Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How JFK Made Obama Presidency, Existence, Possible

You've got to read the latest piece from Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, called Why Caroline Backed Obama. He recounts the specifics that Obama alluded to on Monday when he said, "So it is partly because of their [the Kennedy's] generosity that my father came to this country, and because he did, I stand before you today – inspired by America’s past, filled with hope for America’s future, and determined to do my part in writing our next great chapter."

Alter explains:
One intriguing element of Obama's family history that resonated with Caroline was a long-buried story that was brought to her attention last summer. It drove home for her how history replays itself, how two generations of two families—separated by distance, culture and wealth—can intersect in strange and wonderful ways, and how people have no idea that their good deeds may come back to them someday.
Intriguing hardly describes what comes next. It is unbelievable. I got goosebumps this morning reading out loud to a friend what came next. Find out for yourself and click on the link above.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gary Wills on the Perils of Bill

This essay by Garry Wills from yesterday's New York Times is worth a read and give helpful historical perspective on why the founders decided to vest executive power in one person (and not, in the Roman mode in a triumvirate). He reminds us of the perils of a dual presidency as borne out by the unaccountable current Vice Presidency and paints a cautionary tale of, as Mitt Romney put it, Bill Clinton "with nothing to do." Wills uses the adjective "energetic" vis-a-vis Bill, twice and it didn't seem to be a good thing in the context Wills provides.

Read it here.

Money Pouring Into Obama - 1/2 Million an hour!

Washington Post reports. That's huge! Folks who bother to give money are going to vote on February 5th. That bodes very well for him.

Now, I'm on the Obama mailing list. At about 25 minutes before his victory speech, I got an email asking for money with one line that was echoed in his speech:
After four great contests in every corner of this country, and another record turnout today, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long, long time.
And btw, David Gregory "observed" something I didn't. When Hillary came on from Nashville surrounded by black women, Gregory claimed that Obama had been surrounded by white faces. I don't know what he was watching (smokin') but that's not what I saw. I saw a mix. Watch the victory speech yourself.

What Might Have Happened in N.C.

Talking Points Memo highlighted penned by John Avavosis which notes that both Obama and Edwards began to rise at the end of November, suggesting that Hillary did something to piss voters off.

And I think it may be this - Hillary Clinton's interview with Katie Couric on November 26, 2007. You can watch it at that link.

It's the one where this exchange occured:
"If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?" Couric asked.

“Well, it will be me,” she said.

But she said she would stand behind any other Democratic nominee, if it came to that. “We're going to have unified party, behind whoever we nominate.”

Clearly, she has considered the possibility she won't be the nominee?

"No, I haven't," Clinton said.
Wow. Wouldn't it be nice if that was it?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Caroline Kennedy Endorses Barack

You can read it here.

She commends him on his two compelling books (I couldn't agree more). She notes his two decades of public service (which compared to "35 years" doesn't sound like so much like the chump change Hillary would like).

But most important of all, she compares him favorably to her father. The penultimate paragraph says it all.

Bob Herbert Chides Clintons for Rovean Tactics

Bob Herbert of the New York Times, in today's column, assembles a damning portrayal of what the Clinton surrogates have done - specifically Andrew Young and Bob Kerrey. He asserts that the Clintons not only knew what they were doing, but were aware of the corrosive effects and pursued this anyway.

In a line that made me think of Karl Rove, Herbert wrote -
It makes one wonder whether they have any understanding or regard for the corrosive long-term effects — on their party and the nation — of pitting people bitterly and unnecessarily against one another.
A relative suggested to me the other night that Hillary Clinton is not Machiavellian. Machiavellian is defined as: "cunning and unscrupulous: using clever trickery, amoral methods, and expediency to achieve a desired goal, especially in politics."

Well, if the Clinton's behavior this last week isn't Machiavellian, I don't know what is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek Suggests Possible Clinton Backlash

In a piece entitled, The Clinton's Patronizing Strategy - The latest attacks on Obama insult voters' intelligence, Alter points out that when Clinton was impeached, he was counting on the intelligence of the American public but that here and now, he seems to be betting against that.

It's worth a read, and an interesting perspective.

He also talks of New Jersey, where he lives (and where I used to) and quotes the admirable mayor of Newark - Cory Booker, an Obama supporter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Surprise! Bill Clinton is a Liar

Much of the coverage of last night's debate evenly disparages Hilary and Obama for the tone and accusations. But let's be clear that Obama had no choice but to respond as he did.

Not only have the Clintons repeatedly injected race into to this race, the last week Bill Clinton has been out right lying. And as usual (as with Bush), most of the press is lying down and rolling over and acting as stenographers.

But here's is a Washington Post blog, Fact Checker, which lays out the facts and gives the Clinotns 2 Pinocchios which signifies "Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people."

Do we really want to go back to when the Democrats were known as having a causal relationship with the truth? (what the meaning of is, is)

Obama wants to do things differently. But, as Kerry learned when he was swiftboated, you can't let lies go unanswered. Obama had NO CHOICE but to defend himself. He is NOT responsible for the tone.

Even Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emmanuel have told Bill in "heated conversations" to pipe down. See Jonathon Alter's piece in Newsweek.

So think on this -
  1. The Clintons are behaving like the worst element of the Republicans by using swiftboating attacks.
  2. If Hillary is our nominee, that would mean that since 1988 - for 20 years and beyond - we would have a Bush or Clinton in the White House. We are not a monarchy. To avoid just this type of corruption, we fought a revolution.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Diane Rehm Show Does Hour on Fibromyalgia

The Diane Rehm show did a whole hour on Fibromyalgia on Tuesday, the day after the New York Times article appeared.

