Posts Tagged ‘Bill Mankiewicz’

The Young Turks on Bernie Sanders at the White House Urging Action against DAPL

November 28, 2016

Yesterday I posted a piece from The Young Turks’ reporter, Jordan Cheriton, interviewing Oscar Salazar, one of the water protectors demonstrating against the North Dakota pipeline. Mr Salazar is an immense fan of Bernie Sanders, and invited the self-declared ‘democratic Socialist’ politico to make a personal visit to Standing Rock. Bernie Sanders has been a vocal supporter of the water protectors for a long time, joining their struggle before most other big name supporters. He is also known for his own interest and support in Native American issues, in sharp contrast to the majority of American politicians. The media were surprised during his campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year when he took the time to talk to Native delegates to the Convention, and he has visited and spoken to Native Americans about the issues that matter to them on their reservations.

In this short clip from The Young Turks, Michael Shure, Jimmy Dore and Bill Mankiewicz discuss the speech Sanders made at the White House, urging Barack Obama step in and stop the pipeline, even if it means declaring the area a national monument. Every environmental study states that this is necessary. Shure states that he believes that Obama is not ignoring the protest simply to obey the wishes of powerful corporate donors. But he doesn’t know why he isn’t acting either. Jimmy Dore, who is also bitterly critical of Obama’s foreign policy stance and his legacy in continuing Bush’s wars and the expansion of the surveillance state, states that he doesn’t know either, particularly how Obama can sleep at night knowing that the pipeline, and very many other injustices, are going on. He also quotes a speech from Obama, in which he talked about restoring tribal self-determination, security and prosperity to Native Americans, and while they couldn’t erase the scourge of broken promises in the past, they could move together in creating a new chapter in their shared history. Dore concluded from this that Obama knows what to say, he just doesn’t know about putting it into practice. Both Dore and Mankiewicz state that he should do so now. Mankiewicz also states that he thinks that Obama called the army engineers, believing this was enough to sort the matter out, at least until it became someone else’s problem. It hasn’t, and the problem is escalating.

As Dore’s quote shows, people have long memories, and the part of the media that is actually serious about doing its job does hold politicians to the promises they make. And unfortunately for Obama, the demonstrators at Standing Rock are very well aware that the violation of the Sioux nation’s reservation for this pipeline fits in the with the long history of broken promises and the forcible seizure of tribal land. If the president ever was serious about this speech – if it was ever anything more than pretty words – then he should do something about it now, and stop the pipeline becoming yet another entry in that long list of broken promises.

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Newt Gingrich Wants to Introduce Thought Crime for Muslims

July 17, 2016

Here’s another video from The Young Turks, discussing another step in the downward path of American politics towards authoritarianism and repression. After the horrific terror attack in Nice on Friday, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representative under George Bush senior and Clinton, and Trump’s possible Vice President, has finally decided that the First Amendment shouldn’t apply to Muslims. He made a speech declaring that Muslims, who believe in sharia law should not be allowed into the country. Those who do, madrassas that teach it, and Muslims, who look up jihadist websites, should be expelled.

John Iadarola, Bill Mankiewicz and Jimmy Dore talk about how undemocratic this is. They point out that this is thought-crime, like the absolute control by the state of people’s opinions and ideas in Orwell’s 1984. Gingrich also stated that this should apply not only to Muslims, but to people with Muslim backgrounds. They also point out he want to criminalise people, who go to hardline Islamic websites no matter how much time they spend there. Cenk Uygur, one of the other anchors, is from a Turkish Muslim background, and they have all looked at hardline Islamist websites while doing research for news stories. Therefore, Cenk and they would be expelled under Gingrich’s legislation. They also point out that America is should be in no danger of having a theocratic government, as the Constitution stipulates that America is a secular state. Furthermore, that looseness with which that part of the legislation is framed would permit anyone, to have someone they disliked deported simply by hacking into their computer or sending them a link on their email. If someone wanted to get rid of a noisy neighbour, they could rickroll them with a link to an Islamist website, and whoa! The next thing that person’s on the plane.

