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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Night at the Movies

The beginning of wisdom: What I learned from Mr. Spock

By Dennis Hartley

In my review of J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of the Star Trek movie franchise, I wrote:

Gene Roddenberry’s universally beloved creation has become so ingrained into our pop culture and the collective subconscious of Boomers […] that the producers of the latest installment didn’t have to entitle it with a qualifier. It’s not Star Trek: Origins, or Star Trek: 2009. It’s just Star Trek. They could have just as well called it Free Beer, judging from the $80,000,000 it has rung up at the box office already.

This likely explains the prodigious outpouring of sentiment regarding Leonard Nimoy’s passing. And this is not emanating solely from the geekier sectors of the blogosphere, but from such bastions of traditional journalism as The New York Times, which duly noted:

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper”.

Of course, my “logical” half is well aware that this “unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan” was a fictional creation, in reality a nice Jewish boy from Boston (“Lenny” to his friends) who was only playing a half-human, half-alien science officer on a silly sci-fi TV show. By all accounts, Nimoy was an engaging and generous human being, who devoted off-screen time to political and social causes. Fellow Star Trek alumnus George Takei made an appearance on MSNBC’s All In on Friday with some touching insights on this aspect.

But back to the pointy-eared gentleman, an early and critical role model for me as a child. Keep in mind, at the time of the TV show’s initial run (1966), I was all of 10 years old. Also, note that I was kind of a weird 10 year-old. I wasn’t that keen on hanging out with kids my age; I always had an easier time relating to elders (my best friend at the time was 13). To me, children were silly, immature creatures; I generally found their behavior to be quite “illogical” (believe me…it took years to de-evolve into the silly man-child I am today; to quote Bob Dylan, “Ah, but I was much older then, I’m younger than that now”).

While many of my little friends thought he was the shit, cocky Captain Kirk never did it for me (I’ve always had an issue with authority figures, not to mention that whole alpha male thing). But I could relate to Mr. Spock. I think he appealed to my own sense of “otherness”. Also, like Mr. Spock, I’m a “halfsie” (my parents might as well have been from different planets-a Jewish girl from Brooklyn and a Protestant farm boy from Ohio).

But that’s my personal take. I think Spock’s mass appeal stems from a universal recognition of the inherent duality within us all. When it comes to love and war, the constant vacillation between our logical and emotional selves is the very definition of human nature, nest’-ce pas? This is best demonstrated by the very human Mr. Nimoy himself, who once decried “I am not Spock” in his eponymous 1975 autobiography, only to recant that, oh, wait… “I am Spock” with his follow-up memoir 20 years on. Perhaps he’d had time to ponder something his own character once said: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” And, as it does to us all, this one particular epiphany came tagging along with age, finally presenting itself in the fullness of time: We are all Spock.

They're standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona

by digby

So a journalist writes a letter to the FBI asking if there are any terror investigations in Arizona. The FBI responds with this:
"As a member of the United States intelligence community, the FBI in conjunction with representatives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force is actively engaged in protecting the nation from acts of terrorism."
The journalist writes this story:
In an email to 12 News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Phoenix confirmed there are active investigations in Arizona focused on ISIS supporters and associated home-grown violent extremists.
And then proceeds to write a paranoid scare story that implied Arizona is a hotbed of terrorist activity and that Arizonans are particularly vulnerable:

Arizona has seen its share of attacks on people from this state from the fall 2014 beheading of journalist and former Phoenix school teacher James Foley to the 2015 killing of Prescott international aid worker Kayla Mueller while held captive by ISIS. Both killings occurred in Syria.

Arizona has a history of incubating Middle Eastern terrorists. In July 2001, FBI Agent Ken Williams sent a memo warning that there were an unusual number of Muslim extremists learning to fly in Arizona. But the memo was cast aside.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, it was later determined hijackers received flight training at schools in Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma.

FBI Special Agent Perryn Collier sent the email to 12 News as a response to an inquiry following FBI Director James Comey's comments on Wednesday that the FBI has investigations in all 50 states.

Collier would not elaborate on the number and nature of the current investigations within the state of Arizona. He said doing so would adversely jeopardize ongoing efforts to detect, deter and prevent terrorist acts.

Which means, of course, that an attack on Arizona is imminent and everyone should run for their lives. (Well, the report doesn't say that specifically but you'd be foolish not to read between the lines.)

And by the way, Comey is helping to gin up the paranoia. These local and state officials get very excited everytime he makes one of these speeches.

Liars and thugs. With badges.

by digby

One man against the mob and the members of the mob are cops:
One of the worst days of Douglas Dendinger’s life began with him handing an envelope to a police officer.

In order to help out his family and earn a quick $50, Dendinger agreed to act as a process server, giving a brutality lawsuit filed by his nephew to Chad Cassard as the former Bogalusa police officer exited the Washington Parish Courthouse.

The handoff went smoothly, but Dendinger said the reaction from Cassard, and a group of officers and attorneys clustered around him, turned his life upside down.

“It was like sticking a stick in a bee’s nest.” Dendinger, 47, recalled. “They started cursing me. They threw the summons at me. Right at my face, but it fell short. Vulgarities. I just didn’t know what to think. I was a little shocked.”

Not knowing what to make of the blow-up, a puzzled Dendinger drove home. That’s where things went from bad to worse.

“Within about 20 minutes, there were these bright lights shining through my windows. It was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I mean I knew immediately, a police car.”

“And that’s when the nightmare started,” he said. “I was arrested.”

He was not only arrested, he was also charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. A prior drug charge on his record meant he was potentially looking at decades in prison. Seven witnesses backed up the police account that Dendinger had assaulted Cassard.

But Dendinger had asked his wife and nephew to record him serving the papers. It was a last minute decision, but one that may have saved him his freedom.

From what can be seen on the clips, Dendinger never touches Cassard, who calmly takes the envelope and walks back into the courthouse, handing [prosecutor Leigh Anne] Wall the envelope.

“He’d still be in a world of trouble if he didn’t have that film,” said David Cressy, a friend of Dendinger who once served as a prosecutor under [former St. Tammany District Attorney Walter] Reed. “It was him against all of them. They took advantage of that and said all sorts of fictitious things happened. And it didn’t happen. It would still be going like that had they not had the film.”

Dendinger spent nearly a year waiting for trial, racking up attorney’s fees. As a disabled Army veteran on a fixed income, Dendinger said the case stretched him financially, but in his eyes, he was fighting for his life.

After nearly a year passed, his attorneys forced Reed to recuse his office. The case was referred to the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which promptly dropped the charges.

Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission and himself a former prosecutor, studied the videos. He did not hesitate in his assessment.

“I didn’t see a battery, certainly a battery committed that would warrant criminal charges,” Goyeneche said. “And more importantly, the attorney general’s office didn’t see a battery.”
None of the liars are facing charges.

