Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: First, an announcement:

NSA Surveillance Hearings Continue
- on Feb. 6, from 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM EST, we will be airing the hearings from John Conyers regarding the surveillance of US citizens by the NSA. Free live streaming links will be available all day.

Pacifica Radio will be airing the hearings. You can listen over the airwaves or via the internet.

I'm dictating this post to Shirley due to problems with Blogger. Brief history because the e-mails to me this week were wondering what was going on. As noted here last Saturday, I was holding my Morning Edition Report for Sunday due to the fact that Isaiah wasn't sure he had another editorial cartoon in him. The World Today Just Nuts usually goes up on Sundays. Right before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Samuel Alito Jr., Gina and Krista went into "special edition mode" and began publishing daily with their round-robin. Isaiah was contributing a daily cartoon. The hearings concluded. We were all disappointed. Then the community rallied after the weekend and Gina and Krista returned to daily mode for the gina & krista round-robin with Isaiah again doing daily editorial cartoons.

He was wiped out which is no surprise considering both the number of cartoons he had done and the quality of them. So I was happy to help out by postponing the report. Sunday, no one could get into the members e-mail account so the report did not go up. Sunday evening, Jess and Ty phoned. C.I. had a business function to attend and they were helping out by doing the Sunday evening posts. They noted that it would probably be a long evening for C.I. and Monday morning would probably be . . . At which point, I stopped them with, "Say no more. Delete it. I'll do it later in the week."

Why delete it? If it was there, C.I. would struggle to find time to post my report. I also was not thrilled with my report. Then Monday evening, C.I. did the post summarizing what had happened with Judge Alito and adding perspective. C.I. also noted that three things needed to completed and asked if it was okay if those were the focus for the evening posts. I read that and thought, "I'll wait until Saturday." As someone who followed the Chuch Commission in real times, as well as the Watergate hearings, I knew C.I. was biting off a sizeable portion.

C.I. got the Bush Commission entry completed, wisely deciding to make it a multi-part entry, which reminded me of those multi-part mini-series that the networks used to broadcast. C.I. also completed the Church Commission entry which I feel was beautifully done. To members who feared I was being censored, C.I. has never censored my opinions. C.I. has asked me if I would remove a sentence or two from time to time. Those were not sentences where I offered an opinion on programming I had heard or on someone who had enraged me.

The only thing I am ever asked to "rethink" are favorable comments I make regarding C.I. I can praise the community or any member with the exception of C.I. Noting that the Church Commission entry "was beautifully done" is the sort of comment that C.I. would ask me to rethink.

I feel as though I should now say, "Last time . . . on Dynasty . . ." Instead, I will note author, activist, poet Maxine Hong Kingston.

Idea: four word poem.
An old Chinese tradition.
Easier, faster, thank haiku
To carve on rocks.
To write on doorjambs.
To write on thresholds.
To tattoo on arms.
Anybody can write one.
Form takes no time.
Father sky mother earth.
Raid kills bugs dead.

The last line, Ms. Hong Kingston explained, "was written by our own Lou Welch and to make a living as a poet, he had to write, he had to write this advertising. And, you know, perfect form. Memorable . . . You cannot forget it. Generation after generation, it passes on."

That was from a reading Ms. Hong Kingston did as part of a monthly lunch program at UC Berkeley where a vareity of American poets would come and deliver a reading. Ms. Hong Kingston may be most famous for her books The Woman Warrior and China Men; however, in this community, we know her best for The Fifth Book of Peace. The reading is available on CD with the new book The Face of Poetry which is an anthology edited by Zach Rogow with photographs by Margaretta K. Mitchell.

Ms. Hong Kingston, Mr. Rogow and Ms. Mitchell were guests on the Friday, January 27th broadcast of KPFA's The Morning Show along with Ishmael Reed who has edited the poetry anthology From Totems to Hip-Hop. The interview was conducted by Andrea Lewis and, of all the programs I listened to the week ending January 28th, this was the segment I most enjoyed. Mr. Reed spoke of journalist John Reed's poetry which was news to me and I had thought I knew a little of John Reed and Louise Bryant.

