Benghazi A Mini Iran/Contra? Fox News Should Ask Their Own In-House Felon

Earlier this week Fox News helped to promote a shoddily constructed story by a discredited reporter about an alleged effort by the State Department to dispose of documents that might be harmful to then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The story, that they laughably called a “bombshell,” did not provide a single bit of evidence and relied entirely on allegations by a former State Department official who had been reprimanded for being “grossly inadequate” and who clearly had an ax to grind.

Fox News Oliver North

Today Fox News upped the ante by adding new scenarios with even less connection to reality. On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced a segment with retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer saying that…

“Anything that could have got them into trouble, Colonel, was grinded up, was shredded, and the review board never got all the documents.”

Of course, none of that was ever verified, and the allegations were merely speculation by someone who the reporter admits never witnessed any such thing. So in order to take the focus off of how thin this whole fictional account is, Kilmeade allowed his guest to offer up a complete fantasy that neither of them bothered to support with any facts.

Shaffer: Some of these documents we’re talking about were probably the direct link to some of the bad incidents, to include the holy grail here that nobody wants to talk about, is the obtaining of weapons from the Libyan rebels, moving them out of the country, to the Turks, through Turkey to the Syrian rebels. Some of those rebels ended up being the ISIS threat we’re now facing.

Kilmeade: So you mean this is almost like a mini Iran/Contra thing?

Shaffer responded “Absolutely,” to this question, apparently ignorant of what the Iran/Contra scandal was all about. Shaffer’s invention of a plot to transfer weapons that were lawfully provided to Qaddafi foes in Libya, to dubious characters in Syria, is nothing like Iran/Contra, and there is no evidence that it even happened. In the Reagan era scandal weapons were illegally sold to Iran while the nation was under an international arms embargo. The proceeds were then used to illegally fund the Nicaraguan Contras, which was explicitly prohibited by federal law.

The funny thing about this is that Fox News could have gotten all of this straight if they had instead interviewed their own employee, Oliver North. It was North who ran the Iran/Contra affair and was convicted by a jury for his felonious behavior. However, he is now a Fox News anchor and military commentator for the network. You have to wonder whether it was his violations of federal and international arms trading laws, or his perjury conviction for lying under oath to Congress, that made him such an attractive candidate for employment at Fox.

Actually, it may be overly optimistic to suggest that North would have straightened anybody out, since he has been lying about the scandal for more than two decades. But it’s interesting that Fox is now using Iran/Contra as an example of grossly unlawful practices with their comparison to the fiction they are hyping about the Clinton State Department purging documents. If this “holy grail” that they are now trying to smear Clinton with is so bad that they are calling it a “mini Iran/Contra,” then how can they ethically employ the leader of the actual, full-sized Iran/Contra?

Of course, the answer to that question is that Fox News has never considered it within their charter to act ethically. That makes their job of lying and distorting the news a lot easier.

Fox News Is Worried That American Children Are “Learning Too Much”

In troubled times, with Americans getting beheaded by terrorists, women being abused, teenage African-Americans being gunned down by police, working people struggling to lift themselves out of poverty, and all the while wealthy individuals and corporations assume ever more dominance of our social and political institutions, Fox News has managed to cast a spotlight on little-known but disturbing facet of life in these United States:

Fox News Tucker Carlson

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That’s right, American children are suffering under the burden of becoming too smart. On Sunday’s episode of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson presented a segment (video below) wherein he suggested that an alleged reduction in homework assignments was actually a well-coordinated conspiracy by teachers unions to achieve their long-held goal of reducing work for their lazy members. And everyone knows that teachers are among society’s most notorious slackers who yearn only for longer lunches and wasteful leisure. The industrious Carlson began his hyper-rant by saying that…

“A growing number of schools are opting out of giving kids homework. They say that students should use the time to be with family and friends. But is this really about the kids, or could it be a move by teachers unions to get teachers to do less work for, of course, the same pay?”

This is a remarkable turnaround for the Fox set who ordinarily praise initiatives that bring families closer together. It is such an obsession with them that they fiercely advocate homeschooling which, of course, means nothing but homework for the kids, and much less work for teachers. And pay no attention to the fact that Carlson offers no shred of evidence that unions played any role in this alleged trend.

Carlson interviewed Whitney Neal of the Bill of Rights Institute, which was founded by Charles Koch. Undisclosed by Fox News is that Whitney Neal is also the Director of Grassroots at FreedomWorks, another Koch brothers operation. The Kochs are heavily invested in twisting the nation’s academic institutions to conform to their personal, political, social, and business interests. Neal agreed with Carlson’s unsupported insinuations, but went further to say that she believes the whole thing is “more of a ploy to keep parents out of the classroom [...] because if kids aren’t bringing home homework, the parents don’t know what’s going on.”

So by providing kids with more time to be with their parents, teachers are somehow inhibiting the interaction between kids and parents. How insidious. What’s more, Neal believes that homework is the only way that parents can have any idea of what is going on with their children in school. They certainly couldn’t go to the school, or ask the kids, or the teachers, or the administrators, or otherwise involve themselves in their child’s education. Neal’s argument is that kids should be getting more homework, not for the benefit of the student, but so that parents can see what kind of homework they get.

If you think that was stupid, just wait until you hear Carlson’s next question:

“Also, do you think the problem with American schools is just that kids are working too hard; they’re just doing too much work; they’re just learning too much? Is that a major problem?”

Well, it is if you’re Fox News. The last thing they need right now is an educated populace. That would decimate their viewer demographic (if you know a Fox News viewer, please tell them what “decimate” means). Not to mention how it would shrink the ranks of the Tea Party and the Republican establishment that feeds off of its innate ignorance.

For the record, teachers are among the hardest working, least appreciated professionals in the country. They are often belittled as nothing more than babysitters and criticized for having a truncated work schedule. See this lovely infographic for the truth. And watch this video from Fox & Friends to observe some real failures in the education system who nevertheless achieved success in television punditry (for which there are no academic requirements and requires no certification).

Wars-R-Us: How The Media Promotes War Profiteers

The manic preoccupation of the right-wing media for war is a persistent component of coverage of the Middle East and the rise of ISIL. There is so much sophomoric and useless debate over whether President Obama uses the word “war” or not, that the television punditry seem to have abandoned reporting on what’s actually taking place. New Corpse covered this retreat to surface-level theatrics and partisan politics last week, but an article by Lee Fang in The Nation brings to light another critical element that is dangerously absent from the media presentation.

Wars-R-Us

Fang’s “Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?” reports that the proliferation of former Pentagon and other government officials who comprise much of the commentator class on TV are not disinterested analysts expressing their opinions and showing off their patriotism. In fact, many are self-serving lobbyists and corporate insiders whose war fever will have a direct and positive effect on their bank accounts. For example, Fang cites the frequent appearances of former General Jack Keane, whose advice is invariably supportive of escalating the military conflict. Among Keane’s business interests is the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank he runs with Fox News contributors Liz Cheney and William Kristol. Fang writes…

“Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) are Keane’s other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a ‘venture partner’ to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an ‘operations management decision support system’ company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.

“To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.”

The Nation’s article contains several more disturbing examples of this conflict of interest in armed conflict. The presence of so many people with a profit motive advocating a full-scale, boots-on-the-ground war, is cause for concern. The American people need to be informed when news networks serve up lobbyists and corporate executives from the defense industry, but fail to disclose their affiliations. The question we must ask ourselves is: Are we being seduced into another quagmire in order to line the pockets of the military-industrial-media complex?

