Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Todd Purdum

Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review has one peeve with C.I. of The Common Ills and it's that some of C.I.'s best work is buried within a post. I had an e-mail from Jim and I knew right away, before I opened it, what it was going to be about. I'd read The Common Ills this morning and when I got to "NYT: "Mixed Review of Bush Pick in Oversight of Gambling" I could just hear Jim saying, "You didn't even put Todd S. Purdum's name in the title."

C.I.'s reply would be, based on past replies, that there's not enough time for perfection and if there are going to be entries up at The Common Ills, they just have to be what they are. (Which can be shorthanded to Kat's "It Is What It Is" motto.)

I understand both points of view. Jim wants the best stuff to really be noticed and C.I.'s feelings are that the posts are for the members and there's no point in attempting to cater to outside the membership.

Jim wants it to be the best because Jim's a member of The Common Ills and thinks it's an amazing site (I do too). But the reality is C.I.'s too busy to worry about "Will this get attention?" or "Will this add readers." C.I. doesn't care. The site is a resource/review and any member can tell you it's about helping you find the voices that speak to you.

C.I. truly doesn't give a damn what people outside the community think. And that's probably why the membership is so huge. Kat would say it's "organic" and that's what speaks to people.
But Jim's a friend and he feels like C.I. had some criticism that was both needed and humorous. He was looking at action alerts and media criticism today and found that Robin Toner and Elisabeth Bumiller are the focus of the Tuesday criticism of The New York Times.

Todd S. Purdum embarrassed himself again. C.I. called him on it. No one else has that Jim's seen.

My friends at the nursing home who just became Common Ills members would disagree with Jim. They were raving over this morning's entries and talking about when Todd popped up in the middle, it was a "gut buster" and provided needed laughter.

That might be, intentionally or not, what C.I. was going for. Jim thinks in terms of a journalist filing a single report and C.I. thinks more in terms of film.

But I'm tired and when I called Jim I told him I could excerpt the section. Which I'll do in a minute. But here's my thoughts on whether or not it would have made a difference if C.I. had made Todd a single entry. It wouldn't have made a difference. First of all, The Common Ills is known at this point. It's been mentioned on NPR and all over the web. Second of all, a lot of the Democratic sites refrain from calling Todd out because he's married to a Democrat from Clinton's administration. So I don't think it would have made a difference. (And Dona was agreeing with me, I could hear her in the background while Jim was on the phone.)

The Common Ills is too independent to be noted. C.I.'s too pro-peace, too pro-choice, too-pro minorities, too . . . It's not a site for the centrists or the middle of the roaders. It never will be. Sometimes "helpful" bloggers will e-mail C.I. saying "Don't write about that" and the only thing that does is make C.I. write about it more.

It's not an echo chamber of talking points. Nor is The Common Ills trying to shore up weak spined Democrats (no spines?) just because there name is "Harry Reid" or whomever.

I started my site to draw attention to the community and all the great sites coming out of it. I understand Jim thinking, "Okay, well if it had just been about Todd . . ." but the reality is, it wouldn't have been linked to then. We, members, know who links and who doesn't. We know who highlights and who doesn't and we're very aware that one site in particular doesn't anymore. (Which is why The Third Estate Sunday Review dropped it a few weeks back.) C.I. says, "Don't try to get it linked" and we get the lecture from C.I. in the gina & krista round-robin, then a few weeks later, someone e-mails to tell Gina and Krista about a site (like the one that Third Estate dropped) that didn't link when they'd e-mailed. (Eddie and Ryan are usually the two who will pay attention to C.I.'s lecture for about two or three weeks and then try for links.)

But, and this is something I've realized since I started my own site and started getting e-mails, it doesn't matter. The Common Ills is a big community. And most of members didn't see a link somewhere and become members. We had someone we know pass it on to us. The community built through word of mouth and that's really how it continues to build.

Don't e-mail me to gripe about that because I'm not excusing one site in paticular that no one goes to anymore for a reason (one that Kat will be delinking from either tonight or tomorrow because Jim called her this evening and she didn't even know she had the site on her blogroll).

