And so the predictable corporate media takedown of Bernie Sanders begins…

We saw it with David Norris here in Ireland in 2011, when the Irish mainstream media took a letter of clemency the progressive candidate wrote 10 years previously as an excuse to associate his name with the word “pedophilia” on virtually a daily basis until he withdrew from the campaign.

It happened to Jeremy Corbyn from the moment he became the Leader of the Labour Party in 2015, with the tactics remaining more or less the same (although much of the attacks came from within his own party) although you can replace the word “pedophilia” with “Antisemitism” and it contributed greatly to an embarrassing election defeat last December

Now with Bernie Sanders showing himself to be leading the polls in Iowa, CNN is doing it to him, just a day before the last Democratic debate before the first caucus takes place.

The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren’s apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018. The longtime friends knew that they could soon be running against each other for president. The two agreed that if they ultimately faced each other as presidential candidates, they should remain civil and avoid attacking one another, so as not to hurt the progressive movement. They also discussed how to best take on President Donald Trump, and Warren laid out two main reasons she believed she would be a strong candidate: She could make a robust argument about the economy and earn broad support from female voters. Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win.

Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren in private 2018 meeting that a woman can’t win, sources say
MJ Lee, CNN.com

The key words in the above quote are in the headline – “sources say”. To be fair to CNN, they at least tack them on, although being at the end, they could well be ignored. There is certainly nothing in the opening passage of the article itself to suggest that they are second (third? fourth?) hand reports of a private conversation.

As you can see, MJ Lee categorically states at the end of the quote : “Sanders responded that he did not believe a woman could win.”

They do include a response from Sanders himself, albeit halfway down the page :

“It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”

They do walk it back slightly today, quoting Warren herself who claims : ‘I thought a woman could win; he disagreed‘. An important distinction, yes? That immediately throws into question how this exchange was interpreted. HOW did he show his disagreement, Senator Warren? Did he actually say “I disagree”? Did he actually say something along the lines of “I do not believe a woman can win”? Or, as I suspect, did he happen to be shaking his head right after you said “I think a woman can win”? That COULD suggest disagreement, but it could also suggest he was shaking his head while forming his thoughts. We don’t know.

Whatever the strategically planted attempts to be ‘fair’, there is no doubt that the overwhelming slant of these articles is that there is a suggestion that “misogynist” is to Sanders as “antisemite” supposedly was to Corbyn (you hear nothing about it now he has said he’s stepping down as leader) and “pedophile” supposedly was to Norris (he’s still a Senator!).

The Young Turks, who are Bernie backers, offer this take on the story :

All of this leads me to believe that Bernie shouldn’t be the nominee, but only because I fear that if that were the case, the US corporate media would then consider Trump the lesser of two “evils” and continue to give the president’s rhetoric infinite free air time much as they did in 2016.

Since I primarily want that orange moron out of the White House, and it seems that the Democrat darling is Joe Biden, I would probably be supportive although I reckon it would be a smart move to nominate Warren as his VP, while publicly promising to adopt some of the progressive platform in the first term as a sweetener.

I would be satisfied with such an arrangement, although my ideal choice would have to be Bernie. It’s just a shame that the only reason not to have a Progressive government is that the corporations wouldn’t be agreeable. Even if it’s not in my lifetime, I hope a day will come whereby their objections won’t matter. JLP

Trump’ hypocrisy (and Fox News’ effectiveness) exposed in one of his shortest tweets of 2019

We returned to blogging yesterday as part of a New Year’s Resolution to post more often about Irish politics, but of course that doesn’t mean we’re just going to ignore the US President altogether!

Even the fleas on the dogs in the street know that when the US Senate eventually gets around to having a trial on Trump’s Impeachment, he’s going to be “acquitted”, mostly because of the extremely high bar of 67 out of 100 votes required to do so.

Another thing we all know is that Trump is going to Lord it over everyone once that happens. He will see himself to have moved on, to be fully exonerated, and if anyone should bring up the subject again, they are nothing but sore losers. Anyone who has followed his twitter account over the past few years will know this will be his way of thinking.

With that inevitability being established, let us consider his way of thinking in the above tweet. It was originally posted as a follow-up to one where he essentially praised himself for the way the storming of the American Embassy in Baghdad was handled by the US troops. This message was a little sting in the tail to serve as “red meat for his base”, so let’s explore his premise shall we.

There were a total of TEN investigations into the 2012 terrorist attack on the US government facility in Benghazi, Libya, but by far the most significant was Trey Gowdy’s one for the House Select Committee, which ran for two years and included over 8 hours of tesitmony by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All suspicions that the investigation was a political exercise (witch hunt???) were confirmed by Republican congressman (and current House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy when he said on Fox :

 “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

Investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack

Although the exhaustive investigations did find areas where the government departments could have performed better, there were no conclusive findings of serious wrongdoings against anyone, including Clinton. Or to put it another way, she was EXONERATED.

Yet here we have the President still referring to it (sidenote – on his first attempt at the tweet he spelled Benghazi wrong) and thanks to years of Fox News constantly finding infinite different ways to brainwash their viewers into believing “Benghazi > Death of US soldiers > Hillary’s fault” regardless of the actual findings, it still proves an effective weapon for him today.

Since he is so keen to invoke the Benghazi situation, perhaps that means he himself is willing to testify about Ukraine before the Senate? And since his current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also a leading figure in Gowdy’s committee, he should be more than willing to do the same?

