Sunday, February 15, 2009

Truest statement of the week

So, when do we march? We have an administration that has officially upheld the lawlessness of the previous administration. The same people who took to the streets or at the very least engaged in righteous indignation over Bush administration actions should not silently sit by and allow Obama to do the same things.
It isn't too soon to protest. He told us right away that there is no change we can believe in. We don't have to wait for bombs to fall on Iran or for more prisoners to be denied their human rights.
It is not only acceptable but imperative that we speak up now. We must say that Iran has the right to have nuclear power or nuclear weapons or satellites or anything else it wants without being threatened by the United States. We must say that the continuation of Bush administration human rights abuses will not be excused under the guise of giving Obama one hundred magical days to learn his new job.
It is time to take not only Obama to task, but faux progressives to task as well. They are the Obamites who claimed they would hold his feet to the fire if we would just shut up and let him get elected. It is time to protest against them too and call them out for being the hypocrites they are.
That means a lot of protesting needs to be done. Why waste time when Obama isn't wasting any. We must get started now.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "When Will We March Against Obama?" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

They've botched the stimulus, and they're botching the financial rescue. They're worse than I expected, and I wasn't expecting much in the first place (see: Obamamania, a febrile disease).

-- Doug Henwood, "Obama to coddle bankers" (Left Business Observer News From Doug Henwood).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Fairly early for a Sunday. For us.

Along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

We thank everyone. And what do we have?

Actually, we may have a piece or two for next week. We couldn't use them this week but they're written (and in print version).

Truest statement of the week -- Margaret Kimberley was the clear choice this week as was . . .

Truest statement of the week II -- Doug Henwood.

Editorial: The simulated 'stimulus' -- Trina helped with the writing of this and we thank her for it. She helped on one other feature and we'll note that when we get to it. We are always thrilled to have Trina's help and if we'd known she was planning to help, we'd have tried to do a roundtable or something to bring her into that. (We did offer, she said she'd help on the editorial but no need for a roundtable.) We're not joking about being alarmed when we saw Krugman's column Monday. C.I., Ava, Ty, Dona and me (Jim) all decided on the topic Wednesday and it had been floated before we decided. (Mike notes it in Thursday's "Barack and his apologists.") Then came Krugman's column and most of us couldn't read it all the way through on Friday, we were too sure he went to the obvious point about how the public is enraged by the first bailout and rejecting others. He covered a lot but, thankfully for us, left that out.

TV: Blustering Boys -- Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary. And we raided it for an Iraq section to use in another article . . . and Ava points out, "That article isn't even up here." No, it's not. Our apologies to Ava and C.I. for that. But this is a fun one that's also a hard hitting one and also includes trade gossip. I could write more about it but pulling Iraq meant pulling a heads up for next week. We can't think of a time when they've offered a heads up in their commentaries before about what they planned to tackle next week. They plan to tackle The Dollhouse. It airs Friday nights on Fox with The Terminator as a lead in. They had this thing about it that actually worked well with Iraq and when we pulled the Iraq section to use elsewhere, they had to redo the conclusion. They DID NOT like the first episode. They have a copy of the second episode that arrived when they called friends to register how much they hated it. Supposedly episode two is better (they haven't watched it, we've been working on this edition all night). So, barring something else coming along, The Dollhouse will be the topic (or a topic) next week.

Sadder Sirota -- Like cheese, Sirota really stinks and molds with age.

Mailbag -- Trina helped with this article. This is the other one she helped on. We thank her for the help. We started to do this in a transcript format but ended up ditching it for the strength of one voice.

The Bronze Booby goes to . . . -- Barack lies and you're a booby if you lie for him.

The Cult of St. Barack -- Top illustration done by Kat and Betty's oldest son. Possibly another adult. This is a photo that they painted over. Second illustration is Isaiah's and we thank him for the permission to repost. (We also thank Betty's son but we're not done with him yet.)

Go ask Phallus, Phallus Walker Red -- Two illustrations. The first is by Betty's oldest son and her daughter. The backstory is that her daughter started the illustration and made a stroke with the paint brush she hated. She started crying and her big brother said he'd fix it and did. It's a good illustration. The second one is Betty's oldest son and C.I. According to Kat. C.I. doesn't remember that. (But also hasn't looked at it.) The article is breaking it down about Alice Walker Red. We returned to it because we agree with DC Indymedia that now is time for a recent flashback.

It's coming . . . -- There will be an action calling for an end to the illegal war next month.

Two things not to miss -- Maxine Waters and Kimberly Wilder. If you missed Maxine Waters, you can catch it online later today. We were working on the edition and this was the first thing posted. Dona looked at the time and yelled that This Week would start in a half hour on the East Coast.

Iraq roundtable -- Repost of the Iraq roundtable a number of the community participated in on Friday night.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Kat, Betty, Rebecca, Stan, Wally, Marcia, Cedric and Ruth wrote this and picked highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them.

We're planning to fall out now watching The Amazing Mr. X. We'll see you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: The simulated 'stimulus'

In Friday's New York Times, Paul Krugman's "Failure To Rise" made many points regarding President Barack Obama's ho-hum, underwhelming stimulus package. (And is anyone truly surprised that Princess Tiny Meat would have an underwhelming package?) Having decided on the topic for this week's editorial Wednesday, we read Krugman with beads of sweat forming on the back of our necks, afraid he was about to require we hit the drawing boards.

Fortunately, he missed it. He came close and he raised many good points but he missed our editorial angle. Barack Obama has proposed an underwhelming and do-nothing plan that will fix nothing. Krugman notes, "For while Mr. Obama got more or less what he asked for, he almost certainly didn't ask for enough. And as Michael Hudson (CounterPunch) observed:

The first question to ask about any Recovery Program is, "Recovery for whom?" The answer given on Tuesday is, "For the people who design the Program and their constituency" -- in this case, the bank lobby. The second question is, "Just what is it they want to 'recover'?" The answer is, the Bubble Economy. For the financial sector it was a golden age. Having enjoyed the Greenspan Bubble that made them so rich, its managers would love to create yet more wealth for themselves by indebting the "real" economy yet further while inflating prices all over again to make new capital gains.

Krugman is concerned that it might be difficult to "come back for more" as a result of what he terms "the ugliness of the political debate". It was at that point that we breathed a sigh of relief because he didn't get it.

Fresh faced Cover Girl Barack

No, it's not just that Barack's been Waist Deep In The Big Ugly for some time as he has repeatedly attempted -- not unlike the previous Bully Boy -- alarm a nation so he can get the policies that he wants. It's that an element's being ignored. Krugman ignores it the same way Barack does: The people.

GM and the others in Big Auto really hoped they'd hit the US Tax Payers Sweepstake, that Ed McMahon, if not Uncle Sam, would show up in Detroit with a multi-billion dollar check. What happened? The first bail out -- the one for the banks.

And the public watched in disgust as their money was handed over to businesses that didn't play by the rules, that obviously weren't smart enough to stay in business and that didn't deserve it. And their disgust only increased as it became obvious that Congress forked over the public's monies with no checks to ensure how they'd be spent, no oversight.

Big Auto had the misfortune of showing up after that. When the banks came back begging yet again, the public made it very clear to Congress that, no way, no how, did they deserve another damn cent. Every senator and representative heard from their constituents on this and most of these elected-to-represent-the-people officials ignored the public, overrode their sentiments, and forked over more tax payer monies and, again, with no oversight, no check on how the money would be spent.

The public's damn disgusted.

They're sick of hearing "this is the big fix and we'll do this and do it this once and ___ will be back on their feet." They're sick of doing without while billions and billions go to Big Businesses, to for-profit business who are supposed to keep themselves employed and are not supposed to be dependant upon tax payer handouts.

Monday night, Barack poured on the high drama (Trina rightly called it out). He was attempting to scare the American people enough to drive up support for his tiny package. His calmer remarks included the following:

And that is why the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs, because that's what America needs most right now.
It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. That is and must be the role of the private sector. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do.
When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage. We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1,000 worth of badly needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. These steps will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving.

Note the key phrases that will haunt "the single most important part of this Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is the fact that it will save or create up to 4 million jobs," "the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life," "only government that can break the vicious cycle," "breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do," "will put more money in the pockets of those Americans who are most likely to spend it, and that will help break the cycle and get our economy moving."

Monday night, Barack went on to key people to "tomorrow" when Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, "will be announcing some very clear and specific plans for how we are going to start loosening up credit once again. And that means having some transparency and oversight in the system. "

Transperancy? Geithner's vague speech -- hyped by Barack -- alarmed the markets. You can find it at which is apparently Barack's next propaganda move.

But he laid down the markers, Barack did.

Krugman's worried about Congress when more money is needed (and we agree more money will be needed, the stimulus is underwhelming).

Congress isn't the problem, the public is. The public is sick of seeing their money tossed around so freely to help everyone but them. They're damn tired of all these handouts and the stimulus is nothing but more handouts to Big Business. When it fails to do what the public believes Barack has promised it will, he's a liar. He's the banks and savings and loans, the Big Auto execs, showing up to beg for more money.

And some (maybe Krugman) may think Congress can ignore the public as they did when they voted for the second bailout for the lending industry. But that bailout took place after the election, when Dems thought they were riding high and didn't give a damn about the public. When the stimulus fails to do the trick the public believes Barack has promised it will, he's going to have a really difficult time getting more money.

This was his first big bill and he could have whatever he wanted. The three Republican senators were not needed for its passage. This was the moment where a president, any president, is going to get something through Congress because it's their first big piece of legislation. Barack should have aimed high and went with what was needed and what would actually do some work. He refused to do that. He basically added $400 to Bully Boy's stimulus check last summer and that's really all he's doing for the average person. He didn't nationalize anything so these handouts to Big Business are handouts. They aren't loans that will be repaid and they certainly aren't investments because investments allow you to become a stock holder. They're handouts.

When this underwhelming package fails to get the economy on track, Barack will need to come back and ask for more. And the public will be fed up.

Big Auto felt the brunt of the public's anger but it will be spread out to others. (We are not stealing from David Sirota with that statement. David Sirota has stolen from C.I. about the free floating anger which C.I. has documented for two years now at The Common Ills and Ava and C.I. have documented throughout 2008 at this site. We'll gladly credit Sirota as the CHEAP MENTAL PICKPOCKET he is.)

Republicans are being Republicans and there's a lot of whining about that and a lot of teeth gnashing. Grow the hell up. That's what an opposition party does. If it surprises you, it's because for the last eight years while a Republican occupied the White House, the Democrats refused to act like an opposition party. The Republicans may overreach (that is their pattern) but in terms of their strategy and their actions, it is how an opposition party is supposed to act.

And Barack just gave them a gift. A stimulus that they believe is a failure. (They appear to believe it's a failure because they think it's all pork. Our position is that "pork" barely got included and "pork" -- which we see as people's programs -- needed a huge infusion of cash.) They're on the record stating it's a mistake.

Barack rolled the dice and if the underwhelming stimulus doesn't do what he said it would (and we don't believe it will), Republicans have their 2010 campaign message. And not only do Republicans have it, with the public outraged by the economic 'fix' that didn't take and Republicans calling out Barack's failure on the economy, watch and see how many Dems stand shoulder to shoulder with Barack.

