Archive for journalism

Unrest & Disorder

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last night, the peace in Ferguson, MO was once again shattered by a standoff between police and protesters. According to the police, provocateurs in the crowd fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails at the line of police. According to protesters (as well as media representatives on my show today), the aggression came from the uniformed force of power attempting to disperse the crowd.

I'd call the actions of the Ferguson PD and Mayor, of the Missouri Governor and the rest of the "powers-that-be" a "comedy of errors" except there's nothing remotely funny about what's going on in Ferguson - from the moment Michael Brown was stopped for walking down the middle of the street to this morning when Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard. Nothing.

After one night of peaceful protest during which police in shirt sleeves walked and talked with protesters, the police seem to have done everything wrong.

From bringing out the heavy artillery to arresting journalists to firing tear gas to imposing a curfew to holding the name of the killer cop to releasing the convenience store surveillance video to bringing out the military gear again... and let's not forget, for one of their own shooting an unarmed teenager walking down the street in the first place, I blame the people charged with keeping the peace and protecting the community for the mess they created and keep compounding with each dim witted move.

As for all the military firepower, we no longer have to wonder who's to blame. Congressman Alan Grayson actually foresaw this problem and tried to prevent it from happening.

On June 19, 2014, Congressman Grayson introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2015 that reads as follows:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents (including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment), launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons (as identified for demilitarization purposes outlined in Department of Defense Manual 4160.28) through the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to section 1033 of Public Law 104-201, the "National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 1997".
Purpose
An amendment to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons through the DOD Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.

As Howie Klein explained to us this morning during our weekly segment, The Steve Israel Hour sponsored by Little Debbie, Congressman Grayson had lined up more than enough Republican votes to join with Democrats to pass the amendment. Unfortunately, all but 43 Democrats inexplicably voted against his bill that would have prevented the military equipment going to local police departments!

Howie followed the money, and found that the only member of Congress seeking re-election in November with over a million dollars in contributions from the military industrial complex (two others aren't returning) - Pete Visclosky (D-IN) - was responsible for killing the bill! 

Although Howie broke that news on the show this morning and will soon follow it up with at post at Down With Tyranny, he has written about the sickening reality that is the militarization of our police departments here and here.

We turned away from Ferguson for a few minutes to talk about Thomas Frank's latest column for Salon, and how Democrats could still win in 2014 - by doing the opposite of what Steve Israel is doing!

After the news from Talk Radio News Service's Justin Duckham who spent the weekend in Ferguson and filed this report, I spoke with the two members of We Act Radio's media team - Seth Jackson and Peter Callahan - who are still there covering the events in Ferguson. Find their live stream at Credo Mobile's Youtube page, or via WeActRadio.com.

And finally, we bid buh-bye to David Gregory!  I had to invite my old "Fools on the Hill" cohort and fellow Nicole -- Nicole Belle, that is -- back on the show to tell him him not to let the door hit him on the ass on his way out of Meet the Press. David Gregory won't be missed. Sadly, his replacement is Chuck Todd, who's not very different from his predecessor.

Maybe NBC might want to find someone who doesn't have two first names, or is an actual journalist. What a concept!

I'll be back tomorrow with author Rick Perlstein and @GottaLaff too... Radio or Not!

 

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Here Ya' Go GOP-Tea … Pay For Palin

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Palin embarrassMINTS

Will there be a Putin Cam, Live from her porch?

The rumors were true. The Tundra Twit Sarah Palin has launched her own lame stream of media. 9.95$ a month.

Did she not have Op-rah level cable network dough? No high rolling investors? Facebook wouldn't let her stream video that poorly produced? Or would that have been selling out to the lame mainstream media that she wants to be so clearly separate from?

That's the Problem With Palin … all questions, no good answers.

For whatever coco-loco reasons, half-Governor Sarah Palin has birthed The Sarah Palin Channel, or SPC for mocking purposes. Oh, and it truly is special.

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MSNBC had some reporting on the venture.

“Are you tired of the media filters? Well, I am! I always have been. So we’re going to do something about it,” Palin said in the video introduction. “Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.”

Palin announced the website late Sunday, describing the website as both an alternative to the mainstream media and a digital home for all things Palin. In her announcement, she derided the media for their bias.

sarah palin hypocridiot

Now you can subscribe for a year to save enough bucks to get a few big gulps for the kids, it's only 99$ for a whole year of Sarah interviewing public figures foolish enough to stream with her, a recriminating national debt counter, and for the edification (does she think Bill O'Reilly's words are too hard?) of all, a SPC Word of the Day.

