Sunday, February 07, 2010
-- Clare Short, testifying to the Iraq Inquiry in London last Tuesday.
Don't know much about any of this? Not surprising, because the American mainstream media has practically blacked-out the story on this side of the pond. It's amazing, after seven years and a growing reservoir of evidence that the Bush administration deliberately manipulated intelligence and the emotions of the American public to invade Iraq -- for which it had no comprehensive plan to stabilize or reconstruct -- the corporate press is still doing its best impression of the debauched idiots in The Hangover:
Stu: "Why don't we remember a G**damn thing from last night?"
Phil: "Obviously because we had a great f**king time."
When the press isn't treating us all like morning-after marshmallows who would prefer a cold-compress of Sarah Palin and updates of The View on the head to a clinical X-ray of how the Bush White House marched our nation into a trillion-dollar war of choice, it takes on a gratingly condescending tone. In fact, the media view jibes quite well with the standard Republican spin: that any criticism or inquiry into party-supported policies from 2001 to 2009 is "looking backward" or "rehashing the past," or worse, "we've been there, done that," when really, no, there hasn't been any "been there, done that," not anything compared to what's going on in London right now.-- Kelly B. Vlahos on the Iraq Inquiry, "Where is our Chilcot?" (Antiwar.com).
Another Sunday. Another Sunday. We decided to wrap up early for us. Besides Dallas, the following helped 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And now to what we have.
- Truest statement of the week -- There were actually a lot of nominees for the truests this week, 15 in the final round, and it was difficult to cut it down to two. Clare Short's testimony to the Iraq Inquiry was very important and needed to be noted.
- Truest statement of the week II -- . . . and Kelly -- who I call "Kelly" because I'll mispell her name -- we're all tired -- deserved to be noted too. Also, she's a conservative, possibility a libertarian and we are aware our readership is diverse so it's about time we went with a non-lefty or non-centrist journalist.
Editorial: Did she break a hip? -- At some point in the writing of this, Betty and C.I. said the same thing at the same time and it was funny (what they said). It made it into the editorial but, as Dona pointed out, if we had the time, we'd work the whole thing over to go with what Betty and C.I. had come up with.
- TV: Living on the fringe -- Ava and C.I. tackle the topic a number of people are talking about (on the left, writers, gas bags, you name it) but few want to discuss publicly.
- Put down the pom-poms -- What the hell is Matthew Rothschild smoking? Barack didn't do a damn thing last week but to read Rothschild, Don't Ask, Don't Tell was ended. Seriously, this is feet to the fire? Really?
- Roundtable -- I (Jim) suggested this because we were having so much trouble getting anything workable. When we did this roundtable we had Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary and the pom-poms feature and that was it. And we'd been working hours and hours. I would've liked C.I. to have spoken more but she was under the impression we were doing another feature that we didn't do. If she'd known it wasn't going to be done, she and Elaine would have addressed it in this. Maybe next week.
- Iraq -- Our Iraq feature.
- Ale for musing -- We had two short features including one we may go with next week but we felt the edition was light with those included. So instead, it was noted we always say we should highlight two periodicals because they do allow for reposting in full. We decided to do the American one this week and pick up the other in the near future . . . except Wally, Ava and C.I. pointed out the British one had a feature on the Iraq Inquiry. Okay, so we can do them both.
- Food For Thought -- And did. This is the American publication. Again, we have a diverse readership and we want to be sure they know they're welcome, they're all welcome. We're against the Iraq War. We hope you are as well.
- Highlights -- This is the only feature Rebecca worked on. She's very busy in London. We all miss her and look forward to her return. Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.
And that's what we ended up with. We'll see you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Remember June 9, 2005, when she was riding her high horse:
Now to the Downing Street memo. Coming on the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Washington this week, momentum is building for a Congressional investigation into new proof that the Bush administration deliberately misled Congress and the UN in the months leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The memo, as it is being called, is minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair’s top advisers from July 2002 in which they make clear that US officials have told them that the war was a foregone conclusion and that the US had begun escalating its attacks against Iraq, essentially beginning the air war, months before UN or Congress voted on the issue. Earlier this week, Bush was finally asked about it despite the fact that the memo was published more than a month ago by the Sunday Times of London.
Of course, the US never got that investigation and, no, John Conyer's Congressional Basement Party that same month didn't count (and didn't count for s**t). Back then, Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy were promising an investigation into whether Amemrica was lied into war. Didn't happen.
But did anyone grand stand as much as Goody? June 15, 2005, "Despite the explosive information in these documents, they have received very little attention in the corporate media in this country and Bush administration officials have only been asked about it a handful of times."
As segment after segment piled up on these memos and as Goody pushed an inquiry, some viewers and listeners might have mistakenly think that she gave a damn. (She did, after all, include the topic in her 2005 year-in-review.)
But it's put-up-or-shut-up time for Goody and she's decided to dummy up. The woman who could bore us all with Sundance, who could jet in and out of Haiti, and more in the last weeks alone, could never take her ass to London where, since November, the Iraq Inquiry has been holding public hearings.
Tuesday, Clare Short testified -- Clare Short whom Goody's had on her own show. As with Tony Blair before her, Short just didn't interest Goody. Nothing about the Inquiry has interested Goody, as Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "If It Stared In Her Face" pointed out last Sunday.
Poor Goody. We hope she didn't break a hip as she fell off her high horse.
Forced, she'll include a few seconds in headlines but in November, in December, in January and now in February, she has never found or made time to devote a segment to the Inquiry.
