• Red Pill, Blue Pill… No, Take the Yellow Pill: I Watch Mainstream Media News

    September 7, 2018 // 10 Comments »



    Take the Red Pill some say, see the world as it is. No, the Blue Pill, stay comfortably numb in the Matrix. Well, I had some sweet yellow ones during a week flat on my back in the hospital with little to do but watch TV news. Mainstream media, the stuff I otherwise never watch. I learned as long as you don’t change channels, everything makes sense.

    At least until a very nice nurse brought those little yellow pills every four hours, which made me lose track. She usually switched channels for me at the same time, like shifting my bottom around to avoid bed sores. That’s where things got confusing.


    I quickly lost track — who are we counting on to save America? Is it the porn star trying to revive her career, the lawyer who lied for years now trying to save himself hinting outside of court he knows something, or the editor of the National Enquirer who literally invented fake news for the late 20th century? Through my pharmacological haze, it was difficult to grasp how quickly the media flipped their opinions when a person told us what we wanted to hear — who would have imagined Omarosa on CNN to “bring down Trump?” She went from being Uncle Tom to the star of BlacKkKlansman before I was allowed to use the toilet without a nurse present. It’s almost as if we all vaguely recall out of a little yellow pill haze we weren’t at war last week with Eurasia when the news has made clear we have always been at war with Eurasia.

    And did you know Trump’s taxes are locked in the vault at Gringotts? It wasn’t “news” but several channels featured tax return stories anyway. As best I could tell no one on TV seemed to know the IRS has all of Trump’s taxes, has audited him many times, and that his tax records are and always have been available by warrant to law enforcement. They appear unaware Trump’s taxes are in fact an open book, albeit one they personally can’t check out of the hospital library. They are certain a bunch of 27-year-old Park Slope “journalists” who probably file 1040EZs will find what has been missed over decades by all those professionals. A 1099 from Putin? More after this message and yes, doctor, I agree, my pain does seem worse, better up the dose…


    TV says with great certainty the Trump presidency will end very soon; I really didn’t expect it to outlast my hospital stay and was briefly excited there’d be a cheaper health care system before I was discharged. Nearly every channel said we’d entered a new round of “it’s over,” or claimed “tick tock,” or the walls were closing in — Mueller time! There was actually mass-scale wishful thinking for a national tragedy of any sort to hasten this. There was even a race among channels to grow the death toll in Puerto Rico from a year ago, so much so they invented a new thing called “excess deaths.” Who knew?

    I learned apparently all Russians making more than minimum wage are oligarchs. And everyone in Russia over 18 is connected to Russian intelligence, and said to be close to Putin. Drug-addled, my brain tried to convince me Russia was a much smaller place than I remembered it as.

    Also Cohen was going to flip, and maybe Don, Jr. or even Ivanka to save themselves, just wait. But the main thing that apparently had flipped was the House. I only found out later this actually did not happen, but you’d forgive me for believing it, because while it may have been the fever thinking for me, it all seemed to get more certain as I drifted from the Afternoon Blonde to the Evening Gray of Wolf to Anderson to Cuomo, a succession of gas station glory hole mouths. There was a primary, or maybe just a show of hands among twenty people somewhere, said Maddow, emphasizing I should listen closely because things are moving fast now, THAT IT COULD HAPPEN, meaning DemsWouldTakeHouseImpeachTrumpAbolishICEHangPenceRenameWashingtonDClinton.



    As the nurse with the little yellow pills started dropping by less often as I recovered, I started to understand the news was less about reporting what happened and more about creating the image we are on an inevitable path to Trump’s legal collapse, his mental collapse, or impeachment for… something, we’ll figure the details out later, just accept there is a crisis. That’s when I got it: it’s not about information, but persuasion. I wasn’t an audience, I was raw material.

    I sort of remembered during the lulls of “ask your doctor about…” prescription medicine commercials that in my non-writing day job I speak with people from the midwest, and the middle west and south, people with AOL addresses and landlines, people to whom New York City is as foreign a place as Tokyo. Though I don’t know if they’ll vote Republican or stay home, they will never vote Democrat, at least not the identity politics “socialist” flavor-of-the-month Democrat emerging in 2018. They aren’t racist or hateful people, but they certainly see those problems falling well below the economy when it comes to what matters. And not one believes the Russiagate story in whole. I didn’t see a lot of TV reflecting those voters; actually most of the news I saw was sculpted to say those people matter less all the time. This is all their fault, anyway. I have to remember to let them know.