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This is not a war, should not be called a war, and should definitely not become a war. Despite the panicky blatherings of media Chicken Littles, ISIL is not the biggest, most fearsome enemy we’ve ever faced. Al Qaeda had both more fighters and more money. The army of Saddam Hussein was bigger, richer, better armed, and better trained. And much of their wealth, armory, and training came straight from the United States. Remember this when you hear the partisans and profiteers in the media declaring that the fate of the planet rests on defeating this puny brigade of impotent crackpots.

Uh Oh. Did Sarah Palin Call Obama “Boy” On Hannity Last Night?

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke to the nation about his plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the ISIL organization that has embarked on a terrorist spree in Iraq. Sarah Palin must have been busy brawling at drunken rave in Wasilla at the time because she didn’t make it to Fox News until the next day. And based on what she said last night to Sean Hannity, she might have been better off going another round.

Fox News has been predictably critical of Obama’s initiative to defeat ISIL. Their post-speech analysis didn’t include a single Obama supporter. But few have gone where Palin just took the debate. In her introductory comments to Hannity she began by saying…

“Dear Lord, these boys are so arrogant and that’s getting in the way of sound policy that will keep America secure and our allies.”

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Fox News Sarah Palin

Is it too much for these rancid bigots to refrain from referring to the first African-American President of the United States as “boy?” If they want to call him arrogant or belittle his commitment to the nation’s security, that’s pretty much their standard hate-speech fare, but there are some lines that you would think they would not cross.

Palin continues her warped assessment of the situation by whining about Obama’s determination to protect American soldiers by keeping them from becoming cannon fodder for jihadists in the Middle East. She said…

“And now here we are saying it’s gonna take boots on the ground to win this thing, and yet we’re not gonna send boots on the ground? We’re gonna contract this thing out when there is no mightier power than the red, white, and blue?”

That’s right. We’re not gonna send boots on the ground. That’s because the rightful parties to wage this battle are the Iraqis and their regional neighbors. Why is Palin, and so much of the right, obsessed with spilling more American blood overseas, which is exactly what the enemy wants us to do?

Palin and Hannity spend the rest of the segment in a nearly incoherent dialog that is impossible to transcribe in proper English. They touch briefly on inane concepts like whether ISIL is Islamic, or constitute being a state, merely because they say so. Since when do we allow terrorists to define the world for us? Palin and Hannity appear to have more respect for the enemy’s judgment than their president’s. That shows where their loyalties lie. Here is a typical passage from the segment:

Hannity: Let me ask you this. When the President says that the Islamic State is not Islamic, when he says that ISIS is not a state but they have more territory, it’s bigger than the size of Belgium, so they have the money, they’re more brutal, now they have the territory, maybe not recognized by the United Nations, but they certainly own a lot of that territory, and the President said another thing, he said that ISIS has no vision, I’m thinking don’t they have a vision? Isn’t what they were doing in Mosul, either convert or die, isn’t that a vision for a caliphate where the world is dominated by their brand of Islam?

Palin: It’s not just a vision that’s so obvious, it’s an articulated mission that they’re on, and that is the caliphate. That is the take over of the region, and guess what…we’re next on the hit list. So like Barack Obama, like the rest of us, hear these bad guys, these terrorists, promising that they will raise the flag of Allah over our White House, for the life of me I don’t know why he does not take this serious, the threat, because yes, it’s more than a vision. They’re telling us, just like Hitler did all those years ago when a war could have been avoided because Hitler, too, didn’t hide his intentions. Well, ISIS, these guys are not hiding their intentions either.

The only comprehensible viewpoint that can be squeezed from that rhetorical mess is that Palin and Hannity believe that ISIL is capable of defeating and ruling the entire planet. They believe that ISIL’s 20,000 desert rats can prevail over America’s 2.2 million active and reserve forces (not to mention the rest of the world’s military). In what reality do those numbers make any sense? If they just wanted to assert that ISIL is capable of causing harm, they would have been on solid ground. But by insisting that the threat to raise the flag of ISIL over the White House is a serious potential outcome they are thrusting themselves into the realm of fools (where I am sure they would be quite comfortable).

Ending on a comedic note, Palin did relieve herself of some apparently long-suppressed guilt. She told Hannity that…

“As I watched the speech last night the thought going through my mind is: I owe America a global apology because John McCain – through all of this – John McCain should be our president.”

Indeed, an apology is definitely in order. Except it should be coming from McCain who saddled American with this addled-brained cretin. However, it is interesting that Palin is, in effect, confessing that she she was the reason that McCain lost the election. There was more to it than that, but this is the start of coming to grips with reality.

Just As I Predicted, Fox News Hated Obama’s Speech (Surprise)

Just as I predicted this morning, Fox News, and their Republican comrades, marched in lock-step opposition to President’s Obama speech on dealing with the threat of ISIL.

Republicans

Immediately following the speech, Fox News spent the next couple of hours picking it apart with sometimes ludicrous logic. They began with commentary from their White House correspondent Ed Henry who asserted his opinion that Obama, by calling for decisive action to destroy ISIL, had reversed himself on his prior foreign policy which, of course, was to destroy ISIL.

Megyn Kelly, who anchored the post-speech discussion, led with a series of poll results that cast the President in a negative light. She then approached her guests with blatantly leading questions, such as her wondering whether Obama’s heart was in his stated intention to take out ISIL. She also asked whether Obama’s policy to leave Iraq in 2011 caused the situation now where we have to go back “in a way that is even more dangerous.” That question ignores certain facts, such as the date for the departure of U.S. troops which was set by George W. Bush. Also, it can hardly be characterized as “more dangerous” when Obama’s plan will result in about 1,500 American soldiers in Iraq, as opposed to the 140,000 that were there previously. As for what caused the situation that allowed ISIL to emerge, that was solely due to Bush’s plundering of the government of Saddam Hussein (based on lies) and banishing his generals and other military personal, who went on to form ISIL.

Dana Perino, Bush’s former press secretary, said that she liked Obama’s line “If you threaten the United States you will have no safe haven.” But she said that the reason she liked it was because she had heard the same thing before from her old boss when he said “You are either with us or you are against us.” How is that even remotely the same?

However, the most idiotic commentary came from Brit Hume who said…

“If the threat is sufficiently great to American interests and to America itself, then it seems that one would do whatever it takes to eliminate the threat. [Obama] didn’t quite go that far. He said he was determined to destroy ISIS, but you heard at the end when he was talking about what we do in these situations. He said “We do what it takes.” He didn’t say we do whatever it takes.

Are you FRIGGIN’ kidding me? I would love to know what Hume thinks is different about those two statements. Obviously, these cretins are so consumed with finding fault that their cranial synapses are misfiring.

Every guest during the remainder of Kelly’s program was an Obama opponent, including Hume, Perino, General Jack Keane, Chris Stirewalt, and Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz launched his tirade by saying that Obama’s speech was “fundamentally unserious,” and was representative of the “failed Obama/Clinton foreign policy.” That was his way of injecting politics into the discussion by invoking the name of the women he hopes to challenge in 2016. Kelly’s show was followed by Sean Hannity who added John McCain and Rand Paul to the bitchfest.

Not a single Democrat or pundit supportive of the President or his policy was allowed on the air during the post-speech analysis. So much for the “fair and balanced” network. This is why the prediction I made earlier was so easy. The same prediction can be made for pretty much any event that involves Obama or any progressive politician or policy. Fox News single-mindedly follows the philosophy of Marx (Groucho, that is):

Whatever it is, I’m against it.

It’s Obama’s Fault? Fox News Ties President To NFL-er Ray Rice’s Assault

Like clockwork, anything bad that happens anywhere in the world is somehow connected to President Obama. It was either caused by something he did, or something he didn’t do, or it requires him to comment, or to refrain from commenting, or in short, do whatever is the opposite of whatever he did, or thought about doing, or was predicted to do by dimwitted media pundits.