It's strange because Chris Ames' Iraq Inquiry Digest has never struggled to publish, in fact, they have more to cover than they have time for. But it, the Iraq War and Iraqis mean so little to Amy Goodman that none of it rates a segment. Besides, there's another film festival on the horizon and she's got to hob-knob with her betters.
Let's start with radio and, in fact, with KPFA's The Morning Show on Wednesday when the first half-hour provided listeners with . . . Well, nothing to brag about.
Sara Robinson is a purveyor of hatred and a dishonest one at that. Asked by Brian Edwards-Tiekert to describe the Tea Party Movement, she was so eager to rush in with distortions, she tripped over her own words.
Sara Robinson: They're -- okay, there -- there are basically two slices of the right in America. One of them is the the kind of congenital far right they're probably 10% of the population who are right wing in perpetuity. They are always with us. There's there is this this faction, this slice, that that is always out there -- the John Birchers, the Liberty Lobby, they're the KKK, going back in history we've always had them. Just to the left of that group, only slightly, is another group which is about the same size, 15% or so, who are conservative but they don't live in that same deep authoritarian place that the far, far right does and most -- most of these people will align mostly with the center right in-in-in reasonable political times. These are not reasonable political times. And so these people have some sympathy with the far right position.
Sounding as if she was on some sexual high as she ripped part a huge portion of the American public, Robinson is the ugliest face the left has. Exactly what elections will be won by insulting large portions of Americans? Not insulting political leaders, insulting the American people.
Robinson tells you there are two kinds of right wingers and, in the 21st century, you really have to marvel over anyone who is that simplistic. But Robinson has no brains to spare, only hate to spew. If you doubt us, check out her work. Last month, she was calling the right "fascists" in a non-thought piece. Now Barack Obama is a Corporatist War Hawk -- we've said that since 2008 when the Democratic Party primaries were taking place and some on the left (yes, Carl, we mean you, kisses) were spreading the lie that Barack was a Socialist to try to drum up support for Barack on the left. But when someone on the right calls Barack a Socialist, the left gas bags go into tremors while wailing and moaning. But it's okay to call the right "fascists" apparently.
Sara Robinson helps no one on the left and someone needs to tell her to get an education and stop hating on the people or step off the public stage because she offers nothing.
Robinson is so far from alone. On Democracy Now!, Michael Moore describes the right thusly: "Of course, the other side, you know, they’re always up. They’re up at like 5:00 in the morning trying to figure out how to screw the human race. So I’m not surprised they got to the polls." Not content merely to insult the right wing voters, Moore launched a wider attack attacking "an uneducated American public -- when I say 'uneducated,' I'm talking about an American public, as you know, where we rank in the world, in math and science and literacy, all these things -- we're so far behind so many other countries. We have 40 million functional illiterates in this country, 40 million adults who can't read and write above a fourth grade level. If you create a country where the education system sucks so bad, where you make it your lowest priority, and then you want to create some propaganda to easily lead them down the path you want to lead them down, it's a cakewalk at that point, when you have this enforced ignorance [. . .]"
Golly, Mikey Moore, you're referring to the same public that elected Barack Obama, a candidate you whored for, less than two years ago. You didn't find them so "uneducated" then, now did you?
We'll come back to Moore. Democracy Now! is of course a program that started as a radio show and is now a TV show as well as a radio show. Grit TV is a TV show trying to become a radio one and WBAI has (sadly) begun airing it on Mondays. Grit TV stars the increasingly homely Laura Flanders as some sort of angry mule braying endlessly.
The only thing that produces more chuckles these days is her remarks such as, "Have you ever wondered what happened to rational thought, reasonable argument and all the rest?" She should talk. Minutes later she's feigning shock that Senator Scott Brown "posed nude for Cosmopolitan" -- so busy was she playing shocked that she forgot to explain he wasn't full frontal and that it was done back in the early eighties when he was in college.
But Laura The Self Loathing Lesbian Flanders doesn't care for the people. Nor do her guests. Susan Jacoby offers this divisive critique of the American public, "we had then and we have now an electorate that can't remember what happened last week." The hideous Frank Schaefer declares "a country that does have an attention span that's getting close to that of an inebriated jelly fish." Laura cackles loudly at that insult -- a non-logical one since jelly fish aren't known for consuming alcohol. ("Cackles" used intentionally. As late as February 2008, Flanders was still referring to Hillary's laugh on air as a "cackle" -- weeks and weeks after even Chris Matthews had been shamed into ceasing and desisting.)
Laura The Self Loathing Lesbian Flanders doesn't care for the people. It's why, in 2004, she could tell visitors she was supporting the Democratic Party's presidential candidate John Kerry and even go on air after the election was called -- for the entire late shift on Air American Radio -- and tell listeners she was feeling as sad as they were and that they were in it together and they would get it through it together. Of course, had listeners known then that she didn't vote for John Kerry, that she voted for Ralph Nader, they would have, at the very least, felt lied to.
Laura always plays the listener for dupes. And a number of masochists love to watch or listen to her because they kid themselves that all these hideous things she and her guests say about the American people don't apply to her viewers or her listeners. Keep kidding yourself.
And her small cult doesn't make up for all the Americans she drives away from the left with her never ending sneering at America and Americans.
People grasp what goes on before their eyes and ears.
Last week on Fringe, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finally regained her childhood ability to see what objects were from this universe and what objects were from the alternate office. It sets the stage for the coming war William Bell (Lenoard Nimoy) has warned her about. Most importantly, in the final scene, it set the show on course for the long teased out topic: Peter (Joshua Jackson) isn't the Peter of this world. Having regained her ability, Oliva shows up for a date with Peter and immediately grasps that he's from the alternative universe. Walter (John Noble) instantly realizes what is taking place and begs her not to tell Peter. That's a lot to address when Fox's finest show starts back up in April.
