Sunday, May 22, 2011
I was merciless to Obama. I was cruel in my criticisms of Obama's sellouts to the right. In my writings and drawings I tried to tell it as it was, or anyway, as I saw it. I thought -- still think -- that's my job. I'm a critic, not a suck-up. The Obama Administration doesn't need journalists or pundits to carry its water. That's what press secretaries and PR flacks are for.
Does Obama ever do anything right? Not often, but sure. And when he does, I shut up about it. Cartoonists and columnists who promote government policy are an embarrassment.
But that's what "liberal" media outlets want in the age of Obama.
I can't prove it in every case. (That's how blackballing works.) The Nation and Mother Jones and Harper's, liberal magazines that gave me freelance work under Clinton and Bush, now ignore my queries. Even when I offered them first-person, unembedded war reporting from Afghanistan. Hey, maybe they're too busy to answer email or voicemail. You never know.
-- Ted Rall, "Rise of the Obamabots."
-- Cornel West to Chris Hedges (Information Clearing House).
Another Sunday. And we're late as usual.
First, we thank all who participated this week which includes Dallas and the following:
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,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
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 what did we come up with?
- C.I. actually got calls about the Peter Fonda statemement. Two asking -- in shock, "You're not planning on noting it, are you?" Of course we are. Peter stood up for the ecology at a time when the bulk of America is supine. We applaud Peter for his stance and his statement. Well done.
- Ted Rall also stood up last week and, in doing so, confirmed the whispers most of us had heard for sometime, the censorship, the witch hunts, the Black List. We'll probably develop this into something more in a future edition.
- Attacking Captain America
Joan Wile reporting on the youth anti-war movement. Joan is the founder of Grandmothers Against the War and has written the book
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Panhandle Media is begging you for more money -- constantly. Pacifica Radio's got their hands in your pockets again, The Nation's sent out another fundraising letter, but they can't focus on what matters, now can they? No one's done more to ruin The Nation than Katrina vanden Heuvel who inherited the title of publisher when the magazine was at an all time circulation high. It is now, under her 'leadership,' at an all time low. And she has the nerve to lecture that "political elites have strayed from the will of the majority"? She who can't be bothered with Iraq?
Turns out she can't be bothered with Afghanistan either.
She or any of the other useless rags and websites of the faux left. Last week, Ted Rall broke the silence in "Rise of the Obamabots:"
The Nation and Mother Jones and Harper’s, liberal magazines that gave me freelance work under Clinton and Bush, now ignore my queries. Even when I offered them first-person, unembedded war reporting from Afghanistan. Hey, maybe they’re too busy to answer email or voicemail. You never know.
Other censors are brazen.
There’s been a push among political cartoonists to get our work into the big editorial blogs and online magazines that seem poised to displace traditional print political magazines like The Progressive. In the past, editorial rejections had numerous causes: low budgets, lack of space, an editor who simply preferred another creator’s work over yours.
Now there’ s a new cause for refusal: Too tough on the president.
I’ve heard that from enough “liberal” websites and print publications to consider it a significant trend.
Don't look for Goody Whore to cover this on Democracy Now! She can interview a playwright of tortured prose about his 'censorship' -- not receiving an honor from a university but, oops, he is going to now! -- and she can -- as did he -- that it was McCarthyism.
Neither knows a damn thing about McCarthyism.
McCarthyism is denying someone a livelihood. That's what's happening to Ted Rall.
But you won't know that from The Nation, Mother Jones or The Progressive. The same rags that are practicing McCarthyism aren't about to tell on themselves.
Remember the next time they feel the need to expound upon 'independence' and the 'power of the press' just how they neutered and spayed themselves.
All to serve a Corporatist War Hawk.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Am The War Hawk You Have Been Waiting For" captured it so perfectly December 1, 2009 and it still is true today.
The silence from the Cult of St. Barack continues Guantanamo, continues the Iraq War, allows Barack to be Bush III. And on top of all of that, they are now the new McCarthy-ites.
What a sad and low moment in the history of the US left.
Last week, a lot of false fronts went up. One actually came down and let's start with that and let's let Jason Biggs tell it, "Well, #MadLove was officially canceled today. I'm super bummed. But thank u to all the fans who supported me and the show this year. U rock!" Mad Love was an awful sitcom on CBS. That wasn't Jason Biggs fault or Sarah Chalke or Judy Greer. It was Jaime and Matt Tarses' fault and it was Tyler Labine's fault.
Tyler Labine played Laugh Killer but they called him "Larry" on the show. The only real question was who was worse, Labine for delivering the performance he always does or Jaime and Matt Tarses for hiring him to do so and, worse, flipping the show to him?
Back in the forties, when you had lackluster leads, you frequently tried to save the movie by casting, for example, Jane Wyman and Jack Carson in the supporting roles. Though they did keep theater goers in their seats and though they did walk off with the movie, they were not able to make the film a good movie. Despite having two solid leads (Biggs and Chalke), the Tarseses cast Labine in an ensemble piece knowing he would dominate the proceedings and encouraging that by giving him voice over duties.
Mad Love was supposed to be about Biggs and Chalke's characters falling in love. Instead, viewers had to suffer through not just the sexist and dated quips of the very overweight Labine but they had to take it in voice over as well. When his character was saying something offensive in a scene, someone could counter him -- Biggs, Chalke or Greer. But when he does it in a last word voice over, it's stick to you like toilet paper to the shoe.
Tyler Labine does not need another chance to shine. This is his third failed show. Audiences are not eager for Tyler Labine. They might have been interested in a developing romance with laughs. But they couldn't get that even if they watched each episode religiously because no matter what happened, in the end it was all about Labine.
