The other day, Robert De Niro was being honored by the Gotham Awards and had a speech prepared. However, for reasons I'm not quite sure why, the speech got edited for the TelePrompter. And when De Niro got to the podium, he wasn't too pleased about that. But he had a copy of his full speech on his phone, and read the part that had been cut.
Not surprisingly, this got a lot of attention. And some of that attention got to Trump. It will not shock you to learn that Trump was not too pleased himself.
And so, being Trump, he posted the following on his social media platform. It was less eloquent than De Niro, but hey you go with what you go.
A few things stood out to me from this.
The first thing was that the last time Trump got upset at Robert De Niro he tried to slam the actor for his supposed lack of talent. Apparently, he realized that that insult didn't land very well, since this time he went with "mental midget," though decided to put that in quotes, which usually suggests it's not true, so that was a little weird, though I get it.
I'm not quite sure why Trump thinks De Niro's life is a total train wreck (let alone a train wreck at all), since he's one of the most admired actors in Hollywood history and had has had an impressively long career, still active even today.
And further, since Trump was specifically responded to a video of De Niro clearly putting more than two sentences together -- which is precisely why Trump was so upset -- that criticism is weird, too.
But what stood out most to me, which is something that hasn't been picked up by the media and should be, is that once again Trump used the slam that De Niro was nothing but an "animal." Which is language that's the same criticism levelled against Trump previously for echoing Hitler in his "vermin" Veterans Day speech, trying to dehumanize this opponents. Because when a leader portrays others he hates as less than human, it gives his supporter to door to treat them as less than human and attack them.
This shows that Trump's "vermin" speech was no one-time slip, not that most anyone thought that. But a very clear, intentional path that continues to echo Hitler. No, I do not think Trump is anything like Hitler -- who built ovens to exterminate 6 million Jews and started a war to take over the world. But I do think he's okay with admiring Hitler and, as we've seen, echoing his language.
It would have been nice if the media picked up on Trump's latest dehumanizing "animal" reference, though I understand the focus being more on him being petulant about a major movie star. But the Hitler echoes are still there. And I'm sure they'll return.
So, the media will get another chance. And, I'm sure, others, was well.
Yesterday, a supposedly five-alarm five story broke for the far-right when James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, released documents that supposedly showed that President Biden received $1,380 in monthly payments from a corporate account owned by his son Hunter Biden. To the extreme-right GOP, this was supposed “evidence” of an impeachable crime by the President.
A few minor things first before getting to the main course. Although, even being minor they’re still noteworthy.
First, all the document showed was that Joe Biden received a payment from his son. It wasn’t even remotely evidence of a crime, let alone an impeachable offense. It was evidence of him receiving a payment from his son, period.
Second, there were accusations that since Hunter Biden received income from foreign sources, President Biden had to declare this and apply for being a foreign agent which he never did. Actually, millions of Americans receive dividends from international stocks and bonds, and it’s, of course, normal and legal, and no one has to declare themselves a “foreign agent.”
And third, the document that got released clearly shows its dated in 2018 – almost three years before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. So, he was a private citizen.
Those are the minor points. But all pretty substantive ones.
The big point – and it’s a Really Big One – is that not long after Mr. Comer’s document dump (an appropriate name, if ever there was one), savvy people from the sane part of the country released other documents to show that this $1,380 payment to Joe Biden was, in reality, a reimbursement from Hunter Biden to his dad who had paid for a truck for his son!!!
Yes, really. So, rather than an impeachable crime, the Republicans only served to prove that, once again, Joe Biden is a loving father.
Amusing, embarrassing and/or galling as this is, this tactic has now officially become the GOP's Standard Operating Procedure, although they’ve been fine-tuning it for years.
