Sunday, February 13, 2005

A note to our readers

For this edition we need to thank Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and C.I. of The Common Ills for their help.

Both pitched in with comments that helped shape the editorial in this edition. Everything here goes through five of us (though, granted, when tired, we might just not and say, "It's fine.") Rebecca and C.I. added suggestions and comments and wording. The editorial truly was a group effort and we thank them for their participation.

We'll also thank Rebecca for agreeing to let us reprint her post on Condi and for the interview she granted us. We'll also thank C.I. for, as always, reading over our drafts even in the early morning hours. We don't expect or want spell checks from C.I. We want to know if we're clear, if we've forgotten something and if we turned a phrase correctly or not (and if not, how we could have worded it).

C.I. has been very vocal to us about wanting disclosures like the above printed. In the past, we've given a nod here or there. We were unaware, until Rebecca posted on an e-mail stalker, that anyone would think we were trying to conceal any help or assistance we got from C.I. Having read Beth's e-mail to Rebecca in full, we want to note that we are sorry because we thought C.I. was just concerned over a minor issue. We had no idea that C.I. was being harrassed via e-mail about so-called ethical questions. [C.I. will read this when it's posted online. Also, since Beth seems to be having a meltdown, we'll disclose that C.I. refused to comment on Beth and we're basing our comments on what is available at The Common Ills, on the e-mail Beth sent to us and on the e-mail Beth sent to Rebecca.]

We've stated upfront from day one that we were Common Ills community members. We've thanked C.I. for help. On The Common Ills site, C.I. has noted our articles and noted the assistance. There has never been any attempt on our part or on C.I.'s to act as though we did not have a connection.

C.I. does not determine the content of this site nor do we determine the content of The Common Ills. We appreciate the help we've gotten from C.I. and we apologize that the good deed resulted in harrassing e-mails to the Common Ills web site.

In this issue we present a cutting from the lyrics of Joni Mitchell. We hope you enjoy it and we had a great deal of fun coming up with the lyrics chosen. But we also want to note that we asked C.I. for assistance and, as always, it was granted. However, C.I. would have rather highlighted Carly Simon. We like Carly too. (And C.I. enjoys Joni.) The point in bringing this up is that if C.I. were responsible for content, you can be sure the cutting would have been from the lyrics of Carly Simon.

C.I. also added input throughout various drafts of our TV article. And with regard to our campus spotlight, we couldn't nail that one. We tried doing it in a highly narrative format, then we attempted to do it in screenplay form. A third attempt resulted in the worst round of drafts of the lot and we were ready to junk it when C.I. suggested we just use the quotes. That was an idea we liked. And that's the sort of input and assistance C.I. provided there.

Beth can feel there's some hidden agenda going on but the reality is that we've always noted that we were Common Ills community members (and we remain that) and that C.I.'s noted that on the Common Ills site. Rebecca has an interesting take on the whole thing in her entry on Saturday. As she writes, our attitude was to laugh at Beth's e-mail, Rebecca's was to stand up and say no, C.I. ended up trying to figure out what was said wrong or what wasn't clear and never stopped to consider that the problem might actually be Beth. Knowing that and knowing C.I., we're very sorry because we'll assume many hours have been wasted attempting to explain to Beth in private e-mails that there was no hidden agenda.

We'll also note Rebecca's comments on Beth in full (hope that's okay with Rebecca) because we did get sidetracked in the interview (which was much longer than the printed version you have and was a lot of fun to conduct):

i mention the third estate sunday review not because they will also have an interview with me in tomorrow's edition but while i'm at it, i'll mention that as well.

that was set up after i posted about beth's attempt to bully me but with lynne stewart's case, i really wanted to address that because i do not think enough people are paying attention. i am aware that the majority of the readers who come here are also common ills community members but i know that i have some people who drop by that don't visit the common ills regularly. and i'm assuming that's the same with the third estate sunday review. and that many common ills members don't visit either of us.

that's because we are each telling our truths from our perspective. and the point is more voices being added to the mix. so hopefully that interview (and the editorial) will reach out to a few people who haven't visited my site or who aren't common ills members.

but we all need to do our part to make sure that people are aware of this issue. and thank god for amy goodman, juan gonzales and laura flanders.

lynne stewart's verdict is an injustice and i would hope that blog sphere would take up this issue and champion her. but i'm not the eternal optimist that c.i. is. that's not meant as a slam at c.i.

c.i. can pick up the new york times each morning and honestly believe that somehow today will be different. and each day the paper can disappoint but there's c.i. ever hopeful.

that's really a great trait but not 1 that i possess. which is why i responded to beth right away. i think i got side tracked in the interview with third estate so i'll comment here on what they wanted me to talk about. c.i., third estate and i both received e-mail from beth. third estate saw it as a joke and laughed at it. c.i. saw it as someone seriously concerned who'd misunderstood and c.i. invested so much time in attempting to explain and clarify to beth. i read it once and blogged on it. because i don't have a lot of patience for shit.

attitude is in the title of this blog and if you're a repeat visitor who's missed that point, i suggest you invest in new reading glasses.

Editorial: Speak out in support of Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart's conviction Thursday was not about justice. It was about punishing a lawyer, squashing freedom of speech and silencing dissent.

Saturday, The New York Times ran an article entitled "Regretting the Bravado, a Convicted Lawyer Examines Her Options." The headline gives the impression that Stewart invited this action from the government. That's not what the article is referring to. (It's referring to comments secretly recorded that were played the jury during her trial -- one example, referring to prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as "a crusader.")

The Times has yet to weigh in with an editorial which is rather strange because they've certainly made noises in support of free speech in recent months as their own Judith Miller faces contempt of court charges. Strange too, since Fitzgerald is the one heading the investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame, the investigation Miller won't reveal information to.

