Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat revealed

Well, now we find out who that true American hero was: W. Mark Felt, the former No. 2 man at the FBI: ["I was Deep Throat, says top FBI man "].
It is astonishing that this secret has been kept for so long. And think about it for a second: Many people knew who this guy was, and yet they didn't reveal the source ... after more than three decades. That is quite an accomplishment in this day and age. Considering the fact that a whole bunch of Nixon henchmen would have loved to wring this guy's neck, it is amazing he is still alive! After listening to Pat Buchanan seething on MSNBC's "Hardball" tonight and it is clear that even decades later, some folks still think this way [Matthew's batted "Pitchfork" Pat down when he started to go off blaming Felt for the fall of Southeast Asia, which is a bit of a stretch].
A secret source. One little secret source who revealed all. And yet, no one was able to find out until now, when the guy decided late in life to reveal himself, at the urging of his family.
Now, think about other secrets that are being held for just a second more and who may know them. Do you think that those secrets could be held even though many people might know the secret? How many people does it take to hold a secret and how many is too many to hold a secret? And how many are too many when the secret gets out? It seems like secrets are pretty hard to hold these days. Or, are they?
In some ways, it is different with a source. A journalist's source is his lifeblood. You never want to burn them or they will no longer help you get your stories. As well, when burned, that source will no longer help other journalists and therefore, other sources, seeing that Source A got burned, will hesitate to expose problems within government, business, etc., which sometimes need to be exposed.
All of this brings me to another point about secrets and modern times. There are a lot of "conspiracies" on the Web about the TWA 800 flight, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 tragedy, and other things that we may never actually know the truth about. Similar to the JFK conspiracies, some of these are completely out there. And yet others aren't so out there, like the theory that a missile hit TWA 800, especially since hundreds of people claim to have seen a missile hit the plane, or whether a jet actually flew into the Pentagon. Anyone who looks at the pictures of the Pentagon right after the incident can presume pretty easily that a jet didn't fly into that building. There's no plane wreckage. The entire front lawn would be on fire from the spilled fuel. The hole in the building is a fraction of the size of the wingspan of a jet. Later, when adding in the puzzle piece that the FBI confiscated all the videotaped security of the area and still refuse to release any of these tapes to the public - although they did release three frames from a Pentagon camera which doesn't show anything but the explosion - and it's impossible to assume that a plane hit that building. However, we consider it a fact right now.
But, with almost all of these conspiracies, there would have to be a whole slew of people who knew the secret but would not reveal it. They would have to be sworn to secrecy. Not once could they reveal the conspiracy. Not after drinking too much and blurting out the truth. It would have to be sealed - like a secure suture. But as we know, humans are flawed. They can't keep a mistress a secret never mind a global conspiracy of the size that some of these would have to be.
I have always believed that it is for this reason that no one could pull off some of the most outrageous theories ever written about in the history of mankind. Too many people would have to be involved. Too many people would know the secret to risk a leak. Then again, some of them are so outrageous that no one would ever believe the leak, right? Then, there is Deep Throat and the press, letting the public know the truth after all these years ... Not revealing Deep Throat seems to have been more of a courtesy than the norm.

Other secrets?
But even when "the truth" gets out - in the form of say, public discourse or opinion - it doesn't mean that anyone will listen.
A couple of days ago, I had an email conversation with an acquaintance of mine on a radio email list about radio talk show host Chuck Harder, who once had this network called For the People and sold American-made goods and odd, inaccessible books via mail order. This woman is a former college professor and didn't like the fact that Harder went after the Clintons and talked about various "conspiracy" topics on his show, like the issue of microchips embedded in people, the sucking sounds of jobs going overseas, that Vince Foster didn't kill himself in Ft. Marcy Park, that Timothy McVeigh didn't act alone in blowing up the Murrah Federal Building, etc., you know, typical Buchanan stuff. As well, her main point was about the overwhelming amount of conservative talk radio and on that point, we completely agree.
But, I liked some of Harder's conversations and having listened to him over the years and done some of my own research, I found a number of his theories and fears to be pretty feasible. And, as history has shown us, most of the stuff Harder talked about at the time has shockingly come true.
