Friday, April 24, 2009

Amy Goodman Visits Missoula

Amy Goodman introduced by the president of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center.

Amy Martin opened the proceedings.

Fact and Fiction sold the books. 

On Tuesday, April 21, 2009, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spoke in the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus, in Missoula. She spoke clearly, concisely without using notes, having learned her material well over a grueling coast-to-coast tour, which has passed through over 70 cities. 

She spoke of heroes past and present, who have stepped forward with the truth when it was needed. I cannot report this objectively as a new story, since, as I mentioned in the previous post, Amy is one of my heroes.  

As for the previous post, I apologize. My excuse is: I was drugged by a good-intentioned, but overworked doctor. Both anti-histamines I was directed to take for allergies were contra-indicated for old guys like me, taking medication already to keep my plumbing functioning. The result was my zombification. I'm still not normal (nor want to be), but my balance and reason seem to be returning. Reaching a certain point of revival, I had to recognize the need to redo that posting, and give Amy more of her due. 

Healthcare was an issue, and Amy made a case for a national single payer plan. In spite of the horror tales recited in the media, such plans are functioning smoothly in most industrialized nations. American auto-makers want to move factories to Canada, because employee healthcare costs them more than steel. This type of plan solves several problems for employers, as well as people who cannot afford healthcare or insurance. Republicans have long opposed any initiative which might limit corporate profit potential, but Democratic leaders have also said a single payer plan is off the table. 

Amy has a memory to covet. She's full of stories, statistics and proofs for her arguments. Did you know Frederick Douglas and Susan B Anthony were friends? Did you know Donald Rumsfield's home away from home is the site where Frederick Douglas, as a slave, was tortured by his master, and the place is called Mt. Misery? Somehow all that creates a cynical historical echo.

The lead up to the invasion of Iraq received a lot of attention, as did the shame of media who regurgitated propaganda as fact, and opinion as news, while we stormed off to cause the deaths of one million Iraqi civilians. Yes, I know the Associated Press released a figure about one-tenth that much, as of this week. The higher figure comes from several respected world agencies, including John Hopkins and the Lancet. Why would AP quote the lower figure? I'll tell you what I think: I think they helped lie us into this war, and I think they are still lying, and I think it is time for everyone who gives a damn to start digging for the truth. 

Who tortured whom, where, and when? Who ordered it, who covered it up and when will the lying stop? 

It's called mainstream media, but according to Amy it is not, because most people want health care, most people want the war to end and most people disapprove of torture. She is part of an alternative to the for-profit outlook of corporate media news. Her presence, her courage, her words are an inspiration. 

I saw a blog headlining Amy's visit, and asking if anyone cared. Registering on MySpace was required, and I'm flat registered out, at the moment, and didn't comment there. Yes, I care. What can I do to assist the cause Amy is devoted to? Well, I do have this little blog here, and I'll start where I am. 

Let's go back to healthcare, and the Democrats who say the single payer option is off the table. Ask them to explain why. Start with Baucus (you've heard of him?), call his office or write him a letter, or walk right up to him, if he makes a public appearance you can attend, and ask him. That's where any voting citizen of Montana can start.

Amy gave a warning about the Internet: Don't fall for every bit of gossip on the Internet, because it is a huge rumor mill. However, we must dig behind the headlines. We must begin to notice for ourselves when the news is a fabrication to suit someone's financial or political ends rather than truth. It has been a basic journalistic tenet, since Watergate, to follow the money. We have the resources and tools to do that. 

Start where you are. Did you see something in your local newspaper, you know isn't true? Write a letter, but don't rant like I do. Be polite. There's a lot of twaddle in the newspapers, pretending to be news, but is actually paid for pr copy. 

A big mistake was made when they gave corporations human rights. Now, their profits are more important than our lives. Look at the story in Libby, which Amy covered the next morning on Democracy Now!, from the local PBS station. She documented issues from the trial of the Grace Company executives with clips from P.O.V.'s documentary, shown on PBS. These guys knew they were killing their employees, and tried to hide the fact, while continuing the deadly process for a profit. Did the story on the front of the Missoulian today really say their actions might not be criminal, according to the judge? One thing is certain: they were evil. No, make that two things, because they were also greedy.

Here's where I try to follow Amy's example. She is always pointing out ironies and lies, and supporting efforts to improve the human condition everywhere. I want to play newshound, too. Here's where we beat the corporate media. We become the media. Turn off faux news, look to another source and start asking questions. Then blog it, follow it, photograph it, copy it and spread the word. 
Amy's books extend the information in her talks, and there are some inspiring stories in each. A group of college professors and students printed and distributed pamphlets, in Germany, in 1942. Three of them were captured and beheaded by the Nazis. They called themselves the White Rose and their motto was: "We will not be silent."

Amy recounted the linking story of the Iraqi refugee in this country, held from his flight until he removed his t-shirt, which had that motto in Arabic and translated in English. "We will not be silent."

A stencil of a rose, maybe small, 4x6" and a bigger one, say 8x10 of the motto...white paint...hit the streets...start where you are. Put them everywhere you can. Wait a minute. Is that incitement to riot...or conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor? 

I'm out of time and late to be there. I have a list to google next. I started with this outfit called the Manhattan Institute, whose blogger called Democracy Now! "the paranoid left's flagship radio program." I took a quick look. Remember that old CIA spook, Casey? He founded this operation, and I already decided they must be part of the military-industrial conspiracy. I was surprised by some of the people on their donor list. 

Hey, Amy, thank you for reminding me to follow the money, and for inspiring me to do so. I'll put what I find here on the blog. Thanks for coming to Missoula. 

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