Monday, April 01, 2019

Truest statement of the week

While liberals were driven to states of hysteria regarding Russiagate, they show little interest in the plight of Assange and Manning. Manning is a transgender woman, and despite a great deal of discussion about the rights of transgender people, she has been left to her own devices with hardly any protest on her behalf.
Manning and Assange reveal the hypocrisy and hollowness of liberal America. Their disputes with Donald Trump are more about style than substance. Trump’s tweets against the media will engender outrage but the continued persecution of Julian Assange raises few eyebrows.

The true evil of Russiagate goes further than the exposure of a compliant corporate media or cynical politicians. Russiagate has been used to further the interests of the surveillance state, neoliberalism and imperialism. The new attack on Assange should be understood as the most dangerous aspect of Russiagate. The Democratic Party wants to stifle dissent and make certain that there will be no Wikileaks in the future. That is why this dead issue will be kept on life support for as long as possible and why very few people will speak up for Assange and Manning.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "Freedom Rider: Julian Assange and Robert Mueller" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

Russiagate began as a lame excuse for Hillary Clinton’s spectacular failure to defeat her supposedly ideal opponent, a “deplorable” straw man who could easily be knocked down by the supremely “qualified” corporate battle axe. As Wikileaks revealed, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta urged Democrats and cooperative media to make Donald Trump a “Pied Piper ” of Republicans in the belief that a Democratic landslide would result. Corporate media came through for the Democrats, bestowing a total of $5 billion in free air time  on the Trump campaign --more than Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio combined. Thus, the Democrats and Democrat-friendly corporate media gave us the Trump presidency – with decisive help from Black voter suppression  by the GOP in Midwestern “swing” states.

-- Glen A. Ford, "Russiagate Implodes, Pleasing Trump But Leaving the Left in the Cold" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday night.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The forever war and the forever increasing price tag

The Iraq War hit 16 and still it continues.  And it's not just the US government dragging it out.  Dave Armstrong (New Zealand's STUFF) explains:

But while our gun laws have quickly changed, will the Christchurch attack have any effect on our foreign policy? We currently have a number of "military trainers" and soldiers in Iraq supporting the US "war on terror", as well as troops in Afghanistan taking part in a conflict that will soon enter its third decade.
These deployments were not initiated by our current government. Helen Clark's government sent troops to Afghanistan after 9/11, though she refused to send troops to Iraq. John Key, who called the Labour government "missing in action" over Iraq, initiated our current deployment there.
While in Opposition, Labour leader Andrew Little promised to bring our soldiers in Iraq home. However, once in government, Ardern announced that they will be there until at least June of this year. Our deployment in Afghanistan was extended to September.

Extended and extended.  That's the way it is with never-ending wars.  Seth Frantzman (JERUSALEM POST) speaks with Col James Rawlinson and types:

Regarding Iraq, the coalition stresses that it was invited by Iraq to aid the fight. “All 79 [coalition] members recognized the threat ISIS poses, what we are trying to accomplish, what the intricacies are. We are trying to improve the capabilities of those local forces – and in each region its different, even within Iraq,” the officer says. “It’s specific to the organization we are speaking about... we have seen ISIS moving more into the north of Iraq, so we may give different training to the area they are moving into; if it is in an urban location, it is different.” The coalition has trained 200,000 Iraqis, from foot soldiers to fighter pilots.

ISIS.  Who was the enemy before 2014?  It's always some enemy -- real or imagined that keeps 'justifying' the ongoing war.

