Sunday, March 31, 2024

All Lies Are Not Created Equal

Some say "it is what it is." However, as Bill Maher understands, sometimes it isn't what it appears to be. 

A misguided tweet prompted by Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher:

Maher responded (bad audio on the video, with relevant portion beginning at 17:53)

Also, when you say "a third of the country." It' a third of the country that thinks the election was stolen. But it's another, something like 14%- almost half that thinks the election was stolen and doesn't care because they're still going to vote for Trump,. So it is almost half the country. For that reason, I'm with you. 

But I don't agree with you on the idea that a lie is a lie. Bill Clinton's lie, Obama's lies, whoever lies, is different that that the election doesn't count when our guy doesn't win. That is a separate thing- - I totally get that point of view.

Zakaria then stated that he had once interviewed (or tried to interview) Gus Hall, once a Communist Party candidate for President of the USA, inferring that would have been analogous NBC putting Ronna McDaniel on the air. However, this point was mute. NBC's issue was not whether the former RNC chairperson should be a guest, but instead a $300,000 a year contributor.

A lie is a lie but one lie differs in magnitude and effect than another. Or as another tweeter explained, "Clinton lied about an erection. Ronna lied about an election. Very different things."


                                              HAPPY EASTER

Friday, March 29, 2024

Uplifting the Hostile Workplace

In October 2021 Charlotte Bennett, a health policy aide in the administration of New York governor Andrew Cuomo- forced out of office after a series of sexual abuse allegations- stated that

what emboldened her to come forward — and bolster the claims of an earlier accuser — was also the feeling that she was part of a community of survivors who had each other’s back.

“I was really scared to come forward,” Bennett said. “But something that reassured me even in that moment of fear was that there were women before me … (it wasn’t) Charlotte versus the governor, but a movement, moving forward. And I am one small event and one small piece of reckoning with sexual misconduct, in workplaces and elsewhere.”

Because things- especially in the workplace- can change dramatically in less than four years. 

An attorney for Lizzo’s former backup dancers, Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez, is fuming that the Democratic National Committee hired the “Good As Hell” singer to headline the Dem’s big fundraiser Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.

“It’s shameful that Lizzo would be chosen to headline an event like this amid such egregious allegations,” Ron Zambrano told me. “Without getting into the politics, I can’t imagine why anyone would want Lizzo representing them in any way given her reprehensible behavior. It’s just a terrible look."

Lizzo is facing accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination by Davis, Williams and Rodriguez who sued Lizzo last August, accusing her of “creating a hostile work environment through a wide range of legal wrongdoing, including not just sexual harassment but also religious and racial discrimination,” according to Billboard. The women allege Lizzo forced them to attend sex shows and eat a banana protruding from a woman’s vagina, among other allegations. Last month, a judge denied Lizzo’s request to toss the lawsuit, allowing the majority of the case to proceed to trial later this year.

Last October, two years after Charlotte Bennett's account, Holly Corbett noted in Forbes "While some people may argue that #MeToo is dead or is not needed anymore, the truth is that change with any social movement is slow, nonlinear, and doesn't all the time." Yet she misleadingly added "The #MeToo movement of 2017 and 2018 grew with survivors finding community and resulted in holding hundreds of powerful men accountable."

Powerful men, arguably; influential women, not a chance. The performer of such classy and traditional lyrics as "Woo child, tired of the bullshit Go on dust your shoulders off, keep it moving Yes Lord, tryna get some new shit In there, swimwear, going to the pool shit" is not being held accountable. Ron Zambrano is trying to do so- but the last three Democratic presidents have not only given her a pass, but have now celebrated her, honoring her with prominence at the New York City gala.

This is what the #MeToo movement has come to. While many Americans flounder as victims of the vagaries of life, moral outrage vanishes when the alleged offender is a wealthy celebrity.  It turns out that if the wrongdoer is not among the "hundreds of powerful men," three of the most powerful Americans of the last quarter century can't be bothered. Perhaps the #MeToo movement should acknowledge it no longer serves a useful purpose and simply call it a day.


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Claiming a Non-Existent Right

The press secretary to President George W. Bush inadvertently reminds us of how bad a President his boss was.

This is how NBC "shunned" Ronna McDaniel, who was Ronna Romney McDaniel before Donald Trump made dropping her middle name as a condition of obtaining employment as Republican National Committee chairman:


Ronna McDaniel was given an opportunity to present her take of the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump. Neither NBC nor its offspring, MSNBC, is under any legal requirement to give a contract to someone pro-Trump, just as it is not a requirement that Fox News do so for Tom Perez, Donna Brazile, or Terry McAuliffe.

Also misguided was Geraldo Rivera, who in slamming superstar host Rachel Maddow for comparing the contract with McDaniel to hiring a "mobster to work at the DA's office, stated "I think that Rachel Maddow is guilty of malignant wokeism. God did not anoint her the arbiter of who was appropriate for her network to hire or what their point of view is."

The incident had far less to do with "wokeism," however Rivera defines it, than with actively supporting an effort to overthrow a fair and legal election. And obviously God did not anoint an arbiter, given that Mrs. McDaniel was selected without input from any on-air talent. The revolt did not come until weeks after the agreement between McDaniel and NBC. While short of being "arbiters," MSNBC hosts decided that blindly following their leaders- management at the parent company- was not part of their job description. 