But I started my site, Seth's started his site and we've got another member soon to start their own site. There's really no need to go outside the community.

If people are concerned with social justice and with issues that Democrats are supposed to stand for, they'll find the site. If they're not, they won't.

I'm not excusing the sites that have certain members upset. I was one of the people saying "Delink from ___" because that person a) insulted Isaiah (which enraged the community) and b) always wants to be mentioned at The Common Ills but when Billie checked that site she found out that he never mentions The Common Ills at his site. A member will notice that the same way that a member will copy and paste and send something through the community.

But we've go the round-robin, we've got The Common Ills of course, we've got Rebecca, The Third Estate Sunday Review, Betty, Mike, Elaine, Kat and now Seth. There will be a new site shortly. We're not getting smaller, we're getting larger. Last Friday's poll in the round-robin is something C.I.'s taking very seriously and thinking about.

Right now, there's the weekly (sometimes more) gina & krista round-robin and nine sites. The Common Ills isn't even a year old. That its launched so many voices in so short a time tells you that with or without someone scared that The Common Ills is too left or too into minorities or too into pro-choice or whatever the excuse is, the community just continues to build.

I see Jim's point but I think he's wrong. (He knows I think he's wrong.) There were times when I felt like he did before I started my site. I'd be upset that a really great entry that was on something important wasn't being noticed. (By mid-day, had anyone else noted Ralph Nader's complaint against Harriet Miers from today's Democracy Now!? Not that I saw and that's pretty important. She refused to comply with a request that she's bound by her office to comply with.) But now that I'm getting e-mails from members, I'm really getting how big the community is. I should have grasped that from the round-robin but I really didn't.

The Common Ills doesn't spit out talking points and because of that, or the decision not to push Harry Reid as the great savior or whatever, it's not noted by those working from a playbook of talking points.

I ended up doing things differently than I planned here. I was going to do a blog report. That was what the Big Mix was going to be. Instead, I've written about the elderly and some of their issues, about race and other things. C.I. told me that the only rule was that there were no rules.
And the result is that if you're independent, you're voice has more value. There are people who never get e-mails and that's probably because they're running down talking points.

I couldn't imagine making time in a schedule with no time at all to just repeat what everyone else says but there are a lot of sites that do that. The fact that The Common Ills doesn't is why all of us value it so much. And it's why Jim likes to think that, for instance, if the Todd S. Purdum comments had been in their own entry, they would have gotten attention from outside the community. But that's not the way it works.

I don't know if there will be changes to the permalinks (C.I. doesn't call it a blogroll) anytime soon or not but I do know that C.I. has read the complaints and is taking the poll from the latest round-robin very seriously. In some ways, its our fault because we follow that stuff, C.I. doesn't. C.I.'s lost in the e-mails and if we'd raised this issue sooner, it might have already been dealt with. Coming on the heels of the continued ignoring of Rebecca, it is something C.I.'s taking seriously. But C.I. didn't know about that until we started bringing it up.

I want to note my good friend Isaiah who had "Celibacy in the City" today, his latest The World Today Just Nuts comic strip. That was hilarious. We were passing it around at work and Isaiah does great work. Ignore ___ who is an idiot who just wanted to use the community and not give back. But Natalie told C.I. about the insult to Isaiah a week after it happened and C.I. asked Isaiah if it bothered him. Isaiah said not really. It's one of those things that festers and it does bother Isaiah now. More importantly, it bothers the members. ___ is no longer linked. Whether we'll have to hear "I was reading and wanted to share" comments in entries anymore or not, I don't know. (I would guess not.)

But members had followed ___ in the copy and pastes and for him to slam Isaiah and also to be saying, "Great post and I wrote about this if members are interested"? Billie went there and if it's a great post, why wasn't it noted?

If a member took the time to provide ___ with raw data for research, why wasn't that noted as well? (That data now goes to Mike.)