But Olivia's ability is something that people seem to be grasping in this world as well. No longer are people pouring their money into a number of Panhandle Media outlets which reveal themselves to be little more than con jobs. Across the left spectrum, shows, magazines, even a radio network are sinking or have sunk. It's because, like Olivia, we have a 'glimmer' -- we look at them and we realize they are not who they appear.
And where there are frauds, there is Michael Moore. Called out from the start by Pauline Kael, the American people now catch on. Not only do his films make less and less money, the last one didn't even make back its cost (budget plus prints and advertising). From the biggest documentary of all time in 2004 to the Heaven's Gate of documentaries in 2009.
Here's the skinny on the rotund Moore, he thinks he's a trickster. Here's the reality, no one is as stupid as he thinks they are. Here he is again speaking to Amy Goodman (from two weeks ago unless you listened to a Pacifica fundraiser last week when it was 'rebroadcast'):
Michael Moore: That is how I'm, you know, feeling, because I won’t accept the sugarcoated difference between the Obama administration and the Bush administration. And you can say, on the surface, just how great things are in terms of compared to the last eight years, but the substance, when it comes to, you know, the rubber meeting the road, I can't tell you how profoundly disappointed I am at this point. [. . .] And Obama, a year ago, man, he just had it right in his hands. He could have—he really could have chosen a different path. The country was demanding it. There was such excitement that we were going to turn away, radically away, from where we'd been in these last eight years and create the country that we all want it to be. Vast majority of people voted for him. And that he thought that the way to go in was to go in trying to be like the other side, this is the continual and historic failure of the Democratic Party in our lifetime, that they think the only way they’re going to survive is to be more -- is to be Republican lite. And every time that happens, it goes kaboom. [. . .] I think, all kidding aside, that this is another example of the Democrats are essentially a bunch of wimps. They don't have the guts. They don't have the courage of their own convictions. They're disgusting. I'm embarrassed. I want really nothing to do with them. And if they don’t find their spine, well, they're in for a huge surprise in November.
Those strong words are supposed to find you nodding in agreement with the sexist fabricator. You're not supposed to notice, mere minutes later, when he's back to praising Barack, when he's ripping apart the Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner for his actions and acting as if those aren't the actions Barack wanted. Barack appointed him. If he wasn't doing what Barack wanted him to do, Barack would ask for his resignation. That's basic and we can all grasp it. But there's Michael Moore insisting that he's done defending Democrats, insisting they're a bunch of wimps without guts who can't find their spine and yet he's just as gutless and spineless and wimpy.
People have caught on to Michael Moore. (And his attack on Mumia isn't something he'll ever recover from.) The anger in America is very real. It's base is the continuing wars -- the wars the gas bag left wants to forget because Barack's the one running them now. The Iraq War was always going to have multiple effects. The most immediate one was going to be illustrating what an occupation was and driving up support for Palestinians. That's here at home. For the first time in many Americans lives, they had to confront what an occupation was. But that wasn't the only impact.
Whether the left gas bags care or not, millions of ten and twelve-year-olds saw mass protests against the Iraq War. They're now young adults. They saw those protests. They grew up knowing the Iraq War was wrong and needed to end. And though some adults can fool themselves, the youth is not fooled and will not self-deceive. On campuses across this country, their critique of Barack Obama always includes the Iraq War. The ongoing Iraq War that the gas bag left -- including Michael Moore -- have forgotten.
On top of that base of discomfort is the economic layer. And the two are interrelated. Not only because the economy will continue to tank as long as the wars drain billions and billions each year but also because the country was lied into the Iraq War. Lied into that illegal war by an Oval Office occupant. That appalling lie is always there as an echo when Barack Obama speaks. If the Iraq War continues after Barack's out of office, it will float around the head of his successor.
That's reality. These are impressions on the character and soul of America and they go to the disgust so many feel with those currently in power. And they go to the disgust so many feel with the gas bag left. Instead of speaking to these people -- a large number of Americans all over the political spectrum -- the left gas bags think the 'smart' thing to do is to insult them. This is what MSNBC has truly birthed: A hatred for Americans, a disdain for the people. Unable to aim their fire where it belongs (at the powerful), they went for the public and their garbage has infected the rest of the gas bag left. The people they will need in the future are the very ones the gas bag left seems determined to drive off right now.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the current military policy -- replacing the Reagan era position of asking service members if they are gay and then drumming them out -- which says no one can be asked that question and no one can divulge the answer to it. Should a service member state openly that they are gay, they can be forced out of the military. However, no ranking officer has ever been forced out for asking the question. The policy does not work and it needs to be dropped.
Despite Rothschild's cheer leading, nothing happened last week. The White House had a photo op dispatching Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chair of the Joint-Chiefs Mike Mullen to the Senate Armed Services Committee, they had a news cycle, one geared to make a number of donors -- big and small -- open up their wallets and start donating all over again to an increasingly homophobic party.
But what did they do?
Not a damn thing.
[Photo above: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, center front, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left rear, and U.S. Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, right rear, attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Korean National Cemetery in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Oct. 22, 2009. DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison]
Tuesday they did a smoke and mirror trick before the American people. For more on that Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, you can see see Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Trina's "Senate Armed Services Committee DADT," Wally's "Armed Services Committee, Heroes," Kat's "Barack pretends to care about Don't Ask Don't Tell" and Marica's "Not doing cartwheels right now" (all but Marcia were present at the hearing -- Marcia spoke to the others for their observations and also spoke to Ava who attended the hearing).