And then there's this horrific story from Attica prison that will make your hair stand on end. In that case it took a nurse who felt incompetent to treat a prisoner's nearly mortal wounds at the hands of guards sending that prisoner to a real hospital for the story to see the light of day.

This is why we people need to maintain skepticism about the government use of police power. Sure, most people who do that tough job are decent and honest. But there are enough who are either psychos or subject to peer pressure that allowing free rein is an invitation to abuse. These system perpetuate themselves and it's very difficult for any individual to fight for their rights against it.

I keep hearing police commentators say that you have to do whatever a police officer tells you and if they violated your rights you can contest that later. I find that a very chilling --- and unfortunately common --- point of view. It's nearly always an accident of fate that anyone can effectively contest the government when it catches you in its maw.

Surveillance epiphany

by digby

You will never guess who said this in a million years:

"In a free society, we don't require people to organize their lives in a way that makes life easier for law enforcement"

Daniel Ellsberg? Glenn Greenwald? Nope:

After the Snowden leaks, [Michael Chertoff] continued to support NSA mass surveillance. But, on encryption, Chertoff, now a private practice lawyer and consultant, has changed his tune so drastically that he’s expressly at odds with the intelligence world. He says everyone should have a right to encryption—nearly everyone he’s worked for doesn’t.

In fact, earlier this week, NSA chief Mike Rogers ​came out against encryption, joining his ​colleagues at the FBI and ​Justice Department, and even ​President Obama, who have all said that law enforcement should have backdoors or a "golden key" to be able to break encrypted communications when necessary.

Intelligence agencies say that they think it's possible to create a system in which companies like Apple or Google—which are both moving toward using encrypted messaging as a standard for all users on iOS and Android—would have to decrypt text messages when served with a warrant. Cryptological experts say that’s impossible: Vulnerabilities can be exploited, either by the NSA or by hackers or foreign governments.

Chertoff told me he sides with the crypto world: Consumers should have access to strong, uncompromising encryption without backdoors.

"I'm sympathetic to law enforcement, but nevertheless I've come to the conclusion that requiring network managers or ISPs to retain a key that would allow them to decrypt data moving back and forth on a particular device is not something the government should require," he said. "If you require companies to manage a network to retain a key to decrypt, I guarantee you another provider will allow someone else in the world to have that key. What happens is, honest people will have a key to encrypted data that's held by a third party. As we've seen in the past, that can lead to problems."

Interestingly, he's siding with the traitor Edward Snowden on this one who believes that technology to allow encryption is one of the ways we can best protect our privacy.

We don't know why Chertoff is taking this position. The logical assumption is that he's representing clients who are on that side of the argument. Or maybe he's had an epiphany. It's interesting either way. This is yet another of the battles of the corporations, like net neutrality. These companies have a stake in being able to ensure their customers aren't being monitored against their will. It's kind of a shame that we can't win these issues on constitutional and democratic principle but I guess it's better than nothing ...

QOTD: A coupla Republicans

by digby

Peter King:

“I’ve head it with this self-righteous, delusional wing of the party.”

Ted Cruz:

“You’ll recall all the Washington graybeards went on television and said [the shutdown] would mean Harry Reid stays on as majority leader. Well, how did that work out?”


There goes that liberal media again

by digby

... with the gotcha questions for Scott Walker:

It could have been worse.  Rand Paul he would have shushed the kid.

h/t to Mike Stark

Prosperity vs. being picked last in gym class

by Tom Sullivan

Demos research associate Sean McElwee's post this week reviews economic research showing that "Democrats make the pie bigger for everyone, while Republicans redistribute income toward the rich and whites." But you already knew that. Still, McElwee's link-filled column at Aljazeera compiles a lot of supporting studies in one convenient location.

Examining changes in poverty, unemployment and income under every president since 1948, political scientists Zoltan Hajnal and Jeremy Horowitz found that blacks, Latinos and Asians fare better under Democratic presidents. But so do whites:

“Put simply: However measured, blacks made consistent gains under Democratic presidents and suffered regular losses under Republicans,” the authors said. While there’s limited data, the findings hold true for Latinos and Asians.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found that for the same period, "gross domestic product, employment, corporate profits and productivity grew faster under Democrats than Republicans." Income too — contrary to shrieks by Republican flacks that if their opponents are elected, Democratic Dorothys will throw buckets of water on all their beautiful wickedness.

On a more local level, US Uncut's Carl Gibson details how under governor Mark Dayton's Democratic policies have treated Minnesota. Gibson writes:

Between 2011 and 2015, Gov. Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to Minnesota's economy -- that's 165,800 more jobs in Dayton's first term than Pawlenty added in both of his terms combined. Even though Minnesota's top income tax rate is the 4th-highest in the country, it has the 5th-lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.6 percent. According to 2012-2013 U.S. census figures, Minnesotans had a median income that was $10,000 larger than the U.S. average, and their median income is still $8,000 more than the U.S. average today.

By late 2013, Minnesota's private sector job growth exceeded pre-recession levels, and the state's economy was the 5th fastest-growing in the United States. Forbes even ranked Minnesota the 9th-best state for business (Scott Walker's "Open For Business" Wisconsin came in at a distant #32 on the same list). Despite the fearmongering over businesses fleeing from Dayton's tax cuts, 6,230 more Minnesotans filed in the top income tax bracket in 2013, just one year after Dayton's tax increases went through. As of January 2015, Minnesota has a $1 billion budget surplus, and Gov. Dayton has pledged to reinvest more than one third of that money into public schools. And according to Gallup, Minnesota's economic confidence is higher than any other state

Dayton's GOP adversaries, of course, warned that billionaire Dayton's plans to raise taxes would offend "the job creators." (Luckily, there are no volcanoes in Minnesota, or the Job Creators would demand virgins.)

What caught my attention most was this from McElwee:

Similarly, in absolute terms, whites do better under Democratic than under Republican leadership. But that doesn’t really matter. People weigh their well-being relative to those around them. There is strong evidence that whites often oppose actions against inequality because of “last place aversion,” the desire to ensure that there is a class of people below oneself. Among white voters, racial bias is strongly correlated with lower support of redistributive programs. For example, research shows that opposition to welfare is driven by racial anger. Approximately half of the difference between social spending in the U.S. and Europe can be explained by racial animosity.

Chronic lefty complaints about working-class whites "voting against their best interests" has long set my teeth on edge. Born of frustration, it's just an intellectual-sounding way of calling them stupid, and no way to win friends and influence voters. Voters see right through it. Besides, progressives don't really want them voting what's best for No. 1. But last-place aversion (a term I've not seen before) offers an alternate explanation for why, in spite of the economic data above, many working-class whites vote Republican. President Lyndon Johnson long ago demonstrated an intuitive understanding of last-place aversion as one element of the Republicans' Southern Strategy:

If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.

