Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: The place to start each week is with FAIR's Counterspin. This week's show focused on a number of topics that this community would find interesting. The Patriot Act was discussed in terms of the court case that everyone's under a gag order on. Melissa Goodman, the national securities fellow at the ACLU, sketched in the details the court will allow. An organization with library records has been asked to turn over records under the Patriot Act, specifically under a National Security Letter. Whether they have turned over the records or not, is not clear. But, as Ms. Goodman points out, the Patriot Act has been used and we are not allowed to discuss it while we are also supposed to be having a serious discussion about renewing it. Ms. Goodman spoke of how difficult it was for even members of Congress to overcome the stonewall that greets all inquiries to the Justice Department about the Patriot Act.

They also dealt with the lack of TV attention, nationally, to the protests against the war last weekend. Aaron Brown told his CNN audience that, "The national conversation today is the hurricane that put millions and millions of people at risk. And it's just kind of an accident of bad timing. And I know that won't satisfy anyone but that's the truth of it."

Peter Hart commented, "No, it's not especially satisfying to hear that a 24 hour cable new channel is somehow incapable of covering more than a single news story at a time. Or to hear the national conversation described as something that CNN just listens in on rather than helping direct and shape with their coverage choices."

Last week, NPR's Morning Edition felt the need to give "equal time" (actually more than that) to the pro-war protesters. Counterspin informs you that others took part in that as well including The Today Show which gave a full sentence each to the 300,000 in D.C. protesting the war and to the less than 500 marching for the war. USA Today also gave them "balance." Peter Hart noted a Washington Post headline:

"Smaller but spirited crowd protests anti-war march; more then 200 say they represent the majority."

Mr. Hart responded, "Perhaps the crowd felt that way because they've grown accustomed to a media system that so frequently echoes thier views while keeping antiwar voices which represents the actual majority opinion off the radar."

Janine Jackson also addressed John McCain and Mark Shields. I tried to take notes on her commentary on Mr. Shields while listening, on
WBAI Friday, but I was laughing too hard when she noted that "he was old enough to remember a time when special interests referred to monied interests." After that she began addressing how he represents the "left" on TV even though he's not progressive or left.

Korea was a major topic discussed. As most of you know, C.I. does not note the New York Times' coverage of North Korea. (Due to the belief that the paper takes State Department policies and opinions which it then passes on as news.) John Feffer addressed the domestic coverage at length.

Unless there are objections from members, I will probably attempt to highlight CounterSpin each week so members can get a feel for the show and hopefully some of you will consider listening if you are not already. CounterSpin is a weekly radio program and you can click here to find out if it airs in your area or you can listen online. (I catch it online on Fridays via Pacifica's WBAI.)

What I wanted to listen to this week during the day was Your Call on Thursday and Friday when Laura Flaners hosts this public radio program. My grandson Elijah is teething and it is the time after lunch when it appears to really bother him which coincides with the broadcast of Your Call. So I missed Thursday.

I was able to listen to Your Call Friday but not able to take notes. One topic was Tom DeLay and Jake Bernstein, of the Texas Observer, and Lori Robertson, with the American Journalism Review, discussed the nature of Mr. DeLay's latest scandal. Ms. Robertson felt that the story would be one that suited print better than television due to the details involved. I will add that the lack of visuals will probably weaken its TV coverage though, if they get footage of Mr. DeLay handcuffed and frog-marched off, that could change. Ms. Robertson said that she felt that the Washington Post had been the leader on this story and that it was the kind of story they do best. She said that newspapers' Sunday editions this weekend would give a good indication of how well the print media will handle this story.

It is a complex story and Ms. Flanders summed it up in understandable terms that I will now probably ruin but Texas has prohibitions against using corporate monies in elections. In order to circumvent that, the money from Mr. DeLay's pac was sent to the Republican Committee nationally with a document of some sort explaining that the money needed to be funnelled back to campaigns in Texas and cited which ones.

