” for gays. Separate but equal. Never mind that the separate but equal era ended in the 1950s, that its principle logic was dismissed fully 50 years ago in regard to blacks (in our hallowed 1954 Brown v Board of Education). Or that even if this separate status and distinction wereacceptable,*** it’s obviously not even close to equal in the case of the legal protection afforded civilly united same sex couples compared with married ones.
Marriage and civil union are certainly not equal in terms of financial privileges. Unlike San Francisco’s now invalidated same-sex marriages, as every politician knows, state-sanctioned civil unions, those often referred to, politically convenient, pseudo-marriage, "marriage- lite” alternative partnership arrangements, can not possibly proffer equal status to same sex couples since they’re not recognized by federal law. As a result, the I.R.S. for example, offers lucrative tax breaks to straight couples that can not be enjoyed by same-sex civilly unified couples.****
In light of these facts, this middle-of-the-road Democratic party position that affirms “marriage is between a man a woman only” and that marriage is an issue for the states to decide (a “state’s rights issue”, like slavery and segregation before it) is a clearly hypocritical political compromise. This party line says it’s not ok to violate the constitution to discriminate against gays; that’s too harsh, too extreme, you know “too Republican”, but we can be privately, modestly ashamed of our homosexual friends and family members as long as we’re polite about it. And it’s ok, even RIGHT, to discriminate a little in light of our cherished Judeo-Christian religious beliefs. Because the Church says marriage is between a man and a woman, and you know that’s the “higher” authority we defer to these days in the United Theocracy of America.
In light of all this, no, I’m not at all upset that Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney’s sexuality in the third debate. Anti-gay discrimination is a reality we need to confront. And yes an issue that we need to personalize so it hits home. I'm not ashamed of that. But I am ashamed that as a Kerry supporter I’m complicit in the lie that he repeats whenever asked, that a little discrimination against gays is OK, even though I know better (and, let’s be honest, he does too).
* Gee I hope Andrew wouldn’t think I’m gratuitously outing him by referring to his sexuality in public.
**For example, I am ashamed but must (ironically) to admit to my own hypocrisy, that I fall into this category, that I know this because my family isn’t exactly jumping for joy and extending invitations to my recently declared lesbian relative.
***And just to be clear, no, it’s not.
****So as a moderate Democrat and a thinking person I’m supposed to be happy that our implicit stance towards homosexuals is: we don’t hate you, but we’re certainly not proud of you, at least not enough to go out a political limb for you, so we’ll only discriminate a little?
To score a low blow, you have to believe something is shameful and use it to your advantage. Only the Christian right really see homosexuality that way at this point. This is the shame that Kerry exposed in the debate, not Mary Cheney's sexuality. You can not out someone who is an active senior member of a political campaign, someone who has long served as a liason to the gay community for both corporate and political interests, someone who allows her name to be used as a reference for the administration's tolerance for the gay community. If involved in those activities, they have outed and inserted themselves into the debate. the only question remaining is why it was right to discuss this person's sexuality in private events, but wrong for national television? it's not what they are hiding but from whom?
As Charles Taylor notes on slate.com, these are just a few of the highlights:
"I think you're a lot more fun on your show,' said Tucker Carlson to 'Crossfire' guest Jon Stewart this afternoon. 'And I think you're as much of a dick on your show as on any other,' Stewart shot back. It wasn't the faux avuncularity we've come to expect from Stewart on 'The Daily Show' but there, of course, he's playing a role. Here he was himself -- and he wasn't buying any of it. "
He told Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that their show is "bad," that they are lowering public discourse, and that they are "partisan hacks". Stewart said that Carlson was a 35 year old man with a bowtie, and that he is a joke.
*Apologies to screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky for the blatant appropriation, but Stewart's righteous (and well-deserved) tirade echoes fictional television anchor Howard Beale's in Network. Unnlike Beale's disparate litany of societal woes, however, Stewart's is laserlike in focus. It's the pundits and spin doctors, stupid. Check out the original speech.
Words don't do this justice. It's a Jon Stewart Crossfire Smackdown. But he does deliver an incredibly honest and important critique of what passes for political communication today. Must see it to believe.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Kerry by a landslide!
Great article reveals who some of the greatest contemporary American novelists are suppporting in the presidential election and lets them explain why in their own words. "Thirty-one novelists participated, with four for Bush, 24 for Kerry, and three in a category of their own. "
This is fabulous and heartening. This is a margin I can deal with. I say artists get to run the world from now on.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
The most imminent threat:
A New York Times editorial warns that the 2004 federal electoral process may be even more problematic than 2000.
This brief, insightful article brings much needed news from overseas. Americans abroad are not only politically activated and overwhelmingly for Kerry in this election, they also understand the unintended, tragic consequences of American foreign policy under the Bush administration:
"What ordinary Americans living overseas want to get across is not simply that the United States is running out of allies. (If you counted allies based on majority opinion, rather than government policy, it would have almost none.) What they're also trying to say is that this steady erosion matters." It matters on a practical level, of course, because the citizens of those nominal allies may throw out their pro-U.S. governments, as Spain did earlier this year before abruptly walking out of Iraq. But it also matters on a philosophical level: When you lead the most powerful country in the world, foreigners are to some extent your constituents, whether you like it or not."
