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Longwood Gardens. May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Longwood Gardens. May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon


Howlin' Wolf - The Watergate Blues

News & Opinion

We're finally at a point where the majority of people are sick and tired of apologist cheerleaders who will defend anything, who are willing to toss the first amendment under the bus if their BFF  or their party does, who are more worried about how this action affects their BFF than in how it affects a free press and the wellbeing of the country, who have demonstrated that they have no principles and no line in the sand. There is absolutely nothing that they will not defend.  And they're in the wilderness now.

Sorry, Media Matters, no one actually wants your talking points
What if a liberal group defended Obama and no one cared?

Yesterday, Media Matters, the liberal media watchdog group, sent out to a fairly massive email list a talking points memo defending the Obama Justice Department’s obtaining of Associated Press phone logs. The talking points were distributed to 3,000 “progressive talkers and influentials,” according to Media Matters head David Brock. (But not me, for the record. I am not an influential.)

Like all talking points, these talking points were dumb and full of weird weaselly language and made worse by the fact that each claim was designed to be repeated by people on TV who presumably don’t believe what they say or at least don’t really care that much. “For those interested in pushing back against partisan attacks while the rest of us grapple with the larger questions, here is language to guide you,” the memo said. The rest of us will be back here, grappling, while you engage in your semi-scripted verbal combat, with some guy who has different talking points.
Those AP talking points supposedly went out to 3,000 people yesterday. How many “progressive influentials” actually used them, for their columns or TV or radio appearances? It looks to be around “none.” The first I heard of them was in an internal Salon email that called the memo “amazing” (in a negative sense). Most of the liberal media mocked or expressed outrage about the silly Media Matters memo.

Media Matters, or rather David Brock, uses the Shaggy defense.

So, Media Matters for America, what do you have to say about this? After we put that question to the watchdog group, we got this statement saying, in effect: That’s not us. From David Brock, Chair of Media Matters for America and Media Matters Action Network:
Media Matters for America monitors, analyzes, and corrects conservative misinformation in the media and was not involved with the production of the document focusing on the DOJs investigation. That document was issued by “Message Matters,” a project of the Media Matters Action Network, which posts, through a different editorial process and to a different website, a wide range of potential messaging products for progressive talkers to win public debates with conservatives.

Jason Linkins just destroys Media Matters here in this article from last week.  It's a pretty long article where he lays it all out, addresses their talking points, calls out ThinkProgress as well, and addresses David Brock's Shaggy defense.  He rightly zeroes in on the fact that sometimes you have to set aside the hyperpartisanship.  But as we know, for hyperpartisans, that is never going to happen.  It hasn't happened with assassination of American citizens, the NDAA, endless war, domestic surveillance, or even the third rail of cutting Social Security and Medicare.  For hyperpartisans, there is no line in the sand.  With this latest Nixonian scandal, an assault on a free press, yet another assault on civil rights, it's just more evidence that there is nothing that they would not defend.  It looks like David Brock is blinded by the right again, which is not really surprising since what we have is a right-wing administration in power, good on a few social issues but right-wing in just about every other way, with a "D" in front of their names.

Media Matters Not Sure The DoJ Was Wrong When It Violated AP Press Freedoms, According To Memo

The DoJ's actions are simply not the sort of thing that anyone who works in the journalism or media industry are likely to defend. Or so I thought, until I found out today that Media Matters For America has prepared a set of talking points for people who maybe want to see the whole matter from the point of view of the agency that improperly surveilled journalists in a free society underpinned by First Amendment protections.

Which is wack, plain and simple.

Naturally, it should be said that Media Matters has not done something so horrifying as to mount a specific, fervent defense of the government surveilling AP reporters. The problem, however, is that they also don't mount a specific, fervent defense of the press freedoms to which the Associated Press (or any news outlet) is entitled. Caught between the knowledge that what the DoJ did was way beyond shady and the desire to defend a Democratic White House, Media Matters awkwardly attempts to "split the baby," as they say. Frankly, they quarter the baby. There are just ... baby parts, everywhere.