Fleischer, whose role in the White House was to spout the company line blindly and vociferously- may not fully understand this. And the "media bias" he cites is, at most, a counterpoint of the bias at Fox News (and Newsmax and OANN), but with a healthy dose of fact. 

NBC did not "shun" Mrs. McDaniel. There is no constitutional right to a media contract. No one is entitled to such a privilege. That was understood within the cable news network as

Across MSNBC they have been cutting contributors,” an unnamed host told Politico. “So everyone’s like, what the fuck? You found 300 for her?”

Later on Monday, the union group NBC News Guild, said on social media: “Two weeks before NBC News proudly announced the hiring of Ronna McDaniel, execs illegally terminated 13 union journalists.”

No explanation was offered for the layoffs, the Guild said, adding: “Actions speak clearly – NBC prioritized an election denier over its own reporters.

So NBC executives offered an election-denying, Trump-worshipping ex-RNC head a gig made possible only by axing legitimate journalists. On the parent network or, better yet, MSNBC, Republicans and conservatives should appear- as guests, asked real questions with follow-up, as was done on Meet the Press. But for contributors, it can do far better than Ronna "not Romney" McDaniel. As one right-wing Republican explained on Sunday

Ronna facilitated Trump's corrupt fake elector plot & his effort to pressure MI officials not to certify the legitimate election outcome. She spread his lies & called 1/6 'legitimate political discourse.' That's not 'taking one for the team.' It's enabling criminality & depravity.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Pitiful Little Marco

Pathetic, just pathetic.

It was on March 3, 2016 in Detroit when

Donald Trump opened the GOP debate here by boasting about the size of his genitals. He responded to recent comments from Marco Rubio in which the Florida senator joked about the size of Trump’s hands and said “you know what they say about men with small hands.”

On the debate stage, Trump stretched his hands out for the audience to see – then insisted the suggestion that “something else must be small” was false.

“I guarantee you there’s no problem,” Trump said to howls from the audience at the Fox debate.

Trump twice taunted his rival with "Don't worry about it, Little Marco." No problem, though, because Rubio got back at actor Trump later in the debate. He knew how to ridicule Trump and cut him down to size. The senator called him "Big Donald." Way to cut him down to size, Marco!


But that was before Rubio endorsed Trump a few months later, prior to his rapid and radical "transformation from "Never Trump' to 'Forever Trump.'" And now the little man has hit a new low:

Oh, the humiliation. Rubio does have the advantage of being Latino and Trump hopes to be able to expand the inroads which polls indicate he has made with that demographic. However, he also is Cuban-America, and that brings into question his ability to appeal to Puerto Ricans in New York or more importantly, Mexican-Americans in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina. Presumably, Rubio would help marginally in Florida but that has become a reasonably safe state for a GOP presidential nominee. 

Moreover, Article II, Section 1 of the USA Constitution reads "The electors hall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves." 

That would raise the possibility of four years of President Donald Trump and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Yet as entertaining as that would be, it wouldn't play out that way. Although a resident of Texas upon election as V.P. in 2000, Dick Cheney claimed to live in Wyoming, where he had previously resided and served as a U.S. Senator. And that was that. In the analogous situation, Trump simply would insist that he resides in New York, New York and that would be that.

Nonetheless, the nominee is about as likely to peg Rubio as his running mate as he is, say, Elizabeth Warren. Donald Trump needs a woman to round out the ticket, and there are several, such as Kristi Noem and Elise Stefanik, who would promise whatever necessary to do as requested. Then there are Nancy Mace, who might not, and Nikki Haley, who wouldn't, but would credibly remind everyone that a vote for Joe Biden as President is a vote for President Kamala Harris.

The ads touting Biden-Harris or ridiculing Trump-Rubio would practically write themselves- better yet, the V.P. nominee could write the ads. About a week before the "Little Marco" debate, Rubio had asserted "We cannot allow the conservative movement to be taken over by a con artist because the stakes are too high. Friends do not let friends vote for con artists," asserted the Florida senator about a week before he was dubbed "Little Marco." "Even Marco Rubio endorses Biden-Harris" would have a nice ring to it.

It's very unlikely that Trump would tap- uh, er, choose-  Nikki Haley because he'd have to worry every time he turned his back on her. However, she, Mace, Noem, and Stefanik are only a few of the Republican women who would jump at the chance to be on the ticket, and would alleviate slightly the (accurate) image of Trump as a narrow-minded, misogynistic bigot.

They'd all be very bad in their own way. However, no matter what the lucky lady is expected to do as running mate, it will be hard for her to define pathetic as thoroughly as has Marco Rubio.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Good Work, If You Can Get It

Louisiana State University women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey h is a controversial figure and her overwrought response to an expected article in The Washington Post probably represents an overwrought response from a conservative woman of privilege.   

