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Longwood Gardens. Photo by joanneleon. January, 2013








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Plenty of disdain for the protesters from the Very Serious journalists and Very Sophisticated film critics.  And the projections were later blocked by a black curtain which is kind of ironic.  Bigelow gave a speech before the premier and her tune has changed quite a bit since the early interviews given before the film opened.  She also specifically mentioned that the research was done by Mark Boal, the screenwriter who also happens to have been an embedded reporter early in the Iraq war.  One wonders who embedded the impression that torture led to finding bin Laden.  After watching the Charlie Rose interview, I always suspected that he had more to do with that message and that Bigelow was more focused on the depiction of torture.  Clearly she wanted it to be an enormously important part of the film though, given the intensity of the scenes, the film time dedicated to and the key placement of the segment, and the lengths to which they went in filming it at a Jordanian prison.

Anti-Torture Protestors Target 'Zero Dark Thirty' Washington Premiere

Protestors in the most prominent group, affiliated with human rights monitor Amnesty International, all were clad in matching orange jumpsuits with black hoods. They object to what they allege is the film’s favorable depiction of torture by U.S. intelligence operatives. One group member hoisted a sign branding the film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden a “Pentagon-sanctioned movie."

Amnesty Protests Torture DC Premiere of Zero Dark Thirty  January 8, 2013, Washington DC - The Newseum
D.C.'s 'Zero Dark Thirty' premiere brings celebrities, controversy

Some protesters were dressed to look like Guantanamo Bay detainees in orange jumpsuits with black bags over their heads. They were led by a man in a t-shirt that read "Shut Down Guantanamo".

At one point, someone outside the Newseum projected the words "Torture Is Wrong Amnesty International" through a window and onto the background above the red carpet where the media was waiting indoors to interview VIPs.

A black curtain was put up to block the projection from coming through the window.

Protesters at the 'Zero Dark Thirty' Premiere in DC Weren't Very Subtle

After being condemned by the CIA, investigated by the Senate and picked apart by every arm chair movie critic in America, Zero Dark Thirty just premiered in Washington DC, and -- surprise, surprise! -- there were protesters. The film's director Kathryn Bigelow, writer Mark Boal and a number of lawmakers were greeted by at least a dozen activists wearing neon orange jumpsuits and black hoods outside the Newseum on Tuesday night. This is not your normal breed of picket-pumping protesters. These guys, evidently organized by Amnesty International, invoked still-haunting images from Guantanamo and pointed directly at Zero Dark Thirty's controversial torture scenes. Several held a banner that read simply "Cruel, Inhuman & Degrading." Another held up a sign that branded the film as a "Pentagon-sanctioned movie." They're not too far off, either.

Zero Dark Thirty: Former Guantanamo Guard Reacts To Torture Scenes (VIDEO)

Neely went on to discuss his time in Iraq and the U.S. government in general: "I risked my life for five years and went to Iraq and fought a war that was based on lies. I was sent to Guantanamo and told everyone was a terrorist -- that was a lie. So, basically, for five years, I gave my best to my government and all they did was lie to me."

Zero Dark Thirty Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

"On the one hand you have a population who is happy to accept the main media narrative about American exceptionalism and on the other hand you have Hollywood and art being discussed when actually it's just, it's frankly propaganda."
"the far more disturbing and pernicious part is what you just described which is that if you now have the CIA and US government able to shape mass entertainment products which tens of millions of people are going to see, people who usually don't pay attention to politics, the hundreds of millions of dollars that go into these films, the incredibly manipulative techniques that shape them, have the CIA start to use mass entertainment now to propagate the citizenry about its policies, about the rightness of its perspective, to view us as this objectively good force and all of our enemies as this objective evil, so that whatever we do to them is justified, that is incredibly pernicious.  That's not just state propaganda, the kind the CIA has been engaging in for decades.  It's unprecedentedly effective propaganda because it's now merging Hollywood and the US government and that's exactly what this film project is.  They relied almost exclusively on the CIA.  They got secret information from the CIA that was refusing to release to courts or activist groups in the name of secrecy. There was incredibly close cooperation and as is always true whenever someone embeds in an agency or gets this special access they pay it back in kind through the message being so accomodating to the interests of an agenda of the CIA."

Obama's timing is impeccable again.  Several weeks after his Drill Baby Drill speech, we had the BP blowout.  Days after the announcement of Obama's Cheney for CIA Director slot, the Zero Dark Thirty movie is out in a wider theater release and torture protesters are out in front the showings with both in person orange suited protesters or big projections on walls saying "torture is wrong".
Obama’s CIA Pick Stinks of Torture, Targeted Killings
John Brennan has spent the last four years as President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser and the “architect” of the administration’s expansive drone assassination program. Some time before that, he was a deputy executive director of the CIA when that agency pioneered the use of extradition and torture under President George W. Bush.