Two of McElwee's links go to Stanford studies suggesting how last-place aversion explains why, for example, "individuals making just above the minimum wage are the most likely to oppose its increase." (Last-place aversion, by the way, holds "for both whites and minorities.") It works like this (emphasis mine):

By the logic developed in the above evolutionary models, not only would humans care about relative position in general but a strong aversion to being near last place would arise because in a monogamous society with roughly balanced sex-ratios, only those at the very bottom would not marry or reproduce. Indeed, being “picked last in gym class” is so often described as a child’s worst fear that the expression has become a cliché.

That explains a lot.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A beautiful final thought

by digby

His last tweet:

Rand's tell

by digby

Once again, anyone who thinks that Rand Paul is a bulwark against foreign adventurism needs to think again:
[T]he contrast between Paul’s bold pronouncements and his inability to answer direct questions was stark. He was eloquent, and somewhat convincing, when he explained that the U.S. can’t fight wars everywhere. But when Couric asked him directly whether he thinks the president should send ground troops back to Iraq, he bobbed and weaved. 
“I don’t believe in any absolute prescription against them,” he told her, adding, “I’m not ready to send millions of troops around the world.” At another point he coyly allowed “we already have [sent some ground troops], and I have not objected to it.” He went on: “I think it’s a mistake to put a half a million troops in there,” and Couric interrupted. “I’m not even asking you for a number…” 
He didn’t quite shush her, but he got irritated, “I’m trying to answer the question, so you gotta let me answer the question.” In the end, we learned he would arm the Kurds to fight ISIS, and create a new Kurdistan out of parts of Iraq and Syria. Although how he’s going to get a piece of Syria without ground troops toppling Bashar al-Assad went unasked and unanswered.
Paul has a tell. He gets angry at his interlocutors when he's fumbling for a way to finesse an internal contradiction and his stalling is questioned.

I'm a little surprised that he's not just being upfront about his libertarian views on national security. The assumption was that he was running to advance his agenda and build a libertarian coalition in the party. But apparently, he believes he actually has a chance to be president which is ridiculous. And it's making him try to thread a needle that can't be threaded.  The GOP is a war party and has been for more than 70 years. It's not changing.  The best he can hope for is to form a coalition with anti-war Democrats and civil libertarians of both parties to affect some incremental change.  But unless he goes full-on shrieking warhawk, he's not going to be president. And even then, it's unlikely.



by digby

Earlier this week I wrote a piece for Salon about the history of the "gotcha" question and Scott Walker's recent problems in dealing with them:

[T]here has probably never been a more clear-cut case of “gotcha” than the Gary Hart-Donna Rice episode. Hart was the presumptive front-runner for the presidential nomination and widely considered to be the intellectual leader of the new Democratic Party. As relayed in this fascinating recitation of the events, the press knew Hart was having a relationship with Rice and clumsily staked out his house, unwittingly revealing themselves to the candidate. Hart didn’t know they had been tipped off to the relationship with Rice and stepped outside to confront them:

Hart may have surprised the reporters by choosing the time and place for their confrontation, but it’s not as if they weren’t ready. They had conferred on a list of questions intended to back Hart up against a wall — which was now literally the situation.

McGee reminded Hart that he and the woman had walked right past McGee earlier that evening on the way to his car. “You passed me on the street,” McGee said.

“I may or may not have,” Hart replied.

McGee asked him what his relationship was with the woman.

“I’m not involved in any relationship,” Hart said carefully.

So why had they just seen Hart and the woman enter the townhouse together a few minutes earlier?

“The obvious reason is I’m being set up,” Hart said …

And so it went. A picture of Hart and Rice on the boat called “Monkey Business” was eventually published and the rest is gotcha history.

But as you can see, the definition of the gotcha has undergone a subtle change over the years. Where it was once thought to be a question about their personal life or history designed to embarrass the candidate with the mere insinuation, today’s gotcha is almost always a question rudely designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of the issues and skill in navigating treacherous political controversies. (They can thank George W. Bush and Sarah Palin for that — they made it obvious these tests were necessary.)

Walker is using all this to set himself up in opposition to the "liberal media" and that may carry him for a while with the hard core base. But he's hurting himself badly with the establishment and probably with some of the donors for whom he's competing with Bush, Rubio and Christie. He's not quite as bad as Palin, but I think he might be as bad as W. Unfortunately we've proved that's not a disqualifier for the office ...
Kicks just keep getting harder to find

by digby

So the word is that CPAC is much less looney this year than it's been in the past. Apparently the new Koch supported organizers have cracked the whip and banished the purveyors of products like these from former conventions to the farthest corners of the convention:

This is what the new CPAC looks like:


Lying Pantsuit Lady

by Gaius Publius

I've written quite a bit (for example, here) about the spokesperson in the ubiquitous American Petroleum Institute (API) ads. She's almost an institution, the way "Flo," the spokesperson for Progressive Insurance, is an institution. I've called the API actress "Lying Pantsuit Lady" for a reason. She's omnipresent, like carbon and the lies she tells defending it.

Here she is now, saying America is number one (in planet destruction). The lie? She talks like that's a good thing.

American Petroleum Institute's Brooke Alexander, their trademark Pantsuit Lady

I've so far resisted putting her face in my posts, not from a tender interest in the fact that she's providing for her family (yes, she has one) by helping bake the planet to a golden brown, but because I can't find an online version of her most striking ad, the one I call Carbon Blackmail. Its message goes like this:
Brooke Alexander (paraphrased): "Like that TV–iPad lifestyle you're living? Want to keep it? Oil is part of the mix that brings it to you, along with wind and solar, of course." 
See? Blackmail. The underlying message is this:
"If we don't stop the carbon, we'll start exiting modern life in 30 years. But that's 30 years away, and if we do stop, you won't like the result.

"So how about this — we keep burning carbon, you keep your Breaking Bad and your ESPN, and we'll add some soothing solar to the mix. It's a tough choice, right? No carbon and less TV for a while, or carbon till you die, and then who cares? We choose number two. Deal?"
Unfortunately, that one's not a lie. The geniuses at API understand the situation perfectly, better than most Americans, in fact. If you find a YouTube version of this ad, please send me a link.

But this will suffice to present her to you, since she and API have a new ad that's almost as bad. I'm calling this "America, King of Carbon." Watch, then I'll show you the lies:

About the lies, here are the two big ones:
Hydraulic fracturing technology is safely recovering lots more oil and natural gas.
That one's obvious. Fracking is safe? And:
Hydraulic fracturing technology is ... supporting a new century of American energy security.
That one's less obvious, but if we don't get a grip on the climate problem, neither America nor China will have a "new century" in which they're energy-secure. Nor will either be a single country, but at some point will have broken apart into civilized zones and wandering hunter-gatherer zones. In America's case, you can't rule the West Coast from the East Coast across a chaotic middle. In China's case, much of their "breadbasket" will be under water, and there are many regions to the south and west that are streaked with valleys, gorges and ravines. That break-apart situation has already happened once to them.

