Saturday, February 03, 2007

Easy Black Ben Chili on Rice in the Kitchen

Gillian passed on a recipe that's delicious but I feel like I'm doing a product placement here. The recipe was written by the people who make/market Land O Lakes Butter. I actually do use that butter and since it's real butter I'll use that as my excuse for sharing it.

These small black beans are also called turtle beans. Their deep black color looks most striking when contrasted with the bright red of tomatoes and the white of sour cream.
Preparation time: 15 min Cooking time: 10 min
Yield: 4 servings
Chili Ingredients:

2 teaspoons Land O Lakes Butter
1 large (1 cup) onion, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups hot cooked rice

Topping Ingredients:
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/3 cup light or fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan; add onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and lightly browned (5 minutes). Add beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, chiles and cumin. Continue cooking until heated through (5 minutes). Serve over hot cooked rice. Top with tomato, sour cream and cilantro. TIP: Chili can be served over baked potatoes, pasta or grains.

The recipe is a very good one in that it's simple to make and the final result tastes wonderful.
While I do use Land O Lakes Butter, I know nothing about their sour cream -- I'm not even sure I've even seen it. So I've changed the plug for that product to just "sour cream."

Gillian loves the recipe and, if you make it, I'm sure you will too.

You can use dried beans you cook yourself or fresh tomatoes instead of canned.

Can you tell I'm uncomfortable? I'm not with the results of the recipe, I just wondered about promoting Land O Lakes which I know nothing about (in terms of who owns them)? I think there's more than enough marketing in the real world and certainly in cooking. When someone shares a recipe, if it includes "Campbells Soup" that usually goes up here and I'll note you can use another soup brand. But this is a recipe put out by Land O Lakes to promote Land O Lakes products.

If you're cooking in your home, you are probably aware that many packages will contain offers for 'free' cookbooks. That's really something you send in for in your early days. You end up burned very quickly. They really aren't recipes, they're actually catalogues for the company's products. I think Kraft, for instance, would have a better image among people who do cook if they're "cookbooks" weren't a bunch of plugs for their own products.

"Kraft" on the cover is more than enough, to go through recipes that list one Kraft product after another is not only overkill, it's annoying. It turns people off. If Kraft really wants to be in our kitchen, they could offer 'free' cookbooks that actually contained useable recipes. These days, with six children already living on their own and two who are still home, I no longer go through that monthly pang of, "I need to find something new!" In the earliest days, that would pop up.

I still add recipes all the time but I'm talking about the panic and guessing some of you know what I mean. Maybe something burned and you're obsessed over that or maybe something else in your life isn't going all that well and you think, "Well I can cook. I'll focus on that right now."
When that happened to me, I would go on The Great Recipe Search and, if you've done that, you realize very quickly that some recipes are nothing but product promotion. Sometimes they end up with a recipe that's edible but the primary goal seems to be to get you rushing to the grocery store to buy up all their products.

That's insulting for a number of reasons including the fact that there are usually less expensive alternatives and there are usually fresh alternatives. If a company is selling canned goods, don't expect their cookbook to contain a lot of recipes for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now I've been there where a 'free' cookbook wasn't only a nice thing but something that worked into my budget. I'd be excited when it arrived and eager to flip through the pages. The result would be heavily processed ingredients that had no real nutritional value and that also cost quite a bit more than if you'd used fresh. So they want you to pay the costs twice: pay the financial cost to spend more for their own products and pay the health costs for cooking dishes that are based on heavily processed foods where the vitamins, bran, et al has been stripped from them.

I do like the recipe above (and I did substitute fresh tomatoes). But I also think it's a way for us to think about the product placement and about the food industry.

I can actually do a plug here. I recently finished reading Frances Moore Lappe's Democracy's Edge. I've noted her book Diet for a Small Planet here (many times) and I strongly recommend this book. It's a big book, 317 pages. I was trying to get a friend to read it and she wasn't interested. The size and scope intimidated her. (I'm not referring to Elaine who enjoys tackling any book. I believe Rebecca noted that Elaine and I both enjoyed it and I'm not referring to Rebecca here either.) I was a little depressed by that because I thought the book addressed issues that my friend was concerned about and I love the book. I mentioned that in passing to C.I., who also loves the book, and got a wonderful suggestion: Get a friend to read one chapter they're interested in.