Mad Love had several false fronts but mainly it was a misogynist monologue masquerading as a sitcom. Jon Stewart's false front is that he's anything more than a yucks man.
Some insist upon his being seen as a seer, a sage and much more when the reality is he can't even tell jokes about the current administration. (Attempts to do so quickly degenerate into his doing some sort of Jerry Lewis shtick that makes it appear as though Stewart just left the Catskills.) Nothing does more to dispel the image of Stewart as wise than Stewart off the set of The Daily Show attempting to speak.
We know Stewart and generally weigh addressing him with a: Is it worth it?
That means we look to see if the issue (problem) is being seriously addressed already? If so, great, we don't have to then and can tackle another issue that isn't getting the attention it needs. Roseanne (rightly) brought up the sexism at The Daily Show recently (when they refused to book her as a guest). Had we known about that when it happened (as opposed to three weeks after Roseanne's statement), we would have taken on the issue. [Please check out Roseanne's column in the current issue of New York for her thoughts on the TV climate today.] When Stewart was encouraging Americans to stay home and not be active, we called that out immediately. (And noticed how few others did. Maybe they know Jon too and thought we had it covered?)
But last week we were grabbing a danish in a hotel cafe as we were about to rush out and The CBS Early Show was on the monitor with the story being The Big Debate between Jon and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. Checking our watches, we sat down to catch the story and, because we like Jon, we were so hoping he had made a decent impression.
Reading much of the commentary after, you'd think he did and that he won the so-called debate. But that's just another facade.
The issue of the debate was an invitation to a poetry event at the White House in which entertainer Common was invited. Bill O'Reilly had apparently been opining on air (before the debate) that Common should not have been invited because, in O'Reilly's opinion, Common's rap lyrics glorify cop killers and violence against police officers and he has advocated for Assata Shakur who was convicted of killing a police officer (Werner Foerster). Jon Stewart has insisted this is a non-issue and a made up issue and a hundred other things.
Right there, Jon's showing the smugness he usually keeps in check. It is not up to Jon Stewart to determine what is or is not an issue and there are many police families across the nation who would not agree with Jon. As the segment began, there was Jon grinning smugly while O'Reilly spoke about cop killing. Not a smart move. When O'Reilly's noting the outrage and you're grinning? You look, at best, like a stupid ass. At worst, you appear to find the notion of a police officer killed in the line of duty funny.
He looked like an ass. And that was before he even started to make his first "argument." Argument? We're not just being kind, we're being generous.
O'Reilly was insisting that Common thinks Shakur "is great" and Jon was insisting that Common "thinks she's innocent." No, no, no.
If Jon Stewart's going to aspire to be the voice of reason -- and not America's yuck-yuck man -- he needs to have his facts straight. What does Common think?
We don't know. But we haven't attempted to pretend we know. Jon Stewart has no idea what Common thinks. A fact he would admit to second later, "I can't speak for him because I'm not him." And then it was time for yuck-yucks with Jon talking about how he (Jon) had rapped about Bill O'Reilly. What the hell is that?
Are you on to make points or just to make an embarrassment of yourself?
"Here's the only distinction I would make there," Jon said "and I can't speak for him. What I think he's doing . . ."
Is Jon Stewart just that desperate for publicity these days?
Does he not realize how stupid he came off? He can't speak for Common, he repeatedly states, before attempting to -- yes -- speak for Common.
"I think he believes . . ."
It was awful. Jon Stewart looked like a drug addict on methadone treatment and when he opened his mouth, he sounded even worse.. He acted shifty. And he never could stop being a wise ass. He is the problem he once decried on CNN's Crossfire.
Jon was never listening and he was never conversing. He was just attempting to work in the factoid - talking point he had arrived with "Leonard Peliter." Peltier, Jon wanted to 'inform' America, "was convicted of killing two FBI agents."
"Guess who wrote a song about him? Bono. Guess where he was? The White House?" It was Crossfire in all of its insipidness. Jon wasn't done. Bob Dylan wrote a song about Hurricane Carter when Hurricane Carter was in prison! And he's been to the White House!
They are not the same thing at all. But facts escape the funny man and they escape his groupies as well. For example, you should have already caught the obvious difference between Common and Bono's songs. If you didn't, you may be as stupid as CPEMachine who posted at The Daily Show forum:
In the debate with O'Reily on the Common visiting the White House topic O'Reily felt he had a stronger point because Common had actually travelled to Cuba to visit Assata Shakur. Jon had argued that it was not only Obama who had invited artists that have sympathized with known criminals. Bono, Johnny Cash, Ted Nugent, have all attended White House functions under the Bush adminisration. O'Reily felt it was important to make the point that though Bono and Cash wrote songs that may have sympathized with known criminals, they never took the further step to actually visit such criminals in person. In fact, not only did Cash pay his subjects a visit, he performed a hour long concert for them. Where is the consistency?
No, as described above, it is not the same thing. First off, Johnny Cash? Paying "his subjects a visit"? Did so in prison. That concert was a prison concert. And there's the difference.
Whether Common visited Shakur or not, Shakur is not in prison. Shakur escaped decades ago. Shakur is a wanted fugitive.
That's a big difference. Peltier? He's behind bars. Shakur: Escapee.
If Common did indeed visit with Shakur (we have no idea) that would be a very big issue. (Shakur moved to Cuba in the 80s when Fidel Castro gave her asylum.)
