Later On

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Some comedy is timeless, some comedy is of a time

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Some comedy plays well decades after it was first born. Example:

Other comedy, though still enjoyable, has a more nostalgic appeal: still good, but of another era. Example:

Buster Keaton’s The General belongs more to the first category than the second, IMO. (The link is Prime steaming from Amazon.)

This is all stimulated by this fascinating article about the 100 jokes that shaped modern comedy.

There’s also this wonderful bit:

Modern? or nostalgia?

UPDATE: I love Tom Lehrer:

Written by LeisureGuy

1 February 2016 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Comedy, Media

The deep state is very thin-skinned and very aggressive in response.

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Much like Donald Trump, in fact, but with real power. Take a look at this report by Kari Paul in Motherboard:

Barely a month after his appointment, security reseasrcher and former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani is leaving his post as a White House senior advisor, apparently unable to get security clearance from the US government.

Government officials have not commented on the nature of Soltani’s departure, or why he was not cleared—a White House spokesperson merely told The Guardian’sDanny Yardon that “his detail has ended”—but many have speculated it is due to his work reporting on documents leaked by former NSA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. . .

Continue reading. And do read it: it quite clearly demonstrates what mindset now has power in the US. Indeed, the candidacies can be viewed as meme-matrices competing directly.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2016 at 1:49 pm

The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition

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Glenn Greenwald comments in The Intercept:

The British political and media establishment incrementally lost its collective mind over the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the country’s Labour Party, and their unravelling and implosion shows no signs of receding yet. Bernie Sanders is nowhere near as radical as Corbyn: they are not even in the same universe. But, especially on economic issues, Sanders is a more fundamental, systemic critic than the oligarchical power centers are willing to tolerate, and his rejection of corporate dominance over politics, and corporate support for his campaigns, is particularly menacing. He is thus regarded as America’s version of a far-left extremist, threatening establishment power.

 For those who observed the unfolding of the British reaction to Corbyn’s victory, it’s been fascinating to watch the DC/Democratic establishment’s reaction to Sanders’ emergence replicate that, reading from the same script. I personally think Clinton’s nomination is extremely likely, but evidence of a growing Sanders movement is unmistakable. Because of the broader trends driving it, this is clearly unsettling to establishment Democrats – as it should be.A poll last week found that Sanders has a large lead with millennial voters, including young women; as Rolling Stone put it: “young female voters support Bernie Sanders by an expansive margin.” The New York Times yesterday trumpeted that, in New Hampshire, Sanders “has jumped out to a 27 percentage point lead,” which is “stunning by New Hampshire standards.” The Wall Street Journal yesterday, in an editorial entitled “Taking Sanders Seriously,”declared it is “no longer impossible to imagine the 74-year-old socialist as the Democratic nominee.”

Just as was true for Corbyn, there is a direct correlation between the strength of Sanders and the intensity of the bitter and ugly attacks unleashed at him by the DC and Democratic political and media establishment. There were, roughly speaking, seven stages to this establishment revolt in the UK against Corbyn, and the U.S. reaction to Sanders is closely following the same script:

STAGE 1: Polite condescension toward what is perceived to be harmless (We think it’s really wonderful that your views are being aired).

STAGE 2: Light, casual mockery as the self-belief among supporters grows (No, dears, a left-wing extremist will not win, but it’s nice to see you excited).

STAGE 3: Self-pity and angry etiquette lectures directed at supporters upon realization that they are not performing their duty of meek surrender, flavored with heavy doses of concern trolling (nobody but nobody is as rude and gauche online to journalists as these crusaders, and it’s unfortunately hurting their candidate’s cause!).

STAGE 4: Smear the candidate and his supporters with innuendos of sexism and racism by falsely claiming only white men support them(you like this candidate because he’s white and male like you, not because of ideology or policy or contempt for the party establishment’s corporatist, pro-war approach).

STAGE 5: Brazen invocation of right-wing attacks to marginalize and demonize, as polls prove the candidate is a credible threat (he’s weak on terrorism, will surrender to ISIS, has crazy associations, and is a clone of Mao and Stalin).

STAGE 6: Issuance of grave and hysterical warnings about the pending apocalypse if the establishment candidate is rejected, as the possibility of losing becomes imminent (you are destined for decades, perhaps even generations, of powerlessness if you disobey our decrees about who to select).

STAGE 7: Full-scale and unrestrained meltdown, panic, lashing-out, threats, recriminations, self-important foot-stomping, overt union with the Right, complete fury (I can no longer in good conscience support this party of misfits, terrorist-lovers, communists, and heathens).