This morning a video was released that showed the actual assault committed by NFL running back Ray Rice on his then-fiance – now wife- Janay Palmer. It is a nauseating piece of video that captures Rice knocking out Palmer with a single punch.

So, of course, when the subject came up on the Fox News program Outnumbered (whose premise is to pit four women co-hosts “against” a rotating male guest host), someone had to immediately figure out a way to blame the whole incident on Obama. That chore fell to Fox’s Andrea Tantaros who obliged by saying that…

“My question is — and not to bring it back to politics but — this is a White House that seems to bring up a ‘war on women’ every other week. [...] I wanna know, where is the President on this one?”

Really? Tantaros claims to not want to “bring it back to politics,” so she promptly castigates Obama for – who knows what. The President has spoken out repeatedly on the subject of domestic violence. Must he now have something to say about every occurrence of it? And if he did address it, you know with certainty that rabidly partisan hacks like Tantaros would criticize him for inserting himself into a criminal matter, demeaning his office, and politicizing the affair.

At the same time Tantaros cavalierly dismisses the GOP’s“War on Women” which refers to their agenda of anti-woman policies addressing reproductive health, equal pay, discrimination, and, yes, domestic violence and other criminal acts. These are very real concerns to women, who have expressed their opinion as to who better represents their interests by voting overwhelmingly for Obama and other Democrats.

Ironically, at almost the same time that Tantaros was slandering Obama for not dropping everything, including the fight against ISIL and other terrorists, to deal with this single case of domestic violence, the White House was making a statement affirming the President’s position. Noting that he cannot address a specific criminal act because it could prejudice any subsequent legal proceedings, the President’s spokesman said that “this administration and this president do believe strongly that the scourge of violence against women needs to be combated. [...] it is not and cannot be tolerated.”

Furthermore, it was this president who signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which a majority of those in Tantaros’ Republican Party voted against. In fact, all of the “no” votes in the House and the Senate were Republicans. Not a single Democrat voted against it.

Tantaros has a history of offensive statements on this subject. In 2011 she came to the defense of Herman Cain after he had been accused of sexual harassment by several women. Tantaros initially called one of Cain’s accusers a “scam artist,” but after it was clear that he was guilty, Tantaros floated a new defense blaming the victim. She asked “At what point do women need to take some responsibility?”

For Tantaros to now not-so-subtly inject Obama into this scandal is obscenely offensive. Especially when she herself could more easily be tied to Rice’s repulsive behavior if someone were looking for such a connection. Last year, after maligning the United States as being “like the Soviet Union,” Tantaros turned her wrath on the American citizens who exercised their rights in a free democracy by casting their votes for Obama. She said that

“…a lot of people voted for [Obama]. And if you see any of those people today, do me a favor. Punch them in the face.”

foxnews-tantaros-punch

So you have to wonder if perhaps Janay Palmer revealed to Rice that she voted for Obama and he responded by following Tantaros’ advice. After all, Tantaros is clearly not opposed to people being physically assaulted for their political beliefs. And she didn’t give any exemption to women who voted for Obama.

Obviously that’s an absurd scenario, and the only purpose in presenting it is to illustrate just how absurd Tantaros is for grasping at ridiculous reasons to associate everything bad with Obama. And as if this weren’t bad enough, another episode played out earlier in the day on Fox News when Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends thought it would be “funny” to offer his opinion of the lesson to be learned from the Rice incident. Kilmeade said that “I think the message is – take the stairs.”

Very funny, Fox. Way to trivialize a brutal beating of woman by a professional football player. Tantaros may wonder where President Obama is on this, but we all know where Fox News is. [Update: The following day, Brian Kilmeade addressed the "joke" about taking the stairs by saying only that their comments "made some feel like we were taking the situation too lightly. We are not. We were not." That's it. No apology or retraction or acknowledgement that the joke was vulgar and inappropriate. In effect, he blamed the audience for how they felt about it].

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[Addendum] Apparently in search of extra points for being disgusting cretins, Fox News contributor (and Tea Party darling/presidential candidate) Ben Carson actually came to Rice’s defense saying “let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy.” If not Rice, then who? Funny that Carson has no problem demonizing President Obama.

Wingnuts Lament That Obama Delays An Executive Action On Immigration That They Oppose

This is how the Republican establishment came to be known as “wingnuts.” These right-wing nut cases are so befuddled by anti-Obama hysteria that they can’t seem to articulate a coherent thought. This isn’t demonstrated anywhere better than in the contentious immigration debate that has stripped naked the conservatives tendency for overt racism.

Wingnuts On Immigration

Yesterday Fox News correspondent Molly Henneberg took to the airwaves to report that the Obama administration has decided to delay an anticipated executive order to address the struggle of undocumented immigrants in the United States. It is an action that Republicans staunchly oppose as what they falsely deride as amnesty. In addition, they regard Obama’s use of executive orders as unconstitutional and are even suing him for issuing them.

However, with Obama’s decision to put off any action until after the November midterm elections, the GOP is trembling with outrage. In effect, they are infuriated because Obama isn’t breaking the law sooner by taking a step they bitterly oppose. To please these lunatics he would have to do the very things for which they are criticizing him, which wouldn’t please them at all. That’s checkmate in Bizarro World.

To be sure, the President’s decision to put off the policy is rooted in politics. Several Democratic senators in red-leaning states are worried that unilateral action by Obama would damage their reelection aspirations. But the President recognizes this and doesn’t shy away from it. He even acknowledges the political concerns in a forthright statement released by a White House spokesman:

“The reality the president has had to weigh is that we’re in the midst of the political season, and because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.”

That demonstration of transparency is being met by Republican bombast and deception. Their whining about the delay is plainly based on their own political considerations, but they refuse to admit it. They are just as concerned about the same senatorial campaigns as the Democrats. But instead of being honest, as was the White House, they assume an indefensible posture demanding that the President do something that they adamantly oppose and regard as illegal.

The coverage of this circus by Fox News reeks with their well-known right-wing bias. Henneberg’s report places all of the blame for politicization on the Democrats, saying that…

“Some Democrats had been concerned that if the President took executive action on immigration that it might energize Republican voters who want tighter border security before citizenship for illegals right before the midterms.”

There is no mention in Henneberg’s report that Republicans are just as concerned that the delay might weaken their electoral challenges. Even worse, Henneberg outright lies about the substance of the planned executive order when she cites the GOP’s interest in “tighter border security” and the question of citizenship. She fails to note that Obama’s policy actually calls for the enhancement of border enforcement and that there is nothing remotely resembling citizenship in the works. That canard is standard fare by right-wing dissemblers and propagandists. As is the use of the pejorative term “illegals,” that most credible news organizations have ceased to use.

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For the record, the anticipated executive order is only expected to address the granting of work permits and temporary relief from deportation. That is a far cry from amnesty, and an even farther cry from citizenship. But it would relieve some of the stress caused by the situation; it would reunite families; and it help the economy by turning undocumented workers into taxpayers and contributing members of the community.

What’s more, Republicans always have the opportunity to avert any executive action by doing one simple thing: pass an immigration bill in Congress. The President is only considering unilateral action because Republicans in Congress refuse to do their job. And now they are exacerbating their laziness and rank politicization by making absurd demands that are contrary to their own stated principles. Hence wingnuts.

