New film satirizes FBI counter-terrorism stings

Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the attacks of 9/11 have been good for the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, and the entire counter-terrorism industry in the US that have used them to get increased funding and powers. In order to keep those dollars flowing, the FBI has had to repeatedly show success in fighting terrorism and one of the means of doing that is setting up sting operations. If they cannot find real threats, they will create ones.

Trevor Aronson writes about a new satirical film The Day Shall Come based on many of the real-life sting operations conducted by the FBI that recruits hapless people with absurd ideas and then coaxes them to take part in ridiculous plots that are then grandly ‘exposed’ by the agency.
[Read more…]

Can Trump’s usual strategy succeed with the Ukraine scandal?

Donald Trump has a strategy for dealing with bad news that has worked for him so far in retaining Republican support, especially in Congress. When news starts breaking about some major transgression, what he does is to first deny that there is anything there and then slowly but steadily concede the truth of elements of the story until the full story (as far as we know) is out in the open. The strategy works on several levels. One is that when he does say that something did happen, his supporters assume that it cannot be that bad if he is willing to publicly acknowledge it. Also since each little bit, by itself, is not seen as too bad, his supporters go on record publicly still supporting him for that little bit until finally they are on the hook for the whole awful mess and there is no going back. They then say that this is old news that ‘everyone’ knew about so it cannot be that bad. It is like the metaphor of the frog in slowly heated water. (I know, I know, that the basis for the metaphor is false and frogs do jump out of slowly boiling water.)
[Read more…]

This is the best you can be? That’s pretty sad

Every fall, the long-running satirical show Saturday Night Live introduces new cast members. It is considered a huge boost to the career of young comedians to get a slot on this show because many have gone onto highly successful careers later. But this year, the introduction of three new members ran into trouble when it was discovered that one of them, Shane Gillis, had made racist, homophobic, and misogynist jokes.
[Read more…]

Michael Moore and Bill Maher debate socialism versus capitalism

I know that watching Bill Maher these days is grating on the nerves but in this heated exchange, Michael Moore brought Maher’s predatory capitalistic sympathies to the surface. It is clear that Maher has become (maybe he always was) a grumpy, get-off-my-lawn, crank who thinks he is progressive and edgy because he smokes pot. But he essentially pulls out all the tired old centrist bromides that are much favored by the Democratic party establishment because it enables a few people to be rich like him while still feeling smug about the few crumbs they throw to the rest.

The bet at the end? Moore won it.

Hasan Minhaj speaks to Congress about college debt

In testifying before Congress. he comedian who is the host of the informative show Patriot Act clearly had done his homework to show why college debt is a much bigger issue now than when members of Congress and the parents of the current generation went to college.

While testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, comedian Hasan Minhaj called out members of Congress for the student loan crisis by comparing current tuition costs to what they originally paid for the same school, which showed a 110 percent increase in overall tuition costs.

How and why police brutality is institutionalized

On the latest episode of his show Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj explains why the many cases in which police kill unarmed mostly black people and escape any punishment is not only due to the specifics of each case but that it is encouraged by a system in which the training of police encourages immediate violent action and the unions and the laws are designed to give police immunity from the consequences of their actions, however egregious they might be. In other words, this is a systemic problem that cannot be blamed on a few ‘rotten apples’.