Sunday's offering was 'rectitude'. SPC must do Formal Sundays.

PalinBigGulp

John McCain had darned well better have sunk some cash into this thing, he ought to be paying as long and hard as we are for unleashing this thing on the Lower 48. Now she's on the Intertubez 24/7!! Damn You McCain.

Here's her exciting announce video. Apologies.

So apparently that home shopping network endeavor tanked? Saturday Night Live usually gets it right.

See … SNL predicted a long, long time ago that she had aspirations to be a white Op-rah. They do usually nail it. Hope you didn't mind the gratuitous commentary, LiberalViewer does some good stuff on the Youtubes, h/t to him and his silky sarcasm.

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'Get Out and Push', Says Maddow of the Useless, U.S. Congress

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World's End

Maddow finally did it! Put her head on the desk in despair and choked out a couple of frustrated, choked "Gaah!!!"s in the opening block of her Friday evening show … on the gobstoppingly absurd absenteeism of 25% of the American diplomatic forces.

Key positions are vacant because the actual Do Nothing Congress is Out of Order. They won't even appoint or confirm - it's the mind-blowing equivalent of laying off 1 out of every four American diplomats and foreign service personnel around the world.

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For sheer spite. Obstructionism and putting some degrading 'asterisk' next to Obama's presidency is more important than our national security - to the GOP, neo-hawks.

The capper: Congress is currently less popular than Putin with the American people. As they are about to go on vacation themselves, it's going to be a race to do as little as possible.

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We currently have no ambassadors to Russia, Guatemala and more than a few other hotspots in foreign affairs this summer.

Bernie Sanders was slightly optimistic about the hopes of VA Reform early this afternoon. Despite both houses having passed the actual bill - Bernie Sanders and John McCain were the bloody co-sponsors, they had it down. Congress looked ready to pass a bill, #wtfbbqlaw??

Partisan bickering and final budget wrangling have ground even the Veterans Administration reform efforts to an astonishing new level of Gonzo Gridlock.

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Bernie joined Rachel at quarter past the hour to offer his perspective. He was no longer just optimistic. He seemed to be working his way up to projecting the announcing of an imminent deal. "Yesterday was a very rough day … but we will look abysmal if we cannot produce legislation to help the Veterans. … We plan on working tomorrow and Sunday, and despite the huge ideological differences … we can come together." {paraphrasey} Have a look.

Earlier in the day a veteran called Sanders 'intractable' and a bit of a problem in the gridlock, which raised my hackles but nonetheless deserves a look. Sanders is indeed determined to include mental health and traumatic brain injury as high priorities, and perhaps he is holding out for ideals. But he is fighting hard for progress within this dysfunctional congress.

don'talwayswatch

By contrast, the sub for Hannity had Paul The Younger on to bloviate about the Middle East, then let little Randy suggest an Iron Dome for the U.S.. Isolationist much?! Then he had a spin around the entire feeble Feck question on Ukraine, and did the obligatory 'lack of leadership' schtick.

"Staring down Putin" … he has been reading his Ayn.

Sorry for the early bird Fvx, but these side by side comparisons between the two cable networks, one delivering actual news with a stated liberal slant and a fan of facts, one that sells hysteria and propaganda like it's a new investment op; are critically important in the two views of this Dysfunctional Congress and the state of breaking bad they have sunk to.

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These compare and contrasts are so critical - the harsh disinfectant of light shining on the murk and hate at Fox Noise and diagnosing the brainwashing for what it is, a propaganda and cult network bent on guarding the wealth of the upper tier.

Oh, and that Rand Paul baldly boasted of calling the president to advise him was just that last bitter note that Fvx Nation is addicted to.

It's going to take the mother of all Twelve Step Programs to sort out those zombies and zombettes when they stumble away from the mother ship … a wrecked and listing Tea Party clipper.

crazy to work here

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The Importance of Being Earnest, and Honestly, a Little Feisty

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It's rather refreshing to have a Press Secretary at the podium who has a bit of vinegar in his delivery. That touch of acid we all crave.

Meet relative newcomer, and at what a quiet time in world affairs, new 1600 Pennsylvania Main Face: Josh Earnest. Flippant Oscar Wilde tie-ins aside, it truly is a dramatic turn of events. Domestically. In a good way.

Now you're listening.

AttaBoy

The West Wing personnel department might had been catching up on Scandal and went "Man, we have to really up our game around the real deal," or just relaxed a bit as it eases on to the final, two year stretch.

