Monday, April 15, 2019

Truest statement of the week

The documents WikiLeaks published, obtained by Chelsea Manning, revealed evidence of serious criminal wrongdoing by the United States armed forces. They shined a crucial light on some of our government’s ugliest actions abroad. Because the US government does not like to have its secrets exposed, and needs to send a message to anyone who undermines its authority, it needs to prove that its security state has global reach and that even people outside the US will be seized.
This prosecution is about silencing dissent rather than enforcing the law. The accusation against Assange is that nearly 10 years ago he tried unsuccessfully to assist in breaking a government password. How often does doing this result in a years-long federal investigation and an extradition request? Or US senators declaring a foreign national the “property” of this country? The Obama administration fished for years to find a charge that would stick to Assange, but ultimately couldn’t find a way of going after him that wouldn’t also criminalize ordinary acts of journalism. Donald Trump’s government is less scrupulous.

Some have argued that Assange isn’t under attack for “journalism”, but for “activism”. Frida Ghitis of CNN wrote that Assange “is not a journalist and therefore not entitled to the protections that the law – and democracy – demand for legitimate journalists”. This is a dangerous position. Generally, the law doesn’t actually distinguish between “journalists” and “non-journalists”, giving everyone the same protections. This is for good reason: if such a distinction becomes legally relevant, it means the government is empowered to decide who the True Journalists are.

-- Nathan Robinson, "Many Democrats and liberals are cheering Assange's arrest. That's foolish" (GUARDIAN).

Truest statement of the week II

The US government is, in effect, applying a similar method to Assange as it used against those it has subjected to extraordinary rendition during the “war on terror.” Since 2001, the CIA has abducted hundreds of people, bound them up, flown them across the world to secret CIA “black site” dungeons and subjected them to harsh interrogation and torture. Once the government gets its hands on Assange, it is questionable whether he will ever be seen again.
The process has been accompanied by a campaign of media vilification that seems to have no restraint. Its aim is to transform Assange into a monster so that he can be deprived of his rights.
What the endless media reports ignore is that Assange has exposed imperialist crimes in wars that killed millions of civilians and thousands of US soldiers. He has brought to light horrific crimes that the government and corporate media conspired to keep secret.

While watching the news personalities slander the persecuted journalist and late-night show hosts subject him to degraded and scatological mockery, one wishes to stick a bar of soap in each of their mouths.

-- Eric London, "Stop the extraordinary rendition of Julian Assange!" (WSWS).

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?

Nathan Robinson gets a truest.
Eric London gets another truest.
Answer the question.
Ava and C.I. take on greed and a lot more in this article.
Julian Assange really is the theme of this edition.
This article wasn't planned.  They called in tonight and mentioned the reaction at the campus they were speaking on to Bernie's televised town hall.  We got them to write about it.
Margaret Kimberley.
So let's determine how we spend it.
Saluting the only member of Congress to call out the persecution of Julian and journalism.
Cynthia McKinney keeps it real.
What we listened to while writing.
Press release from the Green Party.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: When does it end?

Security forces vow to end in this year
0:08 / 2:17

End terrorism?  They can't even end ISIS. 

And that is a US issue because two presidents have made it one -- Barack Obama and Donald Trump.  ISIS has nothing to do with the US.  It's past time for US forces to leave Iraq.  But they're 'needed' in Iraq. 

The longer US forces are in Iraq, the more anger breeds against the US throughout the world.

TV: Greed

Earlier this month, Michelle Williams felt the need to share with her fan via the press that "she's finally being paid as much as her male co-stars."  This 'accomplishment' comes via TV and after she destroyed her film career over greed.


The green eyed monster plagued her not all that long ago when she was promoting the box office bomb ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.  At the time, Michelle was the supposed star of the film.  She was not hired as such.  The star of the film was the Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.  A number of accusations made after the filming was complete led to a ridiculous decision to reshoot Spacey's scenes with actor Christopher Plummer.

Kevin was a popular actor, before the accusations.  He was not, however, considered 'box office.'  To ensure that the film had a chance at box office success, Mark Wahlberg -- an actual movie star -- was cast in the film.

