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Never Forget That NBC Is Owned By GE

The New York Times broke a giant story yesterday that was largely unnoticed. This story is huge because it’s about our media and how much propaganda we’re being fed. 

The story took place in Syria. Two years ago in December 2012, Richard Engel was reporting on the civil war in Syria when he and four other journalists were kidnapped. They were (ostensibly) forced to record a video urging their governments to help them get home. Engel was one of two journalists from the US in that video so his plea included urging the US to "cease its activities in Syria". Watch:

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Remember, that was about the time the US was deciding to which extent it was going to help the rebels in Syria. So the implication of the video was that the kidnappers were pro-Assad forces. The writing on the wall behind the hostages was comprised of pro-Assad messages and well known Shite references. That is in fact, how Engel reported the event. In several interviews, he plainly stated that the kidnappers were aligned with Assad, and that they were rescued by rebels.

Here’s how Glenn Greenwald reports Engel’s recounts;

As but one of many appearances, Engel appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on December 21 and recounted in detail what happened. He described how he was in “a very rebel-friendly area,” traveling with a “rebel commander” and his team, when they were “ambushed” by “government people”: pro-Assad forces. “We knew it was government by what they were saying,” Engel explained.

Engel then described how the rebel commander heroically tried to sacrifice his own life to save the journalists, but to no avail: the “pro-government forces” brutalized, tortured and threatened the reporters and even executed some of the rebels:

"And so, we knew we were with pro-government forces. The rebel commander was saying to them, kill me, these guys are journalists, they have nothing to do with it. Kill me, I’m a rebel commander. Let them go …

They drive from there to one of their safe houses, don’t know exactly where, but roughly in this area up here. So it is a farm house. They take the guard, the rebel commander’s guard out of the truck. Kill him. Execute him …

And then they took all of us, including the rebel commander, in the safe house. He continually said let them go. … We were here, they wanted to move us here, to Fou’a. And Fou’a is a place that is very hard core Shia, very loyal to the government. It’s mostly surrounded by the rebels, it is being air-supplied by the Syrian government. … So this is a hand-in-glove relationship between the government and this very nasty militia group.

The ordeal ended, Engel said, only when his pro-government captors accidentally ran into a rebel checkpoint, where the rebels heroically killed some of Assad’s forces and freed the journalists, treating them with great compassion:

I don’t know who are these guys and we talk to them a little bit and it was quite clear they were from the rebel group and they couldn’t have been nicer to us. They were hard fighters, clearly good shots. … And then they brought us back to the headquarters, gave us food and water, let us make a phone call. And then they escorted us personally to the border.

Three days earlier, in a December 18th appearance on Maddow’s show, Engel — after describing how brutal and inhumane his captors were — actually linked them to both Iran and Hezbollah in response to a question from David Gregory:

I think I have a very good idea of who they were. This was a group known as the Shabiha. This is a government militia. These are people who are loyal to President Bashar al Assad. They are Shiite.

They were talking openly about their loyalty to the government, openly expressing their Shia faith. They are trained by Iranian revolutionary guard. They are allied with Hezbollah.

  To be clear, there’s no reason to think that Engel was lying or that he didn’t believe what he was saying but that doesn’t mean that other people didn’t have doubts. As Greenwald points out;

There were ample reasons at the time to be suspicious that this was a scam (perpetrated on (not by) Engel and his fellow captives) to blame Assad for the abduction. There was skepticism expressed by some independent analysts — although not on NBC News. The truly brilliant political science professor and blogger As’ad AbuKhalil (who I cannot recommend enough be read every day) was highly skeptical from the start about the identity of Engel’s captors, just as he was about the pro-intervention case in Syria and the nature of the “Free Syrian Army” generally (in August 2012 he told me: “Syria is one of the biggest propaganda schemes of our time. When the dust settles, if it does, it will be revealed”).

On December 18 — the day the Engel story became public — Professor AbuKhalil published an email from “a knowledgeable Western journalist” pointing out numerous reasons to doubt that the kidnappers were aligned with Assad, including the fact that prior kidnappings had been falsely attributed to pro-Assad forces. He argued that the Engel abduction “seems very much like a setup, like the kidnappers wanted him to think he was taken by Shiites.” AbuKhalil himself examined the video and wrote:

I looked at the video and it is so clearly a set up and the slogans are so clearly fake and they intend to show that they were clearly Shi’ites and that they are savages.  If this one is believable, I am posing as a dentist.

Of course, I am not saying that Engel was [in] on this plot. I think that they were really kidnapped but that the kidnappers of the Free Syrian Army typically lied to them about their identity, which has happened before.

Greenwald also links to other people who expressed doubts (you should read his article, linked above). Let me repeat that no one, not Glenn Greenwald nor the Times is suggesting that Engel knew, although I do find it curious that he would be certain of what he was saying, given the plausibility and veracity of what others were saying.

But what Engel knew isn’t all that relevant since NBC executives knew enough to doubt the story. From the Times article;

Interviews by The Times with several dozen people — including many of those involved in the search for NBC’s team, rebel fighters and activists in Syria and current and former NBC News employees — suggested that Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.

The group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes. The kidnapping ended, the people involved in the search said, when the team was freed by another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, which had a relationship with Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj.

NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.

NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort. NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.

Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, “Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.”

Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

So the network had more than just suspicions about who the kidnappers really were and yet, they hustled Engel on every freaking show they had, to tell of his harrowing ordeal with Shiite kidnappers.