He could probably try to delay any needed legislation until after the 2010 election (right after if Democrats lose big in the House, before the next Congress is sworn in) but that would help the economy how?

It would certainly help the GOP. Allowing Republican candidates to point out that not only did Barack's plan fail but he's refusing their attempts to craft a new plan.

He didn't ask for enough and his problem on that will not be the Congress, it will be the people. The people are the ones who will allow Dems in Congress (most of whom have long gotten over any of infatuation with Barack) to make a break with Barack. The Republicans will continue to oppose him and all of the big whiners screaming "We need to elect 60 or 61 Dems to the Senate" will suddenly grasp that the problem isn't with the number of Dem Senators, it's with what they're being asked to do.

Maybe fate will smile on Barack and his underwhelming package will turn out to be a miracle. If so, he'll be hailed as a winner. But anyone who crunches the numbers and notes what's dying in our economy right now, where the jobs are, which jobs are being lost, will be underwhelmed by his appalling FDR retread -- one that appears to think the job market today is made up of the same labor force as it was in the 1930s.

The Underwhelming Barack His Tiny, Tiny Package.


This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends

TV: Blustering Boys

Blustering boys pop up a great deal on TV these days.


Take XIII which concludes tonight on NBC. The two-part mini-series came to our attention Tuesday when friends at NBC began attempting to interest us in writing about it. We'd missed it. We were busy. Thanks but no thanks. Wednesday one NBC suit took it upon himself to fax reviews or 'reviews' to our DC hotel. He noted in the cover letter, "At least read the garbage The Idiot Belafonte wrote." The Idiot Belafonte? We do so love when our catch phrases are used. Okay, we'll read it.

Gina Belafonte is no doubt really proud of her garbage but we're wondering where the editor was? A lot of bad jokes that have not a damn thing to do with the mini-series. It's really past time that The Idiot Belfonte was forced to make an honest living.

We didn't know if we'd like it or not but we knew that if GB couldn't be bothered with actually reviewing it, we'd have to tackle it. "Send us the disc," we said, feeling a little like Angela Bennett.

The mini-series concludes tonight and our first goal is to get you up to speed. XIII is the tatoo Stephen Dorff has on his chest near his neck (not on his neck as some have insisted). The president has been assassinated while giving a speech announcing US troops were being pulled from Iraq and Afghanistan. Her vice president is now president, running for the office and being opposed by the dead president's brother.

Stephen Dorff appears to be the assassin. He is found in a tree (hanging from his parachute), shot and out cold. An elderly couple takes him in (the wife used to be a doctor) and nurses him back to health. He has no memories of what happened before being in the couple's house which quickly becomes the scene as a shoot-out as unnamed thugs and Val Kilmer show up. Both the man and the woman are killed and Dorff escapes determined to find out who he really is.

What unfolds is Val Kilmer thinks Dorff is 13 but he's actually a government agent who volunteered for reconstructive surgery to look like 13. 13 died after killing the president and Dorff's character is the governmental good guys (as opposed to the government bad guys also on display in the miniseries) only chance to flush out the killers.

Those are the basics and, with just the three paragraphs above, you can tune in tonight and follow the conclusion. But should you?

The reviews faxed to us (there were four) slaughtered the mini-series (three slaughtered it with critical comments, Belafonte just said it was awful and tried to work in some bad one-liners that had nothing to do with the mini-series). We're really not understanding the venom.

The cast is not wooden at all. One reviewer rightly praised Caterina Murino (who is wonderful as Sam) and most had good words for Val Kilmer but the rest of the cast was savaged and we were expecting to see some sort of extreme camp, Planet Nine type show. Instead, we saw a strongly acted, action popcorn feature.

Jessalyn Gilsig, for example, was believable in one of those only-in-action-movie scenes. Having just shown up as Kim, she has to explain that she's XIII's wife. She then has to explain that, while serving in Iraq, he fell in with a diabolical crowd, returned to the US with a bad conduct discharge that she discovered was a cover to get him out of Iraq and to the US so he could murder someone. He was not her husband anymore, as far as she was concerned, her husband had died in Iraq.

A bit over the top for one scene? She was just getting started. Alarmed at this unknown plot, she contacted her military father and they decided they had to get to the bottom of it. She begins sleeping with her husband (guess all of him didn't die in Iraq) to win his trust. She then gets him to tell the other conspirators that she wants in and her father provides her with some documents that look like state secrets so they'll trust her. They tattoo her and she's in but they do that, she says, just to humor XIII. She doesn't find out what's going on in time to stop it. He shoots and kills the president. He is shot after and, though Val Kilmer and others think he is alive, he died. At that point, Gilsig is finally allowed to take a breath and the others explain to Dorff how he's a government agent who volunteered to pose as Kim's husband Steve to catch the 'evil doers.'

It's data overload and really requires that Christina Pickles show up and declare, "That's a lot of information to get in in thirty seconds. Alright Joey, if you wanna leave, just leave. Rachel, no you weren't supposed to put beef in the trifle. It did not taste good. Phoebe, I'm sorry, but I think Jacques Cousteau is dead. Monica, why you felt you had to hide the fact that you were in an important relationship is beyond me. . . . Ross, drugs? Divorced? Again?"

Instead, Val Kilmer shows up and shoots Gilsig who quickly expires -- apparently already in a weakened state from lugging around all that exposition.

But while the writing of that scene was forced, Gilsig's acting wasn't. No one really gives a bad performance. Not even Stephen Dorff who creeps us out.

Not the character, The Dorff. Back when The Dorff was trying to make a name for himself as something other than a guy who used to play Becky's boyfriend on Roseanne, he was forever flashing pit and chest hair and forever doing so in outlandish poses. No, Stephen, no one ever needed to see you photographed on a toilet, not even when you were wearing women's shoes. So it's a bit creepy to see The Dorff turn up in a shirtless scene and grasp that someone's been waxing.

The Dorff and Michael Stipe used to pal around. They really palled around. And they didn't care who was around. And when Details did back-to-back covers on the two pals, the first angered Dorff (who could have tried not letting it all hang out in front of a reporter) but the second really pissed him and Michael off. Boys, if you don't want reporters writing about how you pull back the other's pants and look down them, don't do it in front of reporters. If you do it in front of them and they write about it, don't throw little fits and don't try to get people fired. Details ended up having a complete shake up over the tantrums of The Dorff and Stipe. One more reason no one should feel too torn up that R.E.M. fell on hard times long, long ago.

As a result, we have long enjoyed the 'tales from the road' of The Dorff and we'll note that he looks very convincing in a trucker hat early in the mini-series but looks even more convincing in tonight's conclusion wearing a collar with a chain. It may be The Dorff's most realistic onscreen moment and we strongly suggest that any who have ever been turned on by him (at one point in the fading days of the grunge era, he turned on a lot of men and women) check out tonight's conclusion for only that reason.

Dorff may be an actor. We feel he's at least ready for his St. Elsewhere second lead. The Dorff's playing a cypher action figure -- no memory but instinctively remembers training -- and his stunted, interior quality may actually work here. Val Kilmer really relishes the role he's playing and has a great deal of fun with it. It's a blustering boy, a scene chewing character. Kilmer has so much fun with it that you end up enjoying it as well. There's not much of a character to play -- which goes to the writing -- so the mini-series is lucky to have Val in a co-lead.

One reviewer complained about the use of different film stock when the story goes into flashback of the assassination but the alternative is what? As we remember it, the trick used to be that the flashbacks would be shot the same way but, when shown on your screen, be a little blurry and slowed down. We'll gladly take the step up to different kinds of film stock.

The mini-series moves quickly and it's an action one. Maybe as a result, we're not expecting Roots, Murder In Texas or even Master Of The Game? An action mini-series, we feel, should be judged by whether it moves quickly and whether it surprises you (even only momentarily). We think it does. We think it was a smart move for NBC to program it because any attention it gets right now prepares viewers for Kings. If you're around the TV tonight and have the time, give it ten minutes to hook you. We think most people who sample will end up watching in full.

We watched Monday in full as Barack uh-uh-uhed and spoke in that robotic manner that allows him to find more unnatural pauses than Estelle Parsons and Kim Stanley combined. "He's our Method president!" we quickly gasped while wishing we could have one president this decade capable of normal speech. If he gets any worse, he'll be Sandy Dennis.

And that's just his speaking style.

When you start examining what he's actually saying, it gets much, much worse.

Sadly, you learn quickly that you can't always trust the transcripts. For example this scare tactic stood out for many things including his stumbles:

My administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion, but because we also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression, doing little or nothing at all will result in ever -- even greater deficits, even greater job loss, even greater loss of income and even greater loss of confidence.

When he made that comment, we called Elaine and asked her to note "will result in ever greater -- even greater deficits," (which she did, thank you, Lainie) because we were curious to see how the transcript services would handle it. We'd noted they tended to leave out his repeated uhs . . . repeatedly. He said "will result in ever greater -- even greater" -- it matters because? It matters because what he said is what he said and if we can't trust the transcripts to be accurate -- well that's a movie we sat through for the last eight years.

Listening to Barack is not something we recommend. Listening to him leaves us feeling like Vivian in the passenger seat while Edward attempts to drive a stick shift. But we made it through and will share a little for those who weren't able.

In 2003, Colin Powell disregarded that he worked for the people and, as he would make clear in his actions as well as in endless interviews, thought he worked for George W. Bush. We the people employ the White House occupant and all that work on the public dime. So, for example, Hillary Clinton is our Secretary of State.

It's a concept that escapes Barack, "And so tomorrow my Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, will be announcing some very clear and specific plans for how we are going to start loosening up credit once again. . . . Before I even think about what else I've got to do, my first task is to make sure that my secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, working with Larry Summers, my national economic adviser, and others, are . . . I don't want to preempt my secretary of the Treasury; he's going to be laying out these principles in great detail tomorrow. . . . Again, Helene, I -- I -- and I'm trying to avoid preempting my secretary of the Treasury; I want all of you to show up at his press conference as well."

It damn well matters. If Powell had realized he worked for the American people, that he was supposed to serve them, maybe he would have at least been tempted not to lie for the White House to the United Nations. Barack, Timothy Geithner is not your anything. He is the Secretary of the Treasury. Just as the American people employ (and pay) you, so they do Geithner. When you try to make him your possession, you confuse where his loyalties should lie.

When not confusing who the actual employers were, Barack was confused over what his college major was. "I think that what I've said is what other economists have said across the political spectrum," he declared. Barack, you're not an economist. You majored in Constitutional Law.

Responding to NBC's Chip Reid, Barack declared of the health care systems:

The same applies when it comes to information technologies and health care. We know that health care is crippling businesses and making us less competitive, as well as breaking the banks of families all across America. And part of the reason is we've got the most inefficient health care system imaginable. We're still using paper. We're -- we're still filing things in triplicate. Nurses can't read the prescriptions that doctors -- that doctors have written out. Why wouldn't we want to put that on an -- put that on an electronic medical record that will reduce error rates, reduce our long-term cost of health care, and create jobs right now?

