The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Propaganda’ Category

A few weeks ago Dump’s chief cheerleader Kellyanne Conjob said that journalists’ Twitter feeds “are a hot mess.” The obvious irony of her remark can’t be avoided, of Silence-Deafens1course. But like a broken clock, for a person who talks as much as she does, she’s bound to say something true and that might have been her one true statement. Journalists’ Twiter feeds are a hot fucking mess. I’ve been following a few, and see many more re-tweeted. And the problem with legitimate reporters having Twitter feeds is that their commentary turns them into pundits. Maggie Haberman (everything is Clinton’s fault all the time), Katy Tur (after SOTU Dump became President with Capital P) and Jake Tapper (everything is Clinton’s fault) constantly engage commenters, defending their own opinions. I don’t particularly care that they have anti-Clinton opinions, but any opinion they so openly express and defend makes them no different than Jeffrey Lord. Of course we can’t expect reporters not to have opinions. But airing them as they all do brings into question their reporting. Bill O’Reilly mixes news and opinion into one telecast. Is it really so different when Maggie Haberman files a Clinton story in the NY Times and then writes on Twitter that Clinton is obviously at fault for not pushing Trump/Russia story harder during the election? The line between Haberman and O’Reilly blurs.

The latest onslaught of Hillary bashing comes from publication of a new book called “Clusterfuck” by Fuckface Fucktard and Fuckity Fuckass. I might have gotten the name of the book wrong and misspelled the names of the authors. But it’s something like that. The book is the first in what will surely be many years of autopsies of Clinton’s campaign. The gist of it is that it’s all Clinton’s fault, and mostly Robby Mook’s fault. (Nobody was allowed to speak to Hillary except via Huma and Mook is a “professional political assassin”.) The sources are, of course, largely anonymous. And the content isn’t really surprising.

What is also not surprising are the reviews. I know a graph I posted last week showed that Washington Post’s anti-Hillary coverage was only second to Fox’s, but somehow New York Times’ has always carried much more weight. (And I wonder if Chris Cillizza’s Clinton Derangement Syndrome skewed WaPo coverage overall. He is truly demented and has transferred his psychosis to his new job at CNN. More on Cillizza below.)

Michiko Kakutani reviewed the book in New York Times:

“Shattered” underscores Clinton’s difficulty in articulating a rationale for her campaign (other than that she was not Donald Trump.) And it suggests that a tendency to value loyalty over competence resulted in a lumbering, bureaucratic operation in which staff members were reluctant to speak truth to power, and competing tribes sowed “confusion, angst and infighting.”

Kakutani has a long history of reviewing both Clintons’ books and it’s not a good history. Compare to Steven Ginsberg review in Washington Post:

Does it really matter who was pissy at whom in Brooklyn when we still don’t know what role the Russians played in the election or why FBI Director James Comey publicly announced a reopening of the e-mail investigation in late October? Those questions are largely left unexplored here, other than as targets of Clinton’s post-election ire.

I also liked this paragraph from Ginsberg:

Much of the post-election analysis has criticized Clinton and her campaign for focusing on “reach” states such as North Carolina instead of putting more resources in the upper Midwest. That view is both echoed and called into question in “Shattered,” which depicts a vexing Goldilocks-style problem for Clinton across the region.

In Wisconsin, she didn’t show up enough. In Michigan, local organizers thought it was best that she stayed away. In Pennsylvania, she campaigned as aggressively as anywhere in the nation. In all three, she lost by less than 1 percent of the vote. So what should she have done?

Charles Pierce wrote a great takedown of New York Times’ Clinton problem. It’s worth reading in its entirety. Pierce reaches back to William Safire and Whitewater, the source of Times’ Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Several other reporters and writers also pointed to the nonsense of the book’s premise and the subsequent flogging of Clinton.

Dave Weigel of WaPo tweeted: “Obviously Clinton screwed up by forcing every cable channel to play Trump speeches live for a year.”

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo: “Remember: Every losing campaign was run by idiots. Every winning campaign by geniuses. Rinse, repeat.”

