Archive for July 13th, 2013

by lizard

I don’t want to minimize the verdict that’s blowing up the internet and hopefully NOT stores and neighborhoods as the night progresses, because it’s a terribly sad situation. Back in March, I wrote this post for Trayvon. That link will have to stand as this week’s poetry post.

I’ve kept MSNBC on in the background, and it’s hard to not feel the emotional pull of injustice. The racial history of this country seems to be leaping from the past into the present. Things are not good.

But as I listened to Melissa Harris-Perry talk about the personal impact on her and her family, I couldn’t help but overlay her open letter to Edward Snowden. Here’s the whole condescending mess:

Dear Ed,

It’s me, Melissa.

I hear you’re looking for a country. Well, wouldn’t you know, I have an idea for you! How about…this one?

Come on back to the U.S.A., Ed. I know you’re not super pleased with the government these days–and I feel you. The information you revealed about surveillance raises serious issues about the behaviors of our leaders and how they justify and hide those practices from the public. But, here is the deal: it’s time to come home and face the consequences of the actions for which you are so proud.

I know you must feel you’ve already given up a lot to reveal government secrets: your well-paid job, your life in Hawaii, your passport.

And maybe your intentions were completely altruistic–it’s not that you wanted attention, but that you wanted us, the public, to know just how much information our government has about us. That is something worth talking about. But by engaging in this Tom Hanks-worthy, border-jumping drama through some of the world’s most totalitarian states, you’re making yourself the story.

We could be talking about whether accessing and monitoring citizen information and communications is constitutional, or whether we should continue to allow a secret court to authorize secret warrants using secret legal opinions.

But we’re not. We’re talking about you! And flight paths between Moscow and Venezuela, and how much of a jerk Glenn Greenwald is. We could at least be talking about whether the Obama administration is right that your leak jeopardized national security. But we’re not talking about that, Ed.

We’re talking about you. I can imagine you’d say, “Well, then stop! Just talk about something else.” But here’s the problem, even if your initial leak didn’t compromise national security, your new cloak-and-dagger game is having real and tangible geopolitical consequences. So, well, we have to talk about…you.

We’re talking about how maybe now you’re compromising national security by jumping from country to country, causing international incidents and straining U.S. relationships with Russia and China. Really. Important. Relationships. And we’re talking about how you praised countries like Russia and Venezuela for “standing against human rights violations” and “refusing to compromise their principles.”

I mean, where do you even come up with that kind of garbage, Ed? What are you thinking?

I understand that you don’t want to come back. To do so would mean giving up your freedom, definitely before the trial, and likely for several months or years thereafter.

I get it. It’s in its prisons where the U.S. commits actual human rights violations.

More than 80,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement, some for years, some indefinitely, despite the fact that solitary is cruel and psychologically damaging.

I know those aren’t the human rights violations, though, that you’re complaining about, Ed. But you might not have anything to worry about, anyway. Unlike most of the people in solitary confinement–including Private Bradley Manning, on trial for giving data to Wikileaks–you have cultivated a level of celebrity that itself will act as protection if you ever find yourself in U.S. prison. You’ve made a spectacle of yourself, and the Obama Administration will be very careful about how it treats you. Unlike all those other prisoners.

So come on home, Ed. So we could talk about, you know, something else.

Sincerely,

Melissa

For a good critique of this letter, read Kevin Gosztola’s piece at FDL. I find this excerpt interesting:

Harris-Perry’s contention since at least June 29 has been if Snowden really considers himself someone who engaged in an act of civil disobedience he should “face the consequences” like Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela did.

As I wrote when she spoke about Snowden on her show, this whole argument that Snowden should have martyred himself and been arrested and faced life in prison if he really wanted to commit civil disobedience would be much more credible if Harris-Perry actually covered whistleblowers and had whistleblowers on her program to talk about these issues. A look over past shows indicates that on less than five programs there has been mention of “whistleblowers.”

I particularly highlighted the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, a case of a soldier engaging in multiple acts of civil disobedience. He is on trial right now, facing the possibility of being put in prison for life. He disclosed the “Collateral Murder” video, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, the US State Embassy cables, the “Gitmo Files,” a report from the Army Counterintelligence Center that presumed WikiLeaks was a “threat,” etc. Whether Harris-Perry is that familiar with his case, I do not know. She has not covered it at all on her program.

