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Is Bill Maher Coming Around on the Israel Lobby’s Influence?

5:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I’m not a fan of Bill Maher.  His movie Religulous, left out how the nuttiness of some practitioners of one major religion, influence the politics of Israel, for instance.  His reputation for being a mild misogynist is pretty firmly established.  He’s somewhat of an Obamabot.

Back in 2010, he confronted Oliver Stone, when the latter was defending Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation:

Maher’s argument in the above case was effectively countered by Stone, who brings up AIPAC. Rachel Maddow sat on her thumbs throughout the whole exchange on Israel-Palestine. Maher’s problem in the exchange, like that of so many, is to obfuscate when it comes to individual Palestinian rights per se.

Yesterday on his show, Maher, defending Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, seemed upset about undue influence by people and organizations supporting Israel over U.S. policy making. The GOP being the case:

The two segments show possible signs of evolution by Maher in respect to the conventional narrative about that pesky little country.

What do you think?

Abby the Hasbara Slayer

9:34 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Breaking The Set w/ Abby Martin on RT

RT TV‘s meteoric young on-air commentator, Alyona Minkovsky, left the network in late July, to take a position at Huffington Post’s new real-time web niche, HuffPost Live. While at RT TV, Minkovsky’s interviews were edgy and provocative. Her interviewing skills combined with what appeared to be a thirst for knowledge about news that seldom or never gets covered by the likes of Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz, for instance. Compared to Alyona, Rachel was more like FOX than like progressive.

Since her move to HuffPost Live, it has been almost painful to watch how the new show seems to have sucked the life and soul out of a brilliant young news person. I guess HuffPost could do that to almost anyone, though. I stopped watching.

On her last show before exiting into Arianna’s fief in the Borg, Alyona interviewed Firedoglake‘s Jane Hamsher and the Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald. I praised her fine work up to that point in her career, as did Kevin Gosztola.

So what did RT TV do to make up for the loss of Minkovsky? On September 4th, a new show debuted, featuring Abby Martin. According to RT‘s bio page on her:

Abby was involved in the creation of multiple new media projects. She is a self taught editor, videographer, writer, journalist and artist. In 2009, she founded her own citizen journalism media organization called Media Roots based in Oakland, CA. There, she editorially managed and produced hundreds of multimedia stories, including front line coverage of the Occupy Oakland crackdowns.

Abby is also the youngest member on the board of Project Censored, the largest research organization in the country, that works to publish the top 25 censored news stories every year. While based in the Bay Area, she hosted a weekly radio show with Project Censored on KPFA, a Pacifica affiliate FM radio station.”

I’ve caught a few YouTube clips from her show, Breaking the Set, and from her short feature, Brainwash Update. She’s sort of like Minkovsky on steroids. Unfortunately, I’ve been way too busy with teaching, conducting and composing this fall to watch much, but her reports on Gaza may have been the best on American television. She was visibly moved, even physically disturbed by the possibly intentional Israeli attacks on newsmen, including RT, during the recent Gaza massacre. But this one threw me for a loop:

I would not want to piss off this courageous reporter.

Welcome to the battle, Abby the Hasbara Slayer.

After Martin’s in-your-face response to threats, she was again criticized by Zionist media.  Here’s how she responded (28 minutes):

She’s not taking prisoners.

I’d like to see Martin interview the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, next.  As the Gaza massacre was winding down, he went to a speech at which “full-time fascist” Leon de Winter raged:

On the night a ceasefire came into effect ending eight days of Israeli slaughter that left 162 people, the vast majority unarmed civilians, dead in Gaza, Dutch columnist and author Leon de Winter proposed adding chemicals to Gaza’s water supply to sterilize the population.

The website PowNed reported that de Winter “made his proposal for forced eugenics yesterday evening in Amsterdam at a solidarity meeting of Dutch Jews,” and that the speech by de Winter was broadcast this morning by Dutch mainstream and publicly-funded Radio 1.

PowNed said:

De Winter responded in his speech to the accusations of genocide leveled against Israel, saying that the population of Gaza had only increased over the last few years. “Maybe we should secretly add some means of birth control to Gaza’s drinking water,” De Winter proceeded to propose.

