Welcome Jed Morey (JedMorey.com) (Twitter), and Host Alexa O’Brien (AlexaOBrien.com) (Twitter)

The Great American Disconnect: Seven Fundamental Threats To Our Democracy

The story of America, as told to us by the political establishment, is not unlike scripture that attempts to explain our circumstances in a manner that must be accepted as gospel. The truth is that America has been hijacked by powerful special corporate interests whose paths toward profit are lubricated by political accomplices complicit in a scheme that suppresses opportunity and freedom among the masses. Our state of denial has caused us to drift far from the nation we believe ourselves to be while holding tightly to an image of the nation we wish to be.

Such is the state of our disunion. Welcome to The Great American Disconnect.

Our laws equate corporations with people. Our government favors progress at any cost over preservation at every cost. We use food to make fuel while children go hungry, vilify climate science and freely refer to environmentalism as a form of Nazism—as if protecting that which gives life to the planet is somehow evil. We claim to honor our soldiers but where is the honor in deploying them just to protect our oil interests? We attack corporate subsidies for renewable energy while protecting tax breaks and loopholes for large fossil fuel companies. An aging middle class population, which for years paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems, believes such programs should be abolished for future generations. Fiscal conservatives call for more deregulation—the most liberal and irresponsible of economic beliefs— a strategy that nearly led to the collapse of the entire economic system.

In 1929 the American economy collapsed under its own weight; the result of hubris, greed and the belief that progress was a fundamental and irreversible aspect of capitalism. The primary distinction between then and now is that today’s American economic system isn’t collapsing from the top down; it’s rotting from the inside out. This is what happens when an organism is beset by disease.

The Great American Disconnect explores the democratic creation myth and attempts to verbalize the malaise that has taken hold of our political system.

Jed Morey is the publisher of the Long Island Press, LI’s Cultural Arts and Investigative News Journal. Morey received his undergraduate degree from Skidmore College and a Masters in Business Administration from Hofstra University. He serves on the board of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, as well as the President’s Council of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island. Additionally, Morey authors a column for the Long Island Press.  (AmericanDisconnect.com)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

98 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jed Morey, The Great American Disconnect: Seven Fundamental Threats To Our Democracy”

BevW November 10th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Jed, Alexa, Welcome to the Lake.

Alexa, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

This is a great book, and I am certainly looking forward to the discussion.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I encourage people to ask Jed their own questions here.

I will start.

Jed, you have a knack for explaining complex policy issues (like market deregulation) in a way that it’s accessible to readers (especially those with no previous knowledge on the topic).

Who did you write this book for?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thank you FDL for having me here today. And thanks to Alexa for hosting.

Allen November 10th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

A must read for anyone that cares about America and it’s future for our children. A great book fir discussion

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 3

Hey Alexa. The book is really for anyone scratching his/her head wondering how our politics became so toxic and our policies so perverted. Nothing happens at once or in a vacuum so many of the ideas that I pursued were ones that vexed me personally.

dakine01 November 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon Jed and Alexa and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon.

Jed, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this but do the politicians and so-called business leaders who foment climate change denial, all the tax breaks and all the other problems you document understand that their money will not protect them from Mother Earth’s payback or are they just so clueless as to not care, assuming they’ll be dead and gone by the time everything is destroyed?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:01 pm
In response to Allen @ 5

Thank you, Allen.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

You write “Americans are trapped by the conviction that we live in a free society despite having the highest incarceration rate per capita of any nation in the world.”

50% of prisoners in the U.S., you explain, are serving sentences for non-violent drug offenses and 80% of those for possession. Only a few of those cases make it to trial, because have public defenders and plea out.

“But for those rare cases that do make it to trial,” you write, “most people would be surprised to know that the most powerful person in the room is not an attorney or even the judge, for that matter. It’s the juror. “

Can you explain what you mean?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 7

Dakine01, I begin the introduction talking about the environment because it’s the one issue that affects every human and our pursuit of industrialization has now tainted our natural resources and set us on a collision course with Mother Nature. There’s no question, that the same money that lubricates the political system is lubricating climate change denial. There is, in my estimation, no serious regard or effort to change this.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 4

You are welcome. I appreciate your newspaper’s coverage of the Manning trial and the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit against indefinite detention (which you also cover in depth in your book above TGAD). I

like to call you the last journalist/editor working at a local paper (LI Press) who still covers the news.

