Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Poem about cover of Pink Floyd's ATOM HEART MOTHER.


[Also inspired by cover of Pink Floyd's ATOM HEART MOTHER:
(Cow on phone with agent)
What is this with these
allegedly "progressive" record labels?
You told me EMI would pay me two bales of hay,
but only ONE arrived!
Okay, I'll pose for the photo
but they're only getting a side view
with my head turned to camera.
One shot only, then I'm through.
Hey, while you're at it,
ask Pink Floyd
why they haven't made a good album
since they fired Syd Barrett?
(Cow drops phone to ground in disgust,
sighs loudly and prepares for low-wage immortality)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney's contradictory statements on Bradley Manning sentence.

Here's Alex Gibney's (who recently directed a documentary on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks titled WE STEAL SECRETS) interview with veteran Hollywood columnist Anne Thompson (contradictory statements highlighted by me):

Anne Thompson: Is this heavy sentence a miscarriage of justice?
Alex Gibney: "Yes, he's been scapegoated. In a way that's the equivalent of the British army hanging someone from the yardarm. The Obama administration wanted to set an example, and have done it in a brutal way with forms of torture beginning with his confinement. They charged him with aiding the enemy, which thankfully he was found not guilty of, but also of many counts in the Espionage Act. This is the great crime of the Obama administration, trying to turn leaks into treason when they're really not the same thing."

Is the Obama administration, in its fight against terrorism, continuing the practices of the Bush era?
"In this way they're behaving worse. It's the Obama administration going overboard, using the Espionage Act to prosecute leakers. In this way they've gone beyond what the Bush administration has done. You have to look at the overall spectrum of what the Obama administration was willing to do in the larger sense of justice. The Obama administration refused to prosecute anyone for torture. Jose Rodriguez of the CIA intentionally destroyed videotaped enhanced interrogations which were evidence of crimes. Nothing happened; he wasn't even prosecuted. While Manning gets 35 years for leaking material, not to a foreign government, and he didn't get any money. He may have been naive, but he leaked it to the world and the press because he thought it was important information that people should know. Much of the information he leaked was important."

I'm glad that I saw that drone video. 
"The video is shocking and frankly should never have been classified. The Army claims it wasn't, but they play games all the time with classification. Documents show that both the Bush and Obama administrations grossly underrated war crimes in a context of mendacity. Revealing their criminality was important for public debate in a democracy. I want to hold them to account, but I don't want a world where every private leaks everything on his computer. He pled guilty on a number of charges. They're charging him as a spy. He did not damage U.S. national security. He did cause embarrassment. But to send someone away for the rest of his life for causing embarrassment seems a perversion of justice."

Here's a link to the Thompson On Hollywood column with the interview:

Bradley Manning's defense attorney on Manning's prison sentence.

From the GUARDIAN coverage of Bradley Manning's 35-year prison sentence for whistle blowing:

Here's a summary of the news conference with David Coombs, defense attorney for Bradley Manning:
• The Manning legal team is formally applying to President Barack Obama for a pardon "or at the very least [to] commute his sentence to time served". Requesting a pardon, Manning will tell president Obama he acted "out of a love to my country, and a sense of duty to others".
• Manning, who will be imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, comes up for parole in seven years, Coombs said. If parole is not granted he would receive a new parole hearing each year. Coombs vowed to master the legal intricacies of parole requests and to carry the Manning case forward. 
• Coombs held out hope that Manning would be released "in the near term": "I'm hoping that he goes on with life and becomes productive. If so this doesn't have to define him."
• Coombs described shock and sadness at the length of the sentence, which he depicted as unfair. After the sentence was read he and his legal team cried, Coombs said. Manning did not cry. "He looks to me, and he says, 'It's OK. IT's alright. I know you did your best. I'm going to be OK. I'm going to get through this."
• Coombs said the trial was unfair because it was closed. "A lot of stuff that happened would not have happened, because the American public would see it and say, 'that's not fair,'" Coombs said. 
• The long sentence would discourage future potential whistleblowers, Coombs said: "This does send a message, and it's a chilling one."
• The Edward Snowden case emerged at an inconvenient time for the Manning defense, Coombs said, in the sense that government frustration over whistleblowers was redoubled. "But it also had some benefits for us," Coombs said, "because it brought attention back to [Manning's] case."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing.

Courtesy of NPR News eulogy of Elmore Leonard:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It was only 40 years ago: 1973 in movies.

Thanks to the gentleman with the Twitter name EddieMarsAttacks for starting a thread on the micro blogging site about favorite films released four decades ago:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GUARDIAN article about President Obama and "open debate" re NSA spying.

A couple of excerpts from the article by Jennifer Hoelzer:

"The NSA (along with the FBI, DEA and CIA) continually declares the law is on its side and portrays its opponents as ridiculous dreamers who believe safety doesn't come with a price."--Hoelzer quoting Tim Cushing writing about the NSA on techdirt.com.