Rather than use his electoral victory to shove a dove down the throat of the national security establishment, President Obama seems to be sticking it to the left, by nominating the intelligence veteran to head the CIA. Brennan was prevented from becoming CIA director in Obama’s last term because the former chief of staff to Bush’s CIA director George Tenet had the stink of torture about him. Now, he is the man most credited with an assassination program that features, among other things, a secret presidential kill list.

In his nomination announcement of Brennan, the president spoke of the intelligence officer’s many years of service, his travels in the Arabian Peninsula, and his acknowledgement that we are a nation of laws. Interesting.

Interesting, or Orwellian? Considering the fact that he is appointing a blatant war criminal to head the CIA?  Another thing I'd like to know is why Brennan was not confirmable in 2009 but he is suddenly confirmable in 2013 even though he has become a war criminal since then.  Was something traded in some deal for Brennan's confirmation by the Senate?
Brennan Attacks First Responders Again

In a sane world, John Brennan would be on his best behavior while his nomination to lead the CIA is pending approval in the Senate. Sadly, the world we inhabit has become so insane that Brennan’s “best behavior” appears to be a return to drone strikes that come with alarming frequency and include so many missiles fired at each target that it seems likely Brennan has returned to the war crime of attacking first responders who are attempting to rescue survivors at the attack site.

Afghan soldier kills 1, wounds 6 in latest insider attack

On Jan. 6, a member of the Afghan National Army turned his weapon on ISAF troops in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding six more. This latest green-on-blue, or insider, attack, is the first such incident in 2013 and the 73rd reported since Jan. 1, 2008, according to The Long War Journal's statistics in Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.

John Brennan and his drone program are out of control.  So what should the president do about it?  Promote him, of course!
U.S. Drone Strikes Increase With Start Of New Year
Wired's Spencer Ackerman writes:
A trio of drone-fired missile strikes between Wednesday and Thursday killed a Pakistani Taliban commander and at least 19 others. Another on Sunday reportedly killed another 17 people, bringing the estimated death toll in this young year to 35.

The strikes come one day after the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan warned of the 'overuse' of aerial reconnaissance and attack drones. Retired General Stanley McChrystal said that while drones have enabled smaller missions, they have exacerbated "a perception of American arrogance," that can harm American interests in the long run.

"What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world," McChrystal said, according to Reuters. "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one."

Obama and the Transformation Illusion
The US president's floundering overshadows himself when the real problems seem to be avoided

Everyone has an ideology, whether they know it or not. But when your ideology has you - that's when you're an ideologue. It's not a matter of "extremism" but of rigidity and blindness - detachment from reality. Which is why Barack Obama is one of the most ideological presidents we've ever had. And being imprisoned in his "pragmatist" ideology is key to his numerous pragmatic train wrecks, as well his less-noted failures to even take on several really big, really significant problems.
Unfortunately, however, smart people can often be quite dumb - not just do dumb things, but do them over and over and over again. And while Obama's rapid rise to power was a tale that highlighted his intelligence, his time in office - now at its half-way point - has been a tale that highlights the limits of that intelligence. Those limits are deeply implicated in his ideology - a fanatical belief in compromise, no matter what - that has served him admirably on a personal level in his rapid climb to power, but that fundamentally cripples him in the exercise of that power once it is in his hands.
It's not just that Obama was still negotiating with himself, rewarding Boehner's incompetence with a series of ill-conceived and fruitless concessions, which only weakened him; it's that the entire enterprise is supremely idiotic, on at least three counts: First because it's an invented political problem, not a real world problem. Second, because the larger goal of the process - budget balancing - is a fool's errand for Democrats, in light of how quickly (and gleefully) Republicans undid that very same accomplishment under Bill Clinton, as soon as they got back into power. Third, because America does have very serious real-world problems that need dealing with, which are not just being neglected in the "fiscal cliff" drama, but are being made even worse.

Does anybody really think there will be a trillion dollar coin minted?  Why are so many people on the left holding out with seems to be a false hope?  It diverts energies from getting out on the streets and around the White House and Capitol with protests.  It distracts from organizing.  Are the left grassroots going to delay organizing until the last minute or until after the deed is done and nothing will change it?  Where are the grassroots left who should be organizing massive protests?  I guess they are in the same place where they've been for every other critical issue that they should have organized for -- in their veal pen.  About this article though... I really don't buy the "Compromiser-in-Chief" or that he is a bad negotiator.  I believe he is an ideologue who serves the 1% and who is determined to cut our earned benefit entitlement programs.  On most things, I pay no attention to his speeches and pay exclusive attention to his actions.  However, on the issue of undermining the New Deal, I take him on his word.  After watching him go to any length to create the catfood commission to get this ball rolling, it was clear that he was determined to do it.
Fool Us Again: 30 Years of Bait and Switch Budget Politics
Republican Blackmail, Press Malfeasance, and Democratic Complicity Are Rewarding the Rich and Cheating the Rest of Us

You’re going to be hearing a lot from Republicans about the horrors of debt and deficits in the next couple of weeks.  The last time they cranked up their fear machine prior to a vote on the debt ceiling, it caused a downgrading of the US credit rating and cost us some $90 billion.  You know, crashing the economy in order to save it.