If you're thinking, "Wait, Hillary's 2007 stump speech," it actually goes back further. Those points -- almost word for word -- were part of her stump speech when selling The President's Health Security Plan in 1993. All he can offer are sixteen-year-old observations that Hillary has outlined many times already to the American people?

Then there was the most disgraceful moment of all. Going to the transcript:

MR. OBAMA: (Laughs.) You know, I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to, not surprisingly. (Laughter.) But let me try this out.

No, we're not aware of any president that has turned their vice president into a joke in public before. Certainly not in the last one hundred years of this nation. But Barack did just that. Used Joe Biden to get a few cheap laughs. He may have thought it was a nice way to suck up to the press but the reality is that there was fallout.

Fallout was felt immediately when, the next day, Nouri al-Maliki trashed Joe Biden in public remarks. That's right, the US puppet in Iraq thought he could rip apart Biden, mock him, make fun of him. He never thought he could do that with Bush or Cheney. But Barack waived it through.

The longterm fallout is that Americans now have a memory that will resurface. This memory is of Barack stabbing even his own vice president in the back. When things get tough for Barack, as they do for all presidents as the term progresses, it will most likely be commong to hear people say, "Well that's not surprising. Remember, he stabbed Joe Biden in the back. And did it during his first press conference!"

And there will be rough times galore for Barack. He's already lied in a press conference. Ed Henry of CNN asked him a question about coffins, "And related to that, there's a Pentagon policy that bans media coverage of the flag-draped coffins from coming into Dover Air Force Base. And back in 2004, then-Senator Joe Biden said that it was shameful for dead soldiers to be, quote, snuck back into the country under the cover of night.You've promised unprecedented transparency, openness in your government. Will you overturn that policy, so the American people can see the full human cost of war?"

Barack's response included, "Now with respect to the policy of opening up media to loved ones being brought back home, we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don't want to give you an answer now, before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved."

He told the American people that a review was taking place. That he was reviewing it, that the Defense Dept was reviewing it. That's what he told the American people on Monday night. Late Tuesday, Katharine Q. Seelye's "Gates Orders Review of Policy on Soldiers' Coffins" (New York Times) reported that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had decided to order a review. Order a review? But the day before Barack said a review was already underway? Barack lied.

And largely got away with it. By a press largely uninterested in Iraq as evidenced by the fact that not one person at the press conference asked one question about the Iraq War.

Thomas E. Ricks new book The Gamble is about Iraq and Friday he appeared on CBS News' online program Washington Unplugged (click here for just the Ricks' segment) where he was interviewed by John Dickerson.

John Dickerson: Where are we now in Iraq? There's this feeling -- there's been this recent election, 'Oh, things are getting better in Iraq.' What's your view?

Thomas E. Ricks: My view is that there are two fundamental misunderstandings that Americans have about this war. First was how tough the surge was. It was not just a matter of putting a few more troops out into Iraq. It was a very tough six months -- probably the hardest phase of the war so far. The second theme of this book is this war is far from over. Yeah, the war has changed several times. It was an invasion, it morphed into an occupation, into an insurgency, then into a civil war then into an American counter-offensive. It's changing again. Just because it's changing, doesn't mean it's ended. The elections the other day? Yeah. Remember the elections a couple of years ago, purple fingers, people coming out? Followed by a civil war. So I think there are a lot of reasons that Iraq '09 is going to be very tough and in fact harder than the last year of Bush's war. And I think there's a good chance that Obama's war in Iraq will last longer than Bush's war.

John Dickerson: So who gets this? Does the president get this? You know, he talked about sixteen months removing troops. What are the commanders tell him? Is there a clash coming here in terms of the ground truth versus what the president may think.

Thomas E. Ricks: I think there well indeed might be a clash by the end of the year. Obama's campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq in sixteen months was a fatuous promise. When Americans heard it, what they heard was I will have no American troops dying in 16 months. But it was a false phraseology: "combat troops." Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat. General Odierno says in the book he'd like to see 35,000 troops there as late as 2015. Well into . . . it will be Obama's second term. So I think that at the end of this year, you're going to see a conflict. Obama's going to want to see troop numbers coming down. Odierno, the other big O, as they call him in Iraq, is going to say, "Wait a minute, you're holding general elections here in December, in Iraq. That's exactly the wrong time to take troops out."

CBS' Washington Unplugged is a program created each Friday by CBS News for the web only. Exclusive web content. You can stream it live on Friday afternoons or catch the archived broadcasts by visiting Washington Unplugged. Last Friday, Dickerson filled in for Bob Schieffer who is the regular anchor and the interview with Ricks (the above is not the full interview) may have been one of the few times when the media treated Iraq seriously last week.

Otherwise we got blustering boys like Barack that were shocking in their immaturity. Or blustering boys like the character Val Kilmer plays in XIII (amusing because it is a character). We got very little that actually mattered or made much of a difference from either but a mini-series is supposed to be entertainment -- it's excuse is that it never promised it would change the world.

Sadder Sirota

In addition to that reality, the attacks on Cindy shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone paying attention in March of 2007. That's when it was obvious that the Congressional Democratic leadership was selling out the voters. And that's when Pelosi's enforcer David Obey threw an abusive and public tantrum captured on video. Instead of calling out Obey, many (such as David Sirota) rushed in to defend Obey. The woman he attacked was Tina Richards and wasn't it cute the way she was either left undefended or attacked by our so-called 'left' media? It's really hard for people to even pretend you're 'independent' media when you rush to defend Obey and his tantrum while piling on the mother of wounded Iraq veteran Cloy Richards whose 'crime' was trying to get the medical attention her son was owed. It was a disgraceful moment for independent media and a lot of people would like to pretend it didn't happen.

That's from C.I.'s "2007: The Year of Living Useless (Year in Review)" and we were reminded of it this week when the ever lame David Sirota and his spastic computer colon spat out nonsense non-stop.

Where are you?

First up (no links to s**t), Davey wanted to call out Barack. The response to that was less than Davey had hoped. Sad Sirota thought finally calling out the Corporatist War Hawk Barack would help him (Sirota) polish up his increasingly lack luster cred. But that's not what happened. Instead he received comments and e-mails telling him it was too late -- baby. He'd pimped for Barack like crazy. He'd lied about Hillary non-stop. And no one was in the mood for his play-act-progressive production.

So then it was time for Davey to show up squeezing out a lot of f**k yous over and over and over. Sirota, who one would think received more than his share of Fs, wanted to hand them out to Hillary supporters, Ralph Nader supporters and on and on. Ralph Nader supporters, he insisted, should get to work on building that third party.


No, David Sirota doesn't feel the need to be informed before weighing in. Ralph Nader was the independent presidential candidate. He was not running (nationally) on a party ticket. Sirota's confused Ralph with Cynthia McKinney who ran on the Green Party ticket and repeatedly stated her presidential run was about building up that third party.

But she's a woman and Davey always hits the pisser when a woman speaks so we can't expect him to listen to her or any of the others who make up over half the country's population.

His ignorance and hatred continued to be exposed all week and, near the end of it, he was accusing people who called him out on his crap "stalkers." Writing what a useless piece of crap David Sirota is will result in a charge of 'stalker.'


Because David Sirota is the male Joan Crawford since Michael Douglas stopped making those films where he was the victims of . . . sexual harassment (Disclosure) . . . violent ex-lovers (Fatal Attraction), etc. And David Sirota is bound and determined to see himself as the victim and will intentionally molest the term "stalker" in order to use it.

Responding to someone's bad writing does not make one a "stalker," not even a "cyber stalker." David Sirota's education, such as it was, failed him. The term is "critic."

David Sirota is not a journalist. He is a Congressional flunky who fancies himself a writer demonstrating that just as he distorted the term "stalker," so too has he distorted the term "writer."


This mailbag is not in transcript form. We're responding to a series of e-mails and focusing mainly on the negative ones.


First up, how stupid do you think we are? Ava and C.I. know the story of Ann Dunham better than any living American and that's because they began researching it and speaking to various people who knew Ann in 2007. So when ____ e-mails and wants to know more about Ann and waxes on about how much he enjoys this site and blah, blah, blah. We have no idea why you really wrote. We know you've churned out nothing but Barack Propaganda for over a year now. We also know one of your stories featured flat-out lies. Ava and C.I. do not reply to e-mails to Third and the feature you note (the only in depth article on Ann to date) was like pulling teeth for the rest of us to get information to include. They are very protective of Ann's reputation. That does not mean, however, that they'd turn their research over to a propagandist like yourself. Don't write us again. The fact that you deliberately misrepresented yourself in your e-mail tells us all we need to know.

You'll note there's no link to the Ann article. That was part of the agreement we made with Ava and C.I. to get access to the details that went into that article. Each Monday, Mike does a summary of the articles that go up here on Sunday. Under the same agreement, Mike could not hype or promote the article which left him with nothing to say as his own readers pointed out to him wondering why such a great article didn't result in many words from Mike.

We don't promote that article. That was part of the agreement. And if we had to agree to that with Ava and C.I. you can be sure they'll never share a damn thing with a liar like you.

An angry, alleged reader e-mails to explain why he stopped reading (we never heard from him when he allegedly was reading, Jess keeps copies of all e-mails): "You promoted the racist talking point that the foreclosures were the fault of Black people." We did?

There's no link to back up his claim. Jim wonders, "Did we make an agreement with him like we did with Ava and C.I. not to link to this mythical article?"

What we do know is it would be hard for us to write something we don't believe. And what we do know is that Ava and C.I. called out that talking point ("TV: Disturbing Behavior") when Saturday Night Live pimped it:

Seth showed just how awful he and Barack's real supporters are. They're centrists, they're not leftists. That's Barack's core support. Seth proved it with his little 'joke' about the economy which included him editorializing on where the blame went for the financial crisis. If you missed it, try to guess who was blamed first by Neo-Lib Seth? The banks? No. The home owners taking out loans -- loans, Seth explained, they couldn't afford.

Again, whatever you read or allegedly read, you didn't read it here. And, also worth noting, all of SNL's 'left' viewers who post the skits at their blogs week in and week out somehow 'missed' calling Seth out.

Another alleged reader e-mailed to tell us how "disgusting you are for not supporting PUMA." We're not PUMA. We have been kind to PUMAs. We will call them out if we feel the need. With the exception of responding to an attack on Stan, we're not aware of anything other than individual remarks made in transcript pieces here. Those remarks were not made by Third (which is Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.). We didn't have a problem with those remarks but we didn't make them. PUMA is seen as racist by some and the reason is because some PUMAs are racists. So are some Barack supporters. (And we're referring to Whites in that last statement. Like Seth of SNL -- who is damn lucky Ava and C.I. are so sick of him and Tina that they've refrained from writing up an article they have pages and pages of notes on already.) Some aren't. C.I., in a piece at The Common Ills, called out the use of "illegal immigrants" by a lead PUMA and we all support that calling out. That is right-wing wording. "Undocumented worker."

We've been far more supportive of PUMA than any of them ever bothered to be of us. We defended them -- Ava and C.I. especially defended them. On our end, the summer of 2008 was non-stop e-mails requesting links and on their end? They've never linked to us. We know them. We're familiar with them. We aren't them but we have defended them when we felt they were unfairly attacked and until awhile back, when Jim decreed "no more" to these beggars who want links but never even acknowledge Third's existence, we were happy to include a link or two to them.

