Tag Archives: media

Afternoon Notes: Epstein, the House Intelligence Committee Report, MSNBC,Ukraine

ukraine scandal

 

House Intelligence Committee Report

The House Intelligence Committee has released their preliminary impeachment report.

Included are phone records that document phone calls between Giuliani and OMB, made from the White House.  This makes it impossible to maintain the fiction that Giuliani was conducting a “rogue operation.”

Epstein

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told The Miami Herald on Wednesday that he does not believe investigating the outcome of pedophile multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s case is a wise move, saying it would set a “dangerous” precedent of second-guessing prosecutorial decisions.” The Intellectualist.

If you don’t know just how outrageous this plea deal was, you need to do some reading.  The plea deal immunized not only Epstein, but anyone associated with him, unnamed.

Ukraine Scandal

Seth Abramson pointed out on Twitter that the Trump/Ukraine story is far worse than the Democrats are presenting.  They are conducting a concerted attempt to dumb down the impeachment inquiry to the most elementary story hoping that then, people will understand it.

Abramson writes: “It’s much worse than we’ve been told.”

Trump, Pompeo, Giuliani, Nunes, Solomon, Parnas, Lutsenko and Fruman, Abramson notes began their plotting much earlier than is being considered.  (Note: Schiff referred to this in his statement today after the report was released).

The plotting began at a time when the participants didn’t know if Mueller would take down Trump.  It started when Trump learned he was being investigated over Russia.

Trump, Abramson argues, believed that Mueller would take him down.  The push towards Ukraine was a defense to allegations he knew were being made against the Kremlin, which he believed were going to be connected to him via Manafort.

This was not a plot against Biden.  Biden was just the icing on the cake.

“This was a plot to exculpate Trump, Putin and the man who connected them: Manafort.  It was a plot to end sanctions and pave the way for Trump deals in Russia.”

The key events started before anyone knew that Biden was going to run for president.

Duncan Hunter and Sentencing

Duncan Hunter is going to be allowed to plead guilty to corruption charges he vehemently denied for years.  Hunter claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and a (sign) “witch hunt.”  He refused to admit his wrongdoing, publicly claimed that he was being persecuted and still holds his position in the congress, but he is being allowed to plead guilty to one charge.  Even though he has been charged with multiple crimes, and potentially faces five years in prison, the reporting is that he will most probably get a little over a year.

There is no functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and state criminals in this country.  That’s why Trump and Manafort and others like them were running around free to engage in political campaigns.  This must stop or we will have no democracy left.

The Corporate Media

At this extremely serious time, Nicolle Wallace has Donnie Deutsch on her show as a member of the panel.  Deutsch is a “marketing expert.”  This, folks, is where we are as a country, and where the corporate media is.

Authoritarianism: Ain’t it Grand?

 

“A …report by the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to sharply criticize lower-level F.B.I. officials as well as bureau leaders involved in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, but to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump…”

 

As Nick Confessori (NYT) pointed out this morning, the very investigation of FBI “spying” or wrongdoing in the investigation of the Trump campaign, is a victory for Trump.

 

Donald Trump made a wild accusation at a campaign rally, based on nothing, and the Justice Department devoted time and resources investigating it.  So, even though they now say that there was nothing untoward in the investigation we have devoted serious attention to a wild accusation.

 

This is exactly what the corporate press does every day.  A substantial part of “Meet The Press” on Sunday was handed over to John Kennedy to propagate Russian propaganda, arguing that the “earth is flat” and that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in the same way as did the Russians (who have been indicted).   Everyone knows that’s fiction, propaganda, so why does Chuck Todd book this liar and give him a platform?

 

The world is moving toward authoritarianism, and corporate media darlings like Nicolle Wallace laugh and joke and just have a wonderful time talking about the minutiae of Trump’s intentions and mind.

 

This is the way a country moves into authoritarianism without realizing it.  If there was something serious going on, wouldn’t the news anchors be talking about it as if it were a serious matter?  That’s what most people think, whether consciously or unconsciously.  When they see Nicolle Wallace having a high old time and Chris Hayes turning the news into a comedy show, they are relieved that they don’t have to take what is a move to a one-party authoritarian state seriously.

 

The corporate media repeatedly presents “both sides” and allows the right to vomit up endless streams of propaganda, treating it as if it were a reasonable narrative.

 

Just as the corporate media presents “both sides” the rational and the bat- shit crazy, Mueller and now the Justice Department Inspector General create a world of legal “bothsidesism.”

 

“The early accounts of the (Inspector General’s) report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it (Sound like Mueller?), by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.”