Britain is well into Stage 7, and may even invent a whole new level (anonymous British military officials expressly threatened a “mutiny” if Corbyn were democratically elected as Prime Minister). The Democratic media and political establishment has been in the heart of Stage 5 for weeks and is now entering Stage 6. The arrival of Stage 7 is guaranteed if Sanders wins Iowa. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 January 2016 at 9:53 am

U.S. Media Condemns Iran’s “Aggression” in Intercepting U.S. Naval Ships — in Iranian Waters

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Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept:

News broke last night, hours before President Obama’s State of the Union address, that two U.S. Navy ships “in the Persian Gulf” were “seized” by Iran, and the 10 sailors on board were “arrested.” The Iranian government quickly said, and even the U.S. government itself seemed to acknowledge, that these ships had entered Iranian waters without permission, and were thus inside Iranian territory when detained. CNN’s Barbara Starr, as she always does, immediately went on-air with Wolf Blitzer to read what U.S. officials told her to say: “We are told that right now, what the U.S. thinks may have happened, is that one of these small boats experienced a mechanical problem . . . perhaps beginning to drift . . . it was at that point, the theory goes right now, that they drifted into Iranian territorial waters.”

It goes without saying that every country has the right to patrol and defend its territorial waters and to intercept other nations’ military boats that enter without permission. Indeed, the White House itself last night was clear that, in its view, this was “not a hostile act by Iran” and that Iran had given assurances that the sailors would be promptly released. And this morning they were released, exactly as Iran promised they would be, after Iran said it determined the trespassing was accidental and the U.S. apologized and promised no future transgressions.

Despite all of this, most U.S. news accounts last night quickly skimmed over – or outright ignored – the rather critical fact that the U.S. ships had “drifted into” Iranian waters. Instead, all sorts of TV news personalities and U.S. establishment figures puffed out their chest and instantly donned their Tough Warrior pose to proclaim that this was an act of aggression – virtually an act of war: not by the U.S., but by Iran. They had taken our sailors “hostage,” showing yet again how menacing and untrustworthy they are. Completely typical was this instant analysis from former Clinton and Bush Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

[Isn’t it such a mystery – given “even-handed” diplomats like this – why the U.S. failed to facilitate an Israel/Palestine peace deal and is perceived around the world as hopelessly biased toward Israel?] Miller’s proclamation – issued when almost no facts were known – was immediately re-tweeted by New York Times columnist Nick Kristof to his 1.7 million followers [amazingly, when numerous people pointed out that Miller issued this inflammatory claim without any facts whatsoever, he lashed out at critics with the condescension and limitless projection typical of US establishment elites: “Twitter is an amazing vehicle: it allows instant and at times inaccurate analysis but always intemperate and ad hominem responses”; by “instant and at times inaccurate analysis,” he meant his critics, not his own fact-free claim]. Nick Kristof himself then added:

The truly imbecilic Joe Scarborough of MSNBC turned himself into an instant self-parody of a pseudo-tough-guy compensating for all sorts of inadequacies:

But, as usual, the most alarmist, jingoistic coverage came from the always-war-hungry CNN. For hours, they emphasized in the most alarmist of tones that the sailors had been picked up by the Revolutionary Guard which, in the words of Starr, is “one of the most aggressive elements of the military and national security apparatus in that country.” CNN host Erin Burnett intoned at the top of her prime-time show: “Next, breaking news: American sailors seized by Iran. The revolutionary guard arresting ten American sailors in the Persian Gulf.”

For hours, CNN anchors and guests all but declared war on Iran, insisting that this behavior demonstrated how aggressive and menacing they were, while warning that this could turn into another “hostage crisis.” Immediately after her opening headline-alarm, here is how Burnett “explained” the situation to CNN viewers: . . .

Continue reading.

There’s quite a bit more at the link. Worth reading if you can avoid getting depressed.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2016 at 10:12 am

Posted in Media

Good reporters like to find things out and publish the truth: The Las Vegas Review Journal story

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Maria Bustillos reports in the New Yorker about the ins and outs of Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to buy a newspaper fo his use:

Last month, reporters at the Las Vegas Review-Journal undertook a remarkable investigation into the secret identity of the buyer of their own newspaper. The paper had changed hands in early December for the wildly inflated price of a hundred and forty million dollars; New Media Investment Group (formerly GateHouse Media), which had purchased the paper only months earlier, reported flipping it for an estimated sixty-nine-per-cent profit. Six days after the sale was announced, on December 16th, Review-Journal reporters revealed that the acquiring company, News + Media Capital Group, which had been represented in the sale by an executive named Michael Schroeder, was in fact controlled by members of Sheldon Adelson’s family—and that, as many had suspected, the money had originated with the casino magnate himself. “My money that the children have with which to buy the newspaper is their inheritance,” Adelson told the Macau Daily Times. He said that he wasn’t directly involved with the purchase, and wasn’t interested in owning a newspaper.

