Sunday, August 18, 2013

Truest statement of the week

People are finally waking up to this privatization scam and the bigger scammers in Washington who have RUINED the Democratic Party brand on behalf of the gangsters calling the shots (billionaires, hedge fund crooks, neoliberals). Public education is seen as a cash cow to loot and make these people even more rich. This has nothing to do with the kids, teachers, teaching, or learning. It certainly has nothing to do with the concept of the public good.

The privateers are really afraid their scam will be exposed to millions of people

-- Susan, "Nixon Wasn't This Brazen" (On the Edge).

Truest statement of the week II

Journalists are in legal danger, too. The Obama Administration has, in its practices, embraced the position that the leaking of classified information to reporters is a problem properly addressed with the Espionage Act. Bradley Manning was convicted under it even though the government failed on a charge of aiding the enemy. Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. leaker, has been charged with two violations of the Espionage Act, for starters. Snowden’s leaks made a crucial discussion about the N.S.A.’s overreach possible. President Obama said in a press conference last week that he didn’t consider him a “patriot”; others have openly called him a traitor. And the Administration has come close to calling reporters who work with leakers members of spy rings.  

-- Amy Davidson, "Michael Grunwald and the Assange Precedent" (New Yorker).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

Susan may have had a truest when her site was Random Thoughts but this is her first since it became On the Edge.
Amy Davidson of The New Yorker gets her first truest.
Betty, C.I., Elaine, Rebecca and Trina started this discussion last week.  When we started this piece, it was a feature.  A third of the way in, Dona and Rebecca were both of the opinion that it was an editorial.  We had no Iraq feature.  Our plan was to make Iraq the editorial.  C.I. said she could work Iraq in briefly in this editorial and that we could include two State Department releases on Iraq.  (C.I. also said working Tim Arango into this editorial would guarantee some new eyeballs read about Barack sending more troops into Iraq last fall.)  So we went with this.  I think it's a very powerful editorial.  
Ava and C.I. survey the media landscape.  We promised them an easy week.  We were supposed to have a comic and film feature this edition.  We said, "Just cover an entertainment TV show."  Then that fell by the wayside and we asked them if they could cover news and public affairs?  They did this at the last minute and it's incredible. 
Ty moderated the discussion of Heidi Boghosian's new book.  He brought up a senator's sexuality (C.I. helped out on that), while Ava brought up Randi Rhodes.  Ty's strategy, he told those participating before they started, was to bring up anything that might raise interest in the book and get the word out on it.
I (Jim) moderated this discussion.  I didn't think like Ty -- and didn't have to.  There's much more built in interest in this book due to the fact that, as a society, we're more interested in entertainment than news.  That's not a slam on this book.  Every one participating in this edition loved it.  Looking at Ty's discussion, I think he did a better job than I did but I do think we covered this book and got the word out on it.
Short features, the cry of Dona always.  This edition, this was our short feature. 
As Ava and C.I. point out in their commentary, Norah O'Donnell actually had the journalistic spine to provide some facts after the NSA spin was included.  Most outlets, by contrast, were too cowardly to question the spin.

The NSA cares about your rights?  A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Release from Senator Murray's office.

State Department release -- video is from State Department's YouTube channel?  Why?  Sometimes the video on the State Department's website has closed captioning, sometimes it does not.  On the YouTube channel it always does.
State Department background briefing.

Workers World repost.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

So that's what we came up with this go round.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Little Gloria, hypocrisy at last


Did you miss the news last week?  Barton Gellman (Washington Post) reported:

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

Margaret Hartmann (New York magazine) pointed out that this was in spite of President Barack Obama having insisted a week before, "What you're hearing about is the prospect that these [programs] could be abused.  Now part of the reason they're not abused is because they're -- these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC."

As Barack repeatedly lies to the American people, NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden is revealed as even more of a truth teller.  But Barack attempts to hunt Snowden down.  Strong arms governments not to give him asylum, forces down Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane and has a snit-fit that Russia grants Snowden temporary asylum.

All of the above is disheartening and appalling.  So when the White House announced who Barack would be granting the Medal of Freedom to this year, it was especially distressing to read Women's Media Center's damp panty post celebrating Gloria Steinem making the list when it should have been carrying an announcement that Gloria was refusing the award.

Before Gloria identified as a feminist, she declared herself a journalist.

Last month, Jonathan S. Tobin observed:

The alarming nature of the Department of Justice’s jihad against the press was made all too clear early this year when news of the government’s spying on Associated Press reporters and Fox News correspondent James Rosen was revealed. But if a federal appellate court ruling issued last week stands, the problem may be far worse than we thought.
On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia decided that New York Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a former CIA official accused of leaking information that was allegedly used to help write a 2006 book. Doing so would not just violate Risen’s pledge not to reveal his sources but would constitute a major infringement of press freedom that could have serious consequences for the future of American democracy.

He made those observations in the right-wing Commentary.  The Huffington Post quoted Risen stating:

They've said in that there is no reporter's privilege.  I think they want the court to rule on a fundamental constitutional issue of whether or not there is a reporter's privilege in a criminal case, which makes this case kind of have a broader import than it might otherwise have. That's why I think it's become a pretty important case. It's a fairly basic constitutional issue for the press, whether or not there is a reporter's privilege. It's something a lot of people outside the press don’t really understand, don't really care about. I think the basic issue is whether you can have a democracy without aggressive investigative reporting and I don't believe you can. So that's why I'm fighting it.

Why in the world would anyone who ever called themselves a journalist accept an award from such an administration?

Some will insist, "Gloria Steinem's not the only one on the list!"  No, she's not. Among the named who are still living, there's a baseball player.  We're not really seeing him as a journalist or a fighter for human rights.  There's Oprah and we just laugh.  This is the woman over half of America thinks is gay and in the closet, so why would anyone expect courage from Oprah?  (We also laughed at the idea that her 'work' has warranted any award.  In 2008, her ratings began to tank.  She moved on to her own cable channel which still flounders.  All she has is a talk show and we haven't seen Phil Donahue awarded when he certainly did more for the country with his daytime talk show than Oprah ever did with her own.)

Gloria's supposed to stand for something.  When actress Sondra Locke was being tricked and deceived by Clint Eastwood and Warner Brothers, Gloria took it upon herself to be outraged, to contact Sondra and insist she was going to help her.

After that, Sondra never heard from her again.

That's actually a rather typical Gloria Steinem move and a number of people have excused it over the years noting Gloria spreads herself thin.

This can be more bluntly stated as: Gloria's word is meaningless.

Apparently, so are her actions.  Question, if a media crew is not around, does Gloria practice activism?

Many would argue "no" and point to Gloria's past relationships with various questionable males -- a number of whom exhibited racism.  (Dating racists does not make Gloria one -- and to be very clear, we're not accusing her of racism.  We are noting that her judgment has been questionable numerous times in the past.)