BevW November 10th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Jed’s Newspaper – Long Island Press

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:07 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 9

Absolutely. When writing about mass incarceration I was struck by how the rules work at the trial level. Perhaps we have all watched too much television, but there is an idea that a juror is allowed only to rule upon the legal facts presented at a trial. In fact, every juror has a right to “nullify” a potential conviction if he or she is morally opposed to the law that the defendant is being prosecuted under. This is a very sensitive subject, as I came to discover, in the courts as judges almost never inform jurors of these rights. It’s why we started http://www.hangthejury.com

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Would you talk a bit about Hedge funds. You note in the book that hedge funds DIDN’T EVEN EXIST 20 YEARS AGO (my caps for emphasis) and just think how may of the things the average person thinks they know about how the economy works and finance works, because that’s what we were taught in school, have been completely turned inside by the rise of hedge funds.

How much has the world, as we thought we knew it, changed and can we put the hedge fund genie, and the derivatives genie, back in the bottle?

RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 13

And, you make a great point: How does on get passed the voir dire?

eCAHNomics November 10th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 6

Dred Scott may be a place to start.

14th amendment used multiple times to defend rights of corps versus right of humans.

What could go wrong with such a SCOTUS.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 11

Some of our readers question why we would take on national/international issues such as the NDAA or the Manning trial. Fortunately the daily papers and mainstream media in New York cover so little of these issues that they are wide open for reporters such as us. Unfortunately, well, the field is wide open and these issues don’t get the coverage they deserve. Everyone here (and in America frankly) should know that you are a one person machine that confounded our entire newsroom with the sheer output and production on the Manning trial. I consider it one of the great journalistic accomplishments of our generation.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 13

So, if I am a juror in a criminal case that involves non violent, drug possession– and I know the defendant is guilty, I can vote innocent, because my conscience opposes the law of imprisoning for non violent drug possession?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to RevBev @ 15

Great question. Getting past voir dire is the most difficult thing to do. Prosecutors are looking for dissent and can knock anyone out of the box for any reason initially. The key to getting by voir dire is not to let on anything too personal but not to lie either. It’s tricky, but can be done. There are great instances all over the country of this happening – but it won’t achieve scale unless every potential juror knows his or her rights.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 14

Hey Cynthia. How great was that sunset just now btw?
Regarding hedge funds and putting the genie back in the bottle, I’m fearful that it’s not entirely possible with respect to derivatives. We’re talking about a 1.2quadrillion dollar market that is well beyond the world economy. These are bets on bets on top of bets on how financial instruments will perform. We saw in 2008 what happens when the underlying investments are toxic. Nothing has changed but the CFTC is doing its best to try and reinstitute position limits and open the markets but they are nowhere close to accomplishing this. The derivatives market is still a house of cards.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 19

Voir dire is a legal processes before a jury trial, where the prosecution and defense counsel vet a jury pool and select jurors.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:16 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 18

That is correct. Unfortunately the stakes for defendants are so high that few of these cases ever get to trial. In a few instances, however, this has happened. There has even been talk about defendant martyrdom (for lack of a better term) whereby thousands of defendants insist on a trial, which would seriously gum up the system. INteresting, but dangerous because it relies on jurors knowing their rights.

eCAHNomics November 10th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 19

Getting past voir dire is easy peasy.

Both ways. Last time I was in pool, I said that I would vote against side that had more power & money. Federal court, meaning I would automatically vote against USG.

Met with some dismay from defendants’ lawyers.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

I love it. As one former prosecutor told me when we ran the Hang The Jury piece, “this is every trial attorney’s nightmare.”

EdwardTeller November 10th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 18

It depends on the jurisdiction. When I was on a state court grand jury in Alaska, I got my co-jurors to question the veracity of the lead narcotics investigator to the point we caught him lying. We voted “no clean bill,” which would be a dismissal. However, between when we voted and the paperwork got to the judge for her signature, the lead prosecutor walked 100 yards to the nearby pretrial facility, lied to the defendant, and got him to cop a plea.


Philip Munger – Edward Teller here @fdl

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I note that you put “fundamentalism”,Randian “objectivism”, and the “Tea Party” all in the same chapter.