This from Ms. Hoelzer (highlighted by me):
I think it's hard for the American people to trust their president when he says he respects democratic principles, when his actions over the course of nearly five years demonstrate very little respect for democratic principles.

I think the American people would be more likely to trust the president when he says these programs include safeguards that protect their privacy, if he – or anyone else in his administration – seemed to care about privacy rights or demonstrated an understanding of how the information being collected could be abused. Seriously, how are we supposed to trust safeguards devised by people who don't believe there is anything to safeguard against?

I think it's understandably hard for the American people to trust the president when he says his administration has the legal authority to conduct these surveillance programs, when one of the few things that remains classified about these programs is the legal argument that the administration says gives the NSA the authority to conduct these programs. This is the document that explains why the administration believes the word "relevant" gives them the authority to collect everything. It's also the document I'd most like to see, since it's the document my former boss [U.S. Senator Ron Wyden] has been requesting be declassified for more than half a decade.

Read the article in its entirety: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/13/obama-open-debate-nsa-spying

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Exit Statement re my recent stint as poetry host.

From March to this past Friday, I was the Second Friday host in the poetry hosting rotation of The Rapp Saloon reading in Santa Monica CA.  Earlier last week, I resigned my volunteer position.

This is the statement I posted Saturday on Facebook:
One comment on stepping down from hosting at The Rapp Saloon: it gets very disheartening to book poet/multiple poet bills and have few (or in one case, zero) people in attendance. And, yes, I'm aware that other venues cope with this too. In the Rapp's case, I'm also aware of years past when attendance on a weekly basis was good-to-excellent. I did my best in booking and promoting, and that's all I can say.

In addition, I was booked by another Rapp Saloon host (Joe Camhi) as a feature.  No one came to see me.  I'll make no further comment on this--except to say it happens to other poets too.

How much of this under-or-non-attendance is due to aging of certain poets, reluctance to drive long distances when gasoline is over $4.00 a gallon, or the reduction of the SoCal scene to Literary  Pantheon Aspiration with gradual weeding out of Folk Art (something that certain prominent people in the scene dearly wanted) is a question that only you, the reader of this post, can answer.

That is, if you truly care about answering it.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The recorded music industry mourns a situation it largely created.


Not mentioned in the article: chain stores such as Best Buy cutting their CD stock and giving the remainder of their physical product as unappetizing a placement as possible in each store.

After all, prime floor space is needed for the Samsung phone/tablet display.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

THE NATION on Bradley Manning.

Excerpt from Chase Madar's article in THE NATION "The Trials of Bradley Manning:
There is a proper response to the hypocritical and dysfunctional inconsistency of our secrecy laws, and that would be the swift declassification of some 99 percent of our state secrets (government documents are classified at the rate of about 1.83 million per week), with real security for the tiny remainder of legitimate secrets (nuclear launch codes, for example). And for the record, neither Julian Assange nor Bradley Manning has ever called for “total transparency,” a straw-man position often attributed to them by the self-important guardians of extreme government secrecy.

Instead of more open government, we are getting more secrecy, more prosecutions of whistleblowers and the altogether creepy “insider threat” program, which requires officials to report on the infosec failings of colleagues or face prosecution. (This institutionalization of mutual suspicion is not limited to national security organs but extends to agencies like the Education Department and the Social Security Administration.) Progressives who na├»vely believe the solution is more congressional oversight should note that many in Congress have been pushing for even more leak probes and harsher prosecutions than the president.

Obama has launched eight prosecutions based on the Espionage Act of 1917—more than all previous presidents combined, who together have managed only three such trials. Maybe he feels he has nothing to lose, since this clampdown placates the national security apparatus and wimp-proofs his right flank, while those who care about civil liberties were probably not going to vote Republican anyway. As a result, the former constitutional law professor who ran as the whistleblowers’ best friend in 2008 is now their scourge.

It would take great powers of imagination to blame any part of our recent military debacles on leaks and whistleblowers. If someone had leaked the full National Intelligence Estimate on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, would more people have decided—like then-Senator Bob Graham, who voted against the invasion after reading the unredacted report—to oppose the war before it began? If the Afghan War logs had somehow come out during Obama’s months of deliberation before escalating that conflict, would he have made the same decision—one that has yielded only thousands more civilian and military casualties?

But it is Bradley Manning we have put on trial, not the impresarios of war, not the CIA torturers or their lawyers. The Iraq War, which began with a lurid overture of secrecy and lies, is now getting its dissonant coda: a private court-martialed for telling the truth, a trial unfolding behind a thick wall of official secrecy, in which the court’s media center was, on the day of the prosecution’s closing statement, patrolled by armed soldiers peering over the shoulders of typing reporters. “Pfc. Manning was not a humanist. He was a hacker,” said prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein. “He was not a whistleblower. He was a traitor.” The past decade has witnessed the carnage unleashed by militarized cluelessness. In the story of Bradley Manning, who has been the ethical citizen and who the rampaging criminals?

The full article can be read at http://www.thenation.com/article/175512/trials-bradley-manning?page=0,0#axzz2akyLbxf1