Muslims themselves constitute less than three per cent of the American population. They also point out that if you ask immigrating Muslims if they believe in sharia government, they will deny it simply to get in, even if they do believe it. Furthermore, he points out that many American Christians also want a Christian theocratic government. They also state that a Muslim spokesman for one of the American thinktanks has stated that there are too many people, who know nothing about Islam, telling Muslims what their faith should be. Dore compares the Islamic sharia to Roman Catholic canon law, the body of religious law that governs the Roman Catholic church and its believers faith and practice. He claims that canon law in effect sanctions the abuse of children, because the church claimed that all the priests guilty of the crime would be punished according to canon law, when they were let off. Dore also wonders how many Muslims know about sharia law, considering very few Roman Catholics in practice know about canon law. The Turks also cite an unnamed atheist, who said that he considered American Muslims westernised, and so not the threat that the Right believes they are.

After coming out with this very hardline attack on American Muslims’ civil rights, Gingrich gave another interview backtracking somewhat, and claiming that he had a been misrepresented in the media storm that followed. He then claimed that devout Muslims, who were loyal to America, should have their rights absolutely protected, along with those of their children and other relatives.

Here’s the video.

In fairness to those, who do fear the imposition of sharia law, there have been instances in recent American history where a cult has tried to take over a community and turn it into a theocracy. The last time this occurred was in the 70’s and 80s, when one of the Indian gurus tried to take over a town in Oregon and turn it into a theocracy, ruled by his cult and followers. It failed, because the traditional townspeople resisted and invoked the Constitution. This was, however, one of the New Religious Movements based on Hinduism, rather than Islam, and I haven’t heard of Muslims, or mainstream Hindus either, for that matter, trying to anything like that.

The German counter-terrorism legislation did provide for the immigration authorities to question Muslim migrants if they believed in theocratic government. This is because the German system has government as the Basic Law as its fundamental article of state. This was introduced as part of the denazification programme after the War, and bans any party or organisation that does not recognise democracy. It was invoked in the 1970s to ban the National Democrats, a Neo-Nazi outfit, and then in the 1990s to ban an Anarchist review and a range of Anarchist organisations. However, a few years ago, the Week reported that the Germans were considering removing questions about support for sharia government from the immigration forms, because Muslim immigrants would lie about their support. Quite simply, it didn’t stop terrorists entering the country. I also think they were going to drop it because the question was itself anti-democratic, and they were afraid that heavy-handed policing tactics like this were alienating German Muslims, and driving them towards the Islamists.

As for the question of Roman Catholic canon law and Islamic sharia law, this has been an issue in parts of Canada. I think there was a movement up there in certain provinces, which recognised Roman Catholic canon law and Jewish Beth Din courts as legally recognised authorities governing the faith and practice of those religious communities. This became intensely controversial when a Canadian Muslim wanted sharia law and courts also recognised. He was challenged by a number of organisations, including associations of female former Muslims, who were deeply concerned about the treatment of women under Islamic religious law. I don’t know, but I think the situation may have ended with the Canadian government repealing the legislation granting secular legal authority to all religious courts, regardless of which religion, they belonged to.

I have to say that Gingrich’s comments simply look to me like another embittered, racist Republican trying to compete with Trump, whom The Turks point out is the master of stupid racism. They point out that the Republicans now appear to be a stupid, cartoonish party, and that the only thing they have going for them is that they are competing against Shrillary. All this is true, but displays of prejudice like Gingrich’s and Trump’s are serving to chip away further at the American traditions of free speech and tolerance. They are acting as an endorsement to the increasing racism, and there is a real danger that such intolerance will turn more Muslims towards militant, intolerant forms of Islam as a response to the hostility shown to them by mainstream society.

The Young Turks on the Alt Reich and the Anti-Semitic App

June 9, 2016

After the false allegations of anti-Semitism against leading members of the Labour party, like Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker, comes the real thing on the other side of the Pond. This time, it’s brought to you through the miracle of computer software. A few days ago, the I newspaper carried a very brief story that Google Chrome had taken off an app that was being used to track Jews on-line. This is discussed in this clip from The Young Turks, with the hosts Cenk Uygur, Bill Mankiewicz, Jimmy Dore and John Iadarola. The app was being used by a group of Conservative Trump fans styling themselves the Alt Right. There are about 2,400 of them. The device had a database of Jewish surnames, and was being used to flag up if someone had one of these monickers. The example they give is ‘Fleishman’. If someone had that surname, then the Fleishman would appear in double or triple brackets to indicate they were Jewish, thus (((Fleishman))). The members of the group posted comments about its use, saying that ‘a pattern is emerging’. To their credit, Google removed the app.