Journalism is under attack -- from Barack.  Whistle-blowers are under attack.  Mike Masnick (TechDirt) pointed out in June just how much Barack has attacked whistle-blowers:

Instead, as we've discussed repeatedly, President Obama has been the most aggressive President ever in attacking whistleblowers and bringing the full weight of the law down on them. In fact, in 2012, rather than promote protecting whistleblowers in his campaign, the campaign bragged about how it cracked down on whistleblowers:
President Obama has done more than any other administration to forcefully pursue and address leaks of classified national security information.... The Obama administration has prosecuted twice as many cases under the Espionage Act as all other administrations combined. Under the President, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases regarding national security leaks. Before he took office, federal prosecutors had used the Espionage Act in only three cases.
The above paragraph is true -- and we've pointed it out in the past as well -- but we thought it was shameful, not something worth bragging about. Furthermore, since he was elected, President Obama has never praised a single federal employee who was a whistleblower. When asked by a reporter from the Huffington Post for an example of President Obama supporting a whistleblower, the White House refused to respond. 

This is not someone you accept an award from, not if you're concerned about social justice.

And have we mentioned the illegal spying?

Charlie Savage (New York Times) reported Friday, "The National Security Agency violated privacy rules protecting the communications of Americans and others on domestic soil 2,776 times over a one-year period, according to an internal audit leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and made public on Thursday night."  Andrea Peterson (Washington Post) explained how this news was in direct contrast to Barack's repeated claims.

Why would you accept an award from this man or his administration?

As Peter Van Buren (Mother Jones) noted, "What lies at the nexus of Obama's targeted drone killings, his self-serving leaks, and his aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers is a president who believes himself above the law, and seems convinced that he alone has a preternatural ability to determine right from wrong."

The notion that Barack is even handing out Medals of "Freedom" makes a mockery of freedom.

And, Gloria, you used to care -- or pretend to -- about Iraq.  What happened there?

Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."  In the near year since he reported that, you and your website and Women's Media Center (which Gloria co-founded with Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan) have repeatedly failed to address or even mention that.

You're going to accept a medal from someone sending troops back into Iraq?

You've also failed to note that December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed and it provides the legal framework for joint-US and Iraq patrols in Iraq (see the December 10th and December 11th Iraq snapshots). -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.   

Despite being an activist, a voice in the media and in control of one media outlet, you've repeatedly failed to inform the public what Barack has done.

And now you're going to accept an award from him?  In the name of 'freedom'?

Lynne Stewart, June 2013
Lynne Stewart, June 2013

Where's Lynne Stewart's freedom?  She's one of many US political prisoners.

What was Lynne's 'crime'?  Issuing a press release from her client to Reuters news agency.

That's what the attorney's been imprisoned for.

And that's disgusting enough.

When you add in that the 73-year-old grandmother's cancer has returned and that Barack will not let her have a compassionate release?

Last week on Black Agenda Radio (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network),  hosts Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford spoke to Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter.

Nellie Bailey: But first, supporters of Lynne Stewart, The People's Lawyer, serving a ten year sentence, who is suffering from Stage IV breast cancer got some bad news last week.  The judge who sent her to prison rejected her request for compassionate release saying he had no choice in the matter because the Obama administration had previously turned her down.  Ralph Poynter is Lynne Stewart's husband and lifelong comrade in struggle.  We asked him what's the next step?

Ralph Poynter:  What is next is what Lynne had expected.  She had urged her lawyers to file for compassionate release even if the papers were not finished.  And, as a matter of fact, three weeks ago she reapplied for compassionate release to be ready the moment that it was turned down by Judge [John] Koeltl.  He had said he would give it expeditious attention when it came from the Bureau of Prisons.  Now that is the letter of the law, that it has to come from the Bureau of Prisons, recommended by them.   Now under Lynne's first appeal for compassionate release, the warden at Carswell Federal Medical Center and the physicians there agreed that Lynne should have compassionate release and they filed for it as per the law.  And then, in an extraordinary situation, the Justice Dept, under Samuels who is the head of the national Federal Bureau of Prisons let it sit on his desk for eight weeks never answering it.  Now I will allow people to use their own judgment as to what happened there.   And along with this set of facts that the Bureau of Prisons, Samuels in Washington, DC didn't act on the warden's, from Carswell's, application for compassionate release for Lynne, as per law.   Then we find out that the Justice Dept has argued against Lynne's cert before the Supreme Court to have her case heard in another very unusual situation.  So we have the administration in Washington -- that is Obama, Holder -- to keep another whistle-blower, Lynne Stewart, in prison.

Glen Ford: They seem intent on keeping her there until she departs.

Ralph Poynter: Until death.

Glen Ford:  Now the judge, what do you read into his ruling?  The legal language is rather dry, but did you get the impression that he would have liked to have --

Ralph Poynter:  Yes, that is what he has been saying.  That if he were to grant Lynne's compassionate release, it would be breaking the law.  The law is very specific, that says that after a person applies for compassionate release, the warden has to look at that and then forward it on the behalf of the prisoner.  The prisoner cannot do it without the warden's consent.  The warden at Carswell consented.  He read the papers of the attending physician and they said Lynne has complied with all the necessary conditions for compassionate release and this is where the trouble continued, in Washington, with [Charles] Samuels, with the Justice Dept and I call it under the guise of President Obama who seems to enjoy doing the work of this oppressive, corporate juggernaut that is squeezing us all and keeping the truth from us all and continuing the oppression of the American people.  But the judge did question the prosecutor as to his understanding that Lynne was dying.  And the prosecutor answered that he was perfectly aware but he challenged the judge on the law.  This is where we are.  And I just want people to understand it is clear where this is coming from.  And you put that together with the government's opposition in a rare situation to challenge Lynne's right to go to the Supreme Court, it makes sense.  It begins to fit -- even for those who do not want to recognize who and what Mr. Obama is and who or where this government is going.  

Glen Ford: And now for Lynne's supporters, the pressure must be brought directly against Eric Holder and the President.

Ralph Poynter:  Exactly and we can no longer kid ourselves.  We must notice that the unions who have talked about bringing justice to their membership -- and if you don't have a lawyer, there can be no justice.  The unions have not participated as a group in Lynne Stewart, Bradley Manning, [Ed] Snowden or any of the other issues around the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc. The ministers have not participated in this struggle.  And what I say to people of color who voted for Obama on the average of 90% must understand who is on their side. And if they understand that 35 years of service to our community by Lynne Stewart and then see what their president is doing to Lynne Stewart -- and I'm continuing my dance in front of the White House until Lynne is freed or until we pick her up in a box.

The unions haven't participated?

Where the hell has Gloria Steinem been?

As Lynne is sentenced to death in prison by Barack Obama, Gloria plans to accept a medal -- of freedom -- from him?


Last February, Gloria told Marlo Thomas (Huffington Post, link is video):

Actually, I think the most powerful women leaders are the populist movements that rise up and say "no more."  We have peace in Ireland now because of the Irish Peace Women -- because the Catholic and Protestant women together at great risk to themselves -- came together and said, "Okay, this is it."  We have an end to the warlords in Liberia because the women rose up for years with great danger to themselves sat in the roads with white t-shirts, said "No more, no more," to get rid of the warlords.  That also was Muslim and Christian women together.  So, in a way because -- how shall I say it? Because there are so few women at the top and we're not yet seating at the peace tables -- which we should be -- our paths to real influence are outside -- at the moment -- more outside the structures than inside them.

She's at risk of no violence for turning down the medal.  If she wants to praise the bravery of women in Ireland and Liberia, turning down the medal -- for the reasons outlined above -- is the very least she can do.  And at 79, she really needs to be exhibiting bravery since she's the one who has repeatedly argued women grow more radical with age.