Why? Because NBC is the propaganda apparatus for GE, whose primary source of revenue comes from war. It doesn’t matter which war, or who is involved. GE makes money supplying war toys to people who need them. And the best way to get them to buy war toys is to convince them that they need to buy war toys.

Some people in the US deride media outlets like RT or Al Jazeera because they’re state owned (by Russia and Qatar, respectfully). That’s a perfectly legitimate reason to deride a media outlet, but at least we know what RT and Al Jazeera are. We know who they’re speaking for, and we know what the underlying agenda is here. I am not among those who dismiss these two outlets. I find that Al Jazeera does some great reporting, and I’ve seen interesting articles on RT that prompted me to look for more information. To be clear, I wouldn’t turn to Al Jazeera for unbiased reporting on any oil rich Middle Eastern country. Nor would I turn to RT to find out what the hell Putin is up to in Ukraine. But that’s because I know what they are and I can weigh credibility armed with that knowledge. Likewise with Fox or MSNBC. I know what they are, and I can weigh credibility accordingly.

Unfortunately, most Americans use that information to pick the network that will give them maximum confirmation bias. They pick the propaganda they find most yummy for their tummies. MSNBC viewers know that they’re tuning in to hear about republican malfeasance. Fox viewers turn to Fox so that they can hear sweet little lies about the political team whose jersey they wear. I say lies because not even a Fox news viewer can name something the republican party has done for them in the past thirty years. The lies aren’t so much about polishing the unpolishable turd that is the GOP. The lies are about keeping the lemmings on board with voting against their own self interest.

But most Americans turn to network news, and think that they’re getting news that doesn’t play for a team. That’s partially true; network news doesn’t play for a political party team. ABC and CBS play on their advertisers’ team. Did you ever wonder why you were seeing commercials for products you can’t buy? Like the ‘YAY Bechtel’ or the ‘YAY fracking’ ads? Those ads aren’t there to drum up business. That’s not what the millions of dollars of airtime are being bought to do. The point is to make sure that ABC never does a segment on flaming water in Pennsylvania. NBC’s ovarall agenda is GE, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be rented by Koch industries.

Network news is just as shitty as cable news. Figuring out what the hell is going on in the world is getting harder and harder, but it still can be done. I don’t get my news on tv because I don’t have time to waste on watching stories I may or may not be interested in, that were selected for me. I can’t sit through a 3 minute piece on how my dryer lint may be killing me. I get my news online. I don’t dismiss very many media outlets. I do go to the network sites and to Fox, but not as a primary source of information. The only way to get remotely close to the truth is to read a myriad of different sources from several different countries, reporting on the same topic. You start to see patterns in where information overlaps, and what the outlier "facts" are. If you do this for long enough, you start to develop a sixth sense and can smell the bullshit right away. Once you’re able to do that, debunking the bullshit part of the story becomes really easy.

But I digress. The primary point of this piece is to remind you that our media is not much better than Russia or North Korea’s. Yes, we feel like we have a free press, but we don’t. That said, you can still find the truth if you apply yourself. I always say that if you can’t find a story in a newspaper, it’s probably not true. But the fact that it’s in a newspaper doesn’t make it entirely true. You have to read the same story in several credible outlets before you can feel reasonably sure you got the truth. There’s no such thing as a 100% credible outlet. The easiest way to tell if you should put a modicum of faith in a media source, is to see if they’ve ever apologized for getting something horribly wrong. Getting stories wrong happens, but how the mistakes are handled is what’s important. The New York Times admitted that Judith Miller wrote hack propaganda pieces about Iraq at Dick Cheney’s behest. They apologized and fired her. Rolling Stone just openly acknowledged and apologized for a bogus rape story they published.

It is possible to sift through the massive amount of information we now have access to. You just need to approach it critically and with an open mind.    

 

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Journalism By Way Of Comedian

Anyone who is paying attention knows that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are far more informative than cable or network news. We have several polls and studies to prove it. I think it’s funny that they’re perceived as partisan liberals. They may be liberals, but they’re not partisan. They’re comedians, so neither of them has ever left a joke on the table because of loyalty to democrats. They’re perceived as partisan because republicans are batshit crazy, and therefore more funny. Democrats are not batshit crazy. They’re also not quite as corrupt as republicans (yet). So when Colbert said that "the facts have a well known liberal bias", he was being earnest.

Picking on republicans more isn’t partisanship. It’s sentience. The funny thing is that Jon Stewart, who owns both Daily Show and Colbert never set out to change the world. He never had an agenda, and never intended to play a partisan role in politics. In fact, he actively worked at staying in his comedian lane until he took the path of media watch dog.

I think Colbert is more inclined to use his influence to affect change. That whole thing he did with his PAC was genius. But by and large, Colbert also stayed in his comedian lane. Oh, except for that one time when he said everything that I’ve always wanted to say to George W Bush at the Correspondent’s Dinner. That was awesome. That was also (I’m not kidding) the first time republicans realized he wasn’t one of them.  

Here comes John Oliver. He really does seem intent on changing the world. From dropping millions of people on the FCC to going after big tobacco, it’s clear that he doesn’t plan on just being funny. He’s an activist.

I felt that on Sunday, he went even beyond activist and became a journalist. He did an interview with Edward Snowden. Everyone is talking about the ‘dick pic’ part of the interview, where Oliver figured out that the only way to get Americans to give a shit about their privacy, was to frame the issue around their dick and said dick’s privacy. That was hysterical and clever, but that wasn’t the part of the interview that struck me.