PUMA's attitude kills the movement. That's the reality.

The Confluence is killing itself. Riverdaughter was at Lambert's site* arguing that he wasn't doing enough to help PUMA grow and this and that. We saw that because PUMAs (with sites) e-mailed it and asked us to highlight it. Not interested. Not interested in linking to Lambert because he took down the blogroll months ago and even though he admitted that at the start of last month, he never brought it back. And Corrente wants to whine about the purging of names from blogrolls when they purged their entire one. (*Lambert's site because the bulk of the Correntes left and do not appear to be coming back.)

The Confluence engages with a site that we do not. It is a racist site and the fact that they link to it (including in posts) and that they leave comments there goes to their image problems. (This would be the site that trashed Stan and called him a racist for supporting affirmative action.)

PUMA is on their own. We're tired of seeing Ava and C.I. ripped off by one PUMA site. It really is amazing how that site always shows up on Monday with the exact same points Ava and C.I. made and with no link to Ava and C.I. or any acknowledgement that they were the ones who made that point. It's especially obvious when Ava and C.I. are reaching back a month or more to tie a past event into something current. Strangely, ___ just happens to have that same thought.

PUMA made themselves a joke by offering a circle-jerk. Go read Darryn! Go read Heidi-Li! Go read . . .

Riverdaughter wants to argue with Lambert about whether or not Corrente did enough for PUMA and yet the reality she will not face is PUMA didn't do a damn thing for anyone outside their blog-around.

If Riverdaughter wants to build PUMA into something, she's going to have to start examining her own actions. That's not to let Lambert off but that is to note that she's very happy to link to people who don't link to her but she does nothing (as one blogger e-mailed to point out to us -- and we replied we already knew that) to help anyone else.

Years ago, Ron Byrnaert (now of Raw Story) wrote extensively about the left's refusal to help each other out with links. This was long before the so-called Blog Roll Amnesty Day (in fact, some of the thugs who dropped blogs on that original day had long been called out by Ron). He pointed out that the right-wing links to each other and increases their audience that way. But, and remember, this was before The Daily Toilet Scrubber and others began purging their blog rolls, on the left there's no support.

When a blogger e-mailed us in December about The Confluence ignoring her site, we decided we weren't going to help build up a new blog snob.

2008 saw the culmination of what C.I. warned of in 2004: That in cutting off the heads of Cokie Roberts and others, The Daily Toilet Scrubber really wasn't attempting to end spin, it was attempting to set itself up as the new gas bag.

We remembered that, wrote back to the blogger that we were sorry about her experience, noted our own issues with PUMA and told her we wouldn't link to The Confluence again and have not. We've been at this for a long time. We've had The Nation offer us a link if we'd only tone it down, for example. (We would never tone it down nor take direction from outsiders.) We've been ignored for speaking our truths and shut out. It didn't matter, we still found an audience and we're happy with the size of it.

We got no real help from outside the TCI community. And Ava and C.I. built up our readership. Their TV commentaries became our calling card. They were such a calling card that a website decided to rip us off by reposting -- in full -- an Ava and C.I. commentary.

Were we supposed to be flattered?

This website that begs for money and has money felt it could take a commentary (a great one) that Ava and C.I. labored over and, without any permission, repost it -- in full.

They never even e-mailed to say that they had. Or to thank us for 'allowing' them to do so.

We only found out when angry readers started asking us why we'd let a Soros funded site post our stuff and how much money did we get paid for it?

We didn't get any money. We certainly didn't give our permission.

And let's repeat: It was reposted in full.

This wasn't, "Here's an excerpt." This wasn't, "Here's the opening." No, they reposted it in full, over fifty paragraphs. (The commentary was 2007's "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet.") And all we got for it was accusations that we were now on the Soros payroll. (We would never take blood money.) We tried to be nice and, until now, have always just noted the problems that theft caused when responding to e-mails but that's the reality.

And you have to wonder why someone making a dime (and more than that) on their website thinks they can steal someone else's work and use it at their for-profit website?

So we know all about being ripped off and we know all about sites that refuse to link but want links.

The Confluence, fairly or not, is seen as a restricted club and if Riverdaughter's attempting to increase her following, she'll have to address that. It has nothing to do with Lambert. (Which isn't letting him off on other issues but when you're accusing him of not being supportive or supportive enough for PUMA, you better not have ignored those people who did try to support you.)

Another e-mailer whines we don't link to No Quarter.

No, we don't. Not anymore.

Isaiah has done comics for The Common Ills since 2005. Though we all know Isaiah and though C.I. is part of The Third Estate Sunday Review, we always get permission (even though he's given us standing permission) before we use one of his comics that appears at The Common Ills. No Quarter didn't feel the need to do that. Not only did they not feel the need to do that, they refused to link The Common Ills.

They stole Isaiah's comic and did not link to The Common Ills.

That's before you get into whatever con Susan UnPC was trying to run on Ruth in e-mails. We have no interest in them at all.

You grab our stuff, you need to have permission. You don't? Well you better at least have credited us and linked to us. Isaiah's comics are his property. And he will tell you that anyone who borrows or steals them damn well better link to The Common Ills. He plans to stop drawing them as soon as C.I. closes shop at The Common Ills. His entire reason for doing the comics in the first place was, "To give TCI a visual presence." He does not take kindly to rip-off stunts like the one that site pulled. He waited until after the election to make his feelings fully known on the subject. But we know how he feels and we're not linking to them.

A lot of rip-offs take place online. Trina's been ripped off recently and that's one of the reasons she wanted to participate in a roundtable Friday -- she was still too angry about that to do her usual blog post. The same site ripped off Stan Friday. Lot of rip-offs. Lot of people who can't think of ways to get readers on their own so they decide to copy what other people are doing. Consider them the online equivalent of the Fox TV network.

Betty's been very vocal about having had it with non-community sites. For four years, she did an online, comic novel. With very little support from outside the community. She would have people e-mail her and beg for a link. She'd find a way to work them into a chapter and she'd e-mail them to let them know. They'd reply they'd loved to link back to her but they didn't link to humor sites. Betty ceased the online comic novel before 2008 drew to a close and her site is now a blog. She's seen new excuses in the "please link to me and I'll link to you" e-mail crowd. She's sick of it.

Riverdaughter went to Corrente and basically insisted, "Why don't you support us! Why won't you help us!" And that had a huge number of people laughing because The Confluence always wants to dialogue with their enemies and never wants to help their friends. That's reality. It's why, when The Confluence was called racists, Riverdaughter sucked up to the site that did it, sucked up to the woman who delinked from her and noted she would keep the link to the woman's site up. As the ticked off female blogger wrote us, "I link to The Confluence over and over and get nothing back but someone calls her a racist and she kisses their ass."

Exactly. So Riverdaughter wants to know how to improve PUMA online: Try linking outside the circle jerk.

To the many, many who wrote regarding Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Three hours worth watching" last week:

(A) Yes, they did know what was going to happen Monday night and they were clueing you in while attempting not to be spoilers.

(B) They did not call out Heroes before because they honestly don't watch it unless they're writing about it. The week leading up to that piece being written, they were speaking to students about the shows on Monday night to get a sense of what the feelings were -- watching the lineup on a TV in a student union had revealed the audience had major issues with Heroes. They then worked backwards to figure out what had happened in season two that everyone was referencing? Had they been viewers of the show, they would have called out the treatment of women and the sidelining of actresses a long, long time ago.

(C) Those crediting them with 'saying what needed to be said,' are told that the treatment of women is not a point they discovered, it was brought to them by college students and college students deserve the credit for that. They thought they were clear on that in their commentary but when we told them about the e-mails they asked that we make sure credit goes where it's due. College students raised the issue. When the issue was raised, Ava and C.I. were having to travel backwards to get the details.

Returning to the negative e-mails, Senator Roland Burris. We did not "endorse" Roland Burris. We said, "Seat the Senator." That is the law. We endorsed no one to be the appointed senator of Illinois or New York. Recent press spins have Burris painted as 'crooked' and five of you e-mailed Saturday to insist that ha-ha, we were wrong!

No. We weren't. Should Roland Burris turn out to be crooked, we weren't wrong. We did not champion him for an appointment. He was appointed. Once he was appointed, we called for the law to be followed and called out the racism going on.

Burris filed an affidavit earlier this month that the press is spinning as "Burris asked to donate to Blagojevich!" And? He said no. Three times. Over the span of many months.

The spin has Harry Reid jumping for joy but it's nothing big and it's nothing that he can legally be removed from office for (or should be). Had Burris said, "Yes, I will donate money to your campaign," some might have basis for arguing that Burris was attempting to buy the office (and did buy it since he ended up appointed); however, he did not say yes. He said no. (And that may have been because he didn't have a great deal of money or may it have been because he found it unethical. We don't know. We do know that he turned the request down repeatedly.)

Harry Reid needs to lose his hatred of Black people real damn quick. He's honestly starting to remind us of Brian (Family Guy) and how Brian barks like crazy whenever he sees a Black person -- excepting only Cleveland. Maybe Cleveland's bi-racial?

We said "Seat Burris" and we stand by that. We will stand by it if something emerges that warrants Burris being dismissed from the Senate. It was the right thing to do. In the latest attempt by the press to create a scandal, nothing has emerged that makes us think Burris would or should be removed from the Senate. We do find it strange that the press are yet again glomming on Burris when you consider how Blagojevich's remarks obviously about Michelle Obama's pay-for-play job after Barack goes into the US Senate has never fascinated them.

Lastly, Jim wants it noted that we are not interested in, we are not interested in helping them, we are not interested in hearing from them, and we are not interested in sharing with them our illustrations. Everything we post at any of the Flickr accounts leads to repeated e-mails from them and we're honestly sick of them flooding our inbox.

The Bronze Booby goes to . . .

It's rare that a Bronze Booby goes to an editorial board but what a bunch of boobs sit on The Seattle Times board.

Friday's paper featured "Photographing Iraq war fallen shows the full costs of war" and, to steal from C.I., "Writing an editorial does not allow you to change what happened at a public event. Writing an editorial does not give you permission to lie about the facts." Yet, by sentence two, the editorial board attempts to do just that:

TIME has come to rescind the Pentagon policy barring media from photographing the return to the United States of troops killed in Iraq.
President Obama raised the matter in a news conference earlier this week.

Catch it? "President Obama raised the matter in a news conference earlier this week." He did? Yes, he did. He raised it in Monday's press conference -- if he also works for CNN and uses the alias "Ed Henry."

Ed Henry: Thank you, Mr. President. You've promised to send more troops to Afghanistan. And since you've been very clear about a time table to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, I wonder what's your time table to withdraw troops eventually from Afghanistan?And related to that, there's a Pentagon policy that bans media coverage of the flag-draped coffins from coming into Dover Air Force Base. And back in 2004, then-Senator Joe Biden said that it was shameful for dead soldiers to be, quote, snuck back into the country under the cover of night.You've promised unprecedented transparency, openness in your government. Will you overturn that policy, so the American people can see the full human cost of war?