Uygur and the others try to be fair to Trump and say that he’s not responsible for their actions, and may not have been aware of what they were doing. But they make the point that he is broadly responsible for what they have done in that he has opened up the racist closet with his attacks on Muslims and Mexicans. When Trump launched his offensive against Muslims, it was rightly condemned by the ADL – the Anti-Defamation League. This is the major US body that protects Jews against anti-Semitic smears and attacks. They did so not just because it was right to condemn all forms of racism and discrimination, but also because once it became permissible to discriminate against one group, that licence would soon spread to attacks on Jews. And it has. Trump has attracted racists and White supremacists to his campaign. He’s tried to distance himself from them, but not very hard, merely stating that he doesn’t know anything about them or their support.

The Turks also have a good, well deserved laugh at the stupidity of these anti-Semites and conspiracy theorist. Bill Mankiewicz, who’s Jewish, jokes that if his people really were out to enslave the world, then why are they talking about it? If they had, there’d be no question about it. The Turks also make the wider point about the contradictions in all these daft conspiracy theories. If White gentiles are the master race, then why aren’t they in charge of everything, instead of the Jews? And also, if they’re so superior, why are their jobs being taken by supposedly racially inferior Mexicans?

Of course these accusations and conspiracies don’t make sense. Their contradictions have been pointed out hundreds of times in books and articles on the Nazis and the international Fascist right. The Turks also point out that it’s very clear when you go on White supremacist websites like Stormfront that most of the Nazi right aren’t as bright as they think they are either. That’s also true. If you look at some of the posts from the various British Nazi organisations Hope Not Hate have reproduced on their website, you’ll find that most of them are badly spelt, with an extremely poor vocabulary, most of which seems to consist of obscenity and curses. A left-wing friend of mine, who very definitely isn’t racist, also told me he once read a copy of Spearhead, the NF rag he found in the gutter outside his house after a football match, and couldn’t believe just how stupid and moronic it was. But the reality is that Trump, by advocating racist policies, has made genuine racism and Nazism just that little more acceptable in America. Here’s the video:

The Young Turks on Trump Wanting to Kill Muslims with Bullets Dipped in Pig’s Blood

February 23, 2016

Trump & Hitler

More verbal brutality from the prospective generalissimo of America. In this clip from The Young Turks, the anchors Bill Mankiewicz and Elliot Hill discuss another piece of raging, vile rhetoric from the current Republican front runner. In one of his speeches, Trump glowingly recounts an incident from ‘back a bit’ in the early 20th century, when the Americans were faced with a series of terrorist outrages. General Pershing responded by rounding up fifty of the terrorists. 49 of them were shot out of hand with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. The fiftieth was then released to tell his comrades about what happened. ‘And do you know,’ Trump concludes, ‘that for twenty-five years afterwards we didn’t have any problems. We need to do this, or else we’re not going to have a country’.

Trump claims that this story can be found in the history books, but ‘not many, ’cause they don’t like putting it in. Only some.’ Mankiewicz and Elliot point out that the real reason it’s not in the history books is because it didn’t happen. It’s mythical. The incident Trump refers to supposedly happened during the Spanish-American War, when America took the Philippines from Spain. The Philippino people resisted. Mankiewicz points out that as they were the original people, they wouldn’t have wanted either Spanish or Americans. Trump calls the resistance fighters terrorists, but if they had been Americans fighting for America, or on the side of America, they would have been called ‘freedom fighters’. It’s horrible story, but it didn’t happen. He compares the incident, and the way it’s been left out of conventional history books because of its entirely fictional nature, with the way Republicans are trying to sanitise American history. In Texas, for example, the school board has voted to use books that don’t mention slavery, or don’t call it what it was, because it makes America look bad. This is one case where an incident that makes America look bad isn’t in the history books. Mankiewicz points out that if historians really were intent on putting in material just to denigrate America, that incident would be in there.

Mankiewicz and Elliot also discuss the way Trump’s brutal rhetoric, combined with his confidence and easy oratorical style – for example, he asks his audience if they want to hear the tale – is actually desensitising people to the viciousness of what he says. He describes waterboarding as only a very small torture, for example. They point out that this is actually worse than if he’d said it actually was torture, but he believed that it worked and so was justified to protect America from terrorism. This wouldn’t justify it to them – it would still be horrible, but not as vile as simply calling it ‘a very small torture’. But there’s a tendency for people just to laugh it off, and say, well, it’s only Trump being Trump. And that’s dangerous, because it makes light of what he says and what he could clearly do.

It’s a good point. Regarding the supposed use of bullets dipped in pig’s blood, or other pork products, the Israelis were supposed to be using them against the Palestinians. The idea is that some Muslims feel that they will go to hell if they eat even a scrap of pork. And so one of the newspapers over here reported that the Israeli army was using bullets containing small pieces of pork as part of a psychological weapon against them.