Fright-Wing News: Fox News Reports, As Fact, The Missing Libyan Planes Hoax

Given the acute paranoid tendencies of the Fox News management, they spend an inordinate amount of time either inventing or disseminating hoaxes aimed at frightening their dimwitted and gullible viewers. It’s why they promoted so many horror stories about the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) that never had a smidgen of truth to them. It’s why they squeal incessantly about the threat of immigrant children amassing to conquer America. It’s why they are convinced that our Manchurian president from Kenya is conspiring to confiscate their guns and declare himself emperor of the United Global Caliphate. Fear is their drug of choice.

Consequently, it should surprise no one that Fox News broadcast a story that is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by wingnut bloggers and a coalition of disreputable pseudo-news sources. On Friday, Fox anchor Jon Scott introduced the segment saying…

“A potentially terrifying scenario is playing out as we approach September 11. Nearly a dozen airplanes are missing – flat out missing – from an airport in Tripoli, raising new fears of the possibility of another terror attack from the air.”

Fox News Missing Planes

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OMG! That is truly terrifying. I can almost hear the roar of a dozen jet engines filling the sky with thunderous evil as they aim for defenseless skyscrapers packed with unsuspecting victims. Why doesn’t Obama raise the threat level to “Unrestrained Panic” and evacuate America’s cities?

Perhaps because the story is not true. Snopes researched the allegations and found that they originated from highly suspect blogs and emails in North Africa. And then…

“…translations of the blog posts began to be picked up by news outlets in Western Europe and passed on as fact rather than gossip; by early September those tales from translations of blogs had spread to the United States under the guise of real news.”

However…

“…there have been no statements from the State Department, the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, or any other authority warning of stolen airliners.” [...and that...] “…several of the planes claimed in rumors as ‘missing’ or ‘stolen’ have actually been accounted for, having been either caught outside of Tripoli at the time the airport fell to opposition forces or relocated by their operators (Air Contractors pf Dublin) to an airport in Malta for safekeeping. Some of the other airliners were likely destroyed in the fighting or damaged beyond the possibility of operation.”

Fox News relied on the reporting of the Washington Free Beacon, an ultra-rightist conspiracy theory disseminator that is affiliated with Republican operatives and the Koch brothers. The Beacon’s Bill Gertz was interviewed by Fox and related a story that consisted of nothing but speculation and unnamed sources. In his article for the website he wrote that…

“Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.”

Of course, there are no documents that confirm the alleged reports and no officials were on record corroborating Gertz’s claims. In fact, when Gertz sought a comment from the State Department they explicitly told him that “We can’t confirm that.” But that didn’t stop Gertz, and subsequently Fox News, from reporting the fake news as fact.

Since the debunking of this phony story, Fox news has not bothered to update their reporting with a correction or any acknowledgement of the dubious allegations and sources. That is in keeping with their practice of deliberately misinforming their audience and spreading lies that are intended to create fear and an artificial sense of impending doom. It is the Apocalyptic mindset of pseudo-journalistic propagandists seeking to advance an extremist political agenda through intimidation and inciting panic. It is, in fact, the definition of terrorism.

Terrorism (ter-uh-riz-uh m): noun – The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. [See Fox News]

[Update:] Fox News has still not retracted this phony story, nor issued any correction that notes the dubious sources. However, I did find an earlier segment of this on Fox & Friends (surprise) that aired September 3, two days before this segment.

OOPS: Bill O’Reilly Advises People Not To Believe His Partisan Distortions

Jon Stewart has been doing exceptional work ridiculing the systemic racism that was demonstrated so tragically by the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Last week, for instance, Stewart laid into Bill O’Reilly (video below) for returning to his program early from a vacation because he was “furious” – not about the the needless loss of life – but about how it was being reported. O’Reilly took offense at this and scolded Stewart for “distorting” his words. He then attempted to defend himself by playing a clip from his program showing him expressing some sympathy for Brown:

O’Reilly: “What happened to Michael Brown shouldn’t happen to any American. [...] Eighteen year olds make mistakes … If Michael Brown did something wrong, it doesn’t mean that you end up dead in the street.”

OK, fine. But while O’Reilly managed to utter some rather tepid sympathy for Brown, that was not the reason he cut his vacation short and rushed back to the studio. He didn’t hurry back because he was furious that an unarmed black teenager, who witnesses say had his hands up and posed no threat, was killed by an over-zealous, white police officer. His fury didn’t compel him to get back on the air because of the militarized Police department response to mostly peaceful protesters, and even members of the press. Nope, he was “furious about how the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, is being reported and how some are reacting to it.”

So Stewart’s criticism of O’Reilly for being outraged about the reporting, but not the shooting, was entirely on target. The whole point of that portion of Stewart’s program was that O’Reilly’s fury only surfaced after he saw the how the media was covering the story. The story itself wasn’t sufficient to abort his holiday. O’Reilly’s defense never even addressed the reason that Stewart had mocked him in the first place, which makes O’Reilly’s smug satisfaction that, in his mind, he had demolished Stewart’s mockery seem pretty pathetic.

Well, O’Reilly’s fury at Stewart had the ancillary effect of clouding his mind to the point where he actually said something that was true, albeit inadvertently. His Tip of the Day was…

O’Reilly: When you hear something on a partisan program, do NOT believe it … Distortions are how some people make a living.”

Bill O'Reilly

Thanks, Billo. That’s excellent advice. Now we all know how we should regard the grade A crapola you dish out every day, not to mention the steaming heap that the rest of the Fox News crew shovels 24/7.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Convert Or Die: Tea-Publicans Embrace The ISIS Doctrine

The American conservative movement has been crystal clear about their devotion to religious intolerance, racial bigotry, and political obstinance. They have honed an ideology of hatred and obstructionism that is unprecedented in our nation’s history. And in the wake of an escalation of brutality by our terrorist enemies, the right-wing only affirms their hard-line views and, even worse, adopts the rhetoric of our foes.

Convert or Die

The latest whack job to jump on the hayride is Duck Dynasty’s patriarch, Phil Robertson. Sean Hannity brought the Duck Dick onto his program to contribute his expertise in national security matters. However, the segment devolved into a sermon with Robertson spending most of his airtime reading from the bible. In one of the few off-the-cuff analyses of current affairs, Robertson offered this bit of wisdom about how to deal with ISIS:

“I’m just saying either convert them or kill them. One or the other.”

Well then, that certainly justified giving him twenty minutes to pontificate on a cable news program. Although it does coincide with previous Fox News pundits like Ann Coulter who said about Muslims generally:

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”

If this rhetoric sounds familiar it’s because we’ve heard from none other than ISIS operatives themselves. As Fox’s Megyn Kelly noted, they invaded towns in Iraq telling the residents that they had to “convert, die, or leave.” So Coulter, Rpbertson, et al, are now cribbing their speeches from the terrorist set. If you’re going to engage in plagiarism, it might be better to follow the Herman Cain model and stick to ripping off Pokemon movie theme lyrics.

Not one to be shut out of the circus, Dr. Ben Carson raised the issue of the “convert-or-die” doctrine in an op-ed for the uber-rightist National Review. But he took a somewhat unique approach in that he wasn’t explicitly advocating it. No, the doctor was citing it to demonstrate the similarities between other Americans and marauding armies of terror.

“Their convert-or-die doctrine parallels some of the social philosophies enforced by the political-correctness police in this country. Either you accept their interpretation of what is moral and correct, or the name-calling starts. We despise the Islamic State but do not see the same ugliness in our own tactics.”

See there? The PC police in America are just like extremists who behead people. And decapitation is no worse than name-calling. How could we not see these same ugly characteristics of our own tactics without Carson’s visionary guidance? No wonder he is such a darling of the Tea-jadist community. And don’t forget, he’s the same guy who said that “ObamaCare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” and that “America is very much like Nazi Germany.”

