Category Archives: Video

John Oliver tackles presidential prevarication


We found much amusement in the surge of support America’s church-going Christians were to eager to jump on President Pussygrabber’s bandwagon.

After all, the founder of the religion once declared of the devil, “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

And if anything else, Donald Drumpf is a liar, and not a particularly good one at that.

Let John Oliver school you in this, the just aired endition of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Trump vs. Truth: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver


Program notes:

Donald Trump spreads a lot of false information thanks to his daily consumption of morning cable news. If only we could sneak some facts into the president’s media diet.

The billionaire who gave Trump millions, Bannon


And so much more.

Two journalists look at Robert Mercer, a late-arriving big money donor to the Trump campaign, a billionaire who had bankrolled Ted “The Grand Inquisitor” Cruz before the convention, then came to Trump’s rescue just as things were falling apart, contributing both millions in cash and a cast of personnel, including Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Mercer, who made his pile running a hedge fund, holds nightmarish beliefs and considerable cunning. And he’s succeeded in creating a powerful, covert institution designed to create a dystopian world, run by the best crew money can by.

In this report from The Real News Network, reporters Thomas Hedges of the Center for Study of Responsive Law, where his beat is the role of money in politics, and Carrie Levine, who covers the same beat for the Center for Public Integrity, take a close look at Mercer and his agenda:

The Bizarre Far-Right Billionaire Behind Bannon and Trump’s Presidency


From the transcript:

THOMAS HEDGES: The fuel behind Mercer’s influence are the absurd sums of money he approves at the investment company he runs, Renaissance Technologies, based on Long Island. Its famed Medallion Fund is one of the most successful hedge funds in investing history. Averaging 72% returns before fees, over more than 20 years. A statistic that baffles analysts, and outranks the profitability of other competing funds, like the ones George Soros and Warren Buffet run.

In 2015, Mercer had single-handedly catapulted Cruz to the front of the Republican field. Throwing more than $13 million into a super PAC he created for the now failed candidate. But with the Trump campaign faltering, and struggling for support, there’s a second chance for the Mercers to make a big bet.

The Trump campaign is well aware of this, in fact, sources within Mercer’s super PAC would later tell Bloomberg News that shortly after Cruz drops out of the race, Ivanka Trump and her wealthy developer husband Jared Kushner, approach the Mercers, asking if they’d be willing to shift their support behind Trump. The answer is an eventual, but resounding yes.

In the months leading up to Trump’s presidential win, the Mercers would prove a formidable force. Beginning after the disastrous Republican Convention in July, they would furnish the Trump campaign with millions of dollars, and new leadership, but they would also furnish it with something more — a vast network of non-profits, strategists, media companies, research institutions and super PACs that they themselves funded and largely controlled.

CARRIE LEVINE: I think what you’ve seen is a lot of these organizations in this network come out to play a role in the 2016 elections.

HEDGES: With the Mercer family in the picture, the post-convention shake-up starts to make sense. Take Steve Bannon. He and Robert Mercer have been close for years, and Mercer is a top investor at Breitbart News, where Bannon was Chief Editor.

Kellyanne Conway also comes out of this network. Before becoming co-manager of Trump’s campaign, she headed up operations for Robert Mercer’s super PAC when it was still supporting Ted Cruz. And as for Deputy Campaign Manager, David Bossie, he was president of Citizens United, an organization Mercer has heavily funded since at least 2010.

Cambridge Analytica, the mysterious data-mining firm that received grudging praise after predicting the race’s outcome more accurately than any other polling company, is also heavily funded by Robert Mercer, and was employed by the Cruz campaign before Mercer switched over to Trump. In fact, the Mercers’ political infrastructure is so entrenched, that Rebecca Mercer herself sits on the 16-person executive committee of Trump’s transition team.

Mercer’s foray into the White House may seem to have been born partly out of luck, especially with Trump, instead of Cruz, as a stalking horse. But his rise to power was systematic, and it was years in the making.

The web of connections Mercer’s built over the last decade is vast and complex. It includes efforts to dismantle tax law, and weaken the IRS.