Go through the list: Transponders are now in everything - from unknown black boxes on GM cars, to RFIDs in clothing tags, to pets who might run away, to Lowjack and OnStar. They were even implanted into the IDs of Olympiads so authorities would know where they were at any given time. The new REAL ID legislation which sailed through the Congress is potentially the final step to a national ID system which has potentially serious privacy implications. Retinal scanners at airports? They're there too in Europe. Cameras watching your every move? In most urban areas, look up and you'll see one, although they are doing much to "fight crime." This isn't paranoia; this is awareness. There is even legislation to consider implanting biometric chips into Alzheimer's patients so you always know where they are. You can almost hear the ads .... bombarding the airwaves similar to all the ED ads ... a calm, soothing voice comes over the air, ala a "Robocop" ad:
"Is your dad wandering around aimlessly in later life and not knowing where he is? Give yourself peace of mind ... with the Elder Secure ... the implantable biochip device ... so you can sleep at night ..."
Ten or 15 years ago, all these points would have been considered "tinfoil hat talk." Yet, it has all come true. And you don't have to be a Biblical scholar to realize that this stuff smacks of "The Mark of the Beast." Where is the Stephen King novel to go with all the reality?
I remember one talk host I heard years and years ago - I think it was Tom Donahue or one of those short wave guys, not Harder, but I can't remember the guy's name - who said that car manufacturers were working on a mechanism where cops could click on a device built into a car and be able to shut the car off. I remember telling a couple of friends of mine about this program and they laughed at me like I was in the loony bin. Well, with OnStar, they can stop or start your car by remote. They can unlock your car by remote. And they have been accused of listening in on people having private conversations in their car. Law enforcement officials are also keeping an eye on how this technology progresses. Will it be long before a new version of the PATRIOT Act is unveiled giving the authorities the sweeping power to be able to stop your car for any reason beyond what they have now? They are pretty close to that, aren't they?
We all know that the jobs have gone overseas due to this myth known as "free trade" - in droves. Whole towns have completely lost their job base. Whole manufacturing sectors are doing everything overseas. At the same time, illegal aliens are flooding over the border; searching for a better life [Can you blame them? Why work in a maquiladora for $1 an hour when you can wash dishes for two to three times that? Why live in a cardboard shack with toxic waste running down your dirt street when a bunch of you can be shacked up in a one bedroom apartment enjoying cable TV and cold beer?]. Even some proponents of NAFTA are regretting their positions. We all remember former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean backing off on his position, along with some other Democrats [until they lost the election and now they are tinkering with the new CAFTA agreement, which expands "free trade" into Latin and Central America]. Here is an article about Rep. Esteban Torres of California who previously supported NAFTA and now says he was wrong: ["Esteban Torres speaks out: Regrets of a NAFTA supporter"]. Imagine that: A politician essentially admitting he was wrong without admitting he was wrong.
I won't go into the Vince Foster thing because there hasn't been any new information on that but I would advise people who may be interested in this conspiracy to check out some of the information about it. You will come to the same conclusion I did: Foster was probably dropped in the park and probably didn't take his life there. He may have done it somewhere else or he may have been killed. But no one has been able to explain away the forensic evidence and all the blond hairs and rug fibers found on Foster's person.
But what about Oklahoma City? Did anyone see this?: ["FBI has secret docs it's reluctant to give up"]. What are they hiding? When will they release all of what they have? A trial isn't just about getting revenge for an act; it is about truth and justice. And then there was Terry Nichols a few weeks back revealing that there was another guy involved in the bombing. The guy he fingered denies involvement. He must like his freedom too much to admit to being involved, which is understandable. But what else is there? Maybe McVeigh shouldn't have been lethally injected so we might be able to appeal to his inner self and get the whole story. Otherwise, we are not truly safe from "the terrorists," are we?
The point of all this? Is Chuck Harder a prophet or just a lucky guesser? I don't know but I do know this: Harder's network has been decimated and he has few affiliates broadcasting his show anymore while at the same time we have many liars and thieves - sans my boss, of course - holding onto the public's airwaves and licenses and not using them for the public good. It would seem that with his record for revealing "the truth," Harder would be on the air everywhere. And, he is not.

Millionaire rock stars protesting the world
I can be such a "heartless bass-stahd" sometimes but this rock stars protesting world governments is really starting to irk me even if I agree with their premise and their point. Bob Geldoff is at it again: ["Geldof announces Live 8 stars"]. You can almost hear the guy scheming [add Irish pub accent here]: "Hey guys, I gottan idea. Let's have a buncha concerts, see. And we'll like, protest the World Bank and stuffs, see. Mate, it will be bloody fun and maybe it will help me move sommore remastered reissues of the Boomtown Rats box set, see ..."
Sure, Geldoff doesn't really care about CD sales but I can't help but think ...
And the corrupt Elton John pictured with Geldoff - a man who blew tens of millions of dollars and basically went into bankruptcy buying fresh flowers - lecturing anyone about global finance is simply preposterous and obscene.
