"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

Suffering Children as Propaganda

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 11, 2017. DUE TO THE CURRENT SCANDAL OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CHILDREN BEING DETAINED AND SEPARATED FROM THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE ENSUING MEDIA COVERAGE WHICH HAS USED THE PHRASE "BABIES IN CAGES" SO INCESSANTLY AS TO BE A MANTRA, I THOUGHT I WOULD RE-PUBLISH THIS PIECE AS IT SEEMS SALIENT TO THE CURRENT SITUATION.

Estimated Reading Time : 8 minutes 22 seconds

Lately, the media has been loaded with images of suffering children in different settings around the world. In some unfortunate cases, especially in the case of war, the imagery seems to be used as a form of propaganda. 

Last August Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year-old boy Syrian boy living in Aleppo, was wounded in a bombing alleged to be carried out by Russian or Syrian aircraft. Omran was photographed sitting in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust and blood. This gut-wrenching photo was soon on the front page of nearly every western newspaper and news channel.

The New York Times description of the photo is illuminating, “Omran, as he is carried from a damaged building in the dark, could be Everychild.“

This is what we do with the children in peril we see in photographs, we project ourselves, or our children into the same scenario, and this heightens our emotional connection and reaction. This is a normal, even healthy human response, the trouble is that it can leave us open to being manipulated by those who would exploit the suffering of children for their own means.

Similarly, in September of 2015 when Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy, was photographed dead on a Turkish beach after drowning trying to escape the Syrian civil war. Viewers were left horrified at the sight of Alan’s limp and lifeless body lying still in the sand, and they emotionally projected their own children onto the scenario.

The most recent example of the “children in peril” narrative was on April 4th, when video of an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province in Syria came to light. The horrifying video showed young children gasping for air and others lying motionless, presumably dead. The video was impossible to escape in western media, just as it was impossible not to have an emotional connection to those children and a reaction to their torment.

The Times was right, Omran could be Everychild, so could Alan Kurdi and the children in the Idlib video, because that is how they are presented to us in the media, they are our children, and we react accordingly, directing our righteous anger at those we are told are responsible for their suffering, in this case, Assad and Russia. Of course, since we are reacting emotionally and not responding thoughtfully, we are more easily manipulated into directing our aggression at persons who may not be fully to blame.

In the Omran photo, our rage could have easily been directed at rebel fighters and ISIS who created that situation in Aleppo instead of the Russians and Assad. The same for Alan Kurdi, who was trying to escape civil war, which is the fault of many, including Assad, Turkey, Europe and the U.S. The photos of Omran and Alan were props used by the establishment press to sell a very specific narrative, one that we, in our vulnerable emotional state, would not even think to question.

The greatest example of this was the video of the attack in Idlib. Trump himself was manipulated into acting emotionally, rather than rationally. Trump told reporters, “I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact. I’ve been watching it and seeing it, it doesn’t get any worse than that…even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

Since beautiful children had been killed, Trump impulsively reacted by launching “beautiful weapons”, as NBC’s Brian Williams described them, to attack an airbase killing 15 people, who one can safely assume, were once beautiful children themselves.

Blaming a villain helps us to transform the uncomfortable emotions evoked by these images into action. Action gives us catharsis and we are purged of the negative feelings that these images bring about. Trump did not like the way the video of the Idlib attack made him feel, so instead of deliberating and gathering all of the facts and evidence, he impetuously attacked Syria to quell his discomfort.

This is what happens when we react emotionally to things instead of thoughtfully respond, we are susceptible to being suckered by those who may try to manipulate us.  If Trump had thought rationally about the Idlib video, he would have realized that the rebels had already used a false flag chemical weapons attack in 2013, in order to try and draw the U.S. deeper into the conflict against Assad. The west blamed Assad back then too, but after emotions waned and reason waxed, the truth finally came out. Even though we are only a month past the Idlib attack, the same is happening regarding the facts of that case.

The dead giveaway that reveals the media’s deceitfulness regarding the use of children’s suffering as a political prop, is not just in the images they do show, but the ones they don’t.

The establishment press relentlessly pushed the picture of Omran on the public in order to demonize Assad and Russia, but deliberately ignored Hawraa, the 5 year old Iraqi girl who was the only member of her family to survive a U.S. led air strike on her home in Mosul. The video of Hawraa is just as emotionally wrenching as Omran’s picture, but it tells a story that contradicts the MSM’s narrative and undermines America’s sense of moral superiority over Russia and the Syrians.

VIDEO LINK

And what about 8 year-old Nora Al-Alwaki, the American girl shot in the neck and killed by Navy SEALs when they raided her Yemeni village on January 29, 2017? Nora was a “beautiful” little girl, and an American one. Why wasn’t her picture continuously streamed to the American public by the MSM? Instead of Nora, we were fed the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens who was killed in the same raid. Trump’s bold-faced exploitation of Mrs. Owens was hailed as Trump’s first act of “being presidential”. I suppose he was acting like a U.S. president when he callously ignored Nora and the other Yemeni children killed.

Whenever a child in peril is used to sell a political agenda, particularly a violent one, this must give us tremendous pause. In many cases, however, there exists an altruistic reason for showing the suffering of children, and that is a way of preventing such things from happening again. 

Iconic images, like that of the “Napalm Girl” from the Vietnam war, for example, can at times wake America up to reality by breaking through the endless propaganda from the usual suspects, at other times though, similar images or stories can be manipulated by governments and the media for less noble causes.

 

At the same time, Hollywood utilizes our weakness for children in peril well. A perfect example is Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. In the black and white film, there is a harrowing sequence where Nazi’s forcibly remove Jews out of the Krakow ghetto. The scenario is horrifying enough, but Spielberg uses a little girl wandering through the mayhem to elicit more tension in the viewer. The girl stands out from the surrounding chaos because she wears a red coat, which is distinct since it’s the only splash of color in the entire film.

VIDEO LINK

The girl in the red symbolizes the hopes, dreams and innocence snuffed out by the Nazi’s. The same is true when we see suffering children in the media, those images evoke in us deep feelings of empathy, sadness, and anger because those children symbolize our own hopes, dreams and innocence. Seeing graphic pictures of brutalized children leaves us thinking emotionally, not rationally, which is a good place to be when watching a film, but a bad place to be when operating in the real world.