Let’s be clear:  Republicans don’t give a damn about debt and deficits.

In fact, the bulk of our current and projected deficit is a direct result of Republican policies. And Republicans watched in silence as Reagan tripled the deficit and Bush doubled it.  Both Cheney and Reagan claimed deficits don’t matter, and again, conservatives nodded in agreement.
Republicans are trying to accomplish through the back door that which they could never accomplish directly: gutting social security; Medicare; Medicaid; Pell grants; unemployment insurance; and regulatory programs covering the environment, labor, worker safety, food and drug safety, the financial sector and anything else which might get in the way of giant giveaways to oligarchs, plutocrats and fat cats.


The theory was, when deficits were large enough, people would have no choice but to support cuts to these popular programs.


The Compromiser-in-Chief can’t seem to help himself.  He seems programmed to play the Republican game; to take seriously, what amounts to utter nonsense.

Most people have no freaking clue how this went down and what a fraudulent scam it is.  Wall Street won again.  Most Americans never knew what hit them. But there's no doubt when you talk to people of all political stripes and no matter their level of involvement or knowledge about politics -- people know that criminal fraud occurred on a massive level.   I can't decide which crime was the crime of the century anymore.
$8.5 Billion Foreclosure Fraud Settlement: Yet Another Loss for Homeowners Touted as a Victory

It’s bad enough to see long suffering homeowners take it once again in the chin, thanks to the way the bank regulators prostrate themselves before their supposed charges. It adds insult to injury to see this type of ritualized sellout yet again presented as a boon for consumers.

It turns out we were not cynical enough. We recounted in a post last week in gory detail that the information that leaked out as the reviews were underway showed not only that the review process was every bit as corrupt as we expected. It was also, peculiarly, turning out to be (per the banks) very costly. We couldn’t fathom the latter (we discussed how implausible the hours claimed to have been spent per borrower file were). The only explanations we can fathom are 1. that the banks were doing a lot more than OCC file review (as in they were bundling in “file remediation” as in cleanup/document fabrication) and 2. people were being paid to do nothing (we’ve gotten reports from insiders that some high-skill temps were kept “on the beach” at the start of the process).

'Before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment.'

"The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. "He's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes."

Listen to him calling out his fellow senators in committee.

"If you wanted a safe job," Hagel said memorably, "go sell shoes."

No pricey Beltway word whore could come up with "Go sell shoes." Not enough poetry. No Churchillian carillon ringing through the image. But the language is changing as the country's calling, because the war's gone bad.

Country's calling now. War's gone bad and nobody's listening, and the country's calling the way it always does, like the moan of a train whistle, soft and distant at first, but with increasing power behind it, the way the trains come through all the small places where Chuck Hagel grew up in Nebraska. All the little towns, where everyone knew if your father was drunk and smashed up the car or lost his job, where every family kept secrets that every other family knew anyway but were too polite or kind to mention. Rushville and York and Ainsworth.

Judge Rules Bradley Manning Illegally Treated, But Upholds Charges
Grants mere 112 days credit for 'torture'

A military judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss charges against whistleblower Bradley Manning, instead granting him a mere 112 days credit off any eventual sentence after finding he endured unlawful pretrial punishment during his three years at the Quantico brig.

"She confirmed that Bradley was mistreated, and vindicated the massive protest effect that was required to stop the Marines at Quantico from torturing Bradley," Jeff Peterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network said in a release. "Yet 112 days is not nearly enough to hold the military accountable for their actions."

Hmm.  Not a bad idea.  I don't think I've seen this kind of civil disobedience before. It would be great to get a lot of cases into the courts about whether or not a corp is a person, perhaps a first step toward overturning Citizens United and toward campaign finance reform.
Frieman contests carpool violation, corporate personhood...

A lone Marin driver’s naughty sneak into the carpool lane could spell the end of corporate personhood as we know it—or at least that’s San Rafael resident Jonathan Frieman’s plan, as he heads to Marin Superior Court next week to challenge a traffic violation and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  

Frieman was heading south on Highway 101 through Novato on Oct. 2 when he was cited for violating California vehicle code 21655.5, which prohibits drivers from entering unauthorized vehicle lanes—in Frieman’s case, being a solo occupant in a lane requiring two or more persons. But Frieman plans to contest the $478 violation in court on Jan. 7, arguing that he had corporate incorporation papers in his car at the time and, he says, the state vehicle code views corporations as persons—therefore he and his corporation constituted a two-person carpool.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues

'Stop & Frisk' Dealt Major Blow in NYC by Federal Judge.

2012 Warmest on Record in U.S. by 1°F: NOAA

The House 67: Roll Call -- Hurricane Sandy's Hall of Shame

Caption the Cartoon: Global Fever

WTF?! $30 Billion to end hunger?!

A.I.G. May Sue U.S. Gov’t For $25 Billion As It Airs “Thank You, America!” TV Ad

Lynyrd Skynyrd - God and Guns


Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 05:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Canadian Kossacks and Team DFH.

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