Thursday, January 11, 2018

(America!) Nothing to see here. Move along.  (Smoking Gun Proof of Massive Collusion)  Republicans Agree to Hate Knowledge, Democracy and Hippies  (Kiss His Ring at Davos?)  CFPB Orwellian Rebranding  (Lee Camp Exposes)  Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose  (Being Protected by MSM with Fluff News)  Feinstein Dumps Fusion GPS  (Get Well Soon, Bob, We Miss You!)





Really?

Large Green Bird clarifies this American moment:

From the normally rational Digby:
"The released transcript of Simpson's testimony contains a good deal of interesting information, all of which will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb in the press."
Ha ha.  Whatever on the face of the earth could make you think that, Digby?  I mean, the long existence of your blog proves you weren't born yesterday.
In fact, it's only a day later, and this smoking gun proof of massive treason by the White House, and a concerted effort by Congressional Republicans to destroy the evidence, something that would have once rightly been regarded as the worst political crime in our nation's history, has almost vanished from press coverage. Instead, the press is devoting itself to hailing the President's one hour phony televised meeting yesterday, as a masterpiece of governing, and can't shut up about how great he is.
The mainstream media don't care any more about treason than the Republican commit, because at this point, the media and the Republican party are two facets of the same thing - a forty year long campaign by a few hundred rich sociopaths to turn our country from a very imperfect democracy into a fascist oligarchy. They're almost there, and even clear, unquestioned evidence of treason isn't enough to slow them down for more than a few hours at this point.

Dave Dubya hints at what's behind the treason:

Republicans are waging war on not only democracy and voting rights, they are openly attacking science, public education, and journalism. They wish to replace science, education, and a free press with their corporate friendly political propaganda. 
The hysterical shrill whines from the lunatic Right about “fake news”, “liberal media”, and “voter fraud” are as common as rats in a sewer in Trumpistan.
Denial of climate change science is their politically correct, oily dogma.
The Trump administration has banned the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using the words “science-based” or “evidence-based.” Analysts were told they could use instead:  The “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes”.
In other words, they need to be “politically correct” instead of scientifically correct. Just ask the oily climate change deniers. 
Trumpists are not only actively censoring science, but suppressing the will of voters in many states. Most American now understand how harmless cannabis is.

They really hate democracy. And hippies.

Except more than “hippies” will be affected with their latest authoritarian move. People suffering from cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma and other medical issues will also be their victims. Some are even Trump voters.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and has called states’ legalization of marijuana “a mistake,” claiming cannabis is only “slightly less awful than” heroin. 

This is not good news.

 “Trump Just Wants His Ring Kissed:”  Why Trump R.S.V.P.’d to a Globalist Lovefest
In the immortal words of JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, is “where billionaires tell millionaires what the middle class feels.” By day, chauffeured Audis whisk attendees between meetings where rank is denoted by the color of one’s badge, and by night parties feature priceless bottles of champagne, fresh flower leis, and models flown in for the occasion. In addition to heads of state and policymakers, regular attendees over the years have included Dimon, as well as fellow bank C.E.O.s Lloyd Blankfein, Tidjane Thiam, and Brian Moynihan; private-equity chiefs David Rubenstein and Stephen Schwarzman; and hedge-fund managers Ray Dalio, Dan Loeb, and George Soros. This year’s theme is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,” with speakers expected to “make a case for renewed commitment to international collaboration as a way of solving critical global challenges.” Notably, there is no KFC in town. So it came as something of a surprise to hear on Tuesday that Donald Trump will attend the event.
The choice is shock not just because sitting U.S. presidents rarely make appearances in the Swiss village, or because Trump closed out his campaign with an ad flashing Blankfein and Soros’s faces while a narrator warned of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have...stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” but because the former beauty-pageant owner spent the whole of the election and his first year in office railing against globalism and advocating “America First” policies. (Or as Joseph Stiglitz put it, calling “for American selfishness.”) Davos, Ian Bremmer, told me, is “not Trump’s constituency. Internationally, he’s very unpopular,” Bremmer added, noting that Trump, who has pulled out of the Paris climate accord and UNESCO and is reportedly mulling an imminent trade war with China, is “antithetical” to the usual Davos crowd of devoted globalists. So why is he going?
Felix Salmon theorizes that it’s because the event will have a little something for everyone: a chance for the administration’s so-called “globalist cucks” like Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin to meet with like-minded individuals, and an opportunity for people like Stephen Miller, who would happily deface the inscription on the Statue of Liberty if only he could get the night off, to see the president deliver a “robust unilateralist rebuke to everything Davos stands for.” (White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that “the president looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries and American workers.”) In addition, Trump will be able to meet with heads of state like Theresa May who at present would rather be caught dead than seen extending him an official invite.
Read the entire essay here.