If you need documented proof of Fox News lies…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

So what we have to learn from these folks is that America is already in the same moral cesspool as our terrorist enemies, or that we ought to be. And it is this philosophy that has enraptured so much of the Republican base. If that doesn’t motivate you to vote this November, well, then the terrorists have already won. So there.

The Media Needs To Stop Promoting ISIS Propaganda Videos – NOW!

Today there was a report of another horrific murder of an American Journalist. Steven Sotloff was the victim of a gruesome assault carried out by ISIS terrorists. And just as with the previous murder of James Foley, the media reacted by serving the interests of the terrorists by repeatedly showing pictures of the assault. Such a reaction has a disastrous effect. It is also egregiously hypocritical, but more on that later.

Media Inciting Violence

What needs to be mentioned with regard to these pictures is that they serve only one purpose. They were distributed by ISIS in order to advance their mission of terror. Their goal is to spread fear in the west and to promote recruitment to their cause among extremist Muslims. And like every other public relations campaign, the more the pictures and videos are shown, the better for ISIS.

The American media is providing free advertising for these cretins, and they must stop it. While it is reasonable to report on the brutality that is being engaged in throughout the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq and Syria, there is no useful purpose in blanketing the airwaves with images created by terrorists for their own benefit.

The murder of Sotloff is certainly a tragedy, but it is no more tragic than the hundreds, thousands, of others, many of them Americans, many of them journalists, whose names we were never told because they were killed in more “conventional” ways. The spectacular method of Sotloff’s execution wrenches our hearts, but leaves a corpse that is not one bit more dead. We have to stop assigning an artificial significance to the tactic, because that is exactly what the terrorists want us to do. Why are we accommodating them?

The United States has conducted hundreds of bombing missions against ISIS in the last few weeks, with over eighty yesterday alone. We have driven ISIS back from cities they boasted about capturing. These actions have resulted in the deaths and injuries of untold terrorist fighters. In response, the impotent whack jobs of ISIS choreograph a horror show that takes the life of a single man and we’re supposed to tremble with uncontrollable fright? Hell no. We continue to pursue our interests, bring aid to victims, and get on with our lives. It would probably be advantageous for President Obama to go golfing after every killing of this type that occurs. Don’t validate their tactics by reacting in precisely the way they hope.

It’s ironic that the media is so supportive of the ISIS PR effort. Not too long ago some of them were blasting reporters for going to Ferguson, Missouri to cover the shooting of an unarmed black teenager. In that case media critics like Howard Kurtz of Fox News asserted that “The journalistic invasion of Ferguson is absolutely inflaming the situation on the streets.” He wrote an editorial titled “What if we just pulled the plug on Ferguson?” that suggested the press should pack it in and leave town. Bill O’Reilly said much the same thing about coverage of another murdered teenager, Trayvon Martin, when he asked “Is the media now inciting racial violence?”

Isn’t it interesting that when the media is covering the murders of unarmed African-American kids they are accused of being accomplices to an escalation of hostilities, but when it comes to Americans executed by terrorists thousands of miles away, there is no similar implication of incitement even though that is the indisputable objective of the killers? The real question is: What if we just pulled the plug on ISIS?

Fox News inflaming Violence

There is a demonstrable purpose to reporting on the overly aggressive behavior of American police officers. Such publicity, and subsequent reform, can have an impact on their future behavior and improve relations between law enforcement and the public they are pledged to serve and protect. The same cannot be said of reporting, or more accurately advertising, the behavior of terrorists. We are not going to dissuade them from committing their crimes by publicizing them. Quite the contrary. They will only increase their deadly plots when they see the attention it brings them.

So the only way to react to these events is to acknowledge that they occurred and then stop obsessing over them. Then we can conduct our retaliatory response calmly and decisively. But by no means should we panic, tear out our hair, and give the enemy the impression (and satisfaction) that they have crushed our spirit and won a victory. They haven’t won a damn thing by exposing themselves as savages and taking the life of a single, innocent victim. Rather than helping to advance their PR, we should be publicizing their barbarism, impotence, and desperation. And a big part of that requires the media to refrain from furthering the marketing goals of the terrorists.

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: Wrong! Minimum Wage Workers In The US Do Not Make More Than ISIS Terrorists

Another noggin-smackin moment brought to you by the boneheads at Fox Nation. Known for promoting idiotic claims, asinine assertions, and brazenly biased distortions of political affairs, Fox Nation has once again stretched their tabloidy, pseudo-journalism to the farthest reaches of absurdity.

Fox Nation

For even more examples of Fox’s idiocracy…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Yep, Fox Nation thinks it is somehow important to compare the wages of low-income Americans with the terrorist foot soldiers of ISIS. What point they are hoping to make is incomprehensible. Are they trying to persuade ISIS terrorists to give up their (almost literally) dead-end jobs and relocate to Omaha to work at Arby’s? Are they trying to short circuit the movement for a fair wage in the U.S. by shaming minimum wage workers into silence? Is it a source of pride for Fox that Americans struggling to support their families are financially slightly superior to jihadists?

The stupidity of this piece boggles the mind. And as if the comparison alone weren’t ripe for ridicule, the facts are completely wrong. According the article on Fox Nation (sourced to bloggers at RightScoop), ISIS soldiers earn $400.00 a month, plus their housing is paid for. They also receive a stipend of $50.00 for each child and $100.00 for each wife. An apartment rental in the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, goes for an average of $900.00 a month. Therefore, the terrorist benefits package for a fighter with one only wife and two kids is $1,500.00 per month. However, with the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (regardless of wives and kids), Americans earning that amount get a monthly salary of about $1,257.00. So the terrorists actually have a better deal. And that doesn’t even count their free heating oil and gas for their car.

Additionally, American soldiers also make less than their counterparts in ISIS. According to the Department of Defense, a beginning soldier’s salary (pay grade: E1) is $1,417.00 a month. That also includes housing, but not 72 virgins if you become a martyr.

So if Fox were interested in telling the truth, something they have little experience with, they would end up promoting service in the army of the Islamic State. And since they already believe that ISIS is smarter than we are and that “We’re the dumb ones,” maybe this is all part of their mission to pump up the enemy and realize their dream of an attack in the U.S. that they can blame on our secretly Muslim president.

Fox News Intelligence Analyst: ISIS “Are Not Dumb People. We’re The Dumb Ones”

Fox News, and other right-wing media, sometimes make it very difficult to assess where they are coming from. Every now and then you have to sit back and try to figure out the answer to one simple question: Whose side they are on?

Fox News

Case in point: Friday’s episode of Your World with Neil Cavuto featured a segment with former CIA “intelligence” officer, Michael Scheuer, a regular guest on the network. Scheuer is famous for telling Glenn Beck that “the only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.” Isn’t that a charming display of patriotism?

Now Scheuer is providing his opinion of the intelligence of Americans as compared to our terrorist enemies. In his discussion with Cavotu, Scheuer complimented ISIS by saying that they were not “silly” enough to forgo the opportunity to infiltrate the United States by sneaking across the southern border. In fact, he elaborated on that praise saying that…

“The Islamists “are not dumb people. They may be brutal, but they are not dumb. We’re the dumb ones.”

Well then, that settles it. The problem we’ve been having all along is that we’re just not as smart as our adversaries. And Cavuto, notably, did not challenge that assessment. After all, how can a bunch of hillbillies who are hypnotized by reality television, designer jeans, and flame-broiled Whoppers supposed to be able to compete intellectually with such sophisticated and sociologically advanced opponents? Why did we not see this deficiency before Scheuer brought it to our attention? Oh yeah, because we’re stupid.