But the reference to Britney Griner, who was swapped in December of 2022 for the "Merchant of Death" arms dealer, evokes a far larger issue than Mulkey or the women's basketball tournament.  According to this source, these are the other Americans detained or incarcerated in Russia:

- Paul Whelan, ex-Marine sentenced in 2020 for 16 years in prison on espionage charges;

- Marc Fogel, former U.S. teacher and diplomat, sentenced in 6/22 to 14 years in a maximum security prison "for charges of large-scale drug acquisition, manufacture, smuggling, and possession";

- Evan Gershkovitz, Wall Street Journal reporter detained since 3/23 for allegedly trying "to obtain classified defense information for the U.S. government"; 

- Aisa Kurmasheva, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist, arrested 10/23 "for failing to register as a foreign agent" and later charged with additional offenses;

- Robert Romanov Woodland, arrested 1/24 on drug charges;

- Ksenia Karelina, sentenced to 14 days for "hooliganism" and days later ordered to be further detained "on suspicion of committing treason."

A cursory look at these six individuals reveals that all six appear to be white, unlike Britney Griner, who is black. That probably has little to do with the persistent and successful effort by the USA government to secure Griner's release.

Unlike Griner, married to Cherelle Griner, none of the six is in a same-sex relationship, as far as has been reported.  That is probably a reason, though not the most important, that Ms. Griner served less than ten months, 9-10 months too long, as a guest of the Soviet state. (This is a Democratic Administration, after all.)

“was about screaming from the mountaintop and trying to have the public and ultimately the government and White House pay attention to us, because we knew that without the government support and the support of the White House, she probably wasn’t going to come home,” Calder Hynes told PR Daily. Hynes is senior vice president of global communications at Wasserman, the sports and entertainment talent agency that has represented Griner for years.

Wasserman coordinated efforts to release Griner from her nearly 10-month imprisonment in Russia, a massive undertaking that required working with not only the government, international attorneys and hostage experts, but also the WNBA, USA Basketball and the court of public opinion.

In an interview with PR Daily, Hynes and Griner’s longtime agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas revealed how they worked to first keep the incident quiet – and then how to ensure every American viewed Griner as their sister, daughter or neighbor.

Whelan, Fogel, Gershkovitz, Kurmasheva, Woodland, and Karelina cannot dribble a basketball. Coach Mulkey in her statement asserted "I've hired the best defamation law firm in the country and I will sue The Washington Post if they publish a false story about me. Not many people are in a position to hold this kind of journalist accountable- but I am."

Here is a famed basketball figure who is highly successful and determined- and who possesses a sense of privilege. It is the privilege of being among the few in the position to do as she wishes. Though with starkly different demeanor- and probably character- Britney Griner benefited for a similar kind of privilege. 

It may be ironic then, that, Mulkey did not speak out when Griner was in captivity. But it is more significant that one is excellent at dribbling- or shooting or rebounding- a basketball, and the other at coaching individuals to do so. For all the others, who cannot do such a thing, we Americans extend them wishes for the good luck they'll need.  


Friday, March 22, 2024

Warped in Its Simplicity

Leo Varadkar on Wednesday suddenly announced his resignation as (southern) Ireland's prime minister. He, Cenk Uygur, and Mehdi Hasan have a common and dangerous misconception.

Certainly, their ardent support of "Palestinians;" also, their conviction that all Palestinians are the same. As reported here, "when the leader of Ireland appeared alongside President Joe Biden on St. Patrick's Day," 

he spent about half of his speech advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza. But before he made his case, he explained why the issue hit so close to home.

“When I travel the world, leaders often ask me why the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people,” Leo Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach, or prime minister, said Sunday at the White House. “And the answer is simple: We see our history in their eyes — a story of displacement, of dispossession and national identity questioned and denied, forced emigration, discrimination and now hunger.”

If Biden, an Irish-American who loves to celebrate his ancestral homeland, was hoping for some Irish cheer at the event, Varadkar was not the one to deliver.

The taoiseach said he “supports” the president’s push for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, and called for the release of Israeli hostages. But Varadkar went further in criticizing Israel than Biden has, calling on its “bombs to stop.” He added that “Israel must reverse its precipitous decision to authorize a land incursion into Rafah,” the city in southern Gaza that Israel says it must enter in order to defeat Hamas, but which now contains more than 1 million civilians. 

Varadkar seems so naive as to believe- if that is possible- that Israelis held as hostages would be released by Hamas if Jerusalem/Tel Aviv orders its "bombs to stop."  And in pleading that "the Irish have such empathy for the Palestinian people" while criticizing the Israeli effort, he equates the war against Hamas- in which thousands of Gazans have been killed- with the "story of displacement, of dispossession and national identity" of those "Palestinian people."

This might be true if Israel's war were against the "Palestinian people," who themselves are never clearly identified. Alas, there has been no attack against the millions of Palestinians in Jordan or elsewhere, countries in which ethnic Palestinians enjoy fewer rights than do Palestinian residents of Israel. There have been, as the media chooses to downplay, a constant barrage upon northern Israel of missile and mortar attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon. There was no statement from Vardkar for the thousands of Israelis who have been displaced- nor for the attacks upon Lebanese Palestinians by Hamas. 

"The Palestinian people," Varadkar intoned, because he thinks (or appears to think) that all Palestinians are the same. 