It's gross.
UPDATE: Media Matters is sort of semi-disowning this talking points memo because it was prepared by...some sort of renegade Media Matters faction, I guess?
David Brock chairs both Media Matters for America and the Media Matters Action Network, so this is a pretty neat trick.

Another one, this time by Eli Lake of the DailyBeast, not exactly a bastion of liberalism themselves, but they can, at least, put the partisanship aside when it matters (no pun intended).
Poor Misunderstood Media Matters
Why would a liberal group defend the Justice Department’s targeting of journalists? Eli Lake was outraged at first. Fortunately, Media Matters has now explained.

Now I get it. I nearly succumbed to conservative misinformation and fixated on the fact that David Brock is the chair of both groups, and both organizations have “Media Matters” in their titles. Good thing I can now clarify the distinction.

But then another thought occurred to me. Brock, you may recall, began his journalism career as a conservative who attacked Anita Hill and worked for the right-wing American Spectator. But in 1997, he famously broke ranks with conservatives and restarted his career as a liberal activist.
In short, Tyrrell did not think Brock would be welcomed back into the conservative mainstream. But Brock shouldn’t worry. Even if mainstream conservative groups won’t have him, he apparently already has his own right-wing outlet: Media Matters Action Network. Which, please bear in mind, has a separate editorial process from those liberals at Media Matters for America.

Interesting.  Partnership with popular blogs.  Is that a form of "sponsored content" which is popular on some of the new news sites? I thought sponsored content had to be labeled as such.  

Buzzfeed’s Partnership With Koch Brothers Under Fire

The Koch Brothers seem to be in the middle of a strategy shift. Previously the billionaire oil barons who made their money the old fashioned way (they inherited it) used various think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation to launder their deregulation and tax cut agenda. Now the Kochs, after advancing astroturfing groups like FreedomWorks to browbeat the press, are trying to get into the media business outright. Various properties have caught their eye for purchase including the Tribune Company  and now they are seeing partnership opportunities with popular blogs. Enter Buzzfeed and their “immigration summit” event which was sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute.

I'm curious about the role of this new unit.  This, plus the fact that the government stopped all commercial flights to Gitmo is interesting.  There are rules about how taxpayer money can be used for propaganda and it's supposed to be limited to propaganda directed at other countries.  That line has been crossed already with the Pentagon/retired military brass appearing on tv, but what exactly is the mission of this new public affairs unit?  First it sounds like they are just facilitating the media center but then they talk about "telling the story of America".

New public affairs unit headed to Guantanamo Bay

In May, soldiers from the Indiana National Guard’s 120th Public Affairs Detachment and the Kentucky National Guard’s 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment mobilized to JB MDL to validate on their ability to provide public affairs support. The units will deploy to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for what could be a historic chapter in the global war on terror.

“Twelve years ago, America was attacked and that is what got us to where we are today,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, public affairs operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the 133rd MPAD. “Now, our units will deploy to Guantanamo Bay and be witness to the commissions of the 9/11 Five, the conspirators of the Sept. 11 attacks.”

The two units, under the command of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, will facilitate a media operations center. Their mission includes media escort, staffing a base publication and supporting command information initiatives.
“We will be directly involved with media on an international stage,” she said, “in order to tell the story of America.]

[Emphasis added

Kevin Gosztola.
AP Scandal: The Chilling Effect It Will Have on Journalists Who Were Already Working in Chilly Environment

In continuing coverage and discussion of the Justice Department’s seizure of AP records and the implications this has on freedom of the press, I went on “The Marc Steiner Show” on WEAA on Friday.

Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor in the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, and Jordan Bloom, associated editor of The American Conservative, were also on the program during the segment. [Listen to the discussion here. Conversation begins at the 32:00 mark.]

First two minutes of Nixon press conference 5/8/70 from the National Archives.
President Richard Nixon's Press Conference on Increased American Troops in Cambodia

President Nixon answers questions at a press conference about increased troops in Cambodia.