Law and Disorder Radio  has provided these numbers for people to call and demand Lynne be released:

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198  Ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111]

This topic was first raised in the following last week:  "Worthless Women's Media Center," "Iraq snapshot,"  "Gloria Steinem needs to turn down Medal of Freedom," "steinem needs to turn down the award" and "Summer Salad in the Kitchen"

Media: Fantasies and Fancies in place of Facts

'We are the most important story and the only one that matters and our opinions are far more important than actual facts.'


No, we aren't offering our philosophy.  We're merely summing up a troubling one that keeps emerging in the media.  For example, on Thursday editor and CEO of The Progressive Matthew Rothschild was arrested.  No, barnyard animals were not involved.  Rothschild was attempting to photograph a woman being arrested at a Madison, Wisconsin protest and he got arrested instead.

Immediately came attempts to turn this into national news.  Again, no farm animals were involved and Rothschild had his pants up -- as far as we know.  It was a minor regional story at best.

But there he was on KPFA, talking to tired and needs to retire Kris Welch on Saturday Morning Talkies, about how awful it was -- while slipping in that others were arrested for protesting.  It's that way in his bad article as well.

He names Bonnie Block four times.  Ellen Holly and Mark Clear are named once each.   But, in his column, he refers to himself with "me" or "I" 37 times.

Yet he goes whining to Welch on Saturday and insists that he's so glad she has him on because the protests need national attention as does the efforts against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

"Walker's arrested" X number of people Rothschild repeatedly maintained -- despite the fact that he -- along with many others --  have a problem calling out Barack Obama for his administration's actions -- they prefer to instead hide behind Hillary Clinton or Eric Holder.  Doubt it?  Check out Sherwood Ross' cowardly coverage of Bradley Manning's apology last week.  Cowardly?  Yes, it is cowardly to call out Hillary Clinton in the second paragraph and save criticism of Barack for the last paragraph.  Clinton was never president so she never had a say over whether or not Manning faced a court-martial.  In addition, she's not even in the administration (she resigned at the start of the year).  Barack's responsible for the court-martial so you call him out first and foremost unless you're a coward.

We were also struck by the nonsense Rothschild and Welsh offered regarding Wisconsin.  At one point, Rothschild insisted, "Well it was devastating when he [Walker] won the recall I've got to say because we had a million people sign signatures to get him out of office, all we needed was about 400,000 more people to vote against him and he'd have been out of office."

Facts are needed for an honest debate.  400,000 votes were not needed.  Walker received 1,335,585 votes while Tom Barrett received 1,164,480 votes.  171,106  was the amount of additional votes needed to defeat Walker.  Does Rothschild struggle with basic addition and subtraction?  That would explain a great deal.

(For any wondering, 939,266 registered voters did not vote in the recall.  Had Rothschild and company worked harder, they wouldn't have had to pull from Walker's support, only motivate 1/4 of the registered non-voters to vote and vote for Barrett.  All figures from the Government Accountability Board of the State of Wisconsin.)

Rothschild clearly struggles with other realities.  Despite the (small) ongoing protests against Walker, his approval rate was 48% with 46% disapproval.  Rothschild may want to portray Walker as hugely out of step with Wisconsin but the polling does not suggest that's the opinion of the state's citizens.

That doesn't mean Walker's good or great.  It does mean that despite running off national readers with their near exclusive focus on Wisconsin, The Progressive has failed to communicate effectively to the people of Wisconsin on what they see as Walker's faults.

But what does that matter when (Californian) Kris Welch is noting her outrage over Walker?  Does the idiot not grasp that one thing that can force the public to support a politician is attacks from outsiders?

As we listened to Matt whine and whine, we were reminded that Little Media only mirrors Big Media.

So while Matt obsesses over a protest which he fails to properly communicate, in Big Media, Bob Schieffer mistakes himself for the government.  As Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) pointed out last week:

Just yesterday, Face the Nation featured Hayden as the premiere guest to speak authoritatively about how trustworthy the NSA is, how safe it keeps us, and how wise President Obama is for insisting that all of its programs continue. As usual, no mention was made of the role he played in secretly implementing an illegal warrantless spying program aimed directly at the American people. As most establishment media figures do when quivering in the presence of national security state officials, the supremely sycophantic TV host Bob Schieffer treated Hayden like a visiting dignitary in his living room and avoided a single hard question.

Schieffer wasn't the only one confusing himself with the government on the program.  Hayden declared on the CBS program, " And so the President is trying to take some steps to make the American people more comfortable about what it is we're doing." While we agree -- and even applaud -- Hayden for noting that Barack's cheap remarks were little but an effort to sell the (illegal) spying, we have to stop on "what it is we're doing."  We're?

Is Michael Hayden unaware he's no longer in the government?  If that simple fact confuses him, he doesn't need to be invited on any program because he left government service four years ago and, if he can't register that, he has sanity issue that should preclude him offering judgment on anything.

Reporters are supposed to ask questions.  You can -- and many do -- slam them for offering opinions when they're supposed to be reporting, but they are supposed to ask questions.

Barton Gellman (Washington Post) broke the news:

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

When he broke that news, questions should have been asked.

Instead, most outlets included the NSA's defense:  "We're a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line."  And that was that.

The only real exception was This Morning (CBS News) where Norah O'Donnell pointed out of the NSA's claim, "But we have been assured, both up and down, on background with officials and on television, that the proper oversight it in place.  And yet this audit wasn't even shared with top members of Congress."

That simple point was too much for other commercial network on airs -- broadcast and cable.

But no one on TV was as embarrassing as government groveler and apparent snitch Tom Gjleten when he appeared Friday on All Things Considered (NPR -- link is text and audio):

Now, a couple of things. These do seem to be inadvertent violations. For example, in some cases, these foreigners whose communications were being monitored came into the United States. The NSA did not realize they were in the United States. They continued to monitor their conversations while they were in the United States.

The NSA didn't realize that?  Tom established that how?  In a little bedroom talk with Keith B. Alexander (Director of the National Security Agency) while Tom spread under or over Alexander?

Otherwise, there's nothing to back up Gjleten's ridiculous (and NSA excusing) remarks.  He continued to put out:

Well, let's be realistic, Audie [Cornish]. I think what this shows is that it's not possible to expect that these privacy rights will be protected absolutely. The scope of this NSA surveillance program is so vast, there are going to be incidents like this. 

Sorry, Gjleten's a government spokesperson or he's a reporter?  We would guess his remarks would leave many listeners confused and NPR might want to address that.


Carol E. Leonnig also had an important report in the Washington Post, noting that the FISA Court states they're unable to monitor the NSA to ensure it complies with the law.  She discussed her colleague Barton Gellman's report and her own Friday with Margaret Warner (The NewsHour, PBS -- link is text, audio and video):

MARGARET WARNER: Now, had these violations been reported to the court, as I gather they are required to?

CAROL LEONNIG: What's from the document, because it's really an NSA internal audit, is how many of these were reported to the court. A portion them should have been that have to do with FISA authorities, when you're looking into Americans' records.
And we honestly don't have the rest of the chain to know what was reported. What we do know is that there are thousands of them and that the Obama administration has assured us and the public before this came out that it happens infrequently, once in a while.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, equally startling was your companion piece, what the district court judge, Reggie Walton, said to you about the FISA court's authority when you asked him about this. Explain that a little more.

CAROL LEONNIG: So he's the chief judge of the secret spy court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, that is supposed to be the linchpin for the checks and balances on our government spying programs.