What did they hear?
Not much that was really thrilling. But maybe Rothschild, who wasn't at the hearings, caught the network news and formed his opinion based on that? ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams broadcast feel good stories with little connection to reality. It was left to CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to explain reality:
David Martin: Today's testimony made clear it will not happen any time soon -- certainly not this year, if at all. For one thing, Gates wants a year to study . . .
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: What the-the men and women in our armed forces really think about this.
David Martin: For another, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a law enacted by Congress
Senator John McCain: I'm happy to say that we still have a Congress of the United States that would have to pass a law to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
David Martin: Right now with the military fighting two wars, there are not enough votes to repeal.
If you missed the three Tuesday evening network broadcasts, click here for the transcripts C.I. provided Wednesday morning.
Matthew Rothschild is -- like many -- serving up praise for something that hasn't taken place. Not only that, this isn't a new position for Barack Obama, he campaigned on it. He campaigned for the presidency on repealing this and never bothered to do a damn thing.
In 2009, when US House Rep. Patrick Murphy took up the issue and insisted that he had support in the Senate where Ted Kennedy was set to lead on this issue, we told the hard truth: Kennedy wasn't going to lead on a damn thing, wasn't attending Senate hearings and wasn't healthy enough to help on this. We were right.
We pointed out that no other bill buried in the House had more co-sponsors -- and that's still the case a year later. The bill has so many co-sponsors that it if all the people who co-sponsored it vote for it (and shouldn't they since they co-sponsored it?), they only need five more votes to pass it. But it wasn't brought to a vote in 2009 and hasn't been brought to a vote this year.
Now after we called out the Kennedy lie (we are not accusing Murphy of lying, we are stating he was misled), US House Rep. Barney Frank showed up a little later to insist that there's no need for donors to rebel (they were openly rebelling), the plan was always for this to be tied in to the 2011 defense authorization bill. Really? Because that's not what Patrick Murphy stated.
And Trina, Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. were front and center Wednesday morning when the US House Armed Services Committee did their first hearing on Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense -- one day after the big photo-op on the Senate -- and Don't Ask, Don't Tell was not front and center or even judged worthy of discussion. One day later.
Grasp that the same two witnesses were speaking to the Congress. Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen (Chair of the Joint-Chiefs) addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee and were talking about Don't Ask, Don't Tell before the questions started. Their opening remarks -- prepared remarks -- deal with Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Mullen declared, in those opening remarks, "It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Yet less than 24 hours later, they appear before the House Armed Services Committee and don't even bring up the subject -- especially notable for Mullen whose prepared opening remarks ran 19 typed pages yet never mentioned Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (For those wondering, that was three times the length of his prepared statement to the Senate the day before.)
What was observed at the Tuesday hearing was that Mullen appeared sincere. Whether he was or not, he appeared sincere. But in many media accounts (including ABC's), Mullen's sincerity was imposed upon Gates as well.
Gates was not comfortable judging by his body language, his clearing of his throat and his stumbling around with words. Gates never offered his own personal opinion -- despite being called out by Senator John McCain -- and never offered anything other than he was doing what the president told him to do.
He was a study in reluctance.
And what were they offering?
They were offering a one year study.
To change a policy that fosters inequality and hatred, they needed a year to study it. Then maybe something would come of it.
Where in the hosannas Rothschild or anyone else has offered do you grasp that there's no movement on this issue?
Thursday, James Hohmann (Politico) reported:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"We've done a heavy lift, and I don't know," Pelosi told reporters. "I'll have to examine it. We'll take a look. We'll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?"
For those paying attention, Pelosi's remarks are not only disappointing, they recall Dick Durbin's 2009 stance. As Manu Raju (Politico) reported September 3, 2009, "Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the Senate is swamped and has little time on the schedule for this fight."
Matthew Rothschild needs to toss aside the pom-poms and grasp that there's nothing to cheer here, that we're being played and that instead of applauding non-action, the left needs to apply real pressure.
Ty: Several e-mails from last week want to know about health care and whether we think it's adead in the water or not?
Dona: It should be. That wasn't health care or even health care reform that either the Senate or the House was proposing. I don't personally see many members of the House willing to work on it anymore. It's not popular with the people and they're all up for re-election. Democrats facing real rivals in Senate races will also be less inclined to push for it. I think it's dead but they're trying to offer some sort of face saving measure for Barack so they insist right now that they'll take it up and they'll keep insisting that for a couple of weeks and then they'll just quietly drop it. My guess. I wouldn't even say "my educated guess." Just a guess.
Mike: I'll jump in. I agree with Dona. And I want to go somewhere else because, while it was alive, Ava, C.I. and my mother held their tongues on one aspect, but it's dead now so let's talk about it. The "death panels." Call it what you want to, there will be people deciding whether or not this will be covered or that will be covered. The Democrats looked like the biggest idiots and liars by repeatedly rejecting that idea. The more you knew, the bigger of liars they looked. Barack has bio-ethicsts working for the White House. He's aware of what they are, he's aware of what they do. And there would be bean counting -- as there already is under the system we currently have -- determining whether or not you deserved coverage for some treatment or procedure. They'd examine your age and your illness and was it cost-effective and blah, blah, blah. Bill Moyers, when we had a Republican in office, was more than happy to explore that topic. In 2009, everyone wanted to dummy up.