(By the way, did you notice that the American flag in the ad's second shot is a child's chalk drawing? That's a third lie if you think about it, the suggestion that promoting carbon is good for your five-year-old.)

Lying Pantsuit Lady, "LPL," a modern American icon. She stands for all that destroys us, and she stands for it proudly and well. She's been with us a long time (as has "Flo") and for a reason. She's that good.

Remember our LPL. I'm sure she'll come up again in these pages. I hope her son, and his daughter after him, enjoy their adult lives as much as she apparently enjoys hers. Carbon dollars are still dollars, you know. I'm glad for her success; it really is hard to make it as a non-star actor in Hollywood, and her career is long and filled with soaps. In Hollywood terms, LPL is the role of a lifetime, a Big Break.

But I'm also sorry for her effect, and I do think she bears a responsibility, similar to Henry "Reverse Mortgage" Winkler. Some things should not be promoted.


Make history in Chicago

by digby

This letter went out to our Blue America members this morning:

Be A Part of The History Being Made in Chicago

By Rick Perlstein

Eighteen months ago, I wrote about how a hydra-headed protest movement against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s agenda of privatization, austerity, and authoritarian governance was changing the face of politics in the Windy City. Now, it’s close to achieving a miracle: ending Rahm Emanuel’s political career once and for all.

In the first round of Chicago’s mayoral election on February 24th, Rahm Emanuel came a shocking five points shy of the 50 percent he needed to win reelection outright-- performing three points shy of the final pre-election polls. Chicagoans, it seems have had it up to here with Rahm’s crusade to build a new, more durable Chicago machine-- this one, though, headquartered in places like Wall Street (where Emanuel worked as an investment banker), Abu Dhabi (the oil kingdom whose “sovereign wealth fund” owns a third of Chicago’s parking meter concession), and Philadelphia (home of the services corporation Aramark, which after being awarded the janitorial franchise left Chicago’s public schools crawling with vermin, and responded by firing a quarter of their workforce.)

It happened despite a Karl Rove-style campaign funded by $30 million in donations from corporate interests in return for favors from the city. It was a people-powered miracle. But we’re only halfway there.

On April 6-- in less than six weeks!-- Rahm faces off against the second place finisher, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia , who is another people-powered miracle: a true reformer, compassionate, smart, and qualified. As an alderman he fought so hard against the machine that Mayor Richard M. Daley made kicking him off the city council a top political priority. The same thing happened when he served in Springfield as a state senator.

Now, as a county commissioner, he helped balance Cook County’s mess of a budget while lowering taxes. Me, I love the guy. I’m backing his campaign to the hilt. I hope you will too. We really, really need you on this one. In the first round, Mayor 1% outspent Garcia by an almost twelve to one margin. And still he couldn’t get enough votes to win. Imagine how well he could do if the financial gap was closed a bit?

Here’s the deal. All Blue America donors to Chuy’s campaign will be entered in a random drawing. One lucky winner with get a very collectible, RIAA-certified quadruple platinum for the Barenaked Ladies album, Stunt.

Twenty other randomly chosen winners will get a personally signed copy of one of my books, either Nixonland, or my latest, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.

And, of course, the satisfaction of helping deal a historic setback to everything that is awful in Democratic Party politics right now, in the person of the man who (1) was Bill Clinton’s point man in passing the North American Free Trade Act (2) made $18 million in two and a half years as an influence peddler on Wall Street (3) Presided over a crusade to kneecap the campaigns of progressive populists as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (4) as White House chief of staff, tried to convince President Obama not to pursue the Affordable Care Act; and as mayor-- well, hell, I could run these numbers clean up to thirty or forty.

He needs to go. We have a genuine chance to make it happen. Act now or forever hold your peace!!

In solidarity,

Rick Perlstein,
John Amato
Howie Klein

Yet another lie

by digby

At this point I think people ought to be questioning whether any story Bill O'Reilly ever told about his intrepid reporting days is true:
O’Reilly has on several occasions referred to a perilous situation he said that he endured while covering the riots in Los Angeles for Inside Edition, the syndicated news magazine show that he fronted between 1989 and 1995.

“They were throwing bricks and stones at us,” O’Reilly told an online interviewer in 2006. “Concrete was raining down on us. The cops saved our butts that time.” Earlier this week, he told the broadcaster Hugh Hewitt: “We were attacked, we were attacked by protesters, where bricks were thrown at us.”[...]

Inside Edition colleagues from the time who were in Los Angeles with O’Reilly – reporters Bonnie Strauss, Tony Cox and Rick Kirkham, and crew members Theresa McKeown, Bob McCall and Neil Antin – told the Guardian that they did not recall such an incident.

Kirkham, the show’s lead reporter on the riots, was adamant that it did not take place. “It didn’t happen,” he said. “If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?”

Tonya Freeman, the head of the show’s library at the time, said: “I honestly don’t recall watching or hearing about that. I believe I probably would have remembered something like that.” Another librarian from the time also said she did not recall the incident. A spokeswoman for Inside Edition declined to comment. Several other senior Inside Edition staffers from the time declined to comment when asked if they recalled O’Reilly’s version of events.

Several members of the team, however, recalled that one afternoon in the days following the peak of the riots, which began on 29 April, the angry resident attacked a camera while O’Reilly was being filmed near the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Pico Boulevard. “It was one person with one rock,” said McCall, the sound man. “Nobody was hit.”

“A man came out of his home,” said Antin, who was operating the camera that was struck. “He picked up a chunk of concrete, and threw it at the camera.” Told of O’Reilly’s description of a bombardment, Antin said: “I don’t think that’s really … No, I mean no, not where we were.”[...]

McKeown, the director of west coast operations, and Kirkham, said O’Reilly had in the moments beforehand irritated residents who were trying to put out fires and clear wreckage. A seventh member of the team, who declined to be quoted for this article, agreed with this characterisation of the incident.

“There were people putting out fires nearby,” said McKeown. “And Bill showed up in his fancy car.” McKeown said at one point, the driver of O’Reilly’s personal car risked causing further offence by exiting the vehicle with a bottle of Windex and polishing the roof.

“The guy was watching us and getting more and more angry,” said McKeown. “Bill was being Bill – complaining ‘people are in my eye line’ – and kind of being very insensitive to the situation.” Kirkham said: “It was just so out of line. He starts barking commands about ‘this isn’t good enough for me’, ‘this isn’t gonna work’, ‘who’s in charge here?’”

The man shouted abuse at O’Reilly and the team, crew members said, and O’Reilly ordered him to shut up. He asked “don’t you know who I am?’,” according to two members of the team.

“The guy lost it,” said McKeown.

Bill? He wouldn't do that...

Think about this: he even lied about his experiences at Inside Edition.