It’s unclear who Scheuer is referring to specifically. Does he mean that all Americans are dumb, or maybe our military commanders, or just our leaders? It’s hard to place the blame on the military since they have accomplished nearly every task assigned to them. In the past couple of weeks they have achieved repeated victories pushing ISIS back from cities they claimed to have captured. As for our leaders, the only one who permitted a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil was George W. Bush, and he’s been out of office for six years now. So that leaves just the American people to absorb the brunt of Scheuer’s insult.

In addition to Scheuer’s anti-patriotic stance, another right-wing hack has also contributed to the welfare of ISIS. James O’Keefe pulled off an idiotic stunt last month wherein he filmed himself crossing the Rio Grande in an Osama Bin Laden mask. That story is almost painfully funny, and can be read here. The news emanating from that buffoonery is that his antics are now being cited by ISIS to motivate wannabe terrorists to attempt similar crossings.

Fox News reported that a document obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety warned that “militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US,” and that social media messages “alluded to a recent video by U.S. activist James O’Keefe, who was recorded coming across the Rio Grande valley in an Usama bin Laden costume.”

O’Keefe must be so proud that his little film project has become a source of inspiration to bloodthirsty terrorists. Of course if we needed an argument to refute Scheuer’s characterization of ISIS as being smarter than we are, there couldn’t be better proof of the fallacy of that notion than the fact that they are taking O’Keefe seriously. That’s evidence of a pretty severe intellectual shortfall. Do they really regard O’Keefe’s video as documentation of the state of U.S. border security? Is that really the best source they could scrape up? And if they are relying on that, then we don’t have much to worry about.

This is just further evidence that conservatives are itching for some sort of violent disaster to occur so they can blame it on our secretly Muslim president. They have been haranguing Obama about divulging our strategy to deal with ISIS, which would simultaneously reveal the strategy to ISIS themselves. And when they aren’t advocating tipping our hand, they are disparaging Obama and telling the world, and our enemies, that he is weak and incompetent. Which brings us back to the question that opened this article: Whose side are they on?

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Night Of The Living Death Panels

Thank you Sarah Palin. You have managed to poison the public discourse with an utterly insipid and dishonest notion that has attained a measure of immortality due to the persistent ignorance of your followers and the spinelessness of your Tea Party Republican comrades.

Night of the Living Death Panels

That’s right, folks. The Death Panels are baaack. And with no more legitimacy now than when they were first peddled by Palin (who actually stole the idea from wingnut Betsy McCaughey). Of course it is Fox News who is reprising this zombie lie which they had a substantial part in promoting the last time around. This year’s model is back in the news thanks to Fox Nation, the lie-riddled community website whose aversion to the truth is documented in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality. Their story carries the tabloid-esque headline “Death Panels? Medicare May Start Covering ‘End-Of-Life Discussions’” That phony characterization is a long stretch from the New York Times article to which they link that doesn’t mention death panels in their headline at all: “Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground.”

Fox Nation

The news in this story is that, despite being jettisoned by a nervous Congress, coverage for end-of-life counseling is being taken up by insurance companies on their own as a result of prodding from doctors. That’s because it makes good sense and benefits the patient. It is not an economic issue because, depending on the patient’s desires, health care may cost more (if the patient opts for every life-saving procedure available) or less (if the patient chooses to forego artificial methods of sustaining life).

From the beginning, the death panel term was a perversion of what the actual policy provided. It merely stipulated insurance coverage for voluntary discussions between the patient and the doctor to determine the patient’s wishes in the event of a catastrophic illness. Most medical professionals recommend this because, after an illness strikes, you may not be able to make your preferences known. That leaves it to either the doctors or traumatized family members who often disagree. But the completion of an “Advance Directive” always represents your wishes and never imposes any medical care, or lack of it, on the patient.

Tea Party nut cases took the position that you should not be able to have your insurance cover the preparation of such a directive in consultation with your doctor. They irrationally feared that “end-of-life counseling” was coded language that, when translated by enlightened wingnuts, meant “plotting to kill you.” It’s too bad that such stupidity isn’t covered under ObamaCare. And even though some right-wingers recognized that their misrepresentation of end-of-life counseling was making them look ridiculous, when they adjusted their rhetoric they just switched to a different policy, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that a death panel. They were still wrong. The IPAB was a doctor-run advisory group tasked with identifying the best practices in health care to insure the best outcomes and to avoid unnecessary or exploitative procedures.

When the ultra-conservative National Review agrees that “Insuring End-of-Life Talk [is] Not Death Panels,” then the distance Fox News has traveled from reality becomes ever more clear. They simply don’t care about honestly dispensing information, even when people’s lives depend upon it. And they persist with their campaigns of disinformation even after other conservative outlets have abandoned them.

Feud At Fox News: Sarah Palin Slams Fellow FoxPod Tucker Carlson

Uh oh. The family ties at Fox News are being stretched to dangerously explosive levels. It appears that Sarah Palin’s ire has been aroused by her colleague Tucker Carlson. Ironically, both are losers who have been disparaged by Fox News at various times (Roger Ailes called Palin an “idiot” and, before being hired by Fox, Carlson called them a “mean, sick, group of people” for attacking him), and now they are taking swipes at each other.

Fox News Palin/Carlson

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

The spark for this fire came from an interview of Dave Berg, a former producer of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Berg, who is promoting a new book, spoke with the Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein and told him that…

“After the campaign, she had a book to promote, and wanted to do the show, but it was difficult to work out the logistics because she didn’t like to be away from her family for long periods of time. Finally, the only way we could get her to come to Burbank was to book a charter jet from Anchorage for $35,000. The jet was big enough to accommodate all of her family members.”

The Diva from Wasilla took offense to this characterization despite the fact that there is long-standing evidence of her extravagant demands for public appearances. But for some reason, she went after the Daily Caller, which is run by Carlson, instead of Berg who made the statements to which she objected. On her Facebook page Palin launched into a tirade replete with personal insults and invective.

“Guess the boys at The Daily Caller spent a bit too much time at the frat house and not enough time in their college library. (Or maybe it’s in one of their Jr. High tree forts where their leader gathers the boys to ‘report’ their ‘conservative’ issues.) Their claims about what I supposedly ‘demanded’ of the Tonight Show are, in their frat boy terms, B.S. This is not the first time we’ve had to correct their sloppy ‘journalism.’ Paraphrasing and dramatizing sure doesn’t fit into any fair and balanced image, especially from a little fella loving his title of FOX News Channel host. Maybe those bow ties are a bit too tight, bros.”

Meow! So according to Palin the Daily Caller is not really “conservative,” nor a practitioner of “journalism” (as if the woman who couldn’t name a single newspaper that she read would know). And she just couldn’t help ridiculing Carlson’s fashion sense, albeit for the bow ties he stopped wearing years ago. What Palin did not do in her rant was to offer any proof that the claims by Berg were false. She would certainly have the evidence if she were interested in refuting what she called “B.S.” Why do you suppose she would decline to provide it?

Obviously Berg’s assertions are probably accurate and Palin, who has criticized Hillary Clinton for her contract riders, is only interested in smearing her critics. As usual, Palin is not the least bit concerned about being factual or truthful. And in this case, the Daily Caller was merely publishing what Berg said, but Palin slams the Daily Caller and thanks Berg “for the kind comments.” Huh? Her reading comprehension is even worse than her verbal “skills” that have produced the some of the most mangled (and hilarious) mutilations of the English language.

