Sunday, September 11, 2011

Truest statement of the week

In essence, Obama is demanding that the American people mortgage what is left of their future to pay for a relative handful of new jobs.
To pay for the so-called jobs bill, Obama said he would push to increase the deficit-reduction target of the congressional super-committee established last July well beyond its present mandate of $1.5 trillion, and insisted that Medicare and Medicaid had to be slashed.
Obama's job-creation proposals are paltry. Even were his bill to be enacted in full -- an unlikely eventuality -- it would create a mere 2 million jobs, according to estimates by economists. It will take 11.1 million new jobs to return employment to the level that existed prior to the onset of the recession nearly four years ago.

-- Barry Grey, "Obama's jobs fraud" (WSWS).

Truest statment of the Week II

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.
Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).
When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year.

-- Kevin Alexander Grey, "Blacks and Obama: Unconditional, Unrequited Love?" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition 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,
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?
Barry Grey from WSWS -- one of the few outlets to refuse to whore.
Kevin Alexander Grey and read the entire piece he wrote (though Black Agenda Report was down for most of Sunday).

Last week exposed how little research gas bags do before weighing in. Excuse us, before RUSHING to weigh in. A lot of dunce caps should be provided by various outlets and someone should ask the dunces what they think "AP" stands for because it's a news outlet, not a grocery store, a news outlet they should familiarize themselves with.

Reading this piece, I understand why Ava and C.I. insisted they had to write it. I told them Friday afternoon that we needed a piece on Barack's speech from them. They didn't want to do two pieces. I said just do a piece on the speech. Reading this, I understand why they didn't want to ignore it. This is one of their hard hitting pieces and for those who keep asking, "When are they covering entertainment again?," the fall season doesn't kick off for two more weeks.

A short piece. And after this posted, we saw that the photo had to be reduced or you couldn't see the second arrow to the TelePrompter. You can also click on the photo to see it in a larger size at Flickr.

The piece I (Jim) asked Ava and C.I. to write. I didn't realize that they'd do so much background work before writing a word. I should have. If it's a topic they're unfamiliar with or don't feel strong on, they do a huge, huge amount of prep work. My Friday afternoon request not only caused them to have to work on Friday night and Saturday doing research, it also probably caused a panic because normally they'd would have done even more prep work. This flows beautifully and is much more than I expected. Thank you to them for their hard work.

C.I., Betty and Stan wanted this addressed. It's an issue that's not getting the attention it deserves. Again, the Black Agenda Report has been down today. If it is back up or when it is back up, please read Glen Ford's piece that we quote from at the top. It's a pretty important article.

This was planned as an e-mail roundtable but quickly went somewhere else. If I thought it was a problem or not productive, I could have stopped it. (That's what a moderator does.) But though completely unplanned, it was far better than what we thought it would be going in. Thanks to Stan especially for really getting it kicked off. When he explodes, that really shifts the whole dynamic.

A repost from Great Britian's Socialist Worker.

A repost from Workers World.

A repost of C.I. We asked for this due to the fact that we weren't sure we'd be able to pull off the editorial. We did so that covers Iraq. In addition, Ava and C.I. grabbed Iraq in one of their commentaries to be sure it was seriously covered.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we came up with. We'll see you next week and will try to heed Bonita's e-mail requesting a "fun piece on movies or music."


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

Editorial: Our Media Dunces

It shouldn't have to be so hard for the press to cover things accurately.

But last week demonstrated (a) they don't read and (b) they can be collective morons.

No where was that more obvious than on Friday's Diane Rehm Show, second hour, where Diane and her guests demonstrated that they're experts on nothing but love the sound of their own voices.

Last Tuesday, Fox News reported, "The Obama administration has decided to drop the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of the year down to 3,000, marking a major downgrade in force strength, multiple sources familiar with the inner workings and decisions on U.S. troop movements in Iraq told Fox News." Their report stated that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was endorsing the option and their report quoted Panetta denying that any decision had been made.

Leon Panetta

At that day's White House press briefing, CBS News' Norah O'Donnell led the questioning on the report. Jay Carney, White House flack, insisted that no decision had yet been made and that negotiations continue "with the Iraqi government about what our relationship will look like going forward." O'Donnell continued to press on whether "Secretary Panetta delivered a recommendation to the President" and Carney insisted that had not happened.

Something was delivered.

And the press knew it. But, sadly, that's all they knew.