Barack Obama: [. . .] Now with respect to the policy of opening up media to loved ones being brought back home, we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don't want to give you an answer now, before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved.

Who raised the issue? Ed Henry raised it. He raised it by specifically asking about it. That's only confusing to The Seattle Times.

Third sentence was no improvement for the paper, "In response, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a review of the policy, saying he believes there may be better ways to protect the privacy of service personnel and their families." No. Barack told the American people Monday night the policy was under review already. Gates announced Tuesday he was starting a review. So what the third sentence called for was something along the lines of: "Despite Obama claiming that a review process was underweigh Monday night, late Tuesday Gates would announce a review was starting."

For refusing to stick to the facts, The Seattle Times editorial board earns the Bronze Booby.

Bronze Booby Prize

For reality based commentary on the photographing of coffins, see The Philadelphia Inquirer's "Editorial: Photos and Coffins" and C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and "Barack's first public lie as president"

The Cult of St. Barack

"I've learned that people only pay attention to what they discover for themselves," declares Anthony Perkins as Tuesday Weld's Pretty Poison nears its ending.

And last week, Sadder Sirota proved Tony right, showing up to suddenly call out Barack. Like Columbus, Sirota appeared to think he'd found a new world and when informed that was not the case, he grew foul mouthed and angry. And then revealed just what a Cult member he was at a time that The Cult of Saint Barack was already disgracing themselves.

Santa Barbara Mission

As Mike pointed out, Sirota insisted, "Indeed, the real hypocrites are those who insist they care about the future of this country, but either disengage or actively work to undermine a president because their favored candidate didn't win."

Really? Was that Sirota or Bill O'Reilly from 2001 through 2008?

See, we don't owe Barack a damn thing. The bum works for us, not the other way around. And it's not our job to cheerlead him or spit-shine his knob. Our job is to fight for the issues we believe in. For example, ending the illegal war. And the fact of the matter is that Barack is opposed to ending the illegal war.

That's reality and we're just some of those 'crazy peace types' that David Sirota loves to trash and has for over four years now.

It is not our job today or tomorrow to cheerlead anyone. And to suggest that those who care about the future of a country have to support a president is an argument we didn't buy into during the 2001 to 2008 occupation of the White House. We didn't buy it then, we don't buy it now.

And it's surprising to hear faux-gressive Sirota parroting right-wing talking points until you realize that's all the Cult has to offer.

Doubt it? Marcia's "Oh those idiots at Democratic Underground" and Stan's "Barack's disgusting cult" addressed another right-wing message from the Cult. Fantasizing what their Christ-child could do if only was he the dictator and not the president. And you got responses that were even more embarrassing than the question itself.

Yes, that is what the Cult did last week. They offered the fantasy of Barack as a dictator -- a fantasy they endorsed -- and they offered that it's the job of anyone who cares about their country to support whomever happens to be the president, regardless of any positions taken.

We didn't support Bush, we don't support Barack. We don't play Cult of Personality and we don't applaud intellectual midgets who are installed in order to chew away at the safety net.

In other words, we're not members of the Cult. And we won't become them.

Typical Cult member pictured in Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Dicky Breaks It Down"

Little Dicky Breaks It Down

That Toilet Scrubber does not resemble any of us. So sorry.

Go ask Phallus, Phallus Walker Red

Calling it a blast from the past, DC Indymedia recently reposted an embarrassing piece of garbage that ran in The Guardian [PDF format warning, click here] April 1st of last year -- what an appropriate publication date for anything with Phallus Walker's byline.

The purpose of the garbage was for Communist Phallus Walker to destroy Hillary Clinton's primary run -- no Communists really shouldn't have a say in a Democratic Party primary.

Phallus is an immensely untalented writer whose only critical success came when she was able to pass off stilted writing as the character's "voice" in the first-person The Color Purple. Like many a Communist Party member, her writing services the Party and not the muse. It's bulky, cumbersome and rarely floats. Which makes for intensely bad reading but makes her goals very clear.

In her attack, Phallus was attempting to smear Hillary and any White feminist supporting Hillary.

I wish I could say white women treated me and other black people a lot better than the men did, but I cannot. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that white women have copied all too often the behaviour of their fathers and their brothers.

[. . .]

I made my first white women friends in college; they loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered.

[. . .]

It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him, cannot hear the fresh choices toward movement he offers.

[. . .]

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as "a woman" while Barack Obama is always referred to as "a black man."

Phallus' garbage just got worse and worse but, in the above, you see the orders handed down from Party leaders. Note "Mrs Clinton," not "Ms." Note how Phallus works overtime to strip Hillary of any feminist credentials and then has the nerve to claim "I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name". Hillary's been billed as Hillary Rodham Clinton for the bulk of her life. It's generally shortened to Hillary Clinton and that's no more her fault than it's Glen King's fault that the press dubbed him Rodney King.

Phallus really doesn't like women and never has. She tolerated some feminists (White and other races) because they were the ones who could help her promote her bad talents. But she's only ever had time for women she could use.

She's done damn little to ever help women and, in 2008, she showed up to execute Party orders: Phallus, who the hell are you?

She's a Communist who has made a career out of excusing the abuses of authoritarian males. As we've noted before, she's an apologist for Fidel Castro imprisoning gay men. In the same article, we explained that Christian women really need to not to use the term "womanist" that was popularized by Phallus.

Phallus mentioned that term in her April Fool's column as well: "When I offered the word 'womanism' many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of colour, in times like these." No, it was not. Phallus needs to grasp that just because a periodical ceases publication does not mean it vanishes. Translation, the reasoning she originally offered when popularizing the term all those years ago still exists. Popularizing the term that she did not coin -- it was a Party term as the Communist Party worried about the growing rise of feminism (in the 20th century the Communist Party was hostile to feminism and women's rights).

"Womanist" was meant to dilute support for feminism, to splinter it. Walker popularized it, she did not originate it and it's early beginnings are documented in Party publications before Walker ever began using it.

Party girl Phallus wanted to talk about the suffering of women of color. And that really was hilarious because Phallus runs with White people and has always done damn little to help African-American women. Or does she think the insulting attack she penned on Terry McMillan ("This That I Offer You") was 'helpful' to another African-American writer? If so, she might try explaining how she smears McMillan with "PMS" as a 'reason' for her actions?

"This That I Offer You" was the perfect example of what a liar Phallus Walker is. In that essay, she not only attacks Terry McMillan (author of Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, etc.), she also tries to glorify herself as someone above attacking others. She rips Terry apart and then turns around and tries to make herself once-the-victim, now-wiser. She does that via a lie regarding Langston Hughes. It is true that Phallus worshipped Langston -- Langston did, after all, have a penis and that is what Phallus grabs onto.

In poor Phallus' fanciful, fact-free essay, she's the victim. She and Langston had a correspondence and then, one time, she wrote him a very urgent letter and heard nothing back from him ("A week or so went by.") and she stewed and wondered what had she done to hurt Langston, to make him shut off contact with her. Then "I received a letter with his return address but not written in his wonderful bright-green ink. I opened it with a troubled heart. Langston Hughes had died, I was informed, before receiving my letter, but the writer knew he had thought highly of me. This was an invitation to his funeral." Note how Phallus has to include the "he had thought highly of me" to stroke her own ego. But if you get stuck on that detail, you miss the other realities.

A lot of people do because Phallus has been lying for some time. She's taken to reinventing her life and confusing many as, in some versions, she meets her first (and only) husband in Jackson, Mississippi. No, that is not how it happened. They were married in New York City and they moved to Jackson -- becoming the first (publicly) interracial couple in Jackson. Want to provide the timeline, Phallus?

No, she doesn't because it destroys the 'creative' 'facts' in her allegedly non-fiction essay. How did, for example, Phallus miss Hughes' death? Why did a letter in the mail bring her the news? Hughes died May 22, 1967 (after having had surgery May 12th -- surgery someone as 'close' as Phallus might have been aware of in real-time were she not always so self-obsessed). May 23rd, the following day, The New York Times published their lengthy obituary . . . on the front page. Hughes' death was news -- national and international. It was noted by papers, radio and TV (the documentary Looking for Langston opens with a radio broadcast explaining Hughes' passing). Will Phallus explain how she missed the news?

She also wants people to believe she received a letter in the mail inviting her to the funeral. That is a lie. Hughes died May 22nd. The memorial service (he was cremated) was held in Harlem's Benta Funeral Chapel May 25th. Phallus wants you to believe she was invited to the funeral and invited by mail. She also wants you to believe that a front page obituary on The New York Times, about a man she was allegedly so close to, somehow escaped her attention.

It's laughable. And she wants to claim, while offering these bold-faced lies, that this essay is to impart wisdom and truths ("Langston's death taught me") but the only thing it conveys is that she will lie about anything. Nothing is sacred to her and she will use any and everyone she can to self-promote.

She counts on no one willing to ask her questions, on no one willing to pin her down. She counts on her memories of funerals in Georgia -- which often took place many, many days after the deaths -- to be the universal and to cover for her. She counts on your not knowing where she lived. She counts on your not knowing that Langston Hughes was one of the most famous poets in the United States and that his death was big news. Most of all, like any good con artist, she counts on you believing her.

That belief is how she can serve up Sent By Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit After the Bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The Grandmother Spirit? Are we all laughing yet?

Phallus is a grandmother. One that has refused to ever meet her grandchild. One that cut out her only child, Rebecca Walker, because Walker had the nerve to reveal that the Earth Mother wasn't all that motherly. (Walker bit her tongue a great deal. Phallus should be very grateful that Rebecca wrote a professional book and not a Mommy Dearest type page turner.)

To be clear, a female artist does not need to be a good mother (or even a mother). Many have been bad mothers. (And many men have been bad fathers.) But it is an issue when you market yourself as something you're not. That disconnect (popularly known as "lying") has long been a staple in literature, film and the theater. And readers and audiences regularly root for the liar to be exposed.

So it's really surprising Phallus has continued to self-represent as the Earth Mother, even after her own failures as a parent have been well documented. But she cast herself in the role and she'll be damned if she'll play anything else. It's as comical -- and cringe inducing -- as Bette Davis' audition scene in The Star. (Davis was playing a character based on Joan Crawford.)

If Phallus found no real joy in motherhood (she didn't) and had no real skill for it (ibid), the question becomes why present herself as the Earth Mother? Because the couple, the mate, the attachment to the male. That is what's left of the role once you've stripped children out of the equation and Phallus is all about the male. Worshipping the male, lying for the male, excusing the male, building the male . . . She has repeatedly ripped off women and stabbed them in the back in order to build up a man. She will do so until she gasps her last breath.

Phallus can't change her nature.

"The world has changed," Phallus wanted to insist when Barack was inaugurated. The reason for that is Phallus is a 20th century Communist who worships authoritarianism. It's why she supported Barack and it can be found in any exchange or comment she writes or makes.

Our personal favorite example was when she was Amy Goodman's Pravda on the Hudson co-host for the inauguration and she encountered Grace Lee Boggs. Boggs, like most 20th century Socialists, supported Barack. And in their exchange, Phallus and Grace, you saw the differences between the two camps. Phallus wanted to read her bad poem (that throws in nods to many famous works by Communists including the play Awake and Sing) and then wanted to start gushing about her man, wanted to start licking the phallus in worship.