A reporter from Aljazeera was also supposed to be on and may have been. Elijah was very loud and needing additional attention, anyone who has cared for a teething baby will understand that, so if the reporter was on, I must have missed him or her. I did hear part of the discussion of the woman who will be replacing Kenneth Tomlinson at the CPB which oversees NPR and PBS. The feeling there was that the woman was smarter and smoother than Tomlinson which will lead to her being a greater threat to public broadcasting. The woman once worked for Newt Gingrich and she also made a comment, about her new position, that the best part was she would not have to go overseas. Which I took, and the guests may have as well, to mean that her huge contributions to Republicans over the years bought her a post but, unlike an ambassadorship, it did not require for her to relocate to a foreign country.

If you're in the San Francisco area, you can listen to Your Call Mondays through Friday via
KALW 91.7 FM. Otherwise you can listen online, as I do. It airs from ten to eleven Pacific Time and from one to two Eastern Standard Time. Ms. Flanders hosts the programs on Thursdays and Fridays. I have not been able to listen Mondays through Wednesdays when Mary Ambrose hosts but Zach has e-mailed to say that she also does a fine job of hosting.

Sonny & Cher got it wrong. It's a grandma's, not a cowboy's, work that's never done. Which is why I attempted to listen to various night time programs this week with various grandchildren.

Monday night, I finally was able to catch Houston's
KPFT's Queer Voices which is a program four members have e-mailed suggesting I listen to. I have attempted to and each Monday, my seventeen-year-old grandson Jayson, who is gay, has come over to listen with me. This Monday we were finally able to pick up the stream. J.D. Doyle, Deborah Bell and Jack Devlin hosted the show.

An actor currently performing in the play Bent was interviewed. I was honestly surprised that Jayson did not know of the play of Bent. This deals with gays kept in Nazi concentration camps. In the seventies it was a big deal to some that Richard Gere was perfomring in the play. Since it combines history, Jewish themes and gay themes, we'll be watching a film of the play on videotape Saturday night.

I have a huge number of grandchildren, who refer to themselves as the "crew," I have no idea why they chose that terminology, and you know of Tracey already who, like Rebecca, reminds me of my friend Treva because she is so together and on the ball. I love them all very much but my policy is that they get named if they want to be named. When I had mentioned during Sunday lunches that some members had requested I listen to Queer Voices, Jayson told me that we would listen together and that way he could be included in the Morning Edition Report.

I asked Jayson what I should share and he stressed to say that he was good looking. He is good looking with dark, curly hair and the only grandchild that got their grandfather's curly hair. He came out on the sixth month anniversary of his grandfather's death, over a Sunday lunch, and we were surprised but, honestly, it was probably one more thing that helped me get back to living my life. I am very proud of him and he knows that gay does not mean different, Grandma is still going to be attempting to fix him up. I have not had much success yet but I think that is partly due to the fact that many of the gay high schoolers I know of are not comfortable being out. He can scoff all he wants, but my oldest grandchild is happily married for five years now and I was the yenta that got him together with his future wife.

Queer Voices is a locally produced program and some of the announcements of local events in Houston had Jayson joking that we needed to take a road trip to Houston. Maybe after hurricane season. It broadcasts once a week, Monday nights on Pacifica's

We learned that gays and lesbians are being entrapped and tortured in Iran as well as that Silo & Roy had broken up. Who are Silo & Roy? Two male penguins who were an "item" for over five years. We also learned of labor efforts in the gay community. And learned that Minister Louis Farrakhan once was a calypso singer when they played a song he recorded in 1954 about a transgendered person. The two hours provided a wide mix of news and voices with the second hour opening with an acapella, female version of the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl" and was devoted to look at gay themed music. This is the sort of programming that NPR should be producing but does not. It will not distribute a gay themed program despite the fact that doing so fits in with their mission statement of serving the communities and voices that are not are widely heard in the commercial broadcast medium.