The New York Times, Thomas E. Ricks and many others pounced on that 3,000 option the next day. And the press would continue to do so. Demonstrating just how stupid some members of the press are. And where there is stupid, there is The Diane Rehm Show. From their Friday transcript:

REHM 11:32:54 Elise Labott. She's senior State Department producer for CNN and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Tell me about this brand new plan to keep 3 to 4,000 troops in Iraq, David, after the deadline for final withdrawal which is December 31. That kind of came as...

IGNATIUS 11:33:26 I think...

REHM 11:33:26 ...something of a surprise to people.

IGNATIUS 11:33:29 ...I think it's less new than it seemed from the way that it's been disclosed this week. For a long time the U.S. has been saying -- really urging the Iraqis to think about some small residual presence of U.S. forces that would help with training. The Iraqis have said they'd like to buy F16s I think it is for air defense, so you'd need American personnel there to do that. It's a small number of troops. The feeling I think on the U.S. side is that it would have a steadying affect in an Iraq that's awfully nervous. In terms of U.S. exposure it's fairly limited.

LABOTT 11:34:10 This isn't an administration that has as a top priority getting U.S. combat forces out of Iraq and that's happened. So I wouldn't -- I think a small residual training force and a big combat force are not the same thing.

And on and on they babbled. Indicating that if everyone was talking about something, they could talk about it too, they just couldn't do so in an informed manner.

One outlet after another insisted that the 3,000 was "the option." It was "an option." One of many. And the press should have known that on Tuesday when the Panetta and 3,000 troops story broke. From that day's Iraq snapshot:

On the issue Fox News reported on and that Norah O'Donnel asked about, Lolita C. Baldor, Rebecca Santana, Lara Jakes and Robert Burns (AP) report that the White House "is reviewing a number of options" but that a request needs to be made before Barack can decide which option to go with.

"A number of options." Reported on Tuesday.

Thursday more news of US troops in Iraq post-2011 came out. Justin Fishel (Fox News) reported that Ray Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, declared that one of the issues to be resolved in the negotiations would be where US troops would be staged after 2011 and "Odierno said it's most likely that any major U.S. base would be located outside of Baghdad." And building on that, Robert Burns and Rebecca Santana (AP) reported on the option of moving US troops to Kuwait. They cite anonymous "US officials" who state that Kuwait is being considered as a staging area for the US military and that it could also be used to keep "a small U.S. combat force" that could enter Iraq swiftly should a problem arise. And they note that US military equipment could be left in Kuwait instead of sent back to America.

And all week long, the gas bags like Ricks and Rehm seemed never to have read the AP wires, to be completely oblivious and to zoom in on one option and treat it as if it is "the plan."

Equally outrageous was the whoring. Elise Labott was rightly called out by Rebecca. Labott, you may believe the Iraq War needs to continue but maybe that's an opinion you need to keep to yourself since you're not a columnist but supposedly an objective journalist. Barbara Lee called it 'a step in the right direction.' We're not remembering her saying that back when Bush occupied the White House. But these days Barbara Lee's all about scraping and bowing to the White House. She's completely abdicated her previous positions to run defense for Barack.

3,000 in Iraq beyond 2011 is outrageous.

For those who have forgotten, Barack declared in 2007 that he had a plan to bring the troops home in a year. A lot of people have forgotten that. 2008 rolled around and Senator Obama didn't bring the troops home. But he inisted on the campaign trail that "We want to end the war and we want to end it now!" and that US troops would leave Iraq. And then the Bush White House began working on the Status Of Forces Agreement. Barack called it out because Hillary and other Democrats called it out. It would need Senate consent or it would not fly legally, he repeatedly insisted in person and on his campaign site. Then the Bush White House rammed it through the Iraqi Parliament on Thanksgiving Day 2008, weeks after Barack had won the presidential election. Suddenly, the Barack Obama and Joe Biden opposition to the SOFA vanished.

And whores like Tom Hayden and Raed Jarrar encouraged us to sing Barack's praises because he was 'ending' the Iraq War (that would have been Bush ending the Iraq War) because the SOFA, they wrongly insisted, meant all US troops leave Iraq at the end of 2011.

There were other things to focus on, they insisted and went out whoring ObamaCare while stabbing universal health care in the back. There were other things to focus on, they insisted while Iraqis continued dying, while US troops continued to die and be deployed to Iraq.

The cry of "OUT OF IRAQ NOW!" became, "We're leaving in three years, it's no big deal."