One of the guests included Alex Berenson, the reporter who wrote the piece who admitted is beat is covering the drug industry. He is not a doctor or even a health reporter. He covers the pharmaceutical market. And he admitted that the medical establishment agrees fibromyalgia exists.

And he revealed what a jerk he really is. Among the amazing things he uttered were -
  • "a lot of doctors are skeptical' but won't talk about their skepticism (this has no basis in fact; see this post.)
  • "skepticism is natural because it affects a specific population - middle age women."
  • "They are difficult to deal with and lots of doctors don't like them."
He was asked if he was surprised about the reaction before he wrote the story as he investigated and instead he characterized the reaction after - that the "issue" provokes a lot of vehemence" from the patients "whereas doctors have been saying great job for saying what we all know is true."

Then he added, "by the way I quoted people on the other side." Yeah right - two and then he implied that they weren't impartial or believable.

And then he said the driver of the diagnosis is disability!

But - if you listen - be sure to get to minute 34 - at that point a Dr. Charles Argoff called in from Albany College where he is a professor and neurologist as well as director of the pain program. He said he was dismayed by the article. There should be no doubt. There have been "4,500 scientific articles" and that fibromyalgia is not to be doubted as there is a "great deal of rooting in basic science." He granted its difficult to treat, but indicated that's because of what the doctors and scientific community do not yet understand. He was asked how he accounted for the skepticism of some doctors, and he responded that he'd never spoken to any of them and that frankly, "I don't understand it."

His tone of outrage was comforting.

You can listen to the 46 minute discussion and see who else was on, by clicking here.

National Fibromyalgia Association's Statement

The National Fibromyalgia Association responds as well -
the article presents outdated opinions and neglects to discuss the research advances of the last decade and instead focuses on the opinions of a few medical outsiders who still do not believe in the legitimacy of fibromyalgia. By omitting the groundbreaking research and scientific evidence gained over the past 20 years by institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, the article gives a slanted and unrealistic perspective.
They also note -
Our 2007 research survey findings showed that 81% of physicians agree that fibromyalgia is a common, chronic central pain disorder that can cause intense suffering for patients. And instead of dismissing the effect fibromyalgia can have on a person's life, the medical community has shown that fibromyalgia can damage health-related quality of life even more than rheumatoid arthritis and advanced cancer.

Read the full statement here. They also ask for those who care about people who have this disease to please write the New York Times.

ABC News Offers a More Balanced Report

The piece begins:
"Doctors agree that the best way to deal with fibromyalgia..."

which automatically puts this news report at a more realistic level than the New York Times.

See or read the fully report here.

American Pain Association Responds

The American Pain Association responds in this statement.

They note that the front page New York Times piece failed to mention, namely that the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health as well as the American College of Rheumatology's.

They correctly note that the article -
  • "belittles the reality of people suffering from pain."
  • "demonstrates not only a lack of understanding of the human response to pain, but also a serious lack of human compassion..."
  • "further stigmatizes"
Thank you American Pain Association

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bill Moyers to Discuss Bush Middle East Trip with Craig Unger

Bill Moyer's Journal will features what will surely be an intriguing discussion about the implications of George Bush's visit to the Middle East. Maureen Dowd wrote of this in Faith Freedom and Bling in the Middle East and so did Bob Cesca of The Huffington Post "President Bush Shouldn't Play with Sharp Objects."

From the program description:
Bill Moyers sits down with journalist Craig Unger, contributing editor of VANITY FAIR and author of the bestselling House of Bush, House of Saud and, most recently, The Fall of the House of Bush, who offers analysis on President Bush’s recent trip to the Middle East.
Check your local listings, but its sure to be good.

Huffington Post Points Out Hillary's Funny Math

Ari Emanuel FINALLY points out the inconsistency of Hillary's constant claim of 35 years of experience and evaluates again reality and the double standard in how she characterizes Obama's life experience.

He concludes:
In the now immortal words of your husband: Give me a break.

I know you are good person who is devoted to public service. But that doesn't absolve you of the responsibility to not distort your record. And to not distort the record of your opponent.

Your 35 years talking point just doesn't add up.

Read the full post and background here.

Co-Founder of National Fibromyalgia Association Writes

Some of you may have noted that one of the letters printed yesterday by the New York Times was by Lynne Matallana, the president of the National Fibroymyalgia Association, who was quoted in the article (and pictured on the front page).

I cited one of the co-founders, Karen Lee Richards. And then last night she wrote me. (As I told her, I felt like a superstar has written and acknowledged a commoner). And she shared with me her post on Monday's article. She wrote well (and more succinctly than I) and revealed to me something I did not know:

"Not surprisingly, the two physicians he quotes who do not believe FM is a real illness are Dr. Frederick and Dr. George Ehrlich. Anytime the validity of FM is questioned, these two gentleman can be found in the forefront."

I encourage you to read the full post here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hillary Called to Task by Editorial Board of New York Times

The editorial board of the New York Times lays the flap over race firmly in the lap of where it belongs - on Hillary Clinton.

Read "Race and Politics" here.

Letters to New York Times on Fibromyalgia Article

The printed letters in today’s edition of the New York Times address the piece on fibromyalgia on Monday.

For me personally, the letter from Benjamin Natelson, director of the Pain and Fatigue Study Center at UMDNJ was especially meaningful as that was where I was finally diagnosed on August 9, 2001 after 18 months of confusion and deteriorating health. And I stayed in New Jersey for 2 years to work with them to improve my health and ability to cope, participated in a study there, and I am still in touch with them. They are good, intelligent people working very hard, and I’m very grateful for their work too.