There was Phallus whining about what was being asked of his family (Phallus is aware Barack chose to run for president, right?), insisting, "We're asking a lot!" She couldn't stop listing her Favorite Things About Barry ("One of the things I love about him is . . .") and tossing out her coded language ("a collective") and inverting the relationship in a democracy so that "we have to reflect that best that he sees in us" . . . As Phallus babbled on, embarrassing herself to the point that you half-expected her to begin masturbating on air, Grace interjected that the "concept of a messiah" is a problem. Phallus realized she'd gone too far (revealed too many Red authoritarian roots) and attempted to introduce a new catchphrase she had just "come up with" but Grace kept cutting her off and explaining that the people are what matters.

For Phallus only a male leader matters. The same Phallus that worships and excuses Fidel has already begun her worship and excuse of Barack. Why not? That's what her strand of Communism believes in: Big Daddy.

And she's perfectly comfortable denying and betraying women to worship the phallus. In her hideous April's Fool column, find any moment where she, a woman in an interracial relationship who gave birth to a bi-racial child, even mentions Ann Dunham. She never does. She has no use for that White woman.

The same way she bristles anytime she's ever asked about Zora Neale Hurston's friendships with White women. ("Personally, I do not care if Zora Hurston was fond of her white women friends," she snapped at John O'Brien for his 1973 book Interviews with Black Writers. In the same interview, she blows off his question about whether or not women writers influenced her more than males -- for the obvious reason that nothing influenced Phallus more than males.) And Zora's an interesting point all by herself.

Phallus has chosen to live in a predominately White world -- check the colleges she's taught at, for example. And what has she really ever done for women of any color? Not Zora, not a dead woman. For living women, what has she done? She's perfectly happy picking up the phone and asking for favors. But what does she do?

She ripped apart Terry McMillian. What emerging African-American woman has she championed? What woman -- of any race -- has she brought out?

Phallus doesn't help women. She harms them, the same way she harmed her own daughter. The same way she made 2008 about attempting to inflict harm on the feminist movement -- the movement she was more than happy to use to self-promote.

Proposed Gold Plated Rule for the 21st Century: Those who give nothing, get nothing in return.

Meaning those women who give nothing to other women, those women who actively rip apart other women to build up a man, those women who trash the feminist movement while feeding off it, get nothing. They get cut off. They get informed they are not a part of the feminist movement.

Phallus is a liar. She was born a liar. She's a bad liar and we didn't have to walk you through her awful 'factual' Langston Hughes' yarn to prove that -- we could have just steered you over to Temple of My Familiar, for example.

"Womanist" was not her phrase. She didn't invent it. The Communist Party invented it and she popularized it (and began popularizing it a few years after it was already appearing in Party literature). Womanist -- then and now -- was about destroying feminism. It was about sewing divisions.

When her actual career is examined, Alice Walker's done nothing for feminism. She has promoted herself, she has harmed many women and she's never passed up the opportunity, Communist Party girl that she is, to worship the phallus and create an authoritarian, Stalin like figure she can prostate herself before.

It's coming . . .


Details at Iraq Veterans Against the War and A.N.S.W.E.R. and Pentagon March.

Two things not to miss

Two things not to miss today.

First up, US House Rep Maxine Waters is a guest on ABC's This Week this morning. Waters is usually too much truth and reality for the gas bags to handle so be sure to check out her appearance.

Maxine Waters

Second, Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) made an announcement last week:

It is with some regret, and many mixed feelings that I am announcing my resignation from the Green Party.
Some of the background reasons are a shift in personal focus. Though, I also feel great tension in belonging to a political organization which has made some decisions I do not like, and a political organization which I feel is less becoming less available to correction and input from individual members and/or grassroots ideas.
I had already resigned from the GPNYS/NY State Committee several months ago. With my current resignation from the party, I mean: I am resigning my post as a representative to the GP-US National Committee. I am resigning my position as Co-Chair of the GP-US Diversity Committee, and that, next week, I will unenroll "Green Party" via the Board of Elections. I will re-enroll "blank" (a term in New York which is similar to terms in other states such as "unaligned", "independent", or "no party.") I totally reject the two party duopoly, so I would never consider joining the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. And, at this time, I have not found a party that meets my various criteria and high ideals, including being for non-violence, against any war, and allowing for abundant and fair input from membership.I value my time in the Green Party. I will still think of the four pillars as a personal mantra: non-violence; grassroots democracy; social and economic justice; ecological wisdom. I have learned a lot from many wonderful, wise people, in the state and national party, some of whom are still in the party, but many of whom have left.
I still have complete faith and respect for my local, the Green Party of Suffolk. And, it is because of their good work and my friends there, that I have the most regrets for leaving the party. I suppose having given so much of myself to the other levels, I can't feel as separate from the state/national internal bureaucracy shenanigans and mistakes as other greens can.
Many of my friends and family members will remain in the Green Party. And, I will remain a publisher/contributor of "Onthewilderside" website, where my co-blogger is a loyal Green Party member and enrollee. My focus in my writing and in my activism will be more with non-partisan efforts at peace, anti-nuclear issues, and dismantling racism. I will continue to explore themes of ballot access and support for third party and independent ideals. (Though, I am feeling pretty fed up with politics.)
Thank you for all your support of my Green Party efforts in the past. I hope that many of my green friends and colleagues will find other, mutual areas of interest to share with me.And, may the Green Party --but, more importantly, the green movement -- grow, reflect, evolve and prosper.
Thank you,
Kimberly Wilder
North Babylon, Long Island, New York

Iraq roundtable

This Iraq roundtable took place Friday night and Ava and C.I. represented Third in it so we'll repost it here.

Rebecca: We're doing an unplanned roundtable and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Trina of Trina's Kitchen and Wally of The Daily Jot, Kat, you want to explain how we ended up with a roundtable.

Kat: Except for Betty and Cedric, everyone's at Trina's. And Rebecca and I were on the couch with out laptops and I was scanning and scanning the net for topics to write about and just couldn't find anything. Rebecca groaned, I said, "I know!" And we're doing a roundtable with anyone else who hadn't already done a post tonight plus dragging Ava and C.I. into it.

Trina: Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type up the rush transcript. If they speak one after the other, I'll help out with note taking.

Rebecca: So let's start with Iraq. The Iraq War is over, right? That's what the press has told us, so it's over and all is peachy keen in Iraq.

Mike: It really seems like they -- the press -- lost interest in Iraq and, now that so many are leaving Iraq and rushing off to Afghanistan, they want to find a way to justify their decreased coverage of Iraq. So they try to write it off as a 'success.'

Ava: I think that's a really solid point and that, yes, when you are, for example, ABC pulling your news staff out of Iraq and partnering with the BBC to provide you with Iraq content when needed, you're going to really gas bag a river in order to justify the fact that you've killed your coverage. You're going to justify your actions in any way you can.

Betty: But they didn't really get to get away with that this week. They tried to. C.I.'s documented, for example, the New York Times' effort to downplay Iraq all week while 'reporting' on it. Wednesday's violence ended up being buried at the end of the Thursday article despite the fact that more people were reported dead in Iraq than in Afghanistan and they tossed Afghanistan on the front page. Then Thursday's violence, reported today, is curious for what it leaves out.

Cedric: I agree with Betty and one of the things C.I.'s really great at is noting the patterns before anyone does. I'm sure a lot of people reading today's New York Times article on Thursday's violence didn't even register that there were three assassination attempts --

Mike: Two successful.

Cedric: Two successful, flowing from the provincial elections. The paper reports one and mentions another in passing without even noting the name of the guy. This is a pattern and C.I. was the first to note, we're going back years, the targeting of government officials, the first to notice that Mosul was becoming the most violent city in Iraq, just go down the list. I have no idea why the New York Times would ignore what appears to be a pattern. It's hard for me to believe it's accidental.

Trina: I don't believe it's accidental at all and considering that paper's history, even just the most recent history, they've lost the right to the benefit of the doubt after selling the illegal war. They promised, in their sort-of-culpa, a greater look at their actions in selling the illegal war and they never provided it. Howard Kurtz, in the Washington Post, did a lengthy report on how the Post got it wrong. The New York Times never did anything like that. But the week started with the nonsense that things were going great in Iraq and the reality is completely different.

Wally: I could be wrong but I'm finding -- when Ava, Kat, C.I. and I are speaking to college groups about the illegal war -- a lot more interest. And there's always been an interest but it seems like it's increased. Kat, Ava, C.I., anyone else noticing that?

Kat: Yeah. And I think it goes hand in hand with the fact that our news outlets are not reporting as they need to be. So when we're discussing Iraq, this is often the first some are hearing about whatever examples or details we're addressing. I'll give an example, at the start of this week, when C.I. was talking about the reports that [Nouri] al-Maliki was making overtures to Baathist officials who had left the country and how al-Maliki and his supporters were denying that, no one knew about that, no one we spoke to. They had a lot of questions about that. Then, Thursday, Trenton Daniels does his really bad article on it. Which leaves out Dawa's strong, public denial. It really was a white wash article but I don't really have any respect left for McClatchy.

Rebecca: I'm going to jump in with an Iraq and media question that Lilly e-mailed to ask me. Last week, C.I. noted the reputation McClatchy had for bias re: Iraq coverage and she wondered if I could write about that. I can't. C.I. could but, C.I., I'll put you on the spot here now.

C.I.: McClatchy's Iraq coverage has always been seen as tilting towards "Awakening" Councils. That's due to Nancy A. Youssef's reporting, yes. It's do to Leila's and others. But it's also due to blog posts by Leila and Iraqi correspondents where they have revealed opinions and, time and again, it has been pro-"Awakening." The Los Angeles Times, by contast, is thought to be biased towards the KRG and the reason for that has to do with their Kurdish ties. The New York Times is only interested in officials and the State Dept will always trump the military at the paper. The Washington Post has had too much of a change over and too many strong voices to get one reputation pinned on them. Certain things you might have noted in, for example, Ellen Knickmeyer's reporting would be countered with Sudarsan Raghavan's who would be countered with Ernesto Londono who would be countered by Anthony Shadid. And to be really clear, the bulk of the outlets have reporters capable of strong reporting. McClatchy harmed itself partnering up with an 'NGO' and whether they can recover or not, I don't know. But the New York Times, for example, I can't think of anyone that's not capable of strong writing. Time limitations, rewriting and editing from outside Iraq can destroy a strong report. There are other things as well. But the days where the Times just had a propagandist in Iraq are gone.

Rebecca: You've praised Tina Susman recently, at the Los Angeles Times, and I'm wondering who else has strengths?

C.I.: Everyone. Leila Fadel has let her division slip out of control but even Leila has talent -- even at this late date. I'll praise anyone reporting from Iraq for any of those four papers tomorrow. Tina Susman, for example, usually has the context. You can expect that in her writing. But is there anyone that hasn't had praise? Other than Trenton? I don't care for him and if I don't care for you, there's a reason. And if I really don't care for you, I've checked you out and spoken to editors who've worked with you. I really don't care for Trenton. But if he wrote an amazing article, I'd praise it tomorrow. If he even wrote a good one, I'd praise it.