As stupid as his followers, Jon Stewart can't grasp the difference between advocating for a new trial for Peltier or Hurricane Carter and a song in favor of a prison escapee? Can't tell the difference between visiting someone in prison and visiting a known fugitive on the run?
While Jon packed his factoids, he forgot to pack his facts.
Were, as Jon insisted, Fox News and Bill O'Reilly trying to create an issue out of thin air?
May 11th, Roman Wolfe (AllHipHop.com Daily News) was reporting on the response by the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association Union and their president, David Jones, in calling out the visit and Wolfe explained, "The State Troopers Fraternal Association Union are upset because Common's visit comes as they prepare to head to Washington, D.C. to honor slain officers at the National Law Enforcement Memorial."
Unless Jon is accusing the New Jersey State Troopers of being paid schills for Fox News, Fox isn't 'creating' an issue. And it's really insulting to the widows of fallen police officers, to the children of fallen police officers, for their pain to be made light of.
Ourselves? We think Leonard Peltier should be freed and we believe he's innocent. We have no idea if Shakur is or is not. We haven't lost any sleep over Common's rap about her or whether he visited her or not. They aren't really the issues that we focus on daily. As individuals, we're allowed to decide to rank issues based on their importance to us. Ending the Iraq War ranks number one. Everything else falls somewhere lower on the list. But that's our list. We're aware that many other people have many other opinions. Though Common's song and alleged visit don't matter much to us, we don't belittle the New Jersey State Troopers who are offended. We see their point of view. We understand what they're objecting to and we're not going to insult them or their feelings by insisting that they're either paid schills for Fox News or people too stupid to know what they really think and need Fox to hand them marching orders.
Watching the exchange (click here to see it on YouTube), all we could think was: Jon, you're doing theater when you should be doing debate, which would be great.
And those words -- which ring so true -- are Jon's words: "You're doing theater when you should be doing debate, which would be great." He said them on Crossfire, in fact. He's become the very thing he criticized.
In that appearance, Tucker Carlson asked him an interesting question which is only more so with Barack Obama in the White House: if John Kerry was elected president (Stewart appeared on the program in 2004) would it "be harder for you to mock his administration if he becomes president?" Jon Stewart denied it would be.
We'll never know if that remark was true or not but it certainly has been harder for Jon to find the courage to mock Barack. Then again, Barack is such a joke all on his own.
Thursday, he gave a speech. And because he made offered some empty talk about abstract freedoms, a bunch of idiots cheered him. Looking back years from now, people will wonder how the Barack Doctrine (for war) was presented publicly without Americans weighing in? But that's largely what took place. (Trina weighed in here.) Phyllis Bennis found it easier to play it safe and pick at his remarks regarding Israel, others focused on other aspects. But the speech itself, and the argument that war could be made over the US taking offense to the kind of freedom or lack of freedoms that other countries have? Our not-so-brave chattering class took a pass.
Of course, there is worse than just taking a pass. Beyond Phyllis there is Stephen Zunes Professional Looney Tune who found it "gratifying" to hear Barack "say that the United States 'will oppose an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others'". Yeah, that just kind of warms the heart there, Steve-o.
When Zunes emerges hung over, the chants of "USA! USA!" a distant echo in his head, these are words that should not just haunt him, they should strangle him.
We're feminists. We would never applaud a war being fought because of the conditions of women's lives. That's not why you go to war. You go to war if you're attacked. If you don't like another country's way of life? Don't visit it. If you want to change it, work to do so peacefully.
But Barack gave his I AM FOREVER IN SEARCH OF NEW WAR ADVENTURES speech and idiots like Stephen Zunes refused to analyze that because they were too busy elbowing one another in the ribs, squealing, "Did you hear that? He said freedoms! Freedoms!"
It was truly disgusting. And what so much of the left wanted to pointedly ignore, the right couldn't stop celebrating -- read this column on the speech by Charles Krauthammer and this from Commentary magazine.
As fake as Barack is, too many on the left have become. FAIR sold out their good name in 2008 and never bothered to recapture it. Last week, they were highlighting a May 13th broadcast of Tavis Smiley (PBS). (Disclosure, we know and like Tavis.) FAIR was paving the ultimate faker, the biggest facade of all, Bill Moyers.
Moyers loves to talk but, more and more it seems, even more than just talking, he loves to lie. Which is how he uttered this nonsense (which FAIR and others highlighted all last week), "Television, including public television, rarely gives a venue to people who have refused to buy into the ruling ideology of Washington. The ruling ideology of Washington is we have two parties. They do their job; they do their job pretty well. The differences between them limit the terms of the debate. But we know that real change comes from outside the consensus. Real change comes from people making history, challenging history, dissenting, protesting, agitating, organizing. Those voices that challenge the ruling ideology – two parties, the best of all worlds, do a pretty good job – those voices get constantly pushed back to the areas of the stage you can't see or hear. You got voices like those on your show. You got them on Amy Goodman Democracy Now! and a few other places like that, but not as a steady presence in the public discourse."
Big words from little Bill. So, he argues, it's a problem -- even on PBS -- that guests are rarely people from outside the two major parties? While it is true that he loved to book Socialists and Communists on his program and not identify them as such (while always identifying Republicans and Libertarians), it's also true that in 2008, he wouldn't book Ralph Nader, he wouldn't deign to interview Cynthia McKinney.
In other words, big liar Bill went on Tavis' show to whine about the fact that some TV shows -- even PBS ones -- won't book guests from the non-two major parties (Democrats and Republicans) but wants everyone to pretend like he wasn't as guilty of that as anyone else.