And, as I have written before, if Bono wants to do something to help the people of Africa, stop having lunch with Condi Rice ["Bono to Condi -- All I Want is You to aid Third World"] and start a world tour to raise money to do something about the plight of the African nations (Wonkette had a picture of Condi looking star-struck and Bono looking disinterested but I can't find it now). How many shows did U2 sell out in Boston, three? Four? How many more people in Boston would have paid to see them? Enough for three or four more shows? Well, do it already. Sap the tens of millions of dollars you can out of the American music fan and transfer the money to some organization which will actually get something done there, like implement an inexpensive HIV drug program.
Save the world, Bono! You can do it, I know you can! Protesting these nations, embarrassing their leaders, dining with Condi in some chi-chi restaurant, holding press conferences, etc., isn't going to do a damn bit of good. Put your money where your mouth is and self-finance the hope. End of lecture.

The world is going crazy, Part 3
Here is the latest in my continued amazement of the world around me. Someone, please, figure this all out because for the life of me, I cannot.
The Supremes - not the musical trio two-thirds of which were left high and dry by Diana Ross - the court: ["Justices Overturn Andersen Conviction"]. What? Can anyone say, "technicality"? I can almost hear the blathering in the financial world that this case was "all about nothing" and "that evil liberal district judge trying to keep a corporation from its God-given rights ..." blah, blah, blah ... Question: Since when is shredding documents acceptable and not about keeping regulators from "the truth"? Watch it: There is that truth stuff again. How stupid can anyone be to throw this ruling out? This isn't some homeless guy who stole a slice of pizza and is going to jail for life because a state has a three strikes and you're out legislation [Oh, that's right, that guy is still in jail!]. This is an accounting firm! These guys should be made an example of and strung up in the publik square [Old English spelling, sorry, couldn't resist]! Oh, okay, not strung up. But at least their mansions should be taken away.
Jack Rabid, the editor of one of the best music magazines on the planet, the bi-annual The Big Takeover, has a great editorial this issue about bankruptcy laws and how businesses, such as the one that has stiffed him for about $9,000 in back monies, are almost never held accountable to anyone because as an entity, they are almost escapable from any type of enforcement. A hit like that for a small magazine such as his is sometimes a death sentence. However, Jack [and his many helpers] somehow manages to keep it together and continue to put out great music literature.
FEC to go after bloggers: This is pretty creepy right here ["FEC treads into sticky web of political blogs"] but at the same time, it may not be. The key here is what a specific blog is about and whether you are a "journalist" or a political "activist." If you are a journalist, you can't accept monies from any political entity [just story tips]. If you are an activist, your site should be noted as such and if you are being paid by a campaign, you should also note that as well. There has been some discussion about this issue and it really is very clear without the FEC regulations. In the case of DailyKos, whose owner was paid as a consultant for the Dean campaign to get its Web operation up and running, it has been a bit sticky. Kos did note on numerous occasions that he was being paid a fee by the campaign to consult for them. At the same time, he posted comments on his blog about the campaign and the candidate. It was no big secret despite what the WSJ has said. Since his blog is also a very large posting board for political activists, journalists, elected officials, and junkies, it may have been a conflict in the FEC's eyes although I didn't see any during the time I participated in conversations on the site. As well, Kos has disclaimers on his ads so that people know the site has political ads.
The problem with Kos' site is that it is no longer about "political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation." It's an echo chamber of liberal and centrist Democrats sounding off about whatever and troll-rating out of existence any free-thinking folks and their thoughts. Even politicians like Rep. John Conyers are interacting with the site, with his comments being recommended almost daily, meaning his diaries stay on the front page for days.
No offense to Conyers, who seems like a decent man, but don't we get enough of the politicians?
So FEC, regulate away I guess. At least with the disclaimers, readers will know which sites are about exposing "the truth" - there is that funny truth stuff again - and which are just flogging a specific candidate or political party, if the bloggers so decide to abide by the rules and disclose such points. It should be noted that a lot of stuff flies under the radar of the FEC. So, don't expect this to really change anything.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The world is going crazy ... Part 2
If you take away almost a month of blogging from yourself, the saved links start to pile up in your "favorites" file. So, here are some that I have been collecting over the past few weeks, and a few comments to go along with them.