The guests spoke of the poetry canon. Ishamel Reed shared an experience where he read a poem by one of his students and one by a canonized poet to a group of what I will call poetry experts. He then asked the group to figure out which poem was by a student and which was by a noted poet. They chose wrong. It was a wonderful segment, packed with humor, analysis and information. Listeners of The Morning Show know that Ms. Lewis does a wonderful job interviewing guests but this segment was especially impressive.

But when I wrote my original report last weekend, I had skipped this segment. We were rightly focused on whether or not Judge Alito would be confirmed and I had many programs where that issue was discussed including a January 22nd broadcast of KPFT's The Monitor which featured Robert Parry addressing this issue and David Swanson discussing impeachment and the Bush Commission.

[Note: Scroll down here for the archived broadcast via KPFT or visit The Monitor's website for their archives.]

As soon as I had completed the original report, I began to regret not noting the poetry segment. It was my grandson Jayson who pointed out that the only rules for the report were the ones that I made. Jayson also pointed out that C.I. has repeatedly stated and written that the report is my op-ed space and I can write about whatever I wish to write to write about. Then Jayson reminded me of something Rebecca had written:

and when we were working on '"How do you think a story can change a life?" (Laura Flanders to Robert Redford)' there were a lot of discussions about the way messages can get out and c.i. said the 'on the nose' approach is used too often. which led to c.i., jess and kat discussing how the abstract songs of the 60s led some people to think a bit more deeply and how, if you turned on the radio today - corporate radio, not only did you just hear songs about getting laid and wanting to get laid, you heard them in the most basic form, without subtext, without depth. and that's not doing justice to their discussion, which was a joy to listen to but far out of my depths.
[. . .]
the 60s had street theater. we could use some more of that today. we could use some more art and some more thought that breaks out of the box. and that's where
elaine came in on the third estate sunday review discussion. she and c.i. were talking about how we need new ways of seeing things. as u2 once sang, in better days, 'we need new dreams tonight.' or as carly simon aptly put it, 'let all the dreamers wake the nation.'

Thinking of that, I was reminded of Jayson's father who has always been the "mechanical one" in the family. When we got our first microwave, this was in the early seventies, it was a huge, bulky thing far from today's smaller models. It was about the size of a 28 inch television set. As is often the case, the purchase was one of goading or "keeping up" since my brother-in-law could not stop talking about how wonderful their own microwave was and how quickly they could have a snack or a dish. Of course, my husband presented it as, "Wouldn't you like it, Ruth? You're so busy all the time, this could really help you out?"

Actually the biggest help I had received in those days was when I finally convinced/trained him to the reality that yes, doctors do diaper. With our first child, it was always hand him off to me so that was important lesson to teach my husband. But sure, anything that might save some time would be of help in our increasingly large family.

So my husband sets it up and we all are excited about this new gadget although I am thinking, "What just happened to my counter space?" But what can we cook in it? How can we try it out? My husband is looking through the booklet and suggests potatoes which I am sure was probably the first thing listed in the book since he was as impatient to try it out as were the kids.
I poke some holes in the potato, set it on napkin inside the microwave and close the door. The light is in and we are pressed around the microwave looking in, waiting for this new miracle of 'instant cooking.' However, nothing happens.

As we bicker about who did what wrong, what instruction was missed, Jayson's father, then in second grade, says that we have to hit the "start" button. We had pressed the "on" button, thank you, so it should be cooking. Finally, tired of waiting, Jayson pushed in front of all of us and hit the "start" button. We heard a hum, the dial began to move ticking off the time as the potato cooked.

How did he know to do that? He had some electronic toy that I do not remember now what it was and he has forgotten this entire episode. He took knowledge that he had and applied it to this new gadget while my husband and I were treating it like a conventional oven.

So the point is, and yes, I do have a point, that our answers do not always come from obvious places. I am not saying that Maxine Hong Kingston's poem or poetry will provide us with the answer for the next battle in Congress but you never know.