Adelson is a keen participant in the U.S. political process and a mega-donor to Republican candidates, having spent, at minimum, ninety-eight million dollarsin political contributions in the 2012 cycle, not counting dark-money contributions. He also owns an Israeli tabloid, Israel Hayom (Israel Today), which is brazen in its support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line positions on Palestinian rights and other issues. To many observers, Adelson’s background, combined with the initial attempt to keep his family’s ownership interest in the Review-Journal secret, does not augur well for the future editorial independence of the paper, which was founded in 1909 and has a circulation of about a hundred and sixty-five thousand, the largest in Nevada. But the response from inside the paper demonstrated that, even for a determined billionaire and his family, it may not be so easy to gain control of a newspaper.
Last week, I met the Review-Journal’s deputy editor, James Wright, in a quiet conference room at the paper’s offices, a bit north of downtown. Wright, a soft-spoken, genial man with a mildly sardonic air, recounted for me how his team, flabbergasted at the news of an anonymous buyer, had defied (or, possibly, obeyed) the advice of their new owners to “just focus on doing their jobs,” regardless of who those owners might be. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 January 2016 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Business, Media

A strange sort of censorship of Bernie Sanders

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The mainstream media is basically ignoring the Sanders campaign in general and his policy announcements in particular, but in Wall Steet on Parade Pam Martens and Russ Martens point out an odder censorship:

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont gave a speech yesterday that is destined to go down in the history books of this era, further enshrining him as one of the most courageous voices of our time. Sanders promised to break up the serially criminally-inclined banks on Wall Street and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to drive a permanent stake through the heart of too-big-to-fail. But if you watched either his official campaign’sYouTube video of his speech or the one provided by volunteers for his campaign, three key passages of what he said have gone missing from the video. We were able to reconstruct the full speech as delivered by transcribing the three missing sections from a YouTube video posted by the PBSNewshour which, notably, had no gaps in its video. (Watch the PBS video of the speech at the end of this article.)

Perhaps it’s simply attributable to a glitch. On the other hand, if you are familiar with the dirty tricks used by the American Liberty League to undermine proposed reforms by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a similar era of unprecedented corruption and one percent control, or conversant with how the Kochtopus is attempting to rewrite The Big Shortmovie, you might well harbor suspicions of skulduggery.

The first missing chunk of video comes early in Sanders speech as he explains what a real banking system is supposed to do. The portion that appears in orange below is missing from the official video:

Sanders: “We need a banking system that is part of the productive economy – making loans at affordable rates to small and medium-sized businesses so that we can create decent-paying jobs in our country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments, making huge profits and assured that, if their schemes fail, the taxpayers will be there to bail them out.”

What could possibly be so threatening in describing Wall Street as “an island unto itself, gambling trillions…” that someone would censor it from a speech? Well, Wall Street is located in Manhattan – an island. And while Manhattan is often referred to as the economic and cultural center of America, it’s also where the vast majority of financial crime is originating and which has, not coincidentally, “more billionaires than any other city in the world,” a total of 78 according to Forbes. Many of these billionaires havefleeced shareholders, or the banks’ depositors, or investors to achieve that one-percent status.

Sanders is not just anybody making these charges. He is currently one of the most popular members of Congress and is drawing tens of thousands of potential voters to rallies across America while competing head on with the Wall Street money spigot by raising campaign donations from average folks by tapping into the simmering anger against our rigged wealth transfer system run by Wall Street and backstopped by its crony regulator, the New York Fed – all physically located on the island of Manhattan.

The next section that went missing goes like this (the orange text was missing from the video):

Sanders: “In 2008, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because we were told that they were ‘too big to fail.’ Yet, today, today, three out of the four largest financial institutions — JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — are nearly 80 percent bigger than before we bailed them out because they were too-big-to-fail. Incredibly, the six largest banks in this country issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards and more than 35 percent of all mortgages. They control more than 95 percent of all financial derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all bank deposits. Their assets today are equivalent to nearly 60 percent of the GDP of the United States of America. Enough is enough.