It’s about funding quack scientists and conspiracy theorists, who blame the government for, among other things, playing a role in the San Bernardino Massacre. Or of colluding with the United Nations, and using climate change as an excuse to implement environmental laws meant to depopulate America’s Midwest. It’s about pouring money into the neo-conservative John Bolton super PAC, which props up candidates who ascribe to Bolton’s hawkish foreign policy.

But one of Mercer’s earliest activist ventures was financing a slew of fringe documentary projects that have helped raise the profiles of people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and most notably, the director of those films, Steve Bannon.

Bannon, who was previously a naval officer and Goldman Sachs investment banker, made his first documentary in 2004 about Ronald Reagan. It retold his biography, using washed out black and white archival footage of the Hollywood actor. Painting him as a brave protector of Western democracy from the threat of Communism.

The almost laughable lies of Kellyanne Conway


They would be entirely laughable if she was simply the crazy cat lady down the street, bus as a senior advisor to the President, it’s downright scary.

The Daily Show does a deft turn with her prodigious prevarication:

Kellyanne Conway’s Artful Deceptions: The Daily Show 

Program notes:

Michelle Wolf breaks down Kellyanne Conway’s skillful ability to spin the Trump administration’s missteps, from shifting blame onto other people to blatantly lying.

Fox censors Super Bowl ad featuring Trump’s wall


When it comes to television commercials, the one day that reigns supreme in the advertising world.

You might even call it the Super Bowl of the Madison Avenue set.

And, oh yeah, it’s the real Super Bowl, the one day of the year when television spots become the news, the objects of the most lavish and controversial efforts of the Mad Man.

There’s always controversy, but this year the furor was over what didn’t air.

The problem, you see, is that the annual pigskin extravaganza airs on Fox, which also happens to be the same company that owns Fox News, the Official Propaganda Network of the Trump-a-palooza™.

And Fox wasn’t about to allow anything that they thought might besmirch the alleged honor of Herr Pussygrabber.

So when 84 Lumber, a family owned chain, wanted to air an ad honoring America’s undocumented immigrants from South of the border, Fox decided they weren’t having it, at least as long as the ad contained images of Pussygrabber’s proudest erection-in-the-making,

From 84 Lumber, here’s the ad you didn’t see:

84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial – The Journey Begins


Program notes:

The full, uncut 84 Lumber Super Bowl promotional film. See a mother and daughter’s symbolic migrant journey towards becoming legal American citizens. Contains content deemed too controversial for the original ad and banned from broadcast.

And here’s the ad Fox finally allowed, the one without that material “too controversial” :

So what’s most notable thing missing from the ad?

Maybe a wall?

And why wouldn’t Fox air the ad?

Well,  the network isn’t saying.

Banned from a an event celebrating the GOP

More on the story from the Washington Post:

Perhaps more than any other time in history, politics appear to be playing a larger role than ever in the Super Bowl. Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Trump in an interview that aired before the game; former president George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, did the coin toss; and some of the ads have tackled controversial social issues such as immigration.

One such ad was imagined by the family-owned company 84 Lumber, which decided to tackle the subject in its first Super Bowl ad. It wasn’t exactly how the company originally planned it, however.

In the ad’s initial iteration, a Mexican mother and daughter, who appear to be on their way to the United States, come across a depiction of an imposing border wall, reminiscent of the one Trump has touted will eventually divide the country from Mexico.

“Ignoring the border wall and the conversation around immigration that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn’t seem right,” said Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”

But while 84 Lumber believed in its message, Fox, which aired Sunday’s game, thought it was a little too controversial.

“Fox would not let us air ‘the wall,’ ” Schapiro said. 

And another border wall makes the news

The Trump border wall wasn’t the only barrier making news this weekend.

Another border blocker was also in the news, this time a barrier much further to the south.

Ftom teleSUR English:

Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke out Thursday against a proposed wall by Argentina’s Mauricio Macri government alongside its shared northern border with Bolivia and Paraguay.