Greg Sargent of The Plum Line: “Weird how people who cite Nate Silver constantly suddenly don’t ever cite his conclusion about Comey impact.”

And, of course, Paul Krugman: “When journos who hyped e-mail pseudo-scandal pile on over HRC campaign errors, it’s partly CYA over their own role n Trump disaster.”

I do wish Krugman would walk over to Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush and smack them.

A note about Cillizza. His Clinton hate is truly one of the most rabid among the media. I try to think of someone who might match it at the moment and really, I can’t think of anyone who’s not, say, Rush Limbaugh. After his latest “It’s all Hillary’s fault” article from today, an Unworthy writer Parker Malloy put together a collage of some of Cillizza’s articles from WaPo on Clinton. (The handle in the images reads CillizzaCNN, but that’s because he’s changed it to his current job; the old username from WaPo days was not archived separately.)

 

If you want to know what real, fearless journalism looks like, read the story of Elena

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Elena Milashina

Milashina from Novaya Gazeta.  Milashina is the reporter who told the world about the kidnapping and torture of gay men in Chechnya, reports that put her life in danger. Novaya Gazeta is the same newspaper Anna Politkovskaya worked for. Politkovskaya reported a lot on Putin’s actions in Chechnya. She was murdered.

Another example of courageous reporting, also from Russia, is in this Jim Rutenberg report.

It’s important American journalists pay attention to these stories. Because Trump wants to be like Putin. And if Trump becomes Putin, he’ll go after journalists first.

 

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white-houseA few of random thoughts for the week, my fellow Widdershins.

This weekend I attended a friend’s wedding in Washington DC. My friend, Mike, served for 5 years in the Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and worked his way to Captain before leaving service. He came out of the closet to his friends in the army shortly before leaving and before DADT was repealed.  (His husband used to work in a publicity firm in DC that serves politicians. Because everybody needs good PR.) They took Trump’s election very personally, especially as a gay couple. But it was encouraging to have the military chaplain, who presided over the ceremony, acknowledge how difficult life for gay men and women is in the military and how much he hopes things get better.

I was seated at the table with some of my friend’s former military brothers and sisters, all straight. My direct neighbor was one very Southern redneck from Texas.  I, the East coast elite, looked at him with suspicion at first. But as he cheered the grooms’ first dance I was reminded of a story another friend once told me about Spike Lee. That friend was a manager of a movie theater in Harlem and they held premieres of several Spike Lee movies. At one premiere a fight broke out in the audience. Lee came up to my friend afterwards and apologized for the fight, though he had nothing to do with it. My friend responded: “Oh it’s fine, we were expecting it so we were prepared.” Lee responded: “You shouldn’t have expected it and it shouldn’t have happened. I’m sorry it happened.” Lessons learned about assumptions, so I shouldn’t have made any about this large Southern military man and what he thinks about gay people and their marriages.

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Speaking of gay, Madonna was just named Billboard Magazine’s woman of the year. I love Madonna, not just in that back-handed “Well she’s proved her mettle for 30 years and she’s got a few big hits” sort of way. I genuinely love her music, she’s written some of the most infectious and important pop songs of the last 30 years.  She’s charted more No. 1 hits than any other artist in Billboard’s history. Her tours have earned $1.3 billion, the most of any female artist.  So it’s not just shock values, she has proven her musical chops for 30 years.  I also admire her determination. This is one woman who refused to bake cookies.  One may not like her music or respect her approach to fame, but it’s hard to argue she’s more famous than Jesus’s mother at this point.  That’s quite the feat.  She’s paved the way for many women in the entertainment industry. Now, as a 58 year old, she’s still pushing boundaries. About a year ago she posted a photo to Instragram with hairy armpits. Internet broke. People were very upset. Mind you, she caused controversy with hairy armpits in the 1980’s too and maybe the fact that people were still angry about it is why it was important for her post the photo. The Billboard interview that accompanies the Woman of the Year headline, by the actress Elizabeth Banks, touches on a few interesting topics. Madonna hosted a rally for Hillary Clinton in Washington Square Park in NYC the night before the election. She says since the election she’s felt like “someone died.” And she was disappointed by how many women voted for Trump.

