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See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes (Rodale, October 2003),
Thursday, December 18, 2003
How stupid can you get? This
past January, Charles Pierce wrote a profile of Ted Kennedy for the
Boston Globe Magazine that included a passage so mean it took
my breath away. It still does. Here it is:
That's how you survive
what he's survived. That's how you move forward, one step after
another, even though your name is Edward Moore Kennedy. You work,
always, as though your name were Edward Moore. If she had lived,
Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work
as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her
in her old age.
Yet, as I wrote
at the time, some people -
especially conservatives - just didn't get it. James Taranto, who
writes the "Best of the Web" column for the Wall Street
Journal's OpinionJournal.com, correctly called it "pure poison."
But others, including the stunningly overrated Mark Steyn, actually
thought Pierce was absolving Kennedy for his criminally
negligent conduct in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
And so it goes. A little while ago
I learned that the Media
Research Center, an
organization that documents so-called liberal bias, had awarded
Pierce its "Quote
of the Year." First place!
No explanation is offered, but, for connoisseurs of the MRC, none is
needed. Obviously Pierce is being singled out for an extreme act of
liberal woolly-headedness - for daring to suggest something so stupid
and offensive as the notion that Kennedy's liberal deeds somehow
offset what he failed to do that day at Chappaquiddick.
Gah! As if!
The MRC no doubt got that idea from
idiot boy Bernard Goldberg's new book, Arrogance: Rescuing America
from the Media Elite. I haven't seen it (lest you think that
means I'm not entitled to insult him, be assured I've read his
comic book); but Pierce
recently wrote during a guest turn on Altercation
(no direct link available) that Goldberg, too, thought Pierce was
trying to say something nice about Ted Kennedy.
Good grief. Conservatives love to
complain about the state of public education. Yet, clearly, it is
they who can't read.
New in this week's
Phoenix. George W. Bush has a new running mate:
Hussein. And that's going
to cause a whole heap of trouble for the Democrats.
(Note to Bernie Goldberg and the
Media Research Center: I'm not actually trying to make people think
that Saddam is going to replace Dick Cheney on the Republican ticket,
or that Bush secretly likes Saddam, or anything like that.
Also, who was Robert
posted at 3:45 PM |
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The judge sure is funky.
Federal appeals-court judge Richard Posner has a problem. It is the
same problem experienced by such great minds as the Reverend Pat
Robertson and Nixon-era born-again Chuck Colson: he cannot conceive
of two men or two women having sex with each other without animals
somehow being involved.
To be fair, Posner's concern is
also shared by US Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who really
does possess a first-class legal mind, even though the other parts of
Scalia's brain are apparently still mired somewhere in the eighth
But Posner, though a conservative,
has never previously revealed himself to be a raving nutcase. So I
was stunned to read his barnyard epithets in the latest issue of the
Posner - who is himself a
cat fancier -
(sub. req.) a pro-gay-marriage book called Same-Sex Marriage and
the Constitution, by Evan Gerstmann. Whether deliberately or not,
he ends up telling us far more about himself than he does about
And I have not even tasked
him with explaining what the state's compelling interest is in
forbidding a man to marry his beloved dachshund.
But I suspect that more object
for the same reason they would object to incestuous or polygamous
marriages, or allowing people to marry their pets or their SUVs -
that it would impair the sanctity, degrade the institution, of
marriage (their marriage) to associate marriage with
Posner also appears to accept
Scalia's dissenting argument in Lawrence v. Texas that, by
overturning state anti-sodomy laws, "the majority had written
finis to any law based on moral disapproval with no
accompanying proof of tangible harm, such as laws forbidding sex with
animals." (I'm quoting Posner, not Scalia.)
What is going on here? Earlier this
year I quoted
12 years' worth of bizarre outbursts equating homosexuality with
bestiality. Now a respected federal judge writing for a liberal,
pro-gay-rights magazine is getting into the act.
Are the critters really that much
And by the way, for a magazine that
has generally been supportive of same-sex marriage, TNR's
cover package this week is heavily tilted the other way.