My favorite paragraph:

Would that it were true that fibromyalgia patients “obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate”; in truth, they suffer from pain other people can scarcely imagine. To imply, as the article does, that doctors who advocate on behalf of these patients are somehow “in the pocket” of the pharmaceutical industry is to betray a stunning degree of cynicism, and of callow disregard for the real lives and deep suffering of millions of human beings.

Read all of them here.

UPDATE: Karen Lee Richards wrote me and about the New York Times. See post here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bad News in Michigan For Hillary

As I noted on Monday in this post, Michigan's Detroit News said it would be bad news for Hillary if she drew less than 60%. And guess what - Hillary pulled 55.4% and uncommitted got 39.9%.

Tom Edsall over at The Huffington Post digs deeper and looks at the exit polls and highlights other troubling indicators.

So, if you're considering electability, ponder that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Could BET President's Remarks Be Divorce Acrimony?

His ex-wife supports Obama.

This Washington Post reports on how close Johnson is to the Clintons and suggests why the Clintons refused to distance themselves from Johnsons' despicable remarks. And he doesn't back off from his remarks.

Of note, Johnson met the Clintons at the home of Marion Wright Edelman. Edelman wrote a glowing blurb for Obama's first book: "Perceptive and wise, this book will tell you something about yourself whether you are black or white."

You can sense the Clinton campaigns' frustration. Johnson again:
"This is a fight between who's going to control the liberal soul of the party," Johnson said. "The people who don't like the Clintons have found the Clintons' worst nightmare -- a very dynamic, talented black man to run up against them."
Shame on him and shame on the Clintons. Read the whole thing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New York Times on Fibromyalgia is Sloppy, Biased & Callous

Yesterday, on the front page, the New York Times printed an article entitled: "Drug Approved. Is Disease Real?" And the piece reports that Fibromyalgia is not a real disease and only been constructed to profit drug company profits.

I'm not going to provide a link to the cite because doing so increases its presence and visibility on the web, and this report should be buried not highlighted. Regrettably, it's also the top of 10 most emailed articles at

If you know someone who has this disease, be careful about sending it along. Without an accompanying message of dispute (my uncle likened it to those who believe homosexuality can be cured), you could imply that you agree and that would be hurtful to anyone who is afflicted with Fibromyalgia.

First - I accept two premises:
1) drug companies want to sell drugs and in doing so, sometimes use questionable practices
2) there is a dispute about this disease

I'm not against debate and critical analysis. The definition of liberalism is to engage in opposing ideas. And that's a helpful process because debate provides definition and clarity. And that's all for the good.

What disturbs me is sloppy, biased, callous reporting. The New York Times (despite Judy Miller's best efforts) still has an imprinter of validity and authority so that makes this report even more reprehensible.

I have 6 points in response.

ONE: The piece lacks perspective.
Even the piece opening is not fair:

Fibromyalgia is a real disease. Or so says Pfizer in a new television advertising campaign for Lyrica, the first medicine approved to treat the pain condition, whose very existence is questioned by some doctors.

And so says the CDC, the FDA, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and - oh yeah – The New York Times Health Guide. Further, Jane Brody, the New York Times' long time Health reporter has twice written about Fibromyalgia - once in 1989 (89 - that wasn't a typo) and once in 2000, entitled - get this - Fibromyalgia: Real Illness, Real Answers.

So Pfizer (finally) says so too. Again, they’re not the only ones – in fact Pfizer is late to the issue.

Just because George Bush asserts a fact doesn’t make it, ipso facto, a lie.

Likewise, just because a drug company validates a disease doesn’t make it not a disease.

TWO: The piece does not fully report the facts and in its omissions leads the reader to inaccurate conclusions.
"No biological tests exists to diagnose fibromyalgia." They should have added - "yet."

Readers could reasonably conclude that if no biological test exists that there is no biological basis for the belief that this disease is real. That is NOT true.

See this excerpt from the Arthritis Center of Johns Hopkins (a reputable authority, and with cites to respected medical journals):

With regard to nervous system function, it is thought that persons with FM experience pain amplification due to abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system. This is supported by studies showing multiple physiological abnormalities in persons with FM, including: increased levels of substance P in the spinal cord, low levels of blood flow to the thalamus region of the brain, low levels of serotonin and tryptophan and abnormalities in cytokine functionref 5.

It has also been suggested that FM may relate to an abnormality in deep sleep. That is, abnormal brain waveforms have been found in deep sleep in many persons with FM. Moreover, tender points can be produced in normal volunteers by depriving them of deep sleep for a few days. By the same token, levels of growth hormone, important in maintaining good muscle and other soft tissue health, and produced almost exclusively during deep sleep, have been found to be low in persons with FMref 3.

Please read the whole link here. Please.

THREE: The piece did not present a balanced dispute.
Intelligent, adjunct professors and doctors fall on both sides. The article cites these doctors:

  • "These people live under a cloud. And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get." Dr. Nortin Hadler (see SIX below)
  • “Some of us in those days thought that we had actually identified a disease, which this clearly is not. To make people ill, to give them an illness, was the wrong thing." Dr. Frederick Wolfe who now "considers the condition a physical response to stress, depression, and economic and social anxiety." (Even if this is true - that FM is a physical response to stress - it's still a physical response that needs to be treated. Plus see FOUR below)
  • “Most people ‘manage to get through life with some vicissitudes, but we adapt. People with fibromyalgia do not adapt.” Dr. George Ehrlich. (This assertion is so outrageous, I can't respond.)

The piece cites one doctor, Dr. Daniel Clauw, on the other side and doesn’t explain fully his groundbreaking work on the disease using functional MRIs. See this Newsweek piece from May 19th, 2003, Fibromyalgia: Not All in Your Head, the subtitle of which was "Thanks to brain scan technology, this 'imaginary' illness ailment of 6 million people is proving to be very real."