Women’s nature is not to support other women. It’s really sad. Men protect each other, and women protect their men and children. Women turn inward and men are more external. A lot of it has do with jealousy and some sort of tribal inability to accept that one of their kind could lead a nation. Other people just didn’t bother to vote because they didn’t like either candidate, or they didn’t think Trump had a chance in the world. They took their hands off the wheel and then the car crashed.

Madonna is also asked about ageism in the entertainment industry and America. One thing people constantly tell Madonna now is she should stop flaunting her boobs or hairy armpits because she’s an old woman. One way to dismiss her is to call her “irrelevant.” Nobody says that about Mick Jagger. And they were telling Madonna to not flaunt her boobs when she was in her 20’s too.

Age is only brought up with regard to women. It’s connected to sexism, chauvinism and misogyny. When Leonardo [DiCaprio] is 60 years old, no one is going to talk about his relevance. Am I relevant as a female in this society that hates women? Well, to people who are educated and are not chauvinists or misogynists, yes.

 feminism-quote

lincoln-memorialAnd speaking of Washington DC, above is a photo we took at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday.

And one of the places we visited was the Holocaust Museum. The subject of the Holocaust is one I’ve read about a fair amount in the past. Nazi atrocities have always fascinated me so I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject because I keep trying to understand how ordinary people could such awful things. I highly recommend Richard Rhodes’ “Masters of Death,” for example, about the Einsatzgruppen, an elite group of SS soldiers who followed the German army into Eastern Europe and exterminated, virtually by hand, about 1.5 million people as the German Army advanced into the Soviet Union in 1941.  It was the first step of Hitler’s Final Solution. So the images and the stories at the museum are something I have been reading about and studying for some time. But having everything assembled in one place and in such a thorough fashion is very heavy. Two places at the exhibit were particularly haunting. At the end of the Final Solution section the hundreds of shoes in a pile are hair-raising. But the most emotional moment, unexpectedly so, was walking through a train car used to deport Jews to Dachau. You walk in, you stop for a moment inside – and it just takes your breath away. You can hear the voices still echoing inside the walls.

In the first part of the exhibit, about Hitler’s rise to power, it’s really difficult to not see the ascendancy of Trump and its parallels to Hitler. I know, you’re not supposed to compare people to Hitler. But sometimes you can and you should. Hitler rose in power in part because nobody believed he would do any of the horrible things he said he would do. His ideas and philosophies were not new to anyone. He articulated them in his book and he spoke about them at length as he rose to power, before he was appointed to be the Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler challenged Hindenburg for Presidency in 1932. The vote was close and they had to have a run-off, one week of campaigning. Hindenburg delivered one radio address. Hitler rented a plane from Lufthansa and spent the week flying around Germany, holding rallies in 22 cities in one week. The public was electrified, he made headlines of every newspaper. Hindenburg, a very well-known figure, won the run-off. But Hitler, the master rally-holder, became a big enough thorn in Hindenburg’s side that he appointed Hitler to be Chancellor of Germany. Hindenburg’s allies convinced the aging President that Hitler could be controlled from the inside and that appointing him would be harmless. We know the rest.

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As Germany’s Left shattered because nobody could agree on a common adversary, and a certain wing of the Left didn’t think everyone else was pure enough to support – Hitler, who promised the frustrated Germans that he would make Germany relevant again – quickly consolidated his power. He then did exactly what he said he would do. In one documentary shown at the museum, a female reporter returning from Germany held a press-conference on a boat. (Sadly I did not jot down her name and have not been successful at locating this press-conference online. I couldn’t even narrow down the name of the reporter.) But she said explicitly that she observed that the Nazis had started doing in Germany exactly what they all along said they were going to do, so maybe America and the world should start taking them seriously.

I’m not saying Trump is Hitler. I’m just saying…

One thing I really liked in the exhibit is that the final section is dedicated to many individuals who fought against the Nazis and helped Jews during the Holocaust.  There are many names and photographs, and brief summaries of how they helped.  None of them are as famous as Oscar Schindler.  But how amazing that someone remembers their individual stories, ordinary men and women of different ages, backgrounds, professions and religions, who risked their own lives to save others.