Sen. Angus King Accuses Obama Admin of Rewriting Constitution by Waging Endless War

Watch more from this Senate hearing at A Pentagon official predicted May 16 that the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates could last up to 20 more years. The comment came during a Senate hearing revisiting the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, enacted by Congress days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. At the hearing, Pentagon officials claimed the AUMF gives the president power to wage endless war anywhere in the world, including in Syria, Yemen and the Congo. "This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I've been to since I've been here," said Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine. "You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today."

SEN. ANGUS KING: Gentlemen, I've only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I've been to since I've been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today. The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, clearly says that the Congress has the power to declare war. This—this authorization, the AUMF, is very limited. And you keep using the term "associated forces." You use it 13 times in your statement. That is not in the AUMF. And you said at one point, "It suits us very well." I assume it does suit you very well, because you're reading it to cover everything and anything. And then you said, at another point, "So, even if the AUMF doesn't apply, the general law of war applies, and we can take these actions." So, my question is: How do you possibly square this with the requirement of the Constitution that the Congress has the power to declare war?

This is one of the most fundamental divisions in our constitutional scheme, that the Congress has the power to declare war; the president is the commander-in-chief and prosecutes the war. But you're reading this AUMF in such a way as to apply clearly outside of what it says. Senator McCain was absolutely right: It refers to the people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks on September 11. That's a date. That's a date. It doesn't go into the future. And then it says, "or harbored such organizations"—past tense—"or persons in order to prevent any future acts by such nations, organizations or persons." It established a date.

I don't disagree that we need to fight terrorism. But we need to do it in a constitutionally sound way. Now, I'm just a little, old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don't see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution and authorize any acts by the president. You had testified to Senator Graham that you believe that you could put boots on the ground in Yemen now under this—under this document. That makes the war powers a nullity. I'm sorry to ask such a long question, but my question is: What's your response to this? Anybody?

Pentagon Papers Attorney: U.S. Prosecution of Julian Assange Would "Criminalize News Gathering"

Watch the full interview with James Goodale on Democracy Now! at Goodale is a leading legal expert on the First Amendment and has just published a new book, "Fighting for the Press: The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles." James Goodale, the was general counsel at The New York Times during the Pentagon Papers crackdown.

JAMES GOODALE: "He's quite right about talking about the threat to journalism with respect to the way Obama is going about prosecuting him. What lawyers like to say is that if in fact the prosecution goes forward, as Julian Assange has said, it criminalizes news gathering, because I talk to you and ask you to give me a secret, or anything, but in fact that anything may be classified; we're all both going to go off to the hoosegow. And, you know, Obama has classified, I think, seven million—in one year, classified seven million documents. Everything is classified. So that would give the government the ability to control all its information on the theory that it's classified. And if anybody asks for it and gets it, they're complicit, and they're going to go to jail. So that criminalizes the process, and it means that the dissemination of information, which is inevitable, out of the classified sources of that information will be stopped. It's very dangerous. That's why I'm — I get excited when I talk about it."

This helps boost his credibility rating... then again, maybe he just sees it as a challenge and enjoys it.
Jay Carney: 'For Me Personally, It Has Been A Good Week'

White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted on Friday that, despite all appearances, he's had fun these past few days.

"For me personally, it has been a good week," Carney told the New York Times.

DC Scandal-A-Rama Has A Happy Hidden Pony For America

It's an open question as to whether any of our recent Beltway scandalettes will heat up or peter out, but in the meanwhile, it's best to be reminded of a hidden upside in all of this, for America. Per Greg Sargent:

Liberals who are dreading the scandal-mania that is taking hold should note that it contains a potential upside: It could make a Grand Bargain that includes cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits even less likely than it already is. That’s because when scandal grips Washington, a president actually needs his core supporters more than ever to ward it off, making it harder to do anything that will alienate them.
CFTC Caves To Wall Street, Will Continue To Allow Cartel To Control Derivatives Market

Behold the power of finance capital. Despite shitting the bed and making us all clean it up, Wall Street will remain essentially the same as the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) caved to the banksters and will continue to allow a cartel to control the derivatives market.

Under pressure from Wall Street lobbyists, federal regulators have agreed to soften a rule intended to rein in the banking industry’s domination of a risky market.