A movie star puts butts in the seats.  Mark's done that with THE PERFECT STORM, PLANET OF THE APES, THE ITALIAN JOB, THE DEPARTED, THE HAPPENING, THE OTHER GUYS, TED, LONE SURVIVOR, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, TED 2, DADDY'S HOME, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT and DADDY'S HOME 2 -- these are all blockbusters that each sold over $100 million in tickets in North America.  If you look at total box office -- domestic and international -- Mark has many other blockbusters.  Ticket buyers around the world are willing to spend their money to see him.

Michelle, by contrast, has appeared in four films that grossed more than $100 million domestically.  "Appeared" is the key word.  She was not the lead in any of those films.  As a lead, success for Michelle Williams is $16 million -- and $16 million is huge for Michelle, she has films she's been the lead in that haven't even grossed $1 million in ticket sales.

Some would argue that, at her age, she's lucky to be working at all.

She didn't feel that way while promoting ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD.  She was convinced that this would be another Academy Award nomination and, who knows, maybe the big win.  And she had only been paid $1,000 for reshoots!  This made her very unhappy.

Now she was fine with that when she signed the contract.  She felt differently after.  She was an ungrateful brat wanting more money.

She was especially appalled that the box office muscle was being paid over a million dollars.

So she whined in public and made herself an ugly bitch.

That's one reason she didn't get a nomination.  There's also the fact that she wasn't very good in the role.  See Hillary Swank -- two time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank -- in TRUST to see how the role actually should have been played.  But mainly, it was the fact that she was a greedy, ungrateful bitch that hurt her.

Greed destroys many careers.  We're not speaking of how people make choices based on money, that happens all the time.  We're talking about when their image in the industry becomes one of greed, how that harms them and their career.

Whether it's Jaqueline Bissett -- who wrote herself out of starring roles in the early 80s with her greed -- or Steve McQueen -- who never made one interesting film in the 70s as his greedy image took hold, greed destroys.

Greed is her image now -- in part, why she's turned to TV.  Greed and dumb.

As one of us observed in January 2018 following the Golden Globes:

The victims of assault and rape are not just women and what took place was insulting and self-serving.  It's now morphed into "poor Michelle Williams."  Mark Wahlberg's not the problem.  She should have hired a better agent.  If a film has reshoots or goes beyond it's shooting schedule, you get that in writing and you get what you want.  And it's generally the easiest thing to get in a contract because the studio expects the director to stick to the shooting schedule.  This is not a gender issue -- that Mark got more money that Michelle for reshoots -- it's an issue about making the demands you need to make.  Joan Crawford accidentally saw Bette Davis' contract for WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?  She saw Bette was getting a better per diem and other benefits.  Joan, like Bette, was a woman.  It wasn't sexism.  It has to do with representation and also with hawk-eyeing the work you're paying your agent a commission to do.

Michelle is not going to get as much to make a film as Mark is currently.  He's established as the lead of several hit films and she's not been the lead in any hit film.  But she is an extremely talented actress and her agent should have demanded a hard out and a most favored nation clause.  If her agent had, the studio would have been forced to pay Michelle for the reshoots and pay her what they were paying Mark.

When FOX sued Elizabeth Taylor, it wasn't about the box office for CLEOPATRA.  It was about the fact that they didn't want to pay her what they owed her.  (This is when they tried to invoke a moral's clause, etc.)  Her contract stipulated what she would be paid for the scheduled shooting and what she'd be paid if shooting went over.  This is not a new issue.  Michelle was poorly represented and might want to consider new representation.

She was greedy and she was dumb.  She signed the contract outlining what she'd be paid and then, after the fact, was upset she wasn't paid more.  She also didn't demand, during reshoots, that her agent get her a better deal (we checked, she didn't) and he could have because the reshoots were due to firing/replacing Kevin Spacey.  The studio was very touchy at that point and would have ponied up further money.  But Michelle's dumb and stupid and she waited until she and failed actress Busy Phillips had nothing else to do except for bitch to each other to decide that she'd been done wrong.

Her film career is pretty much over now.  She's 39 this year and she never managed to carry a hit film.

Which is why she's now doing television.