But the whores got the SOFA wrong.

It's now 2011. December 31st is approaching. Instead of all US troops leaving Iraq? August 2nd, Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, announced that Iraq and the US were negotiating to keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011.

The only thing the world needed to hear from Tom Hayden this week was, "I am a damn dirty whore who pretended to care about ending the Iraq War because it got my name in papers and got me booked on programs and even got me a book contract. But I'm a damn dirty whore and I was so wrong when I told everyone the SOFA meant the Iraq War ended in 2011. Because of my whoring, thousands of Iraqis have continued dying. Their blood is on my hands. And though I'm too chicken s**t to do what I should do, commit hari-kari, I will at least take a vow of silence so that I am no longer responsible for the deaths of any more Iraqis."

Instead the cheap whore showed up to declare that 3,000 troops in Iraq beyond 2011 (like other idiots, he wasn't aware that this was only one option among many) was a "victory" for the peace movement. He's such a whore. Such a damn dirty whore. (C.I.'s takedown of Hayden's latest babbles is here.)

Repeatedly, pollsters like to demonstrate what Americans don't know or what they think they know when they're actually wrong and Jay Leno's got a recurring skit ("Jaywalking") built around what we don't know. But maybe one of the reasons people get things wrong -- besides the fact that we will all get things wrong at some point -- is because those entrusted to give us the facts often fail?

Certainly one outlet after another failed last week as they parroted Fox News' scoop (often without giving Fox News credit for it) while ignoring AP's repeated reports about how 3,000 was only one option under consideration. Maybe in the next "Jaywalking," Jay can serve up Diane Rehm, Thomas E. Ricks, Tom Hayden, Elise Labott and a host of others?

TV: Posing as a TV journalist

On Tuesday, all eyes were on Leon Panetta and, excepting the president of the United States, he was the most talked about member of the administration. That was due to Fox News reporting on an option to keep a minimum of 3,000 troops in Iraq beyond 2011 and that Panetta was supporting the measure. The report came close to dominating that day's White House press briefing (if it didn't, the only thing that got more attention was Jake Tapper's line of questioning on Jimmy Hoffa Jr.'s recent rhetoric) as CBS News' Norah O'Donnell and Fox News' Wendell Goler peppered White House spokesperson Jay Carney with questions about the 3,000 troops report. Wednesday morning, The New York Times would show up with the 'report' and 'forget' to credit Fox News. [Felecia Sonmez (Washington Post) did credit Fox News as did Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) and Mackenzie Weinger (POLITICO).] Fox News' scoop was so huge that, come Friday morning, it was being used (misused) by Diane Rehm and guests to distort realities on Iraq.


So "lucky," for a TV program, would be getting an interview with Leon Panetta last week. But making good on that lucky break would require something more than just showing up comatose with most of your raggedy, dry hair dragged over your bald spot. In other words, Charlie Rose still can't find his ass with both hands.

Tuesday on Twitter, as Fox News' scoop was dominating, Charlie Rose showed up to Tweet, "An hour with Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense."

"Wait," you're saying, "in all of the Wednesday coverage, I never read about Rose asking Panetta about any of this." Of course you didn't. And that's due to the fact that journalists know Rose has 'processing issues' and can't handle breaking news. Tuesday, September 6th, the breaking news was Fox News' scoop. Charlie interviewed Panetta that day, Panetta traveled to and in the state of New York that day (on an Osprey aircraft, the Defense Dept would brag). Yet Charlie missed the big story of the day.

And because that is his pattern, none of the reports filed on Wednesday bothered to mention the show. Journalists know Charlie's questions are prepared long before the interview's taping and that he really can't handle 'improv.'

As a result of only focusing on the 3,000 story, they missed some actual news. Maybe intentionally because they didn't feel like wading through the program. When actual news comes via Charlie Rose, it comes stumbling drunken down the hall and you may miss it completely because your mind has gone numb from the lack of structure, the never-ending bromides and the refusal to ever challenge a response.

For example, few could stay awake through this response to what it's like to be Secretary of Defense.