We long ago suggested that instead of attempting to market Judith Miller as "Sweet Judy Blue Eyes" (with a nod to CSN's "Suite Judy Blue Eyes"), TNYT gets off their ass and get their reporters digging into who passed on the information about Valerie Plame to Robert Novak, which people in the administration were behind this crime. (It was a crime for the government representatives who revealed it. A strict reading of the law does not suggest it was a crime for Novak to out Plame.)

Instead the editorial board and the publisher have engaged in constant hand wringing. So it's a little strange to see them fall silent with regard to the Lynne Stewart verdict.

Stewart is facing a lengthy prison sentence for . . . sending out a press release. And the government raised no objections when that happened. Stewart continued to visit her client (as she should have). But now she faces prison and this ain't justice, people.

The Times needs to get off their asses and weigh in because, as Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, has pointed out, we will pay attention. We will all pay attention to who speaks out and who remains silent.

So far (as of Sunday) TNYT has remained silent. Cowardice from the paper of record is not surprising. Cowardice on the issue of free speech is, however, disheartening.

We will note that paper has covered the story. The Washington Post filed a conviction sotry on "radical" Lynne Stewart and then moved on. (Those stories about "College Dorm Rooms Go Unplugged" won't write themselves! Though they read like they do.)

But for all it's many faults, if TNYT has stood out on any issue, it's been free speech. No, they haven't been their to weigh in on every case or incident. Yes, they pick and choose. But the case of Lynne Stewart is one in which she's convicted of a press release. This falls squarely within the area they have carved out for themselves over the years. Their silence on this issue is shameful.

We support Lynne Stewart and we are thankful that there are Lynne Stewarts in our country. Coming of age with The Practice on TV, we suffer no illusions of public defenders or prosecutors.
We do appreciate the need for public defenders to take on the cases that no one else will. For those unable or unwilling to get behind Lynne Stewart personally, they should be able to get behind the issues involved because this isn't about Lynne Stewart. This is about an attack on free speech rights and attack on defense lawyers. Coming on the heels of the Bully Boy's first four years with non-stop attacks on the judiciary, this is part of a long line of bullying.

That said, we support Lynne Stewart personally. We are outraged at the attack on freedom of speech. But we also feel very sorry, on a personal level, that this sixty-five-year-old woman is facing a lengthy prison sentence. We admire the bravery and determination she's long shown, her repeated decisions to take on cases that no one else would. As we said before, we are very thankful for the Lynne Stewarts in our country: they make us a better nation.

Information on Lynne Stewart's case can be found at her website. You can also find out about her plans to appeal, make donations and find additional information.

Thirty or forty years from now, when your grandkids look you in the eye and ask why people didn't do anything to help Stewart, you better plan to do more than shrug your shoulders. You better have something to tell them that reinforces the need for activism. It can be, "I spoke out." It can be, "I wrote a letter to the judge." (There's information for that at her site.) It can be, "I wrote a letter to the editor." It can be, "I donated to her appeal." It can be any number of things. But if your response is a shrug, what example will you have you sent?

Because history will not judge this conviction favorably. This is a stain on our country, this is an attack on freedom. If you believe in what this country is supposed to stand for, you better be doing something regarding this issue.

Campus spotlight: Weighing in on music, the war and so much more

Sick of the crap played on commercial radio, we invited twenty friends over for a gathering to discuss the state of radio, music and any other issues that popped up.

Here is a sample of the comments.

"I'm so sick of the bling-bling bullshit. Reality check, most of the listeners will never be rich. Public Enemy was the soundtrack to a revolution, this shit is the soundtrack to Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. Give the listeners five years for reality to set in and see how thrilled they are of people bragging about living the ghetto fabulous high life."

"My issue is with Britney Spears. No one's buying that album of 'hits.' But I can't switch past a Clear Channel station without hearing her crappy version of 'My Prerogative.' It's as though they're committed to playing her and all the other freeze dried shit. Her sales have fallen, but her airplay has increased. Explain that to me."

"I'm heavily into neo soul and really think that, if there's hope for the state of music today, it will come from this genre. Erykah Badu, Maxwell and Patricia Maertens are examples of real music, not souless trash churned out by corporations. Give me Tweet over [Justin] Timberlake any day."

"Wilco. That's all I have to say. Listen to Wilco."

"On the one hand, I think of all the great music our parents had in the sixties and early seventies and wonder why we don't have anything similar. On the other hand, I'm well aware that there is great music out there, it just can't force it's way on radio. And that's what it has to do, force it's way on because Clear Channel and the others are not interested in music. And Clear Channels taken over so many concert halls that you can pretty much forget about hearing the acts that matter live. Wall Street's running the music labels. So it's not a good time for music to be popularized. But with all that said, I know that my friends and I are always talking about music and noting artists we care about. Ani DiFranco will never get saturation airplay on Clear Channel, but she is a music star, legend or whatever. And that's an example of how, even today, with the system so rigged, an artist can get around it."

"I bought Bright Eyes because The Common Ills blogged on it and an article in Spin. I'm giving no money to those who support George W. Bush. The breaking point for me was when I saw Michael Moore's film [Fahrenheit 9/11] and saw that clip where Britney Spears was saying that Bush knows best and we should just trust him. I never bought a CD from her but I was just so outraged. This woman who suddenly sprung forth with breasts after adolesence is in store for a frightening moment. Right now she can have 'faith' in 'my president' because her life has been a dream where her medicore talents have exceeded anything she could ever have dreamed of. But like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson before her, she's going to find the real world can be a hard place when a new pretty shows up on the scene. And that bitch can bite my ass because I'll never buy anything she puts out. I make it a point to trash her at least once a day. And I make it point to check out an artist before buying their stuff now. I bought Bright Eyes and I love both discs. I'm looking to people who feel as I do that the leadership has betrayed this country."