"Evil bastards" should go to prison

by Tom Sullivan

“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” Wise told the Evening Standard. “I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.”

Actor Greg Wise is married to Oscar winner Emma Thompson, reported the Guardian.

HMRC has come under fire in the HSBC scandal because of a failure to carry out a criminal investigation against the bank, which has its headquarters in the UK. While the agency found more than 1,000 tax evaders among the almost 7,000 UK clients of HSBC Suisse, only one individual has been prosecuted. About £135m has been recovered in tax, a lower figure than in other European countries.

Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has apologised in writing and again on Monday, when he said the bank’s bosses were shamed and humbled by the scandal.

How refreshing. On both sides of the Atlantic, we're all breathless with anticipation to see pubic servants who've taken oaths to uphold the law do actually something about it, you know, and-justice-for-all-wise. Sent the evil bastards to prison already.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Forcing Change in Big Media's Pro-war Bias

by Spocko

Yesterday I posted some positive steps to get anti-war and anti-torture voices into the media.

Today I want to suggest some other steps and some leverage methods to force the issue.

I'm going to be discussing them and the research that led to them tonight on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. at 6 pm PDT

Today Digby wrote about Chris Hayes and Laura Ingram pointing out how the networks push war. Now, what to do to change it?

Following Lee Fang's Nation article on retired generals pushing bombing without being identified. I dug into the process for getting those guests to get on the air.   I spoke to news producers, show bookers, guests, corporate media execs, FCC and FTC lawyers. I spoke to corporate CFOs, institutional investors, hedge fund managers and media trackers.

After I understood the process, I asked, "Who or what has the power to change things?"

Some of the most insightful comments came from a pundit guest and a major network lawyer.
"The news and Sunday morning show producers are both lazy and afraid." -Pundit guest

I asked for clarification. "They are afraid of getting fired for booking a 'bad' guest." How 'bad' is defined can vary from "Makes the host look bad, makes regular guests look bad, to is inarticulate on the camera."

I understand the fear, so then I asked, "Say we had new, proven 'good' guests, but with a different perspective, what would it take to get them on? A memo from the head of the news division? A call from a big advertiser? A letter from corporate lawyers that guests now have to meet certain FCC and FTC regulations? The top media CEO mandating it? A cash transaction? A conversation with a major shareholder over golf? A twitter storm from the public?"

The pundit had fascinating answers, but these questions were asked before the Brian Williams firing. The firing gave me some data that I didn't have before.

To me that story was about NBCUniversal trying to protect a certain brand image that they want the NBC News division to have. They then took actions showing the price they were willing to pay to maintain it.

Following the firing Williams dropped from 23rd to 825th on the trustworthy scale.  How much could that drop cost a network? One New York Times story had a chart showing that a 30 second spot on Williams show generating $47,000 in revenue.
NBC made the decision to distance the man from the brand. The brand promise now explicitly includes the anchors having a "responsibility to the truth."

This brand value of NBC News is clearly measured in dollars.

If NBCUniversal did not believe that this aspect of their news brand and their hosts' trustworthiness was important, they would have kept Williams on.

Of course the Williams firing leads some groups to go after O'Reilly and FOX for lying, That's great, but O'Reilly and Fox News weren't built on integrity.They are playing a different game. Fox's "Fair And Balanced" is a catch phrase not an actual practice.  The people to focus on are ABC, CBS and CNN.

Now is the time to remind them that they don't want their anchors and news brand to become a punch line like Williams.

Want a specific step? If you have prepared 'good' guests with an anti-war perspective, tweet to the networks. "Booking only pro-war voices  means your news isn't being truthful.  #don'tbelikeBrianWilliams book[anti-war person]"

Networks respond to social media pressure.  I know that recently Code Pink tried to get on to peace activists on ABC.  It hasn't worked yet, but it's a start as a model.

Hearing just from that group isn't enough nor is it the networks only pressure. It might not even be in their top 10.

What other pressures matter?  

For this question I spoke to a former network lawyer. She describing the process for making a decision on a conflict between two big companies and their ads. She said the boss gathered everyone together and asked two questions.

"What are the other networks doing? How big is the ad buy?"         --Former network lawyer
This struck me for two reasons. First is understanding any action happens in context with the peers. Peer pressure happens in the big leagues too. Secondly the financial question. People often trot out the line, "It's all about the money" which signals the ends the discussion.

I'd like people to look at "the ad buy" in another way.

The networks are selling a war. They are giving tremendous value to the companies that benefit from war.  Networks should be better compensated for that value.  By not charging for that value they are leaving money on the table and aren't serving shareholders.

The first ISIS/Sryian bombing was estimated to cost taxpayers around 870 million. The first week around one billion. Weapons manufactures had a good quarter following that week and reported it in their earnings.

Who does an anti-war message or anti-torture message give value to?

If only a war message is seen as valuable, of course networks won't go any other route.

So instead of asking for an anti-war message or trying to force them to run one, let's hold them to their shareholder's mandate.

The news networks have a responsibility to make money for shareholders, the truth is subservient to that.

If your constituency are the companies making money selling this war, you don't have a duty to tell both sides.

The networks already have on weapons salesmen without identifying their employers.  Why should the General Dynamics spokesperson get the Sunday guest spot to push drones? How much is it worth to the Blackwater spokesperson to get the spot instead to push "boots on the ground?" Auction them off to the highest bidder.

Does this seem absurd? It is only if people continue to look at the network news division as a public trust. Maybe they still are.  Will they fight the idea that they are only pro-war for the money? Now is the time to push 'em and find out.

Rahmbo on the run

by digby

Must read 'o the day by Rick Perlstein:

On Tuesday, Chicagoans voted themselves a reprieve. With 45.4 percent of the vote, Mayor Rahm Emanuel ended the first round of his first reelection bid almost five points below what he needed to avoid a runoff election in April—and three points below his performance in the last major pre-election poll. “Mayor 1%” will face second-place finisher Jesus “Chuy” García, the soft-spoken, compassionate Cook County board member who proclaimed himself with a Chicagoan lilt the “neighborhood guy”—who over-performed the poll.

Perhaps what turned some voters against Rahm at the last minute—or motivated them to go to the polls in the first place on a cold Chicago day that started out in the single digits—was an Election Day exposé that appeared in the British paper the Guardian by investigate reporter Spencer Ackerman. “The Disappeared” revealed the existence of Homan Square, a forlorn “black site” that the Chicago Police operate on the West Side.

There, Chicagoans learned—many for the first time—arrestees are locked up for days at a time without access to lawyers. One victim was 15 years old; he was released without being charged with anything. Another, a 44-year-old named John Hubbard, never left—he died in custody. One of the “NATO 3” defendants, later acquitted on most charges of alleged terror plans during a 2012 Chicago protest, was shackled to a bench there for 17 hours.

