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Rather than Exposing Propaganda, Washington Post Shows How It's Done

A return to McCarthyism

 

As the Hillary Clinton campaign slogged toward victory in the long primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, word came from WikiLeaks that it had scored a trove of hacked emails to and from the Democratic National Committee. Among other things, they proved that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, along with their organizations, had been working hand-in-glove to skew the primaries in Clinton’s favor.

The day before the party’s convention opened in Philadelphia on July 24, Wasserman-Schultz had to resign her post or face a floor revolt. Sanders delegates were so angry at what they were learning from WikiLeaks about the sabotage of their candidate that hundreds walked out on the second day of the convention, tossing away their delegate credentials over the security fence and vowing never to support Clinton.

In short order, the DNC and the Obama administration-led intelligence establishment began claiming, with no hard evidence, that the source of WikiLeaks’ explosive emails was “the Russians.” While denied by WikiLeaks, it was a charge that Clinton made ad nauseum on the campaign trail and in her three televised debates with Trump, using it as an all-purpose excuse for tough questions about her self-dealing as secretary of State, her lucrative off-the-record speeches to Wall Street bankers, or the DNC’s thumb on the scale in the primaries.

 reporter Craig Timberg, published an anonymous group's list of 200 "Russian propagandaWashington Post red-baiter in residence: reporter Craig Timberg, published an anonymous group's list of 200 "Russian propaganda-peddling news site
 

Mainstream news organizations were quick to adopt this “Russia did it” trope, which despite the lack of proof has only grown more widely accepted since Trump’s stunning election-night victory.

Then the Washington Post(11/24/16) took things a giant step further, publishing an explosive exposé claiming that, as its headline put it, “Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread ‘Fake News’ During Election, Experts Say.”

The Post’s story was based on a long list of online news sites purported to be either working directly for Moscow or else “useful idiots” unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda. Incredibly, the list included respected sites like Polk Award-winner Robert Parry’s Consortium News, former LA Times journalist Robert Sheer’s Truthdig, the news aggregator site Truth-Out.org and the highly regarded financial news site Naked Capitalism.

Profits and Patients: The High Health Costs Killing Americans

Systemic Pain

 

When she opened the letter and saw it was a $1,471 bill for her recent visit to a hospital emergency room – a visit that lasted around four hours from admission to discharge –- she got sick.

That bill itself made her physically sick: triggering an intense headache, upsetting her stomach and leaving her with an overall queasy feeling.

It arrived in the mail weeks after she had received a copy of the whopping $14,000+ bill submitted by the hospital to her medical insurance company by the hospital in New Jersey where that ER visit had occurred.

Her medical insurance covered that initial $14,000 bill in full. But now she was supposed to cough up the $1,471 herself.

Now that additional $1,471 bill was making her emotionally sick: a sickening anger that compounded her being sick-and-tired of being sick-and-tired about outrageous medical care costs that surgically dig deeper into her pocketbook seeking to excise more money beyond what she pays monthly for the medical insurance coverage through her spouse’s employer.

It didn't help that the four-hour stay she was still being billed for had not resulted in the hospital’s ER staff making a determination of the cause of her medical issue or offering a course of care.

These bills –- for $14,000+ and $1,471 -- are vivid examples of the acute toxicity coursing through the veins of America’s bloated profit-based health care system.

Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor

Flynn flam

 

President-elect Donald J. Trump has offered the post of nationalsecurity adviser to retired three-star Gen. Michael T. Flynn, aneoconservative war hawk with anti-muslim views.

The National Security Advisor is a president’s main foreign policy person and plays a key role as coordinator of implementing thepresident’s foreign policy decisions. Bearing that in mind, Gen. Flynn, seen as one of Trump’s closest and most trusted advisors, takes the view that the U.S. is in a global war, not just against Islamic jihadists but against Islam itself. It’s not really a religion, Flynn argues, but a dangerous political ideology. Flynn has called Islam a "cancer" and has said, "Fear of Muslims is rational." In April 2015 he told Fox News, “I've been at war with Islam, or a component of Islam, for the last decade.”

According to Dana Priest in the New Yorker, "The greatest accomplishment of Flynn’s military career was revolutionizing the way that the clandestine arm of the military, the Joint Special Operations Command, undertook the killing and capture of suspected terrorists and insurgents in war zones."