Most recently, for example, this manifested itself when the GOP’s TV arm Fox “News” declared in blaring headline a terrorist attack on the U.S.- Canadian border, only to have it turn out to be a tragic car accident with no explosives and no bombs involved. And now this, yesterday, the Republic chair of the House Oversight Committee, tells you of a supposedly impeachable crime -- that turns out to be a dad being reimbursed for a car loan to his son.
And when I say “tells you,” I mean it literally. Mr. Comer didn’t merely just release the document, he tweeted to the American public about it, and included a video of him swaggering with his supposed big scoop – about a father helping out his son. Here’s his tweet. I decided not to include the video of him telling you all about it and more because it had so many lies, I was too sickened by it. And this is the holiday season of good cheer.
On the other hand, I did decide that this video is not only worth posting, but valuable because – almost more than anything – it shows the depth of insane lying that has truly become S.O.P for the GOP. And “insane lying” is not hyperbole. It’s Republican Party chair Rona Romney McDaniel telling a Fox reporter about the “Biden White House” literally “suppressing” material about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election, keeping that material from the American public. The only problem with that – and I’m sure most of you are well-ahead of me here – is that before the 2020 election, it was the Trump White House, because Joe Biden hadn’t been elected yet.
So, I realized I had to post the video of her because otherwise not everyone might believe me. Take it away, Rona –
So, that then is today's fascist GOP's modus operandi. And it's a pattern that has been going on for years. Try to make you distrust reality and the truth by crying out blatant, regularly-disprovable lies that only later become discredited after the lies first become the headline and part of the base's talking points.
Sort of like, y'know -- HEADLINE: "Trump said the election was rigged. 'I really won.'" And the Jan. 6 protestors were really Black Lives Matter and Antifa -- and the FBI. And the pizza restaurant has a secret, human trafficking, Democratic headquarters in the basement. And Paul Pelosi was having an affair with his brutal attacker. And...and on and on it goes. To non-existent terrorist attacks and truck loan repayments. And more. So many that the easily-debunked stories pile so high that you forget all those buried underneath because new ones fly by before you can catch your breath. Hoping that one will stick to the wall -- though not really caring if it does or not. The Big Lie is all that matters.
Seriously, how many times does the Chicken Little Party get to cry out and try to scare you that the sky is falling, when it only got hit in the head by an acorn.
Who knew that getting hit in the head by an acorn could cause so much brain damage.
I've been asked (not by many) why I haven't written anything about the Israel-Hamas war.
I've actually written quite a bit about it on social media, but it's such a convoluted (and disturbing) subject that at the moment I'm not even quite sure where to begin for an article. On social media, though, I can focus on one particular issue and respond to it. In no more than 280 characters. (Admittedly, that has its upside and downside for such a clear, gray and nuanced subject.)
And I won't be writing about it here, at least today. However, I've save a couple of long social media postings by others, which are at least a good starting point, and I'll offer one of them today.
This is wonderful, long tweet by counter-terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, who some here may know from his analyst appearance on MSNBC. He is smart, thoughtful, and blunt- and courageous, as well, not just a scholarly talking head. (Not to demean such people, who have much to offer from their study of historical and current affairs knowledge.) A year or so ago, for instance, he deployed to Ukraine to operate in the field as an adviser to their military. So, taking on "angry tweets" is -- as Howard Cosell once put it about criticism towards him -- is like throwing spitballs at a battleship. Nance has been brilliantly outspoken about it all on social media, and I was thinking of just letting him speak to the matter through that one, particular tweet today.
To be clear, what he wrote here isn't an analysis of the situation. He had been writing a lot about that on social media, and his thoughts didn't fall into a nice, neat package. And as a result, he took a lot of "hits" for it. Many of which he responded to - just as bluntly as he writes here. (Very short version of his position: he supports the Israelis and Palestinians, but says Hamas is a terrorist organization that killed 1,200 Israelis, raping and beheading some, and kidnapping 250, and the history of the conflict goes back more two years - or five years, or 20.) What he does here is lay down the ground rules for what he writes, so that people fully understand the position he's writing from. And if you don't like that, if you choose to misinterpret him, then that's on you. Only he says it much more bluntly. And as I said, it's a good starting point.