I kept checking for their death dates and was glad to see that many of them did survive the war and lived long lives.  Though not all.

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Hans and Sophie Scholl with Christoph Probst in summer 1942

A few college students formed a small group The White Rose. Consisting of students from University of Munich that included siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst,  Alex Schmorell, another Scholl sibling Inge and a philosophy professor Kurt Huber.  The students were in their early 20’s.  Between June 1942 and February 1943 they distributed leaflets denouncing the Nazis and their mass murders of Jews, some of which the members of The White Rose hand witnessed first-hand at home and at the front.  Soon they were all arrested and executed.  Hans Scholl’s final words were: “Long live Freedom!”

Prior to their deaths, several members of the White Rose believed that their execution would stir university students and other anti-war citizens into a rallying activism against Hitler and the war. Accounts suggest, however, that university students continued their studies as usual, citizens mentioned nothing, many regarding the movement as anti-national. Their actions were mostly dismissed, until after the war when their efforts were eventually praised by the German consciousness.

 

 

What’s on your mind folks? This is an open thread.

 

network

Let’s face it, it’s not as if The Media has ever really been entirely a responsible being. Yellow Journalism has always existed and often some of it has been controlled by the rotten likes of William Randolph Hearst. But today’s public trust of The Media (“Lamestream!” and otherwise) is down to 32%. This is down from its highest rating of 72% in 1976. Frankly, I’m surprised the current number is as high as 32%. We have watched The Media descend into a bloody feeding frenzy of click-bait headlines (BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation) and ratings-grabbing reality TV style programming. Everything on CNN is BREAKING NEWS! All the time!!!!!! Even when all they’re showing is a bear that broke into some lady’s fridge and ate all her fish or a Trump rally without any editing or commentary. BREAKING NEWS! I suppose it’s possible that at any moment the bear will start singing “Hallelujah!” and Trump will say something reasonable, which would indeed be Breaking News!  Alas, the headlines often turn out to be false (no, half of those Clinton met did not give money to Clinton Foundation) and the coverage lacking in integrity (Trump never did say anything reasonable), and all we have is a broken news media to show for it.

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While HRC’s relationship with the media is known to be controversial, it’s Trump’s relationship with the media that they should have been worried about. They allowed themselves get locked up in pens at Trump’s rallies, listened to Trump taunt them from the stage, especially female reporters (NBC’s Katy Tur received multiple public shellackings and at one point needed Secret Service to escort her to her car from a rally because she no longer felt safe from Trump’s supporters,) got physically assaulted at Trump rallies and heard Trump’s constant threats that he will sue one media outlet or another for coverage he doesn’t like by expanding libel laws. But all they worried about were Hillary Clinton’s press conferences. This was big big news for weeks, yuuuge news.  Even though Clinton always travelled with the full press pool and spoke to them daily and gave individual interviews, they were really worried about press conferences.  It was Breaking News for weeks! Well, fast forward and Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July. And he dodges the press pool altogether as President-Elect (vomit) when he wants to because, well, why wouldn’t he! The Media is annoyed now. Maybe Trump doesn’t like them as much as they thought? SAD!

Trump’s two years worth of attacks on the press and their integrity should have given them a clue that perhaps Trump was not their friend. But they only seem to have gotten a clue when the President-Elect (barf) invited them to an off-the-record meeting at Isengard Trump Tower. The brightest stars of TV news came out. George Stephanopoulos and Wolf Blitzer were there, and there’s David Muir and Charlie Rose! And look, it’s Chuck Todd and Lester Holt! And head of CNN Jeff Zucker, the man who was head of NBC when Trump started firing people for ratings. They ran to this thing like it was an orgy.  And then it turned into an execution. “It was like a fucking firing squad!” was how one person inside characterized it.  (There’s shooting at both orgies and executions, so I can see how everybody got their signals mixed.)

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Does my suit match the gold decor?

