FRIDAY, FADING STARLET BARRY O HELD ONE OF HIS RARE PRESS CONFERENCES. THE REVIEWS ARE IN ON THAT PRODUCTION AND THEY AREN'T RAVES.
"And before we go further, let's make one thing real damn clear: No one gave Barack the right to rule on who is or who is not a patriot. With his education in Indonesia, I doubt he can name and explain many patriots in American history to begin with but he abuses his office when he starts issuing decrees on which living citizen is or is not a patriot and he needs to be told to shut his mouth. Should Ed return to the US (of his own accord or due to rendition), he would then go on trial. Barack's remarks are prejudicial and need to stop immediately. He needs to shut his mouth." -- C.I., THE COMMON ILLS.
"By observing Obama's condescension, I don't mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions." -- CONOR FRIEDERSDORFT, THE ATLANTIC.
"He sort of announced a four-point plan to have a four-point plan. The details are kind of to come." -- RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST.
"A petulant Barack Obama finally held a press conference Friday. It was brief and it was a joke and, most of all, it existed in a world where honest questioning was apparently forbidden." -- AVA AND C.I., THE THIRD ESTATE SUNDAY REVIEW.
"From the moment he emerged at the White House press conference today, President Obama had a visible chip on his shoulder, apparently annoyed that facing growing public outrage over the NSA surveillance schemes he had to make public promises of reforms." -- JASON DITZ, ANTIWAR.COM.
"The modest reforms Obama proposed do not begin to address the fundamental question of whether we want the National Security Agency to log all of our phone calls and read at least some of our emails, relying on secret judicial orders from a secret court for permission. The president indicated he is willing to discuss how all this is done -- but not whether." -- EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST.
"Obama's claim that the debate would have happened absent Snowden's revelations is . . . laughable." -- GLENN GREENWALD, THE GUARDIAN.
"President Obama, who seems to think the American people simply need some reassurances that their privacy rights are intact, proposed a series of measures on Friday that only tinker around the edges of the nation's abusive surveillance programs." -- NEW YORK TIMES' EDITORIAL BOARD.
"President Obama putting Clapper in charge of the #NSA commission *that reports back to Clapper* is a giant F**k You to America." -- WIL WHEATON.
"Barack Obama held a press conference on Friday afternoon, supposedly to announce reforms of the NSA's far-flung surveillance programs. In reality, the White House briefing was the start of a marketing campaign for the spy programs that have turned so controversial in recent months. And the president's message really boiled down to this: It's more important to persuade people surveillance is useful and legal than to make structural changes to the programs." -- SHANE HARRIS, FOREIGN POLICY.
"He's talking about the need for an orderly process and debate, this is the fifth year of his presidency and there has been no effort not only to undertake an orderly process and review until now but also there's been no oversight by Congress. And when Congress has tried to do oversight, the Executive Branch has actively stonewalled that effort. The administration has not been forthcoming about responses to tough Congressional questions and when members of Congress have asked the Director of National Intelligence direct questions, he has lied to Congress on the record and we have the smoking gun evidence. How is it that Edward Snowden is appropriately prosecuted when senior executive officials are lying to the American people. Those are the criminals, not the whistle-blowers conscientiously trying to reveal to the American public the abuses being committed to us en mass in our name using our tax dollars. I think the president has it absolutely wrong here -- both about Edward Snowden and I think it's striking that he's not mentioning that some of his senior officials are apparently criminals and should face appropriate prosecution." -- SHADID BUTTAR (BILL OF RIGHTS DEFENSE COMMITTEE) (NOTED HERE).
IT'S NO SURPRISE, THERFORE, THAT BARRY O HAS RETREATED TO MARTHA'S VINEYARD WHERE HE REMAINS HIDDEN FROM MOST OF THE PRESS IN WHAT IS HIS LEAST PRESS COVERED TRIP TO THE ISLAND.
THESE REPORTERS CAUGHT UP WITH BARRY O AS HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO POACH LOBSTERS BY STEALING THEM FROM TRAPS. "LILLIAN HELMAN WOULD BE DOING THE SAME THING IF SHE WERE STILL ALIVE," INSISTED BARRY O. "I'M AN ARTIST!"
AS HE BEGAN TO WEEP, BARRY O EXPLAINED THE PRESS CONFERENCE WAS "A PERFORMANCE ART PIECE THAT REVEALED MY INNER MOST BEING. IT WAS MY VAGINA MONOLOGUES BUT WHEN I SAID THAT TO MICHELLE, SHE SHOT BACK, 'TRY ASSHOLE MONOLUGE.' SHE CAN BE SO CRUEL. IT'S WHY I NEEDED OUTSIDE VALIDATION BUT THEN TO BE PUMMELED IN REVIEWS -- DON'T PEOPLE KNOW HOW SENSITIVE I AM, HOW I SUFFER, HOW FRAGILE I AM, HOW --"
BARRY O STEPPED ASIDE AS THE SECRET SERVICE HANDED HIM A PHONE. RETURNING, HE EXPLAINED THAT HE'D JUST KILLED "A DOZEN OR SO" INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN A DRONE STRIKE AND ASKED, "WHERE WAS I? OH, RIGHT, I AM FRAGILE AND SENSITIVE. THERE WAS A TIME WHEN SO MANY AMERICANS PUT MY NEEDS FIRST, AS THEY SHOULD. WHERE DID THEY GO?
SIGHING, BARRY O CONCLUDED, "THAT'S REALLY WANT TO ASK: AMERICA, YOU USED TO PUT MY NEEDS FIRST, ABOVE ALL ELSE. WHY DID YOU STOP? DON'T YOU STILL LOVE ME?"