Bill's a damn liar and PBS is so lucky to be rid of his 'news' programs. The only thing phonier than him is probably FAIR and its cohorts who make like applauding seals instead of noting the reality that Bill Moyers Journal was no friend to the third party and independent candidates. Not only would he not book them, he wouldn't include them in the "conversations." Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader did not exist on his program. Their runs were noted or discussed or, certainly, promoted.
Now Bill wants to show up, after his series is off the air, and whine that people -- other people, you understand, not him -- won't play fair in their bookings.
We cannot go on
And rattling swords
And building bombs
And fouling the air
And the streams underground
We've got to begin to turn it around
-- "Turn of the Tide," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, appears on her 3-CD collection Clouds In My Coffee
What would happen if people actually walked it like they talked it?
Watching one facade after another be erected last week, we really had to wonder. Listening, for example, to Bill Moyers rip of I.F. Stone (without credit) and tell Tavis that "all governments lie" we were left to reflect on the final season of Bill Moyers Journal -- when Barack could do no wrong and the land was filled with mean Republicans out to destroy the most noble and pure human being to ever grace the face of the earth.
The answer for the left in the '00s was to find their voice and provide facts. Instead of grasping the power of the truth, a lot of organs (often with funding from George Soros and others) were created with the simple goal of becoming an echo chamber. Instead of wanting to create a stronger left, the goal was to create a left just like the right.
Our warnings in real time were ignored but, hopefully, we now see where that road leads: To a leader as hideous as George W. Bush but one that, as a whole, we on the left fail to call out. Over and over.
A facade can block out many things but facades will always be false, by the very definition, they will be false. And when they come, as witnessed by the recent Brentwood alteration, few even know or remember why they were erected in the first place. Such is their actual 'importance,' their actual 'value.' Truth, however, is eternal.
Fonda was once asked about the possibility of picking up his father's role, either on- or off-Broadway, in the classic stage drama 12 Angry Men. His response: "Don't hold your breath for that one."
On January 13, 2011, Los Angeles police say actor Fonda discovered a dead body in a car and they are investigating the death. The actor called 911 after he spotted a car parked on the side of Sunset Boulevard. The police say Fonda is absolutely not a suspect but did not have any more details except that Fonda believes Barack Obama is a traitor for not taking it upon himself to investigate the matter himself. .
But it's not just the loons at Crapapedia, the drive-bys with the ghostly pallor -- the lack of Vitamin D making them even more pathetic and more prone to cultish behavior, it's also some so-called journalists.
Take the Kansas City Star and their 'reporter' Lisa Gutierrez who opens with "Peter Fonda is trippin' again." But then Gutierrez isn't a 'reporter,' she's a 'celebrity blogger.' In Missouri. No wonder she's so bitchy!
Whatever did Peter Fonda do to make the Cult of St. Barack so angry?
Used knowledge, facts and analytical ability. Cult membership is based upon blind following and the Cult of St. Barack is no different than the Moonies. So when actor, director, writer and longterm eco activist Peter Fonda called Barack Obama out in two press conferences at Cannes, their heads exploded.
What did Peter say? "'You're a traitor. You allowed foreign boots on our soil telling our military -- in this case the coastguard... telling us, the citizens of the United States, what we could or could not do." He also uses the f-word and, heaven knows, no one has ever used the f-word in their lives before. It's a shocker!!!!
The shocker is that Peter Fonda's correct but he's the one being attacked. The shocker is that the second press conference contained even more info but Peter's the one attacked.
Peter was in Cannes with the documentary The Big Fix (he's an executive producer of the film) which focuses on the Gulf Oil Disaster.
Have you forgotten that crisis?
As Isaiah reminded in the "Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010," right before the disaster began, Barack was declaring, "It turns out the oil rigs today generally don't cause oil spills."
And instead of protecting the United States, Barack's big focus was in protecting BP. He did nothing. Except get in bed with BP -- which Isaiah captured in "Working It For BP."
So let's look at what Peter said, "You're a traitor. You allowed foreign boots on our soil telling our military -- in this case the Coast Guard, telling us, the citiznes of the United States, what we could or could not do." Accurate?
Some attacks are even more transparent like Richard Eden (Telegraph of London -- no link) who uses half quotes to make it easier for him to pretend outrage. Peter made a movie about a disaster. He's rightly offended by the disaster.
Instead of exploring that -- and facts -- the 'press' wants to attack Peter. He made the statements at two press conferences in Cannes. At the second, he took the trouble to explain that a US government official "contacted him telling him he could not mention at that conference the thousands of dead bay dolphins and dead dolphin fetuses in the Gulf following the BP-Deep Horizon oil 'spill'."
In a functioning press, instead of smears and attacks on Peter, the press would be exploring the efforts of the US government to silence private citizens.
Ty: First off, I answered an e-mail two or three weeks ago where someone asked for a link and I told them I'd give it to them. I didn't. I forgot. Unless I've dreamed the whole thing. I replied to their e-mail to us on my cell phone. And it didn't put a copy in the 'sent' folder and I can't find the original e-mail. Again, maybe I dreamed the whole thing. But I think it happened and if you're reading this and you're the person who e-mailed, please e-mail again and let me know your link. Second, Rhonda e-mailed to say, "Thank you for Dona!"
Dona: Well thank you for Rhonda right back.