"I can go along with Ani [DiFranco] and Bright Eyes because I love both but I also would note that I'm listening to a lot of older music now. I put on the Beatles a lot more than I used to. And I bought a best of by Melanie the other day. I'll listen to good music by socially aware people from any era. But I do agree that it's very hard to hear new voices and you really have to work to find out about them."

"Green Day slammed dunked the Bully Boy. And they ended up with a number one album and it's still in the top ten. Because a bunch of would-be-book-burners stomped on some Dixie Chicks CDs, there's this idea that the whole country loves the Bully Boy. It's bullshit. There are a huge number of us around. Look at Air America which keeps adding stations every week. Green Day's success tells the truth that you can speak out and rock out and still have strong sales."

"Green Day reminds me of the review that you guys [Third Estate Sunday Review] ran by Kat.
I love Kat and she rocks. When I read that review, it was like someone was telling it like it was.
And that's what I look for. Last year, my mother and I went to see Joan Baez in concert. And it was standing room only. We are not a tiny sliver of the population. We matter. And when I buy something, I do ask myself where that person stands. I bought Carly Simon's recent greatest hits because I remember when she was at Howard Dean's side during the primaries. Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Green Day, Wilco and others provide me with enough great music that I don't need to turn on the radio to hear whatever sex-ed up muzak is getting played by whomever is sniffing at Bush's crotch this week."

"I'm glad you mentioned Joan Baez because I was thinking about John Fogerty who has a new album that I love and is really make some strong music and strong statements. I'm more apt to buy the stuff from older artists just because they come with a public track record. If I buy Ricke Lee Jones, for instance, I don't have to worry that tomorrow I'll pick up the paper and read her praising the Bully Boy."

"I like feel good music but I've noticed that the albums I buy now are the ones by people who did speak out against Bush. I bought Linda Ronstadt's greatest hits after she was slammed for speaking out. What I'm looking for when I buy an album is something I can sing my heart out with when no one's around to point out I'm off-key. But thinking about it as everyone is speaking, I'm realizing that I've been making purchase choices based on whether the artist stands with me. Dave Matthews Band isn't doing a lot of message songs, but I've bought three or four CDs of theirs since they did the concerts for [John] Kerry. I'm really turned off by those who support the Bully Boy. That includes the acts who performed at the inauguration."

"Destiny's Child sucks. They always sucked. They still stuck. TLC rip-off act. 'Soldier' is so offensive. That they want to engage in propaganda is disgusting. My kid sister was listening to that. I stopped her and pointed out that she's against the war. She said, 'So, they're not talking about the war.' We sat down and talked about it. She ended up selling that crappy CD. It is really important that we speak the truth. We need to get the word out."

"I'm really glad Pearl Jam has left Sony. I think that they had no support from the label and that now they can put their music out there without interference. When I see the right attack Pearl Jam or anyone like them, I don't think, 'Oh, I won't listen anymore.' I think, 'Fuck you!' and just pump up the volume."

"I love Eddie Veddar's voice. He sang back up on Cat Power's CD and that's an example of the type of CDs I buy. I'm not interested in listening to what all the little kids in junior high are giggling over. Cat Power has some powerful statements on that album. There's a song there where she sings how we all do what we can and how we need to shake this land. That speaks to me. Tarts in push up balls and hairless boys grabbing their tiny packages do nothing for me."

"My girlfriend gave me the Rock Against Bush volume II CD and I was surprised by how many great songs were on it. I didn't know Flogging Molly or Sleater-Kinney before that CD and I've gone ahead and bought stuff by them. But it's funny because you see all these geezers on TV or hear them on the radio [the name Cokie Roberts is shouted out by two people] yeah, who say that the youth vote didn't matter and it did. More of us voted in 2004 than in 2000. And if the gasbag geezers had left their little circle to go on to an actual college campus, they would've seen how energized we were and a large part of that was due to the musicians speaking out. It did make a difference. We're having conversations on campus that never get on NPR. It's a peer to peer type of thing because the media has blocked us out, locked us out and it's so funny because my dad came up last weekend and he hung out with me and some of my friends. He had this idea that we weren't active and we were all about keggers and shit. And he was just blown away because we know what's going on with Iraq. We can talk about that and any other issue. He's a NPR listener and he thinks he's informed but he hadn't heard what was happening on campuses.
We are taking back our country. And I don't want to act like it's just us. My brother's in high school and he wears his anti-Bush t-shirt and speaks out. And you've got older generations too.
But all of us are the start of this massive movement rejecting the crimes and policies of the administration and the press doesn't even seem to know we exist. I think that's because they fear that if they note this shift that's going on, it will gather more momentum. But we're gathering it without them. In a year, the press will be talking about how suddenly we are all so active. But the activism is spreading right now while they try to act like the entire country except for a few rare voices is behind Bush and his war."

"Cat Power has this great song called 'Rockets' and I listen to her and Billy Brag and Paula Cole and people who have something to say about the world we are living in. I don't think I've heard a top forty song in the last two years that had anything to say about my life. It's soul less and it's irresponsible because music should comment on the times. It's as though these people like Britney Spears are in denial. And historically, it's the ones who speak out that are remembered. The ones who just churned out plastic are lost to history. I mean, the ones we remember from the sixties are the people who had something to say. But not everyone was speaking out in the sixties and those people charted to. You don't hear about them today. My roommate has a Jefferson Airplane poster up on the walls. And Jefferson Airplane never had a number one single but they're remembered. It's because they captured a mood in the country. I'm really thrilled about Green Day's success because they earned it and I like to think that it will both encourage others to do more and also force radio stations to open up the airwaves to artists who aren't pledging to lick Bush's balls clean twice daily."

"System of the Down is really great. I wish Rage Against the Machine hadn't broken up because they did so when we really need them."

