No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald

book jacket no place to hideNo place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S, surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald (2014)
The author is the kind of investigative reporter I would like to be in my next life. That or Sinclair Lewis or other muckrakers who called out the bad things people will do if they think they can get away with it, and not have any remorse for their bad deeds. Kind of the attitude of if you didn’t want your house robbed, you should have (a) had better locks, (b) had a watch dog, (c) hired house sitter with a gun, (d) had bars on the windows, (e) insert any victim blaming you prefer here.

Somehow, it is always the individual failure and their trust that someone would simply not burgle or rob their house because stealing is wrong.

I don’t think Snowden is a “thief” who stole government information; warrantless wire tapping is theft of privacy, of the right to due process, of the belief that people are innocent until proven guilty. Whistleblowers are heroes. They are a serious threat to authority and therefore authority will crush whistleblowers whenever possible, whistleblower protection laws are illusory.

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Truth and Duty by Mary Mapes

book jacketTruth and Duty: The press, the president, and the privilege of power by Mary Mapes (2005)

I do not recall how I came to watch the movie “Truth” — maybe I saw the author on Book TV, or a promo on another video, but it was fascinating to understand what all the fuss was about back in 2004 about George W. Bush’s reserve duty in the early 70s. I remembered that at some point Dan Rather ending up retiring but I did not really understand that there was a relationship between his retirement and what I thought of as a minor kerfuffle about W’s service duty. Well, it was not so minor after all. And I am confident that over the next few decades, more truth will be revealed about both W’s failure to perform his duties as required.

In the appendix, she details official documents and describes of the Killian papers and others and how they were used to document the case presented on CBS news (60 Minutes) by Dan Rather. Mary Mapes was the “producer” a job I have no ideal what it actually means, but basically sounds like a lead researcher for news stories that gathers evidence and presents it to people like Dan Rather to deliver on TV or the radio. She had won Peadbody awards for breaking news like Abu Ghraib, and Strom Thurmond’s unacknowledged biracial daughter, reconciled and open now, but demonstrating the bizarre and hypocritical stance of the [now dead after 100 years; that’s what government healthcare can do for you!) old coot’s stand against desegregation.

Mary Mapes was fired for her role in the “Killian Papers” report, as was the woman senior  vice president for CBS primetime news programs (it’s always the women that get the most negative retaliation, another woman and a man were also fired.). If someone bothered — but I am sure not worth the effort — they could probably reconstruct where all W was during this time (theoretically working on a Republican’s campaign for senator in Alabama, but not necessarily doing duty in the Guard). One of the comments in official documents was that he hadn’t been “sighted” on the base where he was supposed to be. And why did he want to transfer to Alabama in the first place?

The president’s [premature] dramatic flight onto an aircraft carrier in May 2003 to announce the end of ‘major combat operations’  and declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ in the Iraq war was the ultimate marriage of his brief military background and modern political mythmaking. The president looked great [gag] in the flight suit addressing America and its forces. But when he was being paid to wear it, fly planes, and protect the country, that military outfit and the obligations it entailed apparently couldn’t compete with the CHANCE TO WORK ON A SENATE CAMPAIGN IN ALABAMA. (p. 138)

The fact that his daddy was “an up and coming politician with strong Republican ties and a big future. Then Congressman George H. W. Bush wrote a letter to his son’s commander at Moody, commending him and thanking him for the special care and attention shown his son.” (p. 64)

No one had a clue that it would be George W. who would become George the Second. It was supposed to be Jeb. The difference obviously was that Karl Rove met George and blew that plan out of the water.

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Focus by Michael Gross

boo jacket man photographer taking picture of woman laying downFocus: The secret, sexy, sometimes sordid world of fashion photographers by Michael Gross (2016)

I spotted this book on the “new nonfiction” shelf at the library and debated whether I would want to read it or not. As a photographer and with an interest in sewing (show more actual pattern construction Project Runway!), I was curious what would be included, so since I could still physically manage to carry in my bag of books for the trip, I brought it home.

Alas, not worth the weight. The bibliography was pretty interesting though. However, the first thing that obviously put me off a bit was the cover, because as a feminist, the sexuality and dominance of the photo with the woman laying with eyes closed was, hmm, hate to say offensive because that’s not quite right; kind of like I felt the whole heroin chic phase was not best serving anything either. On the other hand, it does work to illustrate the titillation factor the author strove fore with the subtitle, so I suppose it is a good image for the book.

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C Street by Jeff Sharlet

illustration of congress with a cross atop dome portrayed in stained glass windowsC Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy by Jeff Sharlet, (author of the National Bestseller, The Family). (c 2010 hardback, I listened to it on cd).

I am finding it hard to write about books I have “read” by listening to them. I think, “oh yeah, I’ll have to mention that anecdote” but there is no way to bookmark it; best I could do would be to hop out of bed (defeating the purpose of “reading” until I fall asleep) or pull over the car to make a note of the disk and track number for replay later. Mainly I have gotten the hard copy when really motivated, but I will not be doing that for this book.

Not because the book is “bad” in any way per se, but as it happens, I got to about disc 4 or 5 (out of 8) and my heart was too crushed by the revelations about “The Family” and their infiltration and indoctrination of susceptible sheep politicians and other people. Though, that said, assuming it was not on the remaining disks, much more time could have been spent on naming names and elucidating the often hidden ties between the power brokers and manipulators in the background and less long descriptive text about that pathetic excuse for a human being, Mark Sanford, and his “heroic farmer” spiel to seduce first his wife, then his mistress. I mean, it beyond laughable and way too long. Cartoons have more depth of character than he does. And yet, two seemingly bright women were seduced by his role playing. In a theoretically enlightened women’s worldview, that is troubling. But I guess not for anyone who would let Mark Sanford touch them. Or Newt Gingrich (cheated on wife #2 with an intern and I think wife #1 with wife #2 — hard to keep it all straight), or Mitch McConnell (I’m sure the wealth of his wife’s family and interaction with the United States shipping ports had nothing to do with it, but in this case God is not in the equation).

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Turning Texas Blue by Mary Beth Rogers

 

book jacket with cowboy boot like flag colorsTurning Texas Blue: What will it take to break the GOP grip on America’s reddest state? by Mary Beth Rogers (2016)

Highly recommend reading this book

I was shocked and appalled when much admired Governor of Texas Ann Richards lost to George W. Bush. Reading Bush’s Brain (aka Karl Rove), I learned how his pernicious manipulations and lies accomplished W’s win. It turns out that Mary Beth Rogers ran the campaign that put Ann Richards in office for her first term as governor, so she knows Texan politics. This book is well written and really gives an inside view of the in the trenches kind of political action that goes on that we never hear about on the news — and that’s a real loss to creating an informed citizenry. I’m going to have to return to this book for my mega opus on Know Thy Enemy post I will eventually write because of the details of the connections of the people and lies and realities. Quick quote from pp. 164-165:

Republican congressman Louie Gohmert of East Texas, who can always be counted on to say something outrageous and often UNTRUE, reflects the tone too often used by public officials here. He claimed that President Obama’s immigration policies were “luring millions of diseased immigrant children” to the United States. And he urged Texas officials to “use whatever means’ possible, like TROOPS, SHIPS OF WAR, OR TAXES to ‘stop the invasion.’ “

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