We welcome Air America, the new liberal radio network, which was up and talking on March 31. It boasts a lineup of gifted and witty hosts, including Al Franken, Katherine Lanpher, Marc Maron, Lizz Winstead, Chuck D, Janeane Garofalo, Laura Flanders, Robert Kennedy Jr. and others who will offer humor, satire, guests and commentary on stations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Air America will challenge the notion that liberals can’t do talk-radio. The conservative talk jocks have been purveying this canard to explain their monopoly of the spectrum. But the people behind Air America believe–and have invested their money in the proposition–that a main reason for the dearth of liberal views is lack of choice. Build a viable commercial network of liberal programming, they say, and the public will come. With the marketplace of ideas so skewed in this country, democratic dialogue is in jeopardy. Tune in.


Arthur C. Danto, The Nation‘s art critic, has been named a finalist in this year’s National Magazine Awards, the second time he has been so honored. Danto, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Columbia University and author of many books on art and philosophy, is known for his penetrating and original approach. A look at the artist Kazimir Malevich, which was among the reviews for which Danto was nominated, illustrates his characteristic method: Find the philosophical problem or question posed by the art, tease out the implications of that and show how the artist has done so as well, all the while setting the work in historical context.


Scott Sherman writes: On April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Roldo Bartimole resigned from the Cleveland bureau of the Wall Street Journal. It was his 35th birthday. The murder of Dr. King, he noted recently, combined with the general ferment in American society, “made it impossible for me to remain a neutral observer.” From 1968 until his retirement a few weeks ago, Roldo was the conscience of Cleveland journalism, the closest thing the city had to a Lincoln Steffens or an Izzy Stone. A butcher’s son, he began his journalistic career in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where, inspired by Michael Harrington’s book The Other America, he took a firsthand look at slum housing conditions and discovered that many residents were forced to use space heaters because their apartments were always cold. “When some of those people became fire fatalities during the winter,” the Akron Beacon Journal once noted in a profile, “Roldo was on the road to radical thought.” From 1968 to 2000, Roldo’s biweekly newsletter, Point of View, relentlessly exposed not only the machinations of Cleveland’s ruling class–the politicians, the corporations, the real estate interests, the fourth estate–but also the city’s charities, foundations and labor unions. In late December, plagued by heart trouble and the absence of a regular print outlet for his work, Roldo, 70, decided to retire. He departs with honor and with some advice to young journalists: “Tell the truth and shame the devils.”


Potter Wickware writes: Scientific manuscripts are the latest target of Patriot Act-inspired surveillance and interdiction. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces trade embargoes against Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan, says US scientific societies could get into big trouble (million-dollar fines, ten years in prison) if editors of their journals suggest ways for authors of papers from those countries to improve their contributions. Leading journals now say they will turn back submissions from the embargoed countries without review. According to OFAC’s hairsplitting definition of “transactions,” reviewing and editing–even spell-checking–are prohibited. In the real world, of course, editors invariably return scientific reports to authors for at least minor revision. Only about 150 papers a year made their way from the countries to US publishers before OFAC tightened its grip, but their perspectives on topics like parasitic and fungal diseases (Sudan, Libya), battlefield medicine, transplant surgery (Iran), vaccines, antibiotics and biotechnology (Cuba) stood out in the scientific press.