"Here's the thing, I choose who I listen to. And I have no time for cheerleaders for W. And I bought a Linda Ronstadt album after she spoke out too. In fact, I pretty much go to J.B. World everytime someone's being attacked. I bought Pearl Jam for that reason, the Dixie Chicks, Bruce [Springsteen] and I'll keep buying that way. I think that was a good point about how the music getting saturated airplay is in some sort of denial. I also like hearing all these acts mentioned because I'm going to have a long list now of people I need to check out. But I will add to that list by saying Patti Smith's Trampin' is incredible and she gets how immoral this war is. Listen to her 'Radio Baghdad' and be prepared to be blown away."

"See, that's what it takes. Someone like Patti [Smith] or Rickie Lee Jones who's not trying desperately to get on [Jay] Leno or Clear Channel. Those are the only people who can tell the truth. I didn't know about John Fogerty's album but I'll check it out now. And I want to drop in Thursday. That's the band, not the day of the week. War All of the Time is an incredible album if you like emo-rock."

"I'm going to note the older artists as well because they are setting real examples. Joan Baez and Pearl Jam and Springsteen raise the bar. And I think we'll see more reaction from people because people are outraged by this illegal war. And we're looking for music that speaks to us.
Blink 182 and Green Day are speaking to us and that they both sold butt-loads of CDs has to be noted somewhere by someone. I'm actually more hopeful now than I was in the weeks after the election. That's because I see Green Day stickers or Ani [DiFranco] t-shirts. And I can't walk through campus without hearing people speaking out about the war. When [Senator] Barbara Boxer sided with [Congress woman] Stephanie Tubbs Jones on the voting problems in Ohio, I think we realized that election or not, we can make a difference. Boxer taught everyone that it's not, 'Oh, we lost. Well see you in four years.' I really think she's ensured that the progressive base stay active. She's become a folk hero in the last weeks. And I think we'll see more acts of courage. I think Randi Rhodes is making a difference to with her show on Air America because she's talking about how useless the crap music that gets churned out is. And I hear people talking about that on campus and saying things like, 'You know what Randi says . . .' I think there's this huge movement going on across the country and that the press is missing out on it.
Whether they are choosing to or whether they are just ignorant, I don't know. But they've missed the boat completely."

Interview With a Blogger: Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude returns for another exclusive interview

When Rebecca blogged on an e-mail stalker, we knew we had to have her back for another interview and we weren't disappointed. Our only regret is that we don't have an audio link for this interview because Rebecca Winters of Sex and Politcs and Screeds and Attitude is a very passionate woman who is determined to tell her truth. We support that and consider ourselves lucky to be web publishing in a world that has voices like Rebecca's.

Third Estate Sunday Review: Yesterday, Howard Dean became head of the DNC, what say ye? Sorry, we pulled out our copies of The Crucible as soon as we learned Arthur Miller died Friday.

Rebecca: I say, The Crucible is pretty timely considering what happened to Lynne Stewart Thursday in court. On Howard Dean, I'd point out that isn't it strange that he didn't have a chance? That bloggers and reporters told us that over and over? And of course, now they were proven right. Oh! Wait! They weren't.

You wrote about that on the fourth of this month.

I was and am so angry because there was this movement to push Simon Rosenberg who was completely unqualified to head the DNC. And right now, when bloggers who do investigative work are rightly getting credit, it just really puzzles me that there was such silence online about who and what Simon Rosenberg was. It was almost as though, six months ago he stopped drinking and everything before that day was his past and we didn't discuss it. It was very weird and very Bush-like.

You mentioned the easy treatment he got on The Majority Report, Simon Rosenberg.

I want to state, as I wrote, that Janeane Garofalo was on vacation and not a part of that night's show. But there was this deference shown to Rosenberg that was nothing at all like the way Sam Seder rightly treated Ed Koch, for example.
It was treated like a shot gun wedding that was going to take place whether we wanted it or not and, by the way, "if anyone here . . ." was being dropped from the ceremony.
There was this closing of ranks.
If that same energy had gone into pushing Howard Dean, I could understand it. That would make sense. Because Dean had actually done something in his life. But Simon Rosenberg was a cypher. And I really think we need to remember who pushed him. And don't get me started on the paid journalists because Adam Nagourney was assuring us until this past week that there was this huge competition going on when, in effect, it was decided the Sunday before Martin Frost dropped out of the race.
It struck me as if some people were trying to manipulate what was going to happen.
I have no problem with adovacy. But I didn't and don't understand where anyone ever got the idea -- outside of the astro-turf that littered the web -- that Rosenberg had anything to offer.

You read "Questions for a Questionable Simon Rosenberg."

Right and I blogged on that in the entry we're talking about. How old was the site [The Common Ills] then? Was it even a month old? Why was it that The Common Ills was tracking down Rosenberg's record and no one else, all these established bloggers, could?

If he's broken with the DLC, Rosenberg broke in May of 2004. And that's reason enough to get behind him. People would say, "Simon wants to reach out to bloggers!" I got e-mails on that. And I would always reply: "So what!" If that's the core reason for his support, is that not as hideous as when someone in the press trades access for a soft ball, fluff piece?

I think it is just as awful. And I'm really appalled to see that happen. The web was supposed to be free us all of the constraints imposed by the mainstream media and help get the truth out yet when a DLC trained crony/protege is going for the chair of the party, people start holding their tongues. And Sam Seder, to take this back to The Majority Report, is angry after the interview because the show's blog has gotten very upset over the interview. Sam doesn't just tell the listeners that if they didn't like what they heard, they have their answer about Rosenberg.
And then goes on to weigh in on Dean in non-flattering terms.

What the hell was that?

"Questions for the Questionable Simon Rosenberg" was very popular on our campus. We were all e-mailing that. You wrote of something similar.