Leon Panetta: I think the fundamental mission is one of protecting the country and, uh, obviously, uh, in the intelligence arena, you know it's about gathering intelligence to provide to the president and leaders so that they can make the right decisions about what needed to be done. In the job of Secretary of Defense, it's about actually doing the operations. It's about, uh, being in charge of the services, our men and women in uniform who have to actually go out there and do the mission. Uh, and that means that, what you have to do is make sure that there is a defined mission, that they clearly are doing whatever's necessary to try to achieve that mission and that, in the end, uh, the goal is that by achieving that mission hat you're making this country safer. Uh, we're facing a myriad of threats these days. Uh, threats, uh, not only from terrorism, a continuing threat from terrorism, uh, we're involved in two wars, uh, we've, uh, been involved in a NATO mission in Libya, uh we continue to face threats from Iran and North Korea, uh, we're living in a world where, uh, cyber security is now something to be concerned about in terms of cyber attacks, uh, we also are living in a world in which there are rising powers, uh, countries like China, Brazil and India, not to mention obviously Russia -- and, uh, others that-that provide a challenge to us -- not only in trying to cooperate with them but making sure that, uh, they don't undermine the stability of the world. These are a myriad of challenges that confront the United States of America today and our responsibility at the Defense Department, as it is at the State Department, is to do everything that we can to make sure that as we engage in those various threats and crisis that we are trying to do our utmost to protect the American people.

Are you yawning? We don't blame you. And we're aware that there are a dozen things that a real interviewer could have picked up on at any point -- not limited to the fact that China is hardly a "rising power." It's been bailing out the US financially for how long now?

But it's that sort of blather that leads reporters to avoid mining Rose's show for any pertinent details or actual news. Which is how they missed the big news that Panetta's ready to mess with service members' retirement packages.

Charlie Rose: So are you saying you draw the line at changing retirement benefits for members of the armed services?

Leon Panetta: You know, having been OMB director and Chairman of the Budget Committee in the Congress, uh, I have always approached, uh, these issues by saying, 'We've got to put everything on the table. We've got to look at everything.' I think that's the way to do it.

Charlie Rose: From retirement benefits to weapons systems, to weapons systems --

Leon Panetta: To weapon systems --

Charlie Rose: -- to making sure that your priority is having mine resistant vehicles, especially --

Leon Panetta: I --

Charlie Rose: -- something that service men --

Leon Panetta: I --

Charlie Rose: -- have been talking about for years.

Leon Panetta: You have to look -- you have to look -- you have to look at everything. You've got to be able to talk it through, you've got to look at those systems. You've got to decide what's important to keep, what's not, you know, important, what reforms can be made. Uh, you know, when you're facing a $400 billion reduction over 12 years, if you're going to do it right, you've got to look at every area.

Panetta will go on to give lip service about the importance that they not "break faith" with those who have served; however, he's already made clear his belief that 'everything is on the table.' Let's hope veterans groups were paying attention.

Though Charlie had no intention to ask about actual breaking news, he did want to know, in general terms, about Iraq. This was Panetta's response:

We are in the process of drawing down our combat forces and I think the president has made clear that we will draw down our combat forces, all of our combat forces, by the end of the year. The real question now is going to be what kind of presence are we, uh, going to continue to have there? Uh, or are we going to continue to have a presence there? Uhm, they have indicated -- the Iraqis have indicated -- President Maliki has indicated, that he does want to have some kind of training assistance uh and so, uh, the-the issue of what that will look like, how many will be there, is something that has to be negotiated with Iraqis.

A real journalist would have followed up here with, "Okay and what about these reports that you're pushing an option to keep 3,000 US troops in Iraq beyond 2011?" But Charlie Rose isn't a real journalist so he followed up with, "What's the influence of Iran today in Iraq?"

A real journalist might have pointed out that supposedly Barack Obama withdrew all US combat forces by August 31st of last year. A real journalist might have pointed out that Jalal Talabani is President of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister. A real journalist might have questioned terms like"trainers" or pointed out that if training were so important, maybe the US shouldn't have, in 2006, stopped the training Iraqi forces were receiving in Jordan?

"Only bastards and cream rise," Paul Newman declares in Harper and we can't think of a better explanation for Charlie Rose. And in his ascension he's bailed on journalism due to the fact that he's deceived himself into believing he's actually been invited to the party. This leads to those embarrassing moments when he and his guests speak around an issue to keep the viewers out. (For one example see our "TV: Charlie Rose by any other name would still be as bad" from 2007.) And it leads him to find ethical lapses amusing.

Last week, for example, he yet again chatted up blow hard Thomas Friedman.

Charlie Rose: Here is the first question though: Why are you quoting Michael Mandelbaum so often in your column? I now know because you talk to him all the time.