Omission works, and with tonight’s verdict escalating racial tensions, the corporate media that employs Harris-Perry will have plenty to focus on.

It won’t matter that, legally speaking, Zimmerman’s acquittal did not come as a surprise for those who closely watched this case, as evidenced by this slate article posted July 10th.

Just like it doesn’t seem to matter to Melissa Harris-Perry that the 4th amendment is being daily violated by the NSA.

Omission works. Another little story you will probably hear nothing about is Bernanke’s complete 180 on juicing the economy:

It’s been less than a month since tough-talking Ben Bernanke threatened to pull the rug out from under the stock market by scaling back on his $85 billion per-month liquidity program called QE, and now, he’s done a complete reversal without batting an eye.

On Wednesday, Chairman Flipflop announced that Central Bank monetary policy would be “Highly accommodative…for the foreseeable future.” This is a shocking about-face from his June 19 announcement it “would be appropriate to moderate the monthly pace of purchases later this year”. There’s a world of difference between stepping on the gas and tapping on the brakes.

The scam that is our economy can’t be too extensively reported on, because doing so could induce panic. And we’re not there yet.

And we’re not there yet probably because The Really Creepy People Behind the Libertarian-Inspired Billionaire Sea Castles need a little more time to make their dreams a reality.

by lizard

Jon Tester “bet the farm” that Brian Schweitzer would throw his bolo tie into the race for Max’s senate seat. This morning Brian proved Jon wrong, and said no thank you to a senate run, so it’s a good thing the folksy phrases our politicians toss around are just rhetorical.

The Hill’s piece declares Brian’s decision “a major blow” for Democrat efforts to retain the seat.

And, of course, Republicans are trying to use today’s announcement to salt the field. From the article:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pounced after the decision, saying it was based on Schweitzer’s recognition that not even he could win in 2014.

“Just two days ago, Senate Democrats were quoted promising Brian Schweitzer tremendous resources to get in the race,” NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in a statement. “We did our homework and there was a lot of rust under Schweitzer’s hood — a LOT of rust.”

How much of that “rust” came from disgruntled Democrats? This politico article made folks like Don Pogreba very angry. This is how Don concludes his post:

As a final note to the Democratic sources who found it necessary to run to a D.C. journalist to tear down Schweitzer, why not have the courage of your convictions and give your names? It seems an awful lot like “bullying” to me to anonymously attack someone online. Democrats certainly don’t have to like Governor Schweitzer, but they also don’t need to be doing dirty campaigning for Republicans.

And in response to today’s news, Don put up another post, which concludes with this:

If there is any truth to the terrible Politico reporting that Democratic sniping against Schweitzer helped push him out of the race, I hope those Democrats are terribly satisfied with themselves. There’s nothing more energizing to Democratic candidates and supporters than knowing that people within the party are going to tear down candidates who don’t massage their egos sufficiently.

Schweitzer did have great polling in Montana, and likely would have given Daines or anyone else a fierce fight. But there is discontent out there regarding how Brian governed, and I certainly don’t blame the anonymous sources cited in the Politico article for wanting to be anonymous. This comment from one of Don’s post echoes the sentiment I’ve heard:

I’m glad he’s not running for Senate. Governor Schweitzer made some terrible personnel choices in his appointments, leading me to doubt his ability to govern rather than to react to affronts to his ego. You could always count on him to be on the side of whatever position would garner the most votes this week and get TV/radio/print time rather than making quiet, difficult choices. There was very little benefit in abusing the Republican’s in the legislature, and abusing staff in his executive departments, which he did routinely.

I’ve had beers with the guy at the Blackfoot, met him several times at his house and at events around town, think he is a likable fellow when he chooses to be, but he is clearly in need of adult supervision. I would not advise any close friends to work with him because I do not trust him or his motives. I agreed with some of his larger policy/budget choices, but not his style of governing or his willingness to shaft people who worked for him to get his way. It wasn’t a one time thing: it was a hallmark of his administration. We don’t need more people like that in positions of influence in DC.

Brian isn’t running, so squeeze out a few tears over a few beers, folks, and move on.

Oh, and I’d be willing to knock on doors for Denise Juneau. Just saying.




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