The part that I found fascinating (and awesome) was the ten minutes that preceded the dick pic bit. The interview starts at about the 15:00 mark;

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At the 19:40 minute mark, Oliver starts to ask Snowden some seriously tough questions. He asks Snowden if he’s read all the documents before he turned them over to the press. Snowden replied by saying, "I have evaluated all the documents that are in the archive". Oliver comes back with, "You’ve read every single one?" Snowden replies with, "Well, I do understand what I’ve turned over." And then Oliver shoots back with, "There’s a difference between understanding what’s in the documents and reading the documents." And then he punches Snowden hard with a sarcastic, "Right cause when you’re handing over thousands of NSA documents, the last thing you want to do is read them."

This interview was outstanding, and it was conducted by a comedian. I’m going to let you watch it because it gets even better from where I left off in relaying it to you.

To be clear, my position is that Edward Snowden is an American hero. He is a patriot who did what true patriots do; tried to make the country better by exposing something the government was doing in total secrecy.

That said, John Oliver is the first person to ever hold his (Snowden’s) feet to the fire on how he did what he did. He held Snowden accountable for a New York Times fuck up (watch the interview) in improperly redacting something that was actually harmful to national security. I loved that. I loved watching Snowden consider his own culpability for the unintended consequences of his actions.

Why did I love that? Because I’m a supporter of Snowden and what he did, and watching him being challenged helps me to reassess my support with more information. I am so sick to death of the stenography that happens in our "news". When a journalist actually challenges a politician on something they said, that’s the news. Everyone was talking about how George Stephanopoulos challenged Mike Pence over his hateful attempt at legalizing discrimination. It’s like everyone wanted to give Stephanopoulos a cookie for doing his job.

Our media sucks at this, and some of them are proud of the poop they sling every day. Chuck Todd proclaimed that it’s not his job to correct falsehoods. He also said that if he challenges guests on his show, they won’t come back. I have news for you Chuckie; you’re an overpaid stenographer, and if you can’t do an entertaining and informative show without having guests on, you’re a shitty broadcaster with no talent. Remember when Lara Logan was outraged that Michael Hastings committed the crime of journalism by reporting on what he saw when he was embedded with General McChrystal? When she told me she was a hack, I believed her so when her entirely unbelievable Benghazi propaganda piece came out in 60 Minutes, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Since we clearly can’t have journalists that do journalism in America, I hope we get more political comedian-journalists. Here, watch everyone on freaking Morning Joe, completely in awe of Oliver’s journalism. No really, click on that link and watch it.

Yeah, that happened totally unironically.

Here’s the thing about John Oliver – he’s also a flaming liberal who doesn’t do his job through a partisan lens. When a right wing hackneyed douchebag like Scarborough heaps praise on Oliver, that’s proof that you can be strongly politically oriented without being a partisan hack.

Media Matters is a partisan website. That doesn’t mean they’re not reputable and that they lie. Lying means they lie and unless you can prove that a media outlet lies, you can’t dismiss them because they’re partisan. Fox News lies. It’s the lies that make them unreliable, not the partisanship. Wanna know how I know they lie? Cause Media Matters and Right Wing Watch post videos of them lying every day. The fact that I don’t like Fox doesn’t make them liars. The fact that I can demonstrate they lie, makes them liars. "Partisan" does not mean "unreliable.  

I’m going to side track for a minute. You know that whole, "liberal media" crap we’ve been hearing about for twenty years? Well that was all started by Roger Ailes whose head exploded over the coverage of the civil rights movement and MLK in the 60s. He was pissed off that the media aired events like the brutal beatings on the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma on Bloody Sunday. In Ailes’ twisted and bigoted mind, showing America what segregation and bigotry looked like was liberal. Reporting on the endless and pointlessness that was going on in Vietnam was liberal. Never mind the fact that it was endless and pointless. Never mind the fact that discrimination is abhorrent. Both of those "liberal" positions were the correct positions morally and historically. But they were liberal, and Ailes didn’t agree with either position. And that’s when the words "liberal media" were foisted on America for the purpose of making journalists afraid of presenting the facts. Facts don’t have two sides. They’re facts. Evolution and creationism are not two sides of an issue. One is science, and the other is purely faith. There is no "side" there. There are no "sides" to the issue of climate change. 99% of scientists are telling us what they’ve found, and Exxon has a handful of "scientists" they’ve paid to say that it’s all a fiction. Those are not two equally valid and compelling "sides". So now we have a media who creates false equivalencies so as not to seem like they’re too liberal when they’re on the right sides of issues like showing you what happened in Selma. But I digress.     

John Oliver is the best journalist we’ve seen since Walter Cronkite. I say that as someone who wants to see my heroes challenged. How the fuck else am I supposed to know if they’re worthy of my respect if no one ever challenges them? Anyone who uses the phrase, "gotcha question" needs to stop talking. Seriously, shut up and stop talking now. There’s no such thing as a gotcha question, since there’s an easy way to avoid them; don’t get got. And if you’re a lemming who doesn’t want to see your government officials "gotchaed", I urge you to stop spending time on politics. Perhaps sports is more your speed?

You should want your position challenged as often as it can be. You should learn to address someone who opposes you directly with facts and citations to the facts you base your opinion on. You shouldn’t talk past people. Someone brings up a point, you should address that point before introducing one you like better. That’s how you form sound opinions; by testing your beliefs. Now that journalists aren’t doing that, we’ve all forgotten how legitimate disagreement and debate is done. Don’t point somewhere else in order to distract from something someone said. Address it head on. If you can’t do that, you need to reassess your position.

