Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hollywood Techniques at Play in Politics - New York Times

Source: NY Times:

 “O.K., I admit it. I made the documentary. They paid me $10 million. I figured it would be seen as a seamless part of the rest of my work,” he said. Jokes aside, he is concerned that the line between hard-hitting point-of-view documentaries and paid agitprop could become a fuzzy one.

“It worries me because it pollutes the form,” he said. “People could marginalize something that I made by saying that it’s no different than some other piece of paid propaganda that is out there.”

Video: Occupy L.A. Protester Arrested at Art Walk on 'Lynching' Charges, Bail Set at $50K


An Occupy Los Angeles protester was arrested by police at Thursday night's Art Walk on suspicion of lynching.

Sergio Ballesteros, 30, was arrested Thursday night at 8:45pm. His bail was set at $50,000, according to the Sheriff's inmate locator. He was arrested on suspicion of lynching, LAPD Officer Yi Lian told LAist.

"Lynching" might not be what you're thinking: it is a felony charge that describes taking a person from the custody of police officers by means of a riot—or attempting to do so. LAPD officers told LAist that full police report of what happened that night was not yet available, but a fellow Occupy L.A. protester uploaded a YouTube video that claims to show the moments leading up to Ballesteros' arrest...

FDL Book Salon: Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry

Source: FireDogLake:

 Dylan Ratigan is well positioned to author a book, designed to be an enjoyable and informative read by normal humans, on the ongoing financial crisis. He is the wunderkind who became Global Managing Editor for Corporate Finance of Bloomberg, the premier news service that specializes in finance, at an exceptionally young age. He was at CNBC while that network was hyping the housing bubble as a non-bubble offering fantastic investment opportunities.

Now an anchor for MSNBC, Ratigan is a fierce critic of prominent politicians in both parties for what he views as their destructive policies and slavish efforts to aid the wealthiest and most politically powerful at the expense of the best interests of America and its people. He is passionate about these subjects and far less predictable than many of his peers because he is not a political partisan.

In finance, the most important question is why we suffer recurrent, intensifying financial crises. That question is really two questions. Answering it requires that we determine what causes our crises and why we fail to learn from these crises, but instead make the incentive structure ever more perverse after each crisis. Anyone from a finance background is likely to conclude that perverse incentives cause financial crises, so I was surprised by Ratigan’s choice of book title (“Greedy Bastards”). I think that greed is unlikely to have changed greatly over the last quarter century in which the U.S. has suffered three recurrent, intensifying financial crises.

Video: Evening News Online, 01/15/12

The Huffington Post Twitter Account Gets Hacked: “The New York Post rules!”


A series of homophobic and racist tweets were sent out by the Huffington Post’s Twitter account on Sunday. The tweets jabbed Wes Anderson, used the N-word and claimed the publication was hacked by The New York Post. “The New York Post rules!” exclaimed one of the anarchic tweets.

Read the missives the hacker sent out before being deleted by HuffPo’s staff:

ElBaradei quits race, says no real democracy in Egypt

Not good news. There is a danger the military might steal the revolution:

Egyptian Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei announced Saturday he would not run in Egypt’s presidential elections because the military’s control of the country made fair elections impossible.

Though he was not considered a likely winner of presidential elections to be held this year, the announcement by the former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog brings attention to the state of Egypt’s transition: Nearly a year after a mass uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, the military rulers who replaced him have not overseen a quick transition to democracy as they promised.
Full article

U.S. Warns Israel Against Military Strike on Iran

An Israeli strike on Iran could conceivably lead to a World War. This is why the administration must speak out against any potential attack:

U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.
Full article

Urinating on Dead Taliban was Wrong but not a Crime

It was wrong and the soldiers involved should be reprimanded. But it was not a crime. The real crime is a media that wants to turn this into another Abu Ghraib incident. Let's debate not sensationalize:

I do agree with most of this commentary:

I admit that the first argument has some appeal, that young men charged with killing in their country’s service, and exposed to constant peril and horror, ought to be forgiven such a lapse. While I agree with Taylor that this incident literally screams “dishonorable discharge,” there’s a good case to be made that these men have earned a measure of mercy in their sentencing.

But people like Bill Maher and Dana Loesch completely miss the point when they defend this incident based on how bad our enemies are, and how good and righteous America is. In my view, this desecration has little to do with the unceremoniously moistened corpses. As Bill Maher and The Bible point out, the dead know nothing. If they could talk, I’m sure those dead men would be less offended at the urination than at the whole being made dead thing.

Respect for the dead is for the benefit of the living, and not just for the dead’s loved ones. How we treat the dead says something about us. In doing what they did, those Marines didn’t just piss on some empty meatbags, they pissed on their own humanity.

If that video had shown America’s enemies similarly desecrating US troops, there would have been outrage, for sure, but would anyone be shocked? Do we hold the Taliban, or al Quaeda, in such esteem that this would surprise us? This incident was shocking because America is exceptional, because we don’t do things like that, and we ought to hold ourselves in higher esteem than we do our enemies.

This “things happen in war” excuse is valuable to a point of forgiveness, but using it to mitigate this incident is an insult to the many men and women who fight for our country, who witness the same horrors, yet manage to retain their humanity.

Taylor’s condemnation also highlights the tendency of armchair warriors like Loesch, Maher, and others to co-opt the sacrifices of our fighting men and women into a faux-wizened toughness, perverting and cheapening them in the process. Just because you’ve watched Platoon or The Hurt Locker a bunch of times doesn’t mean you “get it.”
 The proof this is being overblown: The Taliban aren't upset about the incident:
The video comes as the US and the Taliban have reportedly started negotiations. Taliban officials have said the video will not deter them from engaging in talks, but the incident is likely to weaken the position of US negotiators.