Not the first chapter. If the book intimidates them, encourage them to find a chapter on a topic they enjoy and read that. If nothing else, they'll have the one chapter but sometimes, if a book has a large scope, it can be intimidating to some people. I hadn't thought of that and that was my foolish mistake. My son Mike does that all of the time now (because C.I. had passed on the tip to him awhile back when he was having difficulty with one of his college text books).

I tried that with my friend and she went with chapter ten ("Learning") which she enjoyed so much she decided to pick another chapter. She ended up reading the entire book that way. It's a wonderful book that's addressing serious issues of how we are made to fit and telling us how we need to make the world fit us, not the other way around. The sections on the media will probably interest some easily. But I know that people don't always have time for reading and when the topic is a serious one (wonderfully executed by the author) and the pages go over a certain mark, people can feel intimidated or think, "I've got to clean, I've got to do this, I've got to do that, when am I going to have the time for a book?"

This is a book you should make the time for and if the size of Democracy's Edge intimidates you and starting from page one doesn't propell you through, grab a chapter that interests you and work your way around the book. I really think you'll enjoy it.

This week, Molly Ivins passed away and we also saw the month end with 90 US troops being killed in Iraq. (That was the AFP count.) With the illegal war continuing, the loss of Ivins was even greater because it wasn't the case of just losing a wonderful voice with something to say, but also the case of losing someone who grasped how serious the war was and how little media -- big and small -- tended to care. She had made a pledge to cover Iraq in her columns and it's a pledge I haven't heard any of the 'big voices' honoring her these last few days say they'd pick up. Which is why I find most of the honoring to be mere words, lip service, and hollow.

It's also true that a young man, Ehren Watada, faces a court-martial for refusing to fight in the illegal war. His court-martial is Monday and I haven't seen Norman Solomon, Phil Donahue, John Nichols, John Stauber or Marc Cooper rush to weigh in on the need to stand up for him this past week. Have you?

All of them wrote pretty silly pieces about the need to stop Sarah Olson from testifying. Those were silly, little columns that made wonder if they were written by silly, little men? Their silly, little actions didn't accomplish anything. However, Ehren Watada did take action to prevent any journalist from having to testify. In all the "We Did It!" nonsense that followed, I didn't see credit going where it was due, to Ehren Watada.

Do these men have children of their own? (Donahue does but his column on Olson was so shaky that I honestly didn't believe he even knew what he was writing about.) I do have children, eight of them, and I can very easily identify with Carolyn Ho, Ehren Watada's mother. She didn't want her son to take this stand. Not because she didn't believe in the stand, but because she knew it would be a lonely stand and he would be punished for it.

If you have children and they've taken a stand on anything, you know those mixed emotions. You're proud to see that you've raised someone with courage who won't just go along because it's the easy thing to do. But you're also scared for them because you're ticking off all the things that will come their way because of standing up.

It's a real conflict, as you know if you've gone through it, because your child is putting into practice what you've tried to teah them but there will be fallout for that. And you don't want to see them hurt. With my own kids, I've always caught my tongue in time to just praise them. But as soon as my husband and I were alone, the first question I would ask him would be, "Why can't someone else stand up?"

Ehren Watada is a very brave young man and his mother is a very brave woman who must be driving herself ragged as she speaks anywhere and every where she can to be sure we're all aware of what is coming down Monday. That's two days away and it would take a miracle at this point to stop the court-martial.

I don't see any miracle coming and I don't see any "saints" in the majority of the supposedly brave, supposedly independent media. I noted recently that I was done with The Nation. I am done with it. I don't see it ever changing in my lifetime. It refuses to cover the war resisters (I read print and don't call those silly little paragraphs by Marc Cooper -- a sidebar -- "covering" -- especially not after they appear one page after Ehren Watada is called a coward in the main article). It is a worthless magazine written by apparent cowards who cannot stand up. It has failed us on the war and it has failed war resisters. When the editor and publisher's child takes a stand, my hope is that it will be greeted with the same silence and lack of support that the magazine has given to Ehren Watada. She is a coward for allowing the magazine to stay silent.
May she also get seasick on her summer cruise.

I used to think she was a brave voice but it is in the standing when you need to stand that proves bravery. In her case, the silence has demonstrated that she's not a leader, she's not brave and she is useless. Since Katrina vanden Heuvel is a relatively young woman, the magazine will be useless for many years to come.