VIDEO LINK

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, delivered a heartfelt monologue tearfully recounting his newborn son’s struggle with a serious heart defect. Kimmel’s story was made all the more powerful because the usually sarcastic comedian struggled to maintain his composure throughout.

Kimmel, normally an apolitical comedian, ended his monologue by pleading to Americans from both sides of the political aisle to make sure children receive medical care regardless of their ability to pay for it. Kimmel poignantly ended his speech by saying, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”

JFK and the Conspiracy Conundrum

Estimated Reading Time : 9 minutes 11 seconds

TO BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

This past weekend the news broke that President Trump, in accordance with a law passed in 1992 (thank you Oliver Stone!), was going to allow the National Archives to finally release the remaining files on the JFK assassination that have been kept secret for the last 54 years. In Trump's tweeted statement he did leave himself room to change his mind, but as of right now, the document release is set to happen on October 26.

As everyone knows, the mainstream media is consistently awful, but nothing gets their goat quite like the topic of the JFK assassination. After reading of Trump's announcement, I turned on cable news to get their reaction…and it was just as you would expect. There was a lot of eye-rolling and sneering at conspiracy theories and theorists, which is always funny considering the media hates conspiracy theories except when they don't…like with the Russia investigation. 

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

MSNBC was particularly abysmal, like when "reporter" John Harwood went to great lengths to let his viewers know that HE believes the Warren Report is the final and faithful word on the assassination…good to know, John, thanks for sharing. I found the vitriol and venom directed toward people who believe Oswald did not act alone to be very strange since various hosts throughout the day also kept repeating the fact that polls show over 60% of Americans believe Oswald did not act alone. Way to alienate your audience guys.

As I switched back and forth from MSNBC to CNN (I am incapable of watching Fox at this point in my life…sorry Rupert) some recurring themes presented themselves. Namely that the Warren Report was the "official" word on the JFK assassination, and of course, that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president by himself. These two statements were repeated early and often and never once went challenged, which I found...curious. 

The cable news coverage was most curious because everyone kept banging home the talking point about the Warren Report and the "official determination" that Oswald acted alone. If a viewer did not know any better they would come away from watching cable news coverage of this story thinking that the final "official government determination" in the assassination of JFK was that Oswald acted alone. Technically, this is factually incorrect. 

John Harwood and the rest of the empty heads on MSNBC and CNN are being at least disingenuous if not downright deceptive when they claim that the government determined Oswald acted alone…either that or they are historically illiterate. 

HSCA IS MIA ON MSNBC AND CNN

Here is a fact…the United States Government, in the form of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, made the determination in 1978 that President Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy". The HSCA report is most certainly controversial and its conclusions and the science behind them are contentious, but equally if not more contentious is the science behind the conclusions of the Warren Report. 

In addition, the HSCA report determined that the FBI and CIA weren't just deficient in their duties in regards to the assassination, but were also deficient to the point of malevolence in regard to their interactions with the Warren Commission. Unlike the scientific conclusions of the HSCA report, the conclusion regarding Intelligence agency subterfuge is not in contention. In other words, the CIA and FBI lied, withheld crucial information and undermined the Warren Commission investigation at every turn, which is as good a reason as any to deem the Warren Report to be at a minimum insufficient, and at a maximum, manufactured propaganda. 

Regardless of your thoughts on the Warren Report and the HSCA, what I found so curious about the cable news coverage of the new JFK story was that the HSCA was never mentioned at all. Not once. This seemed to me to be more than a mere oversight, it seemed to be an intentional obfuscation of the facts and of history. 

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS…SO LET'S KEEP THE LIGHTS OFF

Upon reading the Washington Post and New York Times on the subject of the JFK document dump I found two other things to be very curious. Both newspapers basically wrote the same exact story, even including similar quotes from authors Philip Shenon and Larry Sabato, Jr. and a link to a Politico article they had co-written on the subject published last Friday. Shenon and Sabato's article declared that releasing the documents would be a "fiasco" and would only “help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories,”. I found it particularly ironic that Shenon and Sabato's obvious disdain for transparency was printed under the Washington Post's new moniker,  "Democracy Dies in Darkness", which loomed like an Orwellian doublespeak blimp over the article that quotes these men so extensively. 

Both the Times and Post also included in their reports near identical quotes from Shenon about what these secret JFK files may reveal. 

The New York Times wrote -

They (Shenon and Sabato) wrote that the documents relate to what they call a “mysterious chapter in the history of the assassination — a six-day trip that J.F.K. assassin Lee Harvey Oswald paid to Mexico City several weeks before the president’s murder, in which Oswald met with Cuban and Soviet spies and came under intensive surveillance by the C.I.A.’s Mexico City station. Previously released F.B.I. documents suggest that Oswald spoke openly in Mexico about his intention to kill Kennedy.”

The Washington Post wrote -

“I’ve always considered the Mexico City trip the hidden chapter of the assassination. A lot of histories gloss right past this period,” said Philip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter and the author of a book on the Warren Commission, the congressional body that investigated Kennedy’s killing. “Oswald was meeting with Soviet spies and Cuban spies, and the CIA and FBI had him under aggressive surveillance. Didn’t the FBI and CIA have plenty of evidence that he was a threat before the assassination? If they had acted on that evidence, maybe it wouldn’t have taken place. These agencies could be afraid that if the documents all get released, their incompetence and bungling could be exposed. They knew about the danger of Oswald, but didn’t alert Washington.”

I found those quotes, and the fact that the Washington Post and New York Times highlighted them in their articles to be…curious….just like the cable news coverage. Why did I find them so curious? 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The Post and the Times have for decades been used as mouth pieces for the intelligence community. They aren't so much news organizations as they are useful organizations for those in power to control narrative. In other words they are propaganda tools. You think I am paranoid? Well, just go look at the coverage during the lead up to the Iraq War, or the Bush torture…oops, I mean "enhanced interrogation" and surveillance programs. Or better yet, go read up on Operation Mockingbird. Mockingbird was a CIA operation that operated internationally and domestically (which is illegal in and of itself as the CIA is prohibited from operating on U.S. soil) which planted reporters, writers and editors in all of the major news organizations in America and the across the Globe from the 1950's to at least the 1970's. 