 

We can’t let them get away with this.

 

Quotes from NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/us/politics/russia-investigation-inspector-general-report.html

They Were Chosen Because They Were Sleaze

nicolle

One of the main reasons we are in such a disastrous position politically in this country is the corporate media.  The corporate media gave Trump tens of millions of dollars of free airtime in the 2016 election, did not cover (and have still not adequately covered) Trump’s extensive criminal financial background and associations, and continues to normalize his criminal behavior and that of his minions.

Tuesday night, I tuned in to watch part of Nicolle Wallace’s program and found her and her panel constructing a narrative that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland was basically a good guy who had wanted to be an ambassador for years.  As they spun the story, Sondland had worked so hard to get the job as an ambassador.  Sondland was just so thrilled to have been appointed, he wanted badly to please the Trump administration.  The poor inexperienced man was caught between Trump and Giuliani and was just trying to do the right thing for Ukraine.  Poor soul.  It was all just another example of how good people get ruined when they associate with Donald Trump.

There are so many things wrong with this narrative, I don’t know where to begin.  First, there is no evidence to support this fiction. Sondland didn’t work hard to get appointed ambassador.  He bought the position with a $1 million contribution to Trump’s campaign.  There is no evidence in the text messages and cables that Sondland cared one whit about doing the right thing for Ukraine.  He cared about assisting the “drug deal” that Trump, Guiliani and the rest of them were putting together.  Sondland knew what he was doing was wrong because he tried to cover it up by asking Volker to communicate with him over the phone rather than in writing about the plot.  Gordon Sondland is not a good person who got caught up in a criminal enterprise.  He was chosen because he was and is just the sort of person who would happily get involved in a criminal enterprise.

But, corporate media stars like Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will white-wash all the major players in this running transnational scandal.  They have done so for years.

Scarborough and Brzezinski were called “supporters” by Trump himself and were celebrating at Mar-a-lago after the election.  They only broke with Trump after he outed their adulterous affair.  Nicolle Wallace spent months castigating all the Trump administration members who didn’t quit their jobs in the White House.  She, however, worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who lied us into a war that killed almost 5,000 American and God knows how many Iraqis.  Wallace was on television just after Bret Kavanaugh delivered a contrived temper tantrum at the end of his confirmation hearings.  Wallace felt sorry for him, fell for it hook-line-and sinker.  Scarborough spent months before the Mueller report came out telling us that our “institutions continue to hold.”  This morning, Brezezinski told the MSNBC audience that Sen. Kennedy (sucks being this dumb) was a “good guy” and had allowed himself to be drawn into Trump’s sleaze.

These people are not good people who have been drawn into anything.  Most of them were chosen because they were the same sort of sleaze Trump is.  Others went into this with their eyes open, so craven they didn’t care what they were agreeing to.  They all deserve contempt, ridicule, impeachment, many of them prosecution, and shunning.

These people were immoral scum before Trump even thought about running for office and they will be immoral scum after he leaves.  People like Mitch McConnell and William Barr are not “good guys.”  They are dangerous men, willing to do anything, anything to maintain this shot at permanent power they have carved out around Donald Trump.

When people like Wallace and Scarborough and Brzezinski try to absolve them of guilt and weave fictional narratives explaining their behavior, they become enablers of this attempt to overthrow and crush democracy.

Elizabeth Holtzman Deserves an Interview about her 2012 book “Cheating Justice.”

cheating

“Have we celebrated 220 years of our Constitution to reach a point where, like a banana republic, our highest elected leaders can engage in crimes of illegal surveillance, lying to take the nation into war, torture, disappearance and degradation with impunity?” (xi)

The Corporate Media and the Wet Dreams of a Man Who Controls the Nuclear Codes: We Can’t Let Them Get Away with it.

impeach mf

 

It’s been a bad few days, a shocking few days, a disorienting few days.

First, late last week, the story broke that Bill Barr had launched a criminal investigation into the 2016 FBI probe of Russian attacks on the election.  In doing so, the Justice Department became an authoritarian enforcement arm for the White House.  The clear purpose of this criminal inquiry is to harass and punish people in the FBI and the intelligence communities who dared to investigate a transnational criminal who was running for, and then became president, Donald Trump.

But, no sooner had the story broken than the corporate news normalizers (Chuck Rosenberg, et. al.) hit the air waves to tell us that this wasn’t what it was – the use of the Justice Department to prosecute Trump’s enemies.