It “struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it,” the Guardian reported. And for a candidate, Rahm Emanuel, who ran on a message he was turning the page on the old, malodorous “Chicago way,” the piece contributed to a narrative that proved devastating.

Read on. You won't believe how much money he spent. And how he's corrupted the political processes of Chicago.

Think about that: he's corrupted the political processes of Chicago. Unbelievable.

by digby

For real ...

Shades of gray over 50

by digby

Dara Lind at Vox published this helpful chart to see the progress of President Obama's graying hair:

As you can see, it's not a serious story.  In fact, it's quite funny.

But it does raise a point that I've been wanting to make for years. At about the time any president becomes a lame duck everyone starts to remark how much the office has aged them.  Their hair has gone gray and they look much more haggard than they did when they came into office. Now I'm sure the office does take its toll. A normal person can't even imagine the stress, even for the ones who didn't seem to be all that engaged in the details like Reagan or W.

But the sad truth is that aging for everyone starts off slowly and then it seems to happen all at once.  And that coincides with the age that most presidents are in office.  President Obama came into office at the age of 47. And he's now 54.  Most of us take on a lot of gray during those years. So yeah, presidents look a lot older when they leave office than when they came in. But everyone their age looks a lot older. It's just a sad reality of the middle aged person. (You too will find this out grasshopper ...)

Chris Hayes FTW

by digby

I wrote a piece for Salon today about the war porn the cable TV news networks are broadcasting into America's living rooms. I recount the days after 9/11 when the media went wild and ushered in the Iraq war without any skepticism or dissent. I recount the particular case of MSNBC which famously fired anti-war Phil Donohue with Chris Matthews quoted in the press saying that Donohue would "bring down the network." And I may have mentioned the political response, like Huckleberry's calm and thoughtful analysis :
"This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home!!!"
But there have been a couple of exceptions this time, with Chris hayes leading the pack:
For months he’s been making the case that this lurid coverage is not only creating the conditions for war without any proper debate, it’s playing into the terrorists’ hands. When Fox’s Bill O’Reilly recently declared that we are in a “Holy War” with Islam, Hayes said on his program:

“That sort of rhetoric is, of course, exactly what ISIS wants. For if this is a Holy War, they aren’t some murderous cult or some fringe Sunni militia. No, if it’s a Holy War, then they are the representatives of Islam, which is why the president at today’s summit on countering violent extremism was so careful not to cast the fight on those terms.”

These terrorists produce this propaganda for recruitment purposes but produce them with slick production values for U.S. and other western media in order to try to make the US the common enemy of all Islam. Hayes is one of the only cable news hosts to explicitly challenge not only the Holy War meme, but the reaction of the media to every alleged threat.

But he is on the same page with one very unlikely Fox News personality. Here’s Laura Ingraham, of all people, talking about the shopping mall threat assessment:

“I don’t think we should jump every time the freaks with the ACE bandages around their faces put out videos… I think we should have a mature debate about how to secure the Homeland without changing our way of life.”

When she’s right, she’s right. Hayes responded with this:

Amen sister. I was incredibly gratified to see Laura Ingraham making essentially the same point about terrorist propaganda that we have been making consistently on this show which is that everyone needs to stay calm and rational in the face of what is obviously emotional manipulation, by people whom we all agree are invested in our emotional manipulation and who achieve emotional manipulation in large part with propaganda videos demonstrating their brutal tactics. But the ability of Al-Shabaab or Boko Haram or ISIS to murder people they’ve captured or make videos of those murders does not correlate in any meaningful way to an actual threat they pose to Americans here in the U.S. Nor does it correlate to its military potency.

He went on to discuss a a recent analysis by Zack Beauchamp showing that ISIS is, in fact, losing ground militarily and dolefully added, “if you’ve been watching the national news coverage of ISIS, Beauchamp’s report feels like it might as well be coming from Mars.”

I also make note of the fact that Matthews has again joined the war party with his usual fervor. And I wonder if, as he did in 2003, he might once more be the one whispering to the press that MSNBC isn't going to be a "left-wing network."


Process dodge ball

by digby

Matt Duss at Tablet points out (rightly in my view)  that all this caterwauling about Netanyahu's breach of protocol is beside the point.  Yes, it's improper. But the issue isn't really about who invited whom and whether or not they should have done so:
The idea that there was nothing untoward about the Republican speaker of the House and the Israeli ambassador arranging such an invitation in secret and then springing it on the White House doesn’t really pass the laugh test. Imagine, for comparison’s sake, that congressional Democrats had, in a similar manner, arranged in 2003 for French President Jacques Chirac to deliver a speech against the Iraq invasion. Somehow I doubt we’d even be debating its propriety.

Where Leibovitz and I do agree, however, is that the current U.S.-Israel tension is more about policy than personalities. While the two men have never gotten along, it’s a mistake to treat this as a personal dispute. Treating it as such misses the important fact that the two men represent genuine constituencies who have very different views of how to advance their respective country’s security interests and the role that the other should play in helping them do that.

First off, to paraphrase John McCain, the fundamentals of the U.S.-Israel relationship remain strong. The military-to-military relationship is among the closest that the United States has with any country. The intelligence- and information-sharing between the two countries, particularly on the issue of Iran, is, as multiple Israeli security officials have told me over the past several years, “Better than ever”—or at least it was until Netanyahu decided to start selectively leaking information about Iranian nuclear talks in order to scuttle a deal.
And, not to put too fine a point on it, it's a big deal that this is happening. Manners and protocol are beside the point and they are obscuring the real issue at stake.

Now, maybe that's not a totally terrible thing in this case. These are very delicate negotiations which shouldn't be happening in public in the first place at least until an actual deal is struck.  Arguing over the diplomatic protocol of a congressional speech may actually be a good thing in this case. Still, it's a common problem with these issues of war and peace. We end up hotly debating the process and fail to argue about the underlying issue. And then it happens and everyone stands around going "w3hat the hell just happened?"

Read Duss's piece if you'd like to know what the real argument is all about and why we should be concerned about it.
Cantor's triumphant return

by digby

Politico reports today that Eric Cantor returned to his old Washington stomping grounds to

1) restart his political career

2) help others with their political careers

Eight months ago Eric Cantor was forced out of office amid charges that he had lost touch with his Virginia constituents, derailing the political career of the man who was in line to be the first Jewish speaker of the House.

Now he's back.

At a reception celebrating the D.C. office opening of his investment banking firm Tuesday night, it was like he had never left House Republican leadership. Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) held court among the guests, including now Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (N.C.), Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), plus a few House Democrats and a handful of GOP senators.

The high powered event for Moelis & Co. is just the latest sign of Cantor's reemergence as a political and fundraising force. The former House majority leader had practically dropped off of the Beltway radar after unexpectedly losing his primary to Tea Party candidate Dave Brat. His reputation as a political savant was battered after Brat, a virtual unknown, trounced him despite Cantor outspending him by millions of dollars.