“Disgraceful”:  Elizabeth Warren Enraged Over C.F.P.B.’s Orwellian Rebranding

Our man in Havana, er, D.C., Lee Camp, keeps us up-to-date on the shenanigans ongoing as well as past. Don't miss this vital reporting on 21st-century Americana:

_____________

Rose McGowan stopped being scared some time ago. She's speaking out now for the benefit of just about everyone.

Her memoir, BRAVE, out this month, isn’t just about gunning for Weinstein. It’s calling out “all of them,” she says, the whole eco-system of Hollywood — the purveyors, the consumers, the media, the fans. Her argument is told via her personal story, which by any measure is extraordinary. Born in Italy into a cult called Children of God, which practiced free love and forced women into public flirting to attract followers, McGowan eventually fled with her family to America. Here, her parents having split up, she bounced between the homes of her psychologically cruel father and her mother, who continued to attach herself to abusive men. She did a stint in rehab, became a homeless runaway at age 13, and by 15 was living in Los Angeles, where she was taken in by a wealthy Beverly Hills kid who became her boyfriend, the first in a line of wolves in sheep’s clothing. As she puts it, another cult awaited her:  Hollywood.
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And, as well, there’s NOTHING on the ever-tightening repression in Saudi Arabia, where the regime lately swept up over 337,000 people in a “crackdown on illegal foreigners” (as the Hindustan Times reported two days ago); and, moreover, NOTHING on Trump’s blithe boast that “We put our man on top” in Saudi Arabia — a boast reported (or alleged) in Michael Wolf’s new book, which the Times is very busily promoting. (This blackout extends throughout the Western press.)
And while the Times (along with Trump) keeps going on about the “political repression and public corruption” in Venezuela (to quote today’s paper), it says NOTHING on the mass uprising in Honduras, where a 19-year-old woman, searching for her brother at a protest, was shot dead by the military police (as reported by the Miami Herald). While this great nationwide assertion of democracy HAS been covered by outlets like TeleSur, America Magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, the Times (along with nearly all the other US “liberal media”) has simply blacked it out.
Thus those who read the New York Times, and think they’re getting “all the news that’s fit to print,” aren’t getting anything but fluff and (mainly) propaganda—and so it is with the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, CBS, MSNBC, and all the rest of them submerging us, day after day, in fluff and propaganda.

What’s in Today’s New York Times? “All the News That’s Really Not”


Here are the two TOP “international” stories in today’s NYTimes (1/6/18):
“Long Before Video, Japanese Fought Suicide in the ‘Sea of Trees'” (on the “bleak reputation” of Aokigahara Forest “as one of Japan’s top suicide destinations”).
“Would Bronte Mind if a Model Hosted Her Party?” (on the Bronte Society’s hiring “former model Lily Cole … as a creative partner for Emily Bronte’s 200th birthday party”). 
And here are the last three pieces in that section of the paper:
“Scottish Soda Is Shedding Some Sugar, Irking Fans”
“French President Opens Year With Scolding for Journalists”
“Britain Considers a ‘Latte Levy’ to Try to Cut the Use of Coffee Cops”
The paper’s other international news includes one piece on Israel’s drift toward a 1-state solution; one on the growing Turkish opposition to Erdogan; one on the two Koreas’ “Agree[ment] to Begin High-Level Talks Next Week”; one on Catalonia (whose “Leaders, Despite Jail and Exile, Make Claims on Power”); one noting that “Peru’s Voters Remain Split As Ex-Leader [Fujimori] Is Released”; two short anti-Venezuelan items; “A Voracious Starfish Is Destroying the Great Barrier Reef” (18 short paragraphs at the bottom of p. A9); and, from the vast theater of the US “war on terror,” two articles — ”U.S. Cuts Off Pakistan, Gambling in Afghan War” and (more obliquely) “American Held by U.S. Military in Iraq Tells A.C.L.U. He Wants to Sue.”
And finally, at the bottom of p. A7 (beside a larger ad for the New York Times Travel Show), there’s also “Russia and U.S. Joust at U.N. Over Iran Protests” — a headline that’s misleading, since what this piece reports is not a Cold-War-style “joust” between “Russia and U.S.,” but the US standing almost by itself in the Security Council, where a “mini-revolt” is “brewing” over the US line on Iran, with Russia, China, France and Sweden speaking out against the “‘instrumentalization’ of the protests ‘from the outside'” (quoting Francis Delattre, French ambassador to the UN).
Meanwhile, there is NOTHING in this paper on what’s happening IN Iran itself—and that’s just one of several weird lacunae in this day’s edition of “America’s Newspaper of Record.”
There’s also — and as usual — NOTHING on the genocidal war in Yemen: a horror that the Times itself has, several times (including a few days ago), described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (This blackout extends throughout the Western press.)
And, as well, there’s NOTHING on the ever-tightening repression in Saudi Arabia, where the regime lately swept up over 337,000 people in a “crackdown on illegal foreigners” (as the Hindustan Times reported two days ago); and, moreover, NOTHING on Trump’s blithe boast that “We put our man on top” in Saudi Arabia — a boast reported (or alleged) in Michael Wolf’s new book, which the Times is very busily promoting. (This blackout extends throughout the Western press.)
And while the Times (along with Trump) keeps going on about the “political repression and public corruption” in Venezuela (to quote today’s paper), it says NOTHING on the mass uprising in Honduras, where a 19-year-old woman, searching for her brother at a protest, was shot dead by the military police (as reported by the Miami Herald). While this great nationwide assertion of democracy HAS been covered by outlets like TeleSur, America Magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, the Times (along with nearly all the other US “liberal media”) has simply blacked it out.
Thus those who read the New York Times, and think they’re getting “all the news that’s fit to print,” aren’t getting anything but fluff and (mainly) propaganda — and so it is with the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, CBS, MSNBC, and all the rest of them submerging us, day after day, in fluff and propaganda.
__________