“It’s only a diversion from the impeachment inquiry,” we were told.  “Barr’s co-conspirator John Durham is a man of integrity, an adult in the room. He would never be involved with anything improper.”  “The investigation is going nowhere.”  “They haven’t even said what crime they were investigating.”  “Let’s wait and see what they come up with.”

There’s a fundamental kind of disorientation you experience when what is right in front of your eyes is denied by others looking at the same thing.  I am used to it from the corporate media, but the past few days have just been crazy-making.

Sunday morning, I turned on the television and before I had a chance to take the first sip of coffee, I was confronted with Donald Trump’s ugly face staring out of the television screen, making some sort of announcement.  I felt like the deer in the headlights.  My partner and I sat propped up in bed, speechless, and listening first to a dead-toned reading of a prepared statement about Bathdadi’s death and then to a totally unhinged Trump wet dream about the actual killing.

When Trump talks about violence he does so with relish.  He draws out the phrases and words almost as if he were tasting them on his tongue.  Sunday, he was visibly savoring the details of Baghdadi’s death.  He was enjoying the video of the man’s humiliation, his crying, his whimpering, his terror.

I have listened to Trump enough to know when he’s pulling shit out of his ass.  I knew even then he was making this up.  What we were listening to was a violent wet dream inside the diseased head of a man who controls the nuclear codes.  I felt nauseous.

Donald Trump’s brain is filled with sick-making fantasies.  Some of these fantasies are of the terrorizing, humiliation and utter destruction – in slow motion and in technicolor – of his enemies.  What we were listening to Sunday morning was what he would like to do to anyone who opposes him.  What we were listening to was what he would do to anyone who opposes him if he thought he could get away with it.  What we were listening to was what he will do to anyone who opposes him if we don’t stop him.

By the time Trump finished and I got to the study to turn on the computer, the corporate media was doing its job.

I sat and stared with disbelief into the face of a young woman reporter who had listened to the same public statement I had.  “Trump” she said “is a vivid storyteller.”  He has an “unconventional style.”

What the corporate media then did throughout the day was transform an obscene display of crassness, mental illness and sadism into a question of style. Donald Trump is not a vivid storyteller. Donald Trump is not unconventional.  Donald Trump is a madman.

I tried to spend most of the day dealing with cats, Naan, and working on a seminar about the 1960 film, Elmer Gantry.

Monday morning, I hadn’t even turned on the television when my Twitter feed went wild.  Reaching over to get the Mini, I read a stream of comments that made me groan out loud.

The two worst people in the entire world (Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika) were evidently on air lecturing the rest of us and calling us “unAmerican” for booing Donald Trump and chanting “lock him up” at a ball game.  These two narcissistic, self-promoting, vacuous and disgusting examples of what this society has become had the audacity to scold and shame American citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.

These two people helped get Trump elected by giving him millions in free air time.  Trump himself referred to them as his “supporters.”  They got his permission before they asked him difficult questions in an interview, and they were partying at Mar-a-Lago after the election.  They saw themselves in the White House.  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski turned on Trump only after he threatened to (and eventually did) out their adulterous affair.

Morning Joe is usually good fodder and provides such delicious examples of wretched corporate media coverage (not to mention obsequious butt kissing from the panel), but I couldn’t even turn on the television.  I knew I would throw something and I enjoy that television.

By mid-morning my Twitter feed was telling me that the most hypocritical, sanctimonious and compromised of all Democrats, Chris Coons, had joined the Joe and Mika team admonishing Americans for spontaneous political expression.  Coons, while presenting himself as being “bi-partisan” and oh such a good guy, helped arrange a sham “investigation” of Bret Kavnaugh that helped him get to the Supreme Court.

The one true point of all this is that the Club of Elites (including the corporate media and the political establishment) wants to handle the Trump fiasco itself.  They do not want the American people empowered.  They do not want legitimate outrage, protests, boos, chants, action.  They are terrified that people in this country might realize they have the power to throw the bastards out whenever they choose to.  They are terrified that people might realize that they have the power to provide themselves with adequate health care, good public schools, living wages and jobs, a fair criminal justice system.  They have the power to demand that the white collar, corporate and political criminals be put under the goddamn jail for their blatant thievery and gutting of the American economy.

The sheer fact of the matter is that the Joe Scarboroughs, Mika Brzezinski’s, the Chris Coons, the Nancy Pelosis, the Ellens, the Danny Deutschs of the world have more in common with each other than they do with us.

They want Trump out because he’s upsetting the game, but they want to handle it themselves.  That way, the polite in-house corruption, cheating, self-dealing and graft can continue.

