Links & Commentary – Jan. 4, 2017

Gretchen RiverThe RESISTANCE: mobilizing against Trump; fake news and Russian propaganda; startling revelation about Saddam, the aspiring novelist. Oh, and  Russia! Russia! Russia!

U.S. Fate 2016

The Gathering Storm of Protest Against Trump [The New Yorker]
Just after the November 8 election, Evan Osnos wrote, “Anna Galland, the executive director of, told me this week, ‘I expect mass peaceful protests with hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, around the Inauguration and in other moments.’

“Already, protests from Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C., have gathered more momentum than progressive organizations had expected. ‘MoveOn and our allies are sprinting to catch up to the mass movement that’s emerging,’ Galland said. ‘We did three hundred and fifty peaceful gatherings less than twenty-four hours after the election results were announced. Then over the weekend you saw tens of thousands of people marching in the streets.'”

So the demonstrations were organized. No proof yet of where the funding came from.

Sanders campaign manager: Don’t buy David Brock’s blame game for Clinton loss [The Hill]
Jeff Weaver, Bernie’s embattled campaign manager, hits back at David Brock, the Democratic operative so slimy that top Clinton campaign staff privately held their noses while taking advantage of his pro-Hillary trolling.

The Brockian delusion is dangerous because it gives the corporatist elements of the Democratic Party an excuse to avoid the hard questions that need to be asked in light of Trump’s win.

“In his speech at the first major gathering of Democratic lawmakers since the election, Brock expressed his anger at the ‘disaffected millennials who sat on their hands in the most consequential election of our lives.’ … But the Brockian delusion is dangerous because it gives the corporatist elements of the Democratic Party an excuse to avoid the hard questions that need to be asked in light of Trump’s win.”


The Real History of Fake News [Columbia Journalism Review]
Terrific historical perspective by David Uberti. Still, it doesn’t excuse being a propaganda sheet for the government – at least, not in a democratic society.

The dangers of mystifying Trump [Columbia Journalism Review]
“The atmosphere still echoes with warnings both from and to the media against ‘normalizing’ Donald Trump. But the danger for journalists lies not in normalizing Trump—whatever that means. The great danger is in mystifying him.”

Finally, some sanity! Hopefully not too late to avert a civil war.

In a time of many questions, literary journalism provides an answer [Columbia Journalism Review]
In other words, journalists are not able to maintain their professionalism and report objectively on Trump, so they need an excuse to write about their feelings. Memo to reporters: Readers want fair and accurate reporting. They don’t give a flying fuck about your feelings.

Propaganda Wars

The Cynical Gambit to Make ‘Fake News’ Meaningless [The Atlantic]
As journalists push back against hoaxes and conspiracies, media skeptics are using charges of “fake news” against professionals.

A new normal in journalism for the age of Trump [Columbia Journalism Review]
Yet another example of freedom of speech being curtailed by the corporate media before the “fascist” even puts his hand on the Bible. CJR has been fairly objective when others are coming totally unglued, but in this heavily polarized atmosphere, even the arbiter of media integrity and professionalism can’t remain totally neutral.

Facebook drains the fake news swamp with new, experimental partnerships [Columbia Journalism Review]
By Emily Bell, director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School. Bell thinks social media must act to stop “fake news.” She just doesn’t get it that they are using “fake news” as an excuse to take down legitimate indy news sites. This shows that there are real consequences to the new McCarthyism.

How the U.S. media fails to defend itself against foreign propaganda [WaPo]
Op-ed by Eric Chenoweth, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. Published on Nov. 1, a week before Election Day. And already it was Russia! Russia! Russia!

If you track this story backwards, it’s not hard to see that this was Deep State strategic planning. The thing is, they all thought Hillary Clinton was going to win, so if they were setting up a conflict with Putin, they would have been counting on her to rally the public. Then along comes Donald Trump and throws a monkey wrench in their plan. There are plenty of reasons to oppose Trump, but the intelligence and foreign policy communities don’t give a shit about his sexist, racist, and anti-Muslim comments. Especially his anti-Muslim comments. So why have they come totally unhinged? Maybe because he’s refusing to go along with their plan? Time to take him up in the airplane and show him the severed head …

Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story [WaPo]
“In assessing Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Americans continue to look away from this election’s most alarming story: the successful effort by a hostile foreign power to manipulate public opinion before the vote.”

Gee, another op-ed by Chenoweth. If at first you don’t succeed … Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe receives funding from the Open Society Foundation (Soros), the U.S. Agency for International Development (supposedly an independent agency, but a notorious cover for the CIA that’s funded through the State Department budget), and the National Endowment for Democracy (gets most of its funding from Congress and is notoriously pro-war, anti-Putin). Maybe it’s just a coincidence that some guy in an Eastern European NGO nobody’s ever heard of was all over this story even before the U.S. media began chanting, “Russia! Russia! Russia!”

Magnified version of photo shows potential Homeland Security secretary’s plan for ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants [Business Insider]
But what was it hiding? Typical of the latest wave of slanted news.

Red Scare

Is Skepticism Treason? [The Nation]
Despite the scores of media pieces which assert that Russia’s interference in the election is “case closed,” some cyber experts say skepticism is still in order.


Trump advisors aim to privatize oil-rich Indian reservations [Reuters]

The Gangbanksters

The Vampire Squid Occupies Trump’s White House [Rolling Stone]
After running against Goldman as a candidate, Donald Trump licks the boots of the world’s largest investment bank. By Matt Taibbi.