I’m hoping that John Oliver will bring back the antiquated notion of critically looking at issues. I’m hoping that more comedians take his lead and fill the void left by our media.                  

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O’Reilly Is Just A Fox News Commentator

That’s what defenders of Fox News kept saying when we all learned that Bill O’Reilly is an undeniable bullshit factory. Because O’Reilly is a commentator, he shouldn’t be held to the same standards that Fox News insisted Brian Williams be held to. That’s what the Fox News zombies kept telling me. Now right off the bat, without the delicious piece of information I’m about to share with you, what the O’Reilly defenders are telling us is that commentators don’t need to be truthful. While that’s an interesting perspective that makes your cable news viewing choices much easier to make, it’s a ridiculous point. Why would anyone listen to a commentator who is full of shit? Does that sound reasonable to anyone? Here’s the thing about making a disingenuous argument: you sound like a stupid asshole. But okay, that’s the line the stupid assholes decided to go with and stick to.

So ostensibly, the implication is that the news division of Fox News has higher standards and employs rigorous journalistic practices while deciding what to report, right? Not so much, but you already knew where this is going. I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you’re reading this, you follow American politics pretty closely so I’m going to throw out a headline (just the headline) and let you, the non-journalists decide if the story that goes with the headline is even plausible.

REPORT: OBAMA THREATENED TO SHOOT DOWN ISRAELI PLANES

Ummmm this sounds more absurd on its face, than;

REPORT: OBAMA THREATENED TO SHOOT DOWN BRITISH PLANES

would sound. See, American politicians are still allowed to talk shit about the UK. But Israel is some sort of holy grail. The headline is fucking preposterous on its face. Obama threatened Bibi, and we didn’t get a press conference from Bibi that was simulcast all around the world? Please spare me this fantastical assertion. And yet, here it is right there on the Fox Nation website. The headline alone is ridiculous enough, but here’s what the article says;

"A Kuwaiti newspaper is reporting that President Obama, angered at Israeli plans to strike Iran nuclear facilities in 2014, threatened to shoot down Israeli planes before they could reach their targets.

The paper, Al Jarida, cites only anonymous sources and just a handful of other publications have followed the story. But according to israelnationalnews.com, the Arabic newspaper quoted "well-placed" sources as saying Benjamin Netanyahu and two top aides "had decided to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders."

So they have an unsourced story from a random Kuwaiti newspaper. What to do, what to do? Do you adhere to journalistic standards and find two sources to confirm the story before printing it? Do you call the person who wrote the story to have a chat with them about what they wrote? 

Not if you’re fucking Fox News. If you’re Fox News, you publish the story right after you’re done peeing yourself a little, cause you’re so happy. But since this is Fox News we’re talking about, printing this unverified, absurd-on-its-face story isn’t enough. No, if you’re Fox News you do a little segment on TV, about how the white house is denying that President Obama ever threatened to shoot down Israeli planes. You don’t include anything in your "news" piece about how tenuous the unsourced story from a random publication was in the first place. No, you just repeat the original article and report that administration denied the allegations.

Please spare me the "Bill O’Reilly is only a commentator and therefore allowed to fabricate stories to his little heart’s content, but the rest of the network is totally legitimate" nonsense. You’re done, Fox News viewers. You can no longer claim that you’re interested in factual reporting. You’re clearly making a choice to stay stupid and hateful.

At this point, you’re probably wondering why I bothered to write this, "no duh" piece. I obviously didn’t write it to inform you of something you didn’t know. I wrote it so that anytime someone links to a Fox News article, I could link straight back to this piece to shut them down. Not that I wasn’t always able to do quick searches to rebut their insistence that Fox is a legitimate news source, but now that we have the most preposterous, grandaddy of all Fox bullshit to point at, I don’t need to bother with the individual searches to rebut individual points. I will waste no more time debunking Fox. They’re in the same category as breitbart, daily caller, (the comically named) reason, and the national review. They crossed the bullshit threshold that makes them unworthy of even clicking on their links.         

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Do You Have A Fox News Poopy In Your Pants?

So the world exploded in collective laughter and mockery of Fox News after they had a "terrorism" expert Steve Emerson on to scare the crap out of their audience by telling them about the super dangerous Muslim-only no-go zones. They’re "no go" because if you’re not a fundamentalist Muslim, you aren’t welcome. Here’s the clip that started the whole world’s collective laughter;  

Did you catch that? Muslim density! Police don’t go in! A caliphate within a particular country! That was just France, where sectors of Paris have been overrun. The situation was much more dire in England, where all of Birmingham fell. And in parts of London, there are Muslim religious police that beat and wound anyone who doesn’t comply with Sharia law!

This idiocy birthed a hashtag that dominated twitter for a couple of days. #foxnewsfacts. Here are just a couple of my favorite posts that came out of that;

quran

 

queen332620587741550_oYou get the idea. David Cameron even chimed in to call Emerson an idiot.

Emerson then did an interview on the BBC, where he apologized for his "mistake".  

