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Saturday, February 28, 2004
Censorship, plainly defined.
Need any more proof that the Bush administration has utter contempt
for the First Amendment? The New York Times reports
today that the Treasury Department "has warned publishers that they
may face grave legal consequences for editing manuscripts from Iran
and other disfavored nations, on the ground that such tinkering
amounts to trading with the enemy."
The story, by Adam Liptak,
Adding illustrations is
prohibited, too. To the baffled dismay of publishers, editors and
translators who have been briefed about the policy, only
publication of "camera-ready copies of manuscripts" is
The Treasury letters concerned
Iran. But the logic, experts said, would seem to extend to Cuba,
Libya, North Korea and other nations with which most trade is
banned without a government license.
Nahid Mozaffari, an expert on
Iranian literature, tells Liptak: "A story, a poem, an article on
history, archaeology, linguistics, engineering, physics, mathematics,
or any other area of knowledge cannot be translated, and even if
submitted in English, cannot be edited in the US. This means that the
publication of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian
Literature that I have been editing for the last three years
would constitute aiding and abetting the enemy."
Democracy Now did a
on this last Tuesday.
"It does not reflect the facts
of his service." Even after all that's been reported, the
Boston Globe's Walter Robinson finds
that the White House is still puffing George W. Bush's service in the
Texas Air National Guard.
Bush flack Dan Bartlett says it
will be corrected. But it hasn't been as of this morning. The State
Department site that Robinson points
to contains the same
language that he reports in his article:
George W. graduated from
Yale in May of 1968 with a major in history. Two weeks before
graduation, he went to the offices of the Texas Air National Guard
at Ellington Air Force Base outside Houston to sign up for pilot
training. One motivation, he said, was to learn to fly, as his
father had done during World War II. George W. was commissioned as
a second lieutenant and spent two years on active duty, flying
F-102 fighter interceptors. For almost four years after
that [uh, no] he was on a part-time status, flying
occasional missions to help the Air National Guard keep two of its
F-102s on round-the-clock alert.
posted at 10:14 AM |
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Friday, February 27, 2004
An interesting wrinkle on gay
marriage. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I thought
John Edwards said something surprising and significant about gay
marriage at last night's debate. Like John Kerry, Edwards opposes
same-sex marriage and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a stance that
places both of them squarely in the middle. (Kerry voted against
DOMA; Edwards was not a senator at the time.)
is the relevant exchange:
EDWARDS: Here is my
belief. I believe that this is an issue that ought to be
decided in the states. I think the federal government
should honor whatever decision is made by the states.
I want to say a word in answer
to the question you asked very directly. I would not support
the Defense of Marriage Act today, if there were a vote today,
which is the question you just asked Senator Kerry. I'm not
sure what he said about that.
LARRY KING: You would not
vote for it?
EDWARDS: I would
not. I would not for a very simple reason. There's a part of
it - there's a part of it that I agree with, and there's a part of
it I disagree with.
The Defense of Marriage Act
specifically said that the federal government is not required to
recognize gay marriage even if a state chooses to do so. I
disagree with that.
I think states should be allowed
to make that decision. And the federal government shouldn't
And can I say just one other
word about -
RON BROWNSTEIN: The part
that you agree with is what?
EDWARDS: Well, the part I
agree with is the states should not be required to recognize
marriages from other states. That's already in the law, by
the way, without DOMA.
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but
it seems to me that Kerry has never given a reason for voting against
DOMA beyond his concern that it was a form of "gay-bashing." Edwards,
by contrast, is saying something very specific: that marriage should
be left entirely to the states, and - here's the crucial part - if a
state decides that gay marriage is okay, then the federal government
should honor that, and allow married same-sex couples from that state
to collect Social Security, receive married-couple tax breaks, and
all of the 1000-plus
federal benefits that
equal-rights advocates cite.
Not to give Edwards a pass. As
April 2003 Boston Globe story makes clear, Kerry explicitly
advocates civil-union rights for gay and lesbian couples, whereas
Edwards has shown some reluctance. But Edwards's willingness to defer
to states that let gays and lesbians marry is interesting
Edwards also doesn't have the
political problem of coming from a state that is wrestling with the
issue. Still, Kerry has tied himself into knots. His current position
- for an amendment to the state constitution that would ban marriage
but guarantee civil unions, and against an anti-marriage amendment to
the US Constitution - is almost a parody of Kerry's congenital need
to have it both ways on every issue.