Right. I e-mailed that out because I didn't know Rosenberg's past. I knew that his interview with Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow on Unfiltered was disgusting and that the women did a better job of holding his feet to the fire than when he was later on The Majority Report. But I'm sitting there and going through that piece by The Common Ills and thinking, "Good Lord, how did it come to this?" I e-mailed that post to the majority of my friends. And shortly after, it started coming back to me. Someone I knew vaguely would e-mail it to me and jot something like, "Becky, this Rosenberg guy is not the great hope that people are playing him as."
"Questions for [the Questionable] Simon Rosenberg" can't be stressed enough because that really got the word out on who Rosenberg was and what he stood for.

And on that note, there's a guy I'll call Blogger X. He was okay with Simon Rosenberg as DNC chair, he blogged. Then someone posts to his site that Rosenberg is for the war, was for it before it started, remains for it. And the reply from Blogger X, what he posts, is that he is against the war himself and if it's true -- if! -- then he couldn't support Rosenberg.

If! Rosenberg's position on the war was not a "state's secret." He was very public about that. It was in print, it was on the air. And this guy who's blogging on Rosenberg is unaware of it? I'm not trying to embarrass Blogger X. If I was, I'd name him. I'm trying to show you how this conversation was so overmanaged and manipulated that even someone like Blogger X, who is very passionate about left issues, had never even heard that basic truth.

How did that happen? How did we get to this point? And we better figure that out because it's obvious that we were lied into a war. And it's easy to say that. But what was behind the lying to us to get us to support Rosenberg. I'm not talking about Blogger X. I'm talking about all the blogs that got behind Rosenberg. I mean, have we really already created on our very own Cokie Roberts? That's something we need to worry about.

You're very impassioned on this topic?

Yes, I am. And it's not being a "sore" winner. I think it's great that Dean's core supporters from 2003 and 2004 rallied behind him. But I think it's hideous that we came so close to having Rosenberg installed because we were left in ignorance. The bloggers are supposed to be telling us what the mainstream media won't. They're not supposed to be forming their own little band wagon to manipulate us into supporting someone.

Hate mail?

Oh, I got hate mail on that post. Fine. See if I care. "Screeds" is in the title. "How dare you say these things!" one person who's "never read your site before and never will again" wrote. I don't care. I mean, look at The Common Ills community for a second because it continues to grow and grow. And the reason for that is it's speaking a truth as a community. I'm not interested in people who can't handle my truth. I don't care if I have five or fifty readers. I'm interested in making sure that I speak clearly. It's like when Hillary Clinton gave that hideous speech. She knows about timing, she knows how that would be received.

And suddenly it was, "Don't you dare criticize Hillary!" I'm sorry, she's not my god. Clinton-ism isn't my religion. I'll speak my truth and if somebody wants to read it, fine. If not, I could care less. That hit me when I was writing Friday's entry. I was thinking, "Oh Rebecca, this could make you seem non-respectable" and that just made me write my truth more passionately. I'm not trying to get on MSNBC, CNN or Air America. I'm trying to put my thoughts down. And after it posted, I e-mailed C.I. about it and had to wait for a reply, if I can complain because people seem to think that I get an instant reply to everytime I e-mail C.I.
But C.I. e-mailed back later to say that if we don't tell our truth then why are we blogging?

And that's just the heart of it, if you want my opinion. Tell your truth. Your own truth. Don't take talking points, don't fall in line behind what's become "conventional wisdom" online.

So when I got e-mails after my post on Rosenberg from bloggers saying, "I'll never link to you!" for instance, I think, great, don't. Your readers might not be able to handle me because I'm not going to repeat what everyone else is already saying.

When we arranged this interview, our plan was to talk to you about e-mail, about the e-mail you were getting from one person.


Yeah. We got an e-mail from her as well. "Now that we know that you're professional journalists and not the students you say you are, will you admit it?" And we're thinking it's a put-on and laughing about it and then we see your thing on Beth.

I'm evil, according to Beth. Look, I'm not C.I. I won't wear the hair-shirt for you. I won't eat your sins for you. If you try to come at me, I'll fight back. I love C.I. but I don't do "in fairness."
So Beth e-mails me about some vacation that C.I. and I took that I blogged on and I'm reading it and thinking, "You liar, you stupid liar." And that C.I. and are lovers. And why won't I reveal my last name -- it's right there on my profile and it shows up on the site proper.

She's just a little pain who doesn't have anything better to do than try to trick people into saying something. She's got her pen and her diary out and she's going to record anything she can force out of you. A little stalker, that's what she is.

I don't like people who try to trick you. And I called her on it and she goes whining to The Common Ills that I have violated their rules. I'm not The Common Ills. I don't operate under those rules. My language alone should demonstrate that.

I just felt like -- you little lie face. I felt like she was slamming me and lying about me and thought she could then go whining over there.

You know The Common Ills is going to post a reply if she writes one.

Yeah, and I'll be very interested in reading it just to see how she intends to spin it. She's incapable of telling the truth. I understand that The Common Ills is a community, hell, I'm a part of that community. But I think she's wasted enough of everyone's time. I think what ticks me off the most is that she's presented herself as this woman who's so interested in the truth but when she writes an e-mail she can't find the truth with both hands. I'm glad her reply will be posted, if she can write it, because until I quoted from her e-mail, she came off very nicely. I think C.I. had gotten irritated with her, as would anyone, but she was monopolizing the time.
Last time I checked, you didn't have ads on your site, C.I. doesn't have ads there, I don't have ads on my site. I'm assuming none of us are making any money off this. But Beth thinks she's got a right to cross examine over who you know and what you did and she'll lie in the process to try to trip you up.

I don't need it, I don't want it, I don't have time for it. There are too many things going on in the world, awful things, and I really don't enjoy seeing her waste the Common Ills community's time with her silly, "You wrote about ___. How do you know them?" I mean, get a fucking grip already.

There hasn't been much sex of late on your site.