It takes it really seriously. It does everything in a classified, secret skiff, but it's a diligent, careful court. What he essentially said was, there are practical limitations on what we can do, and we must trust the government to report to us these violations, because we can't independently, with our resources, ferret that out.

Good for them.

Now if only someone could take on the NSA's statement:   "We're a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line."

Doctors aren't allowed to get away with "we're a human-run agency."  They have a code of conduct.  If they fail to observe it, they no longer practice.  The NSA's actions were already operating outside the Constitution.  That they were also outside the FISA Court goes to the fact that they don't feel bound by the law.  "We're  a human-run agency" doesn't cut it.  They are supposed to be protecting the rights of the American people, not trampling on them.  When they fail to protect the rights of the American people -- either due to accident or intention -- they should face the same punishment and process of a doctor whose actions result in the death of a patient.  The Constitution matters, our rights matter.

We applaud those like Norah O'Donnell, Margaret Warner and Carol Leonnig who told the truth over the airwaves.  We have contempt for those like Kris Welch, Tom Gjleten and Matthew Rothschild who were unable to.  Matt can at least take comfort in the fact that Alexa O'Brien came off as last week's serial liar in journalism as she repeatedly insisted Bradley Manning's apology wasn't anything new  and split hairs over the difference between "hurt" and "harmed."

Proving that there were all-stars last week in Little Media as well were  Kevin Pina and Kevin Gosztola who addressed Bradley's apology honestly on Thursday's Flashpoints (KPFA):

Kevin Pina:  Well you know the problem of course with taking that position is should they give him the 90 years anyway, then, of course, we will probably hear the truth again which is on behalf of the American people which many people applaud him for.  There's now a movement to award him the Nobel Peace Prize.  We've had Norman Solomon on this program telling us about that, that there's a grassroots movement to get him named Nobel Peace Prize for having done this on behalf of the American people.  But if he gets the 90 years anyway, having apologized for what he did, it's going to make it really difficult for people.  The right-wing is going to have a hey-day attacking his credibility with his second statement, aren't they?

Kevin Gosztola:  Sure.  I place the blame on the defense team for this one.  I don't blame Bradley Manning for doing what his defense team says is appropriate at this stage.   So clearly, David Coombs could have maintained a whistle-blower defense but decided that that was a risk that he was not willing to take.  He's not playing this like Bradley Manning is a political prisoner which, I think, there's a lot to indicate he is a political prisoner.  And, in fact, I would suggest to you that if he does get sentenced to whatever amount of time -- and I kind of think that the judge is probably going to sentence him to 30 or 40 years in prison -- and I say that a lot of people are going to be very upset and they're going to get down and they're going to think  how horrid this is but  I also say that there are a lot of supporters around the world and because he is a political prisoner in many respects, it could be 15 to 20 years and we will see his sentence commuted because of all of the activism around him and all of the support for his actions.  I just don't see him getting punished for that long period of time, being kept in prison.

The two Kevins were as rare in Little Media last week as Carol D. Leonnig, Margaret Warner and Norah O'Donnell were in Big Media.  That so many airwaves are used to transmit so little honesty speaks loudly to the current state of the media.

Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance

spying on democracy

Ty:  Follow with me as I read aloud:

In 2002 criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart was indicted on charges that she provided material support to a terrorist organization, the Islamic Group.  Although the government had been secretly monitoring Stewart's telephone calls, electronic communications, and in-person meetings with one of her clients for three years, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that her case represented the first exercise of his authority to monitor attorney-client communications following the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act.  The charges were brought after Stewart violated the special administrative measures imposed on her client, Sheikh Abdel Rahman, by issuing a press release about the sheikh.  Stewart was found guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison.  Although Stewart had issued the press release in 2000, when Janet Reno was attorney general under Bill Clinton, it wasn't until the post-9/11 Bush administration that she was charged.  It turned out that her meetings, telephone calls, and electronic communications with the sheikh had been monitored for years. 

Ty (Con't): That's from  Heidi Boghosian's new book  Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance.  You may know her as the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild or as a co-host, along with  Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), of Law and Disorder Radio,  a weekly, hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week.   Our new e-mail address is Participating our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's  Ava, and me, Ty;  C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!;  Trina of Trina's Kitchen;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.  Mike, what was the effect of going after Lynne -- who is a political prisoner?

Mike: It was to make attorneys think twice about taking cases where the offered a defense to someone the government was going after with full force.  As Heidi points out, it has a chilling effect.  And that was the intent. And the charge of terrorism is supposed to be scary, it's bandied about and supposedly only truthfully but if you look at what the same federal government did when Communism was supposed to be the big scare.  I think we'll find in 20 or 30 years that this was another case of the federal government using this as an excuse to go after people.  In the meantime, as Heidi's book documents, we've destroyed the right and expectation that conversations between a client and an attorney are sacred and private.

Cedric: And you either start fighting back against that or you accept that it's gone for good.

Ty: Anytime anyone feels Heidi's wrong in the book?

Ava: No.  But I can think of one time where I would expand just a bit.

Ty: Okay.

Ava: She's covering 2004 and the way "corporate media," ahead of the Republican National Committee held in New York saw the corporate media push the myth of anarchy and destruction from the protesters.  Now, Ty, you and I were attending college there then.  Heidi is 100% right that The New York Daily News and New York magazine were attempting to alarm.  I'd even include The New York Post.  But the Bill O'Reilly of this moment was, in fact, on Air America Radio.

Ty: Randi Rhodes.

Ava: That is correct.  The brain dead Randi Rhodes spent three weeks, remember, every day, on air, ranting and raving about how anarchists were going to destroy NYC and insisting that she didn't want the protesters in her city.  I doubt Heidi was listening to that -- judging by the ratings, few were.  But Randi Rhodes was leading the pack in portraying "protesters as deviants."  She really needs to be held accountable for those three weeks.  It was the first of many times she'd fail the left.  Although maybe the first time was when she told Ralph Nader not to run and that "we can't afford you."  No one elected that moon faced freak to speak on our behalf.

Ty: And she had like four hours back then.  Three in the afternoon to seven, she'd come on right after Al Franken and start that alarmist ranting.  Randi Rhodes is a moron.

Ava: Who sounds elderly -- her voice -- these days.  She's got the old woman sound now in her voice.  We were in a taxi in DC and caught her calling Egyptians "freaks" and making fun of Egyptians' names.  The cab driver was cursing her out.  As usual, she had no idea of what she was talking about but was sure to sprinkle hate onto everything.  She blamed the people for the military coup.  It was nothing but nonsense except for Randi calling Egyptians "nut cases."  She's a hate merchant who belongs on the same channel -- as she is today -- as Rush Limbaugh.

Ty: Good points.  Let's move to drones.  Barack's Drone War kills innocents in Yemen and Pakistan and The Drone War is what we generally think about these days when we think about drones.  But there are non-weaponized drones as well.  Trina, talk about that.

Trina:  Sure, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 lets DoD and the airforce work with the FCC to use drones in our airspace, here in the US.  They are used for spying.  They may laser radar -- Heidi notes this "severely challenges traditional expectations of privacy and protections against unreasonable search and seizure."

Ann: I found that to be so disturbing. The entire book.  I think it's an important read and encourage everyone to read it.  But there's no privacy in your own home in America, there's nothing.  The right to privacy basically no longer exists.  The government is out of control.  Where does privacy exist in the US today?