    People on TV don’t seem to care their doomy predictions have not happened even as they still insist they will. It’s kind of like hoping fireworks shot into the night sky, having once popped and sang — Ohhhh! — will somehow do it again even as the sparks die out. Hours of TV make it is clear Trump — the fact that he exists at all — is so central to how the media view the world now they cannot see past their loathing and even briefly remove that loathing from the analytical equation of what’s happening. The media live forever with 2016’s broken heart; it never healed but instead of getting back out there to date they want you to feel the pain, too. Luckily I fell asleep each evening before the late night shows came on or I’d have been moved to the intensive care unit, if not psych.

    Facts and assertions and opinions and reports from sources and we heard and according to reports are all jumbled now into the same thing. The burden of proof is turned around and placed on the unprepared viewer, so believing anything but what you’re told makes you the conspiracy theorist. Even with a volume control I could sometimes reach on the bedside table it was too loud to argue against. It became easier and easier to let the drugs slip to the foreground and mistake what I was made to feel for what I wanted to think.

    What was left, in the words of one songwriter, was only seeing the shadow they intentionally left behind for me to find and follow. Thinking was hard. TV explained things slowly, so I could understand it in the way they wanted me to. It was easy and they wanted to make it easy. It was more like sports, with someone slapping down, dismissing, destroying, devastating, dissing, crushing or owning someone on the other side of an opinion.


    I’m back home now, on the mend. The outrages from my hospital stay (Brennan’s security clearance, Cohen’s non-flip, trade war with Mexico, McCain’s flag at half-staff, Sessions/Mueller to be fired) are nearly forgotten. Red pill? Blue pill? I wish I had more of those little yellow pills.



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    CNN Celebrates Iraqi Housewife Who Beheaded and Then Cooked the Skulls of ISIS fighters

    October 4, 2016 // 21 Comments »

    cnn


    When Islamic State beheads someone it is terrorism. When an Iraqi housewife beheads an ISIS fighter and cooks his skull, it is freedom. That is the CNN doctrine.


    CNN reports the story of 39-year-old Wahida Mohamed aka Um Hanadi, an Iraqi woman who supposedly leads a tribal militia force of around 70 men south of Mosul. She and her band allegedly helped “government forces” drive Islamic State out of a small town.

    “I began fighting the terrorists in 2004, working with Iraqi security forces and the coalition,” she told CNN. CNN cites no other source other than Um Hanadi herself and Facebook in its coverage.

    As a result, Um Hanadi said, she attracted the wrath of what eventually became al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which later morphed into ISIS. “I received threats from the top leadership of ISIS, including from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself,” she says. “I’m at the top of their most wanted list, even more than the [Iraqi] Prime Minister.”

    Um Hanadi stated al Qaeda/AQI/ISIS planted car bombs outside her home in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014.

    Along the way, her first husband was killed in action. She remarried, but ISIS killed her second husband. ISIS also killed her father and three brothers. They also killed, she added, her sheep, her dogs and her birds, and tried to otherwise assassinate her six times.



    Where Has Um Hanadi Been Hiding All These Years?

    Despite her claim to have worked with the U.S. coalition, to be higher on the ISIS hit list than the Prime Minister, to have been the target of multiple bombing attempts, and to be a very, very, very rare example of a Muslim woman leading Muslim men in combat, I could not find any references to Um Hanadi that predate the CNN report. Um Hanadi does have a self-created social media presence which she updates between battles.

    In addition, Um Hanadi may be the luckiest person in Iraq, apparently cheating death on a near-daily basis.

    CNN did not explain in its coverage how it came to locate and interview Um Hanadi amid the chaos of present-day Iraq.



    The Beheadings

    Now, on to the beheadings.

    CNN quotes Um Hanadi as saying of ISIS “I fought them. I beheaded them. I cooked their heads, I burned their bodies.” CNN states “She made no excuses, nor attempted to rationalize this. It was delivered as a boast, not a confession.”

    “This is all documented,” she said. “You can see it on my Facebook page.”

    The CNN reporter wrote that he indeed checked her Facebook page and saw photos, and though he could not verify them, still “got the point.”