The corporate media is not even remotely on our side.  They will debate minutiae, trivialize political division, suppress radical expression, flood the air waves with normalizers. They will never, unless they are forced to by the American people, admit that what we are experiencing is a disaster, a terrifying crisis, the transformation of a once proud democratic country into an authoritarian state.  For as long as they can get away with it, they will tell us to “move along.”  “Don’t freak out.”  Go enjoy yourselves, look the other way.

We must not let them get away with it.

“I trust him.” Famous last words about Durham and Barr

barr

  • The Bill Barr’s DOJ has initiated a criminal investigation into its own Russia investigation, clearly sending a message that there is reason to believe crimes were committed when the original investigation of the Russia connection was started.
  • This is exactly what Trump promised Hillary Clinton he would do, i.e., start criminal investigation and prosecution of his political enemies.
  • But, the usual corporate news media “our institutions will hold” chorus shrugs it off.
  • Barbara McCabe said it’s a “distraction” from the impeachment inquiry, a stunt.
  • Several commentators (including Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY) dismissed the inquiry in interviews by saying who cares, there’s nothing to find. Chuck Rosenberg, interviewed on Rachael Maddow, said: “I have a feeling that this is going nowhere.”
  • In taking this position, these pundits ignore (n tot for the first time) the clear fact that this is a serious step towards authoritarianism.
  • The chorus of “our institutions will save us” commentators, including chief normalizer Chuck Rosenberg, are praising John Durham, Barr’s co-conspirator who is traveling the world trying not to “find evidence” as corporate media pundits describe it, but to find people who will manufacture evidence to fit their investigation.
  • In an interview Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, Rosenberg said of Durham: “I know, I like, and I admire John Durham. I trust him.”
  • You will remember that Rosenberg (whose podcast MSNBC advertises) also said that William Barr was an institutionalist, implying that Barr would never allow partisan politics to enter the hallowed halls of the Justice Department.
  • He was outrageously wrong then and he is wrong now.
  • Rosenberg pointed out that perhaps there were “discordant” notes sounded by the initiation of a criminal investigation. Dear, dear, discordant notes.
  • Rosenberg continued that if we want John Durham to “get to the bottom of this” we should welcome a grand jury. So, according to the “institutionalist chorus” we should just shrug our shoulders and wait and see.  Just like they advised us to do with Barr.
  • “John,” Rosenberg stressed to reassure, “needs some factual basis in order to open a grand jury.” When Maddow pointed out that Bill Barr was the official deciding what “factual basis” met the threshold, Rosenberg had no answer.  But, his faith in the integrity of the Justice Department was still there.
  • Mine is not.
  • In a ridiculously contradictory set of statements, Rosenberg pointed out that he worried about the “chilling effect” that the initiation of such an investigation would have. But, Durham, he said, was “a credible prosecutor.”
  • Interestingly, Rosenberg noted that Durham “has been asked to do things like this before and…has closed…investigations after several years without bringing charges.”
  • That makes Durham the perfect stooge to investigate, feed into the Republican narrative that it was the Trump Campaign that was wronged in the 2016 election, and then after two years of harassment, quietly drop the investigation.
  • Later in Thursday night’s Rachael Maddow show, David Lohfman, former head of the counterintelligence section inside the Justice Department said, “I have high regard for John Durham.” He is “a distinguished prosecutor.”  “It’s hard for me to imagine that John Durham would associate himself with the frivolous initiation of a criminal investigation.”
  • But, then a few seconds later, Lohfman noted that the people in the Justice department would have been “derelict if we had not pursued that line of investigation.” They would have been derelict not to pursue it, therefore there was no question in his mind that the investigation was appropriate.  But, the “distinguished prosecutor” is perfectly reasonable to lend his credibility to the initiation of an investigation that clearly targets those who started the initial investigation.  There are no people of courage any more.
  • Lohfman ended the interview by saying: “I have every confidence that John Durham will withstand any pressures that may buffet him to go down a road that he thinks is not supported by the facts and law.” But, he has just done that by joining this new criminal investigation.
  • If the investigation is unwarranted, and also will contribute to chilling future investigations, why didn’t Durham if he is such a hero, refuse to take part in it.
  • The job of a prosecutor is not to expend taxpayer money and harass people pursuing frivolous investigations when s/he thinks there’s nothing there. That is an abuse of office.
  • But none of the “our institutions will save us” chorus will say that. No, they just assure us that Bill Barr or Durham are great people of integrity.
  • Let’s not take too seriously the initiation of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s political opponents. The institutions will save us.
  • I agree with people who have argued that Bill Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard. He must be impeached, now.