And then there is Cenk Uygur. who asks "do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves?" That would be a relevant question if "the Palestinians" launched a barbaric terrorist attack upon Israel on October 7, 2023.  But they didn't;  it was Hamas specifically.  

Members of the Israeli religious right have disproportionate influence in the Netanyahu government. Some of them consider Palestinians en bloc as the enemy, despite the great number of Gazan Palestinians who find Hamas distasteful. Embodying the same mentality, Uygur believes (if sincere) an attack by Israel upon some Palestinians- residents of Gaza- is an attack upon all. 

And of course, high on the list of haters of Israel must be the well-educated, self-absorbed Mehdi Hasan. 

In the video to which Hasan links above, Republican strategist Scott Jennings can be seen remarking

No, she's a Democrat. She's going to vote for Biden. I'm not surprised by that. I am surprised that in the year of our Lord 2024, that there is a public relations agent for Hamas sitting in the United States Congress.

We can assume that Ilhan Omar is not a public relations agent for Hamas only because there is no evidence that the Minnesota congresswoman is being paid by the brutal terrorist organization. She called for a ceasefire on October 7, 2023 because that would have precluded retaliation by Israel for the mass murder of its residents which had occurred earlier that day.

Unsurprisingly, Hasan presented Jennings' comment with no context. However, it's very likely that Hasan would have noted any Jennings' mention of "Islam" or "Muslim." So, no Islamophobia. And in charging "racism" without cause, Hasan shares with Uygur and Varadkar the notion that Palestinians are all all alike. In Hasan's take, by condemning Omar, Jennings is blasting every Palestinian. 

It's a common mistake, one taken for strategic advantage. It places on defense supporters of the Middle East's only democratic state and subtly accuses them unjustly of racism. It's an ironic charge from people who view individuals as only the sum total of their race, thereby identical and interchangeable..


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Dialing 911 for a Strongman

In 1974, Randy Bachman of the Guess Who wrote "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."  Now in 2024, Donald Trump is saying "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."

At a rally near Dayton, Ohio on Saturday, Mr. Trump remarked

If you’re listening, President Xi — and you and I are friends — but he understands the way I deal. Those big monster car manufacturing plants that you’re building in Mexico right now … you’re going to not hire Americans and you’re going to sell the cars to us, no. We’re going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those cars if I get elected.

Now if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country. That will be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars. They’re building massive factories.


Although questioning Trump's tone, GOP Senator Bill "Hopalong" Cassidy of Louisiana said on Sunday's Meet the Press "You could also look at the definition of bloodbath and it could be an economic disaster. And so if he’s speaking about the auto industry, in particular in Ohio, then you can take it a little bit more context.” The same morning,  colleague Mike Rounds of South Dakota rationalized on This Week without George Stephanopoulos “With regard to the autoworkers that he was talking to, he is showing them or he’s telling them what has been an economic downturn for them,”

Mark Mulvaney, NewsNation contributor and chief of staff to President Donald Trump, stated “I didn’t realize this until I went to do the research. It’s a conversation about Chinese automakers trying to use Mexico to get cars into the United States.”

Mulvaney evidently didn't say what constituted the  "research" but the Biden 

campaign responded to that objection with a video montage that included the “blood bath” comment alongside footage of Mr. Trump saying there were “very fine people on both sides” of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and pledging to pardon Jan. 6 defendants. “MAGA wanted context, so we gave them context,” a Biden spokesman, Parker Butler, wrote on social media on Monday.

It was a good point but unnecessary to determine context. Trump could have simply floated his tariff idea and added "Now if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole- that's gonna be the least of it." But he didn't, instead adding "It's going to be a bloodbath for the country. That will be the least of it."

That will be the least of it. It would not be only a bloodbath for the auto industry or a bloodbath for the country because of the impact on the auto industry. No- that will be the least of it. In an article Politico published on St. Patrick's Day, Michael Kruse wrote

“He’s always been funny,” Jen Mercieca, the author of Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump, told me — “branding” and “framing” his foes in a way that “undermines their credibility” and “reaffirms the us-versus-them polarization” all “under the guise of just joking.” Practically every joke is “an in-group and out-group joke,” and “laughing at the joke is a sign of loyalty,” Mercieca explained.

“That,” she said, “is how autocrats work.”

It's going to be a bloodbath for the country, Trump said, as an in-group promise. To much of the media, right-wing and centrist, the former President was speaking exclusively about the auto industry. After all, it's difficult to acknowledge that the individual your fellow Americans are (for now) poised to elect as President will be eager to promote a bloodbath. It can't happen here, can it? Can it? Moreover, he already has made clear, publicly, that he's rooting for an economic cataclysm.

Trump cares little about the short-term impact of his words and largely disregards tactics. It's strategy which he has decided upon, which won him the presidency (with considerable help from FBI Director Comey) in 2016 and which he is counting on to return him to the White House.

That strategy has remained consistent while reinforced by the surprisingly strong campaign waged against him by Nikki Haley. The ex-governor, ex-ambassador said that he was the right President at the right time scoffed at the idea of voting Trump "off the island;" pledged to support him if he is re-nominated; vowed to pardon him if she is elected President.