The changes to the rule, which will be announced on Thursday, could effectively empower a few big banks to continue controlling the derivatives market, a main culprit in the financial crisis.

Laugh or cry? Your choice. And if you don’t care now you will shortly as this practically guarantees another crash.
The bankruptcy bill, championed by Joe Biden, made it nearly impossible to get out of paying student loan debt, no matter how desperate you are, among other egregious things in that bill.  These profits by the government from student loans are better off going to the government than to the criminal banks, but first, the rates should be lowered, a LOT. Second, students with high rates (relative to benchmark rates) should be able to refinance their loans and third, we should not be using predator companies owned by JP Morgan for collections. We have a president and a Congress out there frequently throwing rhetoric around that seems sympathetic to students.  So put your money where your mouth is, Mr. President and Congressfolk.  Reduce the burden on these kids and everyone else carrying loans for education on their backs.  To do so would stimulate the economy too. Right now, the student loan rate is set to go up instead.  I note that these news stories about the surplus the government is getting from student loans does not report about the profits that banks are extracting from students either in the loans that are obtained through banks.  I'd like to see more about that.  I'm also wondering if the government is anticipating a lot more defaults, given that half the graduating students can't find jobs that provide a living wage, let alone jobs that pay enough to live and pay back loans.
Obama Student Loan Policy Reaping $51 Billion Profit

The Obama administration is forecast to turn a record $51 billion profit this year from student loan borrowers, a sum greater than the earnings of the nation's most profitable companies and roughly equal to the combined net income of the four largest U.S. banks by assets.
Unlike traditional lenders, though, the Education Department's profits are barely dented by loan defaults. For loans made in 2013 that eventually default, the department estimates it will recover between 76 cents and 82 cents on the dollar. Bankruptcy rarely discharges student debt.

The Education Department's collection efforts are aided by loan default specialists, including NCO Group Inc., a company owned by JPMorgan.

Sen. Warren Introduces the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act

From the National Archives.
The Lone Ranger Peace Patrol, 1958

This film features Clayton Moore, in his Lone Ranger character, speaking about the Peace Patrol, a U.S. Savings Stamp and Bond program he helmed. After an introduction by Moore, the footage follows the Lone Ranger to Washington, D.C. where he is shown as he met the Director of the Savings Bond Division James F. Stiles and later (in photographs) with Vice President Richard Nixon and Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield. Other scenes show the Lone Ranger at the National Institute of Health, the Capitol, and at a Peace Patrol rally at the Washington Monument where he spoke to the crowd and performed gun handling tricks.

Title: The Lone Ranger Peace Patrol, 1958

ARC Identifier 5635190 / Local Identifier 53-BONDS-87
Item from Record Group 53: Records of the Bureau of the Public Debt, 1775 - 2005

Creator(s): Department of the Treasury. Bureau of the Public Debt. Office of Savings Bonds Operations. (ca. 1995 - )


Kevin Gosztola soliciting funds to help continue his excellent and tireless reporting on the Manning trial.  Remember, he was virtually the only one reporting on it at times.  I hope he is well funded for the court martial trial.  He deserves a Pulitzer for his journalism on this.  It will be interesting to see if the media does a turnaround on Manning and Assange now that they have had their epiphany and a taste of the whistleblower witch hunt.  But unlike the MSM, Kevin needs the funding from his readers to keep going.  Without Kevin and some others like Alexa O'Brien, the government would have succeeded in keeping most of the Manning situation in the dark.

To Those Who Have Supported My Coverage of Bradley Manning’s Court Martial (So Far)

Every dollar donated to help fund coverage of Bradley Manning has helped transform me into a foremost journalist on one of the biggest cases in military justice history.

Every post of mine shared on Facebook or Twitter has helped amplify critical coverage that is keeping the world informed of how the government is prosecuting Manning as if he is a traitor that aided terrorists.
I hope you will keep sharing my reporting with family, friends or those in your social network, and, when possible, make donations so I can remain a fixture in the press pool at Meade and keep up my coverage of the Manning case.

With gratitude,

Kevin Gosztola Journalist

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues

More Tunes

Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson H2O Gate Blues

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