FX's FOSSE/VERDON -- a series whose title literally means Fosse or Verdon.  Sam Rockwell is playing director and choreographer Bob Fosse while Michelle's been cast in a role with the name Gwen Verdon.

It's not Gwen Verdon.  Williams appears to believe she's portraying Jen on DAWSON'S CREEK again but with a plumper body and the effects of heavy alcoholism playing out on her face.

Bob Fosse was someone Gwen married and chose to indulge.  A mini-series about her might explore that and offer something more than Saint Gwen.  This one doesn't.

Everyone is a bad cliche.  Or worse.

What's worse than a bad cliche?  Kelli Barrett playing Liza Minelli.  Kelli's face looks nothing like Liza's and her body is flat whereas Liza was curvy beauty in CABARET.  Even more puzzling is that they can't get the wig Kelli wears correct.  They've got a whole film to study of Liza and they can't fashion a wig correctly?

She doesn't sound like Liza either and she lacks the flair to catch your attention.  And did anyone need Paul Reiser to recite lines while playing Paul Reiser but being called "Cy Feuer"?

It's hideous.

As hideous as the 'dance' scenes that are pretty much shot all in close up -- we don't just mean the ones for CABARET -- we mean all of them including SWEET CHARITY's famous "Hey, Big Spender" dance.

Did anyone involved in this crap know anything at all about shooting a dance scene?

In this bad mini-series, Bob Fosse is the devil and that gives Sam Rockwell something to play.  Too bad the script leaves nothing for anyone else.  And too bad what should be a lively show is cold, clinical and dead on arrival.  There's nothing wrong with making trash if you admit it's trash but FOSSE/VERDON wants to be high class trash and fails to pull off either.

Michelle's big return to TV turns out to be another bomb in a career with far too many already.

Greed has a role in SPECIAL as well.  Ryan O'Connell takes his memoir I'M SPECIAL AND OTHER LIES WE TELL OURSELVES and turns it into an eight-part NETFLIX series.  Ryan plas Ryan Hayes, a young man with cerebral palsy who is starting an internship at the comedy website EGGWOKE -- when two things happen.  First, he gets hit by a car and, second, EGGWOKE is now a click bait site for personal narratives.

At EGGWOKE, they think he's recovering from his accident.  He doesn't rush to correct them.  He forms a friendship with EGGWOKE's most important writer Kim (Punam Patel) and she repeatedly learns that he's not who he tells her he is -- starting with his inviting her to a party at his new apartment which, she finds out, is actually his first apartment.  Punam Patel has to be TV's finest best friend since Valerie Harper played Rhoda.

Ryan's attempting to take more control and responsibility for his life.  His mother Karen (Jessica Hecht) has been his helper, coach and best friend throughout his life.  With Ryan exploring more areas of his life solo, Karen's found time for Phil (Patrick Fabian), her neighbor.  But every time Ryan struggles, she puts Phil on hold.  She's pushing him away.

Ryan and Karen both have their own greed -- each wants a different lifestyle and anger explodes when they blame one another for not having what they wanted.

It's a messy ending to the eight episodes but life is messy and SPECIAL is very easy to relate to.  It's also very funny.

SPECIAL gives you the feeling that people came together to tell a story that mattered to them.  FOSSE/VERDON?  It feels like people came together because they were paid to.

Free Julian, End The Persecution

Last week, news publisher Julian Assange was arrested.  Julian is the publisher and the founder of WIKILEAKS.  Julian has published the truth and, as Jonathan Turley has pointed out, this caused the US government discomfort, "Of course, there is not crime of embarrassing the establishment but that is merely a technicality."

For the US government, the first extreme bit of discomfort came on Monday April 5, 2010, when WIKILEAKS released  military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.  Not only was the US government responsible for that attack, they were responsible for the lies and the coverup that followed.  When WIKILEAKS published the video, the truth was known.  That was only one of WIKILEAKS many news reports that broke new ground.  The US government is now attempting to criminalize journalism.  As Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers (THE REAL NEWS NETWORK) note:

The arrest of Julian Assange not only puts the free press in the United States at risk, it puts any reporters who expose US crimes anywhere in the world at risk. As Pepe Escobar wrote
Let’s cut to the chase. Julian Assange is not a US citizen, he’s an Australian. WikiLeaks is not a US-based media organization. If the US government gets Assange extradited, prosecuted and incarcerated, it will legitimize its right to go after anyone, anyhow, anywhere, anytime.”