C.I.: For the NSA.  They apparently have a right to privacy.  Hence the witch hunt of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.

Ann: And that really is it.  The government claims a right to privacy -- one that the Constitution doesn't note -- while destroying our Constitutional right to privacy.

Trina: Which is why, as Heidi notes in the book, even the conservative Heritage group began voicing concerns last year and calling on Congress to lay down some guidelines. This is me, not Heidi, Congress, of course, has done nothing.  Congress has become its own little exclusive club that really -- especially the Senate -- doesn't care about the American people and only cares about itself.  And I would further argue that reality -- not the 'gridlock' -- is why Congress polls so low.

C.I.:  Well we were at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing not long ago that, when the horrible Barbara Mikulski wasn't attempting to stop questions about illegal spying, found the senators on the committee focusing on whether or not they were being spied upon.  There was no concern for the American people being spied upon.

Ty: Should Mikulski be in a position like Chair to begin with?

Ava: In terms of her inability to let others on the Committee speak?  She would interrupt others repeatedly.  She doesn't know how to shut up.

Ty: Well --

C.I.: Ty, I'll jump in, I know what you're getting at.  The never married Mikulski has been rumored to be a closeted lesbian for decades.  In this day and age, Tammy Baldwin, the country's first openly gay senator, is not a so-called 'security risk.'  She's out of the closet, who's going to blackmail her?  But a 77-year-old woman who has never admitted to the country or her family that she's gay -- her very religious family?  Yes, if Mikulski is gay, she would be a security risk because clearly she'll go to great lengths to hide her true sexuality.  So if she's gay, she shouldn't be the Chair of any Committee.

Ty:  Like Tammy Baldwin, I'm openly gay and the nonstop rumors about Mikulski do disturb me.  Sorry.  She's nearly 80 and she's never come out.  If she's gay, she's open to blackmail if you ask me.  Now Heidi's on this week's CounterSpin so let's note a section of that.

Peter Hart: Now the book was obviously much in the works before Edward Snowden made these issues front page news but I see in the book a connection to his actions and one incident you recount in the book.  A group breaks into an FBI office to gain documents about spying on political groups which leads to policy changes that basically eliminate that spying program.  In so many ways, it seems like, reading through the book, Edward Snowden, his story, recalls lessons from the past.  Talk a little about that.

Heidi Boghosian:  That's true.  And although the context is different, I think the underlying principles are the same.  You're talking about the incident in the early seventies in which a group of concerned citizens broke into a local FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and found a trove of files indicating that the government had been spying on lawful Americans -- notably outspoken activists.  People like Martin Luther King Jr., peace activists, anti-war activists.  But they took these files and mention of it to the media.  Immediately, the American people reacted with outrage.  And what happened was, we had a series of Congressional hearings called the Church Committee, headed by Frank Church, and the FBI ended COINTELPRO and set in place a series of protections that basically curbed the FBI from unlimitless surveillance and it laid out guidelines by  which agents would need probable cause that criminal activity might be afoot in order to open an investigation and put a bar against spying on religious, political, other leaders in social movements unless they could prove that there was something wrong.

Ty (Con't): Let's talk some about that.  Cedric?

Cedric: Alright, that's March 8, 1971 and Media is a town in Pennsylvania.  Less than 6,000 people in the 2000 census. The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI staged a break-in of the local FBI and found all these files on groups and individuals.  This exposed the FBI's COINTELPRO.  She, Heidi Boghosian, notes, "The files detailed the ways that FBI agents provoked U.S. citizens to commit unlawful activities to justify harsh police responses, as well as the fact that they broke into the homes and offices of group members and used informants to provoke internal feuds."  The break-in led to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover announcing April 28, 1971, a little over a month after the break-in, that COINTELPRO had been shut down.

Ty: And lessons there?

Mike: We need whistle-blowers.  Not government approved whistle-blowers who run through a chain of command.  We need whistle-blowers who inform the public.  I have no idea, for example, what may or may not come from Ed Snowden's revelations, but the reality is he has forced the discussion and that's what needs to happen.

Ava: Another lesson is that government is, at best, paternalistic and when government thinks that they can operate in silence, they will break existing laws for our 'good.'  COINTELPRO was an FBI program.  It was not a secret program to Congress or the presidents.  They were all fine with violating the Constitution up until the program was exposed.

Trina: I would argue we need "If you see something, say something" signs in every government office and we need to recognize that informing the American people is an inherent obligation of any government employee so that there is no punishment when someone -- employee or contractor -- steps forward to say, "You need to know the government is doing" whatever.

Ty: Which is a good time to note this from the book:

The U.S. military also engaged in political surveillance.  In 1970, attorney and former U.S. Army captain Christopher Pyle convinced more than one hundred former military intelligence agents to reveal publicly that they had spied on U.S. citizens.  These declarations led to an investigation by the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, chaired by Senator Sam Ervin, and an ACLU lawsuit, Laird v. Tatum, charging that the army prevented its surveillance targets from exercising their rights of free speech and association.  As a result of these public declarations and the ensuing investigation, the military ended its political surveillance program.

Ty (Con't):  Mike, you spoke earlier about terrorism and how freely the government tosses the term around.  Talk about the book and how it details some of that harm.

Mike: Sure.  First off, it stifles debate and discussion in a free society.  Question terrorism charges or talk and you're worse than 'un-American,' you're inhumane because 'everyone could die!!!!!'  But in addition to that, Heidi notes the Pulitzer Prize winning work of journalist Tim Weiner in documenting the way in which the government's focus on terrorism has allowed the prosecution of white-collar crimes and criminals to drop and allowed for the economic crisis to spring up to begin with.  So we all pay a huge price.

Ty: We all pay a huge price.  One of the lessons of this book, so let that sink in.  Diverted resources means many things are not being addressed.  Sometimes, there is a check on the illegal spying.  Sometimes.   Ann, why don't you grab that?

Ann: Alright.  In 2012, Heidi notes, the Supreme Court did their job.  They issued a ruling on a case as to whether or not law enforcement could track people via GPS without a court order.  The Court ruled that a court order was necessary.  That's a victory.  But I would add that we don't know that they're following the law.  They've already broken so many laws so why would we just believe that they're following this court verdict?

C.I.: Especially in light of Barton Gellman's Washington Post report last week of nearly 3,000 privacy violations by the National Security Agency in just one year.  And we know that because of Ed Snowden.  Gellman was working from Snowden's disclosures.  And then you had Carol D. Leonnig's report on how FISA states that it does not have the power to investigate compliance on the part of NSA.

Trina: And if you can't investigate compliance, you can't ensure compliance.  So we're supposed to fly blind and just trust the NSA which has repeatedly violated our rights.

Ava: When the news C.I. raised broke -- Nope.  I'm saving it for our TV commentary.  Okay, I'll instead say that Trina's exactly right and it's amazing that the secret court was created and the NSA allowed when neither has footing or foundation in the Constitution.  There is no oversight over either body and that's why we have corruption.

Cedric:  Exactly.  The Congress has no real appreciation for the Constitution and they repeatedly violate it and create bodies to 'save' us that do not save us at all.  They operate under the mistaken belief that they know better than the Constitution.  They'll be around for about 100 years if they're lucky, but they know better than a series of laws that have been around for centuries.