“If a bank is too-big-to-fail it is too big to exist. When it comes to Wall Street reform that must be our bottom line. This is true not just from a risk perspective and the fear of another bailout. It is also true from the reality that a handful of huge financial institutions simply have too much economic and political power over this country.”

Take the first missing section and combine it with the second and you get the picture: this “handful of huge financial institutions” just happens to operate out of Manhattan and just happens to be minting Manhattan billionaires by the boatload and just happens to be placing these billionaires on the Board of their regulator, the New York Fed, and just happens to have thrown millions at Bill Clinton’s charity foundation and just happens to be donating millions to Hillary’s push for President of the United States, in whose administration they will just happen to get to pick the U.S. Treasury Secretary and Fed Chair, who will just happen to sit on the Financial Stability Oversight Council and make sure no harm comes to these mega Wall Street banks.

The final missing section went like this: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 January 2016 at 8:10 pm

After Executing Regime Critic, Saudi Arabia Fires Up American PR Machine

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Saudi Arabia really does seem to have a noxious government. Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani report in The Intercept:

Saudi Arabia’s well-funded public relations apparatus moved quickly after Saturday’s explosive execution of Shiite political dissident Nimr al-Nimr to shape how the news is covered in the United States.

The execution led protestors in Shiite-run Iran to set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, precipitating a major diplomatic crisis between the two major powers already fighting proxy wars across the Middle East.

The Saudi side of the story is getting a particularly effective boost in the American media through pundits who are quoted justifying the execution, in many cases without mention of their funding or close affiliation with the Saudi Arabian government.

Meanwhile, social media accounts affiliated with Saudi Arabia’s American lobbyists have pushed English-language infographics, tweets, and online videos to promote a narrative that reflects the interests of the Saudi regime.

A Politico article about the rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran by Nahal Toosi, for instance, quoted only three sources: the State Department, which provided a muted response to the executions; the Saudi government; and Fahad Nazer, identified as a “political analyst with JTG Inc.” Nazer defended the executions, saying that they served as a “message … aimed at Saudi Arabia’s own militants regardless of their sect.”

What Politico did not reveal was that Nazer is himself a former political analyst at the Saudi Embassy in Washington. He is currently a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, a think tank formed last year that discloses that it is fully funded by the Saudi Embassy and the United Arab Emirates.

The Washington Post quoted consultant Theodore Karasik of Gulf State Analytics as saying that the executions were a “powerful message that Saudi Arabia is intent on standing up to its regional rival.” Karasik is a columnist at Al Arabiya, an English-language news organization based in the UAE and owned by Middle East Broadcasting Center, a private news conglomerate that has long been financially backed by members of the Saudi royal family. Its current chairman is Sheikh Waleed bin Ibrahim, a billionaire Saudi businessman whose brother-in-law was the late King Fahd. (Al Arabiya’s coverage of the crisis is almost comically pro-Saudi, featuring headlines like “Storming embassies.. Iranian speciality.”)

An editorial published by the Wall Street Journal approvingly quoted Joseph Braude of the Foreign Policy Research Institute claiming that Nimr was a violent extremist who advocated a “military option” against Saudi Arabia. But as journalists and editors from the Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, the BBC, and other prominent outlets have reported, Nimr advocated nonviolence and encouraged his followers to protest peacefully. Braude did not provide any evidence for his claims beyond anonymous “Saudi sources.”

Braude is a contributor to several Saudi-owned media outlets, including Al Arabiya and Al Majalla, a magazine owned by a member of the Saudi royal family. Neither of these affiliations were disclosed in the Wall Street Journal editorial. (Braude was also convicted in 2004 of attempting to smuggle 4,000-year-old artifacts looted from the Iraqi National Museum after the fall of Baghdad into the United States.)

Braude’s depiction of Nimr aligns with the Saudi Arabian view. “Saudi Arabia’s terrorism law includes as acts of terrorism merely criticizing the government, merely criticizing the monarchy,” Sarah Lea Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, told The Intercept.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Embassy is blasting out its message through social media.

As we have previously reported, Saudi Arabia’s lobbyists, including Qorvis and Targeted Victory, a social media company founded by Republican strategists, help to maintain a Saudi Embassy effort called Arabia Now, which puts a positive spin on all things Saudi Arabian. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 January 2016 at 6:03 pm

Posted in Government, Law, Media

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