Think there isn't some form of an Operation Mockingbird operating in the media right now? Recent history reveals to us the Bush administration program involving the Pentagon/Military contractors and their use of paid analysts on cable news in order to "control narrative".

And then there is the story of former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune reporter and current NBC News National Security reporter Ken Dilanian, who got exposed for literally sending his articles to the CIA so that they could sign off on them before he submitted them. Dilanian is still paraded out on NBC as a serious journalist even after his CIA lapdog status was revealed. If you think these are isolated incidents, you are either willfully blind of hopelessly naive, these types of stories are just the tip of the iceberg. 

This is why when I read the almost identical stories in the Post and Times regarding the JFK document release and heard the uniform embrace of historical illiteracy and sneering at "conspiracy theories" on cable news, my bullshit detector went off.  

NEXT STOP - SPECULATION STATION

This is just speculation but considering the context of the pre-release media coverage, this is what I think the "narrative" will be once the release of the new JFK assassination documents occurs.

First off, there is always a chance that there is nothing of interest in these documents, meaning that there are no bombshells or any information that reflects poorly on the intelligence services. I sincerely doubt there is a paper trail to the grassy knoll so to speak, and if one does exist, the intelligence agencies are not in the business of incriminating themselves so they would have removed or destroyed those documents a long time ago. 

That said, if there is new information that is damning to America's national security apparatus  or other powerful figures, then I think that there are three tactics the establishment press will use to manage the story. Here they are in order of seriousness and likelihood, from least to most.

1. The new documents and any damning or alarming information contained within them will simply be ignored by the mainstream media. Establishment news outlets will say that there is nothing of relevance in the documents and will let the story drift off to the nether reaches of the internet that they condescendingly call the "fever swamps". "Serious people" will understand that to engage in talking about the documents or any damning information they may bring to light is a one-way ticket out of the Kingdom of Serious People. 

This approach is pretty standard, in fact, we have an example of it just recently with the release of information that shows that the United States played a pivotal role in the genocide in Indonesia 53 years ago. 

The New York Times covered the newly released documents but deep into the paper and with a very innocuous and misleading headline, "U.S. Stood by as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show". In the heart of the article this sentenced appears,  "In 2015, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico reintroduced a resolution in the Senate calling for Indonesia to face up to its traumatic history. He also held the United States to account for its “military and financial support” there, which included providing lists of possible leftist sympathizers to the Indonesian government and, as one cable released Tuesday showed, pushing to bury foreign news coverage of the killings." Providing kill lists and managing a news blackout are not "standing by", that is considered active participation by most folks, just not by the people at the New York Times.

The U.S.- backed Indonesian genocide story has been successfully swept under the rug for over a half century and counting, you still won't hear it spoken of on cable news, that is for damn sure. But killing a half-million Indonesians 53 years ago does not equal the killing of one president 54 years ago in the eyes of the American people, so this head in the sand strategy might be ineffective in regards to the JFK file release. As stated earlier, over 60% of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, so the whistling past the graveyard, nothing to see here approach seems to have already failed and trying it one more time might be a useless endeavor.

2. Anyone who claims to find something important that challenges the "establishment narrative" of Oswald being the lone shooter or who contends there is a connection between Oswald and the CIA, will be mercilessly ridiculed. Any unflattering information that hints at conspiracy will be intentionally ignored and any people who claim a conspiracy will be crucified, demeaned and belittled as tinfoil hat wearing loons.

"Conspiracy theorist" will be thrown around as a slur and the new damning revelations in the documents will be twisted beyond recognition until they are no longer deemed a threat to the establishment narrative. In this case the game plan will be to obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate. 

 

Again, this tactic has been used over and over again but as poll numbers indicate, Americans are seemingly becoming less and less enchanted with this approach. That said, the "fake news" taking point has certainly thrown the media-truth paradigm into chaos, so who knows if this tactic would be as successful this time around as it was years ago. 

3. If the documents reveal any truly damning information that could be seen as an indictment of the intelligence/national security community, such as a clear connection between Oswald and the CIA, like proof that he was on their payroll, then the national security establishment and their toadies in the media will quickly pivot and make the rather lame case that Oswald "went rogue" or they will bring out the big guns and blame Russia and Castro/Cuba for the assassination. Both are possible, but considering recent context, I think the latter is much more likely.

This would be the most interesting turn of events and frankly the most alarming. The Washington Post and New York Times quotes I mentioned above (and the Chris Matthews monologue I cite below), hint at this game plan and plant the seeds for it to come to fruition.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

The intelligence community and their puppets in the establishment media will use any damning new information, if it exists, and contort it to their advantage. This sort of narrative jiu jitsu is the type of propaganda at which the national security state excels. As previously mentioned, over 60% of Americans believe in a conspiracy, so instead of fighting that fact the propagandists will finally embrace it. Admitting a conspiracy in the assassination, but only one that involves Russia/Cuba, is a devious masterstroke for the intelligence community trying to avoid exposure for their misdeeds. It will also psychologically buttress the argument for Russian manipulation of the 2016 election by making clear that conspiracies can occur and that Russians are the ones behind them.

So, if Oswald is shown to have been connected to the CIA, the agency will simply claim that "yes, he was an intelligence asset and we sent him into Russia as a phony defector, but while in Russia he was "turned" by the KGB and unbeknownst to us, he returned to the U.S. playing both sides of the fence". The CIA will claim that the Soviets used their KGB double agent Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy. 