    Comment

    This is propaganda of the worst, and most infantile, kind. In addition to the broad question of whether or not any of this is even true, the question of who set CNN up to meet with Um Hanadi is left unanswered. That CNN would run this story on its television news, and website, is a shameful descent into the decaying corpse of the First Amendment. Media around the globe, including the once venerable New York Times, have reprinted the story.

    Lastly is the horrific idea that atrocities such as beheading people are somehow right when an anti-ISIS person does it, and justification for an entire undeclared war by the U.S. when ISIS does it.

    CNN have you no shame? Hah, trick question, you bast*rds really don’t, do you?





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    Questions about the Yazidis on that Iraq Mountain

    August 13, 2014 // 25 Comments »




    No one wants to see anyone suffer, Yazidi or otherwise. What we do want is to know the truth about what is going on in Iraq even as Obama continues airstrikes, and prepares to send in 130 more American troops. The 130 additional advisers brings the number of American military personnel in Iraq to more than 1,000.

    U.S. officials said they believed that some type of ground force would be necessary to secure the passage of the stranded members of the Yazidi group. The military is drawing up plans for consideration by President Obama that could include American ground troops.

    So a couple of questions here.

    Long before U.S. airstrikes, the defenseless Yazidi people climbed up that mountain for refuge from ISIS, who supposedly wanted to slaughter them. Why didn’t ISIS just also climb up and then slaughter them? We know ISIS had mortars and actual artillery, because the U.S. later bombed those. Why didn’t ISIS use those weapons to slaughter the Yazidis from afar?

    Also, after one or two airstrikes, ISIS became so easy to defeat that the Kurds made it possible for 24,000 Yazidis to walk off the mountain, walk into Syria and then U-turn walk back into Iraq and settle in safely. It begs the question about how surrounded by determined ISIS fighters that mountain really was. It takes a long time for 24,000 people to do anything, and they’d need to be walking a long way during which time they would be vulnerable to ISIS. How could ISIS go from being such a threat that U.S. airpower was essential, to be pushed aside by Kurds who otherwise were having their hats handed to them by ISIS everywhere else?

    And after all that, plus more airstrikes, why are there still people up on that mountain without food or water? How was it that 24,000 people could walk away but not everyone? The air strikes are ongoing, and those same Kurds that cleared a path once are still there.

    The Iraqi government claims ISIS killed at least 500 Yazidis, burying some alive and taking hundreds of women as slaves. The Iraqi government claimed “Some of the victims, including women and children, were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar.” This was reported by western media, at least one of whom was still ethical enough to add “no independent confirmation was available.” Recent mass graves in a desert area should stand out. This seems like something worth confirming instead of just repeating. What efforts are being made to confirm the information?

    If every seat on every helicopter will save a Yazidi child’s life via evacuation, why are seats being allotted to CNN camera crews and other journalists? What is the priority?

    What is the thinking about a group the U.S. has long-designated as a terrorist organization playing an active part in rescuing the Yazidis under American air cover? Shouldn’t the U.S. be bombing known terrorist organizations instead of working with them? Isn’t that sort of the actual point of a war on terror, to kill terrorists wherever they are?

    Maybe there are good answers to these questions (please share below, with links) but is it at all possible that we’re being sold an emotionally compelling story to justify U.S. military intervention in Iraq? Perhaps that mountain the Yazidis are on has a slippery slope for the U.S.?

    WMD? Again.



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    At CNN

    June 21, 2014 // 9 Comments »




    Selfie at CNN studios today in NYC.


    Taped a segment on Iraq, not sure if/when it will air. I explained U.S. military intervention in Iraq, as opposed to “doing nothing,” would be like choosing between throwing gas into a fire versus “doing nothing.”


    That said, consensus among the anchors and other guests was that “we have to do something.” OK, sure, but how’d that work out for ya’ last time?



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    HUBBA Award Goes to Fareed Zakaria

    September 17, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    The coveted We Meant Well HUBBA Award (Head Up Butt Bozo Award) this week goes to CNN’s plagiarizer Fareed Zakaria, for his Op-Ed failing to understand events in the Middle East almost completely while still repeating the US Government standard lines almost verbatim like a loyal robo-journalist should.

    Fareed starts us off with a really useful factoid:

    In Libya, the government is not fomenting Anti-Americanism, it is fighting it, openly declaring America an ally and friend. The country is pro-American by a 2-to-1 margin, and the violence there appears to have been the work of small, extremist elements that lack much popular support.