I get the connection between Rand and the Tea Party, with the emphasis on winners who should not have to subsidize “moochers”. We can skip over how shortsighted that is since the other word for moochers is consumers/customers, without whom the “producers” will not be able to sell their products.

But I’m not sure how that connects with fundamentalist religion. As you point out, Rand was an atheist, and the one demensional characters in her novels are hardly models of Christian (or any other religion’s) virtue.

Is the connection, that all three groups simply take bumper sticker slogans as articles of faith, without bothering to think about what those words actually mean in practice?

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I’m going to ask a general question for people who have not read your book. What issues do you cover in The Great American Disconnect?

RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 25

How could he speak to the defendant without the atty for the def. present? An outrage.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Sunset was gorgeous, I drove back from Oyster Bay to be home for Book Salon and the squall ended and huge fireball of setting sun came out over Bayville. Spectacular.

artistdogboy November 10th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

From the French voir = true, dire = say and the jurors are sworn before questioning begins to tell the truth.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:24 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 26

Cyn, this chapter really highlights the “disconnect” in the title of the book. What I find astounding (troubling) is the convergence of certain thoughts from the objectivist, Christian fundamentalist movement and the Tea Party. In many respects there are aspects that are in opposition – to your point, Rand’s atheism and fundamentalist dogma. Where these ideas coalesce is in this notion of “Free Markets” and Jesus Christ as capitalist. Our reverence of free markets and big business being better for society than regulated governance is something each movement holds in common.

EdwardTeller November 10th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to RevBev @ 28

Not only did she get away with it, she came into the grand jury break room and bragged about her coup. Cheeky.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 26

This is a great question.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:27 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 27

The seven threats, which are really symptoms of a dysfunctional system, that I focus on are Deregulation, Speculation, Fundamentalism, Militarization, The assault on liberty, incarceration and manufactured consent. What I examine in the book are the root causes of each and how they have come together to impact our understanding of what democracy should look like. The “disconnect,” as I perceive it, is that as a nation we behave very differently that we perceive as citizens. (present company excluded obviously!)

RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 32

And completely improper; Im in shock…

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Your last chapter is on the media (and you are a journalist). Is there any hope for political reform (or revolution) without a reformation or revolution in the media itself?

RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

The chapter on finance and investment is very detailed…In short, how can there be any expectation that the public can understand that stuff (basically too big to fail)? You identify some experts, but how can anyone ever expect to be informed?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 36

I hate this question only because I can’t find it in me to give an optimistic response. When we talk about journalism holding the government and industry, any powerful force, in check we’re really talking about investigative journalism. The optimist in me sees some of the best investigative journalism being practiced right now on places such as FDL for example. The trouble is, again, achieving scale with any of these ideas. Without massive outrage, which can really only be brought on by the mainstream media, power tends to slide and get away with things. Power is only accountable to the masses, which in this nation, have certainly been subjugated by an onslaught of misinformation or a lack of quality information on a massive scale. I’m not sure, to answer your question Alexa, that it will be the media that brings about revolution or change… That implies that an event will bring along change and that is very concerning.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:40 pm
In response to RevBev @ 37

The chapters on Deregulation and Speculation are probably the ones that I’m most comfortable talking about because they are indeed such a challenge to explain. What I enjoyed most about putting them together was putting complex maneuverings into everyday language to explain how the markets impact our daily lives. The financial markets are essentially enormous unregulated casinos that rely upon size in order to mitigate risk. So many factors in the markets today defy logic that it becomes even more difficult to explain why the markets act as they do and to identify who is pulling the strings. The best way I have found to dissect economic matters is to bring it down to a personal level and explain how individuals are affected. Speculation causes starvation. Deregulation leads to corruption that sucks liquidity out of the system and leaves less for the rest of us. These are the great takeaways from these chapters. Hopefully I do the subjects justice.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:44 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 38

“The trouble is, again, achieving scale with any of these ideas. Without massive outrage, which can really only be brought on by the mainstream media, power tends to slide and get away with things”

When you write mainstream media, do you mean media companies with the largest audience across multiple platforms?