A story has circulated for years that during Oswald's alleged trip to Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination, that he met with the head of the KGB assassinations operations in the western hemisphere Valeriy Kostikov. He also allegedly went to the Cuban embassy and supposedly spoke openly about killing Kennedy. Famed "former" CIA agent Robert Baer extensively propagated these stories on his short lived 2017 History Channel program JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald

Considering the current pandemic of Russophobia among the mainstream media and the U.S. populace, I have no doubt that the national security community and the press will run with any cock and bull story blaming the Soviets/Russians for JFK's death. The framing of the narrative will be that "Russia killed our President in 1963, and killed our Democracy in 2016!"

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS AND SAINTS

The stage for this nefarious duplicity has been set over the last year as the media have lavished the highest and most sanctimonious praise on the Intelligence community over the rather dubious Russian election interference story.

For instance, MSNBC dolt Joy Reid recently described former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Director of the CIA John Brennan as "the straightest of straight shooters"  when they came out and said Russia "hacked" our election. Ms. Reid must have a very different definition of "straight shooter" than I do, because James Clapper committed perjury when he lied to congress about NSA surveillance, and John Brennan oversaw the CIA as it spied on congress, which is not only a crime but an egregious act of treason. 

Ms. Reid's comrades over at MSNBC, like known liar Brian Williams, echo the same sentiment as they speak in the most hushed and reverent tones about "the brave men and women of our intelligence services". Yeah, the brave men and women who are responsible for the recent coups and the murders of innocents in Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Yemen just to name a few.

This current deification of intelligence agencies will continue in the aftermath of the JFK document release because the intel agencies and their puppets in the media, will make this claim...that the only reason that the CIA undermined and lied to the Warren commission and the HSCA about their connection to Oswald is because they knew the Russians/Castro killed Kennedy, but they did not want to start World War III.

In other words, they will claim that they lied to us for our own good, to protect us. The narrative will be that this is the type of sacrifice that good, noble people, like those in the intelligence community, routinely make in order to save the world from armageddon. Not only will they beat the rap for the Kennedy killing by blaming the Russians/Castro, but they will explain away the cover-up following the crime and will be made out to be heroes. Pure genius.

THE JOYS OF SCAPEGOATING AND LIVING IN DENIAL

It will all be nonsense, as Russia and Castro were not involved in the assassination at all, and in fact not only gained nothing from it but lost a president who was fast becoming a partner for peace. As it often is when dealing with the government and intelligence agencies, the real casualty in all of this, besides JFK and our democracy, will be the Truth.

Sadly, the American people, with a big assist from our repugnant media, will buy this story, hook, line and sinker because it tells us what we want to hear, namely that a conspiracy took place, which supports the view of a majority of Americans, AND that it was outside forces, those dastardly Russians/Cubans who did this horrible act to us, and not us. Thus we never have to do any introspective self-examination at all which is a psychological win-win for Americans.

As a result of our reflexive scapegoating of the "other" (Russia/Cuba) and our shirking of self-refelction upon, and responsibility for, our own actions, we will get another cold war, bordering on a hot one with Russia. This will please the Military Industrial Complex no end...and we may even finally get our revenge on Cuba for daring to free itself from our imperial clutches, in the form of a coup or maybe even worse. No doubt we will eventually be treated to staged and choreographed scenes of Castro's statue being torn down by "freedom loving" Cubans. 

THE CONSPIRACY CONUNDRUM - THANK YOU FOR PROVING MY THESIS, MR. MATTHEWS

On Monday, after I had written the majority of this piece. I had to step away for a bit to see a client and then after the client left I turned on the television for just two minutes and I caught Chris Matthews' final segment of his show which was titled "Let Me Finish". In the segment Matthews talked about the pending JFK document release and I fully expected his usual spittle flecked, vacuous ranting against JFK conspiracies. Matthews said he was hoping that the soon to be released JFK files had information in them about Oswald and whether he acted alone or "had help". He also wanted to know what went on during Oswald's trip to Mexico City to meet with Russians ands Cubans and whether the CIA and FBI dropped the ball in watching him. Matthews' monologue was littered with half-truths, innuendos, outright factual inaccuracies and lies. 

Matthews concluded the segment and the show by saying he wants to definitively know if Oswald worked alone "OR IF HE HAD HELP FROM THE HAVANA OR MOSCOW". Upon hearing that statement, any trepidation I may have had about writing this piece quickly evaporated as Chris Matthews had proved my point for me.

Matthews made it clear that there are only two options regarding the Kennedy assassination…a lone nut or a Russian/Cuban conspiracy. This is the only thing Mathews and his ilk are now able to conceive, that Oswald either did this on his own or he was aided and abetted by the Soviets and Cubans, who Matthews hints in his monologue may have been accessories after the fact. Matthews inability to even contemplate that the CIA , FBI and National Security apparatus could be guilty of anything but "dropping the ball" regarding the assassination says all you need to know about him and his intellectual impotence. The thought of the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon or some rogue element of any or all of those groups being nefarious actors in the JFK assassination is entirely inconceivable to Matthews.

What is very intriguing about Matthews' hedging towards a Russian/Cuban conspiracy is that in 2013 he was adamantly opposed to ANY conspiracy related to the assassination. In an interview with Vincent Bugliosi, who had just published a mammoth book on the JFK assassination titled, "Reclaiming History", which went to great lengths to dispel any conspiracy in the murder of JFK, Matthews said he "agreed 100%" with Bugliosi's claim that Oswald acted entirely alone and that is was impossible for a conspiracy to have taken place. 

The Matthews - Bugliosi love-fest just four years ago made it abundantly clear that Chris Matthews would absolutely not even contemplate any inkling of a conspiracy. Now, in 2017, on the eve of the release of previously secret documents regarding the assassination, he changes his opinion and seems to be suffering from a conspiracy conundrum. 

 Matthews' conspiracy conundrum is very curious behavior indeed, and it is made even more curious by the fact that he fails to acknowledge his previously vociferous anti-conspriacy stance. I wonder what changed in the last four years regarding the case that Matthews is now not poo-pooing all conspiracies, but rather hinting that it was a Russian/Cuban conspiracy? 

NORMAN ROCKWELL SYNDROME AND WHO STOLE THE CHICKEN?