Trump apparently said: “’We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong,’” This is all allegedly because the meeting was off-the-record. So The Media isn’t commenting. But you can bet your pattootie Trump’s people were the ones who leaked this to the NY Post within minutes. The headlines from Breitbart and Drudge were appropriately gleeful. “Baghdad Kellyanne” Conway, everybody’s favorite contrarian, argued things weren’t as intense as all that. “… no he did not explode in anger. He’s the president-elect. He won … winning solves a lot of problems. Winning makes a lot of statements.” (Yes, yes it does Baghdad Kellyanne. Lots of statements have been made, though I wonder what Baghdad Kellyanne thinks the statements are when HRC is winning the popular vote by 2,000,000 and counting. What statement does that make Baghdad Kellyanne? Kellyanne? Bueller?)

conway-lewandowski

Just 3 best buds hanging out, nothing to see here, ok bye!

I wonder what the hallowed names of TV news like Rose, Blitzer and Holt think when the President-Elect (vomit) of the United States calls them liars to their face when they’ve tried to use every word except “liar” when covering Drumpf’s lies.When Trump tells Zucker in person “I hate your network. Everyone at CNN is a liar, and you should be ashamed.” What does Zucker, who employed journalist-assaulting Corey Lewandowski as a commentator while Lewandowski remained on Trump’s payroll, what does Zucker think? (He doesn’t think anything of it, actually). Did Zucker know Lewandowski and Kellyanne Conway were still working together throughout the campaign? Conway tweeted a photo of herself, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Lewandowski, 4 days before the election with the tag: “Team Work.” Hmm…. Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. What does Jeffrey think? I think we have two options. Either Zucker is an idiot or he knows exactly what is happening and is ok with it because CNN is making big boatloads of money off their Trump coverage. About a billion dollars worth. CBS head honcho Les Moonves said: “”It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…The money’s rolling in and this is fun.”  I hope everybody is having as much fun as Zucker and Moonves!

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Donny Drumpf and CNN’s Jeff Zucker, just a coupla buds LOLing

So with our illustrious TV news anchors and executives executed neutered by the President-Elect (vomit) – what do we have left? I’d say we can expect nothing from the boob tube, it has truly been boobified beyond repair, Lamestream to infinity. I’m afraid print journalism is our only hope. The NY Times, so flawed in so many ways (it’s hard to like a newspaper that continued to employ Rita Skeeter Maureen Dowd… though they also still employ Paul Krugman.) Anyway, the Times also met with Drumpf, but they insisted that the meeting be on-the-record. Drumpf, still fresh off the TV Media massacre of 2016, attacked the “failing NY Times” on Twitter, cancelled the meeting, then re-scheduled it again. All in a matter of hours. Classic Trump! (Does anyone else think he’ll order the launch of a nuke, then change his mind? Will he change it quickly enough to cancel the nuke? Can a nuke be cancelled after it’s been launched? Stay tuned, it will be covered on Breaking News!) Then when Drumpf finally met with the failing NY Times, he said: “I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.” He then called them “a jewel.” (Charles Blow was having none of it.  He refused to attend the meeting with Drumpf and then wrote in an op-ed: “You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.”  Anybody care to guess what Rita Skeeter Maureen Dowd thinks?) I wonder if the Times meeting being recorded had anything to do with Drumpf’s fawning tone vs. the off-the-record TV luminaries meeting where he told them all to just go ahead and die? All I know is Drumpf is already up to #7 of this handy “Despots and the Media” Guide. He’s already making his own videos, bypassing the media altogether. Kind of like those videos Osama bin Laden used to make. In the meantime I can’t wait for Trump’s next Tweet about the failing NY Times. It will be tremendous.

media

# 1 – 7:  Done

Christiane Amanpour, accepting the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award at the Committee To Protect Journalists ceremony, delivered a blistering speech directed at fellow journalists. She had a lot of great things to say about The Media, its failures in the 2016 election, and what it must do to redeem itself.

So I feel that right now we face an existential crisis. A real threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession. Now, more than ever, I genuinely believe that we need to recommit to real reporting across a real nation and a real world in which journalism and democracy are in mortal peril….

