Best Ever! Clever Lyrics! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35UjqvSubpA
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
"As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox"
In case you're wondering about the date in the headline, November 9 is the first day following the next U.S. election.
Thanks to a heads-up by digby, I took time to read Gabriel Sherman's excellent New York Magazine piece, "The Revenge of Roger's Angels: How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media," from start to finish in one sitting. I strongly recommend you do the same — it's an excellent example of investigative journalism as well as investigative writing. The piece is a page-turner, and it's very well written.
There's too much information in it to capture here, but near the end there's a section that discusses what Fox becomes post-Ailes, and I'd like to focus on that. If Sherman is right on both of his counts — about the changes at Fox, about the emergence of Trump TV — the media landscape will drastically change post-election.
Will that change be for the better? That's a consideration for another time.
Fox After Ailes
On what Fox is about to become, Sherman writes:
Ailes's ouster has created a leadership vacuum at Fox News. Several staffers have described feeling like being part of a totalitarian regime whose dictator has just been toppled. "No one knows what to do. No one knows who to report to. It's just mayhem," said a Fox host. As details of the Paul, Weiss [a law firm] investigation have filtered through the offices, staffers are expressing a mixture of shock and disgust. The scope of Ailes's alleged abuse far exceeds what employees could have imagined. "People are so devastated," one senior executive said. Those I spoke with have also been unnerved by [senior executive VP Bill] Shine and [Fox general counsel Dianne] Brandi's roles in covering up Ailes's behavior.
Despite revelations of how Ailes's management team enabled his harassment, Murdoch has so far rejected calls — including from [Murdoch's son] James, according to sources — to conduct a wholesale housecleaning. On August 12, Murdoch promoted Shine and another Ailes loyalist, Jack Abernethy, to become co-presidents of Fox News. He named Scott executive vice-president and kept Brandi and [PR department executive Irena] Briganti in their jobs. Fox News's chief financial officer, Mark Kranz, is the only senior executive to have been pushed out (officially he retired), along with [Ailes's longtime executive assistant Judy] Laterza and a handful of assistants, contributors, and consultants. "Of course, they are trying to isolate this to just a few bad actors," a 21st Century Fox executive told me.
Many people I spoke with believe that the current management arrangement is just a stopgap until the election. "As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox," predicts one host. "After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated. O'Reilly's been talking about retirement. Megyn could go to another network. And Hannity will go to Trump TV." ...
Meanwhile, the Murdochs are looking for a permanent CEO to navigate these post-Ailes, Trump-roiled waters. According to sources, James's preferred candidates include CBS president David Rhodes (though he is under contract with CBS through 2019); Jesse Angelo, the New York Post publisher and James's Harvard roommate; and perhaps a television executive from London. Sources say [Murdoch's son] Lachlan, who politically is more conservative than James, wants to bring in an outsider. Rupert was seen giving Rebekah Brooks a tour of the Fox offices several months ago, creating speculation that she could be brought in to run Fox. Another contender is Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy.
You may remember the name Rebekah Brooks from the U.K. phone-tapping scandal (emphasis added):
Brooks was a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal, having been the editor of the News of the World when illegal phone hacking was carried out by the newspaper. Following a criminal trial in 2014 she was cleared of all charges by a jury at the Old Bailey, which accepted her defence of incompetence: that she had no knowledge of the illegal acts carried out by the newspaper she edited.
O"Reilly, Hannity, Megyn Kelly and more, all could be gone from Fox News after the election. It will be interesting to watch Fox reinvent itself as the competitor to what may be a network to its right, Trump TV, a network perhaps run by the attack dog, Roger Ailes, who turned Fox into what it used to be.
Trump TV, if it emerges after the election, will throw a spanner into the workings of a once unified right-wing (and alt-right) messaging ecosystem:
The prospect of Trump TV is a source of real anxiety for some inside Fox. The candidate took the wedge issues that Ailes used [in order] to build a loyal audience at Fox News — especially race and class — and used them to stoke barely containable outrage among a downtrodden faction of conservatives. Where that outrage is channeled after the election — assuming, as polls now suggest, Trump doesn't make it to the White House — is a big question for the Republican Party and for Fox News.