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 40

I have a followup question to this, but I just want to clarify who the “mainstream media” is first.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 40

For the most part, yes. But it also moves further down the line to independent outlets such as ours. The economic pressures experienced by independent outlets that are being drowned out financially as a result of deregulation means fewer resources for important reporting. I don’t think there is an alternative publication in the country that hasn’t cut resources from the newsroom. And many of these important stories begin at a local level with journalists who have developed relationships and access over many years. As these veterans cycle out of the system, we lose so much in terms of mining a great story. The best stories tend to take months, if not years, to develop and we just don’t have the time or human capital to sustain that level of reporting on a particular subject. So the effects of consolidation are felt at every level, which is why deregulation in the media has been so deleterious.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Occupy is not a chapter, it’s not listed as a prescription, it appears in the book almost like a description of really fun children’s birthday party that has now ended, just because they are no longer camped in Liberty Plaza (screw you Mr. Zucotti).

It’s not like Occupy has ended, they just changed tactics, but somehow the MSM won’t cover them unless there are tents and drum circles.

A few days ago there was an international Million Mask March, with events all over the globe. You know what got covered? Russell Brand wearing his Guy Fawkes ask on the back of his head.

OWS is trying to create it’s own alternative banking system, you’d think that might interest Forbes or the WSJ.

OWS did an incredible organizing job in the aftermath of Sandy, barely got a mention on the news.

They have fundamentally changed the vocabulary of how American’s describe equal economic opportunity.

That all happened at the legit grass roots level.

Now let’s talk about the Tea Party, they held a couple rallies, scared the poop out of Congressman Tim Bishop by trapping him inside a building where he was trying to have a Town Hall meeting, and held of traffic in Melville/Huntington. Similar events around the country were covered with breathless anticipation and total disregard for the often paucity of numbers of actual participants.

That’s what happened at the legit grass roots level.

Now at the Koch and Peterson funded ersatz Astroturf level, things were different. Huge gobs of “uncoordinated” expenditure were funneled into campaign of people who spouted the bumper sticker talking points, but later proved to have no clue what those words actually meant and no desire to actually govern.

As long as the coverage continues to be so misleading to the general public, the purpose of the 4th estate in our Constitutional system(not counting LI Press) is frustrated.

OWS is not gone, it’s not over, it’s not done. It simply isn’t camping in the parks any more. This is a sustained movement, not a flash in the pan and it deserves more and more serious coverage.

That’s what happened

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:50 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 41

I would even consider alt publications like mine that rely on external financing to be mainstream. So, in short, the outlets that most people access.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

There seemed to be more “outrage” from the release of primary source documents like The Afghan War Logs, Iraq War Diaries, and Cablegate than from Snowden’s leaks, or perhaps they are different in character.

One could argue that the revolutions which spread from the Middle East and North Africa and became Occupy in Western countries were a result of those primary source releases by WikiLeaks .

When compared with Snowden’s leaks, which have been devoid of full disclosure of primary documents. The way in which Snowden’s documents have been releases (a publisher has yet to disclose them in their entirety) seem structured towards lobbying and persuading the main stream media and policy makers. Thoughts?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43

I had a vision (hope) that before the NYPD cleared the park, that the Occupiers would disassemble the encampment in the middle of the night and clear out. It would have preserved the mystery and intensity in the public’s mind, in my opinion. OWS was nearly perfect for several weeks. A place of great learning that allowed people around the country to tune in and realize they were not alone in feeling disenfranchised. More than anything I think it rekindled us with the spirit of genuine dissent and gave people the language to express their discontent.

CTuttle November 10th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43

Mahalo, Cynthia, preach the truth…! ;-)

Aloha, Jed and Alexa, welcome to the Lake…!

Jed could you talk more about ‘Manufactured Consent’…?

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 47

Here, I will help you. What do you mean by manufactured consent?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 45

Structured leaks versus full disclosure is really interesting. I would agree that Wikileaks presaged intense world movements. The movie might have come out, but the book has yet to be written on how profound Wikileaks truly has been. I’m perhaps more sanguine about the Guardian’s approach to Snowden’s information than the question implies. I think the guarded leak strategy allowed more cover for the whistleblower in this case. At least it made it more difficult for the Obama administration to classify him as a villain in the public’s mind than they have successfully done with Assange. What do you think?

CTuttle November 10th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 48

As Jed wrote @34 The seven threats, which are really symptoms of a dysfunctional system, that I focus on are Deregulation, Speculation, Fundamentalism, Militarization, The assault on liberty, incarceration and manufactured consent.