He said that it was his bad for not checking his otherwise very reliable source. He refused to share who the source for this absurd information was. He also curiously didn’t know Fox News’ reaction to his completely bullshitty claims about France and England. That was weird, right? Not at all. He didn’t want to tell the public what Fox thought of his make-believe scary Muslim cities within European cities because he didn’t fuck up. He did exactly what Fox instructed him to do; scare the crap out of their audience. Fox’s goal is, and has always been to keep their audience pooping in their pants with fear, so they don’t notice that JP Morgan Chase has a hand in their pocket. Emerson didn’t make a mistake. He did what he was told to do. That wasn’t actually the first time he spewed that nonsense on Fox. He was on Hannity’s show earlier peddling the same crap.

 

In this clip, he claims first hand knowledge from when he was in Brussels a year earlier, and the police were too afraid to take him into their Muslim no-go zones. Seriously? Other countries who are falling to the Caliphate are Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, and Italy. The focus on the fear for Hannity’s audience seemed not to be Muslims, but all immigrants and loose immigration laws. One funny part of that clip is when Hannity claims that there’s a prayer rug in every hotel room in Paris. Yes, cause how outrageous is it to put a religious rug, garment, or book into hotel rooms all across a country?  

Here’s one thing you need to know about cable news shows; when "experts" like Emerson come on once or twice a month, they’re not employed by the network. In fact, they very rarely get paid to appear. They’re independent of the network, and they’re ostensibly brought on to speak on the topic in which their expertise lies. I’m not sure that this is the case on Fox. Why? Because they had another "expert" on another show who curiously had the same bad information. Here’s Nolan Peterson, another "expert" to talk about precisely the same bullshit scenario that Emerson vomited all over a few different Fox News shows;  

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that this clip was shown on a French tv show, who went on to mock Fox for 6 minutes. When the first #foxnewsfacts broke out, I said that Emerson wasn’t going to be reprimanded or banned because he did what he was told to do. The additional segments make that point abundantly clear.

If that wasn’t enough evidence for you, Kenneth-the-page Jindal is going to give a speech in London, in which he doubles down on the bullshit. Oh Piyush, Piyush, Piyush (that’s his real first name). Do you want some of that "he’s a complete idiot" love from David Cameron? Is that what you’re trying to do here? I guess that when he said that the GOP needed to stop being "the party of stupid", he left out the last part, "so that we can escalate to being the party of complete idiots".

This is not a stupid thing that one idiot said on Fox. This is a directive to push a scary story. All of these people didn’t accidentally get the same completely fabricated information. No, they got a memo and they’re going to keep trying to advance this, and other completely fabricated scary stories for as long as they need to because nothing distracts people from the fraud being perpetuated against them by Mitch McConnel, John "tobacco checks" Boehner and Citibank, like the noxious smell of one’s own poopie pants.     

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Bye Bye Meet The Press

I’m in a good and giving mood today so I thought I would take a moment out to offer NBC some free advice. Meet The Press is toast, and you’re not going to pick up a single viewer with your new posse of hosts. Frankly, this shouldn’t have to be pointed out.

Chuck Todd, who proudly proclaimed that it is not his job to inform the public is not the solution to David Gregory, who made no effort to inform the public.

Let me take a moment out to ask Chuck Todd a question that I’m dying to hear his answer to; why does a stenographer with a camera pointed at them make so much more money than the stenographer sans camera?

But I digress. Here’s the deal; people who don’t want to be informed aren’t watching Sunday morning political talk shows. Again, I’m still flummoxed as to why I have to explain this. So when you spend an hour describing how every side of every issue has exactly the same merit as the other side, no one cares. That false equivalency you’ve created in order to get people to check out of politics, makes them check out of you and your vapid bullshit program.

Also, I can’t for the life of me understand why all of these shows are subversively right wing when they’re not being pathologically "even". Here’s a little tally that Media Matters did of guests on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.10.57 AM

"Even" doesn’t really appear to be neutral, does it? All of the networks, with the exception of Fox seem to be missing an obvious fact of the political culture in America; there is no center right in the republican party anymore. The center right (such as it is), now exists in the democratic party. The only options in camp GOP are far right and batshit right. I define far right as the crowd that still clings onto the trickle down canard that’s been thoroughly disproved. They still think that social safety nets are bad for them. The batshit right is the "Kenyan usurper" crowd.

Those are the only two options in the GOP. A moderate approach to anything simply doesn’t exist in the republican party so there’s no one in America who is interested in a slightly right analysis of politics. You either need to go full batshit like Fox, or you need to present empirical facts. Why did I leave out the going-left option? Because any objective course correction for all of the major issues we face, would be (strictly speaking) a leftward change in direction. We’ve so badly fucked up nearly everything with a far right wing approach, that there’s no right to be had without more fucking up. The Bush "doctrine" (I like the implication that there was any thought involved by using the word "doctrine") fucked up the middle east for decades. "Corporations are people, my friends" has thoroughly fucked up our electoral process and our income inequality situation, not to mention creating stagnant wages. There is no credible argument made for fixing our problems by going further right.

Going "democrat" isn’t really a winning direction for Meet The Press either. MSNBC has already taken the position of mouthpiece for the DNC. Liberals don’t much care. They’re not like republicans who love bathing in the message of the RNC. Liberals are inherently different than conservatives. We’re not as interested in being told what our opinions are. We don’t crave an authoritarian figure to be our daddy, telling us what to think and eat. Liberals generally like to think. Not just that, but we like to think that our ideas are better than any other liberal’s ideas. Seriously, trying to get liberals on board with one single solution is like herding cats. My liberal friends all have better ideas than mine. Well, they think they do. You and I both know that my ideas are the bestest in the world. Anyway, that’s why Fox has more viewers than MSNBC.