“We are countries of the Patria Grande (Latin America) and we cannot follow the North and its policies, building walls to divide us,” Morales tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, right-wing Argentine congressman Alfredo Olmedo proposed legislation promoting the construction of a wall in an effort to curb immigration.

“I agree 100% with Trump,” Olmedo said, according to The Guardian.

“I know that border very well, and a wall is the solution. We have to build a wall.”

Olmedo was born and raised in Argentina’s northern Rosario de la Frontera province, which shares a border with both Bolivia and Paraguay.

Morales also criticized President Macri’s recent executive order on immigration. Last Monday, the right-wing head of state signed a decree amending the country’s immigration laws in order to speed up the deportation of foreigners who have committed crimes. The decree also prohibits the entry of foreign citizens into the South American country if they have prior criminal convictions.

“Discriminatory policies that condemn and criminalize migration are a shameful retreat to rights conquered by our peoples,” Morales tweeted on Friday morning, adding that the Bolivian government is urging the international community to take action.

Melissa McCarthy captures Sean Spicer


Saturday Night Live made an inspired casting choice when they picked comedian Melissa McCarthy to play the White House Press Secretary.

She nails Spicer’s combative relationship with the press with precision.

Enjoy:

Sean Spicer Press Conference – SNL


Program note:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer [Melissa McCarthy] and secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos [Kate McKinnon] take questions from the press ]Bobby Moynihan, Kristen Stewart, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day].

Did Pussygrabber threaten to invade Mexico?


Both the Associated Press and a leading Mexican journalist report that a leaked transcript of a call between Narcissist of Pensylvania Avenue and his Mexican counterpart, Donald Trump threatened to send the army South of the Border to take charge and kick ass.

From the Associated Press:

President Donald Trump warned in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpt of the call did not detail who exactly Trump considered “bad hombres,” nor did it make clear the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response. Mexico denies that Trump’s remarks were threatening.

Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remarks suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.

>snip<

The phone call between the leaders was intended to patch things up between the new president and his ally. The two have had a series of public spats over Trump’s determination to have Mexico pay for the planned border wall, something Mexico steadfastly refuses to agree to.

“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

If Trump really said it [Peña’s mouthpiece firmly denies it], it wouldn’t be the first time, or the second, or even the third.

And make no mistake, sending troops into another country to wage war on civilians [even if they are criminals] is the very definition of invasion.

A Mexican journalist adds context

The reporter who reported on the transcript offered a strong affirmation of her report.

From teleSUR English:

Mexican journalist Dolia Estevez has defended the veracity of the claims she made Wednesday about a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto, in which the former used a “humiliating” and “threatening” tone.

The information has been strongly rejected by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said Estevez used absolute “falsehoods” and acted with “obvious malice.”

“The ministry is lying and exerting the same tactic used by Peña Nieto against critical Mexican journalists by trying to discredit my information,” Estevez said in an interview with Aristegui Noticias Thursday morning.

>snip<

According to Estevez’s reports, Trump told Peña Nieto that he could be forced to send in troops to deal with the southern neighbor’s “bad hombres.” CNN reports that a White House official also denied this information. “Even the Mexican government is disputing these reports,” the source said.

Estevez said that time is again proving her points to be true. A phone call between President Trump and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also led to a diplomatic rift between two allied countries after the two leaders exchanged harsh words over refugee policy and Trump abruptly ended the call.

“I don’t understand why the Mexican government is trying to hide this issue. I mean Trump has shown a hostile tone against several world leaders like Turnbull. Why would Peña Nieto be the exception? Now they call me a liar, but it is the Mexican government who is lying again,” Estevez said.

The Washington-based award-winning journalist also mentioned that Mexico’s Foreign Ministry is lying when they rejected her report about a meeting held on Jan. 31, between Mexico’s top diplomat Luis Videgaray and the United States Northern and Southern Command chiefs. According to Estevez, the encounter took place in the southern border city of Tapachula, Mexico.

The U.S. embassy in Mexico said the meeting was part of a cooperation plan to reinforce security at Mexico’s border with Guatemala and that it was scheduled a long time ago. However, they did not reveal who attended the meeting.