No, there hasn't. I always hope to have something to say on that but then I'll read something outrageous or see something outrageous on TV and that will end up being my blog for the day.
I did write about Donnie Fowler and I do think he's a sexy stud. I'd do him. I'd be all over him.
And I do think sex is important. But some days there's so much happening that I feel like it's out of my control what I'm going to write about that day.

You were very vocal regarding the Lynne Stewart case.

Right. I told you I wanted to talk about that in this interview because I think a travesty of justice occurred. And I'm going to the web sites and see nothing. Look, speak and be counted or be silent and be noted. That's my attitude. This is an attack on the First Amendment and the fact that people want to ignore it enrages me.

Stewart defended her client to the best of her ability. And if it was you charged with something, that's what you'd want your attorney to do. And she's convicted over a press release. A press release! That's what this whole case boils down to. Even if a judge had imposed a gag order, she'd be facing jail time for breaking the ruling, not facing prison.

This is an attempt to take down a lawyer who's defended people -- some wonderful, some not so wonderful -- when others didn't want to take the case. And her thanks for that, for her years of activism and awareness, is that she's going to be disbarred thanks to this conviction.

It's disgusting. And I'm so annoyed with the people who aren't speaking out on this. I'm sure at some point, someone will weigh in with "she got what she deserves" and really afraid it will come from The New Republic. That's right up their alley today, that sort of statement. But it will betray the long ago history of that rag, from back when it stood for something.

Lynne Stewart is not a terrorist. But she's been tarred with inuendo and now you've got people rushing to step away from discussing this because they don't want to be tarred similarly. I won't do that. I won't join that rush. Lynne Stewart did her job.

But outside of Democracy Now!, it's hard to hear anyone make that point. I thank God for Amy Goodman because that show doesn't just benefit us today. It's a record and years from now when future generations ask, "How could you have all gone along with sending a grandmother to prison over a press release?" we can say, "Oh, but we didn't." And we can point to Democracy Now! and how Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales tried to get the truth out. Me, myself, I'll tell them, I had a blog back then and I was very vocal about how this was an attack on Lynne Stewart and free speech.

If a half of the time the blogs spent on Alberto Gonzalez and the torture memo was spent on raising awareness of Lynne Stewart's case, there would be this huge outcry. But few people want to expend the energy and I think it's because they don't want to take a stand. Isn't that the purpose of having a blog?

You said you were going to write something on Lynne Stewart?

Yes. It will be in the same edition as your interview.

So that's you, me and The Common Ills. Look, my e-mail address is and anyone who wants to write in defense of Stewart, I'll cite you, I'll post you. We have got to get on this. On a personal level, she doesn't deserve this. On a political level, this is an attack on our rights and we need to let the administration know that we won't take it lightly. We're doing this interview on Saturday morning and I want to apologize to anyone if they've e-mailed me an article or blog entry in defense of Stewart. But right now, I'm looking around and it seems like there's this attitude of, "Oh well." This isn't the time to be lackadaisical. This is the time to come out firmly and strongly in support of our basic rights and in support of Stewart.

Blog Spotlight: Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude on the stink of Condi

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitudes is always worth reading and Rebecca has a fantastic post on Lynne Stewart that we'd recommend. But we'd already decided to go with this post on Condi Rice's trip to France. Rebecca has given us permission to reprint this post and we'll run the one on Lynne Stewart next week when we may all need a reminder of what's at stake for Stewart if people don't start speaking out.

la puanteur de condi - the stink of condi

the press sings:

i want condi
i want condi
i want condi

while europe ... well, yawns.

but check out the love-fest being sprayed on condi by the press like so much eau de cartier.

don't make a damn bit of difference - all the lab-coated bimbos in clinique land, even spraying overtime, couldn't clean up the stink of condi.

and is she ever stinking!

it's rare for the new york times to ever disagree with their press cohorts but low and behold if the new york times doesn't step out of the marching line for about 2 seconds today.

you have the always caustic and humorous maureend dowd weighing in with "'Condi's French Twist" and you also get elaine sciolino weighing in with "The French Are Charmed and Jarred by 'Chère Condi'" - in the process elaine sciolino shows she's got more balls than synchronized swim boys steven r. weisman and eric schmitt who waste 2 columns of print before they let alone that condi's not exactly turning the world on with her scowl.

maureen notes a washington post article by keith b. richburg that dealt with condi appearing at the institute of political sciences. like any former child star, condi has rules, rules i tell you, before she can meet with students. the first rule appently is that on campus or not, condi doesn't just meet with any student, fermer votre bouche. no they must be screened 1st. any 1 not meeting with little miss bad ship golly stop's standards finds themselves, like alanis, for the few who actually are able to see her speak, any questions they want to ask her have to be vetted first, merci beaucoup! even a kid whose father is the foreign minister has to ask his approved question and not:

"george bush is not particularly well perceived in the world, particularly in the middle east. can you do something to change that?"

the french press is calling her the 'princess warrior' and 'madame hawk.' it's all so lol funny. before her eyes, all her attempts at charm fall flatter than a big barbara bush soufle - that is what we're calling that hair style these days, right? poor big babs, to look at her, the world gained a bully boy president and she lost a personal hairdresser!

don't you fret, big babs, georgie will be back to doing your comb outs in a little while. and shouldn't he? didn't kitty kelley tell us about how you used to go up to his boys school, kick off your flip flops and hop out there in the middle of the game in your mumu to join that cheerleading son of yours in a round of keep-that-spirit-up-i-said-keep-that-spirit-up?

back to condi, elaine sciolino tells us how the only 1s condi could relate to in france were a group of 7 to 9 year olds. i told you the gal was stunted, remember?

but i think sciolino's a little off on that. i'm willing to bet that a group of 6 year olds was also included. coz our own personal evita is all about the 'sixes and sevens and nines.' don't cry for her najaf!