Trump's National Security Advisor pick, ex-Gen. Michael Flynn, carries on a trend of blood-thirsty security advisorsTrump's National Security Advisor pick, ex-Gen. Michael Flynn, carries on a trend of blood-thirsty security advisors
 

The position of National Security Advisor has been held in the past by among others Henry Kissinger, who was responsible for numerous war crimes and the death of millions under President Richard Nixon. Under President Ronald Reagan, National Security Advisor John Poindexter was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair along with another Reagan National Security Advisor, Robert McFarlane, who later pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress regarding arm sales to Iran and was spared being scarred by that conviction record only thanks to a pardon by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Gen. Flynn as Trump’s National Security Advisor will be a “critical gatekeeper for a president with little experience in military or foreign policy issues” according to the New York Times. Flynn, a registered Democrat, served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama but was reportedly fired for his ultra-right pro-war views aimed at Iran at a time when the Obama administration was negotiating a deal with that nation on shutting down its uranium enrichment program. Flynn is a bitter enemy of Iran and has advocated toppling Iran’s government as the only way toprevent that nation from becoming a major power in the Middle East.

Flynn argues that the U.S. shouldn’t be restrained by human rights,international law, rules of engagement, or other forms of “political correctness” but should ruthlessly fight this “existential enemy.”

Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?

Too busy getting rich to commit war crimes?

 

Donald Trump’s cabinet choices are suggesting a governing philosophy along the lines of a corrupt municipal police force relying on gangsters to help it keep street crime held in check.

Trump has been naming top Wall Street bankers and hedge fund owners to staff his Commerce Department (former Rothschild banker and billionaire Wilbur Ross), Treasury (former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund executive Steve Mnuchin), and more recently, as top “economic strategy advisors”, Blackstone Group CEO Steven Schwartzman and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, the bank chief who, together with Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and other too-big-to-fail bank leaders almost single-handedly cratered the US economy in 2008 with their casino betting on derivatives, .

The president-elect has actually demonstrated a predilection for considering people who have played the "rigged system' and even actual criminals (albeit unindicted ones in some cases) in his cabinet and White House advisory staff. Dimon, of course, heads a TBTF bank that was one of five that pleaded guilty last year to federal felony charges involving a huge currency manipulation conspiracy. Dimon had his bank cop a plea and pay a $5.6-billion fine that allowed him to avoid facing criminal charges himself for the bank’s admitted criminal behavior and even to stay on in his lucrative top spot running the felonious institution . Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly considering naming as secretary of state the disgraced former General David Petraeus, who in 2015 also copped a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of “mishandling top-secret information” while he was CIA director (a post he had to resign), in order to avoid more serious felony charges of providing national security secrets to his paramour and biographer Paula Broadwell, and of potentially of lying about it to FBI investigators, also a felony. Petraeus, who did not have to do jail time under the plea deal, is still on two-year’s probation through April 23, 2017 though, and if appointed Secretary of State would have to report his new job to his probation officer, and also obtain advance permission for any work-related travel until that date -- a historic first for a top federal government appointee. It would be kind of equivalent to the election of the epically corrupt Mayor James Michael Curley, who back in the early 20th century was elected and served one of his four terms as mayor of the city while in jail after serving time for felony corruption.

Either that or Trump, once inaugurated President, would have to pardon Petraeus before appointing him.

David Petraeus and Jamie Dimon, both felony dodgers and Trump White House appointment prospectsDavid Petraeus and Jamie Dimon, both felony prosecution dodgers and Trump White House appointment prospects
 

Could the idea of putting the gangsters in charge of national economic and foreign policy and economic regulation in order to fix what Trump calls a “rigged system” work as a governing philosophy?

I guess you’d have to ask how well having a crooked, mob-linked police force in New York, Philadelphia, Boston or Chicago worked in years past at keeping crime in check in those cities. The evidence is not particularly good, I would suggest, having lived in several of those venues.

We should also note that Trump’s idea of appointing top Wall Street weasels to key cabinet posts involved in regulating the economy is hardly unique to him. We can be sure that had the recent election been won by Hillary Clinton, who raked in millions of dollars both in personal gifts (excuse me: speaking “fees”) and in campaign contributions and donations to her family “charity” both before and during the campaign, would have also placed top bankers and capitalists in key cabinet posts, just as Presidents Obama, Bush II and Bill Clinton did in their presidencies.

Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans

Three clear ways the Affordable Care Act has made healthcare better

 

It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and, for once, I’m not scheduled to work at the hospital. Yet, on Friday evening I found myself fastening my badge to my clothes and walking into the Intensive Care Unit.

One of my most beloved patients, Ms. Chhem is passing away. I’ve come to say goodbye. It’s not a complete surprise as she’s had serious chronic medical issues for years, but after being part of her care team for a countless number of prior hospitalizations, it’s hard to believe that this will be her last.

When I first met her five years ago, I was shocked at the number of hospitalizations she had survived. Her chart identified her as a refugee from Cambodia with significant psychological trauma, two kinds of hepatitis from poor healthcare, and end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis three times a week. She had low health literacy, few resources and didn’t speak English. I was terrified to be the young doctor in charge of coordinating her care and keeping track of all the pieces that inevitably get lost in our complex medical system.