Carlson is notoriously thin-skinned, so we may have the good fortune of hearing his retort to Palin and a prolonged public quarrel. It’s notable that Palin chose to belittle Carlson with a reference to his “frat house” immaturity. Just yesterday, Carlson made a similarly insulting remark directed at the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., saying that “This is what happens when you have a foreign policy run by college sophomores like Samantha Power.” For the record, Power is a Pulitzer Prize winner with a distinguished career that puts Carlson, a trust-fund baby, to shame. More to the point, both Carlson and Palin regard college credentials as liabilities, which explains a lot about their mutual affinity for ignorance.

However, what will be truly interesting is to see if Palin is taken to the wood shed for beating up on “little fella” Tucker. After all, Fox News CEO. Roger Ailes, made it clear that he will not tolerate intra-network derision by people in his fiefdom “shooting in the tent.” So they better be careful. They don’t want to make Uncle Roger mad.

(CR)ISIS Strategy: President Obama vs. Republicans And Fox News Pundits

Much is being made of an off-hand sentence fragment taken from President Obama’s press conference yesterday. In response to a question from Chuck Todd about whether he needed Congress’s approval to go into Syria, Obama said

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.”

Clearly the President was trying to temper speculation in the media that has been rampant with predictions of a U.S. military assault on Syria. That is not the sort of thing that commanders want to be circulating prior to the launch of a mission. So Obama prudently dismissed the gossip and focused on presenting a united front that included the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress. However, conservative politicians and pundits have a different theory that has two primary principles:

  1. Giving away our tactics
  2. Disparaging our Commander-in-Chief.

ISIS Strategy

While the President is working to keep from showing our hand, those on the right are clamoring for him to spill every secret plot that is currently under consideration. They are outraged that Obama has not told the world, and ISIS, what our strategy is for dealing with ISIS in Syria. Certainly ISIS would like to know what we are planning, and Republicans are helping them in that effort.

An example this morning on the Fox News program Outnumbered had guest co-host Pete Hegseth, head of the Koch brothers front group Concerned Veterans for America, saying that “The number one rule in war is that if there is no strategy, don’t tell the enemy that.” Hegseth never mentioned what boneheaded rule book he was referring to, but it is one that contradicts the long-respected wisdom of Sun Tzu whose “The Art of War” advises to “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” In other words, it is strategically advantageous to fool your enemies into thinking that you have no strategy. To announce your strategy would only allow them to reinforce their defenses against it.

After advocating divulging our plans, the right goes on to tell our enemies that they have little to worry about because our leadership is incompetent and may even be on their side. For some reason they think that it’s helpful to let ISIS know that some of Obama’s own countrymen have no confidence in him. Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle fantasized about having Vladimir Putin as president for forty-eight hours instead of Obama because, I guess, brutal dictators are always preferable in the eyes of the right. Perhaps they are preparing for 2016:

Putin/Palin 2016

GOP representative Louie Gohmert made an ass of himself (again) by likening Obama to Barney Fife, the bumbling deputy on the old Andy Griffith Show. The problem with that analogy is that Gohmert and the right are more like Fife than Obama. Remember that Fife was the hothead who was constantly itching for a fight and the opportunity to put his one bullet in his pistol. He couldn’t wait to confront the bad guys with deadly force whether or not a real threat existed. Doesn’t that sound like Bush’s adventures in Iraq, and what conservatives are doing right now? Certainly the right wouldn’t approve of Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Taylor, who was well known for being deliberative and resolving problems with diplomacy and intellect. Kind of like President Obama. In fact, Sheriff Taylor was so notorious for his resistance to unnecessary conflict that one episode featured a story line where Mayberry’s Sheriff was wooed by producers from Hollywood to make a movie titled “Sheriff Without A Gun.”

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

But the problem that the wingnuts are causing is far more serious than asinine analogies. Their criticisms have the dual risk of pressuring the President to divulge sensitive military plans, and emboldening the enemy by creating a false and dangerous impression of Obama as a weakling that they can easily overcome. How is that an expression of patriotism? Let’s face it, the right is more concerned with demonizing the President than they are with defeating ISIS, or with the welfare of our troops, or with national security in general. They are even more concerned with the color of his suit or whether he wears a tie. Gawd bless Amurca.

ISIS ENVY: Fox News Makes Every Enemy Of America The Worst Enemy Ever

It doesn’t take much time to notice that whenever America faces a new threat, it is immediately elevated to the most loathsome and horrifying threat that we have ever faced. The media, and especially the fear mongers at Fox News, work feverishly to instill the deepest sense of doom imaginable. That’s why Iraq was was said to be hoarding weapons of mass destruction that they never had. It’s why we were frantically warned against letting the nonexistent smoking gun become a mushroom cloud.

Today the enemy is ISIS. And, make no mistake, they are not your average, friendly, cornershop terrorists. But neither are they superhuman demons from another world who wield magical powers that we cannot resist. Nevertheless, the media is determined to create an army of monsters who will shortly be on our doorsteps wagging their tongues and tails at our virgin daughters.

Jon Stewart illustrated (video below) the absurdity of this cartoon characterization of these villains with a segment that contained clips from numerous news programs (mostly Fox) whose anchors were dripping with hysteria. They uttered the most cringe-worthy dread they could muster including that ISIS is…

“The most feared terrorists in the world…never seen anything like this…this is Al Qaeda times two…ISIS is pure evil…ISIS is like a cancer…looks like they’re unstoppable………..”

Stewart’s response to this parade of panic was simple yet profound: “You know it is **** like this that makes you almost regret us destabilizing the region in the first place.”

Among the abominations awaiting us is the allegation that ISIS has amassed great wealth and that “they learned how to self finance.” Resident Fox News alarmist K.T. MacFarland told Greta Van Susteren that “They’re thought to have roughly two billion in assets and cash,” and that makes them “not only the best-equipped military,” but “it makes them the richest.” MacFarland then declared that “Their goal is to bring the fight to America.”

For the record, there have been many abhorrent adversaries that America has had the misfortune to encounter. Among them the Nazis with their Final Solution, the Japanese and their Kamikazes, and our own national brothers in a civil war that is still the bloodiest conflict per capita in our history. And lest we forget the terrorist contenders that ISIS seems to have superseded, Al Qaeda. They were not exactly novices at the terror game. And even though Fox News, and other conservative Chicken Littles, have crowned ISIS the new leader in brutality and wealth with their two billion dollar nest egg, Osama Bin Laden had even more, courtesy of America’s Super Patriot, Ronald Reagan.

“In the 1980s, bin Laden left his comfortable Saudi home for Afghanistan to participate in the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the invading forces of the Soviet Union — a cause that, ironically, the United States funded, pouring $3 billion into the Afghan resistance via the CIA.”

Ronald Reagan / Osama Bin Laden

None of the above is meant to trivialize the very real dangers posed by ISIS, but it is important to remember that, despite their inhumane activities, they are as human as everyone else. They are not omnipotent, and they do not have capabilities greater than we have faced before. We defeated the Nazis who had the the strength and wealth of a nation behind them. They were also brutal and unbelievably savage, but they succumbed.

The United States, in concert with our allies, can defeat ISIS, and we can do it with our sanity in tact and without resorting to delusions of beastly foes from the depths of Hades. Of course for some of us, that will mean not watching any more Fox News, who spend half their time spinning ghastly fables, and the other half whining that our current leaders are inept and worse, are aligned with the enemy.

It takes a heap of anti-patriotic fervor to tell our enemies around the world that we are led by an incompetent whom they can easily outmaneuver. But that’s precisely what Republicans and right-wing media pundits are doing. Talk about emboldening the enemy.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

Scandal Monger Darrell Issa Returns To Fox News To Pitch New IRS E-Mail Lies

Since there is nothing else going on in the world, like terrorist armies marching through Syria and Iraq, or Russian convoys crossing into Ukraine, and since domestically the nation isn’t embroiled in controversies over unarmed black teenagers murdered by the police, or thousands of immigrant children suffering harsh conditions along the southern border, Fox News has found the free time time to entertain yet another fable about non-existent IRS emails that allegedly expose massive government corruption.