In the New York Times, Clauw is quoted, “What’s going to happen with fibromyalgia is going to be the exact thing that happened to depression with Prozac. These are legitimate problems that need treatments.” An unfortunate comparison, I grant that. Could he not have compared what was going to happen now that fibromyalgia had a drug approved for treatment to exactly what happened to erectile dysfunction with Viagra or Cialis or Levitra? That would have gotten more respect!

FOUR: Wolfe's view is not new or news.
Wolfe's change of heart is one emphasis of the piece, but the fact that his skepticism is not new is concealed. Ten years ago he wrote a piece entitled, The Fibromyalgia Problem. (Journal of Rheumatology 1997;27(7):1247-49.) Also this cite from the Annuals of Rheumatic Diseases.

And then here he is five years ago in an interview -

Dr. Bob: Now, frequently if a doctor hears a patient say, "I ache all over" and they get blood work and the blood work is normal, do they tend to say this is a psychological problem and do a disservice to this patient or what's the deal?

Dr. Wolfe: Well, doctors are human too. I hate to inform you, but they are.

Dr. Bob: We have our frailties.

Dr. Wolfe: And if you can't find anything, then your first impulse might be to say, "you're kinda crazy." These patients are not crazy. Many of them are full-time workers who are going to work. They do not produce as well because they hurt but they are very active people. They're young mothers. They are men in positions of stress in their job, women in stress. So, it's not like you can say these people are crazy sitting in a corner.

Yes, doctors are human, with all that implies. For full text of interview, click here.

My point is only that the New York Times writes as if Wolfe's skepticism and change of view is new and newsworthy. In fact, it is not.

Further and more importantly, Wolfe is credited as "the lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined the diagnostic guidelines for fibromyalgia." And neglects to mention that he was only one of 10 authors. For more see this National Institutes of Health web site link.

To my knowledge, none of the other authors have similarly disavowed their work.

FIVE: The piece unfairly undermines those cited who assert the disease is real.
Clauw's credibility is undermined by noting he has consulted with 3 drug companies. It's fair to mention that, but it's not put in context. No other doctor - maybe one who has not consulted with drug companies, is cited and it’s not because they don’t exist – which is the implication.

The only other person to provide the “token” other view is the head of the National Fibromyalgia Association which is a patient advocacy group “that receives some of its financing from drug companies.” Again, the implication is that her view is biased and poisoned by the money her organization accepts. But 2 important facts were omitted.

  1. NFA joined forces with Pfizer only lately and got Pfizer to first run public service announcements to simply raise awareness. I believe this may have been the first time this was done by a drug company. As Karen Lee Richards, a co-founder of NFA, wrote in this post at

The National Fibromyalgia Association and Pfizer…have partnered on an educational campaign to raise awareness about fibromyalgia. The TV spot is well done and refers you to the Web site,'s been less than three weeks since the FDA approved Lyrica as the first drug to treat fibromyalgia and already the media campaign has begun. I am pleased that Pfizer chose to begin not with ads for Lyrica, but with an educational campaign run by a nonprofit FM organization. The only way you could even tell that Pfizer was involved was a small logo placed at the very end where the Web site information was given.

I daresay it won't be long, though, until we're seeing Lyrica advertisements both on television and in the print media. While I'm not particularly a big fan of drug ads, these will serve a purpose far beyond making more money for a large pharmaceutical company. They will help give fibromyalgia the widespread legitimacy we have worked toward for so many years.

It's interesting (and a little sad) that--even though fibromyalgia has been recognized for several years by the American Medical Association, the American College of Rheumatologists, the Social Security Administration, and the Veterans Administration--it's probably going to be a profit potential for the pharmaceutical industry that really puts it on the medical map. I can only hope this new media exposure will finally bring still-skeptical medical professionals around.

I do agree with our medical expert Dr. Borigini, who noted in his recent SharePost that Lyrica is not right for every fibromyalgia patient. Although I'm happy about any treatment that helps even a few people live with less pain, my excitement about Lyrica's approval exists on a whole different level. In addition to giving long-deserved attention to fibromyalgia, it will open the door to the approval of even more treatment options. There are currently at least two additional fibromyalgia drugs waiting in the wings for FDA approval. And as other pharmaceutical companies see that treating fibromyalgia can be profitable for them, hopefully they will increase their FM research budgets. (emphasis added)

2. NFA advisory board includes nearly 50 medical professionals. Patients founded NFA 11 years ago - in 1997 - and the organization has done essential and important work - including an informative web site, a magazine, and 6 international conferences that provided a necessary forum for exchange of medical research. They've done this for a decade before any drug companies paid any attention (or money) at all.
I recommend you view the Public Service Announcement at the web site here. Please.

SIX: The serious harm done by such a sloppy, unbalanced, front page report, is immeasurable.
The explicit message of the New York Times piece is that people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are
  • stubborn - not willing to adapt,
  • overweight (lazy),
  • intolerant - obsessing "over aches that other people simply tolerate"

The implicit message is that the disease is not only not real, but made up for drug companies to nefariously profit. The piece concludes with Wolfe quoted as saying the companies are "going to make a fortune."

So what? So long as they and their competitors invest and research the disease as well, fine by me. I pray every day for better treatment and yearn for a cure.