[...]At this point, not even the Taliban appears openly fazed by incidents like the one depicted in the video.
Then you have the vulgar Right-wing/Tea Party types whom take the other extreme position and applaud such behavior:
Dana LoEsch, a CNN contributor and conservative radio host, said on her show that she thinks the Marines who were videoed urinating on Taliban corpses are cool and that she wants "a million cool points for these guys."

[...]Loesch is also the editor-in-chief of Big Journalism, a conservative Web site and the co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party.
Then you have the politicians that want to use the incident to further their political careers:
Rick Perry thinks the video showing U.S. Marines urinating on what appears to be dead Taliban fighters posted online last week is just an example of “kids” being kids.

The GOP hopeful said Sunday he feels the reaction to footage has been "over the top" and he would have handled the situation differently as president.

"Obviously 18, 19-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often and that's what's occurred here," Perry said on CNN's "State of the Union" show. "What is really disturbing to me is the over-the-top rhetoric from this administration and their disdain for the military."

Transcript: 'Meet the Press' (1-15-12)

Full transcript. Excerpt below:

MR. GREGORY: Let's, let's start there because you laid it out this week. You said there's one way to stop Romney in South Carolina, this is what you said to Fox News.

(Videotape, Thursday)

FMR. REP. GINGRICH: If we consolidate conservatives, we could beat Romney by a big margin.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: We've heard from social conservatives in Texas, they're saying let's get behind Rick Santorum. Do you feel pressure to consolidate behind Santorum?
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MR. GREGORY: Perhaps get out of the race?

FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Well, I think that report was very highly exaggerated. We basically split that group. I got a very good number of votes and I think as of noon today that Reverend Jim Garlow and Congressman J.C. Watts and others who were there are going to be talking and I think they'll indicate that I have very strong support from Christian conservatives and social conservatives and that that support continues. There was an agreement, the one consensus was that virtually no one was for Mitt Romney. But in fact, there was a very strong Santorum group and there was a very strong Gingrich group at that particular meeting, and the Gingrich folks are still very much for me and they'll be speaking up starting at about noon today.

MR. GREGORY: But isn't this the issue? I mean, if you just look at the raw numbers here and look at the politics, there's not one alternative to Mitt Romney. There's several of you who are vying for that evangelical vote down in South Carolina. We've seen this movie before, four years ago. Doesn't that help Romney?

FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Sure. Well, it does--it does help him. And I think the only way that a Massachusetts moderate can get through South Carolina is if the vote is split. But we have six days to make our case to people and I think somebody who generally people agree was the best debater so far, I think I have the best chance to beat Obama. I think I also have the like--the greatest likelihood given the past to actually change Washington. And as The Wall Street Journal pointed out, I have the boldest and most aggressive pro-jobs plan, as well as a record working with Reagan and working as speaker with Bill Clinton of actually having created large numbers of jobs. So we're going to be making our case to national security conservatives, social conservatives and economic conservatives that this--that Newt Gingrich is the best candidate to defeat President Obama. And I think we're doing pretty darn well down here.

MR. GREGORY: So your feeling is that despite what the social conservative group said over the weekend, Rick Santorum doesn't have any more momentum here? He's not the obvious conservative alternative choice to Romney?

FMR. REP. GINGRICH: No. I think the fact is if you look at the actual vote yesterday that we were very close in the vote and that, in fact, the folks who'll be speaking out starting at noon today, Congressman J.C. Watts, Reverend Jim Garlow and others, are very committed to my candidacy and I think we will go into the next week, this last week of the campaign with a large amount of momentum here. The polls have all shown consistently that I am the strongest rival to Romney in South Carolina and I think that the debate tomorrow night will be a very important part of that and the debate Thursday night will be a very important part of that. And I think it's going to be a very, very lively week, one of the most important weeks in the history of the GOP because I think nominating somebody who is essentially a Massachusetts moderate makes it much harder to defeat President Obama and nominating somebody who is a Reagan conservative makes it much easier to defeat President Obama.

INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Your iPhone Was Built, In Part, By 13 Year-Olds Working 16 Hours A Day For 70 Cents An Hour

The evil which is outsourcing and international capitalism:

We love our iPhones and iPads.

We love the prices of our iPhones and iPads.

We love the super-high profit margins of Apple, Inc., the maker of our iPhones and iPads.

And that's why it's disconcerting to remember that the low prices of our iPhones and iPads--and the super-high profit margins of Apple--are only possible because our iPhones and iPads are made with labor practices that would be illegal in the United States.

And it's also disconcerting to realize that the folks who make our iPhones and iPads not only don't have iPhones and iPads (because they can't afford them), but, in some cases, have never even seen them.
Full article from Business Insider:

CBS Video: Countdown to war with Iran?

It's good that the mainstream media is posing the question about the potential for a major war in the Middle East because of the tension over Iran. The danger of a World War is real. The American people have to ask questions about the U.S. governments' obsession with Iran. We also need to ask how is that obsession has lasted for decades and not resolved. Is Iran worth this kind of preoccupation? Or is it more about Israel than U.S. national security:

CNN Poll: Romney will do better Job on Economy

This is not saying much about Romney. But it does say alot about this failed President. At this point in Obama's administration it is a sad commentary. And he should get a pink slip. But electing Romney President is frightening.

CNN/ORC poll: "Who can get the economy moving?"
Romney: 53%
Obama: 40%