Hell, yes! It does matter, the President's tirades against "popularity" notwithstanding. Now if we could only get Americans stateside to come to the same realization, we would have real hope.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
I don't often agree with Andrew Sullivan, but this time I think he's insightful and on right on target. The initial post-debate analysis was all over the map, tended toward the extremes, and is mostly likely irrelevant. Polls indicate a basically split decision on the debate with undecideds giving the edge to Edwards.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Saturday, October 02, 2004
The Race is On -Oct. 2 - In the first national telephone poll using a fresh sample, NEWSWEEK found the race now statistically tied among all registered voters, 47 percent of whom say they would vote for Kerry and 45 percent for George W. Bush in a three-way race.
Friedman returns and focuses on policy rather than the political horserace. What a concept.
Let's say you think it's important to at least hear a different perspectives. You scan a variety of political news magazines, some left leaning (the Nation), some right (National Review, the Weekly Standard). In the conservative pubs, amongst the usual Kerry condemnations, you would find a few surprises. Most important, you'd find that even some of the staunchest, most serious, most conservative political analysts in the country are conceding Kerry's strength and Bush's weakness in this initial debate.
Jay Nordlinger, Managing Editor of the National Review, who says he thinks Bush belongs on Mount Rushmore, who says he “loves” the guy, shared these observations:
“I thought Kerry did very, very well; and I thought Bush did poorly — much worse than he is capable of doing. Listen: If I were just a normal guy — not Joe Political Junkie — I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate.”
And, again from Nordlinger:
“Bush said, "We're makin' progress" a hundred times — that seemed a little desperate. He also said "mixed messages" a hundred times — I was wishing that he would mix his message. He said, "It's hard work," or, "It's tough," a hundred times. In fact, Bush reminded me of Dan Quayle in the 1988 debate, when the Hoosier repeated a couple of talking points over and over, to some chuckles from the audience (if I recall correctly).
Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition — when there are oceans of material available — is another.”
This article is well worth reading in full before they yank it.
This site will be used to discuss electoral and policy issues and spread the word about the best political news, information, and commentary available on the Web.
Carole V. Bell
And now this? What's going on at the National Review? It's another sound and fair analysis.
Never thought I'd be recommending anyone read William F. Buckley, but here I am.
Parts of the Foxnews.com article "Some Voters Still Flip-Flop after Debate," (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134268,00.html) by Jane Roh may have been meant to be tongue-in-cheek or subtly sarcastic. Either way, it's unclear, and entirely unsuccessful as political humor. Instead, Roh's article is presented as a straight news, chronicling viewer reactions to last night's debate.
Despite the serious subject matter and presentation, however, the writer does not seem to recognize, or at least does not indicate to her readers, that one of the debate watchers she interviewed and quoted as a "Kerry supporter" is unquestionably, completely, and, yes, somewhat amusingly, a member of a fictitious group, whose anti-Kerry web site (http://communistsforkerry.com/) is devoted to ridiculing all things left - communism, socialism, liberalism in general, and above all, Senator John Kerry.
"Of course, there were some Kerry supporters in attendance who had no doubts whatever about their candidate."We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office," said 17-year-old Komoselutes Rob of Communists for Kerry."Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush," Rob said, before assuring FOXNews.com that his organization was not a parody group. When asked his thoughts on Washington's policy toward Communist holdout North Korea, Rob said: "The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too.""
Lest anyone doubt, there's ample evidence that this is a bogus group. This is immediately apparent upon even the most cursory visit to that web site (http://communistsforkerry.com/), which boasts these alternating headlines:
"Foreign interests are more important than American interests,"
"Our party deserves another chance, because a hundred years of failure means nothing"
"Give Uranium to Iranium"
And "Stop the economic boom created by George W. Bush!"
Could anyone have thought they were a serious group, one that was actually worth quoting? Clearly not! Even Fox writers are smarter and more insightful than that.However, if this section of the article was meant as humor, Ms. Roh's style is a bit too subtle. Subtle enough, in fact, to be misleading, but still maintain plausible deniability as to her intentions. I'm sure Fox News would like us to give Ms. Roh the benefit of the doubt that she obviously recognized this was a joke, and published it as such; and that Roh, like her colleague Carl Cameron earlier with his fake Kerry quotes that Fox editors now admit were "written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast," meant no harm and bore no "malice."
Right. Well, it would have been nice if she shared this key bit of information with her audience, rather than allowing many of Fox's more gullible or less critical visitors, ones who may have read the article quickly, or perhaps didn't choose to click on the link, to be left with the wrong impression about John's Kerry's supporters and affiliations. That would have been nice, right?
Or, would that kind of clarity, given the Fox ethos, have been entirely beside the point?
Great tool for those who just can't get enough news fast enough.
Sunday, May 02, 2004
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
When a white person screws up, it ignites a debate on the screw up. When a black person screws up, it ignites a debate on race.
The subject, of course, is Jack Kelley vs. Jayson Blair, and Pitts' point is precisely on target. Don't the folks who loudly insisted that affirmative action was to blame for Jayson Blair's transgressions owe us an explantion for their relative silence about the far worse journalistic fabrications of Jack Kelley? Has it given them any second thoughts at all?"
Saturday, March 27, 2004
TIME.com: TIME Magazine Archive -- Moscow on the Hustings -- Mar. 15, 2004
Not Free To Surf - Why the Internet has failed to nuture democracy. By�Josh�Levin