Such pieces as the New York Times published yesterday are seriously detrimental. CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help's web site features an article by Lisa Lorden Myers entitled Killing Me Softly : FM/CFS & Suicide. Some pertinent parts:

  • "An illness like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, which is often doubted or neglected by the medical community, the public, and sometimes by family and friends, can present unique problems. Patients with FM/CFS can become victims of isolation and despair."
  • "Patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome have an exquisite understanding of the pain and emotional anguish, associated with having a poorly understood, incurable disease. 'When you start hearing there is no hope, no treatment, and no cure over and over, you lose your will to fight,' wrote Jan Murphy in a eulogy read at her funeral."
  • "A recent report published by Action for ME, a UK non-profit organization [ME is the UK name for CFS], revealed that 51% of survey respondents have felt suicidal as a result of their illness. Those with the most severe cases of the illness and who received delayed diagnosis and management were most likely to have considered suicide."
I just wish the New York Times could have added to the understanding rather than creating more misunderstanding. And I deeply hope that such sloppy reports don't cause further isolation or mental anguish or add to the despair and increase the likelihood of suicides.

Or keep people who are likewise afflicted from seeking medical care.

Contrary to what was reported, the sooner and faster medical invention occurs, the better the outcome. (see this 2004 abstract funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of NIH by Carol S. Burckhardt, Ph.D. , which concludes: "Preliminary findings suggest that early intervention to assist newly diagnosed young women might lead to better outcomes in health status and quality of life.") Not a cure, but a better resilience and quality of life.

As a good friend wrote to me yesterday:
The last thing a person needs in this situation is lack of support...And the converse--loving, caring unconditional support--can go such a long way toward aiding a person's recovery.
(Thanks Shirley) I am grateful - beyond grateful - for the support of my many friends. They have helped me cope and endure. Myers also quotes Martha Ainsworth who runs a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention, "Suicide happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

I ask if any of you are as disappointed and concerned as I am about this piece and what it signifies as to the state of editorial standards, I encourage you to write to the New York Times. (And I thank Christina for this suggestion of soliciting you to act and state your views as readers of the newspaper.)

To reach the Public Editor, Bryon Calame, who represents the readers, you may
: (212) 556-7652
: Public Editor, The New York Times, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018

To voice your opinion to the editor you may do so by
Fax: (212)556-3622.
Address: Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018

Regarding only letters to the editor (the second address), they advise: "Letters for publication should be no longer than 150 words, must refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer's address and phone numbers. No attachments, please."

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS BLOG ENTRY, on this matter that has affected all aspects of my life. If hiring Bill Kristol to opine on the editorial pages wasn't enough for canceling my subscription, this irresponsible report is.


UPDATE: The New York Times printed letters on Thursday the 17th. Read my post about that here.

UPDATE TWO: Karen Lee Richards wrote me and about the New York Times. See post here.

Why Michigan Matters To Democrats

Democratic voters can also go vote tomorrow in Michigan's primary - but it doesn't count. Except for perception. That's why Hillary's campaign is struggling to ensure that she's not beaten by "uncommitted."
Clinton is the only leading Democratic candidate on the ballot in Michigan. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards withdrew from the race because Michigan violated national party rules by scheduling an early primary. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only other active candidate on the ballot.

While Clinton is virtually assured a win, supporters worry that getting many "uncommitted" votes would embarrass her. Some pollsters have suggested she will look bad if she draws less than 60 percent in a race against practically no one.
For more see this report in the Detroit News.

What Yeast Did for Hillary in NH

This Congressional Quarterly piece chalks up Hillary's New Hampshire win to the work and money of Emily's List. Emily's List is not named after some woman named Emily; it stands for "early money is like yeast."

It also reviews the role of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (The Nevada chapter of the NEA - "National Education Association" is now shamelessly suing to disenfranchise the voters of the Culinary Union that endorsed Obama) and the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) whose staff actions in Iowa caused the Executive Board to write a scathing letter. For more click here.

CQ also talks of the delegate race (as opposed to counting primary wins).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Shame on Hillary for Not Discouraging NV Legal Suit

Yesterday the New York Times reported "Teachers Sue to Block Hotel Workers' Union Vote in Nevada Caucus," in pertinent part:
"The Nevada State Education Association has said it would not endorse any Democrat, but some of its top officials have endorsed Mrs. Clinton. The association’s deputy executive director, Debbie Cahill, for instance, was a founding member of Senator Clinton’s Nevada Women’s Leadership Council."
Clinton was asked about this matter this morning on Meet the Press, and she did not disavow the suit or say it was wrong. Shame on her.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wrote yesterday that this move seemed "beyond the pale" and "deserves attention."
"But the 'tell' is the fact that the teachers' union apparently didn't think this was a problem until Sen. Obama bagged the key union endorsement. When asked why the union had never approached the state party about this issue until Friday, union president Lynne Warne, tellingly replied, 'We're approaching them now.' If there's one thing that's core to the modern Democratic party is that voter suppression tactics are always wrong. Much of the US Attorney purge scandal was at root about Republican voter suppression tactics. I suspect this is doubly wrong -- both in the sense that the suit is meritless on its face but certainly also in the sense that you don't decide how easy to make it for people to vote depending on who you think they're likely to vote for."
ABC's Political Punch blog posted a late update at about 8 pm last night on the matter.

What Obama's Endorsements Mean

Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo offers a good analysis on the significance of Obama's 7 endorsements.

Obama has been endorsed by
  1. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD),
  2. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE),
  3. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO),
  4. Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ),
  5. Rep. Miller (D-CA) - significant because of his closeness to Pelosi,
  6. Sen. Kerry (D-MA) - significant because of his 3M email list & his stature as the former, nominee
  7. Ned Lamont - D nominee in CT Senate race (lost to Lieberman)
Generally he makes 2 points -
1. that these endorsements are politically risky if you think Clinton has a real chance of recovery, ergo they signal a lack of confidence in Clinton's viability
2. that, as many of them are from conservative states (purple states), their endorsements signal that they feel Obama can win in those states (and incidentally help raise and elect other Democrats down the ticket).