Thomas Friedman: The book kind of outed our relationship.

And they laugh.

But should they be laughing? Is it really in the best interest of The New York Times for Thomas Friedman to use his columns as a roll-out for his new book? And to do so without informing the readers?

The paper won't have to answer those questions because, as usual, Charlie didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Friedman last mention of Mandelbaum in a column was September 5, 2010's "Superbroke, Superfrugal, Superpower?" and, prior to that, September 9, 2007's "What's Missing in Baghdad."

Imagine if Charlie spent less time trying to be amusing and more time attempting to be factual.

Then again, don't.

Presumably, the death of Osama bin Laden would qualify as a serious matter to PBS viewers. Were they troubled by the way an exchange with Panetta went down?

Charlie Rose: You had a meeting with the leader of ISI after Osama bin Laden had been killed questions began, arose, are they on who's side? Are you [Rose begins giggling] -- This is not a new question for you.

Leon Panetta: [Laughs along] No, it's not.

Charlie Rose: Okay, what's the answer? I mean, do you believe that this government, the United States government that you represent, has full cooperation with the ISI in terms of the battle in Afghanistan?

Leon Panetta: [Shaking his head "no"] As I've often said, it's a very complicated relationship with the Pakistanis.

Again, we doubt viewers were laughing along. (We weren't.)

Watching Charlie is to realize that you can say anything as a guest because there's no follow up on Charlie's part. The tight ass just can't 'wing it.' So although, for example, Panetta painted a picture of the administration which really left the impression that Barack is the Dead Beat President,the Absentee Leader, over-delegating and under-briefed, forever out of the loop, Charlie had no follow ups.

Charlie Rose is the paid leg who's invited inside because of his (current) position. And when his career is over and the invites dry up, he may have to explain being the court jester when he was presenting to the public as a journalist. If that day ever comes, we doubt he'll find it amusing.

The TelePrompters were lovely

A month ago, Barack wanted the country to know "I have a plan." And he'd present it just as soon as he finished the vacation he was about to start.

Whether he has a plan or not, does he have a clue?

What does it say about the state of the presidency when the president can't deliver a brief speech without reading it off a TelePrompter?

another speech teleprompters

Excuse us, two TelePrompters. Two. Noted with the red arrows.

"Great" speakers are able to speak without props and without aids. Barack is a lousy speaker and will be remembered by such historically.

TV: That Awful Speech

Maybe it was Nancy Reagan and the Reagan Library hosting the GOP debate the night before, but watching Barack Obama's Thursday's speech to Congress, specifically watching Joe Biden behind him, we were struck by how much easier Nancy always made it seem.

She could hear the same lame speech from her husband for the hundredth time but sit within camera range and act attentive and interested and impressed. The Vice President tried to very hard to do that Thursday night. Joe wore a kind of perma-scowl with the edges of his lips curling downward in repose and he'd try to come alive when the President was supposedly making an important and valued point. But all he ever managed was relieved -- as if he was constipated throughout the evening.

another speech 2

Other than that we noted the ocular workout Barack was doing as he went from TelePrompter to TelePrompTer, looking as if he had a front row seat at Wimbledon. But, hey, that side to side rotation is supposed to be just the movement to relieve eye strain.

The eye strain of the one doing it. For those of us watching, we were just left to note how stiff and alien Barack came off.

And how incompetent Barack remains on the economy. Tax cuts for employers do not drive employment. Employers aren't hiring for a number of reasons and chief among them is a lack of trust in the economy and the administration. We spoke to four CEOs on Friday of Fortune 500 companies. Does the proposed tax cut mean they'll hire more employees? No. Their companies will gladly pocket the money but it's not going to mean hiring. Three of the four felt that small employers were the key to hiring and that the only thing that will help there is a focus on loans for small business.

We read US House Rep. Maxine Water's suggestion, floated ahead of the speech at POLITICO, "For example, if the President and Congress were to create an infrastructure bank, we could use small, women-owned, minority-owned and community banks, which disproportionately serve communities of color, to make loans for infrastructure projects with local hiring requirements, rather than the large financial institutions who are disconnected from communities and through the bailout, have shown an unwillingness to lend."

All three felt Waters was right on the money about what was needed. Even the fourth who did not feel small employers were the key to hiring said he thought Waters' suggestion would "significantly reduce unemployment."