I won’t hold my breath. And while Trump’s ability to get away with blatant hypocrisy is indeed scary, I’d be much more worried about the role of Fox News in this narrative.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Trump is making up his foreign policy as he goes along

THE ISSUE

The current crisis between the US and Iran was created by Trump so no matter what he does about it, the whole situation was totally unnecessary and it’s clear that his is in way over his head when it comes to foreign policy.

THE MEDIA

Article by Makini Brice in Reuters.com on Monday, June 24, 2019

Trump says other countries should do more to protect oil tankers

Trump made the comments amid an escalation in tensions with Iran, as Washington has blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers

THE COMMENT

I’m certainly not going to pretend to be anything of a foreign policy expert, but the situation regarding Iran and it’s capacity to make nuclear weapons appears to be very simple.

Few agreements are perfect, even fewer international treaties are.  This is because thrashing them out involves compromise.

Whether or not Trump appreciates this, his viewpoint has always been that the JPCOA, negotiated by Obama and the international community was a ‘disaster’, mostly because he doesn’t trust them to hold up their side of the bargain.

So he pulled the US out of the agreement and increased sanctions not only on Iran, but also on anyone doing business with them, yet all the while still holding them to their side of the agreement he ripped up???

Before any of the events of the past week, the situation was already absurd, all due to Trump’s own actions.

Now as he makes the sanctions even tighter, it comes at no surprise that the Iranian equivalent of John Bolton is going to have an itchy trigger finger and thus we have seen an attack on a Japanese vessel as well as the shooting down of an unmanned US drone.

Now we’re expected to think the POTUS is some kind of hero because he pulls out of planned retaliation at the last minute???  Then he tells Chuck Todd that the only thing he wants from Iran is ‘No Nuclear Weapons’ only to add ‘Stop terror campaigns’ in a tweet a couple of days later?

Now a whole week after the attack on the Japanese vessel all of a sudden he’s whining about having to protect the shipping lanes????

I know I’m no expert on foreign policy, but I didn’t seek election and I certainly didn’t do so by telling everyone I could make the situation better.  He has made it abundantly clear that he hasn’t a clue.

#IANWAE

The real reason the US political establishment is ganging up on Rep Ilhan Omar

THE ISSUE

Despite being a congresswoman for just a few months, both major US political parties are pushing a narrative that Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota is unworthy of her position.

THE MEDIA

“You have to wonder if she is an American first”

Brian Kilmeade, Fox News

THE COMMENT

I’m sharing this Young Turks video not to highlight the actions of Fox News, more to point out that it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to elite opposition to Congresswoman Omar.

Nobody who has watched Fox News with a critical eye will be surprised by the blatant spin presented in the above video – Omar’s words are taken wildly out of context.

The Washington Post also did a good job in this video putting her words into the proper context…

But Rupert Murdoch’s right wing spin factory is not the only source of this misrepresentation, and her statement referenced here is far from the only example.

She was recently attacked for remarks she made that referenced AIPAC, a powerful lobby group that represents the Jewish-American community.

Again, whatever side of the issue you might be on, we have to wonder why her words were so blatantly taken out of context, not only by Fox News and Republican politicians, but also by the leadership of the Democrat Party and most significantly, the mainstream media.

It’s not as though the CNNs and MSNBCs are normally shy when it comes to playing clips of quotes when it suits them.  For example, how many times has Trump’s infamous ‘grab them by the pussy’ line been given airtime?  Seems to be at least once or twice a week even now.

Yet Congresswoman Omar’s quote, in which she clearly referred to herself when the entire passage is taken in context, was frequently branded as ‘Anti Semitic’ on political panels without her actual statement being played.

It took a comedienne to do what the broadcasters couldn’t…

Why the widespread revulsion against Omar?

Is it because she is Muslim?  Is it because the Washington establishment is genuinely concerned that she does not put ‘America first’?  Is it because they really do believe she is anti-Semitic?

None of the above, as far as I’m concerned.  I believe the push against is all about one of her first appearances on the House Foreign Relations Committee.

One of the principle consequences of the 2018 Midterms was that although the House was won back by the Democrats, the Progressive caucus was so strong that Nancy Pelosi had to make several concessions to guarantee that she returned to the Speaker role.

Among those concessions was the placement of prominent Progressives on key House committees like Intelligence, Judiciary, Ways and Means and in Omar’s case, Foreign Relations.

When she had one of her first opportunities to ask questions at a hearing, it was to none other than Elliott Abrams, who was involved in many questionable foreign incursions by the US in the past, and has now been appointed as President Trump’s ‘special envoy’ for Venezuela.

OMAR: On February 8, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about U.S. policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda reports about the massacre at El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping a 12-year-old girl, girls, before they killed them. You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a “fabulous achievement.” Yes or no, do you still think so?

I haven’t taken the time to check all of the congressional records since 1982 (or mainstream media interviews for that matter) but I’ll bet anything that Abrams hasn’t asked a question like this publicly in that time.

That is why Omar is being so blatantly smeared; the ‘Military Industrial Complex’, a major donor for prominent politicians from both parties, do not want questions like that asked in a public forum.  In fact, the President himself gave the game away in one of his attacks on her “She should resign from Congress, or at least from the committee.” (paraphrase).

Just to be clear, I’m not 100% aware of Omar’s politics, but when anyone is taken so wildly out of context it needs to be pointed out.

#IANWAE