04
Mon, Mar

Can We Find a Cure for the Infected Body Politic?

DYSFUNCTIONAL DEMOCRACY-Whether dealing with the human body or the body politic, comparable rules apply. If a threat of sickness and dysfunction is present in either system, look out. Whether it be the normal T-cell immune response to the invasion of the human body by foreign “infections” that cause disease or death if left unchecked, or if it involves the checks and balances immune response built into our Constitution to limit power, both instances involve the dismantling of normally functioning immune system responses. 

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Stop Saying That Muslims Invented Terrorism

VOICES--If right-wing pundits are to be believed, the recent tragic bombing of the Manchester Arena and this weekend's attack in London represent the latest episodes in a distinct form of violence previously unknown to Europe. The idea that terrorism is new to Europe overlooks a number of facts, not least that the very word was invented in France—terrorisme being associated with the Jacobins coming to power and the French State's subsequent Reign of Terror in the 1790s.

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Cosby Racially Targeted? That Pass Ran Out Long Ago

URBAN PERSPECTIVE--Disgraced entertainer Bill Cosby did the predictable when he screamed there was racial bias in the jury selection in his scheduled trial. This wasn’t the first time Cosby screamed racial foul play. He did it when he claimed there was a racial motive behind the dozens of women who claimed he drugged, raped and sexually abused them for years. Then there is the report that Cosby was peeved that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson won’t publicly defend him. This may or may not be true. But Cosby is friends with both the civil rights leaders. 

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Really, Who’s the Bigger Hate Monger?

THE COHEN COLUMN-A week or so ago we threw out the idea that someone should be selling Impeach Trump & Lock Him Up popcorn, all in a classic, bold red striped, scoop style popcorn box, seeing as how we are in for a series of must-watch investigative hearings on the Trump/Russian criminal conspiracy.

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Just Shut Up

BELL VIEW--Did you know that conservative voices are being silenced by the all-powerful PC thought police? Mike Pence is shunned by the Notre Dame Class of 2017; Betsy DeVos is booed at a historic black college in Florida; Ann Coulter is run out of town on a rail in Berkeley. Donald Trump complains about his historic bad press, while across the country his supporters cry that no one understands their pain. 

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The Real Meaning of Covfefe!

CORRUPTION WATCH-Finally, Trump has provided an answer to his bizarre turn of phrase, “covfefe.” As the world now knows, this is the last word in a midnight tweet by the Twit-in-Chief. It comes at the end of a prepositional phrase, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” 

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Who is the Real Leader of the Free World?

POLITICS-For the last three quarters of a century, the question, “Who is the leader of the Free World?” inevitably was answered by giving the name of the president of the United States. Since World War II, America’s leader -- Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and so on -- was viewed as the person in charge of the non-communist half of the globe. His counterpart in the bilateral world of yesteryear was the guy who ran the Kremlin. 

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Killing Children is Always Terrorism

HISTORICAL HYPOCRACY-Could somebody explain to me why the senseless unprovoked attack by one person (Salman Abidi) on an audience that included mainly innocent children at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England is designated as terrorism -- while ongoing government-sanctioned senseless unprovoked attacks on innocent children in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and elsewhere are not considered terrorism, but rather, "collateral damage?” 

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Montana Elects a Thuglican to Congress

THE COHEN COLUMN-The election results in the Montana special house race are in, and unfortunately the people of Montana did not know what kind of smiley face thug was running on the Republican side until it was too late, after most of them had mailed in their ballots.

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BOTUS and My Impeachment Popcorn

THE COHEN COLUMN--Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to run the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, is widely respected by both parties after more than 20 years at the forefront of U.S. law enforcement.

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Looking at Memorial Day Through 2017 Lens

GUEST WORDS--The United States is the most militarized and jingoistic nation on earth. Its foreign policy is guided by imperialist militarism, neoliberal capitalism and racial xenophobia. For more than sixteen years now, three presidential administrations have carried out a so-called “War on Terror” (GWOT), a perpetual state of war that is waged globally, under the depraved reasoning that “the world is a battlefield,” to quote investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. As demonstrated by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the GWOT is conducted through conventional warfare. More often, however, it is executed through covert or “dirty” wars, against groups and individuals in many other nations.

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Trump’s ‘Historic’ Visit to the Middle East: Much Ado about Nothing

TRUMP WATCH--Sadly, President Trump’s visit to the Middle East only confirmed my skepticism about what might come out of it. Trump went to the region with nothing to offer to mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and received no commitment from either Israeli or Palestinian leaders to resume the peace negotiations in earnest, but he received lots of platitudes and empty good-will gestures.