Who said we don't get surprises anymore?

Feinstein Dumps Entire Fusion GPS Transcripts


By Tim Mak, NPR
09 January 18 
he former British intelligence officer who authored the infamous Russia dossier wanted to show it to the FBI because he was concerned that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was being "blackmailed."
Christopher Steele told the political research firm that hired him, Fusion GPS, that what he uncovered from Russian sources was serious enough to bring to the attention of U.S. law enforcement authorities, according to a transcript released on Tuesday.
The transcript, of an interview that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson did with the Senate Judiciary Committee, was released on Tuesday by the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
Steele went to the FBI with the initial reports that would later form the dossier on alleged Trump-Russia ties as early as late June or early July of 2016, Simpson testified.

"Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said ... he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government," Simpson told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"He thought from his perspective there was ... a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed."
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Robert Parry disappeared for a while and it wasn't until over the weekend that I learned what had happened. Get well soon, Bob. We won't be feeling that well until you do.

From Editor Robert Parry For readers who have come to see "Consortiumnews" as a daily news source, I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.
Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. In some ways, the Republicans escalated the vicious propaganda warfare following Watergate, refusing to accept that Richard Nixon was guilty of some extraordinary malfeasance (including the 1968 sabotage of President Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks to gain an edge in the election and then the later political dirty tricks and cover-ups that came to include Watergate). Rather than accept the reality of Nixon’s guilt, many Republicans simply built up their capability to wage information warfare, including the creation of ideological news organizations to protect the party and its leaders from “another Watergate.”
So, when Democrat Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election, the Republicans used their news media and their control of the special prosecutor apparatus (through Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle) to unleash a wave of investigations to challenge Clinton’s legitimacy, eventually uncovering his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The idea had developed that the way to defeat your political opponent was not just to make a better argument or rouse popular support but to dredge up some “crime” that could be pinned on him or her. The GOP success in damaging Bill Clinton made possible George W. Bush’s disputed “victory” in 2000 in which Bush took the presidency despite losing the popular vote and almost certainly losing the key state of Florida if all ballots legal under state law were counted. Increasingly, America – even at the apex of its uni-power status – was taking on the look of a banana republic except with much higher stakes for the world.
Though I don’t like the word “weaponized,” it began to apply to how “information” was used in America. The point of Consortiumnews, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean. The trend of using journalism as just another front in no-holds-barred political warfare continued – with Democrats and liberals adapting to the successful techniques pioneered mostly by Republicans and by well-heeled conservatives.
Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was another turning point as Republicans again challenged his legitimacy with bogus claims about his “Kenyan birth,” a racist slur popularized by “reality” TV star Donald Trump. Facts and logic no longer mattered. It was a case of using whatever you had to diminish and destroy your opponent.
We saw similar patterns with the U.S. government’s propaganda agencies developing themes to demonize foreign adversaries and then to smear Americans who questioned the facts or challenged the exaggerations as “apologists.” This approach was embraced not only by Republicans (think of President George W. Bush distorting the reality in Iraq in 2003 to justify the invasion of that country under false pretenses) but also by Democrats who pushed dubious or downright false depictions of the conflict in Syria (including blaming the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks despite strong evidence that the events were staged by Al Qaeda and other militants who had become the tip of the spear in the neocon/liberal interventionist goal of removing the Assad dynasty and installing a new regime more acceptable to the West and to Israel.
More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, a hostility that first emerged on the Right and among neoconservatives but eventually sucked in the progressive world as well. Everything became “information warfare.”
The New Outcasts
That is why many of us who exposed major government wrongdoing in the past have ended up late in our careers as outcasts and pariahs. Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped expose major crimes of state from the My Lai massacre to the CIA’s abuses against American citizens, including illegal spying and LSD testing on unsuspecting subjects, has literally had to take his investigative journalism abroad because he uncovered inconvenient evidence that implicated Western-backed jihadists in staging chemical weapons attacks in Syria so the atrocities would be blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The anti-Assad group think is so intense in the West that even strong evidence of staged events, such as the first patients arriving at hospitals before government planes could have delivered the sarin, was brushed aside or ignored. The Western media and the bulk of international agencies and NGOs were committed to gin up another case for “regime change” and any skeptics were decried as “Assad apologists” or “conspiracy theorists,” the actual facts be damned.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh
So Hersh and weapons experts such as MIT’s Theodore Postol were shoved into the gutter in favor of hip new NATO-friendly groups like Bellingcat, whose conclusions always fit neatly with the propaganda needs of the Western powers.
The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukraine coup in 2014. The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the “other side of the story.” Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge.”
Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many “liberals” who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.
The Trump Crisis
Which brings us to the crisis that is Donald Trump. Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has solidified the new paradigm of “liberals” embracing every negative claim about Russia just because elements of the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency produced a report last Jan 6 that blamed Russia for “hacking” Democratic emails and releasing them via WikiLeaks. It didn’t seem to matter that these “hand-picked” analysts (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called them) evinced no evidence and even admitted that they weren’t asserting any of this as fact.
The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside. On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump “Resistance.” The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.
Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russia-gate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions. Anti-Trump “progressives” were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers – or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the “facts” to “get” some “bad” political leader or “guide” the public in some desired direction.
I actually believed that the point of journalism in a democracy was to give the voters unbiased information and the necessary context so the voters could make up their own minds and use their ballot – as imperfect as that is – to direct the politicians to take actions on behalf of the nation. The unpleasant reality that the past year has brought home to me is that a shockingly small number of people in Official Washington and the mainstream news media actually believe in real democracy or the goal of an informed electorate.
Whether they would admit it or not, they believe in a “guided democracy” in which “approved” opinions are elevated – regardless of their absence of factual basis – and “unapproved” evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality. Everything becomes “information warfare” – whether on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, MSNBC, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Instead of information provided evenhandedly to the public, it is rationed out in morsels designed to elicit the desired emotional reactions and achieve a political outcome.
As I said earlier, much of this approach was pioneered by Republicans in their misguided desire to protect Richard Nixon, but it has now become all pervasive and has deeply corrupted Democrats, progressives and mainstream journalism. Ironically, the ugly personal characteristics of Donald Trump – his own contempt for facts and his crass personal behavior – have stripped the mask off the broader face of Official America.
What is perhaps most alarming about the past year of Donald Trump is that the mask is now gone and, in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. While I’m sure many anti-Trumpers will be deeply offended by my comparison of esteemed Establishment figures with the grotesque Trump, there is a deeply troubling commonality between Trump’s convenient use of “facts” and what has pervaded the Russia-gate investigation.
My Christmas Eve stroke now makes it a struggle for me to read and to write. Everything takes much longer than it once did – and I don’t think that I can continue with the hectic pace that I have pursued for many years. But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned repect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.
Comments:
john wilson
January 1, 2018 
An honorable man indeed Gregory and he has just introduced a new telling and brilliant phrase for the new year, “APPROVED OPINION” I think this phrase succinctly sums up the MSM power brokers and the establishment beautifully. “one is entitled to one’s opinion as long as its bee approved.” !! I hope Mr Parry recovers but perhaps he should be mentoring a younger equally honorable young journalist to help with the important work he is doing.
irina
January 1, 2018  
“. . . in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. . .”
This. The Potemkin Village on the Potomac has met the Trump Mirror.
Erik G
January 1, 2018 
We are all much indebted to Robert Parry for his lifelong efforts and success in providing essential counterpoint to the mass media. It is an inspiring effort, ranking with the best in journalism.
Those who would like to sign the petition to the NYT to make Robert Parry their senior editor may do so here:
While Mr. Parry may prefer independence, and we all know the NYT ownership makes it unlikely, and the NYT may try to ignore it, it is instructive to them that intelligent readers know better journalism when they see it. A petition demonstrates the concerns of a far larger number of potential or lost subscribers.
We have well over 700 signatures just from these notes in the comments section.
December 31, 2017  
Very sad to read of your recent health issues and wish you all the best for a speedy recovery, you are a diamond in a sea of garbage.
Simon
January 4, 2018  
Also wishing you a good and full recovery, and I too much appreciate your excellent work which is in sharp contrast to so much of what appears in the US MSM and other sources of BS like the so-called Center for American Progress.
(Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).)
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