Trina: It's one thing to object to calling them "death panels," it's another thing to lie and claim that something like Mike just described won't take place. And for those of us old enough to remember the Clinton effort, we can remember the press talking about these issues. Sometimes flamboyantly and sometimes in a more measured manner. This takes place in England and in Canada, any where there is government run health care. It takes place in the US with our private run health care. As Mike pointed out, we didn't want to risk killing it -- even though we didn't support it -- so we kept quiet but I believe that, here, Ava and C.I. did defend Sarah Palin -- who was the most famous of those using the term "death panels" -- and I know that I did as well. That's how she sees them. She's entitled to her opinion. And we could have had an honest back and forth about the issue but not when we're all insisting nothing like that is planned or could ever, ever happen. Look at liver transplants. If you drink heavily and get a liver transplant and you continue to drink heavily, it's very doubtful you'll get another one. These are decisions that are currently made. And that's one that I think a lot of people agree on. I think they agree on it because they know that there are many more people who need liver transplants than there are livers available for the procedure. So, as a society, we largely agree that if someone has received a transplant and damages their liver by continuing to drink, they shouldn't be eligible for a second one. If we didn't agree to that in a large number, we'd be protesting the policy.
Ava: And to go with Trina's example, Joan Smith drinks constantly, gets a liver transplant and continues to drink thereby destroying her liver. To Joan, denying her a transplant is the same as sentencing her to death. You can say -- and we do as a society -- that she had a shot at another one and that was her one shot. But to Joan, she's still going to feel like she's being sentenced to death. Trina chose that example because it is one that, as a society, we've agreed to. There are many other decisions being made, by private insurers, that we did not agree to. And those decisions, those same decisions, would be made under a government run program. Instead of running from the truth, we need to be prepared -- whenever health care comes up again -- to discuss that. To discuss how there will be procedures and treatments that we -- as a society -- will think are productive and ones that we will not necessarily provide to every one every time they need it. It may be due to age, it may be due to the severity of their illness or it may be due to what some see as behavior that brought on the condition. Sarah Palin can call them "death panels" and some people may agree with her. Insisting that's not what they are won't make that charge go away. Addressing how, much like our democracy, state run health would be a societal contract we entered into would be more honest and more reassuring.
Ruth: If I could jump in as well, we already saw what Ava is talking about. The left largely lied and denied that this would take place and they were so busy lying that that they did not fight for what they believed in. Meanwhile the right pushed the notion that, as a society, we did not believe in reproductive freedom and, as a result, reproductive rights were 'death paneled' out of the proposed coverage. That is the perfect example because it happened before our eyes. A group of powerful people attempted to determine what would and would not be covered and our rights were trampled on. We need to drop this utopian idea when health care comes around again and realize we need to be in there fighting for our rights as well.
Jim: Ruth, I don't mean to put you on the spot but since you spoke last and since you are speaking about fighting, you didn't fight for health care.
Ruth: No, I did not. None of us did. Because, as Hillary Is 44 so often says, we all knew any shot at meaningful health care died in Denver in 2008 when Barack was gifted the nomination. Barack Obama was never going to bring about any real change and that is the reality. We made a decision -- and I believe Trina wrote about this repeatedly -- that we were not going to get caught up in the fraud. We were not going to follow it every day or cheer this phony gimmick or that one. People thought they were getting universal health care with Mr. Obama but they were misled.
Ty: Agreed. No one's going to pay attention to this but I am putting it in here. We publish on Sundays. Do not send us something on Sunday afternoon that is time sensitive. That is not directed to our readers. That is directed to a number of groups and organizations that e-mail things they would like to have noted. Most Sundays, we have already posted by Sunday afternoon. Your e-mailing about something on Monday or Tuesday? It'll be over by the next time we post our new edition. That's my pet peeve for the week. Reader Lisel e-mails to say that there were promises -- "new year promises" -- by "a lot of sites" to include more audio coverage and options but that did not happen. She wants to know why that is?
Marcia: First of all, pretty much every post of Ann's, for over the last thirty, have been about radio. So although many of us have slacked, it's equally true that Ann's carried additional weight -- same way as C.I. who regularly highlights more audio than the rest of us.
Mike: I do try to include audio -- even if it's video -- at least once a week. I don't think I'm living up to that even with Politico articles that have the listen option. It's something I'd like to do but not something I always have time for. Sorry.
Trina: Semi-related, I would like to highlight more women when I post. That is my goal. But in looking for what to write about -- if I don't already have a topic -- I'll grab the first thing that catches my eyes just to be done with it.
Stan: Betty and I are always groaning on the phone to each other about Terry Gross and her awful Fresh Air. We could take that program apart every night but, after awhile, it starts to feel like you're beating up on the elderly. She's never going to improve and what's the point?
Betty: That's really true. Equally true, I don't care much for a lot of radio these days. There's a new NPR show I found online, out of North Carolina. I can't think of the name . . .
C.I.: The Story?
Betty: Yes! I really love that program. I think Friday's show was about this group of young men in the military who were in a band. It's an hour long show and it's usually two stories, one for each half hour. And it's just a really in depth look at people. They're people like you or me. This isn't politicians or celebrities. And it's just a really interesting show. If I'd remembered the name of it when I was blogging, I would have mentioned at my site. I'll mention it next week.
Jim: Okay but what do you like about it? Give us an example of a show.