All four found Barack's 'proposals' hysterical. 'Proposals'? He kept saying "pass this job's plan" but there was no bill written. There are no details given. With no details and just airy statements like "It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers," the four pointed out that the best way to increase your tax breaks, as an employer, would be to lay off and fire your workers and then hire new ones. Did no one in the White House think of that or think of how stupid it sounded?

Economics professors we spoke with told us repeatedly that it was difficult to judge "goals" as opposed to an actual plan in writing but it seemed obvious that the employers' tax breaks was damaging. "It's as if," one told us, "Obama's trying to bankrupt Medicare and Social Security and then use that as an excuse to gut them."

The more we heard on that, the more our heads spun.

But members of the Cult of St. Barack were smiling and sitting pretty. Take The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild, whom Mike rightly awarded Idiot of the Week to for his 'analysis' of Barack's speech. "Inspiring and Annoying" gushed Matty Rothschild -- a title he might want to dust off should he ever write his life story.

Had George W. Bush proposed gutting Medicare and Medicaid, we're not seeing Matty rush forward to gush about Bush's word choices. But let Barack propose it and Matty's pining and mooning like Betsy Booth eyeing Andy Hardy.

After offering a small bit of criticism (from others), Matty wraps up like the court enuich he is insisting, "I came away from the speech wondering why Obama hasn't been making the affirmative case for government action all along. If he had been, he -- and the country -- would be a lot better off today."

Really? Because what we take away is that 1/5 of the elderly in this country depend upon Medicare to meet their medial needs, that six million elderly would not be able to meet their medical needs without the program, that cuts in Medicare will effect life expectancy and that women will be the hardest hit since they have a longer life expectancy. We took away that there was no concern or care about the over 40% of elderly Americans who currently who live well below the poverty line. We wondered what happens to those with chronic health problems? And the elderly are more likely to have chronic health problems than other age groups.

How interesting that Matthew Rothschild chose to view the speech in the abstract as opposed to his addressing the real world consequences. (No, Matthew, meekly citing others is not you taking on the speech.)

We also registered that a $447 billion 'jobs' plan didn't really offer much for jobs. In fact, less than a fourth of the $447 billion will go to works programs (the infrastructure projects and the teacher and first responder hiring).

But, hey, who can focus on the numbers when they want to groove on their dream lover. In terms of style, Danny Schechter insisted, "The Obama of 2008 was back." Maybe so. Of course, we never got taken in. We never sold our asses like two-dollar whores for Mr. Pretty Lies to begin with. Rather sad to see someone who supposedly woke up lapse back into a coma.

You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies
Just pretty lies
-- "The Last Time I Saw Richard," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Blue

For us, the speech was typical Barack. Not only did his voice crack and he come off weak when he uttered the line "But we can help," but he failed to connect.

Our own Mr. Spock showed a little bit of anger during the speech and, to his boyfriends like Matty and Danny, that was something to cheer. Spock has emotions!

So busy were they dreaming of Barack getting angry on them, pinning them to the bed and having his way with them, that they missed how bad the speech was.

Who was the audience for that speech?

It was supposed to be Americans.

The speech isn't polling well with them.

Why is that?

Could it be because Barack forgot to speak to them until at the end when he gave them a list of chores? Things that his lazy ass needed to be doing.

Maybe Danny and Matty can take their hands out of their pants long enough to realize this is not how you communicate with voters:

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: they don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by – giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college. These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share – where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in awhile. If you did the right thing, you could make it in America.

"They." They?

If you're speaking to us, we expect you to speak to us. "You," "I" and "we" would be terms to use. But for most of his statements it was "they." That's connecting with the people?

If you want to connect with people, you put them first. Instead, Barack put first the person he always puts first (himself), asking moments after beginning the speech, "What will this speech mean for the President?"

Barack gave another bad speech and his fan club tries to tell you it was amazing. It blew chunks in terms of the numbers, it sucked in terms of the style, the delivery was wooden even when Barack attempted to show passion.

Throughout it all, there was Joe Biden, stage right. Trying so hard to look interested but, again, just coming across constipated. One definition of constipation, the one revolving around bowel movements, includes "hard to pass." And we had to wonder if Joe was signaling to the viewers that in spite of Barack's shrill seizure of the plodding phrase "Pass this jobs bill," nothing was really going to happen?