Yes, there is a certain logic to
his seemingly contradictory stands (Mitt's
pandering as usual, in
other words), but politics is about passion and symbols as much as it
is about logic and legislation. George W. Bush is going to paint
Kerry as a gay-marriage supporter anyway. Would that Kerry were bold
enough to make it so.
posted at 12:18 PM |
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Thursday, February 26, 2004
Kerry's not-so-gay moment.
If an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage
passes the legislature on March 11, Senator John Kerry will have had
a lot to do with it. Perhaps it's not fair to be too critical, since
the position he takes in today's
Boston Globe - for a
marriage ban, but also for civil unions - is exactly the one he's
taken throughout the presidential campaign.
Still, it's disheartening that the
man who would be president is now helping to enshrine discrimination
in the Massachusetts Constitution. What would John Adams
of three amendments earlier
this month was cause for celebration, but it obscured a fundamental
fact: an overwhelming majority of legislators is in favor of a
gay-marriage ban. The only disagreement is over civil unions -
whether to guarantee them in the constitution, or to leave them to
the whims of the legislature.
Kerry's statement will likely
hasten the process of the moderates and conservatives finding
language they can all agree on - leaving progressives out in the
cold. It's a shame.
Certainly Kerry knows that whatever
he does, the gay and lesbian community will find him infinitely
preferable to George W. Bush. By siding with the right-wing
extremists in his own party (read Howard
Kurtz's round-up of media
reaction), Bush has left the middle wide open to Kerry.
But Kerry shouldn't be allowed to
skate on this, either.
New in this week's
Phoenix. Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, is
racking up negative headlines every day. But here's a Halliburton
story you rarely hear about: an accusation being investigated in
three countries that the company, while Cheney was CEO, was involved
in an alleged $180
million bribe to the former
Also, talk-radio legend
Brudnoy plots his latest
posted at 8:55 AM |
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Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Shake-up at the
Herald. Ken Chandler is up and Andy Costello is down. But
apparently no one is leaving. The Boston Herald just sent out
an announcement that former editor Chandler, who returned last spring
after several years as publisher of the New York Post, has
been named editorial director of the Herald and its Community
Newspaper chain of papers in Greater Boston and on Cape Cod. Costello
is out as editor after nearly 10 years at the top of the masthead,
but he's staying with the company.
Here's the full
Patrick J. Purcell,
president of Herald Media, Inc. announced today the appointment of
Kenneth A. Chandler as Editorial Director of all Herald Media
publications. Chandler will be responsible for the overall
editorial operations of the Boston Herald and the Community
Newspaper Company's five daily, 89 weekly and 21 specialty
Andrew F. Costello announced his
resignation as Editor-in-Chief, effective today. Costello has been
with the newspaper in various editorial capacities since 1983, and
was named Editor in April of 1994. He is exploring other
opportunities within the company.
"Andy has been a tremendous
asset to the newspaper, and we were fortunate to have him at the
helm for the last ten years. His competitiveness, dedication and
work ethic are unparalleled. Andy is the consummate news
professional," said Purcell.
Costello said, "It has been an
honor to serve as editor for the past ten years. My heartfelt
thanks to a very dedicated and talented staff. I know they will
continue to produce one of the finest newspapers in the
Chandler was editor of the
Boston Herald from 1986 to 1992. After that, he became
Editor-in-Chief and later Publisher of the New York Post. He has
since served as a consultant to Patrick Purcell.
Chandler is married to Erika
Schwartz, M.D., a nationally-known women's health expert and
author. They have five children.
Costello's possible departure has
been a matter of internal and external gossip since last spring, when
Purcell brought Chandler back to the paper and went with a tarted-up
product featuring more gossip and lots of cleavage. Costello - a
hard-news guy who used to work for the New Bedford
Standard-Times - couldn't have liked the changes. It's to
Purcell's credit that he is apparently going to take care of
Costello, who is a good guy.