Monday, January 30th, Law and Disorder found a new way of addressing the Bush Commission. They had discussed this citizens' tribunal before and the importance of holding the Bully Boy accountable. On Monday, they broadcast Michael Ratner's speech on the opening night of the second period of testimony gathering:

We today model our conduct on that of Dr. Martin Luther King. As he said then, we say today, "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us, in relationship to the war in Iraq. It is time for us to bring the troops home now.
A people's trial, a people's commission, is not without important precedents. Almost 40 years ago, in 1968, there was another people's trial. It was held in Sweden and Denmark. Originally it was to be held in France. But the French wouldn't allow it; they prohibited it, because it was about Vietnam, and of course the French had been very deeply involved in the subjugation of Vietnam. The witnesses at that people's trial were well-known progressives, including Jean-Paul Sartre. They gathered in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and they were there to judge another human outrage in our history, the brutal and inhuman Vietnam War. Bertrand Russell, the famous English philosopher, was one of the key participants in that trial. In fact, it was called the Russell War Crimes Tribunal.
Russell opened that trial, and here is what he said: "We meet at an alarming time. Overwhelming evidence besieges us daily of crimes without precedent. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance." And so, as Russell said then, we say today: we are putting the Bush administration on trial. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance. We want this trial to be a step in the building of mass resistance to war, to torture, to the destruction of earth and its people. It's a serious moment. Our country and our world are at a tipping point: Tipping toward permanent war, the end of human rights, and the impoverishment and death of millions. We still have a chance, an opportunity to stop this slide into chaos. But it is up to us. We must not sit with our arms folded, and we must be as radical as the reality we are facing.

As members know, Law and Disorder is one of my favorite radio programs. Michael Ratner, Dalia Hashad, Michael Smith, Heidi Boghosian have wonderful discussions which remind me of college days where, after class, we would all meet together for a pizza and to address the state of the world. The discussion and the topics always flow. But broadcasting Mr. Ratner's twenty minute speech added another level to the understanding of the Bush Commission.

Also on Monday's program was Georgetown law professor and Constitutional expert David Cole who addressed many topics including the brave law students at Georgetown who refused to allow their school to be used as a backdrop/endorsement of the warrantless NSA spying on Americans. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have thought he would be participating in just another photo op pushing the administration's spin but he was mistaken.

Of the students' actions, Professor Cole said, "I thought it was the most civil of the civil protests I'd ever seen. . . . They stood up silently, turned around and refused to face Gonzales. . . . They did not disrupt the speech . . . but they succeeded in showing their deep opposition to the administration's policies" and succeeded in creating a photo-op for liberty.

The students, by the way, were BuzzFlash's pick for the Wings of Justice Award this week.

Professor Cole was also a guest on CounterSpin Friday where, with Steve Rendell, he discussed the NSA spying. Professor Cole stated that, "In order to assess the legality [of the spying], you . . . need to assess what the government has said about the legal justification for it. And the arguments they had made that it's justified are really quite astounding." He then addressed the myths which you can find out more about by reading his article "NSA Spying Myths."

Steve Rendall wondered about the way this was playing out in the press and whether there was "a consensus view on this by Constitutional experts?" Professor Cole believes there is and noted a letter he signed that "was authored by fourteen of the most prominent Constitutional Law scholars" in the country, liberals and conservatives. However, as Mr. Rendall pointed out, the media is more focused on the daily spin and less on the legality of the program. Professore Cole believes that "if the constitutional issues were the focus," the talking points would be rendered useless because "most Americans would feel very uncomfortable" with a government that did away with checks and balances.

Janine Jackson interviewed journalist Anthony Fenton on the topic of Haiti and the New York Times recent coverage of it. His concern was that readers of a recent, lengthy article "would walk away and go that International Republican Institute really tried to screw over Haiti" when, in fact, the problems of US involvement run much deeper than the article portrayed.

As always I enjoyed the critiques that the show always opens with. One had Steve Rendall stating, "There was one story the night of the State of Union address that said more about the State of the Union than anything in Bush's speech"

Did you guess the disgraceful treatment of the police in arresting Cindy Sheehan? That's the story. Mr. Rendall concluded by noting, "Sheehan was arrested either for expressing her political opinion in a nondisruptive way or for failing to stop doing so."

I made a point to take notes on Janine Jackson's critique which is informed and humorous. But, confession, I prefer just to listen and enjoy instead of taking notes at a furious pace.