Of course, in real life, she was nothing like the chronically ill patient her chart suggested. Despite the physical and emotional trauma her life had brought, she was always upbeat, laughing, and ready to experience life’s next moment. Or perhaps it was because of that trauma that she learned that this was the only way to cope.

During our visits her delightful pragmatism grounded me in what otherwise seemed like an impossibly chaotic healthcare plan. Our last visit had only been only 72 hours ago. As I walked into the exam room she had erupted into laughter, jumped up, and grabbed my hands with both of hers in greeting. It was a relaxed visit. Ironically, for once I was feeling good about her medical care. All of the loose ends I had been trying to resolve had recently been tied up.

Protestors in Washington the first time the ACA was challengedProtestors in Washington the first time the ACA was challenged

So despite being familiar with intubated patients, it was jarring to see Ms. Chhem, the same woman who just a few days ago was relating to me the hilarity of coping with recently misplaced dentures, as a patient, intubated, sedated, and surrounded by machines and IV drips. Death doesn’t impact me the way it used to when I first became a doctor, but I still choked up as I held her hand and said goodbye.

As I walked home, I reflected on how, despite all the obstacles, she had received top quality medical care in her lifetime. For Ms. Chhem, medicine did exactly what it was supposed to do: prolong and improve health to allow patients to lead more fulfilling lives.

And then my thoughts darkened. What would happen to my patients if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

I fear its repeal. As a queer person, I fear its repeal even more than a repeal of same-sex marriage.

Fidel's Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories

Fidel Castro: 1926-2016

¤ Fidel defied the monster and got away with it all these years, something cherished by billions in a hundred countries. He even brought a warmongering US president to his land, sporting his fine talk. For the first time, the perennial enemy pretends to be a friend hoping to stab Cuba in the back.
 

Is the Pentagon Behind the Washington Post's McCarthyite Hit on independent Alternative Journalism?

Smeared and Russia-bated in a ‘false news’ attack by one of America's leading papers

 

ThisCantBeHappening.net didn’t make the Washington Post’s list of 200 news sites that are “purveyors of Russian propaganda” designed to “undermine Americans’ faith in democracy,” but an article by yours truly published on our site on September 29 which was picked up by Counterpunch.org and run the following day was cited as “proof” that Counterpunch is just such a perfidious agent of Russian subversion of the US -- which I guess supposedly "outs" me as one of those secret Russian agents in the US alternative media.

The article in question, headlined US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing, called out the Dutch “investigation” into that horrific shoot-down of a fully-loaded Malaysian jumbo jet over war-torn eastern Ukraine in 2013, pointing out that the prosecutors and investigators involved refused to accept any radar or transmission monitoring evidence offered by Russia or by separatist rebels in the region, using instead only evidence provided by the Ukrainian intelligence service and government -- this despite the fact that both Ukraine and Russia possessed quantities of the BUK missile and mobile launchers that were known to have been involved in the downing of the plane, and should thus both be potential suspects in the case. I also noted that as reported by noted former AP investigative reporter Robert Parry on his own Consortium News site (also on the Washington Post’s hit list of Russian propaganda sites), and by retired CIA Senior Analyst Ray McGovern, the Dutch investigators never asked for nor received any satellite surveillance photos or NSA transcripts of relevant telecommunications concerning the shoot-down from the US, though such evidence certainly exists.

The Washington Post article, written by Craig Timberg -- surely either one of the most credulous and lazy journalists working in a major US news organization (and that’s really an accomplishment!), or a diplicitous propagandist for the US government posing as a journalist at the Post -- relied upon only two sources for his dramatic “exposé” purporting to prove that a massive Russian propaganda campaign had surreptitiously attempted to undermine (perhaps successfully!) the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and to throw the race to Donald Trump, at the same time undermining US foreign policy and faith in the US government while elevating the reputation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both sources are falsely described by Timberg as being “two teams of independent researchers.” The assumption we clearly are meant to have is that these organizations have no institutional bias.

Like Sen. Joe McCarthy over half a century ago, reporter Craig Timbeck and the Washington Post "have a list" of  subversivesLike Sen. Joe McCarthy over half a century ago, reporter Craig Timberg and the Washington Post "have a list" of subversives
 

In fact, the first of these sources, the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), turns out to be a hoary relic of the Cold War founded in 1955 by Robert Strausz-Hupé, an Austrian emigré and passionate anti-Communist. It has continued its anti-Russian propaganda stance since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 2002 death of its founder and now boasts on its board of trustees jailbait like former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, a key player in the Reagan-era Iran Contra scandal who pleaded guilty to four counts of lying to Congress but was pardoned by President Reagan, arch-neocon and Russia-phobe Robert Kagan, a key promoter of the the US invasion or Iraq in 2003, and a whole host of other right-wing anti-Russian fanatics.