Ty: Rhonda writes, "I just spent the week enjoying some of the classic TV commentaries by Ava and C.I. I was laughing out loud and everyone at work was staring. But what stood out from my visit through the archives besides Ava and C.I.'s great writing was how much I enjoy the site's look today and how much I would have hated it back then. I'm one of the people who discovered you in 2008. If I'd been reading in 2005, no offense, it wouldn't have been for long. There are no illustrations in those early features and there aren't short pieces or anything to break up the text look of the site. I know from reading for the last three years that Dona was the one who really insisted on visuals and that she's also the one who advocates for short pieces to run along side the long ones. So I just wanted to tell her how much I appreciate her work."
Dona: That's really sweet and I say thank you to Rhoda. Believe it or not, back in 2005, there were a lot of websites that didn't have any visuals. For us, we wanted visuals but really only pursued it after Isaiah emerged. Isaiah, do you want to talk about that?
Isaiah: Sure. Briefly, I was reading The Common Ills and a community member. Ruth did a public radio report each week back then -- 2005 -- and Kat did music reviews. I wanted to do something to help the site. I used to draw cartoons in school so I figured I could offer up that. I was honestly afraid to offer it and assumed that I would be turned down. So I wrote this rather hesitant e-mail and C.I. wrote me back immediately, said we should go for it and gave me one of her cell phone numbers if I had any questions. And, by the way, I hadn't drawn anything as an example at that point. So she was just going on faith. So that's why I do my comic. And in doing it, the after-stuff, both C.I. and I had to learn about posting illustrations and different programs and other junk. So she was able to bring that over to here and help out with that.
Jim: And, of course, the earliest illustrations we ran were Isaiah's. And we still run his comics today. Re-run them. And Dona does deserve the credit for that. Ask any of us and we'll tell you that. She's always thought beyond this edition. She's always thought the overall picture. She's made many, many other contributions but in terms of the look of the site, that's all her.
Jess: Last week's "We want it on DVD and we want it now" resulted in many e-mails but one person in particular was ticked off. He writes that C.I. knew Farrah Fawcett and "she made sure her friend got included in the write up." C.I.?
C.I.: I did know Farrah, she was a lovely woman and a very talented artist. The notion that I rigged results is hilarious because, first of all, my input on that article was minimal and confined only to At Long Last Love and Moment by Moment. Secondly, if I was using my 'influence' to skew the results, I obviously don't have much influence since Farrah's films didn't make the top ten. Thirdly, I believe I'm on record online as stating that my favorite performance by Farrah is in Between Two Women which co-stars Colleen Dewhurst. That film didn't make the article. Lastly, when we were talking about the article, back when it was first planned, I did cite a hope and that was that some people would e-mail -- and no one did -- to note some of Liza Minnelli's dramatic roles. The Sterile Cukoo and Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon are not available on DVD and Liza's amazing in them. I thought of that, when we were discussing the article, because we did a piece awhile back on which performers qualified as stars. And a reader had e-mailed after that we didn't name Liza. And then we did a follow up where we noted this wasn't the list of all stars and I said I was sorry that we didn't include Liza because she's clearly a star. But one of the reasons Liza doesn't get the respect that she deserves is that she's confined to one role today, she's seen in one way, and a large reason for that is because her non-singing, dramatic work is largely unavailable. I know Liza. I also know Diana Ross. Were I rigging the results for that article, Diana would have had a film in the top ten.
Ty: A number of you e-mailed to say, "You forgot ____." No, we didn't. That was your article, that was the films you wanted on DVD, you the readers, and we wrote it on your behalf. For three weeks, Jim reminded you to weigh in via e-mail if you had an opinion. For you to wait until after the article runs to suddenly say, "Well ___ should be on the list . . ." That falls back on you. ___ didn't make the list because you never e-mailed when we were compiling.
Jim: Krystelle e-mailed to ask, "If the Iraq War ended tomorrow, would you stop publishing?" Yes, Krystelle. And for all of those who would like to see us gone and gone for good, all you have to do is end the Iraq War. We'll gladly leave the online world.
Ava: In Jim's note, he often credits "Highlights" to "Mike and the gang." Joel e-mailed wondering why that is? Mike, why don't you explain highlights and then we'll go to Jim's response.
Mike: Highlights is a piece where we note the best of the last week at community sites. At one time, 2005, 2006, these "bests" were actually reprinted in full here. We don't do that anymore. That was one of the "short pieces" that Dona came up with when we didn't have the time or desire to repost full posts. So how were we going to note them still? Dona came up with just links and a brief comment from those of us writing.
Jim: And I say "Mike and the gang" because I left out someone a few weeks or months back. Why then identify Mike? Mike's always done "highlights." I know others have had time off but I believe Mike has always done highlights.
Ty: Jessie e-mailed to point out that when people answer questions in these roundtables about the differences it's mainly those of us with Third -- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- but that Rebecca's been helping out since the first month, that Kat's been since the second month, and that Ruth and Betty both start helping out in April, the fourth month. So Jessie was wondering if the four of them -- Rebecca, Kat, Ruth and Betty -- might have an observation or two to share on the evolution and changes?
Rebecca: Well I'd say that it's easier in many ways and harder in many ways. I'd say that after all this time, every edition is still different. You never know going in what's going to end up published, how long it's going to take, it's still a surprise. That can be good in -- 'it's exciting' -- it can be bad in you never know what you're getting into.
Betty: I'd agree with that and note that it's also a marathon or endurance test many editions. With Dona's pregnancy, we've all got an excuse. And I want that on the record. Because of Dona's pregnancy, we now take 'breaks' which can include six or seven hours for a nap. We're all using Dona's pregnancy as an excuse to take a break. So when people -- and I know some readers have -- complain that we're posting late Sundays, don't blame Dona for that. We're all tired and wanting time to rest.