So the point is that we take care of each other in the community. We stood by West, who wasn't even a member when he got attacked. Eddie forwarded the e-mail from the attacker and we don't go to that site anymore (C.I. had already delinked from it). It was bad enough what was done to West but to find out that the jerk was e-mailing trying to get dirt on West was offensive.
West was just a high school kid who spoke his mind and got attacked for it and threatened with delinks if he didn't apologize. Then his apology wasn't good enough. That was bad enough to turn us all off that organization. (And give credit to Rebecca because she got the e-mail from West and wrote him back immediately saying, "Call me." She then stood up for him and others didn't. C.I. did. But others didn't. And we note that as a community.) But when the round-robin published the e-mails by the jerk trying to get information on West that so offended the community. He wasn't a member and hadn't even written C.I. at that point. But C.I. and Rebecca didn't play (as some did), "Oh too bad, that's your own personal problem." Their attitude was, "You liked our work and we're not going to pretend like what was done to you was okay just to have a link." They spoke their mind and that's why the community is tight and strong.

I still can't believe that the jerk and his boss got away with what they did. You'd think the organization would have told them, "Look, you were out of bounds. You need to apologize." Because that didn't happen and West never got an apology (for the attacks or for the attempts to go behind his back, a day before the attacks, and pry into his life) and members have never gone back to that site. We never will.

I had an e-mail from Brenda wondering how I searched online and I don't have time to write back so I'll put an answer in here. I'm using the same hub that other members are using. The one that integrates the software that we all purchased and then added the add on from UK Computer Gurus. I don't understand the "hub" talk either but I think it means that we're routed. I'll pass the e-mail onto the UK Computer Gurus because they're back from their September vacation and we should have a newsletter from them this weekend.

Here's C.I.'s latest on "Todd Purdum's Stinky Jock" (my title):

Todd Purdum and Neil A. Lewis file "Miers Known as a Hard-Working Advocate for the President" which is full of "news." Here's one example:

It has been a long time since Ms. Miers lacked encouragement, and for the last 12 years she has had the support of an important patron.

Is Todd trying to get a job at People? "It has been a long time since Ms. Miers lacked encouragement!" The first clause of the sentence screams for an exclamation point. Breathless writing?
You bet. Who can breathe when the fumes from Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock are wafting all around!
It gets better!

Ms. Miers has been a go-to person for Mr. Bush ever since, first as his appointee to the Texas State Lottery Commission, which she helped clean up; then as White House staff secretary, directing the flow of . . .

She helped clean it up!
Uh, Todd, get your fingers out of your jock and pick up the morning edition of your own paper.
Blumenthal's a little less sure than you are. Todd. Todd! Quit sniffing your fingers and read Blumenthal's article.

She is known among friends and associates as a hard-working and thorough advocate, someone staunchly loyal to Mr. Bush and possessing an unusual ability to remain calm and out of public view in the glare of the White House.

Friends don't trash her? It's "news"!!!!

What she is not known for are her personal views on the hottest legal and political issues of the day.

Has a more awkward sentence appeared in the Times this week? Well you can't type with two hands when you're sniffing the fingers of one. Purdum's grooving on his own funk, people. Cut him some slack.

"I think she's conservative in the sense that most lawyers are conservative, that she looks at the issues in that case," said Linda S. Eads, a professor at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, from which Ms. Miers graduated and to which she returned as an adjunct professor. "I don't know her to be an ideologue."

Linda S. Eads. She's what, Todd?
Diane Ragsdale (an African-American woman) is identified as a "liberal Democrat" but all the white folks get a pass? Is that how it works, Todd?
Linda S. Eads. Served under Corny John Cornyn. Which means she served under Bully Boy. Why is she treated as impartial? Just a law professor, apparently. One who also fiercly supported Priscilla Owens but the article doesn't tell you that either. So she supported Owens and she was in the attorney general's office under Corny, under Bully.
Todd's surpassed himself today. He must have worn a cup, and not just a strap, while writing this one. Probably gathered all the other kids and went behind the fence with them so he could show off his jock and cup.