As for its use in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, that may be entirely mythical, but the Americans did carry out atrocities there with the intention of spreading terror. For example, after shooting Philippino freedom fighters, they tied inflatable bladders to the corpses and set them floating down rivers in order to make an example of those shot.

And the warning about not taking Trump’s brutal rhetoric is also entirely correct. We’re back to Godwin’s Law again, but it needs to be brought up. During the Weimar period, there were Germans, who went to see Hitler speak simply because it was laugh. They wanted to see who he’d attack next. And very many Germans, and the British politicos too, really didn’t believe that he’d actually do what he said he would, in his speeches and Mein Kampf. Once in power, they thought he could be tamed and controlled into becoming a responsible, conventional politician. They were wrong. And in the resulting War that followed, forty millions died.

There’s a bit in the Bertolucci film, The Conformist, where one of the characters tells the other that when he was in Austria, there was a man, who used to go round bars ranting. No-one took him seriously. ‘We all threw beer bottles at him’. The speaker abruptly concludes, ‘That man was Adolf Hitler’.
It’s the same with Trump now. The temptation is not to take him seriously, because what he says is so outrageous, and the man himself so much a buffoon. But that’s underestimating him. The danger is, he means exactly what he says.

The Young Turks on Trump’s Call on Howard Stern’s Show to Invade Iraq

February 20, 2016

Part of Trump’s appeal lies in his repeated statements that he never supported the invasion of Iraq. Ooops! Seems like someone, in the words of George Dubya, may have ‘misremembered’. In this piece from the Young Turks, Bill Mankiewiecz, Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola discuss a recording of Donald Trump on the Howard Stern show, made before the Iraq invasion. It was made before the Iraq invasion, and it clearly shows Trump stating to the great shock jock that America should invade Iraq.

The clip was later used by the American newsman, Anderson Cooper, who asked Trump about it during an interviewed with the bewigged buffoon. Trump attempts to dismiss this evidence disproving his stance on the War by saying that he said it sometime before the Iraq invasion. He also claims that as someone in the private sector, he gets asked a lot of things, and simply didn’t remember. However, later on, shortly before or just at the time Iraq was invaded, he had changed his opinion and no longer supported the invasion.

The Turks aren’t impressed with Cooper, who they castigated for being ‘cowardly’ and too deferential to the bombastic bully. For example, Cooper asks Trump if the recording’s of him, when it’s very clear that it is. The network has factcheckers, and for them to broadcast the clip at all the clip would have to have been checked and made sure that it was definitely of Trump.

They contrast Cooper’s deferential, timid treatment of Trump with George Stephanopoulos, who also raised the question of the recording with America’s future Duce. When Oberleutnant Trump claimed that this was a long time before the Iraq invasion, and that he had changed his position to opposing the invasion by 2003, Stephanopoulos told him outright that there was absolutely no evidence he had. And he’s right. The closest there is to that evidence is a comment Trump made a party after the invasion, stating it was ‘a mess’. Trump opposes the War now, but in that he’s no different from the 70 per cent of Americans, who also changed their opinions after the War continued to drag on and deteriorate into the grinding bloodbath it is now. The Turks make it clear that that’s good enough for ordinary, regular Americans, who make no claim to running the country. But not from a candidate for leadership of the most powerful country in the world.

The Turks are keen to make the point that this isn’t a ‘gotcha’ moment. They aren’t trying to catch Trump out just to score points or embarrass him. Although in my opinion, these are good and righteous gaols in themselves. They’re trying to make the point that while Trump claims not to be a politician, he has their faults but none of their virtues. Trump’s winning because Americans feel politicians are all greasy liars. But, as Ana Kasparian points out, Trump lies like one. The professional politicos, however, no matter how mendacious, deceitful and corrupt, are expected to know and act on policy once in government. Trump doesn’t have any policies. It’s all whatever sounds good, and spin.

So not only can you not trust anything Trump says, but there’s a real danger that he still doesn’t know anything about the Middle East. America and civilisation desperately need intelligent, sensible, and informed leadership to stop the mass killings there. Putin – Putin, of all people! – has warned that there’s a real danger the situation will set off World War 3. And I think the old thug’s right. But Trump is all aggressive bullsh*t with absolutely no sensible or even settled policies for that region. A Trump could only, based on his aggressive views elsewhere, make matters worse.