There is a scene in Schindler's List where the Nazi Amon Goth, masterfully played by Ralph Fiennes, lines up a group of Jewish prisoners and demands to know which one of them stole a chicken. When no one answers, the he shoot a man with his rifle and then a guard shoots the man again in the head. As the man lay dead in front of his fellow prisoners, his dark blood pooling everywhere, a young boy, shaking with fright, steps forward weeping. Goth asks the boy if he took the chicken, the boy shakes his head no. Goth surmises the boy knows who took the chicken and asks him who it was. The boy sobs that he does know who did it…and then emphatically points to the dead man laying on the ground and shouts…"HIM!"

It is a great scene and if something untoward pops up in regards to the release of JFK files, the establishment will be the scared little boy, and the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro will be the dead man laying on the ground taking all the blame. The Soviet Union and Castro are no more, and therefore are unable to defend themselves, which means they are the perfect foil and diversionary target for the intelligence community to lay the blame. 

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the CIA and the national security establishment will acknowledge the role it played in the assassination and America will have a glorious come to Jesus moment and realize what actually happened 54 years ago and how it still affects us today. The gaping wound at the heart of America is the Kennedy assassination and the rot in our national soul springs from that event and the lies that surround it. Maybe if we just got a little bit of the Truth, we could start to heal that wound and maybe try to save ourselves. If not, if the lies continue, then rest assured that the wound to our national soul is surely as fatal as President Kennedy's head wound. It is only a matter of time before we bleed out and fade into eternal darkness.

It is anathema to Chris Matthews and the rest of his media cohorts to ever consider anything but the most benevolent intentions emanating from the establishment to which they are so beholden. These media establishmentarians like Matthews or even famed documentarian Ken Burns, whose recent Vietnam documentary opens with the delusional lines, "the war was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings", suffer from what I call Norman Rockwell Syndrome. For those with Norman Rockwell Syndrome, America is always and every time the good guys who only act out of benevolence and and never act out of malice.

It is human nature to want to embrace denial and avoid introspective self-reflection and clearly seeing the worst part of oneself (or one's country) at all costs and to project those shadow feelings onto the "other". When Matthews and his fellow Norman Rockwell Syndrome sufferers in the media shun self-reflection and go blind to national misdeeds and atrocities, like the JFK assassination or Vietnam, they are just displaying the usual symptoms of the syndrome, which are identical to the symptoms associated with the terminal disease of empire.

The disease of empire is corrosive on the spirit and soul of our nation and is a pestilence upon our democracy. On November 22, 1963 everything changed. It wasn't just the President of the United States, the myth of Camelot and the dream of America that died that day in Dallas, it was the Truth. 

Watch the two Chris Matthews' segments and you will get a taste of what is to come from the rest of the media in the awake of the release of the JFK files. Any thinking person with eyes to see and the courage to look will quickly recognize that, once again, the fix is in and we are never going to learn who stole that damn chicken because Truth doesn't stand a chance when lies rule the roost. 

©2017

Suffering Children as Propaganda and the Jimmy Kimmel Story

WARNING : THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME VERY DISTURBING PICTURES AND VIDEO OF WOUNDED AND DEAD CHILDREN. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Estimated Reading Time : 8 minutes 22 seconds

Lately, the media has been loaded with images of suffering children in different settings around the world. In some unfortunate cases, especially in the case of war, the imagery seems to be used as a form of propaganda. 

Last August Omran Daqneesh, a 5 year-old boy Syrian boy living in Aleppo, was wounded in a bombing alleged to be carried out by Russian or Syrian aircraft. Omran was photographed sitting in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust and blood. This gut-wrenching photo was soon on the front page of nearly every western newspaper and news channel.

The New York Times description of the photo is illuminating, “Omran, as he is carried from a damaged building in the dark, could be Everychild.“

This is what we do with the children in peril we see in photographs, we project ourselves, or our children into the same scenario, and this heightens our emotional connection and reaction. This is a normal, even healthy human response, the trouble is that it can leave us open to being manipulated by those who would exploit the suffering of children for their own means.

Similarly, in September of 2015 when Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy, was photographed dead on a Turkish beach after drowning trying to escape the Syrian civil war. Viewers were left horrified at the sight of Alan’s limp and lifeless body lying still in the sand, and they emotionally projected their own children onto the scenario.

The most recent example of the “children in peril” narrative was on April 4th, when video of an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province in Syria came to light. The horrifying video showed young children gasping for air and others lying motionless, presumably dead. The video was impossible to escape in western media, just as it was impossible not to have an emotional connection to those children and a reaction to their torment.

The Times was right, Omran could be Everychild, so could Alan Kurdi and the children in the Idlib video, because that is how they are presented to us in the media, they are our children, and we react accordingly, directing our righteous anger at those we are told are responsible for their suffering, in this case, Assad and Russia. Of course, since we are reacting emotionally and not responding thoughtfully, we are more easily manipulated into directing our aggression at persons who may not be fully to blame.

In the Omran photo, our rage could have easily been directed at rebel fighters and ISIS who created that situation in Aleppo instead of the Russians and Assad. The same for Alan Kurdi, who was trying to escape civil war, which is the fault of many, including Assad, Turkey, Europe and the U.S. The photos of Omran and Alan were props used by the establishment press to sell a very specific narrative, one that we, in our vulnerable emotional state, would not even think to question.

The greatest example of this was the video of the attack in Idlib. Trump himself was manipulated into acting emotionally, rather than rationally. Trump told reporters, “I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me – big impact. I’ve been watching it and seeing it, it doesn’t get any worse than that…even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

Since beautiful children had been killed, Trump impulsively reacted by launching “beautiful weapons”, as NBC’s Brian Williams described them, to attack an airbase killing 15 people, who one can safely assume, were once beautiful children themselves.

Blaming a villain helps us to transform the uncomfortable emotions evoked by these images into action. Action gives us catharsis and we are purged of the negative feelings that these images bring about. Trump did not like the way the video of the Idlib attack made him feel, so instead of deliberating and gathering all of the facts and evidence, he impetuously attacked Syria to quell his discomfort.