The CIA backed race war

Now that NATO has demonstrated that a gang of the world's richest nations, who collectively account for 70 percent of the planetary arms budget, can indeed, after six months and 20,000 aerial sorties, blast their way into the capital city of a developing country of six million people -- that is, now that the imperial mission is no longer seen to be at jeopardy -- the corporate media are at last willing to acknowledge the racial aspects of the Libyan conflict. As long as the outcome remained uncertain, western correspondents, who had swarmed the rebels like shameless paparazzi since the armed outbreak began in Benghazi in late February, pretended not to notice that their heroes were behaving like rampaging Ku Klux Klansmen. Just as the western press were full partners in NATO's war against the Libyan government, so too were they accomplices in the ethnic cleansing that by early March had already killed many hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans in rebel-held territory -- facts that were known to information outlets all over the world, but largely blacked-out in corporate media reports from Benghazi.

Glen Ford explains the above in "NATO's Glorious Race War in Libya" (Black Agenda Report). A race war is what it's been and Cruise Missile Lefties like Amy Goodman have steadfastly refused to cover that angle while promoting the illegal Libyan War. We've covered it here in a roundtable and it's been covered in the community throughout the Libyan War. But while Amy Goodman's repeatedly made time for those on the CIA payroll to present the company line as the 'left' view, she's avoided the people who have spoken out like Glen Ford and like Cynthia McKinney.

Former US House Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate, didn't just speak out once. She went to Libya and then toured the country this summer on a truth tour. But Amy Goodman wasn't interested in sharing truth with her own audience.

cynthia Cynthia

McKinney was. Speaking at Atlanta's Church of the Black Madonna (click here to hear the speech broadcast on Black Agenda Radio), she noted:

There's one more thing before I have to take my leave of this microphone that I want to report to you. And that is, how in the world are you going to have a Race War on the African continent? [Applause.] Please explain it to me! [Applause continues.] When the American guys land -- well the guys that are not supposed to be there, right? But when the Americans land and they see people who look like me, they say, "Oh! There are African mercenaries!" Well I am here to tell you that Libya is at least 50 to 60% people who look like me. [Applause.] But unfortunately, if there's anything that our government knows how to do it is how to use racism to incite people to do the unthinkable. And so now you have had what I have suspsected, well, maybe it's an identity issue, or is it Arab, or is it Black or is it African or what? But now you've got these people who have called in NATO to bomb their own fellow country people. Now they are killing people who look like me and you. And there is a very real sense of insecurity now because people who look like me have some concern about whether or not some one who looks like some of the people in this audience are going to kill them, are going to lynch them, are going to torture them, are going to murder them? But in the end, I will close with this, and that is, sadly, we are seeing the reintroduction [new imperialism] politics onto the African continent. But who is doing it? The first person to use the word "mercenary" in regards to what is happening in Libya in an official capacity was United States' United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a woman who looks like me. This policy of bombing is being perpetrated by a president who looks like me. And so now I take this personally because I have been blessed to be able to travel all over this planet and everywhere I go, I walk with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [Applause], I walk with Malcolm X [Applause], I walk with all of the great people who have struggled in this country and provided a modicum of dignity in the face of oppression. I walk with them because people understand that Black people in the United States never go along with war. [Applause.] They understand that Black people in the United States sing the song of oppression every day. [Applause.] So now when I go around the world now I have to make excuses for Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice, President Barack Obama and Susan Rice and [deafening Applause] and I am not going to do it any longer! [Loud cheering and Applause] -- I make no excuses [Cheering and Applause] a War Crime committed by George W. Bush is a War Crime committed by President Barack Obama.

And it seems forever ago that Black Star News (via San Francisco Bay View) was noting that "the entire Black population" of Misrata has been driven out of the city by the so-called rebels and cites this Wall St. Journal report where the rebels boast of being "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin."

So consider us unsurprised by Jeremy Sapienza ( reporting Friday, "The news doesn’t get better for thousands of black Africans trapped in Libya, besieged by racist rebel fighters. In addition to chronic suspicion of being mercenaries for Gadhafi, women in one internal refugee camp say they are dragged off at night and raped by Libyans who fight under the flag of the new authorities."

The big question is why so few outlets bother to tell you the truth? We can understand why Juan Cole can't tell the truth, he's banking those CIA checks. Are certain outlets doing the same?

It's a race war in Libya. The CIA's backed 'rebels' that are raping and killing people because of the color of their skin. In ten years time when the world looks back and wonders "HOW COULD IT HAVE HAPPENED?" remember how most outlets stayed silent in real time.