Betty: Well it's just people, like I said. For example, there was a guy in college a few weeks ago. He had decided to go back to college and get his degree. Why? Because he was doing some work -- construction, I believe -- and just realized he couldn't see himself doing that for the rest of his life. He'd left college frustrated and now he went back to get his degree. In the course of his story, he revealed an uncomfortable work experience where this one woman tried to use him to make her husband jealous. That's one story that stands out. Another is a woman, a Black woman, who started a community bank. Her first customer was her father. He waited outside and waited outside until they opened their doors so he could be the first customer at his daughter's bank. And after he had passed away, people would come to her and tell her all the things her parents had done for them. They'd be out of work and have no food and her parents had a grocery store, and they'd give the family food on credit. That's another story, I enjoyed. It's just thirty minutes of a person being interviewed about their life and sharing what's gone on.
Jim: Kat, do you have anything on this topic?
Kat: I am sick of Haiti. I am sick of the let's-all-be-powerless-and-cry coverage. Prior to the nightly revivals, I was covering Flashpoints but I'm not interested. I'm not interested in people manipulating me. So I'm not really worrying about covering radio. Sorry. I have other things to do. And that will include, in the next three weeks, a review, I promise, for those who keep e-mailing.
Jim: I figured you might want to speak to that last part. One question I saw in the e-mails was if we were planning to watch the Superbowl? I've never missed a Superbowl. I'm not watching this year. For those who usually watch, any of you planning to watch this year?
Mike: I'm on the fence but probably won't watch.
Wally: I'm not watching.
Betty: I'm passing.
Stan: We're doing movies instead.
Jim: Is that everyone? I know Jess isn't planning on watching. Jess is among those who had to say goodbye and get some sleep, by the way.
Cedric: And for those who don't know, after years of refusing various commercials from left adovacy groups and organizations, CBS has decided to air an anti-choice commerical during the Superbowl. I honestly doubt that our decision not to watch will make a dent in the ratings but it's not about that, it's about having some self-respect.
C.I.: From WMC, "JOCKOCRACY, WMC’s Super Bowl Sexism Watch will air Sunday, February 7, 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm, at http://bit.ly/ustreamwmc. The multiplatform broadcast will include a play-by-play of the sexism and bias in Super Bowl ads and culture. We will be taking your questions and commentary, exposing Focus on the Family's agenda, and discussing how to amplify women's voices in the media and change the conversation. Watch the show and text WOMEN to 50555 to give $10 in support of WMC’s ongoing Sexism Watch campaign. RT @womensmediacntr Watch Jockocracy! Gloria Steinem takes on Super Bowl #sexism http://bit.ly/ustreamwmc" That's EST.
Elaine: That's cool. I had no idea about that. Ruth was covering Women's Media Center, the radio program, on WBAI, which was a pilot program. It's ended which is too bad because it was a needed program. It may be picked up again in the future. However, I would suggest that they do a website podcast each week that they make available to radio stations for free. I think that would amplify women's voices and that we certainly need to do that at a time when women are being pushed to the margins.
Jim: Elaine, you're not using hyperbole, you really believe women are being pushed to the margins, right?
Elaine: Yeah. In every way, from our culture to our politic. I think having a Stepford Wife -- or a woman willing to play one -- in the White House reflects poorly on all women. Compared to Michelle Obama, Laura Bush looks more self-realized. There was an article at one feminist outlet -- don't link to it, I don't want to get the writer trashed and I know the Cult of St. Barack will rush to do just that -- noting how appalling it was. And it is appalling. I don't care if -- like Madonna -- she's chained herself or not. I only care that a woman well over 40 thinks she'll inspire a nation by playing America's Top Model.
Marcia: A laughable model at that with that right eye that's so much smaller, the scowl and so much more. When you're a manly looking woman, you need to grasp that you have other to focus on then looks. Michelle seems to think that we're all required to 'oooh' and 'aaah' over her because she's First Lady. She's an embarrassment.
Jim: Anyone else want to weigh in on that?
Ann: I'll go. I'm tired of her fetishes and the press fetish with her. If there's one thing we -- Black women -- have been conditioned to in the last two decades, it's the need to be strong. You will hear over and over "I'm a strong Black woman" or "You're a strong Black woman." When we've worked so hard to take pride in our strength we don't need Michelle coming along and undoing that. As Black women, we've always had to worry about outshining the Black male. If we worked and he didn't, oh, we had to act like it was no big deal. We had to hide everyone of our accomplishments. The 90s saw a refusal to continue to play that game and along comes attorney Michelle Obama who made more than Barack for most of their marriage. And now she plays the equivalent of a dumb blond. It's embarrassing. She's doing real damage to Black women.
Betty: I'll back Ann up on that. She's trying to act like a sex kitten. It's disgusting. And someone needs to tell her she is not and never will be Halle Berry. She needs to act like the mature woman she is.
Jim: Ann and Cedric are married. Cedric, do you have a comment?
Cedric: African-American women are strong. I had a strong grandmother raising me -- she's still alive and still strong but I don't think I need raising. But I had her as an example and it seems like a lot of people I knew growing up didn't have the way I did. By that, I mean my grandparents were together. A lot of them had strong women in their lives but there weren't any men around -- like it was their mother but no father or it was their grandmother but no grandfather. And Michelle would do a world of help to the Black community if she'd stop playing ornament and start standing up. I agree with Betty that Michelle Obama seems to think she's now a sex kitten, it's like she's morphed into Lola Falana. It's embarrassing.
Jim: Okay, Isaiah, an e-mail came in with a question for you. At your site, you frequently mention, as you display a comic from 2005 or 2006, that you don't remember drawing it. Roy wants to know if you're joking or serious?