Cedric: You called out Helen Pidd today and I loved it. It was funny and it was important and I don't think that's really grasped. The funny part, yes. But the important part, no. You're calling Helen Pidd because she's repeating a falsehood. And if it doesn't get called out, and called out loudly, it seeps into the coverage. We all saw that when Barack put out the lie that Bill Clinton pardoned two women with the Weather Underground. The next morning, after that debate, you and Ava wrote a piece and you walked people through it. And the lie stayed in. That night, you let it rip and tore into people by name for repeating the lie and only then did the public record start getting it right.

Ava: I'm grabbing because C.I. nodded to me. First, Barack floated two things in that debate and the press -- gee, which side were they on? -- went with the worst. David Corn couldn't let it go and was screaming about it in a press conference and writing his high drama posts at Mother Jones. When he was finally forced to issue a limited correction, he did so minimizing his actions. But, yeah, we did think it would straighten out in the course of the news cycle. That morning, when we wrote that Bill Clinton didn't issue two pardons to the Weather Underground -- or any pardons, we were writing an entry and thinking it would all come out during the day. It didn't. And C.I. had to hit hard. And when people lie, C.I. has to hit hard. When people refuse to correct mistakes, C.I. has to hit hard. Kat and I were talking about that this week, about how difficult, for example, the morning entries are and how C.I. has to include this and that and cover this and that and is going from one cell phone to the other over and over and there are plenty of times where C.I.'s speaking to someone, in the press, who is saying, "Call it out or it's in the cycle and it stays in." It is not easy for the press cycle to self-correct. And to drop back to the Weather issue, credit to ABC News who quickly self-corrected, to Jake Tapper and ABC News who quickly self-corrected. But that's very rare. Much more likely is the David Corn who refuses for days and days to correct and then, when he finally does, does so in a snarky manner where he refuses to take responsibility for repeating falsehoods and then has to make a Marc Rich 'joke' to try to excuse the seriousness of the matter. It is a serious matter. For days and days, the press ran with, "Barack's friends with Bill Ayers but Bill Clinton pardoned two people in Weather Underground!" That created a dynamic to the story that was never true.

Trina: I have no idea why Helen Pidd couldn't get her facts straight. That's really embarrassing to be reporting something, a month after it took place, that is not true and that many, many MSM news reports have established wasn't true. As for McClatchy, I think they're useless at this point. I repost the snapshot once a week, sometimes more but usually I just post once a week. And the drive-by e-mails, oh. "Never anything nice." Along with Tina Susman, Ned Parker's been praised recently, Alissa J. Rubin's been praised several times recently, Sam Dagher and I can think of many others. And guess what, it's really not required that C.I. praise. But I do love the drive-bys -- most of whom seem to never grasp that "Here's C.I.'s 'Iraq snapshot'" means "Here's something I didn't write." But if Rebecca's reader's question got answered, I'd like to move to the issue of the elections because I'm really getting sick of the nonsense where they supposedly mean something. Am I alone on that? I know C.I.'s sick of it, anyone else?

Cedric: I have watched in amazement as the press has spun these elections and turned it into some deep meaning for Nouri al-Maliki who was not a candidate. Each and every belief they espouse -- which they present as fact -- has at least one counter-belief but they ignore that to promote al-Maliki. Over and over.

Wally: And today, one of the reports was how al-Maliki's 'success' in the elections -- in elections where he was not a candidate but somehow found 'success' -- proved that Iraq wants a "strong man." Iraq wants it? Or the reporters want it? And, yeah, Trina, I'm sick of it. And I really do think the press wants a strong man or that they know the military does and they spin it that way for the military.

Betty: I'd agree with Wally on that -- I agree with Cedric's comments as well but specifically about what the military wants and what our government wants. We put thugs in charge in Iraq because thugs could frighten and scare the populace and if that happened quickly the efforts to privatize everything in Iraq could move quickly -- not to mention violence could diminish. So we put thugs in charge and I think we are trying to sell this belief that -- after we've put thugs in charge -- what Iraq really wants is what we did. It's a justification. An after the fact justification. Which brings us back to Ava's point about the justifications. Now Cedric's point about how they keep going with what shores up their view is good point as well.

Rebecca: Today's snapshot -- and link to that please -- includes a commentary that appeared last night, a commentary by C.I., and that was included at Trina's request. Trina, why don't you talk about that?

Trina: Sure and since Ava and C.I. are typing, we all agreed when we want a link, we will request it. That way they don't have to figure out what needs to be hunted down and what doesn't and we're also trying to avoid multiple links because we don't want to be up all night waiting to post it anymore than they want to be up all night hunting down links. But the commentary went up last night and I asked C.I. to please include as much of it as possible in the snapshot. I'm going to summarize it. Iraq held provincial elections January 31st. Iraq has 18 provinces. Only 14 held elections. al-Maliki's Dawa party did well in 9 provinces -- well, nothing that would resemble a mandate for Dawa -- and didn't do so well in 3 provinces. 4 provinces still haven't held elections. At least three will shortly. C.I.?
C.I.: The three Kurdish provinces have scheduled elections for May.

Trina: Thanks. And then there's Kirkuk that no one knows if or when it will be allowed to hold a vote. We can come back to that. But 3 provinces didn't go to Dawa -- southern provinces. 3 Kurdish provinces will not go to Dawa. It's doubtful that Kirkuk would -- due to the ethnic violence and ethnic splits in the region. So that's 6 Dawa will not have support in and you can toss in Kirkuk and make it seven. This is not a huge win for Dawa. This reflects a country that's a lot more split than is being noticed. And, as C.I. pointed out, if you want to use these still non-official results to make some sort of a statement, the statement has to be that the south and north are not on the same page as centeral Iraq, where Baghdad and al-Maliki are and that al-Maliki's got a little bigger space than Hamid Karzai to move around in. But that space could shrink at any time.

Cedric: Agreed and it also does, as C.I. noted, indicate support for a federation and not a nation with the south breaking off in the same way the north's KRG has.

Mike: Has anyone -- Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. -- have any of you spoke of that in front of students or other groups? If so what was the reaction?

Wally: C.I.'s addressed it about seven or eight times this week. The way C.I. sets it up may mitigate some of the reactions because -- like with the commentary we're talking about -- C.I. notes that a decision for Iraqis and only them. So you don't get some of the response you might get. But there seems to be a collective gulp each time at the prospect of a federation.

Mike: That would be my reaction as well. Do we want to talk about why it's not a US decision? I know we grasp it but someone coming in late may not.

Kat: Well it's not for the US, an occupying power, to determine the fate of Iraq. Iraqis should make that determination. If they want a nation-state, that's their choice, if they want a federation, that's their choice. It's not up to the US to impose anything on it and, honestly, were the US to impose something it would be based on what they think would provide a quick fix. Not unlike the decision to allow Nouri to install his thugs in the ministries -- especially the Ministry of Interior -- decisions based on quick fixes that result in real damage.

Betty: And, I mean, it's like a marriage. Someone outside of it can't decide to end it or to continue it. That has to come from those in the marriage. If Iraq's going to move forward as a nation-state or become a federation that's up to them.

Mike: And the US shouldn't interfere if only out of selfish reasons. If the decision comes from the US or is imposed by the US or encouraged by it, then all the problems with the decision for years and years are the fault of the US. If only to avoid being the ones holding the bag, the US should stay out of it and allow Iraq to make the decision.

Wally: Exactly. It goes to s**t, the US really doesn't need to be any more responsible than it already is.

Kat: Which it already is. Responsible.

Rebecca: Thomas E. Ricks' new book is The Gamble. C.I. offered an opinion on it this week, clearly labeled "my opinion," in a snapshot and I'm wondering if anyone got any e-mail on that -- not C.I. but anyone who reposted?

Cedric: I got some loon screaming the book is pro-war and how dare we endorse pro-war. Is that the sort of thing you're talking about?

Rebecca: Exactly. It was clear that it was an opinon and C.I. had noted that the community would disagree with the idea that the US needed to remain in Iraq for some time but I still had a loon -- probably the same one you did -- e-mailing on a war path.

C.I.: I did label that "my opinion" and did so because I didn't want to cause anyone any trouble or for their to be any mistake that I was speaking for the community -- most of whom have not read the book or started reading it. It is a great book. It's wonderfully written. Think of some of the Iraq books by reporters and how badly written they have been. This isn't a book you have to grimace in order to get through. It's a pleasure to read. But, yeah, we can disagree with some of his conclusions. He's very clear as to why he comes to the conclusions and he could be right about them but I disagree, for example, that the US needs to remain in Iraq. I also disagree, to cite another example, that MoveOn's General Betray Us ads were off limits. I think when Colin Powell countermands Bill Clinton, 1993 on gays serving openly in the military, and does so publicly, undermines the campaign promise Clinton has made, I don't think we can say that the military isn't political or isn't fair game. The Gamble notes some examples, including Powell, but that really went beyond just politics, it went to an attack on civilian command of the military. It went to an attack on the entire system. After that, my opinion, this idea that the military command is off limits -- no, they aren't and no one is off-limits in a democracy. My opinion. But this is an amazing book and I think he's very clear when he's expressing his opinion and very clear when he isn't. I think it's the best book on Iraq that's been published this decade. It's a pleasure to read because he does have a style, he is a writer and he hasn't just clipped his old articles and done a copy and paste. He's also very generous to other reporters. He cites and names them and not just in the end notes but in the actual text. I think it's a weighty and ambitious work that succeeds in all of its goals, it's perfectly executed. My opinion.

Rebecca: I know Elaine's read it and loves it but other than that, Mike's the only one I know who's reading it. Mike?

Mike: I'm enjoying the book. I'm finally up to the half-way mark. It's like 170-something, where ever the section of pictures ends, that's the page I stopped on. It's jam-packed with information. And that's new information and new analysis. It's not a clip-job. I found the section on General Ray Odierno especially interesting.

Wally: Ava and I have read it. It's a big book, over 320 pages of text. And what stood out was the ending. A lot of the time, you end up with an author who starts winding down and the last chapter may or may not be worth reading. Ricks' final chapter contains information and observations that go to the conclusions he makes. And that includes Odierno's belief that at least 30,000 US troops will be needed in Iraq through 2014 or 2015.

Ava: That's really the big shock. We do talk about the book when we're speaking about Iraq because it is about Iraq, it's new and most college libraries have at least one copy or are getting one. So when we get to that point, you can hear and see puzzlement. And someone will bring up the treaty and we'll have to do the walk through. It's really amazing how badly the MSM bungled it and the Beggar so-called Alternative Media didn't give a damn. They were too busy with their orgasms over Barack. So we have to go into what the treaty masquerading as the Status Of Forces Agreement actually does and says.

Kat: And people are always shocked. And they have been since since last year when C.I. was sketching it out. So one thing I'm really hoping the book does -- and I've got fifty or so more pages before I'm done with it but I am enjoying it -- is get the word out on the realities. Getting back to C.I.'s point, I never had a problem telling when Ricks was expressing his opinion. He doesn't try to present it as fact. He explains his take and why he has it. I wish he was saying, "The US needs to get out! And now!" He's not but this wasn't a piece of propaganda. And he's synthesizing and it's just an amazing book. Trina, are you reading it?