    Libyan government not to blame, small group of isolated ruffians, right on Susan Rice’s talking points. And good news America, Libyans love us 2:1! Now, that does leave a full third of the country that does not love us, and it appears the loving two thirds are willing to at least quietly and passively allow the others to run wild, and of course even a small mob burning down your Consulate and killing your Ambassador counts as burning down your Consulate and killing your Ambassador. It reminds me of General Giap’s famous response after the Vietnam War, when some American General said “Your troops never beat us on the open battlefield,” to which Giap replied “True, but also irrelevant.”

    Fareed doubles down on his idiotic argument:

    Across the Middle East, there have been protests railing against the United States and the West in general. Even in these places, however, keep in mind that these crowds number in the hundreds – perhaps thousands – in countries with tens of millions of people. They make for vivid images, but they do not tell the whole story.

    Yeah, right. Maybe we should relocate the US Embassies from the neighborhoods where people don’t like us into those better parts of town.

    As for the violence in Egypt, Fareed sees it pretty much as the guys blowing off some steam, a lot like Dappy Don Rumsfeld claimed during the Iraq Civil War that “well, democracy can be messy.” Anyway, the fact that the Egyptian government seems powerless to stop the riots is just smart politics. Says Fareed:

    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy is an elected politician, and he is trying to pander, appease, direct and guide people. I wish he were bolder and fought the extremist elements in his society head-on. But let’s face it, he’s behaving like an elected politician.

    Sure, just like an elected politician. Just like elected politicians in say, Western Europe behave around mobs?

    And to wrap things up, a little self-congratulatory music:

    And let’s be honest, there is a cancer of extremism in the Arab world, one that was diagnosed extensively after 9/11 by many, including me.



    So, for his contribution to pointless rhetoric, we award the HUBBA to Fareed Zakaria of CNN! We also congratulate our runner-up, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said, “The [Middle East] protests were as unreflective of popular Middle Eastern opinion as ‘a Ku Klux Klan demonstration’ in the United States.”

    (The HUBBA committee acknowledges the many lame persons in contention for this award, and has told me that choosing just one was, as always, very difficult. They hasten to add that in weeks where no HUBBA announcement is made, the award is by default passed on to US UN Ambassador Susan Rice.)



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    CNN Radio: “American Sauce” Includes My Comments on Iraq’s Future

    December 16, 2011 // Comments Off on CNN Radio: “American Sauce” Includes My Comments on Iraq’s Future



    I had the pleasure of speaking with CNN’s Lisa Desjardins about reconstruction in Iraq, and what might the future hold for our favorite party spot in the Middle East. The show features a number of commentators, not just me, so no need for drinking games to accompany the show.

    Have a listen at CNN Radio or find the podcast version on iTunes.




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    Iraq Democracy Watch

    June 12, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    SecDef Robert Gates brayed that “Something we could not have predicted five months ago is that Iraq would emerge as the most advanced Arab democracy in the entire region.”

    So, in honor of Gates’ proclamation, This Week in Iraqi Democracy is brought to you by the letter F, and the 4,460 American soldiers’ lives wasted in the US war in Iraq:


    — Two rival Iraqi lawmakers came to blows inside parliament on Sunday at a time of rising tension between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite bloc and a rival Sunni-backed alliance.

    — One civilian was killed and four were wounded in a bomb blast in Jihad area in Baghdad, security sources said. “A bomb planted near a football playground exploded, which led to killing one civilian and wounding four,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq.

    — Violence north of Baghdad on Saturday killed 10 people, including five members of a Sunni Arab family slain early in the morning, Iraqi security and medical officials said. In Saturday’s deadliest attack, a primary school teacher and his family were gunned down inside their home in Salaheddin province.

    — Rand Paul took exception to the number of Iraqi refugees who have been granted asylum in the United States. “There’s a democratic government over there, and I think they need to be staying and helping rebuild their country,” he said. “We don’t need them over here on government welfare. Why are we admitting 18,000 people for political asylum from Iraq, which is an ally of ours?” The United States has resettled more than 54,000 Iraqi refugees since 2006 and has given over $2 billion in assistance to displaced Iraqis, according to the State Department.

    — The US Embassy in Iraq is distancing itself from statements made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher that led to an Iraqi government spokesman saying the congressman and his delegation are not welcome in the country.