BARRY O TOSSED TWENTY LOBSTERS TO THE SECRET SERVICE TO CARRY AND THEN HE AND HIS ENTOURAGE DISAPPEARED.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Starting with Bradley Manning who's facing possible life in prison and wondering what do you say to Michael Wolff's nonsense for USA Today? Last night, Wolff wrote a column declaring Brad "a woman caught inside a man's body" and whining:
The media, too, seems flustered, faced with a story clearly beyond its psychological range.
Manning's hardly hidden gender evolution is a riveting fact and a dramatic character conflict; yet, at a moment in media time when it often seems that no personal detail is too personal, it remains an elephant in the room.
Richard Cohen (Washington Post) has been under attack fo addressing, in light of media coverage of a politician's marriage and the chest thumping why-does-she-stay question, the fact that he had always assumed he would walk if cheated on but things worked out differently. Richard's been trashed for that column because (a) as a society, we tend to trash those who don't walk out (the anger over wives standing by their politician husband confessing to having an affair or being gay or whatever goes to that) and (b) as a society, we're appalled anyone would admit to being cheated on without being forced to (especially a man who has stayed in the marriage).
But Richard wrote about his own experience. You can disagree or not with his intent to stay in his marriage but to pretend the column makes no sense (in terms of why he wrote it) is beyond stupid. Columnists use their personal lives all the time to attempt to navigate and explore current media obsessions.
Had Michael Wolff's column been his confessing to his own gender confusion, it might have made some sense. But that's not what the column's about.
Unlike Richard Cohen, Michael Wolff's the one who should be trashed. How does a column so stupid get waived into print?
And reading it, I'm questioning more than Wolfe's pruriency. There's a tone in the column tied to Wolff's beliefs about Brad -- a tone that really comes through when he Tweets about the article:
Strange? Unnatural, you mean?
If Brad or anyone feels they were born into the wrong gender and are actually the other gender, that's not "strange" or anything to mock and if you're too immature to deal with it then that reflects only on you.
Wolff's entire pose is stupid and insulting. It's a mystery to self-presenting media expert and critic that the press isn't running with the story?
Doug is confused about gender or was confused about gender or knows he is a woman born in the wrong body -- those are three different stories. In addition, another story might be Doug's enjoys role playing a woman. There are many scenarios here.
The press would cover it when?
While Doug is alive, they'd really need to speak to Doug or else be at risk of a lawsuit. If, for example, Doug had been confused about gender and -- either on his own or in therapy -- worked through his issues and the press said he was a woman trapped inside a man's body, he'd have the grounds for a winning lawsuit because not only had the press mischaracterized him (while never speaking to him about this issue) but a judge would rightly feel that the press had also trampled onto an area that should have been off limits to press speculation unless Doug had raised the issue (which he hadn't).
Brad has not spoken to the court or the press about this issue. Taking the word of his parents - of any parents -- on such an issue would still be an iffy reason to lead with this as a story but in Brad's case, his mother has made one statement to the press (supporting her son) which didn't touch on any of Wolff's 'concerns' and his father hasn't commented.
Where is the basis to run with this in coverage? There is none. In the pre-court-martial proceedings, Brad's attorney David E. Coombs made a brief, fumbled remark. In closing arguments, Coombs raised it again. The remarks provided no clarity as to where Brad was then or if he continues to remain there now.
Brad was 22-years-old when the US government tossed him behind bars. He had already had a difficult life. A father who (at least then) did not want a son to be gay was only one issue he was dealing with. In addition to not having Brad address this subject to the court or to the press, what Wolfe wants emphasized lacks clarity in terms of were whatever thoughts that took place fleeting, were they firm convictions, were they a response to stress or to issues around being gay (when at least one parent has a very negative view of same-sex attraction)?
It's amazing what Wolff will talk about when you consider all that he and the press are avoiding. Let's deal with the facts:
Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December. At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial. Bradley has yet to enter a plea. The court-martial was supposed to begin before the November 2012 election but it was postponed until after the election so that Barack wouldn't have to run on a record of his actual actions. Independent.ie adds, "A court martial is set to be held in June at Ford Meade in Maryland, with supporters treating him as a hero, but opponents describing him as a traitor." February 28th, Bradley admitted he leaked to WikiLeaks. And why.
Bradley Manning: In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.
July 30th, Brad was pronounced guilty by Colonel Denise Lind of multiple charges and the trial is now in the sentencing phase.
Michael Wolff doesn't want to talk about counter-insurgency. The press doesn't want to explore that. Wolff would rather write a lurid column -- treating fairly natural possibilities as 'shocking' -- than to explore the US government's methods of tricking and harming residents of a country they're supposedly liberating.
The basic message of counter-insurgency is: We value the rights and liberties of those of you who will bow to our will but those of you who think you can have a say in your country are going to be targeted. That's my interpretation of counter-insurgency and it was the left interpretation for decades. It's only in the '00s that the left bends over backwards to act as if counter-insurgency isn't taking place. By that time, it's leading proponents include Harvard's Carr Center and Samantha Power and questioning counter-insurgency requires more fortitude than some can apparently manage. Which is too bad because counter-insurgency is why Brad went public (his revulsion of it) and, guess what, it's also why he was sent to Iraq to begin with.
David Dishneau (AP) reports on today's sentencing phase proceedings:
Manning's brigade commander, Col. David Miller, testified the 2nd Brigade's 10th Mountain Division deployed in late 2009 with 10 to 15 percent fewer intelligence analysts than the authorized number. But Miller denied feeling any pressure to take soldiers who should not have deployed.
"In a counterinsurgency fight, you can always use more," he said.
But no one wants to talk counter-insurgency. At least not the press in this country. Last year, Adam Curtis (BBC News) filed a very thorough report on counter-insurgency:
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