The Assange prosecution requires us to build a global movement to not only free Julian Assange, but to protect the world from the crimes and corruption of the United States and other governments. The reality is that Freedom of Press for the 21st Century is on trial.

Former WIKILEAKS employee James Ball spoke with Ari Shapiro (NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED) about the arrest, "The charge on the table relates to material leaked by Chelsea Manning. She was an ideologically motivated whistleblower. The charge around Assange is that he offered some help in cracking a password that might have made it easier for her to hide her actions. There's actually no evidence that was even successful. And so it doesn't change the fact that we're dealing with a public interest whistleblower. And the material that was published was judged to be in the public interest by The New York Times, by The Guardian, by Le Monde, by Der Spiegel and more."

And speaking on SKY NEWS, Assange's attorney Jennifer Robinson stated, "This indictment that has come from the United States relates to his communications with a source about a major public interest publication. This is about… US spying on UN and European politicians. This is about human rights abuses and corruption the world over. This is about evidence of US war crimes, killing journalists. These are the publications that he is now facing extradition and prosecution over."

More points were raised by the ACLU's Ben Wizner and the Knight First Amendment Institute's Jameel Jaffer: "The indictment characterizes everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. Cultivating a source, protecting a source’s identity, communicating with a source securely -- the indictment describes all of these activities as the 'manners and means' of the conspiracy."  Today, First Amendment attorney James Goodale spoke with Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian on LAW AND DISORDER RADIO.

James Goodale: You got to think of Assange this way, he's a digital age reporter.  [. . .]  So therefore if you can prosecute press entities for their reporting, particularly investigative reporting, this case represents a huge threat to that type of journalism.  The theory that the government may use in this case is that Assange conspired as an individual.  [. . .] So the government's theory is that the two of them are conspiring with respect to the release of classified information.  So that means that they can say that any time there is a classified leak.  They can go after the reporter at THE NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, PACIFICA, anywhere and say that that reporter's conspired with a source and that if they are successful asserting that against Assange, they can be successful against the establishment press.  End of investigative reporting because no one wants to go to jail.

Heidi Boghosian:  Now speaking of the established press, why do you think major outlets like THE TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST have not come to Julian's defense?

James Goodale: Snobbery.  THE WASHINGTON POST and THE NEW YORK TIMES think that they are the only ones who do journalism.

There are many discussions taking place.  Hopefully, you're participating -- maybe even leading -- some in your own circles.

Naomi Wolf (above) is standing up.  In fact, many people are defending Julian Assange and journalism -- including John Pilger, Pamela Anderson, Oliver Stone, US House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former-US Senator Mike Gravel, Jonathan Turley, Jason Raimondo, Aaron Mate, Caitlin Johnstone, Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald.  In addition, "six eminent public intellectuals in India" have signed a statement calling out this attack on the press:

The statement was signed by N Ram, the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu Group of Publications, writer Arundhati Roy, former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising, former West Bengal Governor and writer Gopalkrishna Gandhi, journalist and People’s Archive of Rural India founder P Sainath, and historian and writer Romila Thapar.

Julian Assange has zero possibility of a fair trial in the US. "US lawmakers from both parties cheered the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange."

Bernie sets a new standard (Ava and C.I.)


