Security Culture and Democracy

Security Culture and Democracy
A friend and long time prominent activist, Bob Simpson, posted on Facebook regarding FBI informers and moles at an underground DC newspaper he once worked for. He filed a FOIA request and was able to read parts of the FBI file. A number of others weighed in about various publications and projects that had been. Many of those had also viewed the FBI and informant files. When I was in Grade school in the 70s, during the Cold War and fears of communism taking over the world, I was taught how the Soviets routinely spied on its citizens and the inhuman and draconian measures taken against dissenters. I was taught that America was different and better. Boy, was it a thunderous shock to find out we were doing the same thing all along. Recall, this nation demonized women for wanting to vote, and attacked them ruthlessly for wanting an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It went after Martin Luther King jr. for the unforgivable crime of standing for racial equality. 
We have been talking about this quite a lot during talk backs at my play, “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” It was a common discussion during Occupy as well. Even though it seems counterintuitive, I have always advocated uber-transparency. Security cultures play into their hands and gives the government and police major erections, while openness, as well as being absolutely democratic, stymies them. I tested that in 1994 while being arrested and professionally interrogated near the frontline in Sarajevo one dark night. I handed over detailed journals(which I got back, and used for my War Memoir, Everything for Love) and answered every question so fully that they were completely confused.
I know the other side as well. Over the course of 20 plus years in the Balkans I interviewed dozens of former World War 2-era Communist Partisans about their security culture before and during the war, when they were mercilessly hunted by the German Gestapo and others. That was war. Life and Death. We are not there…yet. It was also a different time, in which all of us had not been mapped as with the NSA collection of data. They will get to you in the shadows. Drag them into the light and expose them for the pathetic and petty little clerks and bullies they are. 

Failure is an Option…

Failure is an Option…

The Left is losing the messaging battle in the media. Last year I wrote a report on the viability and necessity of a progressive network that would begin balancing the overwhelming Right wing imbalance in US media. There are some 1500 Right wing stations, compared to hardly 100 on the Left. Most on the Right are carried by large networks who actively exclude Progressive programming. It is not about ratings. Station for station, hosts like Thom Hartmann and Stephanie Miller routinely garner audiences 33% higher than Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. In fact, rating are collapsing in large station, such as Chicago’s WLS. It isn’t about ratings, or money at the media level, it is about message saturation.

The Left, however, is failing horribly at breaking the stranglehold on the media, and balancing the national radio conversation. First, as I warned in the report, shared widely on social media, a Progressive network cannot be DNC radio, which as we saw in the election allowed TPP to be co-opted by the Republicans. The Progressive movement owned that issue, fighting against Obama and Republicans. Hillary was all but silent. She and the DNC abandoned the DAPL issues, a critical focus of Progressives. She was all too silent on the environment. A true Progressive media platform must be about important Progressive issues. On the hand full of Progressive radio stations, the arc has been towards synchronicity with the DNC.

It would takes less that $2 million dollars to build a terrestrial radio network under a model I designed, and have tested in a previously successful radio venture,  which would create an additional 35 commercially for-profit sustainable radio stations in regions critically over-saturated by Rightwing media. The problem is, the Left is still too focused on so-called “new” media,  such as the internet, YouTube, etc.,. Many view traditional radio as obsolete, though nothing could be further from the truth. Compare 17 billion in annual sales via a few thousand radio stations in the US versus $900 million in per click ads on the internet shared by millions of websites. Sustainability is the key, and the Left is missing that train. Millenials and Gen Xers are key advertiser demographics. Believe it or not, they listen to more radio than almost any other demographic. That is a form of arrogance as many in the country still do not have consistent or regular access to the internet. $20 bucks buys a radio.

Even more, time is a critical element. From FCC approval to build out, a new station is looking at 9-12 months. The Left hasn’t even begun that process. Starting this Spring, the first stations would just get up and running as the midterms are starting. The Right controls the field in media. That is key to disseminating accurate information to inform an electorate that makes intelligent decisions rather than  coerced or uninformed decisions. The Left must clearly understand some fundamental questions about media and messaging. Until they do, failure is their likeliest option.