Mike: Yeah.  Yeah, I love that Cedric, that says it perfectly.  The Constitution outlines the needs for checks and balances.  And then you get a problem surfacing and instead of asking how to address this within the Constitution these Congressional idiots decide to just create something new 'for us' and no need for checks and balances because Congress has no respect for the people or the Constitution.  And I think my mom's right -- Trina's my mother, for those who don't know -- when she said that this is one of the reasons polls find the American people so distrustful of Congress.

Ty: Okay, Dona's waving to indicate that they finished up their book discussion which means we need to wrap up our discussion.  Cedric, I think you spoke the least, so why don't you sum up for us?

Cedric: Okay. Heidi Boghosian's new book is  Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance and it's a must-read.  Especially today with the NSA revelations.  She charts the history of the American government spying on the people.  It explains that we've been down this road before and notes the ways in which We The People fought back -- that includes whistle-blowing and real action in Congress, like the Church Committee.  So it's not merely a document of the past, it's a road map for the future.  That's why "public resistance" is in the subtitle.  It's a must-read and we all agree on that.  Let me be really clear, the other book discussion?  It's on a really fun book and we loved that book.  And everyone rushed to sign up for that book discussion.  We didn't.  Not because we don't love music but because we feel this topic and Heidi's book is important.  That's probably why Ty brought up the sexuality of a senator and I'm sure it's why Ava worked in Randi Rhodes.  We tried to make this a discussion that was lively and would inform you about the book as well.  If you bother to pick up the book, I think you'll agree with us that this is a must-read.  It's got my vote for book of the year in Martha & Shirley's annual look at books.

Ty: Thank you, Cedric, and I actually have to go quickly to Ann because I forgot she wanted to make a note on the book formats.  Ann?

Ann: Cedric read in print, I read in the Kindle Cloud.  [Ann and Cedric are married -- for those wondering why she's comparing her digital to Cedric's print version.]  If you get the digital book, as I did, please note that the end notes are hyperlinked.  I really did enjoy and appreciate that.  I was not concerned with accuracy -- Heidi's someone we've noted at this site many times and she's had a 'truest statement of the week' or two -- but there were times when I was completely new to a topic and wanted further information.  So if you're not sure whether to go with print or digital, that might help you decide.

Ty: Thank you for that, Ann.  This is a rush transcript and, again, the book is Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance.

Rock Chick: Book discussion

Jim: "Harpur was a very politicized place in those days:  I joined Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, as soon as I got there, which made me a radicalized sorority girl who knew how to shoot guns -- it's a wonder I didn't end up like Patty Hearst.  But it did open my eyes to a lot of things, and chiefest among them was rock and roll."  That's from Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's Rock Chick: A Girl And Her Music which just came out.

rock chick a girl and her music

Jim (Con't):  It's a collection of her music writing from when she was editor-in-chief of Jazz & Pop magazine. Remember our new e-mail address is Please note that is a change.  Participating in our discussion of Kennealy-Morrison's book are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona,  Jess,  and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);  Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts.  You are reading a rush transcript.  Elaine, what's the book documenting?

Elaine:  Well early on, she explains not just when rock and roll transitions to rock but also how she turned into "a rock chick." For her, the transformation of rock and roll into rock takes place in 1965 and she transitions into "a rock chick" starting with Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady's bass playing on "Blues from an Airplane" leading her through various moments up to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  We all have a moment like that, I'm sure.  The book explores the immediate aftermath of that.

Jim: For you?  Was that the moment for you?

Elaine: It was pretty much already rock when I was getting serious about music.  In terms of bass?  I've always loved the Beatles' "Taxman" and "Day Tripper."  "Brown Eyed Girl," by Van Morrison, has a really good bass line.  Even the Beach Boys managed a recording with a really good bass line, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and, of course, Motown was known for their bass work.

Jim: In terms of a group that changed everything for you?

Elaine: Probably the Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas.  I was and remain a huge fan of the Rolling Stones but in terms of music I lived for it was the Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas.

Jim: And The Doors, of course, are a major part of the book.  Elaine, Rebecca, were you big fans?

Rebecca: Actually, no.  We know all of their songs and loved Jim Morrison's work but we weren't big fans of The Doors.  C.I. blasted them, she was the huge Doors fan.  Again, Elaine and I liked them, but of the three of us, we were college roommates, C.I. was The Doors fan.  Elaine was loyal to the Beatles and the Stones.  We were all Mamas and Papas fans.  Other than Otis Redding, I wasn't 'loyal.'  I was into Donovan one moment or someone else the next.  But we always had great music playing, regardless of who was in charge of the stereo.

Elaine: These were the turntable days.  We had several including one that you could record onto an 8-track with which was so 'modern' back then.  We'd play our 8-tracks in Rebecca's car.  But we mainly used the turntable you could stack four vinyls records on and it would play one whole side, then drop the next record, play that side, drop the next -- for four records.  We had the music going in the living room constantly and that's not counting radios in the bedrooms.  We did, Rebecca and I, like The Doors but C.I. was the one most into them of the three of us.  We loved Jefferson Airplane as well.

Jim: Betty, you liked the book but in an unexpected way -- you said that to me Friday.

Betty: I did and I was surprised by what I liked the most.  This is a book which collects Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's rock writing for Jazz & Pop magazine.  I'll let others speak of that.  I thought that writing would speak to me the most.  Instead, I really loved the extended opening where she explains how she ended up at the magazine and the world at that time.  I wanted to quote something from that section:

Still, apart from artists (who had their own set of problems), neither were there a lot of women around in rock, at least women who weren't groupies, or publicists, or secretaries at labels -- the Vinyl Ceiling -- and I always thought they didn't have it anywhere near as good as I did.  Pretty much no women rock record executives or studio personnel -- no female engineers or producers.  A few radio personalities.   As for journalists, maybe a dozen in New York, a handful more scattered across the country.  Pauline was the only woman publisher, and I was the only editor-in-chief (though there was a managing editor or two of my own age around).

Betty (Con't): And this section finds her sharing many stories and tidbits.  Among those mentioned are Linda McCartney, Dave Marsh, John Sinclair, Barbra Streisand, Twiggy, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Elvis Costello, Carly Simon and, of course, Jim Morrison.  Patricia is Mrs. Morrison, the only woman with that claim.  That's why we keep saying "of course, Jim Morrison."  I loved the entire book but I was surprised that, for me, the best part was that history.

Wally: I'll back Betty on that.  It's very vivid, very alive.  I planned to just read the reviews and commentaries, to be honest.  I thought I'd glance at her overview.  I've read, for example, her book Strange Days, about this time.   But, like Betty says, it's involving and I quickly got caught up in it. I love it.  It's really interesting, alive and takes you to a time that, for me, is new.  For someone who didn't live through it, I'm dependent upon others impressions of that time and Kennealy-Morrison really brought it to life for me.

Jim: Stan, for you, the music writing from that period stood out the most.

Stan: Yeah.  She writes with life and passion and if all you've seen of music writing is the one or two paragraphs in Rolling Stone today, you really need to read this book.  It's like with Kat's reviews today.  I usually agree with Kat's take but, even when I don't, I enjoy the writing.  Patrcia Kennealy-Morrison takes you on a journey.  The Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation?  I really feel she nailed that, she captured it perfectly.  "Lather" a San Francisco Childe ballad.