It is banned from our home because we take the war seriously and we want it to end. We respect Ehren Watada and we think he deserves support that independent media has largely failed to give him. I'm from a large family, I have a large family of my own. The word of mouth on The Nation's cowardly behavior will be difficult to overcome. My father is even more vocal about this than I am. In my church there is shock over the fact that The Nation would not stand up for Ehren Watada (there is also disgust as people are beginning to learn how few women the magazine will print articles by -- the figure is basically four men printed for every one woman). The Nation's taking a hit and that's going to gather and gather due to their own fault. Their image is now poor and that will spread and spread. As they've decided to ape other publications that offer mash notes to Democrats, they will find their circulation dropping to the same low numbers. It was the left (or 'left') magazine with the highest circulation. It has already taken a hit and will continue to do so. That's their own fault because they have refused to cover Ehren Watada and topics that matter. Instead, they offer one useless magazine after another as they gear up for their summer cruise.

"Summer cruise." During war time. My father is fond of pointing out all the things they had to give up during WWII and asking exactly why The Nation feels "cruises" are the answer? Because they're useless and they're run by a useless woman who wants to be in a position of power even though she has no idea how to use power.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday:

Friday, February 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a US helicopter is shot down in Iraq, Ehren Watada's court-martial is scheduled to take place in three days, 'civil war' to describe Iraq becomes a less loaded term and the myth of Najaf continues to be dispelled.

Starting with
Ehren Watada who became the first comissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq in June and now faces a court-martial in Fort Lewis, Washington on Monday.
Daisuke Wakabayashi (Reuters) says the case "could determine the limits of free-speech rights for officers." Dean Paton (Christian Science Monitor) takes a look at the life that led up to the brave stand: "When it came time for Watada to enlist, he was diagnosed with asthma and declared physically unfit. He paid $800 to have an outside test done and was accepted into the Army's college-option program. He completed basic training in June 2003, and went to Officer Candidate School in South Carolina. He emerged 14 weeks later as a 2nd lieutenant." Ben Hamamoto (The Nichi Bei Times) reports on some of the activities Carolyn Ho has been taking part in to raise awareness of her son including suggesting people write letters to Congress, sign petitions (one is at Ehren Watada's site) and "post signs demanding that the military drop the charges and allow Watada to resign" because, Ho stated, "The way this resolves itself will speak to the soldiers and tell them whether or not they are being supported and it will speak to the politicians as to how we feel about the war (and soldiers' rights)."

Diane Kay (The Maine Campus) traces his life from college to speaking out: "Watada was a finance major, and graduated magna cum laude. The war in Iraq had just begun, and Watada, like many Americans, believed that Iraq posed a real threat to the United States, had WMDs and was connected to Sept. 11. He entered the U.S. Army officer candidate program following graduation to pursue a career in the military. Watada served in Korea in 2003 and 2004, earned the rank of lieutenant, and received excellent reviews of his work by his superior officers. In 2005, Lt. Watada and his unit returned to the United States, and were stationed in Ft. Lewis, Wash. Lt. Watada knew that his unit would eventually be deployed to Iraq, and he began to study as much as he could to prepare himself and his unit for deployment." This is where Ehren Watada starts to learn about the Bully Boy's lies of war. He had been assigned to Iraq. It was his duty (and superiors encouraged him in it) to study up so that he would be more effective and also able to answer questions from those serving under him (big one: "Why are we even here?"). It took the American people (many, not all) time to wake up to the lies of war and that didn't happen overnight. (Nor did it happen via the media as Liza Featherstone laughably suggests in The Nation. But then how would she know about the Downing Street Memos -- which The New York Review of Books, not The Nation, published. Jessica Lee, of the Indypendent, covers what Featherstone can't or won't -- click here.) What happened in the United States was activists and some journalists and publications pursued the topic (again, really not The Nation -- they had food issues and environmental issues and so much more to cover -- which is why they've never once written of the gang rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer). People carved out a space for it and certainly Cindy Sheehan took it up a notch.