This is what happens when we react emotionally to things instead of thoughtfully respond, we are susceptible to being suckered by those who may try to manipulate us.  If Trump had thought rationally about the Idlib video, he would have realized that the rebels had already used a false flag chemical weapons attack in 2013, in order to try and draw the U.S. deeper into the conflict against Assad. The west blamed Assad back then too, but after emotions waned and reason waxed, the truth finally came out. Even though we are only a month past the Idlib attack, the same is happening regarding the facts of that case.

The dead giveaway that reveals the media’s deceitfulness regarding the use of children’s suffering as a political prop, is not just in the images they do show, but the ones they don’t.

The establishment press relentlessly pushed the picture of Omran on the public in order to demonize Assad and Russia, but deliberately ignored Hawraa, the 5 year old Iraqi girl who was the only member of her family to survive a U.S. led air strike on her home in Mosul. The video of Hawraa is just as emotionally wrenching as Omran’s picture, but it tells a story that contradicts the MSM’s narrative and undermines America’s sense of moral superiority over Russia and the Syrians.

And what about 8 year-old Nora Al-Alwaki, the American girl shot in the neck and killed by Navy SEALs when they raided her Yemeni village on January 29, 2017? Nora was a “beautiful” little girl, and an American one. Why wasn’t her picture continuously streamed to the American public by the MSM? Instead of Nora, we were fed the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens who was killed in the same raid. Trump’s bold-faced exploitation of Mrs. Owens was hailed as Trump’s first act of “being presidential”. I suppose he was acting like a U.S. president when he callously ignored Nora and the other Yemeni children killed.

Whenever a child in peril is used to sell a political agenda, particularly a violent one, this must give us tremendous pause. In many cases, however, there exists an altruistic reason for showing the suffering of children, and that is a way of preventing such things from happening again. 

Iconic images, like that of the “Napalm Girl” from the Vietnam war, for example, can at times wake America up to reality by breaking through the endless propaganda from the usual suspects, at other times though, similar images or stories can be manipulated by governments and the media for less noble causes.

 

At the same time, Hollywood utilizes our weakness for children in peril well. A perfect example is Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. In the black and white film, there is a harrowing sequence where Nazi’s forcibly remove Jews out of the Krakow ghetto. The scenario is horrifying enough, but Spielberg uses a little girl wandering through the mayhem to elicit more tension in the viewer. The girl stands out from the surrounding chaos because she wears a red coat, which is distinct since it’s the only splash of color in the entire film.

The girl in the red symbolizes the hopes, dreams and innocence snuffed out by the Nazi’s. The same is true when we see suffering children in the media, those images evoke in us deep feelings of empathy, sadness, and anger because those children symbolize our own hopes, dreams and innocence. Seeing graphic pictures of brutalized children leaves us thinking emotionally, not rationally, which is a good place to be when watching a film, but a bad place to be when operating in the real world.

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, delivered a heartfelt monologue tearfully recounting his newborn son’s struggle with a serious heart defect. Kimmel’s story was made all the more powerful because the usually sarcastic comedian struggled to maintain his composure throughout.

Kimmel, normally an apolitical comedian, ended his monologue by pleading to Americans from both sides of the political aisle to make sure children receive medical care regardless of their ability to pay for it. Kimmel poignantly ended his speech by saying, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.”

Kimmel’s monologue soon went viral. When I saw it, it moved me very deeply. The accompanying pictures of his child with tubes and tape all over him affected me greatly. Had Kimmel played upon my emotions to manipulate me? I don’t think so. I believe Kimmel was sincere in his plea and wasn’t exploiting his son because Kimmel had nothing to gain by doing so. Not money, of which he has enough, or power, of which he has no need.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my reaction to Kimmel, being emotionally triggered by images of children suffering is human nature. The story changed the healthcare debate, and some republicans are now demanding any new health care bill must pass the “Kimmel Test”.

That said, there were some very harsh critics of Kimmel as well. Some right wingers assailed Kimmel for “exploiting” his young son to make a cheap political point. For example, former republican congressman Joe Walsh tweeted “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else’s health care.”

The Washington Times ran an opinion piece by the aptly named Charles Hurt, which was titled “Shut up, Jimmy Kimmel, you elitist creep”. It was a vicious attack on Kimmel that ended with “if you were a decent person, you would shut your fat trap about partisan politics and go care for your kid, who just nearly died, you elitist creep.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, this past Friday I watched HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher,  and Maher nearly gave me whiplash with his jumping back and forth on the issue of using children in peril to make a political point. Maher started his show by praising his good friend Jimmy Kimmel for sharing his story and chastising republicans for telling Kimmel’s baby to basically “go fuck himself.”

Less than five minutes later, interview guest John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, told Maher he was uneasy about legalizing marijuana (one of Maher’s pet issues) because of the dangers to kids. Maher quickly jumped on Kasich’s statement and indignantly retorted “Why do we have to bring kids into it?”

Mere moments after that, during a discussion on healthcare, Maher told his panel of guests, “One side (democrats) wants to tax rich people so babies don’t have to die and one side is more or less against that, let’s not let republicans off the hook on that!” He then finished by saying “People will die and republicans know it and it is a price they are willing to pay!” Not surprisingly, no one on the panel asked Maher why he had to bring kids into it.

Maher’s use of suffering children to make a political point, contrasted with his aversion to others using the same tactic, is standard operating procedure not just for late night comedians but for the Establishment media as well, and illuminates the power of the suffering child narrative and why those on the opposite end of that argument lash out so viciously against those that use it…it's because they know how effective it is.

In this case though, Jimmy Kimmel doesn't benefit by persuading people with his son's story, however, the same is not true of the U.S. government. 

So the next time a horrific photo of a child becomes a big story, stop, think rationally, not emotionally, and ask the question: who benefits? Maybe then we can halt the endless cycle of carnage that these images capture.

A version of this article was previously published on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at RT.

©2017

Bridge of Spies : A Review

****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!! THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!!***

MY RATING : SKIP IT.

Bridge of Spies, written by Matt Charman and Joel and Ethan Coen and directed by Steven Spielberg, is the story of James B. Donovan, an American insurance lawyer who must defend Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy arrested in Brooklyn in 1957 at the height of the cold war. Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, struggles to overcome both overt and covert legal, popular and familial hostility in order to give Abel (Mark Rylance) a worthy defense.