Tom Edsall, of the Columbia School of Journalism, posts at The Huffington Post on his take on the meaning of these endorsements.

Question for Hillary - Does Gender Matter or Not?

I submitted this question for the Nevada debate Tuesday night:
“I don’t think either Senator Obama or myself want to see the injection of race or gender into this campaign,” Clinton continued. “We are each running as individuals.
(From New York Times, January 13 "Clinton Accuses Obama Camp of Distorting Her Words")

Yet last Saturday at the New Hampshire debate Hillary Clinton said:
"I think I am an agent of change. I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change -- (applause) -- with consequences across our country and the world."
Which is it? Does Clinton think her gender should be a factor voters consider?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Clinton Biographer on New Hampshire Win

Sam Stein of The Huffington Post interviews Sally Bendell Smith, author of "For Love of Politics -- Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years." and revealed some interesting insights.

"The thing that surprised me the most were in the last few days of Iowa," said Smith. "It was the woefully subdued affect she had. She was lowering her voice, speaking slowly, trying to be presidential, I guess. That seemed out of character...Even at the weepy moment, when her eyes were filling were tears. What was most remarkable was that she stayed relentlessly on the attack," Smith added. "She got emotional up to a point and then just never deviated from her focus, which was to continue to throw the daggers at Obama and Edwards. She got in some deft points while she was apparently melting."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire's Record Turn Out

Another record turn out, the Boston Globe reports.

With ballots from 12 percent of voting precincts still to be counted, about 453,000 residents had cast votes, breaking the previous primary turnout record of 396,385 ballots cast in 2000.

State officials predicted that when all ballots were counted, the total would surpass 500,000.

That's good for everybody. As Barack repeatedly points out.

Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?

Dowd's piece is, to me, again right on. Nixonian self-pity, indeed! Another liberal blog noted that some compared the wellling up to the William Hurt character in Broadcast News!

Dowd today is worth a read.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Obama - The Democrats' Demosthenes

EJ Dionne wrote an opinion piece with important historical political background for those of us who don't remember a campaign before 1972.

"In 1960, the articulate Adlai stevenson compared his own oratory unfavorably with John F. Kennedy's "Do you remember," Stevenson said, "that in classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, 'How well he spoke,' but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, the people said, 'Let us march.'" At this hour, Obama is the Democrats' Demosthenes."

To read all of Dionne, click here.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Obama's Melodies of Hope & Possibility

This is sort of fun. has got the full list of songs that run during an Obama rally. They all "keep close" to his message of "hope and possibility."

I'm going to put together a new playlist for my ipod.

You can see the list for yourself here.

The Third Consequence of Smaller Government

The consequence of the beat up on government that began with Reagan, continued with Clinton ("the era of big government is over") and was taken to new heights under George Bush has had one central consequence: the outsourcing and privatizing of essential aspects of our civil society.

We all are aware of the outsourcing of our military. This article in Vanity Fair, which I wrote about last month, outlined how Indiana and Texas were privatizing the running our of roads, and now the New York Times Magazine cover story today, Can You Count on Voting Machines, states:
"In essence, elections now face a similiar outsourcing issue to that seen in the Iraq War, where the government has ceded so many core military responsibilities to firms like Halliburton and Blackwater that Washington can no longer fire the contractor."
Chantal, a friend since I was 9, picked me up at the airport yesterday. Despite a long delayed trip and the concomitant flare up of my illness, I could not stop smiling. As we waited for my luggage, I handed her the New York Times folded open to Embracing His Moment, Obama Preaches Hope in New Hampshire. She humored me, but after reading it still seemed defeated. I asked her why. She shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't believe her vote counted, was counted.

We were in Florida. And in 2004 she didn’t get a receipt for her vote, had no proof and waited 4 hours in line to vote.

I blame Bill Clinton's legacy - "big" was a euphemism for bad. He bought into and extended the Republican's government bashing and reduction. As a result, private companies now conduct our wars, maintain our roads, run our elections. So what? Private is more efficient - isn't it? Capitalism ensures the best succeeds.

Well so far as I can discern, private instead of public means -
  • higher costs to taxpayers (no bid contracts, higher maintenance costs, impaired - if any - oversight by the Government Accounting Office),
  • less quality (rape, killings, machines and printers that don't work)
  • less accountability(trade secrets, Prince can't testify before Congress because he's not accountable to them, but to his stockholders)
  • fewer options
  • and low morale (voters in FL, soldiers making so much less than Blackwater employees).
We need a rhetorical genius to recast the paradigm. Go Obama.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Moyers Reveals Why Rhetorical (Words!) Skills Matter

This Bill Moyers' interview came recommended by my aunt and uncle. Kathleen Hall Jamieson offers perspective on the political skills of Obama and Huckabee. It's very interesting.

"But here's why both of those speeches were important. They were good speeches. They talked to the nation in the role of a candidate who is speaking as a president to a people. Giving people a chance to say how would you fit in that role. And we forget sometimes that speech making is a very important role in the presidency. There are times in the nation in which the president is the only one who can speak to us and for us. And whether it's the president we wanted elected or not, that person has to be able to play that role for all of us. Obama has that capacity, and I believe Huckabee does as well."
Check the video or transcript.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

OBAMA Wins!!!!!!

A thumping@! I am beside myself with relief.

To me, the biggest story - more even than Obama's win, which to me is HUGE - is the turn out numbers.

There are approximately 600,000 Democrats in Iowa. In 2004 - the turn out was a record, an increase of 45% percent over the year 2000. The total number was 125,000.