It’s Cowboy Cops Cavalry against Peaceful Indians and their Anglo Supporters at Standing Rock

Wounded Knee III in the making?

 

"As darkness does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
-- Justice William O. Douglas
 

The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, between the Sioux people and their supporters and the oil corporations and banks trying to run a dangerous pipeline for filthy Bakkan crude oil through their sacred lands and underneath the Missouri River was cranked up to a new level of violence Sunday and in ensuing days as National Guard troops and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, bolstered by volunteers from various other police departments conducted an all-night attack using maximum violence, including flash-bang concussion grenades, rubber bullets, mace, tear gas and three water cannons -- this at a time the temperature on the prairie had fallen to a low of 22 degrees fahrenheit.

The casualties of this one-sided battle against peaceful protesters on a bridge were enormous, with some 300 of the estimated 400 protesting water protectors, both native people and non-native supporters, injured, 26 of them seriously. There was evidence that police were aiming rubber bullets at protesters’ heads and groins to inflict maximum pain and damage, with eight of the injured hospitalized, including a 13-year-old girl shot in the face, whose eye was reportedly damaged.

The gravest injuries were a tribal elder who suffered a cardiac arrest, and Sophia Wolansky, a 21-year-old New York City resident who had come to back the Standing Rock Sioux in their struggle to halt construction of the pipeline. She was hit in the arm by a flash-bang grenade thrown at her by a Morton County Sheriff’s deputy, which blew up on impact, blowing away the flesh and muscle and reportedly some of the nerves the length of her forearm and some bone of the elbow joint (see accompanying photo below of the wound). She has been evacuated to a hospital in Minneapolis where physicians and nurses are fighting to save her arm and hand from an amputation.

Wolansky’s father Wayne, a 61-year old lawyer in New York, angrily called on President to put a halt to the violent repression at Standing Rock. He said of his daughter’s injury, which was the result of a flash-bang concussion grenade being thrown directly at her, “This is the wound of someone who's a warrior, who was sent to fight in a war," Wayne said. "It's not supposed to be a war. She's peacefully trying to get people to not destroy the water supply. And they're trying to kill her." Concussion grenades are not supposed to be used to target people.

The grenade wound suffered by Sophia Wolansky blew away the muscle, exposing bone, looking like a war injury, not the typical poThe grenade wound (left image) suffered by Sophia Wolansky (right) blew away the muscle, exposing bone, looking like a war injury, not the typical police-abuse type injury.
 

The attack on Sunday night, which has been rightly condemned by UN human rights observers as an atrocity, harks back to the simultaneous country-wide crushing of the Occupy movement occupations in cities across the US during early November, 2011, when local police aided in some cases by armed federal parks police, assaulted occupiers with maximum violence, almost always at night, barring the media from witnessing their deliberate and coordinated over-the-top violence.

To make it our battle (based on a prose reflection by Lee Burkett, "Walking my dog while the battle rages")

New poem:

The water from my tap smells like mildew
on oily rags.
When I drink it there is a moment when
I have to tell myself to swallow
or I will spit it out.

I boil water for my coffee
to get rid of the taste.

Every morning I take Duff for a long walk.
It’s cloudy and rainy today,
but through the clouds and rain
I can feel the Earth warming as the sun comes up.

I can smell the odor of the water treatment facility
a few blocks from where I live.
An aggressive smell, somewhat sweet,

like artificial fruit.

We don’t own our water.
It was bought
and now it’s sold back to us.

Brexit-Trump Comparisons Miss Key Points

Trans-Atlantic bigotry

 

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful."
-- George Orwell, author of "1984."
 

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, upending projections of pollsters and pundits that predicted his defeat, has triggered comparisons with Brexit, the vote earlier this summer where British citizens voted to leave the European Union, also catching the pollsters and pundits by surprise.

And yes, the campaigns for Brexit and the Trump presidency each employed similarities. Each campaign utilized ‘make our country great again’ slogans.

Further, each campaign also targeted immigrants as the source of deep-seated societal problems, particularly in the employment arena. Trump targeted Mexican immigrants while Brexit targeted Eastern European immigrants in Britain, primarily those coming from Poland as well as Muslims and blacks.

Brexit support sign in former home of author George Orwell. LinnWashingtonPhotoBrexit support sign in former home of author George Orwell. LinnWashingtonPhoto
 

Despite accurately citing some similarities, too many of the news media comparisons of Brexit and Trump on both sides of ‘The Pond’ have been simplistic, infused with failures to sufficiently contextualize the array of forces entangled in those stunning votes.

Comparisons on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, for example, have downplayed the upsurge in racist attacks, primarily targeting blacks and Muslims during the immediate aftermaths of both the Brexit and Trump victories.

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