The first half of the film is dedicated to Donovan's defense of Abel amid a corrupt legal system. The second half of the film follows Donovan's attempts to facilitate a prisoner swap In East Germany between the Soviets, who want Abel back, and the Americans, who want infamous U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers back. This prisoner swap is made even more complicated as the negotiations are occurring as the Berlin Wall is being built, and an American college student is trapped on the wrong side of the wall.

If you asked most "normal" people, "normal" meaning people smart enough to not work in the film business, who the greatest filmmaker in the world was? Odds are, probably 90 to 95% would say Steven Spielberg. His name is synonymous with modern day filmmaking and enormously successful blockbusters. But I'll let you in on a dirty little secret, if you anonymously asked that same question to people who work in the film business, and they knew their answers would be confidential, the answers would be exactly the opposite. Spielberg would maybe get 5% of the vote. How do I know this? Because I've done it. I talk to people everyday in this business and they tell me all sorts of things you won't hear among 'the normals'.

I'll let you in on another dirty little secret…Steven Spielberg simply lacks the skill as a filmmaker to make a serious film of any notable quality. If you give Spielberg some aliens, dinosaurs or monsters, he'll knock it out of the park nine times out of ten (for instance, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are two popcorn films of unadulterated genius). But give him a true drama with real people, and he fumbles and stumbles his way through it. He can make his serious films appear to be noteworthy to the unsophisticated viewer, with soft lighting and a swelling soundtrack, but anyone with the least bit of artistic sensibility can see that these "serious" films are, like their director, completely devoid of gravitas.

I saw Bridge of Spies a few months ago and have not written about it at all because I found it to be so unremarkable. It is a tepid and flaccid film of no note whatsoever. I was so underwhelmed by it that I basically forgot I saw it and therefore forgot to review it. Then a friend, a famous director whom I will call Director X, emailed me a review of the film with a laughing emoji attached. As a practice I never read reviews prior to seeing a film and almost never after seeing a film. But I read the review my friend sent me and it made me, like the emoji accompanying it, fall out of my chair laughing. The review was glowing and spoke of Spielberg with a reverence usually reserved for saints and martyrs. The thing that made me laugh so hard was the reviewer said that Spielberg made the brilliant decision to "remove all dramatic tension from the film". Think about that sentence for a minute. "Remove all dramatic tension from the film". That is usually something you write about a film when that film is an unmitigated disaster, not when you are praising a director for his brilliance. For instance a reviewer may write, "why on earth would a director REMOVE ALL DRAMATIC TENSION FROM A FILM?" Well…whether St. Spielberg made that decision consciously or unconsciously, I can't say for sure, but he certainly succeeded in "removing all dramatic tension from the film". Spielberg should be charged with dramatic and storytelling misconduct and general directorial malpractice for having "removed all the dramatic tension from the film".

This glowing review was not alone in it's praise of Bridge of Spies, the film is currently at 91% at critic section of the website Rotten Tomatoes. This is less an endorsement of Spielberg's work and more an indictment of the reviewers, in particular, and the business of film criticism in general. Whenever a new Spielberg film comes out you can count on the overwhelming amount of reviews being inordinately positive. Spielberg's power and reach in the film industry is gargantuan, that reviewers are afraid to speak ill of him even when he churns out one of his usual sub-par "serious" films is a testament to his standing in the business and the reviewers cowardice in the face of it. It is amazing that so many reviewers are either that bad at their job and don't know garbage when they see it, or are too afraid to speak truth to the powerful in the industry. Don't believe me? Go read the glowing reviews for the dreadful Amistad, or Saving Private Ryan, which got Spielberg a Best Director Oscar, but which is little more than one great battlefield sequence surrounded by two and a half hours of below standard World War II film tropes. Want more, check out the heavy-handed Munich, or the cloying The Color Purple.

Spielberg's holocaust epic, Schindler's List, is considered to be his greatest film for it won him a Best Picture and Best Director Oscar, but Stanley Kubrick said it best when he said of the film "Think that's (Schindler's List) about the Holocaust? That film was about success, wasn't it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. Schindler's List is about 600 who don't. Schindler's List is about success, the Holocaust is about failure." As always, Kubrick is right. Here is a great short video of director Terry Gilliam explaining Spielberg and his success. It is well worth the two minutes it takes to watch. In the video Gilliam explains the difference between the genius of Kubrick, whose films make us question, and that of shills like Spielberg, whose films give us answers, and answers that are always soft and "stupid". Spielberg placates us, Kubrick agitates us. Spielberg tell us what we want to hear, Kubrick tells us the truth.

So it is with Bridge of Spies where Spielberg goes to great lengths to assure us that America is unquestionably the moral and ethical beacon of hope in a cold and dark world. There is the opportunity for Spielberg to leave us with a question as to whether American moral superiority is genuine or simply a facade, but he goes to great lengths to eliminate that question when he adds a dramatically misguided coda to the film. This coda is there for no other reason than to squelch any potential uneasiness or doubt within the viewer as to their own, and America's "goodness".

Prior to Bridge of Spies, Spielberg's last piece of crap "serious" film was Lincoln, and it is a perfect example of what I am talking about in terms of Critic malfeasance. I was listening to a podcast on the now defunct Grantland website where some critics were discussing Lincoln and all of them but one were tripping over themselves to praise the film. The one critic who was a bit apprehensive had to keep assuring the others and the listener, that he was, in fact, NOT A RACIST and was against slavery, but that he thought the film was slightly flawed. Good Lord, it was just the worst sort of pandering imaginable. Lincoln isn't a great film, it isn't even a good film, it is a really really really bad film. It is so structurally flawed that if it were a house it would be condemned. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a dope, a dupe, or both.

There are two things at play here…1. Everyone needs to kiss up to Spielberg and pretend he's some "serious" filmmaker in order to not lose access and get frozen out of the film business where Spielberg is very powerful and has a long memory. and 2. Critics really do not know any better and don't know what the hell they are writing about and just go with the flow of the pandering crowd.