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Trump’s Immovable Base Gets Wobbly

HULLABALOO--Nate Silver makes a helpful observation about Donald Trump's allegedly immovable base: 

A widely held tenet of the current conventional wisdom is that while President Trump might not be popular overall, he has a high floor on his support. Trump’s sizable and enthusiastic base — perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the country — won’t abandon him any time soon, the theory goes, and they don’t necessarily care about some of the controversies that the “mainstream media” treats as game-changing developments.

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Science Committee Sends Trump a Letter: ‘Concerned Over His Dubious Scientific Sources’

TRUMP’S FAKE SCIENCE--Seven members of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology have submitted a letter to President Donald Trump expressing concern over his use of dubious scientific sources and calling for him to appoint a director to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In the letter, which was signed and submitted on Thursday, the representatives—all Democrats—referenced a Politico story published Monday, "How Trump Gets His Fake News," as the impetus for their statements. The story alleged that Trump's deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, had slipped the president two printouts of Time magazine covers—one, supposedly from the 1970s, predicting a coming ice age, and another, from 2008, about global warming—to convince him of media hypocrisy on the topic of global warming. The 1970s cover, Politico reported, was a fake and an Internet hoax. 

"Disseminating stories from dubious sources has been a recurring issue with your administration," the letter states. "You have a tool at your disposal in this regard, should you wish to make use of it, in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) which, under your administration, has been left largely unstaffed and without a director."

The Office of Science and Technology Policy was originally created informally under President John F. Kennedy Jr. to advise the White House on policies pertaining to science and technology (at the time, that included the NASA Moon Mission). It was later officially established under the 1976 National Science and Technology Policy, Organization, and Priorities Act.

The letter's writers urged Trump to appoint a director whose views represent "the broader scientific community." Until the department is adequately staffed, it continued, "we fear that you will continue to be vulnerable to misinformation and fake news."

(Katie Kilkenny is an associate editor at Pacific Standard, where she covers culture both online and in print. This report was posted first at Pacific Standard.

-cw

How to Recognize an Interactive Liar

THE COHEN COLUMN-Did you ever wonder why Trump thinks he can get away with constantly changing his story, at the extreme peril of exposing the untruth of what he said a month or a even just a day before?

I have already predicted that Trump is going down. How quickly that will happen, and all our lives depend on the speed of that, is a critical function of how many of you speak out and demonstrate that
you are speaking out.

OK, it's not just that Trump lies about everything; it's that his lies are constantly shifting, constantly contradicting each other.

Consider this direct recent quote, his response  to a question from a FOX News talking head about what was behind his threatening tweet suggesting there might exist "tapes" to embarrass Comey, so Comey better keep his mouth shut.

"All I want is for Comey to be honest, and I hope he will be, and I'm sure he will be, I hope." 

Did everyone pick up on what just happened here?

Does Trump hope that Comey will be honest, or is he sure that Comey will be honest? Or is he just hoping? Which is it, actually?

The correct and chillingly accurate answer is: neither.

What Trump is, is an interactive liar. In classic con man style he is constantly calibrating, and recalibrating his lies in the moment to his audience of the moment, based on his calculation of what they are most likely to buy. 

He watches your eyes, gauges your reaction, and adjusts, which is to say he lies over and again. The instant you stop buying it he will say something completely different. Just as he likely always did in his business negotiations. How is having a businessman as President working out, America?

What the quote above demonstrates most clearly is that he dynamically "tests" lies, trying to find the optimum and most effective lie for the particular audience in real time.

It had been observed that there was a lot of improvisation in Trump's campaign speeches, "riffing" some called it. But what he primarily improvises is a false reality.

It has to be true…doesn't it? Didn't we just hear the crowd roar?

This is why his campaign promises were all immediately worthless on the spot, as worthless as a diploma from Trump University. It was never about anything else but making a sale in the moment, assuming there ever was a specific promise you could pin down, even in the moment.

Trump is a performance liar. The memory hole is the next instant away. It is 1984 on speed dial.

I never said what you remember, he constantly claims. Even if he just said it, you heard him wrong, the situation has changed, whatever. All videotape and audio recorded evidence to the contrary he calls "fake news." We believe he actually considers lying a form of entertainment.

is motto should be: “Why tell the truth when a lie would do just as well?”