Rosen is against it, and
purports to show flaws in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's
reasoning in the Goodridge decision. Cass
Sunstein is for it, but
only because he thinks it's a good idea that states such as
Massachusetts experiment with it before trying to impose it at the
I actually found myself pining for
posted at 8:40 AM |
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Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Why red and blue doesn't
work. The problem with dividing the country into blue states and
red states, argues Robert David Sullivan, is that more than 40
percent of voters in the red states voted for Al Gore four years ago
and more than 40 percent of voters in the blue states voted for
George W. Bush.
In other words, not only is the
country divided right down the middle; so are the states
Sullivan - an associate editor at
CommonWealth magazine and a former Boston Phoenix
editor - has attempted to figure out what's really going on by
dividing the country into 10 regions whose voting patterns have been
similar since the 1970s. The result - "Beyond
Red and Blue" - is a model
of detailed analysis, based on county-by-county election results and
various demographic measurements such as ethnicity, education, and
Many states are split under
Sullivan's model, but not Massachusetts. We - along with much of the
rest of New England, parts of New York, and the West Coast from San
Francisco to the Canadian border - are part of the Upper Coasts,
whose politics are both liberal and quirky. In 2000, for instance,
the Upper Coasts were Gore's second-strongest of the 10 regions, but
also Ralph Nader's strongest.
New Hampshire and Maine, oddly
enough, are split between the Upper Coasts and the Sagebrush region.
There's a lot more snow than sagebrush in northern New England, but
Sullivan groups them with the West for their libertarianism. The
Sagebrush counties are anti-regulation and not at all taken with the
religious-conservative base of the Republican Party - which explains
why they were only Bush's third-strongest region in 2000, behind
Southern Comfort (the deepest of the Deep South) and Appalachia (a
band stretching from central Pennsylvania through northern Alabama
Among Sullivan's most interesting
findings is that though the Bush-Gore race was extremely close, fewer
regions were up for grabs than was the case in 1976, when Jimmy
Carter beat Gerald Ford. Voters have become more set in their ways,
and despite the decline of formal party politics, many people are
actually more likely to cast a straight party ballot than they were a
As for why the 2000 election was so
close, Sullivan notes that Gore and Bush each won five of the 10
regions. If either Bush or his Democratic challenger can capture six
regions in 2004, he will just about be assured of victory. Sullivan
shows exactly how the campaigns ought to go about doing just that.
(Don't let Karl Rove see this.)
"Beyond Red and Blue" has already
attracted the attention of the Daily
Kos. Check out
wonderfully obscure take by DHinMI.
Sullivan's map is a political
junkie's dream. And it will change the way you think about
posted at 4:25 PM |
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Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Adam Nagourney responds.
New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney, who yesterday
Stephanie Cutter of the John Kerry campaign as the author of an
anti-Dean e-mail despite Cutter's demand that the contents of her
message be reported as "background," has responded to Media Log's
on the flap.
The Kerry people e-mailed
me a copy of your item about my story.
Feel free to call or e-mail any
time. I would have told you what I told Stephanie: I'm more than
happy to let a campaign aide go off the record, or on background.
But it's a two-way street: we've got to negotiate the rules in
advance. This is pretty basic: I do this a dozen times a day with
But in my book, you can't fire
off an e-mail and demand preemptively that it be taken on
background and attributed to a "dem campaign," which is what
Stephanie did. That is particularly true in a case where one
campaign is ATTACKING the other. If other reporters want to agree
to that, fine. But I don't think it's fair, and I'm not going to
agree to those terms.
What made this case particularly
striking was that this was an e-mail sent out to a BUNCH of
reporters. And Stephanie was asking us to provide the Kerry
campaign cover while she attacked the Dean campaign for the same
thing that many of her colleagues were attacking Dean for on
record. That doesn't strike me as right.
A couple of
1. The scenario Nagourney describes
is something I identified yesterday as one of the possible
explanations. His e-mail to me confirms it, and I think he was
justified in not going along with Cutter's request.
2. Readers increasingly are
demanding transparency. I would have liked to see him stick in a
sentence yesterday explaining this to everyone rather than leaving
the average Times subscriber scratching her head.