Tonight - tonight - 218,000. That's nearly 100,000 more. That's more than a tidal wave. That's more than a 70% INCREASE over 2004! It's pretty close to 75%! (70% would be 212,500 - 75% increase is 218,750)

That is UNBELIEVABLE. More than 70% increase! Probably more than a 75% increase.


Late Update:

Ansel Adams' Words About Photography

I also saw the Ansel Adams at the Corcoran, which closes January 27th. Not as moving as Leibovitz, but perhaps I was just drained.

On the wall, outside the exhibit is this statement from Adams: “No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain can not be denied. It speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”

I learned that Adams began his photography when he was a teenager working in Yosemite park.

Adams on his photos – they are not “abstracts but extracts.”

Adams on Half Dome: “As soon as I saw the moon coming up by the Half Dome I had visualized the image…I have photographed Half Dome innumerable times, but it is never the same Half Dome, never the same light or the same mood.” 1960 To see or buy the image, click here. Do a search at the web site for Half Dome and see some of the many images of Half Dome Adams took.

“Famed curator John Sarkowski wrote that Adams undertook his photography as a form of private worship: ‘his great work was done under the stimulus of a profound and mystical experience of the natural world.’”

The exhibit concluded with this quote from Adams: “Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and the wonder surrounding him.”

Check out the official Ansel Adams website. Here was another favorite image, because it wasn't a landscape.

Annie Leibovitz at the Corcoran

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 is at the Corcoran Gallery. It's been there since October. I was relieved to feel strong enough to go and see it yesterday. And I'm so very glad I did.

The images of her family intrigued me much more than the more well-known photographs of film stars and political figures. I subscribed to Vanity Fair. I'd seen them all. Even the ones of the Queen of England.

Perhaps because her companion, Susan Sontag, was a writer – I found myself looking closer at these images that captured a writer’s life - a library with bookshelves to the ceiling; Sontag, head close to another thinker, looking down together at something; two pads of paper and miscellaneous notes portrayed notes of thoughts – random but maybe not with connecting lines and boxes – on a desk; even a photograph from 1992 of an Apple SE, with words flickering on the screen. I'd not seen one of those in awhile and I thought of how that image already seem antique.

I fell in love with her mother – like me a former dancer, a lover of the ocean who grew up going to the Jersey shore. Her spirit leapt off the walls. There were lots of images of the family frolicking at the beach. Leibovitz decided to put several shots taken moments from each other together, so the effect was a slow moving film. Grandparents with grandchildren, aunts with cousins, children growing. These groups of still action were neat.

She spent time in Sarajevo and her photographs of that time, of the underground newspaper, of the streets, of men swimming and diving in a dam – showed life under siege, in war, going on. Most haunting of all was a bike, on its side on pavement, in a swirl of blood so that you could sense the bike’s movement as it fell. The liner notes said that the boy had been shot by a sniper, that she had taken him in her car to the hospital but that he had died on the way. You couldn’t not look again at the image and not be struck by sudden, random, unfair, wrong ends.

And then she captured the deteriorating bodies of her lover and her father. Sontag had cancer. These scenes of illness were too familiar to me. White sheets, machines, nakedness, plastic tubes, frightened or resigned eyes. Or a forced determination. To live, survive. You could read about their apartment in Paris and why they took it despite the fact that it was two stories up and Sontag could barely walk. You saw her being transported in a medical plane – outside in a windy cold – being wheeled in; the notes said it was a last effort, a trip to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant.

And then Sontag’s dead body – elaborately dressed but unmistakably dead. Leibovitz wrote of the process of illness, being in hospitals - “It’s humiliating . You lose yourself. And she loved to dress up.” And there she was.

That wall turned a corner to a series of images that recorded Leibovitz’s father’s death. He chose to die at home. The final image of living limbs in grief - twisted, tangled – the limbs apart from the faces as if the limbs lying there so expressed enough. They did.

I lifted my eyes from those small pictures on the wall and stepped to my right to head into the next room, the last room, and I felt stunned. This effect was clearly intentional, but no less powerful despite that self-consciousness. With the gray winter days, day after day – to see this gray – dark, deep and like a rich soil – moved me. And this background shade also provided sharp relief to the white walls of all the other previous galleries. And then there was the scale – massive. The photographs on the wall were printed and loomed large - at least 15 feet wide and 8 feet high, and they were all landscapes in shades of gray accented by a rosy light.

The emotional effect took me from the tiny details of the process of death to these earthly panoramas that offered such transcendent, heavenly beauty. This was not the romantic sentimentalism of a Turner painting, as beautiful as they are (and that I still hope to see at the National Gallery). The reality of these images made the sense that you were seeing God’s awesome beauty more potent. Japanese flowers floating, punchy in its pink and particularity. Two images of Venice portrayed water, shimmering and alive like ghosts.

And then - Monument Valley in Arizona – surely God’s granite playground. Leibovitz wrote about the weight of comparison she felt photographing this infamous locale: “I had booked a helicopter, but felt guilty because it seemed like cheating. And at the end of the very last day, I told myself that Ansel Adams would have rented a helicopter.”

I felt so small. My grief felt so small. I wept.

The exhibit closes on January 13th.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dave Letterman and the WGA

Go Dave Letterman!~ He just let the WGA give a pitch for their cause. And it was a good one. Apparently Hillary was on, but I tuned in late.

AND AND - he let striking writers deliver the top ten list - the top 10 demands of the striking writers. Golly, they look like a motley crew. From Colbert Report (2), Daily Show (2), Law & Order, Law Order Criminal Intent, a soap opera, Late Night w/ Conan, and Nora Ephron. Yep. Nora Ephron. Check out the Top Ten Demands of the Striking Writers.