Isaiah:  And the Jazz & Pop writing contains a lot of stuff and it's not just music.  I want to read from her writing:

If developments in the wake of the Battle of Chicago are any indication, it looks as though the new domestic policy of the United States of America is going to be Beat the Press and Mace the Nation.  And there s very little left to prevent it.  True for form, the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates are applying soothing inanities to the legitimately aroused public treating, as usual, effect instead of cause, putting political Band-aids of a social cancer.  "Law and order," they mouth, "must be maintained"; and never stop to see (nor would they recognize if they saw) that "law" is not always "justice" and "order" has never meant "rigidity."

Isaiah (Con't): That's about the cops attacking the kids at the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago.  It's a powerful essay.  But I thought how it really does apply to today.  You can apply that to Barack's ruthless witch hunt for NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, for instance.

Jim: What else stood out?

Jess: Of her music pieces, I really enjoyed the interview she conducted with Jeff Beck.  And I loved how it ended.  With him saying, "The music in your head is always better anyway than what you end up doing."

Marcia: Before I get to my favorite section of the book, I should note that I've read -- and love -- The Keltiad.  I don't think anyone else here is in into sci-fi or fantasy books.  Patricia Kennealy-Morrison is known for many things but to people like me, she is first and foremost the author of one of the most powerful book series, The Keltiad.  She may be protecting her vision and refusing to allow it to be turned into a film, if so fine.  But if she's not the one keeping it from becoming a film series, studios need to wake up and realize this is an amazing book series that has levels and insights that would make for a series of epic films.  Okay, now that I've plugged the books I love -- and they're in my bedroom.  I have shelves all over my house.  Only the books most dear to me make it onto the bedroom shelves.  Okay, what I liked best were the obituaries.  I thought she really, for example, honored Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.  And her Janis Joplin is an open-eyed look that doesn't fall into some of the traps so many did.  I have the Janis boxed set which includes an essay on Janis by Ellen Willis.  I wish Willis had thought to quote from Patricia.

Kat: Agreed.  But there's just not a lot of support going on.  Patricia Kennealy-Morrison has, for example, repeatedly mentioned Ellen Sander in the last 30 or so years and Sander pops up here, in this collection, repeatedly.  I just don't feel like Sander has returned the favor.

Jim: Why?

Kat: I can't speak for why Sander's been less giving, ask her.  But in general, you're looking at a land where women have been denied their just credit.  And there can be a feeling on the part of a woman who is included in some minor way -- and Ellen Sander's is a minor footnote in today's rock writer canon -- that promoting other women will either mean she herself disappears or somehow becomes less special.  I don't subscribe to that nonsense.  I think that including other women means that the women there blazing the trail become more pronounced and harder to erase from history.  I was aware of Ellen Willis' work.  I really wasn't aware of Patricia Kennealy-Morrison's work or of the woman herself.  I missed the whole Oliver Stone controversy because his movies really don't make it for me.

Jim: And let's point out, you're a photographer and you shot pictures for the rock press starting a little after Jazz and Pop folded.

Kat: Right.  And that's not me saying "She doesn't matter!"  That's me noting how quickly women's accomplishments get papered over.  She notes an essay that she wrote which was the only thing that ever got anthologized, in 1995's Rock She Wrote.  And that I did know.  But it was only after I started writing about music for The Common Ills that I really heard about her.  One time, C.I. and I were talking and she mentioned five women that she felt she could sense echoes of in my work.  Patricia was one.  I didn't know the name, though I had read her essay -- and enjoyed it -- in Rock She Wrote.  And C.I. hauled out these Jazz & Pop magazines and I was just really impressed with the work she had done and wondered why not just Lester Bangs but every man in the world who ever wrote more than 10 reviews seems to have a published anthology but the women who made such a difference are forgotten.

Dona: I would agree with you and that is sort of the reason for this collection, as you know.  Let me quote from the book:

Everybody focuses on the guys who were there at the dawn of it all and not the few chicks who were there every bit as much and who were every bit as erudite and serious and musically opinionated as their male counterparts.  It's always deeply annoying, which is one of the reasons I put this present collection together -- to get my work of that day, perhaps not as shatteringly ever-so as Richard Goldstein's or R. Meltzer's or Lester Bangs's, but certainly as valid, out there for people who never saw it, to claim my place and speak up for not only myself but my rock-critic sisters.  It's not wrong to want credit for what you achieved, and we achieved a LOT. 

Dona: And let me add, I hope they note this in the other book discussion, we wanted to cover this book.  C.I. got us copies and she loves the book.  It came out July 31st.  We had to read it before we could review it.  We used to do book discussions all the time; however, that got more difficult as we grew larger.  C.I. said she and Ava could cover this in written piece if we couldn't do it as a discussion.  With Heidi Boghosian's Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance coming out, it forced us to get serious because we want that book covered as well.  We toyed with reviewing them both in a single discussion but instead decided to break off into two groups.  So you either signed up for this group or the other one.   Kat, if I could, since you've been writing about music online, you've not really felt 'the sisterhood.'

Kat: Oh, hell no.  I did a blog post at my site, this is rather an infamous moment, where I quoted from some man blathering on about how Bob Dylan's recent release was the most amazing thing in music ever, and yadda yadda.  I gave him a link and noted some factual problems.  I got nasty e-mails from him.  He trashed me at the magazine he wrote for, trashed me at its site -- but refused to link to me -- and then, when I was defended -- and there was some sisterhood there -- his girlfriend writes me to insist that I take down every post mentioning him.  I thought, "Honey, it's bad enough you're with a jerk, try to find a little self-respect."  And then, in the name of sisterhood?, she writes C.I. to try to get her to convince me to take my posts down.

Dona: Thank you.  I loathed Sasha Frere-Jones' foreword to the recent Ellen Willis volume.  It failed to note any woman other than Ellen Sander.  He apparently never heard of Patricia or Lillian Roxon, Penny Valentine or Jane Scott -- among others.

Betty: Willis left me cold.  She's a feminist who comes off anti-woman when she writes about music.  The most she can get behind is a song here or there by Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon?  Even her Patti Smith praise was stingy.  The only woman she could praise was the woman without a body of work. [San Francisco's Ms. Clawdy.]   I mean, come on, Ellen Willis, you're jealous of other women because you want to be up there yourself.  With Patricia, she's got praise for Janis and Grace Slick [of Jefferson Airplane] and Tina Turner.  Ellen offered racist praise when she praised an album by a woman -- Aretha Franklin's Aretha in Paris, is the Whitest thing Aretha had done up to that point  -- 9 brass instruments as though she were in Vegas -- and Ellen blathers on about how James Brown and Aretha can make singles but not albums so you need live ones from them or best ofs?  Kiss my Black ass, Ellen Racist Willis.  While Motown was a singles act, you have clearly stereotyped African-American artists.  Aretha's I've Never Loved A Man is an album that has repeatedly made best album lists and it came out in 1967, a year before that lousy live album in Paris.  Also coming out before that lousy live album is another Aretha classic, Lady Soul.  I'm sorry, Ellen Willis tore down women artists and she was even more condescending to Black artists.  No wonder she loved punk which had a conservative and racist streak.  She's praising Patti Smith at a time when Patti's not just using the n-word in a song but all over the pages of Rolling Stone explaining why she can use the n-word.