sciolino also informs us that condi didn't charm a group of intellectuals. exactly.

i e-mailed c.i. today to say 'congrats on buzzflash linking to you' and to say i was going to write about condi again. c.i. wrote back that condi's stunted just like i said earlier this week.

in a group of true thinkers condi can't impress. she can spit out the facts she memorized, but the gal can't think. she's stunted like every other precocious child that got by on too much charm and too little work.

and as c.i. pointed out, she has to turn everything into the soviet union, 'she doesn't get that the soviet union is gone!' no, she doesn't.

and among real thinkers, condi's simple-minded statements went over about as well as a blouse from the kathy lee gifford collection would at the house of channel.

scuilino explains that condi 'shocked' the intellectuals by wrongly labeling iran a totalitarian state.' smart people take offense because iran is more likely to be seen as authoritarian, a characterization condi rejects.

said 1 intellectual to sciolino:

"i tried to explain that iran was not like the soviet union, that the mullahs were deeply unpopular but unlike their predecessors over the last 150 years they were not in the hands of the british or the russians or the americans. she gave no proof that iran was totalitarian, because she didn't have any. it was scary. unless there is some give on the american side we are heading for a real crisis."

poor condi, her one shining moment and already it's turned to shit. or merde as they say in france. la puanteur de condi wafts over to paris.

A lyrical cutting: Joni Mitchell Speaks to America

We've done a number of cuttings this month and they've been well received. A reader named Stacy Johnson e-mailed asking us why we haven't yet focused on "the poetry of song lyrics."
She suggested we do a cutting from Joni Mitchell's lyrics.

When a professor started pushing Bob Dylan's Chronology as the "best book in the last fifty years" we thought about Stacy and realized that other songwriters do need to be highlighted.
We'll try to do at least one a month. And we're looking at a body of work so don't expect the latest fad to pop in here. But suggestions are welcome and read.

Joni Mitchell has two new collections out and we'll link to Amazon for anyone interested in them
Beginning of Survival and Dreamland which are both strong but we favor Beginning of Survival.

There's a section of Joni Mitchell's "Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Tune)" that we would have liked to work in ("You've got to roar like forest fire/ You've got to spread your light like blazes/ All across the sky/ They're going to aim the hoses on you/ Show 'em you won't expire/ Not till you burn up every passion/ Not even when you die") but we decided to assemble the cutting with "you" standing for America. Hence the title, "Joni Mitchell Speaks to America." We'll also note that we had help from C.I. of The Common Ills and that we saw a problem quickly with the old format of putting the title of a book or poem in parenthesis after a section since many of Joni Mitchell's song titles contain parenthesis already. As a result we indicate the song title via a character in brackets and provide a legend at the end.

We could have easily done a cutting to represent romantic love or any number of topics because Mitchell's songs have dealt with many topics. But due to the reaction to the Dylan Thomas cutting, we decided to use a cutting again to comment on modern day issues.

Joni Mitchell Speaks to America

Sitting in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had [*]

I fall apart
Everytime I think of you
Swallowed by the dark
There is no center to my life now
No grace in my heart [**]

I'm drinking sweet champagne
Got the headphones up high
Can't numb you out
Can't drum you out of my mind [***]

And so once again
Oh America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum [#]

Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands
Fuck it! [##]

While madmen sit up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They're gonna slam free choice behind us [#*]

Who let the greedy in
And who let the needy out
Who made this salty soup
Tell him we're hungry now
For a sweeter soup [#**]

Now you tell me
Who're you gonna get to do the dirty work
When all the slaves are free?
(Who're you gonna get) [*#]

After the rush when you come back down
You're always disappointed
Nothing seems to keep you high
Drive your bargains
Push your papers
Win your medals
Fuck your strangers
Don't it leave you on the empty state [*##]

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said, "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar" [*+]

I guess I seem ungrateful
With my teeth sunk in the hand
That brings me things
I really can't give up just yet [#+]

Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Oh I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on [*^]

I met a young soldier
He said his name was Killer Kyle
He was shakin' all over
Like a night-frightened child [*@]

"All the guilty people," he said
They've all seen the stain --
On their daily bread
On their Christian names [*%]

It's dog eat dog -- I'm just waking up
The dove is in the dungeon
And the white-washed hawks pedal hate and call it love [%%]

Must I forgive you
Each time
And say you don't know what you're doing
There are no victimless crimes
I know of [#%]

Was it the sins of my youth?
What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everythign I fear come true? [%=]

Oh I'm tangled in your lies
Your scam
Your spider web
Spit spun between the trees [==]

"They want you -- they need you
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarious thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings" [*@]

There's a man who sends her medals
He is bleeding from the war
There's a jouster and a jester and a man who owns a store
There's a drummer and a dreamer
And you know there may be more [=*]

You say we have turned
Like the enemies you've earned
But we can remember
All the good things you are
And so we ask you please
Can we help you find the peace and the star
Oh my friend
We have all came
To fear the beating of your drum [#]

And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
. . .
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden [@@@]

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away [*#^%]

* "California"
** "Man from Mars"
*** "This Flight Tonight"
# "The Fiddle and the Drum"
## "Tax Free"
#* "The Three Great Stimulants"
#** "Banquet"
*# "Passion Play (When All the Slaves Are Free)"
*## "Woman of Heart and Mind"
*+ "A Case of You"
#+ "For the Roses"
*^ "River"
*@ "The Beat of Black Wings"
*% "Court and Spark"
%% "Dog Eat Dog"
#% "Nothing Can Be Done"
%= "The Sire of Sorrow (Job's Song of Sorrow)"
== "The Windfall (Everything for Nothing)"
=* "Cactus Tree"
@@@ "Woodstock"
*#^% "Hejira"

TV: On the damages of Elimidate

There are really bad television shows. Somedays it seems like that's all there is. Or as Bruce Springsteen once sang, "57 channels and there's nothing on, 57 channels and there's nothing on . . ."