Regardless of why it happens, there is no doubt that it does happen, and that it has happened with Bridge of Spies. Structurally, once again, the film is untenable. Spielberg, just like in Lincoln, adds an unnecessary coda to the film that does nothing more than water down the already thin narrative. 

Just like in Lincoln, in Bridge of Spies, Spielberg adds story lines that do little more than extend the running time and do nothing but muddy the dramatic and narrative cohesion of the story. Just like in Lincoln he has a cloying and candied soundtrack that tells the viewer when and how to feel. Just like in Lincoln, and all his other "serious" films, Spielberg indicates his seriousness with a specific 'soft lighting'.

Steven Spielberg is a huge collector of Norman Rockwell's paintings. This should come as no surprise as he is the Norman Rockwell of filmmaking. Most of Spielberg's 'serious' films are little more than saccharine propaganda espousing America's moral and ethical supremacy. It is sadly ironic that the man who has done so much noble work for holocaust survivors with his Shoah Foundation, has morphed into little more than a modern day American Leni Reifenstahl.

Tom Hanks reprises his role as Spielberg's partner in propaganda crime by starring in Bridge of Spies. Hanks performance is typically Hanks-ian as he does little more than play dignity that often-times veers into arrogant preeminence. Like the film, Hank's performance is of no note whatsoever. It comes and goes without the least bit of notice.

Acting styles and tastes have changed over the years, for instance, go watch Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, a film for which he won his first of back-to-back Best Actor Oscars. Hanks performance, and the film itself, are terribly shallow and vacuous. Watch any Tom Hanks film over his stretch of dominance from 1992 to 2002 and you notice something, Tom Hanks doesn't act, he performs, which is why he is such a match for Spielberg who doesn't create art, but instead makes entertainment. To the uninitiated that sounds like a distinction without a difference, but to those in the know, it is a gigantic difference. There are very rare moments in Hanks career when he stops performing and starts acting (or being), and these moments are glorious, but they are very few and far between.

The first moment of note when Hanks stops performing and starts acting is in Forest Gump when Forest realizes that Jenny has had his child, and then realizes the implications of that and asks Jenny if his child is stupid or not. It is the only real moment in the entire film from Hanks and it is spectacularly human.

Another example is in Captain Phillips, where, after spending the entire film butchering a New England accent...AGAIN (he did the same thing in Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can), Hanks pulls out a moment of genuine humanity that is staggering. The moment is near the end, when Phillips sits in an examination room after his rescue a doctor (who is spectacular in the scene) checks him out to make sure he has no injuries. Hanks says little, but his body starts to convulse uncontrollably and he weeps and wails. It is easily the greatest acting Tom Hanks has ever done on screen.

Do these moments override the previous two hours of bad accent in Captain Phillips, or the shticky performing on display in Forest Gump? For me…maybe…but it depends on what day you ask me.

Hanks is like those actors in the Pre-Brando Big Bang era, actors like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. He is more playing himself or playing a version of himself that people identify as the "everyman". What has bubbled to the surface in Hanks "everyman" work in the latter part of his career, is that "everyman" has become "smug and contemptuous". There is a haughtiness that seeps through his pores that I find odd and frankly puzzling. A great example of this is in a scene from Saving Private Ryan where Hanks' character listens to Matt Damon's character do a monologue about he and his brothers growing up.

That same air of superiority, the "my poop don't stink but yours sure does" attitude, is on full display from Hanks in Bridge of Spies as well. How the American everyman came to be so arrogant and high and mighty I have no idea, but in the world of Spielberg and Hanks, he certainly has. 

A few final notes in terms of the acting in Bridge of Spies (which is a horrendous name for a film by the way, no doubt thought up by some marketing genius at a studio). First, Mark Rylance gives an outstanding and meticulous performance as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Rylance is one of the great Shakespearean actors of our time, and he was the first artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London (1995-2005). Many, many moons ago I had the good fortune to study with him while I was in London. He is a fountain of knowledge regarding acting and Shakespeare, and is a very soft-spoken and genuinely kind person. His work in Bridge of Spies has garnered him a much deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar. I don't know if he will win, but I will certainly be rooting for him. I also hope he does more film work and a wider audience gets a chance to appreciate his brilliance.

Another actor of note is Eve Hewson, who plays Tom Hanks daughter in the film. Hewson doesn't have too many scenes in the film, but she is captivating whenever she is on screen. There is one scene where she is lying on a couch eating ice cream that in the hands of a lesser actress would have been little more than a throwaway, but Hewson makes it a vibrant sequence worthy of attention. In a strange twist, Eve Hewson is the daughter of Paul Hewson a.k.a. Bono. Bono is, of course, the lead singer of U2, which took its band name from the same plane Francis Gary Powers was flying over the Soviet Union when he was shot down. Spooky coincidence or brilliant subliminal marketing…you decide!!!

In conclusion, Bridge of Spies is another in a long line of Spielberg's uncritical and pandering "serious" films. It is just another one of the Spielberg-Hanks propaganda collaborations that is painstakingly safe and flag-wavingly dull. In fact, I have an admittedly insane theory that both Spielberg and Hanks are contract propaganda agents of the U.S. intelligence community. Obviously I don't have time to share my tinfoil hat wearing madness with you here, but just go look at both of their filmographies and notice a pattern in the themes running through the films of both of them (case in point…notice in the re-release of E.T. Spielberg edited out the government agents guns and replaced them with walkie talkies and flashlights!!). Ok…enough of my rambling, just know that in the final analysis, Bridge of Spies is a film of no consequence that you never need to watch. If it is in the theatre, save your money and skip it, if it is on cable, don't waste your time, just change the channel. 

One final note, thank you for reading, and if you could do me a favor and keep this review between just the two of us, I'd really appreciate it. I don't want Steven Spielberg getting wind of it as I'll never work in this town again if he hears I've bad mouthed one of his movies. Also, I'm pretty sure the notoriously vicious Tom Hanks might murder me with a baseball bat if he found out I said a bad word about his work. I will thank you in advance for your discretion. 

©2016