Janine Jackson: MSNBC's commentary after Sheehan's arrest provides a case in point. Chris Matthews was concerned all right, but not about the frightening chill on freedom of expression. Matthews was worried that Sheehan's arrest was "going to upstage the Democrats' response. That someone from the left is now being sort of the icon now of opposition to the president." Pete Williams the NBC correspondent who served as the Pentagon's official spokesperson in the first Gulf War concurred, "I think the Democrats tomorrow morning will end up all kind of agreeing, perhaps silently, that this was uh, not a badly needed side show tonight." Matthews continued the theme in a question to NBC's Tim Russert: "Is this going to be the problem for the Democrats who critize the war in a more perhaps sophisticated manner, to try to make a sublte point that's patrotic when there's someone out there who lost a son in the Afghanistan war and feels very passionately to the point of wearing a t-shirt into the house of represent?" Aside from the fact that Casey Sheehan died in Iraq, not Afghanistan, and aside from the weirdness of implying that wearing a t-shirt in Congress is some kind of extreme act, there's just something strange about a journalist contending that pointing out more than 2000 service members . . . [had died] is somehow not patriotic or for that matter that subtlety is the most appropriate response.

Monday on WBAI's OUT FM, the topic of the cancellation of NBC's program The Book of Daniel was addressed. The American Family Association radio network, which includes 190 radio stations, led the campaign. After Ava and C.I. reviewed the program, I made a point to tune in. Having watched it, I will say that AFA's gain is the network's loss. Peter Jonas interviewed author James Howe about his most recent book Totally Joe. Joe is teenager attempting to figure out the world around and what being gay means in terms of that world. This led to a discussion of the changes Howe saw in his own life.

Howe: "In writing Joe, I wanted a very different experience. . . . I lived with this knowledge about myself throughout my entire life. When I say knowledge, knowledge has many layers to it, . . . I knew I was different. . . . It took a long time for me to come to a healthy way of being myself . . In my 40s, I had a child and I couldn't figure a way to make it all work. So, shortly before my 50th birthday, I was in a car accident and suffered a concusion . . . This combined with approaching my 50th birthday finally forced me to deal . . . And it did take courage."

Two programming notes that Cindy recommends, and I do as well, both from KPFA.
On Sunday, if you miss the broadcast and are interested in listening, you can listen via the archives:

1) Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky (9:00 am Pacific time, noon Eastern time):
Bush calls it his "Terrorist Surveillance Program" Critics call it warrantless domestic spying. Call it what you will, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings on the Bush-authorized surveillance activities of people in the United States by the National Security Agency. Joining us: New York Times Reporter and author (State of War, The Free Press) James Risen, and Scott Armstrong, investigative journalist and Executive Director of the Information Trust.
In our second hour...
Women of the Civil Rights Movement. In honor of black history month, Oakland Tribune journalist Brenda Payton and others will join us for a conversation about women during the civil rights movement and what's happening today. And we'll hear a speech by the late Coretta Scott King.

2) Radio Chronicles
6:30 p.m. Radio Chronicles "Last month Michigan Democratic Congressman, John Conyers held an unofficial hearing to investigate President Bush's controversial warrantless surveillance program by the National Security Agency or NSA on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Such a breach of executive powers has led to a growing call for the impeachment of President Bush. The current exposure of domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens connects back to events in the early 1971 when the FBI's so-called counter-intelligence program or COINTELPRO came to light. Join the Radio Chronicles this coming Sunday, February 5th at 6:30pm when we go back in time in the ground-breaking documentary "Me and My Shadow: Infiltration Of The Left By The U.S. Government," which was produced for Pacifica Radio in 1976 just as the outline of the government's secret war against the Left was beginning to emerge.

Regarding Law and Disorder, I'll note that Dalia Hashad is currently in Egypt and will rejoin the gang later in the month. Regarding this report, unless members have any objections, next week I will be changing the title to "Ruth's Public Radio Report." When the reports started, I was monitoring Morning Edition. Now that the focus is on highlighting Pacifica Radio programs, I think the title needs a change.

Let's close with Maxine Hong Kingston, "The oldest prayer is a four word poem: 'May all beings be happy.' Well you can say that in four words in Chinese."

[Note that the links for CounterSpin, Law and Disorder and OUTFM take you to the sites of those shows where you can listen to the programs. However, you can also listen to all three care of the WBAI Archives since all three programs air on WBAI.]