And frankly, we’re not talking about huge numbers when it comes to cable news. The most viewed show on cable news is O’Reilly with around 2.7 million viewers. That’s pretty insignificant in a country with around 150 million adults. And O’Reilly’s viewers are an average of 68 years old. They’re the spry, young whipper snappers of the Fox viewing audience whose average age is 71 years old. The Sunday morning talk shows are much smaller in terms of viewers. "This Week" is the highest rated show at 890k viewers in the "demo" (25 – 54 years old). These are not culturally relevant numbers we’re talking about.

This new gang of commentators that NBC has assembled for Meet The Press isn’t going to get the ratings job done because they haven’t changed the formula. They just changed the shade of eye shadow on the show. Chuck Todd actually sucks at what he does more than David Gregory did at the same game. Joe Scarborough only had 105k viewers on excruciating three hour long Starbuck’s ad so he’s not going to help. Luke Russert’s brand of frat boy dim wittery won’t come in to save the day. Andrea Mitchell isn’t bad, but I don’t think she’s going to usher in the big ratings numbers.

Sorry NBC, you’re not going to fix anything with the polish you’ve attempted to apply to your turd.                      

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Freedom Of (and from) The Mainstream Press

So as I watch main stream media is inundating us with nontroversies like Benghazi and the IRS this week, at the behest of the right wing, I find myself in an elevated state of bitchiness that goes eighteen levels deep.

First off, the Benghazi and IRS stories are largely bullshit. Benghazi is 100% bullshit. The IRS story is mostly bullshit. I say mostly, because while it’s true that targeting organizations for extra scrutiny based on political affiliation is wrong, doing your fucking job isn’t. The fact of the matter is that it is illegal for a nonprofit “social issues” group to electioneer. And the twisting and stretching of the law to neuter the FEC’s ability to do anything about said electioneering, doesn’t change the fact that it’s illegal. Should the IRS have targeted organizations based on specific key words? Absolutely not. But they shouldn’t back away from scrutinizing organizations who may potentially engage in electioneering, that want tax exempt status. They should ramp up their scrutiny. And let’s be clear on one thing; there is no evidence whatsoever that this additional scrutiny was given at the behest of this White House. And furthermore, I don’t see how asking for more information before being granted tax exempt status is outrageous. The IRS wasn’t auditing groups based on political bias, not like they were doing for the last administration, they were simply asking for more paperwork. In the grand scheme of outrageous behavior, this doesn’t even make my bitchy radar especially since it was shut down last year, when it was discovered. So I’m sorry, main stream media, you can’t raise my blood pressure with this bullshit.

The thing that we learned this week that has me livid at the administration, is that the justice department subpoenaed (without their knowledge) the phone records of The Associated Press and their reporters. If this doesn’t scare the shit out of you, it’s either because you’re not paying attention, or you’re fundamentally ignorant about what freedom and threats to that freedom look like. Asking an organization for paperwork before you grant them the right to siphon off federal taxpayer money is not a threat to your freedom. It’s fucking paperwork. Scaring the press and their potential sources is the real threat to your freedom. Anything that attempts to choke off the flow of information to you is a threat to your freedom.

This blatant attempt to intimidate the press and potential whistle blowers is fucking unacceptable. It’s even more unacceptable when the president doing it is a former constitutional law professor. This bullshit maneuver strikes at the heart of the constitution, as Rachel Maddow so eloquently pointed out last night. And yet, there seems to be no real outrage from the right. Not from the wingers, and not from the libertarians. Why not? Cause they like it. And as Maddow pointed out, they’ve done fair share of muzzling the media.

So I’m pissed off first and foremost with The White House, Barack Obama, and Eric Holder. I’m pissed off at the main stream media for continuing their steady stream of right wing talking point bullshit on Behghazi and the IRS instead of educating Americans on how dangerous these subpoenas are to our very foundation. I’m pissed off at the “patriots” and “constitution lovers” for posting Benghazi bullshit because they still think that’s their best shot at damaging (they think) Obama (but they are in fact being used to damage Hillary).

You wanna know who else I’m pissed off at? Chuck Todd. Watch;

[youtube]http://youtu.be/N1BMAEeRDII[/youtube]

Why am I pissed off at Chuck Todd? It’s not for what he said, since I agree with 100% of the points he made. I’m pissed off because Chuck Todd has no right to say it. He abdicated his power as a journalist a long time ago, in exchange for invitations to the best Georgetown parties. You’re not a fucking reporter Chuck, and you should spare me the outrage. You neutered yourself a long time ago. David Gregory, Howard Kurtz, Lara Logan, Brian Williams, Judith Miller, and a very long list of others can’t be outraged over this. You’re not fucking journalists because you sold us out to be one of the cool kids a long time ago. You’re all fucking stenographers. No one would ever get anything from your phone records because you all suck! You can’t be neutered by the government because you already handed over your own balls.

You wanna know who gets to be outraged? Michael Hastings, Matt Taibbi, John Nichols, Jeremy Scahill, Dana Bash, Soledad O’Brien, and a few other people who are actually doing their damned jobs. They understand the importance of the media in our society, and they deeply respect their craft. These are journalists. These are the people holding our government to account for their actions.

So liberals, when you see bullshit Benghazi and IRS posts on your social networking feeds please do me a favor and shut those stupid people down and point them in the right direction. It will be a win for everyone; your wingnut friends get to attack Obama for legitimately fucked up practices, and you get to shine light on an issue that is actually important.