All that was needed for the lies to be exposed and the public to turn against the war.
Ehren Watada was not in the United States. He was stationed in Korea. And it's really important to remember that. Many who've served in Iraq have seen the lies fall away before their eyes (which reality will do) but in terms of how the war was sold, don't think that troops serving overseas are getting the same media that those in the United States do. In the lead up to his announcing his decision to his mother on January 1, 2006, he was cramming in three-plus years worth of information, reporting, critiques, etc. Which is why Hatsue Katsura of El Cerrito notes to The Contra Costa Times: "It was a gradual awareness and realization of facts about the war that were publicly disclosed over time. It became obvious our administration lacked reliable intelligence and was lying to justify an illegal and immoral war.I respect and support Watada for his decision. By refusing to obey orders, he knew he'd probably face a jail sentence. But he responded to a higher calling to serve his fellow man as an American and a world citizen."

Or, as
Ehren Watada asked Daisuke Wakabayashi, "When you have leaders that are unaccountable, who have already deceived people over something as serious as war and are willing to do it again, you have to ask yourself, 'where do you stand?'" Or, as he explained to Judith Scherr (Berkeley Daily Planet), "I'm willing to go to prison for what I believe in. . . .
I've taken an oath to defend the constitution, I must be willing to sacrifice."

That sacrifice shouldn't involve sacrificing the truth of his story so possibly some might need to correct
Tom Zeller Jr. (New York Times) who writes: "But Lieutenant Watada is no ordinary deserter, and he did not claim to be a conscientious objector." Ehren Watada is "no oridinary deserter" -- in fact, he's no deserter of any kind. Not since Zeller Jr. dismissed concerns over the Ohio vote immediately after the 2004 election has he seemed so out of touch with what he is supposed to be covering. Watada isn't a deserter. He refused to deploy. That is not desertion. He is not charged with desertion. Since he refused deployment, he has reported to the base for work every day. Zeller's fact-free approach to reporting made him a laughing stock in 2004 (all the more so with the recent Ohio convictions on voter fraud in the 2004 election) and he's obviously more concerned with maintaining that status. So let's speak slowly for Zeller Jr.: Desertion follows AWOL. AWOL is what most are charged with if they are gone for less than thirty days. Watada is not charged with desertion because he never went AWOL. He has been at Fort Lewis for every scheduled hour since he went public. He is not a deserter and the fact-free approach of Zeller's is not reporting. If the Junior Zeller is still confused, someone can refer him to the reporting of Andrew Buncombe (Independent of London): "When Lt Watada refused to go to Iraq last summer the army charged him with missing movement -- for failing to deploy -- as well as several counts of conduct unbecoming an officer."

Amnesty International has issued a press release entitled "
USA: War objector's freedom of conscience must be respected" which notes: "'If found guilty, Amnesty International would consider Ehren Watada to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release', said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas Programme Director. 28-year-old Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada faces a possible four year prison sentence on charges of 'missing movement' -- due to his refusal to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 -- and of 'conduct unbecoming an officer' --- because of his public comments regarding his objections to the war in Iraq. Ehren Watada has stated that his refusal is based on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral. In a pre-court martial hearing held on 16 January, a military judge ruled that he could not base his defence on the legality of the war in Iraq." As Amnesty International steps up to the plate and The Nation plays useless, is it any wonder that so many are starting to believe organizations are more worthy of their dollars than those in independent media who make themselves useless?

As noted, Watada will not be allowed to present a defense. Lt. Col. 'Judge" Head will preside. A military jury will render the verdict on the charges. The hearing itself is expected to go rather quickly since the 'judge' has disallowed Watada's right to present a defense. (The August Article 32 hearing went quickly, since witnesses like Ann Wright, Denis Halliday and Frances Boyle will not be allowed to testify for Watada this time, it's expected to be over in a couple of hours.)

Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian of London) interviewed Watada who told her, "It was so shocking to me. I guess I had heard about WMD and that we made a terrible, terrible mistake. Mistakes can happen but to think that it was deliberate and that a careful deception was done on the American people -- you just had to question who you are as a serviceman, as an American."

Ehren Watada will be speaking:

Your last opportunity to hear from Lt. Watada
in person prior to his military court martial!!
Saturday, February 3, 7 PM
University Temple United Methodist Church
1415 NE 43rd Street,
Seattle WA(next to the University Bookstore).
$10 suggested donation for the event.
No one will be turned away.

In addition, his mother, Carolyn Ho, will be speaking Saturday in Little Tokyo (in Los Angeles) at an event Saturday organized by the Asian Emrican Veterans Organization (event starts with a meet up march at the intersection of San Pedro and Second at 4:00 pm)..
More information on all events can be found by
clicking here.