Not only do never-ending wars never end, the bills for them keep mounting.  In the US, so much money is poured into the Defense Dept.  In fact, DoD is trying to get 'creative' because they are now trying to go over the legal caps for their budget:

Senator Elizabeth Warren: So the administration has submitted a national defense budget request for $750 billion for next year.  That is a pretty big number even by the Department's own standards.  In fact, the budget rules that govern how much money is available for defense spending is set at $576 billion dollars -- which is still a huge sum.  But you're requesting $174 billion more than the amount that is allowed by law.  $165 billion for the overseas contingency operations (OCO), and another 9 billion for emergency funds for the wall.  Now some of the things in the DOD budget seem to me to point in the right direction -- more investments in research, for example -- and we need to have a much larger conversation about whether these budget caps make sense and how defense and non-defense priorities should stack up.  But right now, I just want to dig into how you got your numbers so that all of the non-defense experts out there can understand the tricks the administration is using to justify sky rocketing defense spending.  Secretary Shanahan, the Department proposes to get around the budget rules by requesting that $165 billion in the OCO account.  The amount in the OCO account is not counted towards statutory budget caps.  Is that correct?  [Sec Shanahan nods.]  Okay, so let's dig in a bit on OCO.  As the cost to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan began to increase in the early 2000s, Congress had to pass emergency budgetary supplementations every year.  So in 2009, President [Barack] Obama established OCO so that they could set aside funds for this and other operations.  Because those funds are for emergencies, they don't count toward the overall limits in defense spending, as you just said.  This year's OCO request is a 140% increase from the 69 billion you requested in last year's OCO budget.  So tell me, did the cost of supporting our overseas operations suddenly increase by 140% last year?Secretary Patrick Shanahan:  Senator, they did not.

Senator Elizabeth Warren:  They did not.  Okay. In fact, the last time OCO account was even close to the amount you've proposed for next year was in 2010 when we had approximately 100,000 deployed in Afghanistan and another 50 to 100,000 deployed in Iraq.  Today, we have about 21,000 troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria combined -- a number that's largely unchanged from last year.  So let me ask another question, has the department deployed a large number of troops to fight a war someplace other than Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan?  
Secretary Patrick Shanahan:  Senator, no we have not.

Senator Elizabeth Warren:  Okay, so the actual cost of supporting operations overseas did not increase by 140% and we haven't lost a war someplace else triggering that kind of an emergency.  And yet you're asking for $165 billion for "overseas contingency operations."  I just want to be absolutely clear so the taxpayer understands, you're requesting funding in OCO to fund activities that have nothing to do with the reason that OCO was established. 

Never-ending wars are sinkholes.  They take up all the money that could be used for other things.  Grasp that.  If you've never favored ending these wars for any other reason, factor in all the things we cannot afford while these never-ending wars continue.

TV: AMAZON and the corporate media work to tarnish TV's name

The first Golden Age of television was roughly 1947 to 1957 and featured a host of programs largely forgotten today but one of which included the genre establishing I LOVE LUCY.  Supposedly, we've been in another Golden Age.  If that's true, it appears to be coming to an end as an oxidizing effect appears to be darkening many offerings.


Take AMAZON PRIME which seems determined to destroy any bright spots of this era by offering rank trash like HAND OF GOD, ALPHA HOUSE, JEAN-CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON, TOM CLANCY'S JACK RYAN and, now, HANNA.

Back in 2011, the film HANNA was released.  Eric Bana played Erik, Hanna's father.  The two lived in the woods of Finland.  No this isn't a foreign version of LEAVE NO TRACE where a veteran and his daughter go off the grid in a park.  The film HANNA was about a CIA project where infants had their DNA enhanced and Erik trains Hanna in the wild to take on the project.

It's not really a complicated or surprising plot but actors like Bana and Cate Blanchett filled out the weak story, flooded it with something more.

Neither Bana nor Blanchett are part of AMAZON's HANNA.  But, for the TV series, they've cast two strong actors -- Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos.  The two last worked together in THE KILLING.  They are capable of great acting.  They aren't capable of rescuing a skit passed off as a script.  They try and they are surely the best things about HANNA but they can only do so much.

19-year-old Esme Creed-Miles is . . . What?  We started to say "cast in the lead role;" however, there's no role there.  Hanna, in the film, wasn't much but she wasn't three steps below a Neanderthal.

Both feral and primal, but in the most rudimentary way, somehow Hanna never comes off as either threatening or remotely interesting.  She's like the visuals, flat and uninteresting. The whole thing is so dull it's hard to believe it was rushed or that rushing it to film is the reason its fails to achieve anything.  It's a really ugly looking show and it's a really ugly offering to viewers.  Even syndicated offerings like XENA built on mythos and the classic heroes journey.  HANNA just offers ugly looks at pre-humanity and tries to pass them off as something more than the limited ravings of an untalented mind.