    — “I am protesting against everything because everything is wrong,” said Mohammed Jassim, a 28-year-old jobless protester. Hundreds took to the streets of Iraqi cities on Friday, denouncing what they say was a lack of government progress after a 100-day deadline set by Prime Minister al Maliki expired. The demonstration was overshadowed by a larger rally of some 3,000 people, also at Tahrir Square, calling for the execution of 25 accused insurgents. Many of the anti-government protesters were beaten with sticks.

    — A Shiite militia group in Iraq claimed a rocket attack which killed five US soldiers, a strike that revived security concerns as US forces prepare to pull out at the end of the year. Another U.S. soldier was killed in south Iraq on Wednesday.

    — CNN reported that Iraq liquor store owners fear for their lives amid attacks. “It’s the most dangerous job to have a liquor store in Baghdad because there are many groups against this kind of business, either within the government or outside it,” said Yaqoub, a Yazidi minority that has been a target of insurgents in recent years. “It’s painful to see this happening to our country, ” said 46-year-old Essa, a Christian. “All Iraqis used to live together, and it didn’t matter who was Sunni or who was Shiite, who was Muslim or who was Christian.”

    — In Australia, local media ran a story headlined Betrayed: Jobless Iraqis in Despair, about how three years after they fled Iraq on secret flights, all but a tiny fraction of former interpreters are unemployed and have to rely on government benefits. Many are fearful and highly secretive, believing if their names or faces are made public, militia in Iraq who regard them as traitors for helping Australian forces will carry out reprisals on their relatives.

    — In the US, authorities unsealed a 23-count indictment against two Iraqi refugees living in Bowling Green, KY, on charges that the men allegedly conspired to provide material support in the form of money, weapons and explosives to Al Qaeda in Iraq and that one man plotted to kill Americans abroad. The two men arrived in the United States as refugees from Iraq in 2009.


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    We Faced Monsters Before

    May 4, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    obama osama signIs it too soon? Can we talk about bin Laden intelligently yet or are we all still fapping away over SEAL Team 6?

    Cool? OK. CNN starts us downhill with a story about “How to Talk to Your Kids About Bin Laden’s Death.” One suggestion was “My kids are little, so I’ll keep it simple and say Bin Laden was a very bad man who hurt a lot of people before they were born and this was the best way our country could think of to make sure he couldn’t hurt anyone else.” Another offered “We told them that there was a mean man, Osama, that killed a lot of Americans. Then explained to them about ‘army men’ and how they captured him and sent him away forever so the mean man will never hurt any Americans again! I told them to be proud of our country and be proud to be an American!”

    It gets uglier in the “comments” section of just about any web site. One Facebooker assured us all bin Laden’s body was covered in pig’s blood before being fed to the sharks. Another commenter suggested it would have been best if the body had been dragged around New York behind a fire truck. Many unclever remarks focused on the virgins who would greet bin Laden in the afterlife (funny comment exception: it’s a typo in the Koran and they are Virginians, not Virgins). Most chanters of USA! USA! would have enjoyed kicking Osama’s skull around after doing keg stands, more Tri-Delt than war on terror as they consecrated Ground Zero with vomit, pizza boxes and beer cans. The scenes on TV looked a lot like the Iraqis in Fallujah dancing over the scorched contractors’ bodies, or militant Somalis hacking at the Black Hawk Down guys, than America’s next generation of academic elites.

    The worst remarks, however, came from the White House, where the word “justice” kept being used. Justice for the 9/11 families, justice for Nairobi and Dar and Khobar, justice for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, justice that supposedly will bring closure to an angry America. Obama will take a victory lap in New York on Thursday, no doubt singing “Another One Bites the Dust” while throwing gang signs at Gaddafi. You’re next!

    We have faced down monsters before. We brought the Nazi’s to trial, evil men who murdered millions, not thousands. We exposed their crimes, crushed them with their own words, and showed everyone who cared to look that we were better than them. Even the Israelis, no sissy boys there, brought Eichmann to trial when they could have, well, shot him in the face while unarmed and dumped his body in the ocean. We didn’t need torture and secret prisons.

    I’m not sad that bin Laden is dead, but there is a bigger issue here. Once bin Laden was found, it was no longer about him. You can kill a man with a bullet, but to defeat an idea you need to offer something better. Stuff like with liberty and justice for all– those words either mean something or they don’t. I want to explain that to my kids, not encourage them to grow up believing that revenge, not justice, is their America.



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