It's been a rough year for the
Herald, which has been beset by declining circulation and
sliding ad revenues. The move toward flash and trash was not well
received in the newsroom, yet staff members have said that they
recognize the survival of the paper is at stake (see "Tabzilla
Returns," June 20,
In November, the paper eliminated
19 positions. Well-known columnists such as Wayne Woodlief and Monica
Collins were cut from the payroll, although they continue to write on
a freelance basis (see "Media,"
This Just In, November 21, 2003).
The next big question: who will
replace Costello as editor? Presumably Chandler doesn't want the job
himself, yet it's equally safe to assume that Purcell doesn't want to
pay the money that would be necessary to bring in a heavy hitter.
Which leaves the folks at One
Herald Square pretty much where they've been for the past year:
waiting for another shoe to drop.
posted at 6:52 PM |
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Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Buchanan and Nader: a contrarian
view. Anthony Schinella wrote
recently that exit polling in New Hampshire and Florida in 2000
showed Ralph Nader pulled just as many votes from Republicans as he
did from Democrats. Schinella - a diehard Nader supporter - concludes
that Nader did not cost Al Gore the presidency.
I don't doubt Schinella's numbers,
but sorry, I'm not buying his overall thesis. For instance,
is David Rosenbaum in today's New York Times:
Mr. Nader said at the
Press Club that surveys of voters leaving the polls showed he had
received more Republican votes than Democratic votes in New
Hampshire in 2000.
That is true. New Hampshire has
30 percent more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.
But people there did not vote a
straight party line for president in 2000. On the question of whom
they would have voted for with only two candidates on the ballot,
3 percent of those who said they would have voted for Mr. Gore
voted for Mr. Nader, and only 2 percent of voters who said they
would have voted for Mr. Bush voted for Mr. Nader.
Nationally, Rosenbaum adds, Nader
voters preferred Gore over Bush by a margin of 45 percent to 27
percent. Nader voters also supported Democratic congressional
candidates over Republicans by 58 percent to 27 percent. I mean, come
on. Is this clear enough?
Schinella corrects me on the number
of electoral votes that New Hampshire casts: four, not
Declaration of independence.
Erstwhile Bush supporter Andrew Sullivan writes,
"The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay
citizens and their families."
of Bush's message today in support of a constitutional amendment to
ban gay marriage is astonishing. This borders on hate speech. I may
wind up eating my words, but my first reaction is that Bush is in
full panic mode, and that he's going to end up alienating
middle-of-the-road voters this fall.
posted at 2:31 PM |
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Measuring the Buchanan
effect. Boston Globe columnist (and Nader voter) Alex Beam
writes today that Pat Buchanan may have hurt George W. Bush in the
2000 presidential election at least as much as Ralph Nader hurt Al
Beam: "Big Media, with its
hopelessly liberal tilt, doesn't yammer on about Patrick Buchanan's
candidacy, which siphoned off 17,000 votes in the disputed 2000
Florida election. Why not? Because in the view of liberal
editorialists, Buchanan siphoned off votes from the right candidate,
i.e. George Bush. Dandy for him!"
It's an argument I've heard before.
In its most fully developed form, the theory goes so far as to assert
that Buchanan actually cost Bush more electoral votes than Nader did
Gore, even though, nationally, Nader beat Buchanan by a margin of
about 2.78 million to 450,000.
Well, based on Media Log's quickie
analysis, it's just not true. As David Rosenbaum reports
in today's New York Times, Nader voters favored Gore over Bush
by a wide margin. Thus, it can confidently be said that Nader cost
Gore two states, Florida and New Hampshire. And in states where
Buchanan would appear to have been a factor, that's only because
Nader was on the ballot as well.
Let's look at Florida, which, as we
all know, Bush won by just 537 votes. Buchanan received 17,356 votes.
Even if you adjust for the infamous butterfly ballots, it's
reasonable to assume that most of those votes would have gone to
Bush. So Buchanan helped Gore, right? Well, yes. But Nader got 96,837
votes. Remove Nader and Buchanan from the ballot, and Gore
would have won Florida handily. Same with New Hampshire. Bush won by
7282 votes, far less than the 22,156 that Nader received, thus
costing Gore the state's three electoral votes. Factor in Buchanan's
2603, and nothing changes.