Clearly, David Farr, who was brought in for a re-write of the film HANNA, wasn't up to being the creator of this series -- or the writer of seven of the eight episodes.

It's a cheap show, as cheap as CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES which spent today whining about FOX NEWS and how it makes people not believe journalism.

Brian Stelter, still looking like the world's ugliest transvestite, basically spent the show repeating what S.E. Cupp had said to him on CNN the night before.

It made no sense on Saturday and even less on Sunday.  If journalists aren't trusted, they've earned that.  They do not produce hard hitting stories.  They are not muckrakers.  They are declawed tabbies writing up press releases and worse.


They deserve none.  The Iraq War has not ended and it has still not had a truthful accounting from the American media.  The media lied to sell it and it still can't get honest about it.  They have a long, long history of lying.  Take Dan Rather reporting on the the assassination of JFK, specifically the Zapruder film, November 25, 1963.

He flat out lied to the American people -- as would become obvious with the 1975 release of the actual film.  He was part of an organized deception by CBS NEWS -- as James DiEugenio explained in 2016 at CONSORTIUM NEWS.

Stelter was having a fit over an error FOX NEWS had made -- and corrected within hours -- where they mistakenly identified Central America as Mexico.  But the problem isn't the stories they correct, it is the errors they never, ever own.  That's what has eroded any trust the public might have in the media.  Stelter's fact-free criticism was about as helpful as the "Hefty Shades of Gray" episode of FAMILY GUY.

Refusing to own the media's desire to overthrow President Donald Trump for the last two years won't make that reality go away nor will it excuse it.  For over two years, the media has done everything but journalism.  Those were their actions and their choices.  They should own them and admit to them.  Refusal to do so will only lead more people to doubt the media.

Before 2016, the media had given the public many reasons to  mistrust it.  But with the emergence of Donald Trump as a candidate for president, those reasons only multiplied.  Pretending otherwise won't help anyone.

Jussie was never 'cleared'

early april fool

Actor, singer and hoaxer Jussie Smollett lied about a possible attack.  He lied that two White men attacked him.  He probably lied that the attackers said "Make America Great Again."  He probably lied about everything -- and that's what the police concluded and it's also what the prosecution concluded despite Jussie's lie that he was cleared or exonerated.  No such thing happened. Madeline Holcombe, Joe Sutton and Holly Yan (CNN) reports:

Prosecutors who dropped felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett over his report of a hate crime attack "have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal," an Illinois lawyers group said.
The way Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and her office resolved the case also was "abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law," wrote the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association.
The scathing statement, issued Thursday, follows claims by Foxx and her top deputy, Joe Magats, that "alternative prosecution," like the resolution brokered in Smollett's case, is not uncommon and is available to all defendants, celebrity or not. Smollet, 36, agreed to forfeit $10,000 bail and complete community service in exchange for the dismissal of 16 charges alleging he'd orchestrated a fake racist, anti-gay attack on himself.
Further, Foxx and her office "falsely informed the public" that sealing the criminal case was "mandatory," the prosecutors' organization said. And a special prosecutor should have been appointed when Foxx, citing familiarity with a potential witness, recused herself from the case, the group insisted.

Ann noted that last week in "Kim Fox gets rebuked, Empire's ratings get even worse and Jussie may be hauled into civil court."  It was a strong rebuke even if CNN buries the lead taking forever to note who issued the statement, the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association.

  1. IPBA Statement on Jussie Smollett Case Dismissal

Again, she has been rebuked.  And Jussie has not been cleared.  Rosemary Ross (THE WRAP) reports:

Jussie Smollett has neither been “found innocent” nor “exonerated” for filing an untrue police report that he was the victim of a hate crime, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a commentary she wrote Saturday for theChicago Tribune.
“There was considerable evidence, uncovered in large part due to the investigative work of the Chicago Police Department, suggesting that portions of Smollett’s claims may have been untrue and that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers,” Foxx wrote.