Never equate victim and aggressor. Never create a false moral or factual equivalence. Because then, if you do, particularly in situations like that, you are party and accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences.

So I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth. We have to be prepared to fight, especially hard, right now, for the truth, because this is a world where the Oxford English dictionary just last week announced its word for 2016, and that is, ‘post-truth’.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?  Do you love The Media as much as it loves you?  This is an open thread.

Good Monday, all! If you read the headlines these days, the press seems to be behaving much better when it comes to Der Trumperer, actually finding, somewhere deep within their ADD-impaired noggins, the capability to focus on his overall awfulness instead of pounding on Hillary incessantly for not paying enough attention to them while dizzy and passing out from pneumonia. (Mommy issues, anyone?) See this “Many Scandals of Donald Trump” article in The Atlantic as an example. Well, see it if you want to experience a degree of boiling rage and nausea you haven’t experienced since you realized that yes, the Republicans were really, truly, f*cking srlsly going to let that mango-colored monkey run against Hillary Clinton. It turns out that Drumpf’s scandals are so numerous, The Atlantic complains it doesn’t have enough space on its pages to write all of them down. Poor babies! If I were a journalist and not a blogger, I might suggest that The Atlantic report on one scandal a day until November 7th. I guess that is just too much Hard Work(TM) for those with journamalism degrees!

In any case, the press is starting to focus its relentlessly negative eye where it belongs, on Dangerous, Despotic, Deplorable Donald. Does this mean they finally get the seriousness of this race? That they have understood the perils of their stunning lack of objectivity and “grading on a curve” when it comes to the pseudo-billionaire who has the overwhelming hubris to think he’s got what it takes to run for President?

Um, no.

If the press “corpse” is to revive itself, it needs to do something it hasn’t yet done, and hasn’t been able to do for the past 40 years: Report objectively on Hillary Clinton. Report on her qualifications, her policies and whether or not they would be good for America; report on what she would do if/when in office. Maybe even cover one of her speeches every once in a while. You know – exactly what they do with Drumpf.

They are showing a few signs of being able to do this. From the article linked above:

The investigation [into his charitable giving] is a new political headache for Trump. The Republican has sought to make hay out of accusations against the Clinton Foundation, but so far that group has no legal troubles. Trump’s charity, however, now finds itself in legal jeopardy.

A truthful and factual comparison! The Clinton Foundation hasn’t done anything illegal, whereas Trump’s Foundation is now under investigation. Could it be The Atlantic has re-discovered what the word “objective” actually means? Not so fast:

The 2016 presidential election could be the most scandal-plagued match-up since James Blaine’s allegedly corrupt business deals squared off against Grover Cleveland’s alleged illegitimate child in 1884. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the nominee, bringing with her a train-car’s worth of baggage. But the Republican candidate is at least as saddled with controversy as Clinton is—and while many of the Clinton cases involve suspicion and shadowy links, many of Trump’s are fully documented in court cases and legal proceedings.

[facepalm]

No, no, NO. Here’s what’s wrong with this allegedly “fair and balanced” paragraph:

  1. Hillary is not bringing baggage with her. Here’s how I’d write this sentence: “The media is dumping sh*t on her daily, and Hillary has been forced to carry it for the past 40 years.” That is not remotely the same thing. Her worst sin is that she hasn’t found a way to get the media to stop lying about her, for which they, of course, blame her as well. (More on that a bit later.)
  2. Saying “many of the Clinton cases involve suspicion and shadowy links” does not pass the smell test. In fact, ALL of the Clinton cases are nothing but innuendo. I’m going to say that again. ALL OF THE CLINTON CASES ARE NOTHING BUT INNUENDO. There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton has ever done anything wrong or illegal. Ever. So despite the media’s gleeful daily exercise of picking apart every single participle she’s ever dangled, searching for evil conspiracies, corruption, and most likely a vagina dentata, there’s “no there there.” And I don’t think there ever will be, frankly. Hillary’s just not that kind of girl.