As right-wing as they are, both Trump and Murdoch care about the money that goes to the most-watched media outlets. They're about to become competitors for it:
Trump had a complicated relationship with Fox even when his good friend Ailes was in charge; without Ailes, it's plausible that he will try to monetize the movement he has galvanized in competition with the network rather than in concert with it. Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart, the digital-media upstart that has by some measures already surpassed Fox News as the locus of conservative energy, to run his campaign suggests a new right-wing news network of some kind is a real possibility.
And notice this tidbit, a hint of the infighting to come:
One prominent media executive told me that if Trump loses, Fox will need to try to damage him in the eyes of its viewers by blaming him for the defeat.
A battle for the eyes of the "deplorables" (an unfortunate, though interesting word) between Fox News and Trump TV — as well as for eyes and minds of the non-deplorable segment of the Trump-supporting world — should be fascinating to watch. One hopes they split the pie as they knife-fight to own it. I'd rather see an electorally divided "deplorables" than to see that group united, no matter how weakened their numbers.
As to the non-deplorable portion of Trump supporters — those suffering from the economic ravages of both pro-wealth Democratic rule and pro-wealth Republican rule — perhaps a newly populist Democratic Party can attract them for a change, instead of drive them away. Until a bad deed is done, one can hope for a good result.
Again, if you can spare the time, do read the whole thing. It's fascinating, incredibly lurid, and very well documented. If sexual office politics is your cup of tea, you'll drown in it. Fox News was a pit of predatory males, office women retained and passed around for sex, and mid-to-upper-level executives (of both sexes) who acted as procurers — "talent scouts" — to feed one toxic man's toxic need, along with the needs of those around him. Some of those needs were simply to survive in that kind of environment.
And Ailes? He's still at it, reportedly advising Trump as we speak. Lord help us.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.
It's the true story of an awakening. It traces the path of Edward Snowden's career in the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and at various contractors thereof. It also traces the path of Edward Snowden's agonizingly slow awakening to the possibility that the U.S. government might sometimes be wrong, corrupt, or criminal. And of course the film takes us through Snowden's courageous and principled act of whistleblowing.
We see in the film countless colleagues of Snowden's who knew much of what he knew and did not blow the whistle. We see a few help him and others appreciate him. But they themselves do nothing. Snowden is one of the exceptions. Other exceptions who preceded him and show up in the film include William Binney, Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, and Thomas Drake. Most people are not like these men. Most people obey illegal orders without ever making a peep.
And yet, what strikes me about Snowden and many other whistleblowers I've met or learned about, is how long it took them, and the fact that what brought them around was not an event they objected to but a change in their thinking. U.S. officials who've been part of dozens of wars and coups and outrages for decades will decide that the latest war is too much, and they'll bail out, resign publicly, and become an activist. Why now? Why not then, or then, or then, or that other time?
These whistleblowers -- and Snowden is no exception -- are not passive or submissive early in their careers. They're enthusiastic true believers. They want to spy and bomb and kill for the good of the world. When they find out that's not what's happening, they go public for the good of the world. There is that consistency to their actions. The question, then, is how smart, dedicated young people come to believe that militarism and secrecy and abusive power are noble pursuits.
Oliver Stone's Ed Snowden begins as a "smart conservative." But the only smart thing we see about him is his computer skills. We never hear him articulate some smart political point of view that happens to be "conservative." His taste in books includes Ayn Rand, hardly an indication of intelligence. But on the computers, Snowden is a genius. And on that basis his career advances.
Snowden has doubts about the legality of warrantless spying, but believes his CIA instructor's ludicrous defense. Later, Snowden has such concerns about CIA cruelty he witnesses that he resigns. Yet, at the same time, he believes that presidential candidate Barack Obama will undo the damage and set things right.
How does one explain such obtuseness in a genius? Obama's statements making perfectly clear that the wars and outrages would roll on were publicly available. I found them with ordinary search engines, needing no assistance from the NSA.
Snowden resigned, but he didn't leave. He started working for contractors. He came to learn that a program he'd created was being used to assist in lawless and reckless, not to mention murderous, drone murders. That wasn't enough.