I want him to expand on it a little, Alexa…! ;-)

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 47

Do you think it is possible to break up consolidated media and go back to the limits on ownership in a single market?

What about re-instatement of the Fairness Doctrine?

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:04 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 49

It seems like Snowden and Glennzilla thought it out well before setting the revelations into motion.

It seems they learned a lot from what happened to Manning.

BrandonJ November 10th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hello everyone, great to see many thoughts so far.

Jed, forgive me for not having a chance to read the book, but I am curious on why there are people who defend such threats in our society.

To be more specific, I know people, as young as 16 or 17, who defend deregulation as a solution to our way of life. I cannot understand why people, at such a young age, would go out to defend it for the rest of their life. Are these corporate interests recruiting people to defend their demands or is it something else?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:05 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 48

In the chapter titled Manufactured Consent I piggyback on Chomsky’s theories of Consent of the Governed – more precisely, how nations amass support for ignominious policies that should ‘feel’ wrong to the public. Nationalism and fervent jingoism are typical ways to manufacture consent. In the wake of 9-11 the Bush administration was able to almost completely manufacture consent for our bloodlust abroad in pursuit of anything un-American. By calling the chapter “Manufactured” Consent, I am implying that our consent, or our buy in, is complete at this point. That we have written a blank check to the government to carry out any policy abroad as long as it is wrapped in the flag and in defense of the homeland.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43

Jed and Cynthia,

I happen to think that a lot of people across the country attracted to the Tea Party (not ideologically wed to the blood contract) but progressive in mindset (i.e. know we need structural reform as a nation) have been driven away people in Occupy who are wed to terms and language of the culture war.

Is part of the problem that we are using language created by so-called “elites” and the “mainstream” which continue to divide us?

Is the problem being misdiagnosed?

CTuttle November 10th, 2013 at 3:09 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 51

All of those actions would certainly us help dig out of the gaping hole that is our Fourth Estate! And hopefully restore our hometown papers and media and rehire many of the journalists that have been laid off during the big Corporate consolidations…!

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 42

One of the phenomena I have noticed with organizations like WikiLeaks (and its relationship with media partners) is they can specialize in getting information to smaller outlets that face these kind of economic pressures. It is part of the reason why i continue to support them. I don’t think anyone else has been able to do what they do on scale. Thoughts?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 51

Unfortunately not. Major broadcasters have incredible lobbying power now. The bigger issue is that we are numb to the fact that our information comes from so few sources because the conglomerates are great at giving off the impression of “balance.” The problem is that people don’t think it’s a problem yet. Even though we reflexively criticize the “mainstream” media, I’m not sure people truly understand just how mainstream it is. To get into a bigger picture argument – something Alexa can speak to better than I certainly can – is the chilling effect the assault on journalists has had. Not only is there an acknowledgment that sources are increasingly unwilling to speak to the media for fear of being discovered, there is a very real fear of imprisonment on behalf of journalists doing what it takes to get a story.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:12 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 53

Great questions. (I wonder if this is a result of horizontalism in corporate America i.e. They are having to carry the load themselves for educations and the like, more transient, less heavy social capital, more weak ties.) Jed?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 53

Brandon, I think about this all of the time. Wondering what exactly this next generation understands or assumes about their civil liberties, rights to privacy and access to quality information. In one sense, they are better suited to vet information and are keenly aware of being misled. On the other hand, hard-fought issues such as women’s rights, privacy, voter’s rights, civil rights, etc. are being interpreted differently by this generation in many ways. I think it’s important for those of us who witnessed the decline of such liberties to remember that this generation is being introduced to ideas such as deregulation in a way that is casual and accepted. They missed the fights and are therefore not tethered to the rationale behind the fight. I bring up women’s rights specifically because I was profoundly disturbed by the level of accepted misogyny in the last election. The general acceptance of Stop and Frisk in NY is another serious disconnect that has to give us pause.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 49

Well, if it were not for WikiLeaks getting Snowden to Russia the story would have been about Snowden (again). I personally think WikiLeaks is ideologically more potent.