The Community of Theatre

The Community of Theatre

I write books. I have 5 in print, and more than 7 others written and awaiting publishing. Writing is perhaps the loneliest profession. When I was an artist, often I had a model there. The same cannot be said for the art and labor(not craft) of writing a book. It is long hours of contemplation, research, writing, endless rewriting and editing. The book goes out. Though I hear from readers, there is no immediate feedback.

this month and next month my latest play, “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden” runs at the Oil Lamp Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. many of those who attend are regular patrons to the theatre. All theatre, I should note, is not the same.

My education in theatre literally comes from the streets. My first play, “Occupy my Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” spawned a radio program, saw standing room only audiences, saw numerous interviews, including a segment on Thom Hartman’s radio show, received national attention and helped for a time to change the media narrative about the Occupy movement. It was interactive, organic and communal. several of the actors and my director, a brilliant young woman named Hannah Freidman, were students of a style of theatre called “Theatre of the Oppressed, which, in a very basic sense, sought to erase or assail the barriers between audience and stage.

At the end of each Friday and Sunday matinee performance I join the cast on stage for a talk back with the audience. This past Sunday a woman who attends more formal and traditional theatre found the interaction with the audience refreshing and interesting. Though she had attended theatre many times, she said, this was the first time she’d experienced a break in that traditional barrier. Maybe. Often many programs will flirt with that barrier, but most often that barrier remains sacrosanct. That is not a criticism, only a statement on style and context. I told her how I loved breaking that barrier, and how it made the program more of a community rather than another form of TV or movies.

At one point in the play, the characters solicit questions to “Snowden” and “The NSA”, which the actors answer unscripted. Indeed, the onstage battle between Snowden and my NSA Agent becomes a bit of a competition for the sentiments of the audience. That is the power of theatre. It is community, and should be, and it is immediate unlike any other sort of art form, whether one applauds or gets up and walks out…

Operation Narva: The price of a compromised President-A Scenario…

Operation Narva: The price of a compromised President-A Scenario…

WC Turck's Helter Skelter

Just before 3am the first rubber boats came ashore opposite the massive 15th century walls of Russia’s Ivangorod fortress. With rehearsed precision black-faced and heavily armed commandoes scrambled up the bank, quickly dispatching two unarmed security guards before taking up positions at the western approaches of the bridge linking Estonia and Russia. To their left, Narva, a town of just under 60 thousand, slept peacefully despite growing tensions between the two countries. Just across the road stood an Estonian customs facility. It was small, staffed at so late an hour by just a hand full of lightly armed boarder agents. russ com

Russian agents for weeks had fomented anxiety among Russian nationals in the region. NATO grew increasingly alarmed by ominous troop movements along the Russian frontier bordering Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Several NATO-member states had pressed a political recognition of the Three former-Soviet satellites as interim NATO members, but could find no political consensus…

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We are episodes,…

unfinished novels yet to be written. We are characters with a hand in writing our own stories, but hardly the sole authors in that process; tread lightly upon others, but mightily in the world. We carry one another’s stories, co-writing the present, recalling shared pasts, writing the epitaph for our fallen brothers and sisters. Someone will one day write the end of our story. These stories played out in the chaos of the world are merely the shallow perspectives of frightened creatures to the grand precision of the Universe. We are dancers in a rain of fate, alternating between deluges of burden and blessing…

Republic? Democracy? Both?

I’ve run into this question frequently. It is used, almost exclusively, to trip up an argument, because from the antagonist’s point of view, nothing you say will be right. It is a cheap way of breaking momentum and knocking you off your game.

The other night at my Play, The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden, after the talk back, a very nice older woman-old enough to have gone to Prom with James Garfield, and dripped wealth- drew me aside to remind me that America is “Not a democracy, but a representative republic.” I have pondered both the question and answer carefully for some time, and have a clear and succinct, and accurate answer to all those smart-asses attempting to stifle cogent arguments by tripping their counterpart on meaningless details.

I said in a kindly manner that it was both, because our representative republic is only renewed through the democracy of people voting, and that policy should, and often is a mixture of the three branches of the republic and the pressure of citizens through activism, engagement and protest.

So, in fact, it is both, if we do it correctly.