I'll hopefully get to the other social media posting soon. But for now, here's a multi-part observation from Malcolm Nance. And no, I don't know what "DIDDIGAF" means.
DEPT OF DIDDIGAF:
Many of you are disappointed in the fact that I see the Israel-HAMAS war through the lens of counterterrorism & war but not your misguided ill informed myopia & latent antisemitism. I understand. It's your first time ever seeing a War … but for many of you just really hate Jews.
But here are the parameters to make sure you Unfollow me properly.
Why have the informed opinion of an expert who worked these MidEast wars for decades? That's crazy, right? So try this:
1) If you don't like my opinion on Gaza, Israel or counterterrorism strategies.
2) If you think I'm a war monger who hates the Palestinian people, or a Zionist who loves killing babies, women & hates Arabs. You're an idiot. -Unfollow me.
3) If you always followed me & say "Wow I respected him but now he supports the Jews/Zionist/Netanyahu/Genocide/Colonialism/Occupation" please Jesus -Unfollow me.
4) If you think I'm a pig, POS & hate you for your proHAMAS, antisemitic, or patently stupid opinions, You're right. -Unfollow me.
5) If you cry over the terrible deaths of Palestinian babies but never once mention the dead Jewish Babies executed on 10-7. Or say dead Jewish Babies are fake. Help me God, -Unfollow me
6) If you can't spell Israel (Isreal) or Gaza (Gazza) without spell check & think about lecturing me on the Middle East … that's right, - Unfollow me.
7) If you have ever chanted "From the River to the Sea…" be advised, the real ending is
- "Malcolm says Unfollow me"
8) If you completely forgot 10-7 even happened or claim it was fake or don't even know what happened to start this cycle of violence but but Genocide! - Unfollow me
9) If you say you will vote for Trump or won't vote or call Biden "Genocide Joe" bc you don't know the meaning of the word Genocide or if you don't know the Sykes-Picot treaty did not involve tortillas; the Balfour Declaration was NOT signed by Jefferson: or think that Transjordan was a car featured on Fast and Furious X -Unfollow me
10) If you are offended by any of the above or are just in doubt about any of the above
- Unfollow me
Let's see what happens.
Yesterday, there was a disheartening (or perhaps even disturbing) story about a fellow named Mark Fisher who was on Fox explaining that as co-founder of the Black Lives Matter branch in Rhode Island, they were endorsing Trump for president, adding that he felt “No one has done more for the Black community than President Trump.”
Needless-to-say, Fox played up their interview with Fisher, as did Trump, thanking BLM for their endorsement and posting the video of the interview.
Putting aside that I was hard-pressed to figure one thing that Trump had done for the Black community, other than praise the anti-Semitic Kanye West, who has said he likes Hitler and loves the Nazis, it was nonetheless troubling to see even just one branch of Black Lives Matter endorse Trump, even a branch with probably fewer Black people than you’d find at a performance of the musical Legally Blonde.
But there was a twist to the story. A twist that would impress even the most convoluted bag of pretzels.
It turned out that later in the day, the Rhode Island Black Lives Matter organization put out a statement. They wrote that –
"In response to recent media coverage, we would like to clarify that Mark Fisher is not and has never been affiliated with our organization. The views expressed by Mr. Fisher in the referenced Fox News segment do not reflect the values or beliefs of BLM RH PAC."
In fact, Rhode Island BLM felt that this didn’t go far enough, and even felt it was important to release a second statement –
"We would like to emphasize that Mark Fisher claims association with Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, a non profit organization. Any statements or actions attributed to him should not be conflated with our organization."
So…yeah, as for a Black Lives Matter branch endorsing Trump…no, not so much. And the idea was so anathema to BLM that they put out two denials.
As a result, Fox now has a double quandary.
