Tag Archives: Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald’s book on Snowden and NSA is fascinating, and terrifying. Russell Brand tears apart Fox News. And a beautiful story about a man learning to swim

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If you don’t know exactly who the writer Glenn Greenwald is, you’re probably not a liberal.
Greenwald, a fire-breathing columnist for The Guardian newspaper, is a hero of mine, and many others, for constantly railing against the National Security Agency and the incredibly intrusive and illegal surveillance they do on Americans and non-Americans alike, all under the often-flimsy guise of “the war on Terror.”

Greenwald was firing his missiles via his scathing columns on his blog, known to a fairly small readership, until former NSA employee Edward Snowden (above) chose him in mid-2013 to help leak the most explosive set of U.S. government documents since the Pentagon Papers.

Now, everyone has their own opinion on what Snowden did; personally I think what he did was surely illegal but 100 percent heroic and patriotic, for exposing the enormous lies, and way-bigger-than-they-said spying operation the NSA has operated since 9/11.

Greenwald has written a book, “No Place To Hide,” that’s 50 percent about his incredible adventure with Snowden and how he met him, and how crazy that week in Hong Kong was when they began writing about the leaked documents, and 50 percent breaking down exactly what the NSA does.

It’s chilling. It’s terrifying. It will certainly keep you thinking long and hard about putting any personal info on the Internet (no worries, both Twitter and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have been remarkably compliant in helping the NSA spy on their users).

Greenwald writes clearly and concisely, both about Snowden’s motives for leaking the NSA information, and about the specifics of how the NSA and other branches of government, in full cooperation with private companies like Verizon and Google, are in every corner of Americans’ lives.

He points out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government scolding the Chinese for their spying efforts, yet shows how America does exactly the same thing. He also, amusingly, points out just how cozy the establishment Washington media is with the NSA and other government offices, to the detriment of transparency and shining a light on the illegal spying that’s gone on.

Whether you agree with what Snowden did or not, Greenwald’s book is fascinating. Definitely recommend reading it.

 

**Next up, I’m  not really much of a Russell Brand fan; don’t have much against him, but not necessarily a fan of his.

Still, I’d heard he’d been making these videos excoriating Fox News for their Ferguson coverage, so I checked out one that DailyKos.com had sent me.

Highly entertaining! Best excerpt:

“They say Conservatives… What they are ‘conserving’…Actually, it’s hatred they’re trying to conserve, misery, they’re trying to conserve, existing power structures, they’re trying to conserve.”

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**And finally, this story just about knocked my socks off. It’s from N.R. Kleinfeld at the N.Y. Times, who is a master storyteller, and it’s about a seemingly-simple topic: a 33-year-old man with a lifelong fear of water, trying to learn to swim.

It’s beautiful, it’s honest, and it’s oh so real. I loved this story; courage comes in so many different forms.

Handwritten notes, and a dying art. The Bradley Manning saga finally ends. And the worst way to get dinner, ever

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So the wife and I are knee-deep into writing a whole heaping batch of thank-you notes this week, as we express our gratitude to the guests at our recent wedding.

And midway through thank-you note No. 48 (or thereabouts), as I shook off my hand-cramp, it struck me how rarely we actually write long, hand-written notes anymore.

Everything is email or text, and if we do write notes, they’re usually little reminders to ourselves about doctor appointments or shopping lists or whatever.
Hardly ever do I have to use my penmanship (and it’s pretty awful, let me tell you), and I can’t remember the last hand-written letter I’ve received, besides other people’s thank-you notes and invitations.

At the risk of going all Andy Rooney on you, I think it’s a little bit sad that we don’t write letters anymore; emails, wonderful though they are, just aren’t as personal.

Then again, I never get scolded at for poor handwriting in emails. So maybe it’s not such a bad thing.

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**Mercifully, the Bradley Manning verdict was announced Tuesday, as the former Army private first class was convicted of espionage but not guilty of aiding the enemy, a mixed decision that still will likely leave Manning in prison for the rest of his life.

I’m not here today to argue that Manning is innocent; he leaked classified documents, and that was wrong. But what this young kid, an American citizen, has been put through over the past three years, is reprehensible.
I’ve written about this before, about the inhumane treatment Manning faced while awaiting trial; of the 23 hours of imprisonment per day, of the denial of sheets and pillows on his bed.
Manning was not allowed to have any contact with other humans but for one hour per day when he was outside, and was not allowed to access any news programs or have any other contact with the outside world.

Read the chilling details from this 2010 story by Glenn Greenwald, and then tell me if this is how America ought to treat its prisoners, who have YET to stand trial.
Manning risked his life and freedom by leaking documents to WikiLeaks, because he thought what his government was doing was wrong.
And then to get treated even worse than a normal criminal? Awful.

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**Finally today, an idea so bad I can’t believe it actually has seen the light of the day.

Ever wonder what to have for dinner, and being unable to make a decision?
Of course, we all have. And in all those thousands of moments, did you ever once think, “Hmm, I wish we could have our neighbor’s leftovers, I bet they’re delicious?”
Of course not. But now you can. There’s a new app called “Leftover Swap” that lets you take a picture of your unfinished meatloaf or chicken parm, and post it on the app’s website.
Also, equally delightfully, app users can scan the website’s “map” for leftovers, then order them and arrange for pickup!