It will certainly be more interesting, and we all want interesting. Less Tea Party, more interesting.

Within the #OhButWeKid category of media-watching perspective is also no small amount of awe that the Obama team let a bit of a bulldog out to man a pretty public desk. A Press Secretary with teeth, topics get fleshed out when the pearly whites are flashing … always a plus for discussion.

In any case, it makes for fine embed video. This bit courtesy of Morning Joe Schmoe, and so you also get the Full Pith of the Panel. 'pologies.

You can tell by the sub-titles these days how the production team is going after the differing viewership over the course of their day. "Caught?" The actual Question and Answer are transcribed below.

Q: One other question on a different subject. The Washington Post report this weekend about the information available to the administration about the border and expectations of a surge at the border. Can you comment on whether the administration was advised, and then overlooked or disregarded the information that was available to DHS and the White House?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Alexis, I’d first point out that you’re asking about a story that’s based entirely on anonymous sources. So that should be reflected in the record. The second is, if you do take a look at what this administration’s response has been not just in the last couple of months, but over the last few years, you’ve seen that this administration has repeatedly sought additional resources to deal with this specific problem at the border. That if you look at the trajectory of the budget from Fiscal Year 2011 to the 2012 to 2013 to 2014, that there has been a steady increase in the amount of resources requested to deal with this precise problem. That is a pretty good indication that this is something that we’ve been watching carefully and preparing for.

What also happens to be true is that there are a number of steps that were taken by this administration in the months before, or at least in the weeks before this became the media sensation that it has been over the last several weeks, that there were repeated visits by the Secretary of Homeland Security to the border and to facilities that were used and have been used to detain unaccompanied minors.

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There were steps taken by the President to direct the FEMA Administrator to coordinate the activities of DHS and the Department of Defense, and Health and Human Services, to coordinate the response for detaining these children and these families in a humanitarian way.

So this is something that the administration has been focused on for quite some time. And we have seen, as I mentioned at the top of the briefing, the tide at least start to turn over the last couple of weeks. But we’re not going to turn our attention away from that; in fact, the President is having a meeting on this today, because he believes that this is the kind of significant problem that merits sustained attention.

Everyone's an editorialist.

NOWAY

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Morning Mika Scores a One-on-One with President Obama

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WarMeme
"Just because something is stable two or four years ago, doesn't mean that it's stable right now," responded President Barack Obama to a visibly awed Morning Mika in her first interview with the Commander in Chief, broadcast on MSNBC Monday morning.

It had to fight the World Cup advancement, that didn't go over well, but nonetheless it was that moment every pundit or journalist hopes for - the one-on-one with the sitting president. Particularly on the possible eve of military involvement again in Persia. Have a gander.

Mika and Joe Schmoe Scarborough have visited the White House, grilled most of Obama's various teams and certainly 'discuss' the president's every thought, in pernicious detail, daily. With nearly extreme prejudice at times … morning MSNBC has a Right Wing tinge until well after elevenses, progressives know that. So it truly was fascinating to see which questions they would choose to take into a one-on-one.

Even a slight fatigue of Mika and her family involvement in our morning media, shouldn't fully detract from the intimate revelations she did tease from Obama, Brzezinski has actual reporter cred, and it comes through when she remembers to stand firmly on that foundation.

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The president spoke of the responsibility of Iraq itself, and Al-Maliki's government (an elected democracy) in their own future. He beat back the Fvx Nation drumbeat that not acting in Syria was the mistake of the century:

"These societies are going through these enormous transformations, there was a long period after WW2 ... there's a long and difficult transition to a different society in the Middle East. ... We're going to have to deal with some of the worst impulses there." {paraphrasey}

Scarborough couldn't keep his mouth shut past 6:15 a.m., particularly re PBO's sensible declaration that the U.S. is done playing Whack-A-Mole in the Iraq-Syria morass. He tossed it to Bloomberg's Al Hunt to see if he could verify his own opinion that President Obama has no feck. Hunt didn't completely comply, voicing the common sense idea that no matter how many troops we might have left behind, Malaki's regime would not have held together.

Bobby Ghosh, managing editor at Quartz, gave those criticisms the 'unfair' label they deserve. Pundit-Twit Mark Halperin had to jump in and override, hubris swallowed him whole years ago, and they bumped the rest of Mika's Obama footage to the 7:00 block. [When they amped up the 'Iraq Under Siege' campaign.]