What precipitated the issue with Assange and Manning “becoming the story” was a when Lamo turned Manning over to the government after presenting himself as a journalist.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 55

That’s why I liked the “we are the 99%” framing that OWS used. And why I hated the MSM’s all drum circles all the time coverage.

The media tried to portray the Occupiers as “other”, but the movement sloganeered itself as “us”, meaning most Americans. I thought OWS won a major battle to change, literally, the vocabulary we use to describe ourselves and inequality.

It interests me, that shortly after the 1% meme got solidly implanted that MSM began to (barely) mention the role that billionaire funding of Astroturf organizations as a factor driving national perceptions.

dakine01 November 10th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 58

Please pardon a little blog whoring from me but I wrote this blog post in September about the media consolidation. It was one of my major takeaways from 9/11 as just about every cable channel went to their parent’s news teams for most of that day leaving about 5 different groups actually covering the scene

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:19 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 55

This is a critical and important question, Alexa. On the surface, of course, the Tea Party has been far more successful in gaining national momentum. (We can talk about the roots of the Tea Party and why it was set up to succeed later.) Essentially it’s a better bumper sticker movement than what Occupy created. The most effective message to come out of Occupy was certainly the 99% message, which was important, but it has stalled.
What has concerned me of late is that I have begun to see progressives turn against one another and not in a productive way. Criticizing the likes of Chris Hedges or even satirists like Jon Stewart instead of staying focused on the real issues that plague us threatens the progressive movement.

BrandonJ November 10th, 2013 at 3:19 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 60

Thank you Jed. I thought of it since you work in Long Island Press and I went to a high school that was mostly full of rich Long Island elites so disconnected from everything that it disturbed me. I still cannot comprehend how they live with themselves.

Do you think the internet has radically changed debate and knowledge of ideas compared to the 1930s or is it another form of communication?

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 58

James Riesen comes to mind when I read your #58. He’s not alone. I find it hard to believe that I live in time when this is even possible. I didn’t think I would see freedoms I took for granted when I was growing up, just vanish like that.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 62

I think your point is interesting. I think you offer a response to Jed who mentioned how important outrage is. Because, were it not for social media and organizations like Global Revolution (which owned the Occupy story) for a long time by broadcasting video of evens)– Occupy would not have lasted as long as it did. Fractured media (social media) is actually what made it happen in the first place.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:21 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 64

Having organized six protest across the US on September 17. I can tell you that most red state versions of Occupy were started by people who felt some affinity with the Tea Party.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:23 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 57

I’m curious to see how the trend of foundation-supported journalism continues for this reason. Smaller outlets simply don’t, and won’t, have the resources to defend themselves against the tyrannical prosecutorial methods of this administration. I can’t imagine subsequent administrations being any better, quite frankly. Publishing liability is expensive enough without the fear of prosecution that the Obama admin has now normalized. Foundation supported journalism could provide part of the antidote to this. But even here, foundations are stocked with people and people can be influenced.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:23 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 68

By affinity– I mean they wanted change– and were looking for someone with a solution. Their energy was going to be channeled– they were politically still educating themselves- and they had been disengaged and demoralized by the political environment– ie. not sure what there politics were.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:27 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 69

“Publishing liability is expensive enough without the fear of prosecution that the Obama admin has now normalized. ” Yes!.

And, I would add the extra-legal financial blockade of organizations like WikiLeaks by organizations like PayPal (Visa et al.) an attempt to strangle any disruptive innovations. That is why I think these are important fundamental issues if we are to get anywhere.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:27 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 68

IN the Tea Party, as in most successful movements, I think there are aspects to admire. But there’s a danger in its simplicity as well. Simplicity makes a movement perhaps easier to co-opt, which is what I think we’ve seen in the more vocal and reckless side of the movement.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:28 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 67

Agreed that the anti consolidation that is social media makes it harder to stovepipe information and conceal things.

That being said, as social media also becomes a commodity, I think we will see media consolidation there as well. Sadly.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:32 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 71

Absolutely. We exist in a corporately-led nation state. To think otherwise is unproductive. Corporate money has moved beyond influence. As we know, corporations fund the organizations that craft laws to protect them. A vicious cycle if ever there was one. If there was one single galvanizing issue that Tea Partiers, Occupiers, Libertarians, Progressives and the like could gather around, it’s getting money out of politics. The problem here, naturally, is that this must be done legislatively. So, game-set-match. Corporations have won that round. I think that’s why so many people are coming to the realization that revolution and not legislative evolution is the inevitable course we face.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:32 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 72

Yes. And your chapter on the Tea Party et al is very good at explaining why.