 

 

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I HATE Government And If You Expose It, You Should Die

Good God, republicans are fucking idiots.

You’ve heard about the WiKiLeaks data dump by now. And I’m assuming that you’ve heard right wing pundits and politicians calling for the execution of Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief for WiKiLeaks?

Riddle me this, batman – why would a party who purports to hate government and everything it stands for, fight so hard to protect its secrets? Does that make sense to anyone? Shouldn’t republicans spontaneously ejaculate every time government’s secrets are exposed? Are they stupid, or are they hypocrites?

They’re both, but not simultaneously.

I was listening to Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck discussing the Assange treason situation. Honestly, every time those two discuss anything, it’s pure comedy gold. Watching them is like watching one thousand monkeys on typewriters, and expecting them to bang out Shakespeare any minute now. They fall into the “stupid” camp. Their viewers likewise, fall into the idiot camp.

Their masters, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdock fall into the hypocrite category. They’re hypocrites because they don’t hate government, and they never have. They just hate good government, which is why they contribute so generously to bad government. They love the kind of government that enables them to get cheap labor, exorbitant tax cuts, and generally keep the money that they inherited. They like the kind of government that helps them protect their money. The kind of government that helps the middle class is the kind they’re opposed to.

So why did they decide to sic the stupid dogs on Julian Assange? Because the next round of leaks will be aimed at the bankers. Not just that, but there’s always the fear that the next wave of government leaks will expose the corporate corruption in our government officials.

You see, they have to protect the government that they’ve so heavily invested in for all these years. I can actually respect that. They’re looking after their self interest.

It’s the dummies I can’t explain. The O’Reillies, Becks, Hannities, and their viewers flummox me. These morons don’t actually see that you can’t hate government while advocating for keeping its secrets, without doing it from a straight jacket. This is the most inane of opinions.

If you hate the government, you should love the leakers that keep it in check. You only hate the leakers if you trust government implicitly. But a distrust of the government is not even remotely consistent with a desire to let it protect its secrets. Only an idiot would find these two combined ideas compelling.

I believe that good government is possible, but that’s because I’m a sunny optimist. I don’t believe that good government is possible unless it’s under a microscope. I don’t believe that good government is possible unless the vast majority of the electorate is looking into that microscope. I like leaks. I wish there were more of them because the threat of exposure may eventually minimize some of the shady shit that our government is trying to pull on us and on the world.

Next time some asshole tells you that a leaker should be assassinated, ask them why they’re so pro big government.


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The Demon Earmark

I’m already seeing a lot of coverage around republicans and earmarks, Rand Paul and earmarks, and [insert name here] and earmarks. I’m writing this post to beg of you, please put an end to this inane conversation. Please?

Anybody who is anti-earmark is lacking a fundamental understanding of how our government works. If you know one of those people, please forward this post to them because I’m about to break it all down for everyone.

I don’t know what you think you’re voting for when you elect a congressman or a senator, so I’d like to clear this up. You’re voting for someone who will bring home the federal bacon. Yes people, it is your representative’s job grab as much federal money as they can and deliver it to your state, county, or town. Why is this their job? Because it’s the only way that the money gets dispersed to local municipalities. If your representative didn’t pork up every bill that they could for you, there would never be any federal money going into your district, ever!

Here’s the deal; if we didn’t have the pork system that we have, we would have our house and senate voting on each local spending bill individually. Let’s use the senate as an example. When New York needs money to maintain the public transportation  system, and the senate has to vote on whether those funds will be allocated to New York, we would have a situation where 98 senators who don’t don’t give two shits about New York would most definitely shoot it down. This is true of any project in any state. We would have a situation where only two out of one hundred votes give a shit about the project or need. Nothing would ever get approved for funding. In the house, this would be amplified by four hundred and thirty five. Only one congressman would support any given project, because it’s their project. Four hundred and thirty four other people don’t give a damned about your district or its problems.

I’m guessing that after a few dozen failed attempts at obtaining the votes needed to secure a representative’s requested funds, they would adapt, and the horse trading would begin. Okay New York, I’ll vote to give you public transportation funds if you vote to get my funds to maintain my local parks. See how that works? We’d end up in basically the same place we are now, except with much more complex deals being made to distribute the cash.

And on top of that, Americans would be made aware of every single vote. People in forty-nine and nine tenths of each state would be outraged by the passing of any bill. Why would I, in New York, give a flying fuck about subsidizing a corporation in order to entice them to open up shop in California? And within California, Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, and Oakland would all be outraged if that money went to Santa Barbara. You think you’re pissed off at they system now? Wait till you see what happens when you “clean it up”.

I’m not saying there isn’t a better way than earmarks. I’m saying that this is the only way we have right now to distribute funds for state infrastructure, parks, and transportation projects among others.

So please democrats and left wing press, don’t spend the next two years perpetuating the same childish arguments about excessive pork barrelers. Grow the fuck up and start pointing out that given our current system, a representative that doesn’t pork up a federal bill is committing political malpractice.

And to liberal voters that are pissed off at the jackasses that were elected last week – don’t harp on your friends for voting for Rand Paul, who turned out to be a hypocrite. You should instead point out that of course, Rand Paul was going to be hypocritical. He’s not the asshole. The person that voted for him based on his promise  to shrink government is the asshole for falling for the same, tired unicorn they always vote for.