Her argument was that Trump is a loser and is too old (as is Biden, she maintained) and that chaos follows him around.  "Chaos," Haley emphasized, "follows him everywhere he goes. Chaos follows him. And in a time where we need to start getting our act together, do we really want to go that route? I don't think we do."

Neither do Democrats nor the Independents not intent on voting for Trump. They want normalcy and no drama. And thus at the speech in Ohio on Saturday

“Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s gonna be a bloodbath. That’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country,” he said, without clarifying what he meant.

Later, he added: “I don’t think you’re going to have another election in this country, if we don’t win this election … certainly not an election that’s meaningful.”

If I don't win, there will be no more real elections, Trump insists. He argues- in the words of the late Randy Newman in the theme to Monk- that if he loses there will be "disorder and confusion everywhere." The song asks "hey, who's in charge here," to which Trump answers "No one- unless I'm elected."  A bloodbath awaits, unless he's put back in charge.

It may be chaotic now. But Donald Trump promises "you ain't seen nothing yet."




Monday, March 18, 2024

The Non-Conspiracy

The only thing GOP Representative Nancy Mace, of a swing district in South Carolina, got right here was her timing.

When it's time for Bill Maher to go to the "New Rules" segment of "Real Time," Bill Maher goes to New Rules. No exception.

And Representative Mace was able to slip in her lie at the right time, just under the wire.  Mace may not recall the exact date or the adjective "fine," but surely she learned of the President's sentiment after Joe Biden on January 30 said

that he thought it was "fine" for former President Donald Trump to remain on the ballot for this year's election.

In response to a reporter who asked whether Trump should "be allowed on the ballot," Biden said, “As far as I’m concerned, that’s fine.”

Biden made the remark shortly before he boarded Marine One for Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, from which he departed for a trip to Florida.,,,

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments next week in the Colorado ballot case, which could affect whether Trump can stay on the primary ballot in that state and others.

Colorado's Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump violated a provision of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which states that "an officer of the United States" who has "engaged in insurrection" cannot hold office and is therefore ineligible as a candidate.

The Supreme Court, six Republicans and three Democrats, promptly decided unanimously against the plaintiffs, thus restoring Trump to the ballot in Colorado.

Thus marked the demise of the lawsuit which aimed to bar Donald Trump from the primary ballot in Colorado on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment. Though filed by CREW, the suit was organized by a research assistant with the 2008 presidential campaign of Rudolph Giuliani. It was joined by the first woman to serve as majority leader of both chambers of the Colorado legislature, as well as

a former Republican member of Congress from Rhode Island who now lives in Colorado; a teacher; a former deputy chief of staff to a Republican governor; a former executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County; and a conservative columnist for the Denver Post.

Yet, Representative Mace was able to claim "(Joe Biden) wants to kick his opponents off the ballot."  With GOP politicians such as her implying a Democratic plot to erase Trump from the ballot, many conservative voters seem to believe the myth.

The problem is magnified when, as has been the case, there is little or no pushback from Democrats, liberals or progressives. Throughout the entire discussion portion of the show, Representative Ro Khanna (clearly booked as the progressive foil to Mace, proved distressingly complaisant, apparently loathe to displease his colleague. And Bill Maher himself allowed the congresswoman to interject this crucial lie before he switched gears to "New Rules."  On this night, Nancy Mace was disturbingly, dishonestly effective.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Thorough Examination

In light of the rumor that RFK Jr. will select Aaron Rodgers to be his running mate, it is timely to tell Ari Fleischer and his fellow travelers: R-E-L-A-X.

Of course, Fleischer is flacking for Donald Trump and acolytes, who will deny to their lasting, lying breath that Putin's Russia did not work to elect Trump to the presidency. And Fleischer should not go hysterical over the speech of Majority Leader Schumer, a longtime ally of the State of Israel, whose assessment of the war against Hamas was realistic, respectful, and reasoned (alliteration day!).  

In his lengthy speech (transcript here), Schumer described in detail what he labeled the "four major obstacles standing in the way of two states."  They are, in his words, Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways; radical right-wing Israelis in government and society; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Hamas, and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways.

Schumer's speech instantly became famous for his support for "holding a new election once the war starts to wind down," which should be promoted more promptly. However, he recognizes- and is willing to admit- that

The Palestinian people must reject Hamas and the extremism in their midst. They know better than anybody how Hamas has used them as pawns, how Hamas has tortured and punished Palestinians who seek peace.

 Quite frankly, I haven’t heard enough Palestinian leaders express anguish about Hamas and other extreme elements of Palestinian society. I implore them to speak up now, even when it may be hardest. Because that is the only true way to honor the lives of all those lost — by transcending the enmity and bloodshed, and working together in good faith for a better future.

 Once Hamas is deprived of power, the Palestinians will be much freer to choose a government they want and deserve. With the prospect of a real two-state solution on the table, and for the first time, genuine statehood for the Palestinian people, I believe they will be far more likely to support more mainstream leaders committed to peace.

 I think the same is true of the Israeli people. Call me an optimist, but I believe that if the Israeli public is presented with a path to a two-state solution that offers a chance at lasting peace and coexistence, then most mainstream Israelis will moderate their views and support it.

 Part of that moderation must include rejecting right-wing zealots like Ministers Smotrich and Ben Gvir, and the extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank. These people do not represent a majority of the Israeli public, yet under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s watch, they have had far too much influence.