First, from a few hours ago, the otherwise unreadable [and unhinged] Ann Coulter posts a halfway decent piece here, noting some pretty significant bias by Newsweek, which did hold stories about charges against former President Bill Clinton, especially the very credible rape charge: ["'NEWSWEEK DISSEMBLED, MUSLIMS DISMEMBERED!'"]. But what she doesn't realize - because she is completely blinded by her own ideology - is that the reports of Quran desecration were widespread throughout the foreign press. It is safe to assume - especially since the Pentagon refuses to release any information to the contrary - that the reports are accurate.
Although I was stupidly banned from DailyKos for calling John Kerry a flip-flopper [it was a troll rate attack by a bunch in the ABB crowd after the hilarious post first debate skit on SNL], I still like to keep up with some of the diaries that are posted on the site. Here is an interesting post from a speaker at a recent commencement: ["My Bitch Slap to the Class of 2005"]. I especially like this quote, after the speaker asked how many of the Bush supporters were signing up to serve in the military to back the president's cause and found out there was only one single student serving:

"Thank you, sir. The rest of you then lack the conviction that is needed for America to succeed. If you are not willing to back the leader of this country in his ambitions to defeat terrorism and promote democracy with your bodies, then how can we expect you to defend it from anything else. So I am going to stop wasting my breath about talking about the Chinese and Indian students who believe [in] what they preach. Because they have already won. Until American youth and their parents are willing to actually practice what they preach [vis a vie] their bumper stickers, then talking about real threats is pointless. I guess we will continue to graduate hypocrites. That appears to be the new America Way."
Such a brilliant piece and so well put.
Recently, I interviewed a woman involved with a group encouraging civic engagement in young people. They seem to be doing good work. The woman noted that while there was a lot of public service being done by the students there wasn't a lot of voting or interaction between young people and elected officials. Of course, while she was encouraged by the public service young people were performing, she and others ignore the biggest problem: Most of this public service is forced in school, as a part of graduation, meaning that it isn't about "serving" as much as it as about a student doing what he has to do in order to get the high school diploma. This is something that has always annoyed me ever since I started following these public service credits more than five years ago. What it all means is that while some of these kids might learn a little about helping out others, it is really only a task to be accomplished and not really about learning how another person lives ... how another person suffers ... how another person is harmed by the holes in society ... Is it really just enough to go feed the hungry for a day and get credit for it or is it more important to actually know what it is like to be hungry and figure out ways of fixing the problem? This is why the diarist from Kos is so relevant - the kids of today aren't solving problems, they are just learning about them. And when the assuming affluent kids and their parents are asked to serve a higher cause other than their own, they balk. Send someone else's kid off to die for my cause, is essentially what they are saying by their actions.
Moving on. I really dig Coldplay. They are one of the better new bands although I think many of the other music snobs of the world don't like them because so many dorks do like them. Anyhow, the new album will be out in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to hear it. One of the other cool things about Coldplay - beyond being a great band - is that they love Echo & the Bunnymen. Singer Chris Martin is also a fair trader and as we can see from this rant: ["Coldplay attack 'evil' of profits"] is still a pretty funny guy. I especially like these lines: "I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world ..." and criticizing "the slavery that we are all under to shareholders." So Chris, the new Coldplay CD is like, free, right?
Speaking of the Bunnymen, they came to the states to play a handful of shows - none of them in my neck of the woods, so I missed them - but here is a post from a guy in Philly who had a post-Bunnymen party, was arrested for promoting it, but the band actually showed up!: ["Busted And Blitzed With The Bunnymen: A Short Story By Joey Sweeney"]. Isn't Mac looking a lot like Mick Jagger these days? Damn, we are all getting so old.
There is a new film, "The Power of Nightmares," making its way around the film fests. This one looks as interesting as "F9/11": ["UK film at Cannes says terror fears exaggerated"] and this: ["The Power of Nightmares: Baby It's Cold Outside"]. And then there is this: ["U.S. House Votes to Replace Color-Coded Terror Threat Warnings"]. What? No more FoxNews alerts?! What, pray tell, will we all do?!?
Dartmouth gets a blog: ["The Little Green Blog"].
So does Greek goddess Arianna Huffington: ["The Huffington Post"].
Comic Ted Rall can sometimes be very hurtful. His comments are like salt in the wound of an infection that just won't heal, like his comment making fun of the death of the football player who went to Afghanistan and was killed by friendly fire, Pat Tillman. But at the same time, his comments can sometimes be dead on. Here, in this column, he makes some really great points: ["Black and White and full of crap"].
It's been a week ... some of us are still waiting for answers: ["Bush asked to explain UK war memo"]. Oh, that's right, we're distracted. I'm still concerned about Newsweek ...