In many respects, I believe your book is a kind of antithesis to that kind of manipulation, because helps ordinary people understand complex topics and in that way empower them on the road to critical thinking.

BevW November 10th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Jed, Alexa,
Your thoughts on the new journalistic endeavor by Omidyar with Glenn Greenwald, Dan Froomkin, Liliana Segura, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.

This seems like a new strong voice against the establishment.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 65

Brandon, many people contend that Long Island could be its own state. I believe it to be its own planet. But that’s another discussion!
You touch on something important in drawing a parallel between today and the 1930′s. Misinformation was as rampant then as it is now. Financial circumstances are in many ways just as dire today as they were then. It’s how I start the book, actually. So many of the safety nets that we take for granted today are keeping us from descending into the stark reality that the history books present us with. It’s what makes the war on entitlements so utterly devastating and nonsensical. As far as information is concerned, we might consume more information today than ever before, but our ability to discern between good information and propaganda doesn’t seem to have evolved all that much.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
In response to BevW @ 76

I’m anxious to hear Alexa’s thoughts on this as this is the world she walks in. I’m just a spectator here. In the meantime, my perspective on this is that we should be wary of casting them as saviors. By posing the question, as I have seen many times, “can Glenn Greenwald” save journalism, we are placing him and this crew at a serious disadvantage. They won’t save journalism. What they will do, in my opinion, is light a fire under the asses of some big outlets to hopefully do better investigative journalism.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Jed, why are gas prices so damn high? (hah)

BrandonJ November 10th, 2013 at 3:42 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 77

Are we losing time to change our world?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:46 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 79

You’re funny. So the inside joke there is this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3G7ED0kZs8
Digging into the manipulation of oil prices led to more discovery than one could imagine. Market speculation, for me, is the true parable here. To understand what corporations have been able to achieve – from militarization to off shore money laundering – speculation is one of the more fascinating stories. The markets today are broken. But the public has been led to believe that capitalism relies on the absence of regulation. Capitalism and regulation are not mutually exclusive. The real genius (albeit evil) of the corporate state has been to steadily pull the threads of regulation from the markets and allow for the consolidation of capital into very few hands.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:47 pm
In response to BevW @ 76


The outstanding issue for me is Omidyar and the PayPal extra-legal financial blockade of WikiLeaks.

Omidyar has been “the director and Chairman of the Board since eBay’s incorporation in May 1996.” eBay owns Paypal. The relationship between the eBay and PayPal is robust. PayPal is a major part of eBay’s business. (Do a google search). I find it a bit unlikely that the Chairman of the Board of eBay would have never been involved in any discussion regarding the fiduciary health of one of its subsidiaries in relation to either the WikiLeaks blockade or the criminal indictment resulting from a high profile “cyber attack”.

To those who say, “Well, Pierre disagrees and believes in a free press (i.e. he has made his money and has nothing to do with the management of PayPal.) I say he should say something publicly. If he doesn’t that is his answer. The PayPal financial blockade against WikiLeaks gives any of his new media ventures an unfair competitive advantage in my opinion. Omidyar’s editorial in the Honolulu Civil Beat is not enough. He is in a position to write an opinion/editorial to a larger audience.

WikiLeaks continues to face an extra-legal financial blockade by PayPal based on unfounded government allegations of “illegality”.

The PayPal 14 have been facing felony charges and imprisonment in a overly political case undertaken by the Department of Justice for the last two years. The PayPal 14 case was the first major “cyber security” case in the post-WikiLeaks environment. So, with the help of PayPal, Obama’s Department of Justice and the FBI have gone after the PayPal 14 to make an example of them. A corollary to this is that I have been told by the defense counsel to one of the PayPal 14 that while PayPal informed the SEC there was no damage from the Distributed Denial of Service incident (to protect its image with shareholders), the company is trying to recoup damages from those indicted (which is a contradiction in logic).

thatvisionthing November 10th, 2013 at 3:47 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 25



Justices Say Jurors May Not Vote Conscience

Ruling: The law must be followed even if panelists believe the result will be unjust, state’s highest court finds.