 All sides must reject “From the river to the sea” thinking — and I believe they will if the prospects for peace and a two-state solution are real.

Schumer describes the concerns of both Israelis and American Jews and their justified concern about Israel's plight. Regrettably, he does not explicitly call out religious extremism, which has played a major role in the Israeli response to the October 7 murders and an even greater role in the Hamas attack itself. However, as this war has dragged on, it its clear that in any discussion of the Middle East, the phrases "Islamic terrorism," "Islamic extremism," and "Orthodox Jewish extremism" may not be uttered.  

Nonetheless, Schumer does understand that beyond Hamas and Israel, there is a third player in the Middle East which is critical to a peaceful and just resolution. He notes

Beyond the Israeli and Palestinian people and their leaders, there are others who bear a serious responsibility to work towards a two-state solution. Without them, it cannot succeed.

Middle Eastern powers like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and other mainstream Arab states can have immense power and influence with the Palestinians. Working with the United States, they must responsibly deploy their clout, their money and their diplomacy to support a new demilitarized Palestinian state that rejects terror and violence. I believe they have the leverage to do this with the support of the majority of the Palestinian people, who want what any other people want: peace, security and prosperity

Not all Jews are the same, as is blatantly obvious for the lack of support for the Netanyahu government among Israelis. Nor are all Arabs, or Muslims, or the individuals labeled "Palestinian," a reality which serves as a premise for Chuck Schumer's analysis. He has not presented a blueprint but has presented a more balanced view of the crisis than Ari Fleischer and others are giving him credit for. 


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Media Denial

Can we be honest?

If the question is posed to Mehdi Hasan, Vox, The Hollywood Reporter, or X readers who have "added context," the accurate answer is a resounding "no." Vox explains

Accepting the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film for his harrowing Holocaust film The Zone of Interest, director Jonathan Glazer took a stance against the state of Israel’s ongoing military bombardment of Gaza as part of the Israel-Hamas war. Glazer, who is Jewish, made a simple and straightforward through line from his film, which is about the literal banality of evil, to the present day.

“All our choices we made to reflect and confront us in the present,” Glazer said. “Not to say ‘look what they did then’ — rather, ‘look what we do now.’ Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present.”

“Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?”

 First, the journalist who until recently had a show on MSNBC:

Next, Vox

Glazer’s speech was initially badly misquoted by some sources including Variety, which led to confusion about whether he had “refuted” his Jewishness full stop. This predictably met with conservative backlash, as when Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, and Abe Foxman, former head of the Anti-Defamation League, each incorrectly cited Glazer as “refuting his Jewishness.” Several Jewish organizations argued that Glazer himself was actually “hijacking” the Holocaust.

What Glazer actually said is much clearer: He and his collaborators reject that Jewishness and the Holocaust are being used to justify the ongoing military offensive in Gaza.

Chris Hayes, snot fully familiar with the English language, remarke"it was a little awkwardly phrased but he's clearly saying he refutes his Jewishness being hijacked. Not refuting his Jewishness." "Awkwardly phrased" but "clearly saying." Gotcha.

 Finally, The Hollywood Reporter:

The reaction to Glazer’s speech was swift, although much of the early negative sentiment occurred because some news sites hadn’t fully quoted the British filmmaker, or because his quotes were taken out of context with the rest of his speech. Some people, incorrectly, took Glazer’s speech to mean that he was refuting his Jewishness, rather than that he was refuting his “Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people,” as he said in his speech.

This (reading and understanding the English language) shouldn't be difficult. It wasn't for Meghan McCain. Glazer's defenders cry "context," so to be fair- and brutally honest with them- the entire statement is as following:

Thank you so much. I’m gonna read. Thank you to the Academy for this honor and to our partners A24, Film4, Access, and Polish Film Institute; to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum for their trust and guidance; to my producers, actors, collaborators. All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present — not to say, “Look what they did then,” rather, “Look what we do now.” Our film shows where dehumanization leads, at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present. Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October the — [Applause.] Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist? [Applause.] Aleksandra BystroĹ„-KoĹ‚odziejczyk, the girl who glows in the film, as she did in life, chose to. I dedicate this to her memory and her resistance. Thank you.

Glazer's words are literally "right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation...." He did not say "as men who refute their Jewishness because of the Holocaust being hijacked." He did not say "as men who refute their Jewishness insofar as the Holocaust has been hijacked." He did not say even "as men who refute their Jewishness while the Holocaust is being hijacked," which would have been ambiguous.

He said "we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation." It means- literally and figuratively, that they are refuting two things: their Jewishness; and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation.

The meaning is clear. Glazer is making two points: we are refuting Jewishness and the Holocaust is being hijacked. He wasn't impulsive, speaking extemporaneously, off-the-cuff. He read from prepared remarks he had an opportunity to write and edit so that his points (plural) would be evident and not twisted.

Glazer may have been thinking "the only reason we're refuting our Jewishness is because of Israel's actions." But he did not say that. And although we cannot be certain of what is in the deep recesses of Nathan Glazer's mind, we have the words of an educated, presumably literate individual to assess for their validity.