Ruth: To go to a different place, I would say what stands out the most to me is that, back then, we would be writing about Iraq and thinking, "Well we've got to hit hard here" or "We've got to really say it from this angle" because we had to stand out from all the other Iraq coverage and commentary. These days, that is not even a concern because we know there really is none. We are one of the last outposts on the left. That is reality.
Kat: I would agree with everything that has been said but especially with Ruth. The wars are of no interest to, for example, The Progressive, The Nation, In These Times, etc. And that was really driven home last week when Ted Rall wrote about how, before going to Afghanistan this year, he contacted The Nation to tell them about the trip and offer to write something while he was there but they weren't interested. That says it all.
Ann: And if I can quote Ted Rall for a moment, he wrote about how editors of 'left' outlets asked him to attack the GOP or do positive cartoons of Barack. As he states, "I thought -- still think -- that's my job. I'm a critic, not a suck-up. The Obama Administration doesn't need journalists or pundits to carry its water. That's what press secretaries and PR flacks are for." And I read that and I think not only of all the whining we've all received in e-mails but especially of what it's like for Ava and C.I. -- who have made similar criticism about SNL repeatedly, most recently noting that they've gone from class clowns to teacher's pet -- or for Isaiah or for Wally and Cedric.
Jim: Good point. Let's go to Wally and Cedric.
Cedric: Well, backstory, Wally and I do joint-posts, they are humor posts. We do them in the style of a wire service. When Bush was in the White House, we mocked him non-stop. We do the same with Barack. We would have done the same with Hillary -- Wally and I both campaigned for Hillary -- or John McCain or anyone. But because it's Barack, you get a whole ignorant sub-section of 'critiques' that falsely cry "RACISM!" They try that less and less with us because I am Black -- unlike Barack, who is bi-racial, I am a Black man -- but they used to do that all the time, the little whiners who thought they could derail our work.
Wally: Right. And, after awhile, they just realized that it wasn't going to work. We're going to do the same posts we've always done. The big difference between Barack and Bush is that Bush wanted to play cowboy and Barack wants to play celebrity. They're both fakes, stunted boys play acting at being men.
C.I.: I'm sorry to jump in but what Wally just said is a truest. It should be made into a "truest statement of the week." It's very astute.
Mike: I'll back that up.
Wally: Thank you both. But it's really amazing how people will e-mail you and try to bully you into writing what they want. And what a lot of them want is non-stop propaganda about their beloved idol.
Jim: Dona just passed me a note pointing out that we need to wrap up and we haven't heard from Stan, Trina, Marcia or Elaine. Marcia, the big news of last week to you was what?
Marcia: I'd say it was the continued silence from the media on Iraq protests. Friday was what?
C.I.: Countdown Friday.
Marcia: Right. And protests took place in Baghdad and Mosul but nothing from the press.
Stan: They did, The New York Times did, cover northern Iraq protests in a Thursday article. I read that -- combined with their silence on the continued protests in Baghdad where the paper's reporters are based -- as a confession that they were scared of upsetting Nouri and that they needed to go to the safer region of the north in order to report. I'm sure that's not what they intended to confess. And I don't need an e-mail from Tim Arango explaining to me why I'm wrong about his writing. In fact, he should use the time he'd spend on that in focusing on his writing.
Jim: Okay, Trina, Cornel West is under criticism because he dared to criticize St. Barack. Any thoughts on that as we wind down?
Trina: Good question. Ruth and I were talking about this. One of the criticism is that he's 'going after the Jews.' Where does he go after Jewish people? He doesn't. He's speaking of who Barack is surrounding himself with and he notes that it is White people and it is Jewish people. White, typically, means WASP to most people. We, Ruth and I, saw his remarks in that regard.
Jim: And Elaine, last thoughts?
Elaine: Disappointment that we won't have time to expand upon C.I.'s Thursday night entry this week but holding you at your word that we will next weekend.
Jim: That is the plan and, on that note, we'll end this roundtable.
The day was downcast, but the wonderful from Brooklyn Collaborative School standing in the rain on Fifth Avenue were not. You could say they were upcast. They were living proof that daring and principled teachers could raise their students' consciousness about the material and political costs of our current wars and integrate them into the anti-war movement.
It was the morning of May 18. About 8 or 9 kids, all Latino and African American, had joined the Grandmothers Against the War weekly vigil at Rockefeller Plaza. Their Social Economics teacher, Stephen Simons, thought it would make a good field trip to supplement their class discussions regarding the question: was the a just one?
[Photo above: Seniors from the Brooklyn Collaborative Studies school at (photo by Rex Bounds)
Barbara Harris, Chair of the Granny Peace Brigade Counter Recruitment Committee, explained Opt-Out options so that recruiters wouldn't be able to harass them in their homes. She told them that though they would be assured of being trained for all sorts of non-fighting jobs, in actuality they would be trained for only one thing -- combat!
"In May of 2003, former President Bush stated the Iraq War was part of ' .' Last year, 2010, President Obama shared that troops would come homeby August 2011. Please, Mr. President, keep your word. No May 18th, 2012 with our military budget. Switch for education and peace.", no American troops engaged in warfare in our name. For the future of this country, re-do the American
One of the students, Miguel Gomez, the person going to Franklin and Marshall, had this to say when asked what his conclusion was as to whether the Iraq war was a just one:
war is one of the most controversial wars that impacted society.
innocent civilians died in Iraq, thousands of our own men died
and to this
day they are still recovering dead bodies. I believe the
is an unjust war because of the amounts of
lives that were taken in vain due
to an unclear cause, and because we
destroyed a country that never hurt us.