Little People: the
Salon interview. Salon has posted a long
(sub. req.) with me on my book, Little
People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter's
Eyes. The interviewer
is Lisa Hedley, a documentarian
and the mother of a girl with dwarfism.
posted at 8:19 AM |
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Monday, December 15, 2003
How Murdoch, GE, and Microsoft
stood up to Big Media. Really! Glenn "InstaPundit"
Reynolds makes a heartwarming observation
about how the little guys are making big corporate media look
Except it seems to escape him that in this case
the little guys are Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Weekly
Standard, and General Electric and Microsoft, co-owners of
MSNBC.com, where Reynolds is, you know, fighting the
posted at 9:55 PM |
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There's so much echo I'm getting
feedback. Al Giordano, whom I quote in my current Boston
Phoenix piece on plans to start a liberal
radio network, has
on his weblog, Big,
Left, Outside. How could I
resist completing the circle?
Al disagrees with my analysis,
which is that the network is going to have to get at least some of
National Public Radio's 22 million weekly listeners to tune in. He
Do the young folks who
hang out at the Daily
Kos, or the
Underground, or the
hundred-plus local Indymedia
sites turn to NPR on the dial? I doubt that they do in great
numbers: It's almost never cited as a credible news source at
those places. What about the 400,000 members of Howard Dean's
"MeetUp" groups, and all the others in the ones for Kucinich,
Clark, Kerry and the others? And the people they talk to who don't
attend meetings but who are radio listeners. Most of my readers
don't consider NPR a credible, or interesting, source. All the
progressive juice from the youth that is making this current
presidential election more interesting every day comes from a
demographic very distinct from the NPR crowd.
Does the all-important base of
the progressive majority to come - young blacks and Latinos
&endash; listen to NPR? Are you kidding? Most of them feel as I
do: NPR is a bad, white, joke.
To which I say: fine, but if
Air, as the new network is
called, is going to succeed, it's going to have to put up some big
numbers. Central Air claims to be on the verge of acquiring radio
stations in five major markets, including Boston. That could cost
somewhere between $100 million and $150 million. They're not going to
pay off the note just by bringing in folks who hang out at Indymedia
For the record, I'm an NPR listener
who'd gladly give Central Air 20 minutes a day, as long as it doesn't
But if Al and I disagree, it really
doesn't matter, because Central Air seems to be on the right track.
Rather than bringing in a liberal blowhard to counter Rush Limbaugh,
the network is aiming for fast and funny (without necessarily giving
up substance), bringing in people like the great ex-Boston humorist
Crimmins and, though the
final details haven't been worked out, Al Franken and Janeane
They ought to consider putting
Giordano on the air, too.
posted at 4:55 PM |
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"... for some reason you
expected him to bite that soldier's finger a la Hanibal
Lecter." The celebrated Baghdad blogger Salam
Pax on the arrest and
upcoming trial of Saddam Hussein:
Why do all the interesting
things happen when I am not in baghdad?
at first I couldn't believe it
when I heard it, I got too excited when they reported that the
vice president Izat Ibrahim was arrested and then it turned out to
be nothing, so my reaction was "yeah right". but the images on TV
left no chance to doubt. He looked like a tramp getting a physical
and for some reason you expected him to bite that soldier's finger
a la Hanibal Lecter. But he just sat there. There was another
moment when the GC members were describing their meeting with
Saddam and told the journalists about the deriding remarks he made
when they asked him about the Sadir's assasination and the mass
graves, he sounded like he has totally lost it.
I want a fully functioning
Saddam who will sit on a chair in front of a TV camera for 10
hours everyday and tells us what exactly happened the last 30
years. I do not care about the fair trial thing Amnesty Int. is
worried about and I don'r really care much about the fact that the
Iraqi judges might not be fullt qualified, we all know he should
rot in hell. but what I do care about is that he gets a public
trial because I want to hear all the untold stories.