Want to see how bad things are? Watch Elimidate. If you've ever watched the show before, you're familiar with it. Five people. Four of one sex compete to be picked by someone of the other sex. (We're all really straight when it comes to trashy TV apparently.) The four competing are eliminated once by once hence: Elimidate. At the end of the "Elimidate," we're left with a couple on the verge of . . . humping.

There's nothing wrong with sex, not even on the first date or the first "elimidate." If it's for you, go for it.

But it's really sickening to watch four men or four women try to tear one another down to land the "prize." We say "prize" because have you looked at the ones doing the Elimidating?

Two weeks ago, some jock-wanna-be pipes off in the cafe about how "girls in Alabama are really slutty! Yee-haw, I'm going to go down there and pick me a few!"

That's the kind of "wisdom" Elimidate imparts to their audience when they "salute" a state.

Skanks and hos (of both gender) are overpopulated on these shows. We'd like to think that's because anyone with basic sense would never try to get on the show.

When lead skank is a woman, we've noticed that she eliminates the ones who look the least like male models quick. When it's a man as lead skank, he'll keep the woman with the bad hair, bug eyes and annoying voice on until the last round. That's not because he's more advanced, it's just that woman, for whatever reason, is always the one who's the most sexually outspoken.

Think of her as his "spare" in case he craps out with his dream date in the last round.

Last week, the lead skank was always a male and boy did the show hit the bottom of the dumpster.

This is Elimidate's idea of "high concept": We'll do the same show as always but we'll give the guy a limo date and we'll call it, hold on for this one, Elimo-date!

Yes, someone probably got big bucks for that "gem."

And where did they get these people? They've always seemed to avoid picking anyone with real brain power for the show but the four ladies each night fighting over the one man, and the men calling the shots, all seemed to have just fallen off the turnip truck.

"A limo!" each picker and contestant seemd to gasp breathlessly!

We're opposed to limos for a number of reasons. First of all, they're gas guzzlers who pollute. Second of all, in case someone missed it, we are at war. (Though some of the contestants probably think "Iraq" refers to a woman with huge breasts. "Idick." The perfect match on Elimidate.)

But even so, we couldn't get over these breathless men and women who seemed to think they'd entered the height of the social order by riding in a limo (or, hot-tubbing in one). That's the sort of thing one might foam at the mouth over during senior prom and these people were a long way off from their senior proms.

Of all the guys this week, we think our favorite was "professional basketball player" Billy. Twenty-eight-year-old Billy should have been paid for each time he worked "limo" into a sentence. Come on, ladies, kiss me, we're in a limo! Come on, ladies, we're in a limo, if you're not going to kiss me, kiss each other! I'm on a limo-date! Limo! Limo! Limo!

Every other sentence seemed to offer up limo. At twenty-eight, and being "a professional basketball player," Billy seemed a tad too old to be springing his first boner over a limo. But what was up with the women? Billy's not ugly, he's not even plain. But he's also not as gorgeous as some of the women tried to pretend he was. Underweight and with ears the size of Dumbo, Billy wasn't the catch of the day, even on a really bad day.

But he topped Michael, who bragged about having his eye brows waxed on Tuesday. You kind of felt sorry for Manny on Thursday because of the "aren't all male hair dressers gay" 'logic' that greeted his profesional revelation. (Seriously, the contestants on this show make the gang on Street Smart seem positively Einstein-ian.)

It didn't matter what the guys looked like (and let's be real honest here, there've been very few dreamboats on this show -- when a guy's the picker he's your well-scrubbed average Joe) because the women were apparently willing to do anything to be the "winner" and being the winner on that show means being the one chosen by the picker no matter how creepy he (or sometimes she) is. Of the women on this week, we liked Randi best (Wednesday). She didn't lower herself and stood her ground. (She apparently didn't think a limo was the entrance to heaven -- unless heaven's filled with stained sheets and you get stuck sleeping in the wet spot for eternity.)

But Randi, and there's always one Randi, is supposed to look like a prude (on every show) because she's not going to lip-lock with a total stranger who's i.q. is riding lower than the waist band of his pants.

And that's what we object to. Because this show does send a message of "hey, this is what we're like!" People go off to tell their friends about the "Alabama sluts" or whatever. Try to reason with them ("Look, there's no way every woman in Alabama is a slut statistically") and they'll tell you "This is reality TV! Reality. Get it!"

Because that's what we've come to in this stage of humanity. We want the "reality" we see on TV as opposed to the reality of our own lives. And we're starting to believe that the TV "reality" is more real than our own lives.

As we debase ourselves and lower ourselves to see our mirror images up on the tiny screen, every mood, incident, occurence must have a TV backdrop to really be "real." These shows peddle the most damaging lie: It's okay to be stupid because all we care about is sex.

No, that's not all we care about. And it would have been nice to hear one owman (out of twenty) make a comment about how a limo wasn't that impressive to her. She could have felt as we did or she could have been someone who was quite used to limos and, therefore, not impressed.
But the contestants have apparently bought into the big lie as well: it's not who you are, it's what other people will think you are. Make out in the hot tub in the back of the limo, on the street, in front of total strangers because, hey, we're on TV! And life doesn't mean anything, unless it's lived on TV.

We bailed on Friday's show (we also cancelled plans to attend a party) because of the death of Arthur Miller. Our mini-tribute was to gather together and read The Crucible aloud. As such, we missed what one friend assures us was mind boggling, a mini-revolt of some sort leading into the final round having to include a woman that was picked at random in a bar (or else there would have been only one contestant for the final round). We're sure that was earth shattering and would recommend that Elimidate encourage that in future episodes. Have the last two or three say, "You know what, we Elimidate you, you sex obsessed loser!" and then go through the bar picking their own choices.
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