Category Archives: media

Press freedom

My take on the latest uproar

The brat (my word) in the Whitehouse has decided that we need to be “protected” from terrorists native to countries that have never perpetrated a mass attack on anyone in the US.  His ban on those from 7 countries in the Middle East and Africa (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) is the first step to a complete ban on all Muslims (unconstitutional).  Just give him time.  Along the way, he sows disrespect  for our justice system on Twitter by attacking judges whose opinions or decisions cross him.

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The Donald is always right, never wrong about anything he on which chooses to have an opinion.   If only he had some real knowledge to back up those tweets! What does he know about those countries, their histories, their cultures?  Does he really think that because a person is a Muslim, that person is “bad”?  Does he understand that no one in the US has been killed by any person from those 7 countries?

More twitter tantrum on judge Robart’s original decision:

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“Ridiculous” to try to protect the separation of Powers outlined in the Constitution? And why is Trump having fearful nightmares about “bad people” who do not, in fact, pose a threat?  Women and children threatening?  Our “President” has a bad case of paranoia based on little but scare mongering pushed by Breitbart, Fox News, and the Drudge Report.  We do not make America GREAT by showing the extent of our fears to the world, and lashing out against anyone who disagrees with the man a few of us elected to the Presidency.

 

ETHICS?

What ethics?  Trump’s “newsconference” proves, as if there were any doubt, that he has no idea of ethics.  He’s the spoiled child who insists on having his cake and eating it too, both the Presidency and his business, all for the glory of Trump, and to the sorrow of all those Americans who thought he would be their savior.  Seems to me that he would rather have his business than be President, and it may possibly happen that he will get his choice.  How long will Americans put up with the kind of childish behavior he showed on Wednesday – piles of papers so we’d see how impossibly complicated divestiture would be for him, a baseless attack on a CNN reporter, and an imported audience of employees who cheered and applauded like those at his rallies.  Not all of us are stupid enough to be fooled.

It wouldn’t hurt to remember the history lessons we once knew about state sponsored propaganda and the kinds of skepticism needed when approaching performances like Trump’s Wednesday news conference.  I wonder if it will be as easy or easier even to stage such performances once in the Whitehouse.  Common sense says we’d best be on our guard against manipulation by TV performance by a man who is something of an expert showman and manipulator.

 

Libya, the blunder

The Globalist today had an essay by Hardeep Puri who was President of the UN Security Council in August 2011 and November 2012.  He pins responsibility for the present mess in Libya on feelings of guilt in the West over its inaction in Rwandan genocide in 1994 during Bill Clinton’s Presidency.  The use of military force was supposed to rid the country of Libya of a terrible dictator and protect the people from his supposedly brutal treatment of his population.  There was no government structure as the west might recognize such.  Gaddifi was all there was.  This was to be “humanitarian regime-change”, at least that was how it was sold.  And the result?

The result is out there for the world to helplessly watch – a desperate migration crisis leaving hundreds of thousands of refugees either dead or deserted, and an unraveling country overrun by mercenaries, militia, and the world’s worst nightmare today – the ISIS – with a paralyzed government at the apex.

Whether the West likes it or not, there is a reason the Libyan “mad dog” managed to rule the country for 42 years. The articulation of pro-Gaddafi sentiment and demonstrations in what’s left of Libya testify exactly to that.

Our adventure in Iraq has taught us nothing, and sadly, it could still be true that we will sell ourselves on the idea humanitarian “rescue” of a country we do not understand.

Censorship?

I visited the website of Aljazeera English this morning, and discovered something that surprised me.  The live videos I used to watch in order to learn a different point of view of what was happening in the Middle East are blocked and can’t be watched from America.  Why?  What for? By whom?  If I go to america.aljazeera.com the videos I want to see aren’t there – at least I didn’t find them.  I did find some reports on Iraq, though, that were infinitely better than anything I’ve seen at the New York Times or the Washington Post, both of seem to be just echoing the administration or the neocon lines.

I can still read the reports at Aljazeera English, so I guess maybe I shouldn’t panic, but it sure was odd and a bit creepy to have this box or something like it pop up with each video:

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I have been so short of time to spend on this blog, or doing the research of Middle East happenings that I’ve been doing for so long that others may well have picked this up long before I ever found it.  It makes me feel that the talk of the loss of our freedoms here in the US, is not at all just talk.  What’s happened to freedom of information?  What else are they trying to hide?  What’s happened to the media in this country?

Decision time

It’s coming soon now.  Next week we will have the votes in Congress that determine to a large extent whether the US attacks Syria or not.  The administration has certainly been trying its best to stir up support both at home and abroad without a great deal of success.  The media seems to be behind Senator McCain’s pro-war, pro-rebel stand to a great extent, but the larger public keeps saying, “no”.  Little of the mainstream media is skeptical of this possible effort, and the reports that cast doubt on Administration propaganda are mostly ignored.  If the President decided to  wait for a Congressional decision, he doesn’t seem to have wanted to use it to change his mind, which I hoped for at one point.  This morning’s New York Times talks of air raids by US and French planes as well as the missiles to “degrade” Assad’s ability even more.  That would mean even more civilian casualties, death, and destruction than there has been already.  I fail to see how such a plan would deter the Assad regime from the path it is already on.  If it is true, that the regime feels itself as backed into a dire corner between life and death, as I believe it does, it is bound to choose its own survival by whatever means.  Nothing much that the West can do aside from wiping the slate clean as in Iraq, will have much effect.  All sides in this fight have been incredibly brutal, and to pick one as the incarnation of evil is to misread the people involved and the facts on the ground.

The article also contains this statement:

“They are being pulled in two different directions,” a senior foreign official involved in the discussions said Thursday. “The worst outcome would be to come out of this bruising battle with Congress and conduct a military action that made little difference.”

I think that’s what’s likely to happen anyway, no matter what John McCain and the hawks say. The President has not seemed to want another war, and has tried to reassure people about no boots on the ground.   That doesn’t mean he can’t be dragged into more agression.  Once begun, military action of any kind has been rather self-perpetuating.  If the military action makes little difference, it might cause an uproar here at home among the war party, but it will not change the ultimate outcome in Syria, even if there are cries for more attacks.  The Syrians themselves have to sort out what is to become of them.  Whoever or whatever caused the deaths by poison gas, our entry into a local civil war will not change the ultimate resolution on the ground.  Morality has nothing to do with this other than as a propaganda tool.

Nothing we did in Iraq turned the country into that shining example of democracy that President Bush promised.  It only served to make most Iraqis detest us for the foreseeable future.

Secrecy and Fear

I’ve just finished reading Peter Maass’ fine piece in the New York Times on Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden.  It is at once terrifying and awe inspiring.  It is also a fairly accurate diagnosis of what the fear mongering of the Bush era and since has done to whatever was left of American civil liberties.  Government suppression of information about its questionable true activities have reached some kind of a nadir in a long history of secrecy and coverups beginning with Vietnam, and perhaps long before then.  That American citizens should be forced to go to such extreme lengths to provide the public exposure of government wrongdoing is very scary indeed.  It makes me feel as though I should be investigating ways of securing myself against the kinds of intrusion that Poitras and Greenwald have been subjected to, as well as the much more severe retaliation against Snowden and Manning and who knows how many others.  The brutality of war has infected all the security branches of our government, to the point at which the government itself becomes the enemy of every citizen who wishes to live in a democratic country that values the freedoms of speech, assembly, and of the press that it brags about to the world but does not practice.

And as an aside, the embassy shut downs have been called off, except for Yemen, and not one thing has happened to any of our embassies or foreign service personnel.  How strange!