SAN FRANCISCO — Jurors must follow the law–not their consciences–even when they strongly believe the law will produce an unjust result, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday.

And if you say the two magic words, “jury nullification” during voir dire:


[The judge] asked me the same question another way and I said I would vote my conscience. And then he dismissed me, saying it was too bad when people couldn’t follow the law, making it clear that he thought I was a rotten citizen and that no one else in the courtroom should even think of thinking like me. I tried to say, I think I would be following the law, the Constitution, but nope I was out. And it wasn’t just sit down and be quiet, it was court stopped until I left the room. I thought, wow, those must be powerful words.

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
In response to BrandonJ @ 80

Yes. Our resources are dwindling and toxic. The next (last) great battle will be over natural resources, which is what I believe the US is clearly preparing for.

BevW November 10th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the last few minutes of this great Book Salon discussion. Any final thoughts?

Jed, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

Alexa, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Jed’s website, Twitter, and book

Alexa’s website and Twitter

Thanks all, Have a great week. If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:53 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 82

Wow. I knew you would have great insight here. This is, again, where I wrestle with the billionaire-funded news enterprise. Watching people in my industry try to be optimistic that WaPo and the Boston Globe can be saved and preserved by billionaires is frustrating. The daily paper on Long Island is owned by a billionaire. As a result it serves his interests and is a shell of its former self. The NY Post and WSJ? Please. Publicly funded enterprises are the most pure forms available now. Here again, however, the issue becomes scale. I’m glad you raised the Wikileaks and paypal issue because it’s critical.
I wonder (salon members) what the general sentiment toward Wikileaks is among this group. Just curious.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to Alexa O'Brien @ 82

So, you think Omidyar is not sincere? Or that he does not understand the contradiction between his action and his inaction?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Thank you to Firedoglake, all the salon members and my friend Alexa for hosting. This has been terrific and went by in a flash. I’m humbled and grateful for this opportunity today.

Cynthia Kouril November 10th, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Thank you for coming to swim in the Lake, Jed and Alexa, I hope you found the water warm and inviting.

RevBev November 10th, 2013 at 3:56 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 88

You’ve written a fascinating book; thanks for being here.

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 3:58 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 89

Thank you!

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 4:00 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 87

I think as long as banks and financial service providers on which we increasingly rely can extra-legally strangle organizations like WikiLeaks (or extrapolating independent journalists like myself) on the unfounded allegations of criminality by government officials, we don’t have a free press.

karenjj2 November 10th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Another outstanding Salon! Thank you Jed, Alexa and Bev!

Alexa O\'Brien November 10th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thank you, Jed for asking me to host your book salon. Buy, read it. Bye everyone.

BrandonJ November 10th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Thank you for your responses today Jed. Great to know I have something else to read in terms of a book and the newspaper.

Thank you Alexa for hosting this discussion and everyone else for partaking in it.

thatvisionthing November 10th, 2013 at 4:07 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43

I loved the #MillionMaskMarch! Twitter pic diary: http://correntewire.com/happy_november_v_loving_the_millionmaskmarch

Also loved the Russell Brand-Jeremy Paxman youtube and his essay on Revolution, so I don’t begrudge him the attention or association. I doubt #MMM did either, but what do I know. Wish I could have bought the New Statesman Revolution issue here in the U.S. but couldn’t find one. But I called around and nobody had it or would order it. I think what he’s saying is seriously important. Maybe a dog whistle 99% of us hear and 1% can’t.

artistdogboy November 10th, 2013 at 4:13 pm
In response to Jed Morey @ 84

Jed, Speculating on the priority of finding the one paramount issue here. Does the global warming fossil fuel and throwaway society trump getting the money out of politics? Your thoughts?

Jed Morey November 10th, 2013 at 4:33 pm
In response to artistdogboy @ 97

I think breaking our reliance on fossil fuels and clamping down on the throwaway society are things that will unfortunately have to be legislated as the voluntary approach certainly hasn’t worked. And we are running out of time to correct things. People know what the right thing is, but corporations need to be mandated to behave properly. So, in my mind, it comes back to the same issue of getting money out of politics to clear the way for common sense and benevolence to return. Something that will undoubtedly rankle libertarian-minded people. I’m just not sure how else to attack this.

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