Thank God it’s Friday (and I’m not in jail with Josh Wolf)

Pop quiz. Josh Wolf is:

  1. the guy who is on track to become longest-jailed journalist in U.S. history?
  2. the anarchist & freelance videographer who did not tape the burning of a police car that became a federal case?
  3. a guy with an energetic and supportive mom?
  4. somebody who is sitting in a federal prison to defend the First Amendment?

If you haven’t heard of Josh, there are articles that will bring you up to speed on his case. If you know a bit about him but have never heard him tell how he never took any video of the police car burning that is being investigated by the feds, you might scan the transcript of his interview with Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now show. I will tell you more about why I care about Josh later. He may be in prison for a while and so I can thank him a little each and every Friday until his release. Somebody has to defend freedom. Otherwise how could I take it for granted?

But before I sign off this morning let me point to the web site being maintained by Josh’s mom, Liz Wolf Spada of Wrightwood, California. She writes:

“There is an awesome benefit planned for December 7, at 7:30 PM at the Balzo Gallery, 2183 Mission in San Francisco, between 17th and 18th Street.”

Liz then goes on to list all the political speakers who will be there to show solidarity with Josh, and I’m thinking, “Oh, yeah, that’s my definition of awesome. Listening to a lot of speechifying.” But whaddaya expect. She’s a mom and her son’s in prison. She can embellish a bit.

I’ll pick up the thread next week when I think outloud about 10 Christmas gifts Josh can make in the prison shop.

* * *

Speaking of federal cases, I got a note from Morgan Jindrich, a paid agitator for Consumer’s Union, who has misconstrued a recent incident involving what she thinks is a secretive, closed-door financial briefing conducted by Federal Communications Commission staffers. But as will become clear, I think Morgan has simply seen the glass-half empty side of what is really a glass-half full situation.

The starting point for her misconception is a Nov. 30 news article by Associated Press reporter John Dunbar who wrote that a:

” . . . small group of clients of Banc of America Securities LLC were privileged Wednesday to get an exclusive briefing from top-ranking staff of the Federal Communications Commission at hotel a block away from agency headquarters . . . (and that) . . . When a reporter from The Associated Press walked into the meeting room during a lunch break, he was escorted out by Banc of America Securities’ managing director David W. Barden.”

Morgan who is, after all, has a vested interest in stirring up trouble, immediately misinterprets and overreacts when she blogs: 

“Call me crazy, but I think it is an extraordinarily bad idea for the country’s top government regulators of the communications industry to be conducting closed-door, “exclusive briefings” for investors . . . Way too much of the public’s business gets done in the shadows these days, safely hidden from public scrutiny and the accompanying accountability it demands.”

Well, sorry to differ, Morgan, but call me naive for thinking that this signals a new willingness by federal regulators to get out of their offices and interact with constituents. In first place, I’m sure that similar briefings are available for the asking by the long list of investment banks identified by Wikipedia (so much for the “exclusive” charge). But more importantly I think what Morgan misses in her “gotcha” mindset is that the FCC is now making house calls. So if the teenager next door is playing his or her radio too loudly, by all means call the FCC and say: I’m reporting an abuse of the public airwaves. Operators are standing by to take your call.