With "Star Wars" about to open at movie screens across America in about 45 minutes, this link seems rather appropriate: ["How Lightsabers Work"].
John Edwards is right: "Don't listen to Mary Beth Cahill ..." ["Edwards Looks Back - And Ahead to 2008"]. Rumors have it that he'll be in New Hampshire sometime next month and some insiders are already thinking seriously about an Edwards campaign. Other names being circ'ed? Sen. Evan Bayh and Gov. Mark Warner. The name that is bringing the most indigestion to insiders? Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And John Kerry is D.O.A. Thank heavens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The world is going crazy ... Part 1
My posts have become much too infrequent. But that is what happens when you are busy doing a job you love.
However, while we are all performing our jobs, raising our families, trying to grasp what is going on, it is clear that the entire world is going mad ... insane ... crazy. When is up down and down up? When is truth a lie and a lie, the truth? Right now baby.
While I love my job in radio, sometimes I miss print. Radio is hot ... fast ... quick ... and what you say is sometimes forgotten in a split second ... slipping in one ear and out the other. Which, frankly, is good in a hot medium. Sure, some of your words may have a lasting effect and inform. But radio only works with repetition. Hence, the need to play a song five times a day until you can't leave without hearing the song and you go out and buy the record only to realize that you have bought the record and are now sick of the song!
With print, however, words can often have a very lasting effect on whatever you write about. First, the writer often has a physical copy of what he has written. In radio, you can back up your work on CDRs or tape, but you can't physically look at the words on a page. Sure, you can listen to them, but it isn't quite the same as reading. If the words are biting, heated, or hurtful, they can perform devastating harm on those you are targeting with the writing. But the printed word can also illuminate ideas and reveal the truth to the reader [or listener].
Such is the case of Newsweek magazine "scandal" and retraction this week which in an oft-handed remark seems to have set off a firestorm in the Islamic world. For the last two days, the story has been all over the media - an unnamed government official reportedly gave reporter Michael Isikoff inaccurate information about the Quran being desecrated at Gitmo [It should be noted that Isikoff is one of those "cocktail crowd-types" I am always complaining about]. Interesting that it is a government official [like maybe a plant to make Isikoff look bad] that would leak this. Of course, this makes the case why no one in the media should use unnamed sources, if at all possible.
However, deep in this ABC News piece, you see a little reality: ["White House: Newsweek Story Did Great Harm"]:
"The Newsweek account was not the first allegation about U.S. personnel desecrating the Quran at Guantanamo Bay. British and Kuwaiti detainees alleged last year that they saw U.S. personnel flushing a Quran down the toilet. The Pentagon has been unwilling to say if those allegations were investigated."
In fact, according to bloggers, the NYT, the LA Times, the UK Guardian, the Daily Mirror, and other foreign papers, have all reported the stories in Newsweek. So, what is the problem here? It is either correct or it isn't. Since the Pentagon "has been unwilling to say if those allegations were investigated" or pronounce them true, the press has to take the word of the witness and testimonial, and report what might happen to be the facts that time.
Howard Kurtz, the media critic of The Washington Post, a subsidiary of Newsweek's parent company, has a great piece here: ["Debate Over Newsweek Retraction of Report Widens"]. Here is a very telling point:
"The Newsweek report triggered protests that turned violent in Afghanistan and other countries, causing at least 16 deaths, although the degree to which the article was responsible remains unclear. Pentagon officials have blamed Newsweek, which is owned by The Washington Post Co., for sparking the violence, but Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that his senior commander in Afghanistan had told him the riots were 'not at all tied to the article.'"
This paragraph should have been written like this: " ...the Newsweek article reportedly triggered protests ..." especially when Kurtz writes that Myers said the riots were not tied to the article. It isn't fact. Kurtz doesn't know.
But, since down is up and up is down, we actually know why these riots are being tied to this article - and not the others in many other newspapers around the world over the last two years. Because the president's PR flack, Scott McClellan, planted the story in the media with exclusive - unheard of - one on one briefings to stir up the pot on Newsweek. This couldn't have anything to do with say, The Downing Street documents which are being curiously censored by the media even though they indicate that the Bush Administration may have lied to make its case for invading Iraq look better, could it? It couldn't be the fact that while Isikoff used a single unnamed source in his article that the Bush Administration used a single unnamed source to make the case that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons lab? It couldn't be the fact that the Bush Administration used that crook Chalabi as a source for a whole bunch of other bogus lies and that somehow, someway, someday, when up is up and down is down again, we might wake up from this nightmare and realize that it was all a dream, hmm?