Dona: I see your point.  Ellen doesn't champion Janis Joplin, for example.  After Janis' death, suddenly Janis is 'important' enough to write about.  By contrast, Patricia writes at length upon the release of Big Brother & the Holding Company's first big album -- first album for a major label -- Cheap Thrills.  She praises Janis at length.  Janis appears to only capture Ellen Willis' attention in death.

Jim: Other thoughts?

Ruth: Let me read from the book:

All record company presidents should make the nighttime scene as often as Columbia chief Clive Davis.  At Tim Hardin's Cafe Au Go Go opening September 27, Davis was on hand with Columbia publicity head Bob Altschuler to cheer on their newly signed artist.  On the bill with Hardin were Elektra's new group Rhinoceros and vocalist Van Morrison; in the audience were Papa John Phillips with Mama Michelle.

Ruth (Con't): That is from "Pop Talk" which was a column Patricia did for Jazz & Pop.  It would note various comings and goings and it was just a treat to read those.  It made me remember, for example, artists I had forgotten.  And whether it was news that Aretha Franklin was about to do her own TV special  or whatever, it was just this nice historical record.  With regards to Betty's comments, I will add that Patricia sees an all girl band perform at the Filmore East and talks about them, about judging them on their merits.  I also think there's a classicism on Ellen Willis' part that is removed from reality.  She sees rock as this working class thing. Patricia's honest and notes it is middle-class.

Wally: And Patricia explored women's various roles -- in the scene, in music.  She also has some really amazing thoughts about the then-new media.  I loved that because what she wrote there is still true of new media today.  Ellen Willis was good at taking the pose many male critics do, of: I am the master, only my opinion matters and I knew it from the start and always.  By contrast, Patricia's writing is an exploration that she invites you to make with her.

Jim: Ruth, you lived in NYC in this period.  You and your husband caught some of the great acts live including Janis and The Doors.

Ruth: It was a wonderful time.  Wally spoke of it being captured in the introduction to the reviews that Patricia Kennealy-Morrison wrote and that is true.  But, if we are comparing Ms. Willis and Ms. Kennealy-Morrison, I never felt Ellen Willis was accurate.  I am speaking of seeing people live.  There is, for example, a Dylan concert Willis reviews and, sorry, I was at that concert.  Forget Ms. Willis' raving over it, just the factual aspect, I did not relate to it.  I remember when it came out, the review, in The New Yorker, my husband and I both wondered what concert she had been at because her details did not match the concert we had attended.  I will allow she could have been transported by the music.  But Ms. Kennealy-Morrison, in real time and reading over the concert reviews now, always seemed to have been at the same concert.  Her observations are more complex and wittier than anything I would have offered but they are reality.

Jim: Okay, we need to wrap up.  Kat, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison reviewed albums in the material offered.  She was one of the pioneers.  Your take on her?

Kat: She has a historical place just for being a pioneer.  But she's also so much more than that.  To be a real critic, you have to be brave and speak your truth.  In their media coverage, Ava and C.I. always talk about how anytime they stop writing to ask, "Can we say this?," that's when they know they have to.  If you're a real critic, you're not doing what, sadly, Ellen Willis did.  And many men did it too.  That's just echoing each other on the male rock canon.  You'll get praised for that but a real critic is going to challenge and blaze their own path.  I see that in Patricia's writing.  Prefacing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with "carefully nontesticular,"  Offering, "Not a spark of honest reaction in the lot, unless you want to count David Crosby writing a song about how he al-most cut his hair."  She's not afraid to leave the pack.  Reviewing a favorite like Jefferson Airplane, she's not afraid to offer a little negative criticism of, for examples, Volunteers.  And it takes real guts to write as she did about Jim Morrison's poetry volumes.  It takes real gut before you factor in her relationship.  When you review, I think, it should be out there, what you think, what you feel and, that if it is, it's an art all by itself.  I think the collection is a testament to Patricia Kennealy-Morrison as an artist.

Jim: Alright.  That's a great way to go out.  The book is Rock Chick: A Girl And Her Music and it's currently $14.99 in softcover at Amazon or $7.99 for Kindle.  We're not pimping Kindle readers.  If you don't have a Kindle but you have a laptop or a tablet, you can buy it in Kindle and read it on a laptop or another tablet.

Telecommunicator in chief

tele communicator in chief

Last week, the Dalibama was unable to leave his pilgrimage to the ghetto of Martha's Vineyard where he tends to, and soothes, the poor.  So at a time when Yahoo is curbing workers telecommunicating from home, Dalibama 'governed' from Martha's Vineyard --  when not parting the business from the consumers and performing other modern miracles.

Video report of the week

CBS This Morning covers the NSA spying (click linke for text report).

Biggest laugh of the summer

Summer 2013 saw Jimmy Fallon really perfect the monologue, Jay Leno hit a hot streak, John Oliver do a notable turn filling in for Jon Stewart and the return of the funny foursome of Hot In Cleveland: Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick.

Even so, none could match the belly laughs when the NSA delivered the following with a straight face:


Statement on planned Fourth of July demonstrations
3 July 2013

The Fourth of July reminds us as Americans of the freedoms and rights all citizens of our country are guaranteed by our Constitution. Among those is freedom of speech, often exercised in protests of various kinds. NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people.

They don't object to any lawful, peaceful protest?

Oh, how they kid, what a bunch of cut-ups.

About the DoD Directive on Military Sexual Assault

Senator Patty Murray

Last week, Senator Patty Murray (above), the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, now Chairs the Senate Budget Committee.   Murray's office issued a joint-statement from Senator Murray and Senator Kelly Ayotte (below).


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, August 15, 2013                                                                                   202-224-2834
Murray, Ayotte Statement on Secretary Hagel Directive on Military Sexual Assault
Hagel memorandum includes directive for immediate implementation of trained military lawyers to help victims of sexual assault take action against attackers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) released the following statement after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed immediate implementation of several measures to “gain greater consistency of effort and enhance oversight, investigative quality, pretrial investigations and victim support” in cases of military sexual assault. Among other measures, the directive includes implementation of trained lawyers to provide victims in all branches with guidance through the legal process, similar to legislation introduced by Senators Murray and Ayotte.

“I applaud the proactive steps Secretary Hagel is taking today to do right by our nation’s heroes and begin the process of tackling this scourge within the ranks,” said Senator Murray. “Our legislation to provide victims with a dedicated legal counsel absolutely gets to the heart of effectively addressing the tragic epidemic of sexual assault in our military and I was pleased to see Secretary Hagel has put priority on its implementation. Providing legal advocates for victims is a major step forward in reversing this awful trend and establishing the necessary means for these men and women to take action against their attackers through what is a deeply personal and painful process. While these measures are by no means a silver bullet, it is inexcusable for us to wait any longer to address this issue and I’m glad Secretary Hagel understands these actions are long overdue.”

“It’s encouraging that the Department of Defense is taking steps to implement these reforms immediately, rather than waiting for them to become law,” said Senator Ayotte.  "The actions announced today will provide greater protections to victims, increase reporting, and result in more prosecutions – and they represent a significant step forward as we continue efforts to stop sexual assault in the military.”

Last month, the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee approved $25 million to fully fund the Murray-Ayotte Special Victims Counsels (SVCs) program. The House of Representatives has also approved full funding for this program in their Department of Defense spending legislation. In May, Senators Murray and Ayotte introduced the bipartisan Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, which has been included in the pending National Defense Authorization Act. The SVC program is based on a successful pilot program currently implemented in the Air Force.
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

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