Trina: Yes, but remember I'm taking care of my grandbaby --

Ava: Emphasis on baby and noting that because a child under two requires a lot more direct care than a child of eight or older who can have play time on their own and who would be in school for some of the day.

Trina: True, thank you for that. And we're teething.this week so it's a little more hectic. So I'm only on page 201. So I've really just finished the period where Robert Gates is house cleaning Donald Rumsfeld's people -- including Peter Pace. It's a serious book and that alone is reason enough to read it. If you're interested in the Iraq War, whether you support it ending or continuing, now or in the immediate future, you will find the book absorbing. And to back up what C.I. was pointing out about the genoristy, Michael Ware, for example, of CNN gets cited by name. A lot of these books -- and they have been cut and paste books -- just say CNN. If you're saying something was reported right, if something deserves noting, it deserves naming. And Ricks doesn't balk at giving credit.

Rebecca: Okay a question just for two people. I have a young child. That's my question. No, I'm joking. I have a young child who is just a few months older than Trina's grandbaby and Betty has three young children. I know that, for me, a lot of my feelings regarding the illegal war and the need to end it come from that. I was against the war before I gave birth and before I was pregnant. But what I'm getting at is that, yes, for me, having a child has intesified my opposition to the Iraq War and I'm wondering if Trina or Betty has anything similar going on? And Betty, Trina's indicating for you to go first.

Betty: Okay. Thank you. For me, all my decisions go through that filter. I'm a single parent and that may be why but I do think about my kids. I hear the peanut crisis and immediately think of my kids. I'm listening to the weather report/prediction for the next day and I'm thinking, "What do my kids need to wear for that?" So I've got that going on all the time and, yes, when I hear about a young man or woman dying -- Iraqi, US -- Thursday the British soldier, I am thinking of it in terms of, "What if it was one of my three children?" I would say that is very true for me. And let's talk about this aspect of the Iraq War continuing past 2015 -- because 35,000 US service members in Iraq up to 2015 means still there past it. I do think, "Well are they going to draft?" I do think, "What if one of my kids wants to rebel and do it by enlisting?" These are serious concerns and not fleeting thoughts for me.

Trina: I would agree with that. Mike was our big concern, he's our youngest son, when the Iraq War started. His father had a long talk with him about that -- about the war that was coming -- for that reason. Mike has a younger sister but she's a girly-girl and who begged for excuses to get out of gym class so we didn't really see her as possibly enlisting in the military. And once my husband talked with Mike and that was straightened out, I did feel an easing of tension. So I do think there is a personal aspect. I'm not saying it made me object less to the illegal war but, as it was gearing up to start, it did take one worry off my mind. One aspect -- and I think Betty and Rebecca will agree with that -- of parenting during a time of war is grasping, especially when the kids are very small, how much they depend on you and how instrumental you are in shaping and mis-shaping them. And that does lead you to wonder about the childhood experiences of some who make the news -- someone who died while serving or someone who was killed by a mortar like the two children today. I'm sure a young father would have a similar story to share and I just want to note that we're not saying, "This is a mothering issue." I also think that, for those who support the Iraq War, the same news is greeted differently and they see it from a different perspective. But their being a parent would also impact their reaction.

Rebecca: I think that's a good point. In 2006, C.I. regularly started asking the question of whether those who support the illegal war are more committed to continuing it than those opposed to the illegal war are committed to ending it. Just going around, and starting with Cedric and then Betty, true or false today?

Cedric: Absolutely true. I thought it was true when C.I. first started asking that question. And it's only more so today. C.I.?

C.I: Same page. There is an action coming up next month. Iraq Veterans Against the War notes:


IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Cedric: Thanks. We do need to note that when talking about this topic. But most of the movement broke off a long time ago. They give lip service at election time because it's an issue that energizes voters but they really aren't concerned with ending the illegal war. I think the small number still committed to continuing the illegal war are much more dedicated than the bulk of the left. Betty?

Betty: United For Peace and Justice does nothing. They hold their 'strategy' session and cast themselves as the cheering squad for Barack Obama and suddenly some politician -- a politician! -- is more important to an alleged peace group than is ending the Iraq War. United For Peace and Justice is disgusting. That's true of the bulk of them. They've disgraced themselves. I agreed we need to include the news of that action and I'll also note that Military Families Speak Out just finished up a four-day action. I'm not really impressed with these other people and their "How we can help Barack" articles. It's not the peace movement's job to "help" Barack. It's the peace movement's job to make demands, to make noise and to force politicians to end the illegal war.

Rebecca: Okay, now for those of us physically in the same room. How about we start with Mike, who's seated next to me, and just work our way around which means we end with C.I.?

Mike: I agree so much with what Betty and Cedric just said and it's not just CODESTINK or United For Peace and Justice that's become an embarrasment. The Center For Constitutional Rights is a joke. They refuse to call out Barack. They couch every criticism and cower. The ACLU has shown some real strength -- could I get a link for them for that reason -- but the Center, which is supposed to be radical, is just this huge, huge disappointment. The bulk of the left and 'left' has disgraced themselves. And it's why, even though those wanting the Iraq War ended are in the majority, nothing's forcing the end. Nothing will until people learn to demand it. We are the government. As long as we act like our employees are movie stars we worship, we're powerless and chicken ass cowards who can't accomplish a damn thing.

Kat: I don't think anyone's going to disagree with which side is more committed at this point. And it's pathetic because, as we've noted before, if Hillary had been elected, the same left that plays the quiet game currently would be demanding action. A lot of it is people being scared to criticize Barack, a lot of it is them believing the hype, a lot of it is the desire to worship a man. But it's pathetic and it's pathetic that they believed his lies about Iraq and it's pathetic that they played Sophie's Choice with Iraq and Afghanistan -- that knowing that while he was saying he'd pull 'combat' troops from Iraq, he was saying he'd send more to Afghanistan, these same so-called lefties endorsed him and lied for him and covered for him.

Trina: You know, I look back on Vietnam and I remember LBJ being called out and Nixon. Today, I look around and feel like we have nothing but immaturity at the top of the peace chain. And I feel we have people cutting private deals at the expense of the peace movement. I do not consider Kim Gandy a voice of peace. I know some people do. I know some idiots, like Pundit Mom, think Kim did something wonderful to end the Iraq War. Buy a clue, you idiot. But Kim's not criticized Barack and what do we have now? Kim angling for a job with the administration. Please, our so-called leaders have been bought and paid for and seem, in retrospect, to have existed completely to tap down on actions and outrage. They've repeatedly -- and The Nation has been the worst here -- attempted to turn a vote for the Democratic Party into a peace action. And then they've done nothing but offer excuses for Dems in office -- despite that laughable editorial they ran starting on the cover about how they wouldn't support any candidate who blah, blah, blah.

Wally: Yeah, that's true. And you have to wonder, since Katrina vanden Heuvel used the Roosevelt board position to hook up early members of Barack's team -- like his Facebook connect, you have to wonder how genuine that editorial was and how much it was about setting up Barack because The Nation was pimping him long before 2007. I want to turn it to a point that C.I.'s made for five years now. The Iraq War hits the six year mark in March. Where is the Pacifica Radio program devoted to Iraq. There's not one. There's not even a half-hour program once a week that's sole focus is Iraq. So let's quit pretending that any of our leaders give a damn about Iraq. They don't. An illegal war is ongoing and they've refused to cover it as such. What show started covering the first Gulf War?

C.I.: KPFA's Flashpoints.

Wally: Thank you. There has never been a focus on Iraq. You can actually see these Beggar outlets spike their coverage -- increase it -- of Iraq -- which is really just discussions because they don't report from Iraq -- as elections approach. Otherwise, they ignore it. So, no, they don't care.

Ava: I -- I'm going to need another question. This gets into something C.I. and I have agreed to write about for Third this weekend. I can't comment. I doubt C.I. can.

Rebecca: Okay. How about this for your question: If the left doesn't find a way to get active, when does the Iraq War end?

Ava: I have no idea. If they don't get active, the illegal war does not end before 2013. I don't know that it ends in 2013. Rebecca, you remember how, summer 2005, we were all working on Third -- Betty, Rebecca, Mike, C.I and I. The others weren't doing their own sites and weren't working on it with us then. But Rebecca, you remember how it was an awful, awful writing edition and we were all stressed and C.I. brings up the fact that ideally The Common Ills should go dark in 2008 and we're all shocked by that and then really shocked when C.I. says that the Iraq War will still be going on past 2008. That was 2005. And the idea that the Iraq War would continue three more years was just unbelievable to us. A few of us even thought C.I. was joking. But it's 2009 and the Iraq War is ongoing. So I return to the points C.I. made then about who wants it more -- those who want to end it or those who want to continue it -- and who treats it as a serious issue. We have a left that defocuses and hops all over the place. I mean, Rebecca, you were writing about this recently, how the Beggar outlets are all over Gaza this week and completely ignoring Iraq. And pair that up with Wally's point about, all this time later, still not having one program -- even a half-hour, once a week -- on any of the Pacifica Radio stations that focuses solely on Iraq. There is no concern for ending the Iraq War. There was once a desire to make a few fast bucks off the illegal war on the part of many writing bad books and making bad 'documentaries.' The Amy Goodmans will continue to trot out Iraq when it's pledge drive funding time but that's just lip service. They only care about what they can make a buck off. Typical Panhandle Media.

C.I.: Everybody's said what needs saying. If you want a specific example, I think we can offer up Free Speech Radio News. Betty started the roundtable noting the huge amount of violence all week in Iraq and she specifically stated Wednesday's violence and Thursday's violence as well as today's -- Fridays. I think it takes a lot of nerve to do what Free Speech Radio News did this week. Today -- Friday -- the violence was the worst of the year thus far. And every outlet had to weigh in. So what does Free Speech Radio News do? They show up declaring, "A female suicide bomber in Iraq killed nearly 40 women and children today as they made the annual Shiite pilgrimage to Karbala to mark the death of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. This is the most deadly bombing in Iraq so far this year. And the third day in a row of attacks against the Shiite Pilgrims." Oh, it's the third day in a row, is it? Well, where was your Wednesday coverage, where was your Thursday coverage? They didn't offer any. And that quote, that's the extent of their Friday coverage. So if you're looking for the perfect example, take that program. Ignoring Iraq all week. Ignoring the House and Senate hearings on Iraq and Afghanistan that took place Thursday, ignoring this and ignoring that. And when forced to comment, they serve up a news item that makes it sound like they have been covering the attacks when they haven't. It's all a bunch of frauds and fakers and I'm sick of it. I think we all are.

Rebecca: And the oven buzzer just went off so this is going to be it. I don't know about Betty and Cedric, but here we've been drinking -- alcohol -- throughout this. And, except for Ava and C.I., eating. Ava and C.I. have been taking notes so we're going to end now that Trina's loaf of French bread is coming out of the oven. This roundtable focused exclusively on Iraq. Sites other than The Common Ills will offer C.I.'s Friday snapshot below this.
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