The living conditions in Iraq are worse in
's control in the
past. We are enemies to ourselves because we
are hurting another country,
killing our own men, and hurting our economy.
Bring our Troops Home
Senior Andrea Navarro, who will be attending the in the fall, answered the same question this way:
the war in Iraq was an
unjust one. We
went in for mysterious
reasons and it has taken away funds needed at home for
We were extremely inspired by these marvelous youngsters. We have long bemoaned the fact that there are no youths in today's anti-war movement -- we believe that without them policy cannot be changed, as it was in the Vietnam era. But the Brooklyn kids gave us hope that they can reverse the inertia of their generation about the wars and lead the way for them to become committed peace activists.
We grannies will not be here forever, and we urgently need to believe others will follow us and continue our struggle for peace. The Brooklyn high school students helped assure us we needn't worry.
Lennox Yearwood is many things -- most of them cowardly. But what's really hilarious about Lenny, besides his pretense of being one of the young 'uns, is his pretense that he and his ridiculous organization "Hip Hop Caucus" are "non-partisan."
But as chatty as his wide, Lenny felt the need to expound upon the topic of Common and, in doing so, explained who they registered for the 2008 election: "During Hip Hop Caucus-led voter registration drives in 2008 and 2010, we registered thousands of urban young people in cities across the country. These young adults of color weren't registering for the first time simply because of Barack Obama's skin color; there wasn't a large turnout for Al Sharpton, or Alan Keyes, or Carol Moseley Braun. They filled out their registration forms with excitement, and voted with tears in their eyes. They didn't simply vote to elect America’s first African-American President. Those young people voted because they witnessed so much struggle and regression over the past eight years; they took an active role in their lives and ushered in something better. Rappers like Common opened their eyes through conscious lyrics, and motivated them to take political initiative."
Lenny, you were born a whore and you will die whore. There's not an honest bone in your body. Thanks for confessing to what we'd long pointed out about your organization: It's a Democratic Party front operation, not a non-partisan one.
In a week that saw many confessions (here and here), your unintentional one still managed to stand out. Well whored, Lenny, well whored.
Events show the limits of U.S. powerBy Sara Flounders
President Barack Obama has praised the targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden as a turning point and “one of the greatest military and intelligence operations in U.S. history.”
However, events in the week running up to the execution exposed the limits of U.S. imperialist power and showed why the imperialists are so desperate to project an all-powerful image.
Obama’s message was that the Pentagon can do anything, go anywhere, kill anyone, bomb any country. Sovereignty is now irrelevant. The compliant media are glorifying Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces and Airborne Night Stalkers as “America’s quiet professionals.” We are told they have recently carried out 50 operations in a dozen countries. International lawlessness — the use of torture, kidnapping, secret rendition, extrajudicial killings and targeted assassinations — is justified and defended.
It is clear that this summary execution will be used to justify further expansion of the military budget, new weapons systems and a stepped-up level of domestic repression.
But all this has been unable to reverse U.S. imperialism’s steadily eroding position in the region. Consider a few events that took place in the two weeks before and after the bin Laden assassination. Clearly events are spinning out of their control.
Prison break in Kandahar
All their night-vision goggles, electronic listening gear and special ops units couldn’t prevent the escape on April 24 in Kandahar of 541 prisoners labeled as Taliban, including 104 commanders described as the very backbone of the insurgency.
The tunnel they had dug for months stretched half a mile and had electricity and air holes. Keys they had obtained to the cells allowed organizers to open cellblocks and escort prisoners to the escape route.
The facility had undergone security upgrades and tightened procedures since a Taliban attack in 2008 had freed 900 prisoners. In that assault, an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate diverted attention while an explosion at a back wall opened an escape route. Dozens of militants on motorbikes aided the escapes.
Afghan government officials and their NATO backers had repeatedly asserted that the prison now had vastly improved security since that attack with new guard towers, night illumination, a ring of concrete barriers topped with razor wire and an entrance reached by passing through multiple checkpoints and gates.
Turn the guns around
On April 27 nine U.S. officers — two lieutenant colonels, one of whom had retired and become a contractor, two majors, four captains and one master sergeant, all of them armed — were killed in a meeting room at Kabul airport. The shooter was not with al-Qaida or the Taliban but was a trusted Afghan Air Force pilot with 20 years’ seniority.
This is the seventh time this year that a trusted Afghan officer has turned his gun around and killed U.S. military officials.
The same week also saw attacks inside the Afghan Defense Ministry, at a Kandahar city police station and at a shared Afghan/U.S. military base in the east. In neighboring Helmand province on April 29, the top civilian chief of Marjah district was assassinated.
On the same day, April 27, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article headlined, “Karzai told to dump U.S.” The article explained that “Pakistan is lobbying Afghanistan’s president against building a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S., urging him instead to look to Pakistan — and its Chinese ally — for help in striking a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuilding the economy, Afghan officials say.” The article described the tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan and the deep hostility to U.S. domination throughout the region. Even the forces U.S. imperialism has created, armed and financed are increasingly wary of their alliances.
Cutting supply lines
Meanwhile, there were mass sit-ins and rallies near Peshawar, Pakistan, involving thousands of people who blocked the main supply roads used by the U.S. and NATO to resupply their forces in Afghanistan via the Khyber Pass.
The organizers threatened that if drone strikes inside Pakistan did not stop within 30 days, they would block all NATO supply routes across Pakistan and march to the capital, Islamabad, to force the government to take a stand on the issue. U.S. drones have killed more than 1,000 people in Pakistan alone
The execution of bin Laden came just one day after U.S. bombs meant for Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan head of state, killed his son and three young grandchildren. The U.S./NATO war on Libya, once considered an easy “regime change,” continues without even a pro-forma congressional discussion or vote.