Now, Cantor is lending his name to events for 2016 candidates, reconnecting with his strong donor network, giving counsel to former colleagues and hiring advisers to brief him on political happenings on Capitol Hill.

Funny thing. The article leaves out the likely real reason he's hobnobbing with all his former friends in government and politics: it's what he's being paid by his investment firm to do! They don't even hint at the fact that Eric Cantor was hired by Moelis and Company for no other reason. It's not as if he had any experience as a banker. He's not sitting in an office somewhere running spreadsheets. He's using his experience as a politician and a legislator on behalf of the people who now sign his paycheck and he's openly exchanging political favors and using fundraising as currency to do it.

It's so normal that the top political news site in Washington doesn't even think it's worth mentioning.


Bow your heads as we pray the Pledge of Allegiance

by Tom Sullivan

The reason business interests want to undermine public education, I argue, is to get their hands on the largest portion of the annual budget in all 50 states. At Salon this morning, Thom Hartmann argues that conservatives hate public education because "it’s hard to sell the Conservative brand" to people who know their own history:

So now, thanks to the war on education that began with Ronald Raegan, we have come to that remote period in time Jefferson was concerned about. Our leaders, ignorant of or ignoring the history of this nation’s founding, make a parody of liberty and flaunt their challenges even to those rights explicitly defined in the Constitution. And, perhaps worse, they allow monopolistic corporations to do the same.

Our best defense against today’s pervasive ignorance about American history and human rights is education, a task that Jefferson undertook in starting the University of Virginia to provide a comprehensive and free public education to all capable students. A well-informed populace will always preserve liberty better than a powerful government, a philosophy which led the University of California and others to once offer free education to their states’ citizens.

As Jefferson noted in that first letter to Madison: “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

Hartmann argues that the erosion of constitutional and natural rights we've seen in the last couple of decades would not have been possible had not public education been undermined along with them. Nor might we have seen the spread of authoritarian and Dominionist ideology, I might add.

On Tuesday, Digby cited a Public Policy Polling survey in which 57 percent of Republicans "support establishing Christianity as the national religion." Another piece by Ed Kilgore quotes Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, speaking before a gathering of "constitutional conservatives." Bundy asks the crowd, “If our (U.S.) Constitution is an inspired document by our Lord Jesus Christ, then isn’t it scripture?” A chorus from the crowd answers, "Yes."

They probably weren't polled by PPP, but they seem to fit the profile.

My wife and I attended a graduation ceremony awhile back at a private, evangelical high school in north Georgia. They began by pledging allegiance to the U.S. flag, followed by a pledge of allegiance to the "Christian flag." We looked at each other — WT? Wouldn't it have shortened the program to just combine the two? Efficiency, and all that. For some of your neighbors, that is the program.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

George W. Bush the anti-American

by digby

This happened one week after 9/11:

September 17, 2001:

"Islam is Peace" Says President

Remarks by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.

3:12 P.M. EDT After addressing the media, President George Bush talks with his hosts during his visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. Sept. 17, 2001. "And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They're outraged, they're sad," said the President during his remarks. "They love America just as much as I do.". White House photo by Eric Draper.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We've just had a -- wide-ranging discussions on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday's attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.

These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that.

The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.

The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war.

When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race -- out of every race.

America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.

Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value.

I've been told that some fear to leave; some don't want to go shopping for their families; some don't want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraid they'll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.

Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.

This is a great country. It's a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They're outraged, they're sad. They love America just as much as I do.

I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by. And may God bless us all.

Why did he hate America so much?
Looks like Papa Bear didn't just lie about his "combat" experience

by digby

He's pretty much lied about his whole career:

O'Reilly has claimed he has "seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador" and "was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head" during his time as a CBS correspondent. The incident that O'Reilly appears to be referring to is the well-documented execution of four churchwomen by the Salvadoran national guard in December 1980. After this event, experts say that there were no priests or nuns killed in the country for more than eight years.

But in his book The No Spin Zone, the host writes that he did not begin covering the civil war in El Salvador until "a few weeks" after he began as a CBS News correspondent in 1981 -- the year after the execution took place.

"Before I went to El Salvador in 1981, I talked with some experienced Latin American experts, people who had seen the brutal wars down there for themselves," O'Reilly said on "The O'Reilly Factor" in February 2002. "I had never been in a war zone before, so I wanted some prep."

The Fox host also said during a 2009 interview on WVVH-TV's American Dreams Show that he arrived in El Salvador "right after" the murders.

Check out the video where he says he saw nuns shot in the back of the head.

Again, no biggie for him. This will just make him more of a hero on the right. Still, worth noting.

3 Easy Steps to Change the Media's Views on War & Torture

by Spocko

These days I'm like Mr. Spock in the dark, parallel universe of Star Trek. I see our leadership going down the wrong path regarding the use of war and torture. It's an illogical, fear-based path, and it's presented as the only alternative.

Therefore I've come up with some fun, easy steps to change that.

In our country fear rules people and acquiring resources has trumped all ethical considerations.  The power structure and media viewpoint has rejected non-violent solutions as weak and ineffective. The discussion of other solutions are mocked,  marginalized and the proponents cast as naive or terrorists lovers.

In the Mirror Mirror universe Captain Kirk challenged the waste of lives, potential, resources and time of an Empire that ruled by fear and violence.

The goateed Mr. Spock could see the illogic of that Empire but says, "One man cannot summon the future."  Kirk replies, "But one man can change the present."

There are powerful groups and people who support war and torture. They are smart, organized, well-funded and know how to use strategic propaganda and specific appeals to ego, power and corporate monetary gain to get what they want.

How to you overcome these groups, people and their views?

In the episode Spock said, a man has to have power to change the present.  Kirk tells him of a button that makes opponents disappear. A button like that has been used on the voices and images of anti-war, anti-torture people in the media.

I could try to use that button on the opposition, but I'd prefer to push the button that can make us appear.

I've listed three methods today to help us appear and change attitudes toward torture and war. Most are focused on the "news" media but some on other media creators.

Now a fun part.  Listen to the Jimmy Dore Show. Jimmy and his writers, set up issues woth jokes like Stewart or Colbert.  This week was about the media's selling the ISIS war with no push back and how Fox News has become ISIS's PR agency. He describes Chris Matthews' strange "moral" compass and his love for war.

Changing Minds on Torture 

Since going to the Symposium on Torture and Security at Boalt Hall at Berkeley, I've been thinking about ways people can change the present on this issue.

I've been talking to people in various communities because I was puzzled by torture's support (68 percent!). My Vulcan logical brain agreed with Mark Danner. We have all the facts, why won't minds change?  My human emotional brain knows how people make decisions based on emotions as well as data. Facts about torture and the war were suppressed. Evidence of success was falsified.

What to do?

1) Get experts refuting the lies in front of the media and the public. 