He came to learn that the U.S. government was lawlessly spying on the whole world and spying more on the United States than on Russia. (Why spying on Russia was OK we aren't told.) But that, too, wasn't enough.
He came to learn that the U.S. was spying on its allies and enemies alike, even inserting malware into allies' infrastructure in order to be able to destroy things and kill people should some country cease to be an ally someday. That, too, was not enough.
Snowden went on believing that the United States was the greatest country on earth. He went on calling his work "counter cyber" and "counter spying" as if only non-Americans can do spying or cyber-warfare, while the United States just tries to gently counter such acts. In fact, Snowden risked his life, refraining from taking medication he needed, so that he could continue doing that work. He defended such recklessness as justified by the need to stop Chinese hackers from stealing billions of dollars from the U.S. government. Apart from the question of which Chinese hackers did that, what did Snowden imagine it was costing U.S. taxpayers to fund the military?
Snowden's career rolled on. But Edward Snowden's brilliant mind was catching up with reality and at some point overtook it. And then there was no question that he would do what needed to be done. Just as he designed computer programs nobody else could, and that nobody else even thought to try, now he designed a whistleblowing maneuver that would not be stopped as others had.
Consequently, we must be grateful that good and decent people sometimes start out believing Orwellian tales. Dull, cowardly, and servile people never blow whistles.
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Thursday, September 08, 2016
Although Trump is no longer a laughing matter, he has certainly given a lot of fuel to comedians whose jokes about him are becoming more and more synonymous with the truth.
Trump Says Ordering People at Rallies to Attack One Another Has Prepared Him to Be Commander-in-Chief
By Andy Borowitz
(Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.)
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Responding to a question about his qualifications to be Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump told NBC's Matt Lauer on Wednesday night, "At my rallies, I have ordered many, many people to attack other people."
"In the heat of the moment, you have to decide who is going to hit which person, when, and how hard," Trump said. "I have ordered more people to attack other people than most of our generals have."
He said that the outcome of the fights at his rallies showed that he has the judgment necessary to be Commander-in-Chief. "You always want to make the bigger guy hit the littler guy," he said. "That's how you win."
Asked about his strategy for defeating ISIS, Trump said, "What I learned from my rallies is that you never tell people in advance how you're going to attack them. You wait until they least expect it, and you sucker-punch them in the face. That's what I would do to ISIS."
He contrasted his extensive experience ordering people to attack one another with Hillary Clinton's "complete lack of experience" in the same arena. "You look at her rallies, no one's hitting anybody, she's not telling anybody to hit anybody, and people are just sitting there," he said. "It's a disgrace."
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
The Constitutional Crisis We'd Face If Donald Trump Actually Became President
by Ronald L. Feinman
Ronald L. Feinman is the author of Assassinations, Threats, and the American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama (Rowman Littlefield Publishers, August 2015). A paperback edition is coming in March 2017.
Through all of the debate, discussion, analysis, and interpretation about Donald Trump over these 15 months since his candidacy began, it has all been about him being the Republican Presidential nominee, and the upcoming election against Hillary Clinton.
With all of Donald Trump's actions and statements, each of which many observers thought would doom him, he has prevailed, despite outrage and shock at what he has said and proposed. The only solace sane Americans have had is the assumption that Donald Trump will NOT win the Presidency, and early public opinion polls make it seem likely that he has little to no chance to be elected President.
But one can never be sure how political events will transpire over the next two months until November, and if something untoward on a massive level were to occur, all bets are off, and the supposed "impossible" could occur. So therefore, attention needs to be paid to the idea that we COULD have a President Donald Trump, and to plan for and wonder what that would be like, and it is not a pretty picture that can be painted about the next four years under a President Trump.