All these immediate setbacks for imperialism reflect also the millions in the streets in Egypt and Tunisia who totally overwhelmed those U.S.-government-supported, long-term dictatorships that Washington had relied on in the region.
The April 27 announcement by Fatah and Hamas of a historic agreement of Palestinian unity, reached in Cairo with the assistance of Egyptian officials, led to immediate U.S. threats to cut off all aid to Fatah and to outraged denunciations by Israel. For decades U.S./Israeli policy has been to keep the Palestinian movement divided and the democratically elected government of Hamas isolated.
On that same day, the station that pumped natural gas from al-Sabil terminal near El Arish, Egypt, into Israel was blown up. This third attack in three months will close the pipeline for weeks. Egyptian officials have also announced they are reviewing the below-market contract for natural gas that Egypt had formerly granted to Israel. Recent polls show the majority of Egyptians want to end the “peace treaty” with Israel.
On April 30 Egypt announced it was opening the Rafah border crossing into Gaza and ending the blockade of Gaza on a permanent basis. The U.S. and Israel had imposed a strict blockade on Gaza since 2007 with Hosni Mubarak’s full compliance. Mubarak’s overturn in Egypt has meant an end to many reactionary policies. The people are in motion, asserting their rights and making new demands.
Meanwhile thousands of Iraqis continue to take to the streets and demonstrate in front of U.S. bases protesting shortages of electricity, food and jobs and calling on all U.S. troops to leave. U.S. officials are having a difficult time negotiating an agreement for continued bases in Iraq, even with a compliant and corrupt government of their own making.
Execution fuels outrage
The U.S. position in Pakistan was further eroded after the killing of bin Laden. Resolutions by the Lahore High Court Bar Association, not considered sympathetic to al-Qaida, speak volumes about the mass mood. One resolution, which passed unanimously, demanded the resignations of the president, the prime minister, the interior minister, the chief of army staff, the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence and the director of military intelligence for their failure to protect the sovereignty of Pakistan when the U.S. conducted its operation against bin Laden.
The U.S. operation in Abbottabad, close to the Pakistan Military Academy and the restricted site of the Kahuta nuclear plant, sparked deep apprehension.
Pumped up by the bin Laden execution, the Pentagon launched another drone attack on Pakistan on May 6, killing 17 people.
In Yemen that same day a drone attack failed to kill Anwar al Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and radical cleric who has never been charged with any crime but is now on a U.S. international hit list. The announcement said the drone attack “may have killed some members of al-Qaida in Yemen.” The attack is a disaster for the U.S.-supported military dictatorship in Yemen, which is on the brink of collapse. For three months millions of people have courageously demonstrated in the streets against the government. The Pentagon had stopped drone attacks, fearing they would further undermine the military dictatorship. Last year after a U.S. drone mistakenly killed the leaders of a Yemeni province, even the government expressed great anger.
On May 8, the Taliban allegedly launched a multipronged attack on the offices of the governor, the national security directorate, police headquarters and a U.S. Special Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It created chaos in the capital of a province that NATO has spent the past year trying to pacify. The May 8 Guardian of Britain explained, “The dream of turning the city into a bulwark of security was badly tarnished.”
U.S. media polls have measured a temporary “bump” in President Obama’s ratings. But U.S. imperialism’s own standing is in continuing decline. It has economic problems it can’t solve and terrifyingly destructive weapons that are increasingly raising more anger and organized resistance than fear.
After promises of an economic rebound, U.S. unemployment in April climbed to 9 percent. Wholesale attacks on Medicare and Social Security are proposed as solutions to the budget deficit. The capitalist economy can no longer afford guns and butter. Now the ruling class is pinning its hopes on the superprofits of military contracts and conquest.
While it is true that the Pentagon has weapons enough to destroy the world, it is increasingly coming up against the limits of the capitalist system it serves.
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"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site, C.I. taking on the faux activists.
"Iraq snapshot," "Scott Brown questions DoD's concept of streamlining," "VA can't answer a basic service question" and "DoD embarrasses at Senate hearing" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat report on a Congressional hearing.
"Artichokes in the Kitchen" -- Trina explains how to cook and eat artichokes.
"Office politics post" -- Betty blogs about work.
"tv," "It got the axe!!!!," "Friday TV, sushi, etc.," "The Event," "The Good Wife," "The Event,"
"Melrose Place," "Chuck," "Desperate Housewives" and "Melrose" -- Rebecca, Kat, Mike, Marcia, Stan and Betty cover TV and Ann covers radio:
"maria and ahnuld" -- Rebecca weighs in on the break up.
"Barack pledges loyalty to . . . Israel" -- Ruth takes on Barack's obligations.
"Cindy" -- Ruth on when Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan will no longer be considered 'radioactive' by the faux left.
"Vibes" -- Stan goes to the movies.
"Meaningless?" -- Elaine asks a question.
"Bully Poppa's True Sons" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this classic.
"THIS JUST IN! HE'S 1 BIG FAKE!" & "He cares about the press, honest he does" -- Wally and Cedric on the press and Barry.
"Barack's bad speech" -- Trina takes on Barry's speech.
"Big Boobed Danny Schechter" and "Danny Schecter = Big Breasted Floozie" -- Betty and Stan take on silly Danny.
"Crooked Iowa" -- Ruth takes on the caucus.
"Faux peace?" -- Elaine takes on the lies.