The suggestion was met with roaring laughter by the public. Among the participants that evening were the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiam Devon [sic], and the cheerful leader of the [religious ultra-conservative] SGP party, Kees van der Staaij.

De Winter blogged until 2008 on the mainstream liberal news site Elsevier. He is also an “an adjunct fellow” at the Hudson Institute, a right-wing American think-tank.

While de Winter, known for his “humor,” might have intended his suggestion as some sort of sick joke, the reported reaction suggests that the audience were only too ready to mock an already dehumanized population.

Maybe Martin can interview Divon on his seeming support for such a strange and public fascist, whose ideas strike me as boilerplate Anders Breivik.

Maybe Martin can interview the commanding officer of the Israel Defense Forces’ social media unit, Lieutenant Sacha Dratwa.  Here’s the lieutenant, posing on his facebook page, as President Obama:

CO of IDF social media unit, lieutenant Sacha Dratwa,  needs psychiatric help

I suppose in his racist mind, he thought he was being funny.  The American blog, YourBlackWorld did not think Lt. Dratwa was funny.  At all.  Nor did Democratic Underground.

Maybe Lt. Dratwa feels their anti-Semitism keeps them from seeing the true humor in his, uh, parody.

Yeah – that’s the ticket.

Good luck, Abby Martin.

What Bill Maher Is – A Muslim-Hating Bigot

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

One of the leading experts on culture, politics and religion in the Muslim world is University of Michigan Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, Juan Cole. Prof. Cole led off an article Sunday at his blog, Informed Comment, with a scathing takedown of late night entertainer Bill Maher’s latest anti-Muslim tirade. Although Maher directly attacked Muslim men (for being bad dating material), his lies about the status of women in most Muslim countries were this slimeball’s real message.

Here’s Ryan Witt’s description of Maher’s tirade:

Maher brought up the issue of women’s rights in the Muslim world while discussing the Egyptian Revolution. Maher argued that democracy cannot work in the Middle East until a “sexual revolution” accompanies the current political revolutions. Maher received some pushback from one of his panel members, who argued that women are also not always treated fairly in America. Maher argued that this was a “false equivalency” as Muslim women are often not even allowed to vote or drive in many countries in the Middle East. In addition, many women face a huge legal burden if they want to divorce their husband, whereas men have the option of divorcing their wives simply by saying literally saying they want a divorce.

Maher went even further in describing the treatment of Arab women by saying,

“Talk to women who’ve ever dated an Arab man. The results are not good.”

At certain points in the discussion Maher actually sounded like he could fit in quite well in a Fox News panel discussing the same issue. He argued against the cultural relativist argument to defend the practices of Arab men. Maher went on to describe a gruesome beheading of one Muslim woman by her husband.

Prof. Cole’s take on Maher’s lies is this:

Dear right wing blogosphere and also Bill Maher: You can’t generalize about women’s position in Muslim countries based on a reprehensible mob attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan. Generalizing about a whole group of people based on a single incident is called “bigotry.” It is also a logical fallacy (for wingnuts challenged by six syllables in a row, that means, ‘when your brain doesn’t work right’) known as the ‘Hasty Generalization.’ Nobody seems to note that allegedly helpless Egyptian women were the ones who saved Logan, or that Anderson Cooper was also attacked.

Some other examples of reporters or celebrities being assaulted by crowds are here and here. Wingnuts, and also Bill Maher, who do not immediately make generalizations on these bases about large groups of Westerners are wusses.

Note to Muslim-hater Bill Maher, who should know better: It is not true that women cannot vote in 20 Muslim countries, and please stop generalizing about 1.5 billion Muslims based on the 22 million people in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, the only place where women cannot drive and where men can vote (in municipal elections) but women cannot. It would be like generalizing from the Amish in Pennsylvania to all people of Christian heritage and wondering what is with Christianity and its fascination with horses and buggies. [emphases added]

Here’s the Youtube clip of the entire episode of lies on Maher’s entertainment program:

And here’s an episode of his entertainment program from last June 10th. It was Maher’s response to public reaction to the cold-blooded murder of eight Turks and an American on the high seas by uniformed Israeli thugs. Note how Rachel Maddow blandly and uncomfortably sits through the entire routine:

“Let’s not shit a shitter,” eh, Bill? Lets see if you have the balls to invite Prof. Cole onto your entertainment program.