Darrell Issa Witch Hunter

Darrell Issa, chairman of the Laughing Stock Committee (aka the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), ventured into dangerously friendly territory last night when he was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. Van Susteren introduced Issa and before she could even ask a question he said:

“Good evening, Greta, and thank you for covering what’s emerging to be just an amazing sequence of cover-up, delay, denial, even what now appears to be a false statement from the new IRS commissioner in which he said he moved ‘heaven and Earth’ to get us Lois Lerner’s lost emails. And now we find out from the Judicial Watch that in fact they exist, but they simply haven’t been asked for. They’re too burdensome. They do exist. And we look forward to finding how the commissioner can say they don’t exist, when, in fact, they do.”

That was Issa’s opening remarks after Van Susteren said nothing more than “Good evening, sir.” Clearly Issa feels comfortable commandeering the program and delivering unchallenged monologues. Just as clearly he isn’t reticent about deliberately lying in order to advance a phony scandal that he has been hustling for years without producing any scrap of evidence. And as for his insistence that the emails do, in fact, exist – no Darrell, in fact they do not.

The “amazing sequence of cover-up” to which Issa is referring was fed to him by the right-wing Judicial Watch, who claimed to have received a “jaw-dropping” revelation in a conversation with an administration official. Judicial Watch president, Tom Fitton, alleged that “The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails.” However, when contacted for a response the administration flatly denied the charge saying that Judicial Watch’s statement was “off-base” and that Judicial Watch was “mischaracterizing what the government had said.” They continued…

“There is no newly divulged back-up system that was not previously known about,” the official said. “Government lawyers were simply referring to the back-up system at the IRS that Commissioner Koskinen had already disclosed.”

In other words, Judicial Watch failed to understand, or purposefully misconstrued, what they were told by the government official. Never mind that the White House had previously spoken to this issue and laid to rest any discrepancies. But that didn’t stop Judicial Watch from funneling their falsehoods to Issa, a willing participant in the Wingnut Deceit Brigade. Issa then hightails it to Fox News to insure that this lie gets the broadest distribution possible. And to make certain that it is widely dispersed, Fox also aired similar segments on at least two other programs, including their signature nightly news show with Bret Baier.

This is how the Conservative Media Circus whips up manufactured hysteria over phony scandals. The fake story is then blasted across the right-wing mediasphere with help from their partisan partners like Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Newsmax, National Review, Breitbart News, Townhall, NewsBusters, and the Koch brothers affiliated Washington Free Beacon. Before long a nation of gullible Tea Party waifs are refueled with high octane bullshit, destroying any hopes for intelligent, fact-based debate. Welcome to Rupert Murdoch’s America.

Fox News Imagines Another Covert Plot Against Rick Perry (And America) By George Soros

The folks at Fox News are on the case of yet another scheme by super-villain George Soros who seems to be at the helm of every evil deed that Fox stumbles over. This time they have dispatched Brent Bozell, founder and president of the uber-rightist media watch-mongrel, Media Research Center (MRC), to pull the curtain aside on the Soros machine and reveal that he is the puppet master behind the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Fox News Rick Perry

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Bozell’s op-ed for Fox News is titled “Mainstream media censors Soros’ connection to Rick Perry indictment.” He begins his bill of peculiars by alleging that the media has suppressed the truth about Texans for Public Justice (TPJ), the group that originally filed the complaint against Perry. Bozell claims that “the group responsible for that indictment had received a half million dollars” from Soros. However, there is a very good reason that the press failed to disclose this information: It isn’t true.

First of all, TPJ is not responsible for the indictment. They merely filed a complaint that would have been dismissed if it were without merit. It was the Grand Jury, impaneled by a Republican prosecutor who was appointed by a Republican judge, that brought the indictment. As usual, if Republicans are alleged to have broken a law it is always the fault of Democrats. That includes GOP governors Perry, Chris Christy, Scott Walker, Bob McDonnell, and Rick Scott. Detect a pattern there?

Secondly, TPJ never received $500,000 from George Soros. Since Bozell failed to cite his source for that allegation, I had to track it down myself. As it turns out it was reported by the Business & Media Institute (BMI), which just happens to be a division of Bozell’s MRC. Fancy that. BMI describes their mission as being “devoted solely to analyzing and exposing the anti-free enterprise culture of the media.” Searching further I did find a $500,000 donation from the Open Society Institute, which was founded by Soros, to a coalition of groups that came together to ensure that stimulus funds were well spent. From their press release

“The Open Society Institute today announced a $500,000 grant to groups in Texas to monitor stimulus spending, encourage public participation in state-level decisions, and advocate for an equitable distribution of recovery funds. [...] The coalition includes Texas Impact, Texans Together, the Sierra Club, Texas Legal Services, La Fe Policy Research and Education Center, Public Citizen, the Center for Public Policy Priorities and Texans for Public Justice.”

OK then, TPJ was the beneficiary of some amount of largess from Soros, but certainly not half a million dollars. Even if the donation was divided evenly among the members (unlikely because groups like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen are so much larger than TPJ), it would have amounted to only $62,500. It was intentionally dishonest for Bozell to imply that TPJ received the whole amount. Another detail that he left out was that this donation was made five years ago (November 2009). That was long before TPJ had filed its complaint against Perry and even before any of the issues cited in the complaint had occurred.

No objective person could conclude that an organization that received a small portion of a donation five years prior was still beholden to that donor. But Bozell implausibly proclaims that he “wasn’t in the least bit surprised to learn the Soros machine’s fingerprints were all over this brazen, partisan ploy. It’s what they do.” How Soros’ fingerprints got all over an event that took place many years after he made a donation can only be attributed to his well-known omnipotence and clairvoyant powers. Either that or Bozell’s well-known paranoia and aversion to the truth.

Bozell closed by saying that “In this case, the media have gone beyond mere bias and are complicit in the Soros machine’s scheme to take down a conservative leader.” And with that he comes full circle to branding the entire controversy as a Soros scheme. No longer is it a just a partisan ploy by democrats. Bozell has named the perpetrator and his accomplices in the media. And with the help of Fox News this delusional fabrication will become a fact in the minds of wingnuts across America.

Fox News Is The Conservative Daily Show, It Just Won’t Admit It’s A Joke

There is an article on Grantland by Brian Phillips that takes a look back at media satire on television. It focuses mainly on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, but mentions everything from Bob & Ray to Monty Python. It’s an interesting read, but this paragraph alone is worth the price of admission:

“Is it strange that, of all the current-events products currently on television, it’s often Fox News that feels most like a ‘Weekend Update’ bit? Critics are constantly asking why there’s no conservative Daily Show, but there is; it just won’t admit it’s a joke. The structure of Fox News is so deeply and basically comic that it’s impossible not to read it into the tradition of news satire. All those weeping paranoiacs! The fist-shaking curmudgeons! The gun-toting robo-blondes! Like ‘Weekend Update,’ Fox succeeded by taking the elements of a normal news broadcast and exaggerating them to ludicrous proportions. Only instead of Opera Man, it has Angry Immigration Crusader; instead of Mr. Subliminal, it has Jowly Operative Insinuating Things About Hillary Clinton’s Health; instead of Gay Hitler, it has Outmatched Token Liberal; instead of ‘Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead,’ it has Benghazi.”

Media Circus

Well said. And thanks to the wingnut brigade at NewsBusters for whining about this entertaining and accurate essay, without whom I probably would never have seen it.