He will pile on phony and insincere compliments, only to call you the world's worst, most stupid, loser, bad person in the next breath, the instant you don't bend to his will. This is what he did to former FBI Director James Comey in particular, back and forth, back and forth. First, Comey is courageous, then he is a disgrace, then he is courageous again, then a disgrace again, an endless cycle, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam. And in the end he will condemn you for the very thing he praised you for earlier -- as Comey himself has so rudely just discovered.

“If the G.O.P.’s surrender to candidate Trump made exhortations about Republicans’ duty to their country seem like so much pointless verbiage, now President Trump has managed to make exhortation seem unavoidable again.

He has done so, if several days’ worth of entirely credible leaks and revelations are to be believed, by demonstrating in a particularly egregious fashion why the question of “fitness” matters in the first place

The presidency is not just another office. It has become, for good and bad reasons, a seat of semi-monarchical political power, a fixed place on which unimaginable pressures are daily brought to bear. It is the final stopping point for decisions that can lead very swiftly to life or death for people the world over.”

Those who voted against him recognized, or at least suspected, all of this already.

Those who did vote for him must hear these words, and let us pray, for all of our sakes, while there is still time for them to save themselves, that these people are still capable of discerning truth. Or as one former Apprentice contestant said, “…these shows are constructed. They don't happen, nor do they portray actual reality. They are constructed reality." Just like Trump.

“Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpitate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.

It is not squishy New York Times conservatives who regard the president as a child, an intellectual void, a hopeless case, a threat to national security; it is people who are self-selected loyalists, who supported him in the campaign, who daily go to work for him. All this, in the fourth month of his administration.”

Forward this message to everyone else you know.
But first, food for thought from some Facebook friends. 

1) “Donald Trump should start every morning with a tweet about what he is doing that day to help working-class Americans,” said Republican strategist Alex Conant. “Instead, his morning tweets make it clear how much the Russia story is distracting him and his White House.” 

(2) In your opinion, is Trump largely to blame for the matters that have distracted us from the issues, or is it mainly someone else's fault. As I have thought about this, Trump was supposed to be this tough businessman. But his constant whining about how people are saying bad things about him, and blaming others (the fake news media, etc.), isn't the way tough guys should be acting. Whenever a problem arises, you deal with it like a grown up, and not like the younger child who complains that his older siblings are picking on him.

 

(Michael N. Cohen is a former board member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, founding member of the LADWP Neighborhood Council Oversight Committee, founding member of LA Clean Sweep and occasional contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

The Wolf Who Cried Boy

RAPE AND RACE POLITICS-In a calculated and cynical move, Bill Cosby -- a person who shamed poor black people for not “acting right” in front of white people; who chastised us on behalf of Whiteness; who made fun of our particular customs, our particular situations, and our particular names; who told us to stop using racism as an excuse for our condition — is now claiming that racism is behind all of the rape allegations against him.  And he’s claiming that to solidify the support of the very same black communities he spent a great deal of time berating. 

This is the definition of crafty. He knows our history and the history of the country. He knows that there is a horrific praxis amongst white people to falsely accuse black people of crimes we didn’t in no ways commit. There is a peculiar, sordid, and long-standing practice of white women falsely accusing black men of rape.  

Cosby is hoping to bank on this brutal history and use it as cover to cast doubt on his own crimes. I mourn that decision because of the confusion and chaos it will cause for black people who are actually innocent, who were actually falsely accused, whose innocence will be doubted even further because a clearly guilty person has misused a historical reality for his own benefit --  a historical reality he spent a good chunk of public speeches denying. 

And there is one huge detail that Cosby and others find themselves overlooking: not all of his victims are white women. 

There are a number of black women, including famous black women like Beverly Johnson, who have come forward with stories of being victimized by Cosby. 

Yes. We live in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty. And in a rape culture, rape is one of the hardest crimes to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We are always looking to somehow blame the victim and absolve the rapist because consent is an abhorrent concept to the imperial mind; and this is, in all ways, an imperial nation. 

Please keep in mind that over 50 women have come forward. 

OVER. 50. 

If there’s more than 50 who came forward, the statistics say that there’s probably more than 100 who didn’t. Now isn’t the time to hold onto myths and symbols. Now isn’t the time to give in to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Now is the time to consider that Cosby’s sole black woman attorney quit, probably because she found her conscience. 

Now is not the time to be a fool. 

Now is the time to be a witness. 

(Son of Baldwin: To the tick-tock and you don’t stop. Writing for my life. And perhaps yours. Disturbing the peace in order to find it. No sleep ’til Crooklyn. Let’s get free. This piece originated in The Medium.com.)  Prepped for CityWatch buy Linda Abrams.

-cw

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