Experts  and "experts" are the lifeblood of today's media. Deciding who comments on an issue is a powerful tool of the media. Big defense contractors and the CIA understand this. There is a reason General Dynamics and Raytheon hire retired generals and prep them for TV.

If you have no other source or way to get information without being subject to jail time, what do you do?  Find people who disagree with the information. Oops, those people are in jail and can't talk to you.

Following the Senate torture report I contacted Dr. Gordon the author of Mainstreaming Torture and asked if she was getting a lot of calls to discuss it. She wasn't. It didn't surprise me. When you understand how the world of booking experts on TV and radio work, you learn why the same faces show up over and over.

On the press side there is more diversity of experts, but rarely is there a coordinated approach to prep and place powerful anti-war or anti-torture sources in front of the press prior to news events.

I tried to help by prepping her and making some calls to local media. Sadly we were beaten out of the KQED Forum on the topic out by the Heritage Foundation, who had on three guests.

If you know of experts who can provide the opposite of the pro-war pro-torture world view, start suggesting them, not only to the media you watch/read but to the media you think everyone else does. With Twitter, Facebook and email it has never been easier.

And if you can't get the expert in front of the media, there are other voices that need to be heard.

2) Hear from innocent victims of torture, via the celebrity route

At the symposium someone said, "If only the American public could hear the voice of the innocent people we tortured." Again, great idea, however I follow this issue, and even I don't want to read Guantanamo Diaries.  Plus, the writer can't do an interview, he is still in Gitmo. This is a problem.

It's time to look at what pushes issues in the media today. The issues celebrities are discussing!  If I was that book publisher I would get George Clooney to do a dramatic reading of parts of the story. Amal Alamuddin, his human rights lawyer wife, could talk about the issues of torture around the world.

The media would fall all over themselves to cover it.  Unlike the serious news, there is always room for celebrity stories. Pitfalls? "Enough about torture, who are you wearing?"

Also, if you can't prep the celebrity in advance, then be prepared to jump in and support the issue. That makes the media feel better about covering celebrities, 'Clooney raised an important issue, Jamell Jeffer, the ACLU lawyer familiar with the Mohamedou Ould Slahi case Clooney mentioned told us..."

I don't know any celebrities, but I do know they often have "people" who help them. Maybe you are one of those people, or know them. Reach out and help educate the celebrities on the issues so they don't put their foot in their mouths. Get the focus back on the issue.

3) Promote alternatives in real life and fiction 
Dr. Gordon said that we get many of our ideas about torture from fiction. And in the scenarios fiction brings us, torture works. It is written to work. If it doesn't work, that is written too. We see torture dilemmas in almost every cop show in America.  Often the hero is the torturer.

It's lazily writing and it's old, it's time for fiction writers to up their game. One of the reasons I liked the show "Lie To Me" was it provided an alternative to getting information.

I have a friend who is writing a script for an action technology TV show. I'm suggesting to him not to fall into standard torture tropes.

Show the reality of torture. Show a hero's refusal to partake in torture. Give him multiple reasons it's the right thing to do and make them stick. Or show the alternative method where they "took the gloves off" and it still didn't work.

If they want some reality as their source, they can use the real CIA files as evidence where torture doesn't work and how making the choice to torture is bad for the hero in multiple ways.

If the people in the media see fiction that supports an idea, then are fed lies that supports that idea, they start thinking that their fiction is close to reality, when it is not.

It might seem strange to educate fiction writers as a way to influence the media, but since Chris Matthews seems to think First Blood was a documentary, it's an important thing to do.

Schmaht as whips

by digby

Apparently a whole lot of Republicans are having a hard time grappling with reality because if they did they would not be having daily hissy fits about immigration or standing up and cheering the police when they shoot down unarmed black kids:

"The fundamental challenge for my side is the seemingly inexorable change in the composition of presidential electorates," Republican pollster Whit Ayres, whose clients include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), said during a panel discussing the report. "And there's no reason to believe that that's going to stop magically."

The demographic change poses little problem for the GOP in midterm elections, when young and minority voters are far more likely than older, white voters to stay home. But in the run-up to 2016, the demographic trend has some Republicans citing a need for change.

In 2004, Republicans' most recent presidential victory, George W. Bush won 58 percent of the white vote, and 26 percent of the non-white vote -- numbers that would lose him the White House today, Ayres said.

'"That's the stunning part for me in running these numbers -- to realize that the last Republican to win a presidential election, who reached out very aggressively to minorities, and did better than any Republican nominee before or since among minorities, still didn't achieve enough of both of those groups in order to put together a winning percentage" for 2016, Ayres said.

That is stunning. George W. Bush went out of his way not to appear to be racist, a smart move considering how very wobbly so many liberals had been during the "law and order" Sistah Soljah years of the New Democrats. It worked for him too. He did better than any Republican could have hoped. And after 9/11 he went out of his way to ensure that there was as little Muslim bashing as possible. The GOP had spent years courting the American Muslim community and had deep ties there.

Now we have the GOP doing everything it can to antagonize racial minorities and Muslims even though they need to do much better with those communities than Bush did 15 years ago. It would appear they either don't believe the numbers or are gearing up for a long era of congressional dominance. I'm betting on the latter. They aren't that dumb.


Clinton's base

by digby

I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this. As I've written before, I think this was subliminally decided back in 2008 when the primary was pretty much a tie and the party collectively agreed that Obama would go first and Clinton would go second. Her numbers are those of an incumbent:
The key to Clinton's early leads over the Republican field is that in addition to having the Democratic base strongly unified behind her, she's also getting a substantial amount of support from GOP voters. Anywhere from 15 to 20% of Republicans say they'd vote for Clinton in match ups with everyone except Rand Paul right now, against whom she gets 12% of the Republican vote. She only loses 9-10% of the Democratic vote in every match up except the one against Christie, who gets 12%. There are more Democrats than Republicans in the country to begin with, and when you combine that with having a more unified party it gives Clinton her solid early leads. Whether Clinton will be able to hold on to that Republican support once the party gets behind a candidate remains to be seen but she has it for now.

Clinton also remains dominant in the Democratic primary field. 54% of the party's voters want her to be their candidate to 16% for Joe Biden, 12% for Elizabeth Warren, 5% for Bernie Sanders, 2% for Jim Webb, and 1% for Martin O'Malley. If Biden and Warren don't end up making the race Sanders appears to have a little bit of separation from the bottom tier that could make him Clinton's leading rival.

Clinton has more than 50% support for the Democratic nomination with liberals, moderates, women, whites, Hispanics, African Americans, younger voters, and seniors. The only 2 demographic groups we track where she falls a little bit short of that mark are men and middle aged voters.

She falls a little bit short with men and middle aged voters? Actually, a large majority of middle aged voters support her (67%), just a slightly smaller majority than other age cohorts. But she doesn't get even a majority of men in the Democratic Party: