Sunday, September 01, 2013

Media: The silence, the fawning, the unanswered

All last week, the White House used the media in an effort to sell war on Syria. From the various staffers tasked to whispering sotto voice on background to the State Department's own personal troll doll Marie Harf through Secretary of Mental State Dangerous John Kerry all the way up to The Dalibama of War, every claim they made floated over the airwaves, along the internet and into print -- usually without even the mildest of questioning taking place.  It was as though fact checkers were on a forced hiatus.


For weeks now, there had been brief sightings of St. Barack in the tiny, bucolic, media villages of PBS and CNN.  It was during his visit to the latter that he performed a self-less miracle -- tanking CNN's ratings to allow MSNBC and Fox News to sail past, Fox News doing so with nearly four times as many viewers.  It was very similar to a wonder performed by Our Blessed Michelle who is said to have turned school lunches into vomit.

On Saturday afternoon, he and Joe Biden made an address from the Rose Garden . . .  and both were squinty eyed  . . . and old . . . and frightening.  Frightening, if not in that there's-a-killer-right-behind-you! manner then at least in the, "Good gosh, have you seen Kris Jenner?  She looks more and more like Tom Cruise!"  That said, it was the perfect location for Barack's remarks because historically, pre-1902, what is today's Rose Garden was also full of s**t but, back then, it was horse s**t.

In the Rose Garden yesterday, like a Price Is Right show model, Biden just stood there throughout without speaking.  He could have been St. Gregory the Wonder Worker and the vice president still wouldn't have been any help to Barack who was determined to continue his lie that it was necessary for the US to attack Syria.

At one point, he huffed, "What's the purpose of the international system that we've built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world's people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?"

Maybe St. Barack can put down that Course in Miracles and pick up a few volumes of international law?

What's the point of building international law, we wondered, if signing onto it doesn't mean you'll follow it?

International law is very clear on this.  IPS analyst Phyllis Bennis appeared on many programs last week -- including  KPFA's Up Front with Guest Host Philip Maldari on Tuesday, Democracy Now! on Wednesday and FAIR's Counterspin on Friday -- to address various issues an attack on Syria would raise and what was required for such an attack.  Here she is speaking with Peter Hart on Counterspin:

Phyllis Bennis:  Only if the [United Nations] Security Council votes to endorse the use of force is the use of force legal.  No other agency, institution, organization has that right.  So the Kosovo precedent that you refer to and that unfortunately this is being talked about in the press.  It's being asserted that if the Security Council doesn't agree, there are other options.  Yeah, there are other options.  The problem is they're all illegal.  The Kosovo model was illegal.  What the US did in 1999, when it wanted to bomb, to start an air war against Serbia over Kosovo, realized it would not get support of the Security Council because Russia had said it would veto.  So instead of saying, 'Well okay we don't have support of the Security Council, I guess we can't do it,' they said, 'Okay, we won't go to the Security Council, we'll simply go to the NATO High Command and ask their permission.'  Well, what a surprise, the NATO High Command said 'sure.'  It's like the hammer and the nail.  If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  If you're NATO everything looks like it requires military intervention.  The problem is, under international law, the UN charter is the fundamental component under international law that determines issues of war and peace.  And the charter doesn't say that the Security Council or NATO or the President of the United States can all decide over the use of force.  The only agency that can legally approve the use of force is the Security Council of the United Nations.  Period.  Full stop.

It's good that Barack's decided to consult with Congress -- the Constitution actually requires their authorization so it's good that he is at least (in this case) going to obey US laws.  But even should the Congress grant approval, that won't make an attack in compliance with international law.  The US would not be responding to an attack on it so the only way to legally attack Syria would be to have UN authorization.

As we noted above, he's the one who raised the "international system" in yesterday's speech.  He did it again while  comparing Syria to government "who flout fundamental international rules?"

But international law is the supreme international rule, or is Barack too stupid to grasp that?

As much as Barack and his minions filled the space with noise, we couldn't notice how others filled the space with silence.  Or a certain kind of silence.  A cheap and whorish silence.

Remember when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House and we were all outraged by his War Crimes and illegal spying on the American people?  Susan Sarandon, Ani DiFranco, Janeane Garofalo, Jane Fonda, Bright Eyes, Joan Baez, George Clooney, and a host of others denounced him with Eddie Vedder going so far as to attack a Bush mask onstage in the midst of a Pearl Jam concert.  Madonna, of course, tried to have it both ways, tossing a grenade at a Bush look-alike in a video and then announcing she would ban the video in the US (and getting a ton of publicity for what would go on to be her worst selling album of all time).

Yet today, the cat has their tongue.  They're not silent, you understand.  They still have the time to hawk their wares.

Joan's tour of AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND has begun! See the tour dates page for all twelve dates, cities, and ticket buying information. And be sure to check in on Grace Stumberg's tour blog for regular updates from the road! 

See they clearly can Tweet and speak when it comes to hawking their wares. In fact, they're turning from artists into non-stop Home Shopping Network hosts -- and the quality of their product also reflects that. But they've been struck with a form of ethical laryngitis which allows them to speak as vendors. They can also speak meaningless bulls**t as well.

  1. I'm in tonight's episode of The Newsroom. A fun scene. Check it out.
  2. Had lunch Monday with my pal Richard Simmons. He ate dessert--so there!

One good thing we can say for Jane, she's no longer using her activist mug shot for her Twitter photo.  If she were, she'd look like an even bigger fraud.

Or maybe like a bigger whore?   Not a classy one like Bree Daniels when she still had her place on Park Avenue.  But maybe Bree when she lets her pimp Frankie shoot her up.

Jane's quickly become the joke of the entertainment industry.

She's in a piece of trash TV show run by a man who doesn't know how to write anything but speeches and whose other common thread  in all his writing -- including The Newsroom -- is sexism.  We watched as people suddenly discovered sexism in the Aaron Sorkin's writing and suddenly noticed he could speechify and moralize in writing, he just couldn't handle action or anything resembling real life.  We watched and shrugged as people discovered in 2012  what we documented in 2006 -- covering his then-new TV show, West Wing, Sports Night, An American President, A Few Good Men and his acting classes.

The Newsroom is a TV turd, that's the only way to describe it.  The ratings in season two are even worse than they were in the first season.  It's Lou Grant if plots and stories were pulled to leave only dialogue.  And Jane?  She's stuck in the pathetic -- albeit more macho -- Mrs. Pynchon role only Nancy Marchand was only 56 when she played that role.

Of course, Marchand looked older.  Jane?  She doesn't look younger.  She looks . . .

She looks strange.  Worse than strange in this year's outdoor photos from Cannes.

Let's be honest.  The latest face lift, that she's repeatedly apologized for, is just her latest mistake.  If she hadn't f**ked around with so much plastic surgery, she might be able to be on a quality TV show like Downton Abbey.  But Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith (who are four and three years older than Jane) look like attractive older women.

Jane's pursuit of eternal youth grows sadder by the day.  At her age, you'd hope for some comfort-in-her-own-skin to have been arrived at.  Instead, you're more likely to catch Jane embarrassing herself on some talk show -- calling an Academy Award winning actress a bitch, for example. Or, worse, you might have caught her a few weeks ago on Jimmy Fallon's show.  We tried to focus on her quips but it was so hard since we were stuck with her nips.

At 75, that's what a two-time Academy Award winning actress, activist and author does?  Go on national TV in a sheer blouse without a bra to show her nipples?  While trying to flirt with the host?  Maybe those weren't Jane's nipples?  Maybe she's at that Marlene Dietrich stage and positioned pearls as points on her breasts to give the illusion of 'nipple'?

She was totally clueless as she tried to act and look sexual.  She has no idea of the negative response her embarrassing performance prompted from Jimmy's viewers who weren't willing to play she-looks-good-for-her-age and were more interested in expressing their dismay and disgust that an elderly woman was aping Dina Lohan.  She was called a "snow leopard" in some of the complaints.

Apparently, it was too much for her to go on TV in a normal manner and to talk about anything that actually matters.  Instead, she wanted the world to see her as the elderly drunk at last call who can't stand to be alone and so madly tosses themselves at everyone.

In 1986, she co-wrote Women Coming Of Age and insisted she wasn't going to become a slave to plastic surgery but was instead going to embrace the aging process.  She even fought with the publisher when the proposed cover photo was so airbrushed her character lines had disappeared.  Since then, she's had one procedure after another.  What Cher didn't do but gets slammed for, Jane actually did.

And she's 76 this December.

When does she stop kidding herself that any of this looks good or even attractive?

Probably never.  Because she also kids herself that she's a political activist and that the left in the entertainment industry cares about her.  Unthinking Democrats in the industry like her -- the Tom Hanks and George Clooneys, the politically ignorant, honestly.  But the left?

She's more and more on her own now.  And with this piece, we stop defending her.

We once thought, it would take a year for her to come to her senses.  It's been over five.  We're tired of defending her.  We have our politics straight, we're tired of waiting for her to get her act together.

The Iraq War has not ended but she can't acknowledge that or even re-Tweet Tim Arango's New York Times article from almost a year ago where he reported, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

She can't acknowledge that but damned if she couldn't grandstand in DC in January of 2007.

Remember that?  Remember her assertion that "silence is no longer an option."

It's really not.  But damned if  she isn't silent about the assault on Syria.  Even worse, she's silent on the spying.

Even worse?

For Jane Fonda, yes.  She's the one who sued the federal government for spying on her during Vietnam.

Yet she's been silent as one revelation of Barack's illegal spying after another has emerged.  As an Academy Award wining actress asked us last week, "Was that spying wrong because it was during Vietnam or was it wrong because it happened to her?  Obviously, the spying itself wasn't wrong since she can't say one damn word today."  She was mocking Jane and added, "That ---- just lost any shot of a Best Supporting Actress win for that day player role in The Butler." (If you're curious about the word used, it's the one Jane  dropped on Today back in 2008.)

And, you know what?  We have to agree.  Her silence about the illegal spying Barack Obama is overseeing today?  Shameful and disgusting.  From her autobiography:

In 1973 I had filed a lawsuit against the Nixon administration to compel the various government agencies to admit they had been carrying on a campaign of harassment and intimidation in an attempt to silence and impugn me.  I wanted them to acknowledge that this was improper and cease and desist.  One afternoon that spring of 1974, I went with my friend and attorney, Leonard Weinglass, to take the deposition of former White House special counsel Charles Colson.  Before we met off the record with David Shapiro, Colson's law partner and chief legal adviser for Watergate matters.  Tom was with us.
[. . .]
My lawsuit against the Nixon administration was settled in 1979.  The FBI admitted that I had been under sueveillance from 1970 to 1973; that they had used counterintelligence techniques, in violation of my constitutional rights, to "neutralize" me and "impair my personal and professional standing"; that they had seized without subpoena my bank records during that time and had made pretext calls and visits to my home and office to determine where I was.  

How dare she write about, in 2006's My Life So Far, how awful the spying was but have not one damn comment when Barack's the one caught spying today.

When Oliver Stone and Matt Damon can praise Ed Snowden, how dare Jane stay silent when she claims to be an activist and regularly solicits applause for her 'brave' activism.

As our friend pointed out regarding Jane, life's events matter only when they happen to her personally.

There are many performers who are privately political and that's fine.  There are also many who are apolitical which is also fine.  But if you run around proclaiming you're an activist, people have a right to expect activism from you.

To know Jane (and we both do) is to hear her (repeatedly) maintain she's figured 'it' out 'now' and has 'wasted' all of her life prior to this new insight.

She's wasting it now.  Silence, as she stated only a few years ago, is not an option.

She marketed herself in the 00s as being in her third act and declared her actions in these final 30 years would define who she was and how she was remembered.

As the 21st century's Arlene Dahl?

That's about all she's offering now.

And she's already wasted a good deal of time -- as half the years in her third act have already passed.

Last month, law professor Jonathan Turley observed:

President Barack Obama on Friday seemed to acknowledge that the determined effort by the White House and Congress to demonize Edward Snowden has not exactly worked. The White House has put pressure on many people in this town to make clear that Snowden is not to be praised in the media or by members of Congress. Various reporters and new organizations have held the line in mocking Snowden or refusing to call him a “whistleblower” rather than a “leaker.”  After all, the fear seems to be that Snowden has to be a traitor or Obama would look like a tyrant. Even high-ranking members have been frog walked back before cameras for uttering a work of praise for Snowden. The problem is that it has convinced few people, even with alteration of Wikipedia and other sites to maintain the party line. Now Obama has come forward to assure people that Snowden is no patriot. No, I guess that title belongs to Obama and others who have engaged in warrantless surveillance and continue to mislead the public on the erosion of privacy and civil liberties. Those patriotic souls include John Clapper who lie under oath to mislead the public about the programs. He is not a perjurer but a patriot in America’s New Animal Farm. Notably, however, not a single reporter asked Obama about the perjury by Clapper. Instead, Obama laid out another set of meaningless measures designed to lull the public back into a comfortably and controllable sleep.

Yet Jane's silent?

Jane, for over five years we've defended you for your silence.  Now we've defended you many times before that.  You've done some great things, some okay things and some really stupid things.  But we never faulted you for trying and always rushed to defend you.

These days the only thing you seem to try at is a manicure or wasting gas by having someone drive you down a hill so you can walk up it.  People make fun of that too, your peers on the left who are actually green.  And, thing is, we're not defending you anymore.

Your silence has gone on too long.  And, honestly, that you would refuse to call out government spying?  That's really the last straw.  We have defended you and cited past actions but that's good for a year at best.  For five years, you've been as big a political whore as William F. Buckley ever was.

You've put party over principles and looked the other way.

Fine.  But, honestly, you're not all that.

The acting is thinner than it was during Stanley and Iris which you usually see as your acting debacle.  (In fact, you were undermined by the directing in that film.  You had exhaustion down pat and if the director had not kept trying to sweeten moments, your performance would have been hailed.)

Jane, of all the people who won't call out Barack, we're most disappointed by you.

You claim to be a political activist but stay silent when actions you called out during other presidencies take place  today.

You were (yet again) supposed to be giving your life meaning, by your own statements.  Maybe the reason you have to constantly reinvent and 'realize' is because you go through life so blindly so often?

We're two feminists who refuse to follow the lead of you and Gloria Steinem or Robin Morgan.  We're not going to make nice with our oppressors.  And our plan right now is to never again identify as Democratic.  We're feminists. That's what we are -- and all we are -- when labels are tossed out.  We will not whore for the Democratic Party.  For us, the sexism of 2008 really was the final straw.  It didn't bother you because you hated Hillary in 2008 and had your own special word for her.

You deny it but you did and maybe the reason you deny it is shame?

How many times are you going to rediscover feminism, Jane?

Supposedly, leaving Ted was yet another step to feminism for you and, as always, this time it was for real but in 2008 you were again echoing the patriarchy and listening to the men around you.  (We are referring to Jane, one person, who knew better, and who let men dictate her actions.  We are not saying feminism meant you had to support Hillary for president.  Not only have we never floated or maintained that, we rejected that long ago, see the conclusion of our 2005 review of Commander in Chief.)

If you're a feminist, you shouldn't be needing men to tell you what to think and you shouldn't be too scared to call out any man -- especially not a sitting president.  Especially not when you identify as an activist and are also a co-founder Women's Media Center.

If the world's going to go down in flames, we'd like to think people could be honest about it.

Instead, it turns out, many people we thought had integrity will instead use the final moments to hawk their wares.  Tag sale on autographed copies, limited editions all, as the world burns!  And entertainment activists are revealed to be just tawdry public square vendors.

In this silence, Barack can use the bully pulpit without fear that any counter-narrative will emerge.  There is no star power to confront Barack.

There's plenty to sell war though.  Tired US House Rep. Barbara Lee ('If Barack doesn't get troops out of Afghanistan someday, I just might call him a stinky poo head!') appeared last week on Andrea Mitchell Reports (MSNBC) and it really should have been called Andrea Mitchell Fawns.  There was a news anchor disgracing herself and we're not just talking about an anchor in a studio, an over 65-years-old anchor, feeling the need to go sleeveless on air.  Male anchors are still expected to wear suit jackets on camera and Andrea can't put on some sleeves?

Worse than her wardrobe choices?  Her 'facts.'  She was interviewing Barb Lee and Andrea declared, "Barack Obama, as you know better than I do, was one of the leading Democratic politicians against the Iraq War."


Well if that's a fact, Andrea, why did he send US troops back into Iraq last fall?

And if that's a fact, Andrea, tell us when he led against the Iraq War?

If you're talking about that laughable and poorly attended 2002 speech, he wasn't even in the US Congress.

Are you talking about when he was (briefly) in the US Congress?  He voted over and over to fund the illegal war.

That's not being against it, Andrea.

Are you talking about his campaign promise, Andrea?

He didn't keep it and, more to the point, Samantha Power had to leave his campaign in March 2008 because the BBC was about to start airing her announcement -- in an interview -- that what Barack was saying to get elected was meaningless and he'd decide what to do after he got into office. (If you're late to the party, refer to the March 7, 2008 Iraq snapshot.)

So where's the documentation for your 'factual' claim?

There is none.


As the screen snap demonstrates, last week Andrea Mitchell closed her eyes and Barb Lee looks like an idiot.

Did Lee have a hankering for the Luke & Holly's mountain romance of the early eighties?  What else could explain Barbara Lee's ridiculous, poodle hairstyle other than some deep-seated longing to be Emma Samms on General Hospital?

Barb Lee penned a weak ass letter to Barack that she and some other weak asses signed off on.  Was there a point to the letter?

We don't see one.  After all, she gushed to Andrea during the fawning that, "I trust the president [. . .]"  Yes, and she always has.  Which is why US troops are still in Afghanistan despite Lee's yearly promise that, by golly, by gum, if they're still there next year, she's going to be a-hopping mad and Barack's going to hear from her!  That day never arrives.

Along with The Fawning, last week, we saw the ridiculous CodeStink eat up press time yet again with the help of Rosie Gray (Buzzfeed) and an article that even used the sour puss of Jodie Evans as an illustration of how the antiwar left is silent today.  It's not silent.  But CodeStink is.

Medea I-Need-Attention Benjamin was quoted stating, "Well, the most incredibly depressing thing was that most of the groups that existed before don’t exist anymore.  That’s the number one problem, is that the antiwar movement is a shadow of its former self under the Bush years."

This from the whore who can't condemn Barack for US troops being in Iraq currently.  Hell, she can't even acknowledge it.  CodeStink had 'an action' on Syria last week.  They just 'forgot' to promote it.  They didn't forget.  And neither will we.

Mainly because we love the "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays" episode of The Simpsons where Marge runs for office and Homer runs her campaign.

CodeStink as Homer?

In a campaign commercial, Homer declares, "For more information, visit our Web site, www. al-jazeera. com. We're not affiliated. We're just piggy-backing on their message board."

Wednesday was the actual 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech and CodeStink, too feeble to mount their own action, tried to piggy-back their protest on the commemoration of the March on Washington.

As Homer (and apparently Medea) would say, "Doh!"

How would Barack word it?  We don't know because he continues to speak his own language where existing and acknowledged definitions are tossed aside and words are supposed to become whatever he says they are.  This was most clear on Saturday when he falsely insisted that "our democracy is stronger when the president and the People's Representatives stand together."

What dictionary is he using?  Most (Merriam-Webster, for example) offer "government by the people" and "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them."  But more to the point, democracy is an open and continual dialogue, it's a variety of views and positions. What Barack's describing may be fascism, but it certainly wasn't democracy.  (We have no idea what he was trying to describe but the words he mouthed fall under the political umbrella of totalitarianism.)

While Barack was giving his speech Saturday, protesters could be found outside the White House.  It's a shame that it took so long.  Applause for A.N.S.W.E.R. and all the others present but grasp that what they finally achieved is still not of the size England saw on Wednesday.

To us, the most telling moment of last week was also the most unreported on.  At the end of Barack's speech Saturday, he and Biden quickly turned their backs and tried to dash into the White House to avoid any non-scripted moment.  But even as they tried to escape reality, one lone voice, a female journalist's voice, could be heard calling out, "Will you forgo a strike if Congress disapproves?"

That question just lingered in the air.  The fact that it did goes a long way towards explaining just how hollow and empty Barack's 1524-word speech was.

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