Wow, that was almost as cool as the Obama campaign. Letterman may be able to change the dynamic. After that, you can almost believe it. Only the Huffington Post has been covering the strike with any regularity. I have a friend who wrote the script for Autofocus (an ex-boyfriend, actually) and he wrote me that the strike would last until late spring or early summer. I hope not. I miss Mad Men. More importantly, the studios are wrong.

I LOVE Letterman and loved him even before he gave me my network debut in September 1985. Yes, I was on the Letterman Show, back when it was on NBC and I was working there for the summer. Long story. But fun.

Meanwhile, Huckabee is on the Tonight Show. He said he supported the striking writers and didn't realize perhaps that he'll have to cross the picket line (with signs that say Huck is a Scab) in order to be on the show.

See link, including the top ten list.
7 minutes to the 3rd!

Mom's Fav, Mantel, Reviews Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year

My mother and I both subscribed to the New York Review of Books and often talked of the pieces and ideas. Read this one, don't miss that, don't waste your time on that one. Golly, I miss that. I miss her. We both agreed that this periodical that comes out every two weeks was very uneven. Sometimes, every single page was worth the time. The writing can be dense and aren't light, quick reading. And other times, there was nothing of interest - at least to neither of us.

And this issue is one of those full ones. Hillary Mantel was one of my mother's favorite authors. Her novel, A Change of Climate was two of her all time favorites (the other is Stendahl's The Red and the Black). And in the current issue, Mantel reviews Coetzee's latest novel, Diary of a Bad Year.

The review includes some gems about why novelists write and why novels are important. (These excerpts really don't do the review justice)

  • “To write a novel you have to be like Atlas, holding up a whole world on your shoulders and supporting it there for months and years while its affairs work themselves out.” (direct quote from Coetzee’s novel.)
  • "He has an attraction, perhaps for this writer, always there to 'the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.'" (Mantel, quoting Coetzee)
  • "It is not only fear of death that disturbs the novelist; every time one sits down to write, a gap like the grave opens up between intention and effect. Taking it to be his proper daily task, an artist spends his life trying to narrow that gap, but for what? So that he can impose his 'strong opinions' on the world? So that his perhaps worthless personality is stamped all over everything he touches?...At heart he is not a novelist after all, they say, but a pendant who dabbles in fiction." (All Mantel, referring to Coetzee's protagonist, known as C)
  • "C believes that Ivan's opinions are wrong. But he hears that his voice is true. 'It is the voice of Ivan, as realized by Dostoevsky, not his reasoning, that sweeps me along.'" (Mantel summarizing C's view of Ivan, the protagonist in The Brothers Karamazov and then quoting C)
  • "The novel, as a form, justifies itself by being the arena where such intellectual and emotional battles can be fought...As Auden says, 'About suffering they were never wrong/The Old Masters.' The masters of the novel form - Tolstoy, Dostoevsky himself - show us the way. 'They annihilate one's impurer pretentions; they clear one's eyesight; they fortify one's arm.'" (Mantel citing Auden and Coetzee)
  • " the negotiations performed in that [white] space, the power of this novel resides; not with the above-the-line argument, not with the rational and impersonal, but the human particularity through which the rational argument is meditated. This is the 'why' of the novel, of any novel. Polemics are not enough."
And this - this is really funny:
"In his essay on Robert Walser, Coetzee refers to the pleasure the writer got from 'damselling,' which he defines as 'experiencing a feminine life imaginatively from the inside.' We are probably safe in saying that Coetzee is not damselling as Anya appears to have the soul of a performer in a burlesque show: 'As I pass him, carrying the laundry basket, I make sure I waggle my behind, my delicious behind, sheathed in tight denim. If I were a man I would not be able to keep my eyes off me.'"

I really encourage the full read. Read here. Note: I'm pretty sure access is limited to subscribers - but this issue, in my humble view, is worth the price. Tomasky has an intriguing piece on the Republicans and Garry Wills, always good, writes about Romney and Religion.

And if any of you do read it, I'd love to talk about it with someone.

Pakistan Govt Changes Cause of Bhutto's Death, plus

Pakistan does a u-turn on the claimed cause of death. How could they not after that video that Britian's Channel 4 found and ran. It's irrefutable. And they apologized. Full report, including official government statements, can be found here.

And - Bhutto was about to hand a report to visiting US lawmakers that included proof of Musharaff's government poll-rigging. This news report doesn't say which one - but one of them is Sen. Arlene Spector. I remember reading that he was in Pakistan when she was assassinated.

What a mess George Bush has made.

Hillary is No Foreign Policy Expert


So much for Hillary Clinton being the one with the Foreign Policy experience. This snafu doesn't fit her self-representation as someone who knows the world and is ready to hit the pavement on day one. It's unbelievable and she did it twice, so it wasn't a mix up of words.

See short piece at Politico.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Free Hugs Campaign

And this video of free hugs always makes me smile and even, sometimes, cry.

Women in Art

Okay, this video is another classic. I'd seen it before and was sent to me again by another friend and former teacher - Joan Turk.

It's really beautiful:

A Mom's Song to the William Tell Overture

Okay, let's start off the New Year with some funny, heartening videos.

First, my sister Eleanor first told me about this video months ago. And then a friend, Jen Donat, sent me the link just before Christmas.

It's about 3 minutes and really great. Check it out:

20 Years Ago This Moment

I was kissing a boy on the roof of the Plaza hotel. He'd successfully tracked me down in NYC because of my unique first name. A native of NYC, he knew how to get up to the catwalks. I was impressed. And had fun kissing him up there - it was our first kiss. I had thought it was a one night fluke - carried away by the romance of the night. But it turned out he was serious about me. I was thrill, and we got together for good, well for a while, by February - at a Valentine's party me and my housemates hosted.

I'm grateful for the memory, Scooter!