Each of us is left to consider, if he or she wishes, the motivation of someone who makes his beliefs clear and the aim of individuals who refuse to acknowledge what is directly in front of them. Possibly, they are eager for Jews themselves to slam Israel because they believe it is more powerful refutation of the nation's actions in Gaza, and perhaps elsewhere. It is a little bit of a "Nixon goes to China moment"- if a Jew himself hates what Israel is doing, what more evidence do we need? And they don't want to be seen applauding someone explicitly rejecting his "Jewishness."

Nathan Glazer is free to renounce his Judaism and to slam Israel's policy in the Gaza Strip. He has conspicuously done both without claiming one as the cause of the other.. Yet, opponents of Israeli policy ask "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? They urge readership to believe what they want Glazer to have meant or what they suspect he meant, rather than what he said.  Labeled as commentary, it is legitimate. This is deeply dishonest, advocacy journalism in a cloak of objectivity.



Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Elevated Sense of Self-Regard

As The Hill reports, U.S. Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina has

accused ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of trying to “bully” her during an interview Sunday morning when he pressed her on why she endorsed former President Trump.

“George Stephanopoulos tried to bully me and shame me as a rape survivor over my support for Donald Trump, which is insane to me, because he wasn’t found guilty of rape anywhere,” she said on Fox News’s “The Faulkner Focus.”

But the other thing is that, George Stephanopoulos, he doesn’t — he has never felt the shame of rape. He does not know what this journey is like. It’s a journey of healing over a lifetime,” she added.

Mace and Stephanopoulos got caught in a heated debate during ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday when he asked her how she could endorse Trump after he was found liable for sexual battery in a defamation lawsuit with E. Jean Carroll last year. He had played a clip of her delivering testimony about being a victim of rape shortly before she announced her bid for Congress in 2019.

Throughout the exchange on Sunday, Mace criticized Stephanopoulos for “shaming” her by asking why she supported Trump.

“And it’s a shame that you will never feel, George, and I’m not going to sit here on your show and be asked a question meant to shame me about another potential rape victim. I’m not going to do that,” Mace said.

Stephanopoulos maintained that his question was not meant to “shame” her and at one point called her “courageous” for coming forward. He still continued to press her on how she could endorse Trump after saying he should never hold office again after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6,  2021, and given that he had been found liable for sexual battery.

Mace said in her interview Monday that she was “shocked and dismayed by the line of questioning.” She also said that she was not aware he was going to bring up her testimony during the interview.

Oh, good Lord.  Since revealing in a debate over an abortion bill in the South Carolina legislature in 2019 that she had been raped twenty five years earlier at age 16, Mace has tried to make the violent the heart of her political identity.

Though she successfully argued for including an exception for rape and incest in the bill curbing women's reproductive freedom, Mace has since opposed a right to abortion. She also has endorsed the nomination of Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, even though Trump denounced her run for the House of Representatives in 2022 while Nikki Haley promoted it.

So much for loyalty.  Stephanopoulos asked Mace "Judges in two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming a victim of that rape. How do you square your endorsement of Donald Trump with the testimony we just saw?"

The judges concluded that Trump was not responsible for rape, which under New York State law requires penile penetration. However, they found that the New York businessman had committed sexual assault in what is commonly considered rape. So, there is that.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump is the guy who is on tape admitting that he sexually assaults women and Stephanopoulos would have been committing journalistic malpractice had he not asked Mace about her unqualified support for a guy who has bragged about doing what he wants, when he wants, with whatever woman he wants.

Instead of defending Trump as the Republican more likely to defeat the devilish Joe Biden nor as a candidate who promotes conservative values or causes, Mace turned on Stephanopoulos, who questioned her relentlessly while remarking "you've talked courageously about that" (being raped).

Nonetheless, the congresswoman persisted in dishonestly condemning Stephanopoulos, completely without cause, trying to gin up resentment against him.. Last November, as Republicans were flopping around trying to elect a Speaker of the House, Representative Dusty Johnson, a Republican from South Dakota, outed Nancy Mace as a self-absorbed narcissist. 


"This is a time," Johnson asserted, when we need people who are interested in problem-solving, not self-aggrandizement. At about the same time, The New Republic (not behind a paywall) noted that The Daily Beast (possibly behind a paywall)

examined the South Carolina representative’s staff handbook and interviewed several of her former staffers. The main message was clear: All eyes should be on Mace at all times.

“Are we in a P.R. firm, or working for a member of Congress?” a former senior aide said they repeatedly asked themselves while working for Mace.

The handbook, which Mace reportedly wrote herself, includes clear instructions for making sure the congresswoman gets the most attention possible.

Staffers are also expected to book Mace at least 15 television appearances per week: a minimum of nine spots on national channels (between one and three times a day) and six or more times on local outlets. And to get on television, she’ll pull stunts—like strip the House speaker of his gavel.

Former staffers criticized Mace’s decision to vote to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Mace later used her vote to cast herself as a maverick, fundraising aggressively off the move.

But according to a former senior aide, she didn’t actually care all that much. “She saw the votes on the board and said, ‘Fuck it, I’m just gonna vote for it just so I can go on TV and talk about it.’”