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MSNBC Sounding A Little FOXesque

I noticed something strange (and subtle) on MSNBC last week. Something reminiscent of FOX News. I may be jumping the gun in being an alarmist, but I believe these things are important to point out and watch closely.

I heard both Maddow and Olbermann refer to Eric Cantor as the speaker of the house last week. This was odd since his taking over as leader of republicans in the house is far from a foregone conclusion. He did announce his intention to run for the position but as far as I know, Boehner isn’t voluntarily stepping down. Cantor just announced his intention to go after the position of speaker last Wednesday, so there’s no chance of having inside information on how the vote is going to come out this early in the game.

This may seem innocuous at first glance, but two commentators on the same network making the same statement is not a coincidence. Are they both just making an assumption? Or are they attempting to create a well crafted narrative a la Fox?

There has been a back and forth lately between MSNBC (and the “professional left”) and Jon Stewart over the Rally To Restore Sanity that Stewart and Stephen Colbert held in DC two weeks ago. Left leaning pundits are upset that Stewart seemed to imply an equivocation between the angry left and the loony right. Olbermann (among others) took exception to that equivocation by asserting that Fox just flat out makes shit up while MSNBC “enthusiastically” comments on reality based issues. Bill Maher threw his two cents in on Friday. You can watch it here.

I mostly agree with Olbermann and Maher. There is a big difference between expressing outrage over something that is happening and making shit up in order to manufacture outrage. When Countdown is on, the only thing that Olbermann makes up is his opinion of the topic he’s discussing. When anyone at Fox News is on, they make up insane bullshit like…oh, let me see if I can come up with something…oh, got it…The president is going to India and he’s taking one tenth of our navy and 200 million dollars (a day) with him. There is a very clear difference between the two sides.

I wandered off into bringing all of that up because I don’t believe that Fox started off with “death panel” and “34 navy ship” whoppers. I believe they started small by creating seemingly innocuous narratives. When those stuck, they began to snowball until they managed to create an alternate reality for their viewers.

This “Speaker Cantor” thing on MSNBC isn’t nothing. It feels like the start of something. At the very least, it’s worth watching MSNBC with a slightly more critical eye.

I would hate for MSNBC to turn into Fox’s counterpart. And I would hate to watch the creation of a “loony left”, worked up by false narratives fed to them by people that were once trustworthy.

Your credibility is on the line here, MSNBC. Please don’t go down this bad road.


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Maxine, Maxine, Maxine

DISAPPOINTED!

Maxine Waters was supposed to be one of the good ones. Truth be told, I still think she is, but she needs to receive the appropriate sanctions for her ethics violations. And while we’re at it, Charlie Rangel must step down.

Don’t kid yourselves, democratic party loyalists, these charges are true. There hasn’t been a “misunderstanding”, and no one is going to be cleared here. I know this because Nancy Pelosi and the ethics committee would not be raising these charges months before an election if there weren’t solid cases here, which brings me to the real story in all of this.

I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that you won’t be hearing the real story from the main stream media. These charges of ethics violations are being brought against democrats, in a democratically controlled congress, months before an election. That is an enormously positive change in the way congress is being run. When republicans controlled congress, crooked republicans were the beneficiaries of cover ups, obfuscation, and delay (also DeLay) from their party leaders. Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley, Tom DeLay, and many, many more didn’t go before the ethics committee until republicans’ backs were up against a wall. We had Denny Hastert covering for Mark Foley, Jon Cornyn covering for John Ensign, The list is almost endless. And they certainly didn’t allow themselves to be subjected to scrutiny during election season.

Nancy Pelosi is running a clean ship. Well, as clean a ship as a politician can run. Make no mistake, she could have delayed these charges until after the election, just like republicans did. I know this, because I don’t believe that republicans have magical powers. They didn’t pull shady maneuvers that aren’t available to Nancy.

This whole situation will be spun as evidence of an epidemic of corruption in the democratic party. Let’s be honest, politicians are dirty. They have been dirty since about ten minutes after the first politician took office. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing dirty politicians, I’m just saying that I’m not naive enough to be shocked when a politician turns out to be corrupt.

In fact, I’m damned near flabbergasted when one turns out to be clean, not because I’m a pessimist about politics, but because our system is designed to virtually guarantee the corruption of a politician. Here are some interesting facts about American politics;

  • In 2008, 93% of all seats won in the house were won by the candidate that spent the most amount of money
  • In 2008, 94% of all senate seats went to the candidate that spent the most amount of money
  • The average cost of a winning house seat in 2008 was 1.1 million dollars
  • The average cost of a winning senate seat in 2008 was 6.5 million dollars

What this means, is that we have a system designed to attract or create amoral whores into our politics. You can’t raise the kind of money that it takes to be elected in America by being honest. It’s just not very realistic to assume that your representative is “one of the good guys”. You wanna know how to tell if he/she is one of the good guys or not? If they’re your representative, they’re not one of the good guys. They had to whore, beg, borrow, and steal the money to represent you.

But I digress, back to Nancy. She is turning out to be the change that we wanted when we voted for Obama. She is the transformative figure in our politics today. And in my opinion, she’s an unsung hero.

As with the Shirley Sherrod tale, the story that we’re about to be told is  the polar opposite of what’s actually happening here. This story is not about an “epidemic” (there are two) of dirty democrats. This story is about how much better democrats are at stomping out corruption within their ranks, than republicans are.

But you’re not going to hear that from most anybody on your TV because the people on your TV are spokesmodels and lemmings.

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