Isaiah: I'm serious. Leave aside the comics I do for the community newsletters and just focus on the ones for The Common Ills. I start those in May of 2005. There's probably about 50 a year because although I take off a week here or there or more, I often do more than one comic a week for TCI. So it's 2010, and I've got roughtly five years of comics, fifty a year, I don't remember all of them. I don't remember most of them. A lot of times, I'll remember when I look at them a detail or something. But there are ones that I will look at and not remember. I can think of three I've re-posted to my site that I really did not remember doing. That's probably because after I do them, I usually don't ever look at them again. The hard copies, I usually pass those out to who ever wants it. Now, two years ago, I think, C.I. and I were working on a banner for TCI. We were going to use block letters for "The Common Ills" and they were going to go over various comics from the years prior. And we worked and worked on how to do it so it looked good. Finally, a scan was the answer with plastic to hold everything in place. But then we were talking about it in a community newsletter -- in a roundtable for one -- and there was this, "Oh, don't change it!" So that got ditched. But that's really the only time I've gone back and seriously looked at the old stuff. I draw it and I'm happy I finished it. Then I usually e-mail it to C.I. and, that's usually late Sunday, so I go to sleep before it even posts. After that, I'm not thinking about it or another comic and knowing that, come Sunday, I'll have to have another idea. I currently have no idea for what to draw tonight.
Betty: Do you think in pictures?
Isaiah: Betty's laughing and I know why, I caught that on NPR last week too. Actually, I will dream in comic panels when I'm really overworked on doing comics. That's when I know it's time to take a break.
Jim: Okay and we'll go ahead and wind it down on that note. Our e-mail address is email@example.com.
MP Clare Short: I noticed that Lord Goldsmith [in his testimony to the Inquiry] said he was excluded from lots of meetings. That is a form of pressure. Exclusion is a form of pressure. Then, that he was -- it was suggested to him that he go to the United States to get advice about the legal position. Now we have got the Bush administration, with very low respect for international law. It seems the most extraordinary place in the world to go and get advice about international law. To talk to Jeremy Greenstock, who -- I'm surprised by his advice. I think to interpret 1441 to say you have got to come back to the Security Council for an assessment of whether Saddam Hussein is complying, but there shouldn't be a decision in the Security Council, is extraordinarily Jesuitical. I have never understood it before, and I think that's nonsense, and it wasn't the understanding of the French and so on, because I saw the French Ambassador later. So I think all that was leaning on, sending him to America, excluding him and then including him, and I noticed the chief legal adviser in the Foreign Office said in his evidence that he had sent something and Number 10 wrote, "Why is this in writing?" I think that speaks volumes about the way they were closing down normal communication systems in Whitehall.
Short's testimony was powerful and explosive and pretty much ignored by most US outlets. For example, NPR's reporter apparently was too busy 'reporting' on the Abba display in London to file about Short's testimony. Certainly, speaking to two women about the video they were making with holograms of the group qualified as 'hard hitting' reporting, right? The Pacifica Evening News, airing on KPFA and KPFK from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each Monday through Friday, has been covering the Inquiry and they did file on Short's testimony.
Clare Short: There was never a meeting that said: "What's the problem, what are we trying to achieve? What are our military, diplomatic options?" We never had that coherent discussion of what it is that the problem is and what it was that the government was trying to achieve and what our bottom lines were. Never.
Wednesday was also the day an appeals court ruled that the banned candidates would be allowed to compete in the Iraq elections scheduled for March 7th. They were not cleared of the charges, the ruling said, but their guilt or innocence would be determined after the election. Though the US reacted favorably, others were less than pleased. Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, offered an immediate assault on the verdict and is currently working overtime to have it overturned.
Maybe that effort allows him to ignore the massive violence taking place? Iraq was repeatedly slammed with deadly bombings last week.
Sunday 2 people were reported dead and 14 wounded; Monday 57 were reported dead and 126 wounded; Tuesday 3 were reported dead and 12 wounded; Wednesday 27 were killed and 183 wounded; Thursday 4 were reported dead and 8 wounded and Friday 44 were reported dead and 161 wounded plus 1 person kidnapped; and Saturday 1 US contractor was reported kidnapped. That's 137 reported dead and 495 wounded.
Blair: No regrets and I’d bomb Iran
by Siân Ruddick
“The decision I took—and frankly would take again—was if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him.
“That was my view then and that is my view now.”
Those are the chilling words of mass murderer Tony Blair, giving evidence at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war on Friday last week.
He went on to say that the same logic would mean support for war on Iran. He named Iran 58 times in his testimony.
Blair refused to express any regret for the war. This was an insult to the military families sitting in the public gallery, and the unrepresented millions of Iraqis killed and injured in the war.
“This isn’t about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception,” Blair told the inquiry.
In fact, it was a lie when he said there were weapons of mass destruction. It was a conspiracy with George Bush to attack Iraq.
It was a deceit that Saddam Hussein could attack in 45 minutes and it was a deception that Iraqis would welcome the occupying forces as liberators.
So far the Iraq inquiry, chaired by Lord Chilcot, has gone over evidence in the public domain. It has cross-examined witnesses on the basis of written evidence and witness testimonies.
But the sessions with Blair will come to define the inquiry.
They were cosy chats among the establishment, not a serious examination of fact and contradiction.
Blair may still be recalled over a contradiction between his evidence and that of former attorney general Peter Goldsmith.
The biggest lies went completely unchallenged. Blair was allowed to get away with saying that it didn’t matter if Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “Potential” was enough for him.
Such justifications could be used to launch wars anywhere in the world.
Blair claimed that if Saddam Hussein had not been removed he would eventually have got the weapons.
Then, “with an oil price not $25 but $100 a barrel, he would have had the intent, he would have had the means, and we would have lost our nerve.”