Mace also has other staff metrics with the hope of getting her on television. Staff are required to send out at least one press release per day, an unusually high rate....

The Daily Beast reviewed other internal documents from Mace’s office, including her office budget. She has dedicated more than a third of her office’s annual $500,000 budget for “marketing,” a word almost unseen on Capitol Hill.

“It is not normal for a member to prioritize media and comms over actual legislation like that,” a second former Mace staffer told The Daily Beast. “In my experience with and in other offices, comms serves to promote what the member is doing legislatively. In Mace’s office, legislation served to get her more media opportunities.”

So this is United States Representative Nancy Mace. George Stephanopoulos was not not blaming the rape on her, not questioning her decision to go public about the incident, nor in any way to shame her. If he had been, it wouldn't have been successful, anyway, for Nancy Mace is shameless.  Nancy Mace is no whore, but she is an attention whore.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Over-Correction, a Symptom

After the first inning, the score is: Trump 1, Biden 0.

Asked about his State of the Union message by MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart on Saturday

the president also said that he regrets using the word “illegal” to describe the undocumented immigrant who is charged with killing a 22-year-old nursing student in Georgia.

“During your response to [Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s] heckling of you, you used the word ‘illegal’ when talking about the man who allegedly killed Laken Riley,” Capehart said.

“An undocumented person. And I shouldn’t have used ‘illegal.’ It’s ‘undocumented,’” Biden said.

“So you regret using that word?” Capehart pressed him.

“Yes,” Biden replied.

The statement marks an apparent reversal from what Biden said Friday. While at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, the president was asked, “Do you regret using the word ‘illegal’ to describe immigrants last night, sir?”

“Well, I probably — I don’t re — technically not supposed to be here,” he responded.

During his State of the Union speech Thursday night, Biden used the term “an illegal” to describe Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan who was previously arrested by federal authorities after having crossed the border into the U.S. Ibarra has been charged with killing 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley. The president did not mention Riley’s case in his MSNBC interview.

Memorandum to Capehart: the President did not use the word "illegal" to describe immigrants. He used it as a noun, which it is not, as a substitute for "illegal immigrants." There are illegal immigrants as there are legal immigrants; illegal immigration and legal immigration. "Illegals" is pejorative; "illegal immigrant" is descriptive, accurate, and objective.

Memorandum to Biden: However the left likes to use it, "undocumented person" is not synonymous with illegal immigrant. Born in the USA, I was "undocumented" when I was 16, before earning a driver's license. Or not- because no one would have used the term "undocumented" before "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented person" was invented to avoid saying "illegal immigrant."

Initially, Biden uses the pejorative "illegals," then condones illegal immigration by invoking "undocumented person" as if the individual is late going to the DMV. Joe Biden cannot ignore addressing publicly the immigration issue but faces the problem of how to do so. It's an issue he's very uncomfortable with.

Additionally, he's playing on Donald Trump's turf. And so after Biden acknowledged the error, his immediate predecessor was joined at a rally in Rome, Georgia by the parents of Laken Riley, the University of Georgia student who while jogging was murdered, allegedly by an illegal immigrant. And

Trump, in a lengthy speech that lasted nearly two hours, hammered Biden on the border and for mispronouncing Riley’s name during his State of the Union address this past week.

“What Joe Biden has done on our border is a crime against humanity and the people of this nation for which he will never be forgiven,” Trump charged, alleging that Riley “would be alive today if Joe Biden had not willfully and maliciously eviscerated the borders of the United States and set loose thousands and thousands of dangerous criminals into our country.”

Trump, who had made immigration a centerpiece of his campaign, has repeatedly vowed to mount the largest deportation in the nation’s history if he wins.

He contrasted his rhetoric with Biden’s — “I say he was an illegal alien. He was an illegal immigrant. He was an illegal migrant” — and accused Biden, who has long been seen as an empathetic leader, of having “no remorse. He’s got no regret, he’s got no empathy, no compassion, and worst of all, he has no intention of stopping the deadly invasion that stole precious Laken’s beautiful American life,” Trump said.

He added “Joe Biden went on television and apologized for calling Laken’s murderer an illegal,” he said to loud jeers and boos. “Biden should be apologizing for apologizing to this killer.

In contrast to his upcoming opponent, the incumbent President clearly is out of his element, because of age or otherwise, when talking about immigration. When Representative Greene suckered Biden with "say her name," Biden held up a pin reading "Say Her Name, Laken Riley"- then proceeded to refer to her as "Lincoln Riley," who is 3,000 miles away on the West Coast.

Condemning the President, Trump in Rome added "Joe Biden went on television and apologized for calling Laken's murderer an illegal. Biden should be apologizing for apologizing to this killer."

Ouch. That's what's known as game, set, match. Actually, not "match" yet- that would be the election. However, when one is trying to prove that he is aware of the huge border problem and is not cognitively impaired, getting the name wrong of a violent crime victim and later apologizing for what he has called the accused perpetrator does not inspire confidence. 

It's not too educate the President of the USA on immigration. However, it's going to take someone in his circle who understands the issue much better than does the boss.


This "R" Stands for More than "Reprehensible"

He's not insane but if Jim Steinman was right that "two out of three ain't bad," three out of four is quite good. Th...