To follow up on #1, here is my favorite thing the media does when it comes to HRC: continue to talk about a non-story that originated out of some malarial Republican’s nightmare every day, no matter whether there are “new developments” or not, and then say something like this: “Why is it that she can’t stop us from talking about this?” For example: the “d*mned emails” Bernie Sanders complained about. She has been tried and convicted in the press for being reckless and careless and not trustworthy with national security because…she had a private email server from which she sent a grand total of zero emails which were correctly marked as classified. How utterly absurd. Yet because she hasn’t said some kind of magic word, given enough press conferences, and/or apologized on bended knee to the press while self-flagellating for being an uppity wimminz, the press feels justified in yammering about this bullsh*t as if it’s real, and comparing it to actual Dangerous, Despotic and Deplorable things The Donald has said and done.

So until the media purges itself of its toxic, misogynistic hatred of Hillary Clinton, they’re still never going to get it. And this pathetic farce of an election will continue to be reported as though two equally despicable candidates are running, with equal negatives, instead of one amazing, inspiring public servant versus a putrid pustule of a human being.

This is an open thread.

An Absence of Fairness

Good Monday, all, and I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.  In the spirit of that holiday, I’d like to thank my favorite Preznit, Ronnie Dearest, for making it possible for our politicos to attack other politicians and institutions with impunity. Yes, I’m talking about the Raygun Administration’s revocation of the Fairness Doctrine.

n 1985, under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989, though the Court stated in their decision that they made “that determination without reaching the constitutional issue.”[16]

[snip]

Fowler said in February 2009 that his work toward revoking the Fairness Doctrine under the Reagan Administration had been a matter of principle (his belief that the Doctrine impinged upon the First Amendment), not partisanship. Fowler described the White House staff raising concerns, at a time before the prominence of conservative talk radio and during the preeminence of the Big Three television networks and PBS in political discourse, that repealing the policy would be politically unwise. He described the staff’s position as saying to Reagan:

The only thing that really protects you from the savageness of the three networks—every day they would savage Ronald Reagan—is the Fairness Doctrine, and Fowler is proposing to repeal it![22]

Instead, Reagan supported the effort and later vetoed the Democratic-controlled Congress’s effort to make the doctrine law.

Since the Fairness Doctrine was revoked, we’ve seen the rise of infotainment, complete with “he-said/she-said” opinion journalism, and the empowerment of the right-wing noise machine, including “think tanks” whose sole purpose is to twist the public discourse away from reality (which as we know, has a liberal bias) to the skewed, black-is-white worldview of the top 1%.

I draw a bright line between this revocation and the rise of delusional movements like modern conservatism, whose members hold beliefs that, despite their unshakeability, lack any basis in reality. One of these beliefs, disgustingly promoted by some of the top Republican contenders for President, is the alleged propensity of Planned Parenthood to sell baby parts. There were videos, which were since proven to be deceptively edited, which were used to “prove” the accusation and sow outrage in the Republican base. As usual, none of these brainless f*cktards gave a thought to the way this would affect people who, by definition, are only loosely tethered to the world as we know it. Predictably, some RWNJ with a gun decided to avenge those alleged murdering psychos at Planned Parenthood by…becoming a murdering psycho at Planned Parenthood.

Robert Lewis Dear allegedly killed three people and injured 9 others yesterday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In the hours after the shooting little was known about Dear or his motivations.

Saturday evening, those motivations began to come into focus. NBC News and the Washington Post reported that, after the shooting, Dear told law enforcement officials “no more baby parts.”

The phrase clearly references a series of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion advocacy group. The videos alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling body parts from fetuses for profit. These allegations were untrue and the videos relied on deceptive editing.

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Peace for Paris

As we all mourn the terrible attacks in Paris over the weekend, and the 129 victims who senselessly lost their lives, I know that I am wondering what we will do now. What is the answer to how to stop ISIS, aka “The Islamic State,” from doing this again? How can we stop the terrorist group from taking over Iraq and Syria, and extending its reach throughout the Middle East in the long-awaited radical Muslim “caliphate” called for by the group’s leaders? Can it happen here, again? Will New York, or some other American city, be the next target? Will it be Great Britain? ISIS has already spat in Putin’s face (I think they will come to regret that soon), and now Hollande’s. This can’t be allowed to stand.