“We face the same problem about Iran today,” Blair concluded.
On Monday of this week it emerged that the US had moved missile defence shields to countries neighbouring Iran—Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.
This is all part of ramping up tension against Iran and the US trying to reassert its power in the region.
The logic opens the door to more war and a spread of the “war on terror”.
Blair may no longer be in charge, but the wars he started continue to scar the Middle East.
Gordon Brown will soon give evidence to the inquiry. He will be put in a difficult position.
He will either have to say that he was sidelined by Blair, and so had little to do with the run-up to the war.
Or if he claims he was a leading figure, he will be admitting to having blood on his hands.
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How the U.S. — and Google — censors the Internet
Since mid-January, hardly a day has gone by without some report in the big-business-controlled media about China and censorship of the Internet. The primary reports were about Google’s declaration in early January that it may stop complying with Chinese laws that are meant to block illegal Internet activity, including spying. This was followed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s blistering cold-war-style speech that directly attacked China.
Such threats, coming from the U.S. government, must be taken seriously. After all, this kind of speech from the heads of the State Department preceded the U.S. invasions of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Not that an invasion of China is imminent, but this is war talk from the State Department and must be treated as such.
Outside the U.S., the events are seen quite differently than the carefully-coiffed version presented in the U.S. media. China has done nothing out of the norm for any country with respect to regulating the Internet. Even the U.S. has similar laws and restrictions on criminal activities.
Given the way the U.S. media report this, it is important to make it clear that China does not control the Internet. Control of the Internet lies completely in the hands of the U.S., or more precisely, the U.S. military-industrial complex. And access to the core services is 100 percent controlled in the U.S. In fact, U.S. domination of the Internet was reflected in a bill that was proposed in the U.S. Senate last August that sought to give the president the authority to take full control of the Internet with a national security declaration.
As for censorship of the Internet, no country does more to block global access to the Internet than the U.S. government.
This was illustrated on Jan. 1. That’s the day that a hammer went down and all access to a substantial number of Web sites was blocked to all people from countries on a list created by the State Department. Cuba, Syria, Sudan and Iran are included on the list. A search of the State Department’s Web site and a Google search did not turn up the names of other countries on this list.
SourceForge is a Web site that’s now blocked. SourceForge says it “offers free access to hosting and tools for developers of free/open source software.” As of Jan. 1, all access to SourceForge, including downloads of free software, has been blocked to any user from a country on the State Department’s list. Previously in 2008, SourceForge started blocking access to any free software developer who wished to contribute to any free software project.
This development at SourceForge, because it is a central point for free and open access to software, has produced an international storm of protest. But SourceForge is not alone. Sun Microsystems, Mathworks and Microchip — companies that sell software used by developers — have also made their Web sites unreachable to any user from the State Department’s list. And most prominent in all this turns out to be Google and the Google Code Web site that is also for free software projects.
There is already a protest movement among free software developers to move projects off Google Code and SourceForge and onto Web sites in countries that allow open access to all. One prominent free software project, NautilusSVN, has done this in response to the blockage by Google of access to Google Code. The developers have moved their project onto Ubuntu Linux’s Launchpad and renamed it RabbitVCS, though there is some concern that the London-based Launchpad could become subjected to the U.S. blockade.
In a report on ArabCrunch, Syrian computer engineer Abdulrahman Idlbi says, “It’s worth mentioning that Internet content blockage against some countries is not restricted to getting software or services. It is really disappointing to try to participate in a global humanitarian event such as Earth Hour or the Google Haiti crisis response to make a donation, to find out that parts of those Web sites (powered by Google) are blocked.” Idlbi found that he was not able to make a donation to Haiti relief efforts.
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"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight.
"Iraq snapshot," "Senate Armed Services Committee DADT," "Armed Services Committee, Heroes," "Barack pretends to care about Don't Ask Don't Tell," "Not doing cartwheels right now"; "Iraq snaphsot," "Niki Tsongas asks the question," "House Armed Services' Military Personnel Subcomittee," "Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services"; "Iraq snapshot," "The budget, our dollars," "A hearing, a joke, a non-starting election" -- C.I., Trina, Wally and Kat report on hearings they attended and Marcia quizzes them and Ava to report on a Tuesday hearing.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "If It Stared In Her Face" -- Isaiah's oh, so truthful comic about the Goody.
"Isaiah, the faux peace set, etc." -- Elaine's post which goes with Isaiah's comic.
"Out-FM" and "Connect the Dots"-- Ruth and Elaine cover radio.
"Whatever Works does not" and "Ace" -- Ruth and Stan cover movies.
"Bully Boy Just Like Dick" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.
"Those appalling Edwardses" -- Betty on the sewer scum.
"Grab bag," "Clare Short at the Inquiry," "Iraq Inquiry (Wally)" and "Tony Blair gets served" -- C.I. covers the Iraq Inquiry regularly but, outside of C.I., these were the inquiry pieces this week.
"Sour grapes of a one time press queen" and "THIS JUST IN! NO LONGER THE PRETTIEST!" -- Cedric and Wally on the boob.
"Barack tries to trick big donors" -- Betty on Barry O's latest bamboozle.
"Hillary is 44, Shelley Berkley" -- Stan notes a member of Congress.
And we note all of Ann's posts this week:
- The Morning Show
- Iraqis unheard by the Iraq Inquiry
- KPFA's non-stop HOMOPHOBIA
- I can't believe it
- The Iraq Inquiry
"Vanity: His and Hers" and "THIS JUST IN! HE'S GOT A PLAN!" -- Wally and Cedric on the groovy couple.