But what about states that Gore won
by fewer votes than Buchanan received? There were three: Wisconsin,
Iowa, and New Mexico. But the same logic holds. In Wisconsin, Gore
beat Bush by 5396 votes, fewer than the 11,379 that Buchanan
received. But Nader won 93,553 votes. Again, remove both Nader and
Buchanan, and Gore would have won by an even greater margin. In New
Mexico, which Gore won by just 366 votes, Nader beat Buchanan by
21,251 to 1392. In Iowa, which Gore won by 4130 votes, Nader beat
Buchanan by 29,352 to 5731.
The only reasonable conclusion that
can be drawn is that Nader absolutely croaked Gore, whereas Buchanan
had only a mild negative effect on Bush.
A few caveats: I'm oversimplifying.
I did this quickly, and relied on Election
Night numbers from CNN.com.
The final tally was slightly different, although it should not affect
my findings. Also, I'm not counting other third-party candidates. In
particular, Libertarian Party nominee Harry Browne did better than
Buchanan in some states, including New Hampshire. But even if you
assign all of Browne's votes to Bush - no sure thing, given such
Libertarian stands as an end to drug prohibition - Gore still would
have carried New Hampshire had Nader not run. (That said, it's
possible that Browne and Buchanan together carried Gore to victory in
In Salon, Eric Boehlert
that progressives are deserting Nader in droves. They should. The
Buchanan theorists are just plain wrong. Nader really did cost Gore
the presidency in 2000, and he could do so again.
posted at 9:18 AM |
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Monday, February 23, 2004
Civil unions for everyone.
The results of the latest Boston
Globe poll on gay
marriage are disheartening, since they suggest that narrow support
has turned into fairly strong antipathy simply because the idea is
being debated in public. What had once been a margin in favor of 48
percent to 43 percent is now a pretty substantial 53 percent to 35
You can be sure wavering
legislators are studying those numbers as they ponder what to do when
the state constitutional convention resumes on March 11.
Unfortunately, it seems likely that the convention will support an
amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman; the only
real doubt is whether the amendment will specifically require civil
What's weird is that the battle for
marriage rights is moving backward and forward
at the same time. Massachusetts may be on the brink of retreat, but
the fight has already moved to San Francisco and New Mexico. Chicago
mayor Richard Daley has said some supportive things as
It's clear, though, that the
biggest stumbling block is the word "marriage." And I'm beginning to
wonder whether Michael Kinsley has been right all along. Last July,
Kinsley wrote a piece for Slate arguing that the government
should get out of the marriage business. He wrote:
Let churches and other
religious institutions continue to offer marriage ceremonies. Let
department stores and casinos get into the act if they want. Let
each organization decide for itself what kinds of couples it wants
to offer marriage to. Let couples celebrate their union in any way
they choose and consider themselves married whenever they want.
Let others be free to consider them not married, under rules these
others may prefer. And, yes, if three people want to get married,
or one person wants to marry herself, and someone else wants to
conduct a ceremony and declare them married, let 'em. If you and
your government aren't implicated, what do you care?
Now, some of this is too flip. As
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court makes clear in the
Goodridge decision, same-sex marriage should be considered a
social good precisely because it advances the notion of stable,
two-person relationships. But maybe the term we ought to use for
any such relationship that receives government sanction is
That way, a man and a woman, two
men, or two women could register for spousal benefits such as joint
health insurance, inheritance rights, Social Security benefits - in
short, everything that now comes with marriage. And if they wished to
get married, they could seek out an institution that would perform a
ceremony and call it marriage.
One of the odder aspects of the
current battle is that Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, and
others who hold religious views in opposition to gay marriage wind up
dictating to those with completely different religious views. If
marriage were entirely a private matter, then a same-sex couple could
get married by whichever Unitarian Universalist minister, Reform
rabbi, or liberal-minded yacht captain they could find.
No one could order the Catholic
Church to perform same-sex marriages, of course. But neither could
the Catholic Church order Unitarians not to, which is, in
effect, what is happening now. Thus the solution may be a wider
separation of church and state.
Globe reviews Little
People. The Boston Globe today publishes
favorable review of
Little People. The reviewer is Mary Mulkerin Donius, who is
herself the mother of a dwarf child.
posted at 12:07 PM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.