I do not think anyone in this community would argue, "Ruth, you feel that way because you have a grandson who is gay." But some visitor might. Before an e-mail comes in from one of them, I will explain that I am not Native American or Chicana but I enjoy those programs on Pacifica. Public broadcasting should provide us with a wide range of voices to educate and inform us. I enjoy learning, even at my age, and my favorite programs are ones that inform and educate me. As a young feminist, I assumed that my friends who were lesbian would have the same acceptance that my straight friends were greeted with in a few years. It has been more than a few years as my gray hairs and wrinkles can attest and, while things have improved somewhat, we have still not reached "easier." The cowardice of NPR on the issue of gays and lesbians is unforgiveable considering their mission statement. That may be the grandmother in me speaking but that is how I feel.

There is a great deal of ignorance in our nation and that goes to a lack of information. Providing the occasional profile on an actor, actress, etc. who is gay does not address a very significant part of our population.

To member Marco, I listened to the program you recommended, finally, this week and it was funny. Chicano News Network, jokes about the Bully Boy and Osama, I could not stop laughing. But I did not write down the title or station. If you will e-mail again, I will note it next week because it was a very funny program and original comedy programming done by one of the Pacifica affliates.

Tracey and another granddaughter came over Wednesday night to listen to listen to KPFK's Feminist Journal but we were unable to get any of the streams to work. (KPFK provides several streaming options.) We will try again next week because it is a program we enjoy very much.

Berkeley's KPFA remains the source of my favorite evening news program, KPFA Evening News. So if you're looking for an evening news program, or a nightly one in my case, I'd suggest that you sample it. Like many Pacifica radio stations programs, they are archiving the broadcasts of KPFA Evening News so if six p.m. PT, eight p.m. CT, or nine p.m. EST is not ideal for you, you might want to consider listening at another time via the archives.

Last weekend, as most of you know, my granddaughter Tracey and I were in D.C. with many good people, including community members, standing up for peace. I received a number of e-mails on that and have replied to all of them but Brady's question was how did I think it compared to the "sixties"? I actually attended more rallies in the early seventies than I did in the sixties. Humor was evident then and now. The passion seemed just as strong. I, and this is just my opinion, honestly felt there was a lot more heart in this protest and that the diversity was more present on all levels.

That is a subjective opinion but, as I remember it, there was a great deal of arguing over whether women should have an active role in the demonstrations and whether gays and lesbians would help or hurt this rally or that march. Inclusion desires back then centered solely on males of other races and ethnicities to hear many of the leaders, male, speak. Not all, but many of them.

Feminism emerged from the student movement, in many ways, as my peers looked around and wondered why we were always the ones typing or getting coffee or doing phone work while the speaking and more "glamorous" work was done by the men? Stonewall was, I believe, in 1968 and it and feminism were too new for some of the more traditional type males to grasp. There was a great deal of talk of how women and gay people were destroying the movement with our "niche" issues as though the various topics that males went after that were not related to the Vietnam conflict were not "niche." A "niche" issue, my opinion, is any issue that someone in charge does not want to address.

So that was probably what stood out the most for me, this sea of change that a lot of us hoped we would see but that I, frankly, do not think we ever saw then in the general peace movement. Last weekend in D.C., there was a wide range of voices and there seemed to be far less attempts to gate control. That might result from the fact that one of the of the leaders in today's peace movement is CODEPINK which is a group made up of women. It might also have to do with the fact that groups such as NOW were establashing themselves during the peace movement of the sixties and seventies but are now firmly organized and very powerful.

Someone else might see it differently. In fact, I can think of one sixties "leader" who has always gotten on my nerves -- or, as Tracey would say "my last nerve" -- coming forward today to bemoan this diversity but then he was one of the people screaming "niche" in the sixties and early seventies. (I did not see him in D.C. and I doubt he participated.)

On the other hand, I saw it as a testament to the power of women and others to organize and persevere. Some may remember it differently but, as I remember it, we were discouraged from leadership roles quite often. The change today is amazing and I do not think it has been noted by the mainstream press which, true, has not noted much about the current peace movement.

I was very grateful to see that change.