He was not found innocent. he was not exonerated.  So when Jussie claims he was "cleared," he was not.

When Taraji P. Henson declares, "Thank God the truth prevailed," she's got a loose grasp on the facts.

Far more aware than Taraji is Shelia O'Brien.  Who?  "Sheila O’Brien served for 16 years on the Illinois Appellate Court and nine years as a trial judge in St. Clair County and Cook County, practiced law and was an adjunct professor of law."

At THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE today, O'Brien explains:

This week, I will petition the courts to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her mishandling of the Jussie Smollett case. This is exhausting, but it has to be done.
We deserve answers. We deserve open court files. We deserve transparency in every case.
We deserve a state’s attorney who will treat the rich and the poor the same — not someone who will make decisions based upon who calls on the phone about it. Did our state’s attorney really remove herself from this case? We have a right to know.
We deserve a state’s attorney who will ask for full restitution for the money spent on cases — not someone who will waste our tax dollars.
We deserve a state’s attorney who will tell us what is happening — not seal the file so we can’t read it.

Jussie lied and he lied to the police and to the American people.  There should be no forgiveness for that until he's able to admit what he did and ask for forgiveness.  We should not paper it over and pretend it is no big deal.  He lied.  He lied for attention.  He took his lies to the police.  He took his lies to the media.  He ridiculously proclaimed himself "the gay Tupac" when he isn't even "the gay Milli Vanilli."  He lied and trashed Trump supporters with his lie.  EMPIRE, Lee Daniels has said, is a show about bringing people together.  Jussie's actions divided people.  They continue to divide people.  He is a liar.  He needs to take accountability.  He was someone many of us trusted before this.  He betrayed our trust. 


Illustration is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Early April Fool."

Tweets that matter

While the so-called 'resistance' rushed to defend Joe Biden and attack Lucy Flores, some actually understood the issues at play.  They contributed Tweets that matter.

I mean Joe Biden isn’t doing this to men. Boom. There you go. That’s the end and the beginning of this shit.

Does Joe Biden have a history of leaning in to rub his nose on another man's nose? Kissing colleagues' male partners on the lips? Coming up behind them to grab their shoulders and snuffle their hair? No? Then we need to stop pretending that all that matters is his "intent."

  1. Does Joe Biden have a history of leaning in to rub his nose on another man's nose? Kissing colleagues' male partners on the lips? Coming up behind them to grab their shoulders and snuffle their hair? No? Then we need to stop pretending that all that matters is his "intent."

  1. this is not the time to talk about how Joe Biden is a Good Guy TM who has done a lot for women (which is debatable, at best). this is the time to talk about how even the “Good Guys” cross boundaries, violate consent, cause harm & must be accountable.

“The assumption that what matters is what Biden wants women to feel rather than what they actually do feel is part of the same culture that allows those far more troubling abuses to occur.” Interesting piece by :

it is absolutely, 100% possible that Joe Biden simultaneously possesses: A) a sincere desire to help other men do better and be better in fighting rape culture and respecting women's boundaries AND B) a complete lack of self-awareness of the ways he contributes to this culture

Just fuck this shit. We as a culture lack the ability to have nuanced conversations about gender discrimination. Joe Biden’s demeaning behavior of women comes from the same root that sexual harassment does. Stop defending men’s behavior because they didn’t treat you the same way.

  1. Replying to 
    Jon Stewart on in 2015: "It's apparently a senate right of passage. You're not officially sworn in until Delaware Joe has felt up one female member of your immediate family." Have some damn standards. This is not appropriate, esp for a POTUS.

  1. Amazing to see all these major figures from torching their reputations just to protect Joe Biden and discredit the women who've accused him of touching them in ways that made them feel violated. What do these people even believe in?

Is Joe Biden really so important that so many people are willing to pretend that they have no comprehension of either consent or that impact is regularly more meaningful than intent? Really?

i call joe biden defenders the “stop being such a bitch and be quiet” caucus

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