And now for some comic relief. . .

For your amusement a report on Trump’s call and other events of the second week of his presidency from Late Night with Seth Meyers:

Trump’s Second Week Is as Chaotic as His First: A Closer Look

Program notes:

Seth takes a closer look at the confusion surrounding President Trump’s controversial travel ban and his bizarre calls with foreign leaders.

Philippine cops, vigilantes paid cash for killings


More than 7,000 people have been murdered since Rodrigo Duterte took the helm as president of the Philippines last 30 June, and the government is paying bounties for each body.

And the killers are cops and vigilantes, eager to capture some of that wealth for themselves.

The slain are alleged drug dealers as well as folks who merely used drugs, but if they were, we’ll never know, since the rewards are paid only for killings, not captures.

Duterte is no stranger to murder. He’s boasted about it, telling this to an audience of business owners last month:

“In Davao [where he served as mayor] I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you. And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”

And back in September, when then-President Barack Obama dared to criticize Duterte’s bloody vigilantism, here’s how Duterte responded prior to a meeting with Obama and other regional leaders, via Agence France Presse:

“If you are poor you are killed”: Extrajudicial Executions in the Philippines’ “War on Drugs,” a devasting new report from Amnesty International, provides a look at both the killers and some of their victims, and it’s truly sobering.

From the organization’s announcement of the report some detail about the bounties and the killers:

Incited by the rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte, the police, paid killers on their payroll, and unknown armed individuals have slain more than a thousand people a month under the guise of a national campaign to eradicate drugs. Since President Rodrigo Duterte came to office seven months ago, there have been more than 7,000 drug-related killings, with the police directly killing at least 2,500 alleged drug offenders.

Amnesty International’s investigation, documents in detail 33 cases that involved the killings of 59 people. Researchers interviewed 110 people across the Philippines’ three main geographical divisions, detailing extrajudicial executions in 20 cities across the archipelago. The organisation also examined documents, including police reports.

>snip<

The police killings are driven by pressures from the top, including an order to “neutralize” alleged drug offenders, as well as financial incentives they have created an informal economy of death, the report details.

Speaking to Amnesty International, a police officer with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1, who has served in the force for a decade and conducts operations as part of an anti-illegal drugs unit in Metro Manila, described how the police are paid per “encounter” the term used to falsely present extrajudicial executions as legitimate operations.

“We always get paid by the encounter…The amount ranges from 8,000 pesos (US $161) to 15,000 pesos (US $302)… That amount is per head. So if the operation is against four people, that’s 32,000 pesos (US $644)… We’re paid in cash, secretly, by headquarters…There’s no incentive for arresting. We’re not paid anything.”

The chilling incentive to kill people rather than arrest them was underscored by the Senior Police Officer, who added: “It never happens that there’s a shootout and no one is killed.”

The experienced frontline police officer told Amnesty International that some police have established a racket with funeral homes, who reward them for each dead body sent their way. Witnesses told Amnesty International that the police also enrich themselves by stealing from the victims’ homes, including objects of sentimental value.

The police are behaving like the criminal underworld that they are supposed to be enforcing the law against, by carrying out extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers and “contracting out” killings.

More than 4,100 of the drug-related killings in the Philippines over the past six months have been carried out by unknown armed individuals. “Riding in tandem”, as the phenomenon is known locally, two motorcycle-borne people arrive, shoot their targets dead, and speed away.

Two paid killers told Amnesty International that they take orders from a police officer who pays them 5,000 pesos (US $100) for each drug user killed and 10,000 to 15,000 pesos (US $200-300) for each “drug pusher” killed. Before Duterte took power, the paid killers said, they had two “jobs” a month. Now, they have three or four a week.

The targets often come from unverified lists of people suspected to use or sell drugs drawn up by local government officials. Regardless of how long ago someone may have taken drugs, or how little they used or sold, they can find their names irrevocably added to the lists.

In other cases, their names could be added arbitrarily, because of a vendetta or because there are incentives to kill greater numbers of people deemed drug users and sellers.