It is hard not to believe that a President Trump in office would be a constant constitutional crisis, unmatched since the Civil War, and maybe even possibly worse than that terrible event's impact on the nation. After all, in the mid 19th century, we were a nation of about 31 million people in a world where we were not a major international player in diplomacy and war, and were still in great isolation from foreign influences greatly affecting our national security. We were also a nation with far less diversity in ethnicity and religion than we are in 2016. Today, in a world of nuclear weapons and widespread terrorism, and with a population of over 320 million people, the impact of a President Trump would be massive on foreign policy and domestic tranquility. A President Trump would force all of us to be constantly alert and vigilant for one constant crisis after another, being provoked by an egotistical narcissist unmatched in American history, and only matched by a few foreign dictators over five thousand years of history.
We have seen that Donald Trump has a very loose mouth, and loves to insult, denigrate, degrade, and belittle anyone or any nation who dares to challenge his beliefs and ideas centered around his clear racism, nativism, xenophobia, and misogyny, among other sins and faults that he possesses. He is accustomed to consulting only with himself, and his "superb" brain and intellect, proud of his education and good looks, all of which by being expressed, shows he is extremely insecure and doubtful about his own natural gifts.
Being a businessman who began adulthood with a golden spoon in his mouth, Trump managed to have many business failures and bankruptcies; to have three wives and two divorces mixed in with adultery on a regular basis; to show a lack of ethics, morals, compassion, or concern for others; and to show his lack of patriotism by avoiding taxes through legal and accounting tactics only open to the privileged. He has pledged to do many things to improve the lives of average people when he has no clue about what they go through daily, and has divided America by race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation by his utterances, pledges, and inability to show empathy, even in a time of tragedy. It is always about himself, and he lacks any statesmanship or dignity in his dealings with others.
So one can project that even with a Republican Congress, there would be no or little cooperation with party leaders and that he would have cabinet members and advisers only willing to accede to his demands and wishes, and would ignore anyone who challenged his beliefs and views on every subject. This is not a man of negotiation and compromise, since he knows "everything" about every imaginable topic. The thought that he would pick new Supreme Court Justices with his lack of respect for the courts of this land is a potential constitutional disaster for any concept of justice and equality in the legal system of the nation.
Also, Trump has alienated many foreign leaders and governments, including friendly nations, by his statements and actions and declarations of his intentions including the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; our alliances with South Korea and Japan; and our dealings with the Middle East cauldron. His wooing of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is absolutely horrifying to our military leadership, our national security and intelligence community, and our diplomatic personnel worldwide. All of these groups are alarmed at a "loose cannon" like Trump, who by his words alone, could cause massive international crises that could endanger American troops, diplomatic personnel, and our basic ability to protect and defend our interests in the dangerous world we live in.
So it seems likely that a President Trump would so antagonize our party system and legislative branch, and be seen as a threat to domestic tranquility, encouraging by his lack of tact the possibility of internal bloodshed. White supremacists and hate groups have flocked to his support, and he has gained the support of extremists such as Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News and Roger Ailes, formerly of Fox News Channel. Trump had the gall to make an offhanded threat to the life of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a shocking development, occurring, ironically, on the 42nd anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon, the most dangerous man ever to be President of the United States, as this author pointed out in a previous HNN article. Many seem to think that he will gather around him "outstanding" people, when every indication is that no responsible Republican or conservative thinker will embrace him.
The growing fear of Trump taking America into wars by executive action and having access to the nuclear codes stirs anxiety that we would see Fascism arising, and multitudes backing him in his maniacal behavior. Trump's attacks on a free media to report and investigate every event and action of a Trump Presidency seen already in evidence by his banning of the Washington Post from his rallies and his condemnation of the New York Times and other news media. If perpetuated in a Trump Presidency, his behavior would create massive alarm and undermine our economy, stock market, and the First Amendment. His proposed mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants and the building of a Mexico Wall would create an environment inciting massive reaction and social uprisings and bloodshed.
So we might have a constitutional crisis requiring the impeachment process. Probably, support for the effort would come from both major parties, but given the slow workings of an impeachment inquiry, we would be endangered in the interim by a beleaguered President Trump. So when Gerald Ford, upon succeeding the resigned Richard Nixon, said that the great national nightmare was over, it might have been a tentative statement for the time, subject to renewal by a growing threat to our freedom and security four and a half decades later. Wisdom and courage might be needed in the next few years, if somehow, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.