Draw your own conclusions, but there are conclusions to draw - media has taken on a huge role in how we start our days, and what tone the overall cable buzz sets.

As Laffy so often says, 'our voices matter'. So hold the famed 'librul media up to the same standards the GOP.Teabangelicals do … they think David Gregory plays for our team, so are clearly delusional.

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We must climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy

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scales of injusticefirst amendment flag

As regular readers know, I do a weekly radio spot with Nicole Sandler, and today we tried to climb out of the black hole of American injustice and apathy as we discussed some of the stories you won't hear or see in the corporate media.

Every week, Nicole has someone on from Talk Radio News Service who fills her in on the morning's breaking news. Chief White House correspondent and global analyst Victoria Jones was her TRNS guest this week, and this is the disturbing report that she brought us. Ready? Emphasis mine:

Intel Chief Issues Press Limits:

The Obama administration has barred officials at 17 agencies from speaking to journalists about unclassified intelligence-related topics without permission. The directive, issued by DNI James Clapper, also requires agencies' employees to report any unplanned contact with journalists (NYT, Hill, me) [Laffy Note: If you recall, Clapper wasn't exactly forthcoming with Congress about NSA surveillance.]

• Officials who violate the directive may be disciplined or fired. The directive was issued in March. Clapper also issued rules to protect whistle-blowers who report info about waste, fraud or abuse via approved govt channels, although not to the news media

• Those rules, carrying out a presidential order, don't apply to intel contractors, only agency employees, a gap that's attracted scrutiny amid the debate over leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden - who pointed out he wasn't covered

The directive was reported by Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Govt Secrecy. He wrote: "So under most circumstances, an intel community employee is at liberty to discuss unclassified "intelligence-related information" with his or her next-door neighbor,"

• "But if the neighbor happened to be a member of the media, then the contact would be prohibited altogether without prior authorization." (well, when you put it like that...)

You can read more details here, at the New York Times. This is not easy news to process, let alone accept.

Needless to say, Nicole and I lamented about the state of our dwindling rights, the decrease in feasible ways to organize and fight back, our abysmal lack of real news, and the mounting difficulty in disseminating accurate information, the soon-to-be extinct liberal radio outlets (did I mention Randi Rhodes is going off the air on May 16th?), among other things. The Political Carnival will post the podcast covering all of this later today.

The account above followed news of the terrible Supreme Court ruling that upheld Michigan’s affirmative action ban.

Jacob Dean of Filter Free Radio posted this quote in the chat room during the show:

"We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”

Chris Hedges

We clearly have our work cut out for us.

Voting is only part of the answer. Growing a movement, using social media, forcing our elected officials to hear us, supporting Progressive candidates for local offices on up, and refusing to accept the status quo matter. Pay attention, Progressives, organize, speak out loudly, and never ever give in or give up.

Between these reports, the (sometimes violent) extremists on the right, their lies, fear tactics, and propaganda, the growing polarization of this country, the threats of climate change and assault on civil rights, and the (often willful) ignorance of voters, it's time to wake up and act before it's too late.

We can do this. But we have to start right now.

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Tell the whole story about Fort Hood shooter, okay "journalists"?

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Fort Hood shooting

The Fort Hood shooter gets no sympathy from me for gunning down soldiers and ending lives, but the reporting about his motives deserves some attention. I have heard at least two MSNBC anchors briefly (and very generally) refer to "paperwork" issues as a possible reason for Ivan Lopez's shooting spree. Alex Witt literally brushed it off as "some paperwork" during one interview. her tone and demeanor unmistakeably dismissive as she quickly moved on to her next point.

But that paperwork wasn't just about filling out routine Army forms at Fort Hood, it was a prerequisite for Lopez before he could go home when his mother died, and again to take care of family business following her death.

In no way does this excuse him for murdering three people and wounding sixteen others, obviously. But the responsible thing to do would be to provide context and depth when describing what happened. It's imperative to tell the whole story, because... journalism.

That brings me to today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Shooter said to be furious," April 5

The article states that investigators may never have a motive for Fort Hood shooter Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Really? A soldier who was being treated for depression and anxiety was granted less than two days to go home to Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral five months ago; more recently, he was denied another temporary leave to return home to deal with family matters related to his mother's death.

This man was sent into harm's way to protect our country, and we can't give him compassionate leaves of duty during such a tragic time in his life? This is unconscionable.

Lopez wanted to go home to Puerto Rico; we sent him a lot farther away than that to defend our country.

Moira Niblo Obermeyer

Laguna Niguel

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