Schechter points to this
by Salam Pax in the Guardian.
posted at 9:59 AM |
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Adam Nagourney screws Kerry
campaign. But why? This is the sidebar to the sidebar to the
sidebar. Adam Nagourney reports
in the New York Times today on how the capture of Saddam
Hussein might affect the Democratic presidential campaign. Toward the
end appear two highly unusual paragraphs:
The strains this created
were evident on Sunday. Mr. Kerry's press secretary, Stephanie
Cutter, sent an e-mail message to news organizations listing
remarks Dr. Dean had made over the past six months that she said
demonstrated that his opposition to the war was "politically
But Ms. Cutter, reflecting the
concern among the campaigns that they not be viewed as turning a
foreign policy victory to political advantage, put a note on the
top of the statement demanding that it be reported as
"background" and attributed only to a Democratic
On the face of it, this seems like
Nagourney committed a gross breach of protocol. As best as I can
tell, neither the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, nor
the Washington Post exposed the Kerry campaign's role in
putting out the poison e-mail. (Nor did any of them actually use it.)
A search of Google
News shows that apparently
no one else did, either.
Did Nagourney have a justifiable
excuse to out Stephanie Cutter? Should she have known better than to
send out an e-mail demanding background treatment in advance, rather
than receiving assurances before she sent out the
Or did Nagourney just decide to
screw the Kerry campaign?
This demands further explanation. I
suggest that the Times' new public editor, Daniel Okrent,
address it in his first real column this coming Sunday.
UPDATE: Nagourney has
responded to this item.
The trial of the century.
No, not Michael Jackson's - Saddam Hussein's! In today's Boston
Globe, Vivienne Walt and Charlie Savage have a good
of what is likely to be "the biggest human-rights case since
Along the same lines, the New
York Times' William Safire may be the only pundit so far to
from the conventional wisdom - the C.W. being that Saddam showed
cowardice by surrendering without firing a shot. Safire
I think Saddam is still
Saddam - a meretricious, malevolent megalomaniac. He knows he is
going to die, either by death sentence or in jail at the hands of
a rape victim's family. Why did he not use his pistol to shoot it
out with his captors or to kill himself? Because he is looking
forward to the mother of all genocide trials, rivaling Nuremberg's
and topping those of Eichmann and Milosevic. There, in the global
spotlight, he can pose as the great Arab hero saving Islam from
the Bushes and the Jews.
Besides, those who are surprised
that Saddam didn't come out shooting obviously didn't see NBC's
Today show this morning.
In a surreal bit of play-acting,
Matt Lauer had Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona (I think that was his
name; I couldn't read it with a "7 News Stormforce" logo taking up
the bottom quarter of the screen) lead him through a plywood model of
the "spider hole" that had been whipped together
Surrounded by Christmas
decorations, Francona crawled in and showed how difficult it would
have been for Saddam - prone and looking up the barrels of a few
M-16s - even to pull his pistol.
posted at 9:53 AM |
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Sunday, December 14, 2003
Saddam captured. Wow. This
is the big one. We didn't even have the radio on this morning, so I
didn't know until about 10 minutes ago that Saddam Hussein had been
into custody by US
This is incredibly good news, and
it gives the US a second chance at this entire misbegotten war and
occupation. The early reports are that thousands of Iraqis are
celebrating the capture of this evil bastard.
It may not end the insurgency, but
it should certainly help lift the fears of those who've worried that
Saddam might be coming back. Even though we never should have gone in
there, now that we're there we've got an obligation to get it
Too bad Saddam's going to be
executed - from the photos, it looks like he could have starred in
Bad Santa II.
Worse than Porter, Geoghan, and
Shanley? It's going to get overlooked amid Saddam Mania, but
Kevin Cullen has a
long piece in today's
Boston Globe on a priest who may actually have murdered one of
his young sex-abuse victims.
Cullen's story about Danny Croteau,
who died at the age of 13, is a gripping, horrifying read. And
Cullen's reporting on the only suspect - Father Richard Lavigne - is
even more horrifying.
What's most striking is that,
nearly two years after the Globe began its Pulitzer-winning
coverage of pedophile priests, there are still stories of this
magnitude waiting to be told.
posted at 10:30 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.