Watada is a part of a movement of resistance with the military that includes others such as
Agustin Aguayo (whose court-martial is currently set to begin on March 6th), Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Again, the court-martial beings Monday.
Courage to Resist lists actions taking place at Fort Lewis and elsewhere. They note that the court-martial is open to the public (you need to get a visitors pass), will be held (at Fort Lewis base) in Building 2027 and that the proceedings are scheduled to begin at 9:00 am.

Iraq Veterans Against the War are staging actions throughout the weekend:

Friday, February 2nd through Monday, February 5th, the day of Lt. Ehren Watada's court-martial, IVAW's Olympia Chapter and
IVAW Deployed will be holding a series of events/fundraisers in order to raise awareness on the importance and details of Ehren's action, and subsequently, his court-martial.
We will show up on the day of Ehren'' trial with a presence and message that cannot be ignored nor denied. Our message is simple: George W. Bush and those who choose to partake in war crimes are the people that should be on trial. Lt. Ehren Watada's argument is legitimate and should be adopted by all who might be given unlawful orders.

Yesterday on
KFPA's Flashpoints, co-host Nora Barrows Friedman interviewed Dahr Jamail about the Najaf massacre. "What we do know for sure according to Iraqi doctors," Darh explained, that "253 killed and another 210 wounded." Jamail described the people in the region as wanting to self-govern and that "members of the tribes were starting to stand up because they want to be self-governing". The violence started with a tribal leader and his wife being gunned down which is a far cry from "the bogus story about a Shia messianic cult" plotting and conspiring to kill clerics.

Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily have covered many details of the Najaf story (see "
Official Lies Over Najaf Battle Exposed") and Stan Goff (Huffington Post) notes their work and compares the lies of Najaf (from the US government and from the mainstream media) to the 'glory' days of Centcom past: "They were dead at the hands of the US and its sketchy Iraqi armed forces 'allies,' and one of the perennial CENTCOM lies of the day is that every Iraqi who dies during any US operation is an 'insurgent' or a 'gunman.' In fact, most of them were religious pilgrims who were gunned down without any provocation . . . more then 200 of them. This was no 'battle.' It was a massacre. The dead were religious pilgrims, not a 'cult.' All of us should figure it out, especially news people, that urban guerillas do not concentrate in groups of 200-plus, and that any time we learn that more than 200 people have been killed, it is a pretty good bet that they were mostly civilians.

Dahr also spoke of what happened in Baquba which had been a "very mixed town" for Shias and Sunnis prior to the illegal war but "just weeks after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003" the US military "brought together all of the religous leaders into a tent" in Baquba and had Shia and Sunnis go to opposite sides which is the sort of division that the US created and cemented and which some politicians (such as US Senator Joe Biden) favor: splitting Iraq into three regions (Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites). What Dahr spoke of echoes what MADRE's Yanar Mohammed witnessed and discussed with Laura Flanders on the December 9th broadcast of RadioNation with Laura Flanders -- after the invasion, all Iraqis faced one question when dealing with the occupation government (Americans): "Are you Shia or Sunni?"

That helped solidify divisions and conflicts. Today,
Karen deYoung and Walter Pincuse (Washington Post) broke the news of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq which found the biggest obstacle in Iraq today to be the sectarian conflict. David Morgan (Reuters) reports: "Escalating violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shi'ites met the definition for a civil war, but the politically charged term did not describe all the chaos in Iraq, the report said. . . . An unclassified version of the NIE's key judgments said the term civil war 'accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence and population displacements'."

In Iraq today,
CNN reports: "A U.S. Apache helicopter went down Friday in Iraq, killing two American soldiers, the military said. It was the fourth helicopter to crash in two weeks.
The U.S. military recovered the soldiers' remains and secured the site northwest of Baghdad near Taji. The number of U.S. military fatalities in the Iraq war stands at 3,090, including seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department." For those who've forgotten, New Year's Eve brought the news that the count of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war had reached 3,000. For those who've missed it, helicopters have been coming down in Iraq for some time. "Crash landings" and "emergency landings" and no press follow up to determine what happened. In January, that finally began to change. The helicopter that went down today was shot down. This morning,
Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported, "An American helicopter crashed north of Baghdad Friday morning, and an Iraqi police spokesman said it had been downed by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile." AP confirms it was shot down: "A U.S. Army helicopter crashed Friday in a hail of gunfire north of Baghdad, police and witnesses said -- the fourth lost in Iraq in the last two weeks. The U.S. command said two crew members were killed, and the top U.S. general conceded that insurgent ground fire has become more effective." Note that it was brought down with gunfire. As has happened before but the flacks for the military have dismissed crashes resulting from gunfire and have maintained that the 'hardware' needed to down helicopters just wasn't to be found in Iraq. Such claims fly in the face of reality, of memories of Vietnam and of your average action adventure film that features helicopters. It's taken some time for the mainstream press to address the realities that, yes, helicopters can be shot down with gunfire.