Link to headline article

"Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" the crowd chanted as Senator Bernie Sanders prepared to make his final points on ELECTIONS * HQ TOWN HALL W/ BERNIE SANDERS (FOX NEWS).  FOX NEWS, yes, Bernie went on FOX NEWS.  Good for him.  Some FOX NEWS viewers may have heard ideas or concepts they never heard of before as the senator spoke with the people who turned out as well as FOX hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

The town hall took place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Bernie used it as a show case for issues and for commonalities.  "At the end of the day we are all Americans who love this country," he noted as he delivered his closing remarks.  In fact, let's note that conclusion in full:

I think that sometimes the divisions in this country get a little too hot.  At the end of the day, we are all Americans who love this country.  And I also think -- and the media plays not a good role in this -- again, not just FOX -- is that we have a lot more in common than most people think we do.  Poll after poll.  Should we raise the minimum wage to a living wage?  Yes.  Should we rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure? [Audience yells "Yes!"]  Should we make sure that our veterans get the healthcare that they have earned?  [Audience yells "Yes!"]  Should we make sure that we do not cut Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid?  [Audience yells "Yes!"]  Should we give huge tax breaks to millionaires?  [Audience yells "No!"] You know, that's how most people feel.  So I hope -- I hope -- Look, I'm looking forward to a good campaign.  And last point I want to make -- And I thank FOX for the opportunity of being here -- I want to see our country have the highest voter turnout in the industrialized world, not one of the worst.  So no matter what your views are, get involved in the political process, stand up and fight to make this a better country.

It was a wide ranging discussion that covered numerous issues.  And if you thought the audience present at the town hall was lively (and they were), you should have been on the campus we were at, watching this with students.  They were loud, they were vocal, Bernie speaks to them, Bernie connects with America's young people.

That's not to say no other candidate could or does but it is to point out that Bernie has a large amount of supporters on campus.  He has a large of supporters period.  He noted in the town hall that his campaign already has one million people signed up to volunteer.

At the town hall, Tony, a Syrian-American, made it clear that he was tired of endless wars and he did not want to see wars of choice -- including on Syria.  Bernie pointed out that "I helped lead the opposition to the Iraq War."  And he did.  But, point of fact, we are still in Iraq.  How does Bernie plan to get us out of Iraq?  As the leader of the opposition in the US Senate, he should have a few ideas he could expand upon.

He did highlight the Congressional vote to end support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen.  And he did toss the next step over to Donald Trump, "The president has said that he does not want to see this country engaged in endless wars and I agree with him. And, Mr. President, tonight, you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution.  Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country." 

"I want everybody," he declared, "in this country, to have healthcare, education and drinkable water -- not toxic water.  We are fighting for a society where everyone can live with dignity and security."

"We are fighting for a society where everyone can live with dignity and security"?  His campaign has just begun and already he's able to define why he's running and why people should support his run.

It's not just that a lot of others who are vying for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination currently haven't done that, it's also that Hillary Clinton stumbled repeatedly in 2016 when trying to explain what her campaign was about and why we should vote for her.

(No, "I'm With Her" was not a platform, as we noted sometime ago.)

He tackled many issues.  For example, he argued for renewable energy -- safe renewable energy and explained, "I do believe we should phase out nuclear power plants."  He wants the nation to seriously address climate change, declaring, "If we do not combat climate change, I fear the kind of world we're leaving to our kids."

"We've got to raise that minimum wage to a living wage," Bernie declared to applause on TV and applause among students at the campus we were on.  He noted that investing in repairing this country's infrastructure, a trillion dollars investment would create 15 million jobs.

The event took place on the same day a new national poll (Emerson) found Bernie leading every Democrat in the race -- and even leading Joe Biden (undeclared so far).  As the front runner, you'd think the press would cover him as such.  Instead, they keep rushing from one younger male to another trying to prod and push the electorate.  Six women are running for the party's presidential nomination -- US House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Marianne Williamson, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Amy Klobuchar.  It's worth noting that the press has not once attempted to push and prod the electorate over to one of those women.  Our electorate has changed.  Our candidates are becoming more representative.  It's our press that continues to fail to move forward and progress.

"We have a lot more in common than most people think we do," Bernie pointed out.  And it's the press, more than any other person or entity, that works overtime to help draw lines and divisions.

Looking around at the students cheering TV Bernie, we thought, that's a DNC acceptance speech line, "We have a lot more in common than most people think we do."  Tonight's town hall should convince every other candidate to start bringing their A-game.

Tweet of the week

Yours truly at 2 hours 54 minutes. "I’m thoroughly disgusted with liberals who've been calling themselves the resistance, who've been calling Trump a fascist. And this is straight up, 100%, card carrying fascism, and you hear crickets."

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