The first is explaining to viewers why an organization Fox has long-positioned as being made up of nothing more than violent rioters is now one that they now say is worth admiring.
And the second is that, after promoting Mr. Fisher, having to do a mea culpa after the Rhode Island BLM has said the guy is not affiliated with them. So, viewers could go back to hating the organization.
This is known as a Trust Issue. Or in shorter terms -- oops.
And then there’s the Trump quandary, as well. After all, he not only posted the interview video on his site, but also thanked BLM – a group he has vilified – for supposedly supporting him.
After all this, there is still some uncertainty about if Fisher was, in fact, involved with Rhode Island BLM at some point, and then resigned. But the larger point is that given that the official BLM online account disclaims the comments by Mark Fisher and says he is not affiliated with them -- which he himself acknowledges is a letter -- then it's fair to say that the main, demonstrable point is that...Rhode Island Black Lives Matter has not endorsed Trump. Period.
Egg meet face.
A friend called me yesterday, bewildered by why Hunter Biden would ever agree to testify before the Republican-led House Oversight Committee. His main point was that he’s heard Hunter speak and doesn’t feel he’s the brightest bulb in the box, and therefore would be bulldozed by Republicans on the committee. "Why would he does this??" he kept asking.
Me, I think it was a masterstroke. It wasn’t that he agreed to testify, but to testify in public. First of all, that’s something he and his lawyers probably figured Republicans would never agree to, so he had nothing to lose. But a lot to gain, by going on record that he not only would be happy to testify, but do it openly so that everyone could see what was said. Meanwhile, Republicans – not agreeing to this – would look small and empty, seeming to almost even appear afraid of what he had to say, and this would take away their main talking about that he was refusing to testify.
But even if Republicans agreed to holding the hearing in public, he had next to nothing to lose. After all, he’s already been investigated and indicted by the DOJ already, and those charges not only hold overwhelmingly more weight than a House hearing, but are for far less than Republicans want their base to believe. And as such, he’s been interviewed by the Special Counsel already, as well, a far more serious, meaningful event than a House hearing, and so he knows what questions will be asked. And knows what his answers are. Will House Republicans badger him more and make speeches at him? Sure. But he has an easy answer for many of their harshest, conspiratorial questions – “No, that’s not true.”
And if Republican committee members talk over him, “Claiming my time, Mr. Chairman,” and don’t let him finish – there are Democratic committee members on the committee, too, lest we forget, who will let him finish his statements, and help from the GOP position as empty and conspiratorial.
And that’s if Republicans agree to hold the hearing in public, which seems unlikely given how they were squealing all day like stuck pigs. The funniest thing all day may have been when committee member Jason Smith (R-MO posted a tweet, "I welcome Hunter Biden finally agreeing to testify. It's long overdue for him to come clean in front of the American people” – and then realized that this was totally opposite the party line and a terrifying concept to his fellow Republicans…and so he deleted his tweet of welcome.
However, before being able to disappear, it was first captured and saved for all to see by Stephen Neukam, a reporter for The Messenger.
Consider, after all, the horrified response from House Oversight chairman James Comer (R-K), who wrote, “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else. That won’t stand with House Republicans.”
That won’t stand! All he left out was the “Harrumph!!” Unthinkable. Testifying in public for the world to see. How dare he! The man who Republicans have wanted to have testify for the past year. No, no, sire, that won’t stand.
But the best response in return came from Rep. Jamie Raskin the ranking Democrat on the committee. He released a statement that read –
“Let me get this straight, After wailing and moaning for ten months about Hunter Biden and alluding to some vast unproven conspiracy, after sending Hunter Biden a subpoena to appear and testify, Chairman Comer and the Oversight Republicans now reject his offer to appear before the full Committee and the eyes of the world and to answer any questions they pose? What an epic humiliation for our colleagues and what a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own Members to pursue it.”
Okay, "an epic humiliation." That's a pretty good way to end...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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