New World Pecking Order

Donald Trump’s success is built on the ruins of the Third Way [New Statesman]
”The collapse in the Democratic Party vote shows the bankruptcy of their strategy: the time of the Third Way has come to an end. With decades of political experience and the enthusiastic backing of media and economic elites on both coasts, Hillary Clinton was the perfect candidate for the Democratic platform. Previous setbacks — her loss to Obama in 2008, Benghazi, the email server — had since been turned to her advantage: Clinton turned out the Southern vote to defeat Bernie Sanders in the primaries, outwitted her partisan opponents during 11 hours of Congressional hearings, and finally brought the FBI to heel. Hillary’s “Lean In” feminism and multicultural appeal were perfectly attuned to her economic and political platform, as advertised in the speeches to Goldman Sachs. The Democratic Party’s 1% — open to applications from all — was poised to smash the glass ceiling of the 0.1%.”

The Resistance

Open Society Foundations Announce $10 Million Initiative to Confront Hate [Open Society Foundation]
The flagship organization of the George Soros global hydra announced this grant program a couple of weeks after the election of Donald Trump and says it’s for “rapid response” programs. The grant period closes in mid-February, although they say all of the money might be gone before then. Like, maybe before January 20?

Financial Astrology

MMA Free Weekly Column For 2016-12-26 [MMA Cycles]
By Ray Merriman, founder and CEO of the Merriman Market Analyst.

“Thus, we enter 2017 with a sense of both excitement and trepidation about “What will happen next?” With a cardinal T-square now in effect late November through January 12, and then again February 22-April 21, we need to get used to the idea that it is impossible to get used to anything. These are signatures suggesting a very unknown quality is afoot. We can have hope, and we can expect changes and surprising events, but we don’t know the form these changes or surprising events will take. The whole world will be in a heightened state of vigilance, watching for something new, as well as something amiss. The vigilance will focus upon liberties and freedoms, key terms related to Uranus. Will they be expanded, or will they be trampled upon? And if the latter, who will have the courage (Aries) to speak up?”

Shadow Government

Review: ‘Debriefing the President’ Tears Into the C.I.A. [NYT]
Review for The New York Times, Dec. 18, by James Risen, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author of two books on the CIA. Risen writes:

“Mr. Nixon’s book comes at an extraordinary moment, when President-elect Donald J. Trump is already at war with the C.I.A. He has attacked the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help his candidacy, and he has cited the agency’s failures on prewar intelligence on Iraq as an example of how the C.I.A. is often wrong.

“Debriefing the President” will add fuel to the fire of the Trump-led criticism. It will also send a chilling warning to anyone counting on the C.I.A. to stand up to Mr. Trump once he is in office.”

Among the “gobsmacking facts” in Nixon’s book is that Saddam Hussein wasn’t even running the Iraqi government by the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. He essentially was in semi-retirement to write a novel.

Saddam Hussein wasn’t even running the Iraqi government by the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. He essentially was in semi-retirement to write a novel.

“Hussein described himself to Mr. Nixon as both president of Iraq and a writer, and complained to Mr. Nixon that the United States military had taken away his writing materials, preventing him from finishing his book,” Risen writes in his review. “Hussein was certainly a brutal dictator, but the man described by Mr. Nixon was not on a mission to blow up the world, as George W. Bush’s administration had claimed to justify the invasion.

“Strikingly, Mr. Nixon says that the C.I.A. had some evidence that this was the case before the invasion, but that ‘it was never relayed to policy makers and emerged only after the war.’ By 2003, Mr. Nixon writes, Hussein’s disengagement meant that he ‘appeared to be as clueless about what was happening inside Iraq as his British and American enemies were.’”

Did this review cause vicious arguments among your Facebook friends? Did you read about the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing into these explosive charges? Oh, wait …

Russia! Russia! Russia!

CIA Interrogator: At Time of U.S. Invasion, Saddam Hussein Was Focused on Writing Novel, Not WMDs [DemocracyNow!]
Amy Goodman and Juan González of DemocracyNow! speak to former CIA analyst John Nixon, author of the new book, Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.


All the biggest moments of 2016. All in the Vimeo zodiac [Vimeo]
OK, so this is an ad. But it’s interesting they chose an astrology theme, and even more interesting that they actually got the characteristics right.

“Every December, we see lots of cool brands whip up end-of-the-year timelines filled with benchmarks and charts. We’ve done that in the past, too — but this year was so cosmically massive, we had to do something different. Cue the Vimeo zodiac: now you can explore all of 2016’s most astounding video-filled moments, and seek your horoscope as you go: relive our 10K Staff Picks celebration in Aquarius, overcome Mercury Retrograde with your new profile page, find your true north with Vimeo Business’ powerful video-marketing tools … and so much more.”

Planetary Cycles

Tuesday Jan. 3, 2017 Venus enters Pisces 2:47 AM EST
Wednesday Jan. 4, 2017 Mercury enters Sagittarius 9:17 AM EST
Saturday Jan. 7, 2017 Sun conjunct Pluto 1:45 AM EST
Sunday Jan. 8, 2017 Mercury retrograde ends 1:43 AM EST

One-Minute Meditation
Image: © Gretchen Friedrich
Image: © Gretchen Friedrich