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two bombings in Baghdad that left three people wounded, three people wounded in Kadhimiya "as a result of a Katiosha missile aimed at the area today", and three people wounded in Khalis from a mortar attack.

Kim Gamel (AP) notes a roadside bombing in Mosul that killed one police officer.

Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the death toll for the two bombings in Hilla yesterday has now reached "at least 73 killed and 152 injured".


Sahar Al Shawi (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that yesterday's shooting of the Dean of the College of Physical Education (Walhan Hameed Al-Timimi) and his son was carried out "in full view of the teachers on campus" at Dyala University and that some are pointing the "finger at the President of the univeristy, Dr. Alla' Al-Atbi, saying that he is involved with armed groups and facilitates their tasks by setting up targets and doing nothing in way of calling for assistance if any attacks took place".

Kim Gamel (AP) reports that "Sunni chairman of the Fallujah City Council, Abbas Ali Hussein" was shot dead.


CNN reports that 32 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today.

Lastly, on
CounterSpin today, John Nichols discussed Molly Ivins passing and worried that Ivins, whose columns were the most heavily circulated progressive ones in newspapers around the world, death would mean the space would go blank (of course, it could also go to a right-winger or centrist) so he suggested that if your local paper carried Ivins' columns, you contact them and ask that they continue to carry a progressive column. To go one further, Molly Ivins was one of the few women to make the top twenty most widely circulated columnists. So if you want to continue to see columns that address reality and you'd like to see a woman continue to be represented on the op-ed pages, you can ask your local paper to carry Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now!). Goodman's doing a weekly column now. I personally doubt that top 10 lists make for worthy or even "good" reading. Molly Ivins stood for something in each column (and humor was a part of it though Nichols wanted to downgrade it -- don't stand by him at a party). It's not just that any progressive voice is needed (or liberal voice), it's one that will use the space well. Goodman's demonstrated that she intends to tackle real topics. Goodman's columns can be found many places and Common Dreams is one. That said, if you're recommending that it be picked up to a newspaper, you need to note a paper that provides the column. "Resistance to war cannot be jailed" is Goodman's most recent column and the link takes you to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you're pitching Goodman to your local paper, you should also note that she wrote (with her brother David) two bestselling hardcover books (Exception to the Rulers and Static) (say "New York Times bestsellers") and that she is an award winning journalist (George Polk Award, Aflred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting and is the 2006 RECIPIENT OF THE PUFFIN/NATION PRIZE FOR CREATIVE CITIZENSHIP). You should also note that she hosts (with Juan Gonzalez) Democracy Now! which is broadcast on over 500 radio stations around the world as well as online and as a podcast. Also stress that Ivins wrote a weekly column and Goodman does as well. (Important because, from time to time, a columnist may choose to do a series of columns -- think Bob Herbert -- and newspapers with a weekly slot now open aren't going to want to fill it with a twice weekly column when they only have one day open each week.)

Amy Goodman is my personal choice. Members may have their own choice. If your choice is someone else, e-mail and we'll figure out the best way to present to present your choice to your local paper. But it is not enough to say, as John Nichols did, demand a progressive voice. (He may have been trying to leave it up to listeners or may not have wanted to pick one person over another.) You need to provide a concrete example otherwise you may find that the same editorial boards that boast Thomas Friedman is a liberal (I'm referring to his column in syndication -- the Times is stuck with him) have a very different idea than you do of what "progressive" or "liberal" is. This isn't something you wait on. The op-eds are 'valuable real estate' and they have a fast turn over. Once a spot is occupied, it is very difficult to get a paper to drop a columnist. (Complaints are sometimes seen as 'proof' of how many people read the columnist.) (Sometimes it is proof -- sometimes it's just a sign of how bored and tired readers are with the same-old, same-old.)

amy goodmandemocracy now