And so far, the response of the US and France has been to counterattack. Twenty bombs were dropped on an ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, Syria yesterday.

The French defense ministry has said the “massive” airstrikes which hit Raqqa on Sunday night, was carried out in coordination with US forces. Twenty bombs were dropped, destroying a command center, jihadi recruitment center, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, the defense ministry said in a statement.

This approach does make sense. Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS is trying to take over state governments and became a “state actor.”  While Al Qaeda’s strongholds and leadership were hidden for protection, ISIS shows its hand boldly and proudly. This leaves the terrorist group open to traditional-style warfare.

As an aspiring government authority, ISIS is also committed to providing public and social services to the population, activities in which it is already deeply engaged. These many public goods include power and water services, law enforcement, health care, dispute resolution, employment, education and public outreach. These responsibilities cost money, which in ISIS’ case comes from extortion (or taxation, as it were), control of energy and water resources, and plunder.

These sources are of course vulnerable to physical attack and disruption. Strategic assets such as oil facilities and utilities infrastructure are highly visible and vulnerable to air strikes. ISIS also makes little effort to disguise governing facilities, political headquarters and policy and security installations. As a self-appointed state, ISIS sees little reason to keep a low profile in its own territory. Remarkably, its rivals have made little to no effort to target these assets, which are essential pillars of ISIS’ political authority and governance. For those very reasons, however, destroying these facilities without empowering moderate Sunni groups to govern in ISIS’ place would only lead to state collapse in ISIS-held areas. International efforts continue to focus on foreign terrorist finances such as donations. ISIS – a self-funded organization – remains wealthy.

The question is, what else is going to happen? How will the governments of France, the United States and other sympathetic countries react?

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Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend and enjoyed all the football, both college and pro.

I came across an article this weekend that caught my eye. Despite all the happy talk about the improving economy, the sense that we never recovered from the 2008 crash has always been with me, and with many readers of this blog as well. This feeling was not only reflected in my own experience, but also by some of the more truthful stories and posts about the effects of long-term unemployment, and the changing of the job market to a much more part-time/no-benefits model.

Per the linked article, it seems that these feelings have a basis in reality.

The number of long-term unemployed in the world’s major economies has increased by 85% since the financial crash, according to the latest employment monitor by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

More than 16 million people have been out of work for at least a year in the first quarter of 2014, up from 8.7 million before the crisis, or more than one in three of all unemployed across the OECD‘s 34 member countries, the report said.

The Paris-based forum gave a stark warning to countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, which recorded the biggest increases in unemployment after the 2008 crash. It said there is growing evidence that part of what was originally a cyclical increase in unemployment has become structural and “will thus be more difficult to reverse during the economic recovery”.

It said: “Therefore, tackling unemployment where it remains high and driving down long-term unemployment remain key policy priorities.”

Paul Krugman warned that this would happen. Does he ever get tired of being completely right, and having no one pay attention? From an April 21, 2013 NY Times post entitled “The Jobless Trap:”

… Five years after the crisis, unemployment remains elevated, with almost 12 million Americans out of work. But what’s really striking is the huge number of long-term unemployed, with 4.6 million unemployed more than six months and more than three million who have been jobless for a year or more. Oh, and these numbers don’t count those who have given up looking for work because there are no jobs to be found.

It goes without saying that the explosion of long-term unemployment is a tragedy for the unemployed themselves. But it may also be a broader economic disaster.

The Krug’s bleeding liberal heart feels for the long-term unemployed, and he writes from their perspective. The article in the Guardian takes a wider view, and focuses more on how the members of the EOCD should fix the structural issue of long-term unemployment from a policy perspective. To me, the recommendations are a little confusing.

The main message from the report is that governments need to work harder to equip workers with the skills needed to cope with a fast-changing economic landscape.

Um, huh? I like the idea of investing in job training, but I remember hearing this trope from both GWB and Obama and not buying it then. How difficult is it to learn to say “Welcome to Wal-Mart, how may I help you?”

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