I can’t believe this exists; from a public-health point of view alone, it seems pretty dangerous.
But hey, I’m sure it’ll be a big success for people who don’t care who took that first bite out of the salmon.

The sheer irrelevance of the Royal Wedding. Warren Zevon sings hockey. And more truth about the awful Gitmo prison

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There are many, many things I don’t get in this world. But maybe my No. 1 head-scratcher is why so many people in America give a hoot about the Royal Family.
I mean really, why??? Why does anyone care about Charles and Di and Prince William and Queen Elizabeth and the rest? Are they somehow more special people than the rest of us? Do they have some sort of power in government or culture that I don’t know about?
I’ve never understood it. The whole idea that there’s this elite group of people in England who by virtue of their blood are on such a higher plateau than everyone else always struck me as crazy.
And now this Royal Wedding business. Hey, I’m sure Kate Middleton’s a nice woman. And her soon to be husband William is probably a fine fellow. But Judas Priest, do we really need this much freaking media coverage? Do I need to hear about these bloody nuptials on every TV station?
I just don’t know why people care so much. Maybe it’s just escapist entertainment. Maybe people just want to still believe in a caste system when it comes to privilege. But I just don’t get why everyone goes gaga over these people.
Jerry Seinfeld recently compared the Royals to “playing dress up.” I think he’s right.
And I thought playing dress up as a kid was way more interesting. (Wait, was that out loud?)

**Amazing hockey game last night. Canucks-Blackhawks, Game 7, and it went to overtime. There was awesome goaltending, great excitement, and a thrilling finish. I feel in honor of this, and two more Game 7s coming Wed. night, I have to share with you the best hockey song ever. It’s by  the great Warren Zevon, and it’s called “Hit Somebody.” A great song that tells a great story. Enjoy. Lyrics here.

**So in case you missed it Monday, WikiLeaks is at it again, dumping 700 pages worth of documents to the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. about the secret detention center known as the Guantanamo Bay prison.

And in case you were still under any illusion that Barack Obama and his administration were really serious about closing Gitmo, as he promised in the 2008 election, you can forget it.
I urge you to read this report summarizing the document dump by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. It talks about how so many prisoners at Gitmo are being held on very little evidence, but releasing them now is too dangerous. It talks about the egregious detention of a journalist from Al-Jazeera named Sami al-Haj, who was held for six years for basically no reason, then released without being charged.
It is once again repulsive that America operates this prison, and has operated it in such a secretive manner.
It is a stain on our country, and one that should make all of us feel ashamed.

Songs that just keep coming back, I call Obama’s peeps out, and life as a Jets fan

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Lot of stuff between the ears today, so let’s rock and roll:

** So two things made me think of the ultimate Journey song ‘Don’t Stop Believin'” this week: one, Journey singer Steve Perry, a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, is apparently mad that the L.A. Dodgers are using his anthem as a psych-up song during their games.

And then it came up again while I watched the series premiere of “Glee” that Fox aired last spring, that featured a kick-ass performance by the glee club of the song in the final scene.

And it got me to thinking: Why is it that some songs just keep coming back into our pop culture sphere? I’m not talking about songs like “Y.M.C.A” or “Celebration,” by Kool and his merry Gang. I’m talking about songs that are huge when they come out, go away for a while, and then come back. Then they go away, come back, and well, you get the idea.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” is suddenly huge again. “Sweet Caroline,” by the great Neil Diamond, went away for a while, then the Red Sox brought it back a few years ago and it became big to a whole new group of people. Same for “I Love Rock and Roll,” by the great Joan Jett, which is now basically the theme for “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.

What is it about certain songs that allow them to have three or four lives? I truly don’t know. If you do, please let me know.

In the meantime, bringing up Journey means I get to share with you perhaps the greatest and most unintentionally hilarous music video of all time: Journey’s “Separate Ways.” I believe it was ESPN’s Bill Simmons who once said that if you were to take someone from the future and show them the 1980s in four minutes, this is what they should experience: Truly, truly awesome in its awfulness. YouTube won’t let me embed it but trust me, these are four minutes that will have you laughing out loud.

**OK, lest you think that all I do is cheerlead for Obama and our current administration, I have to slap them down for something. When W. was in office myself and other Democrats were pissed every time he and Karl Rove and Co. intervened in state and federal elections, trying to sway them and push candidates who only believe in their agenda.

Well, Obama and Rahm Emanuel are basically doing the same thing now, trying to get New York governor by default (hey, who knew Eliot Spitzer liked hookers, right?) David Paterson to step aside in next year’s race.  It was wrong for the last eight years, and it’s wrong now. What, the Obama administration doesn’t have enough to do.?

**One of my major pet peeves with the national news media is this bullshit “false equivalency” thing newspapers and TV stations do, where no matter how bogus the claim is from one side of the political aisle, it is presented as fact, all in the name of “fairness to all.” It’s complete crap, it was complete crap during the election when the Republicans made stuff about out of whole cloth, it’s complete crap when Democrats do it, too.

Well, here’s the brilliant Glenn Greenwald with yet another example of the media totally printing fabrications, just because one side says so.

**What’s it like being a Jets fan when times are good? My man Pearlman hits it on the head with this column. This is a fictional conversation, but he and I have had many very similar chats over the years.

**And finally, a little health-care humor to help you through a Wednesday…