Jim: Roundtable time and if we miss something you wanted noted, our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration.


Jim (Con't): Ava and C.I. will be typing this up, we thank them. We're just recording this and they'll type up the transcript from the recording. They're doing two TV pieces this week. If they finish in time, they'll be joining us for this roundtable.

Ty: First up, a question for Jess from the e-mails. Will e-mails wondering what Jess finds relaxing?

Jess: Honestly? Hmmm. I guess listening to some good music and making seven layer dip. I'm thinking of an evening last week. Slicing the avocados and green onions and tomatoes and mixing the refried beans and hot sauce and the sour cream and taco seasoning, it was just really relaxing.

Mike: Did you have on an album?

Jess: No, I was listening to a mix on the iPod. Some Zeppelin, some Morning Jacket, some Fiona Apple, some Ben Harper, it was a variety of artists.

Dona: Which reminds me of Elaine's "Sleight of Hand."

Elaine: Yeah, I was going to write about the Libyan War but ended up writing about music instead. Which is not to blow off the war but it is to write about something that matters as well. I think music's all we've got these days. I was writing about Carly Simon with a nod to Jack Johnson. I feel we've been let down by so many people -- those of us against the wars -- and I just feel like music is one of the few things that's tangible, that's real. I do understand what Jess is describing. Music can restore my sense of well being on a really bad day. Our supposed 'leaders'? Not so much. I also wrote about music because Trina and I were talking about it before we did our entries that night and she actually wrote about cooking and music "Okra Mix in the Kitchen."

Trina: And I understand what Jess is saying and agree and certainly agree with Elaine. And she's not saying worship Robert Plant or Tori Amos or whomever. She's saying we can trust in their music. And that there's damn little else you can trust in. Tom Hayden? What a whore. What a cheap whore. Leslie Cagan? That bitch is trying to ease back in and pretend like she didn't destroy the peace movement. I'm not in the mood for whores. They have done so much damage to the left.

Stan: You know what else does damage to the left? The bulls**t Doug Henwood thinks makes for radio. Barack Obama gave a speech Thursday night on jobs. Doug Henwood is an economist. Instead of his doing his damn job on Saturday's show, the little bitch thought we wanted another attack on What Republicans Are Really Like based upon what some turncoat has to say. Wake the F**K Up. I don't give a damn what some turncoat has to say. I don't care who they're a turncoat on. There's a world of difference between a whistle blower and a turncoat. I don't trust a Benedict Arnold. But we get to play "Oh, you're so great because you broke free of Republicans." Reality, do your damn job, Doug Henwood, or get the hell off the air. You're supposed to be doing a show based on economics. Instead of getting that, we got a turncoat and more about how Cracker Doug don't believe in no 9-11 conspiracy. Tight ass, shut the f**k up. Truly.

Marica: It's very rare Stan gets this mad.

Jim: Marcia's Stan's cousin, she should know. Stan, you are angry.

Stan: I am. Doug Henwood's an economist. Right now, Ava and C.I. are working on a piece about Barack's speech on the economy. They spent most of Friday night speaking to economic professors, calling friends who are CEOs, and I would hear them repeatedly say, "Walk me through this, I don't understand it." They busted their ass on research and they're not economists. Doug is one and the speech was major -- I think it was all b.s. -- and instead of doing his damn job, he's off on attacks on the Tea Party -- which he's done all along -- and he's attacking the 9-11 Truth Movement.

Jess: I'm with Stan. Doug Henwood needs to stop jerking off and do his damn job. If the president gives a speech on the economy and you're Doug Henwood, you're first priority is to address that. If you're not, you're just jerking off. And, sorry, Doug, I don't want to watch you jerk off.

Jim: I'll add that Ava and C.I. did not want to cover the speech. They made it very clear to me that with Bush, they only covered the Iraq War speeches. They didn't do the economy. I told them I thought we needed it. They agreed under pressure to me and I'm sorry that they had to do so much research. I should have known they would because that is their approach.

Mike: Yeah, they easily spent five hours Friday night alone on this. I mean C.I. did 15 minutes for the Iraq Study Group we have every Friday and she usually willing to go beyond that if people have questions or comments. But she didn't have the time because of the pre-work she and Ava had to do. So she did 15 minutes on Hadi al-Mehdi, the Iraqi journalist who was assassinated in his home Thursday, and she read from some of the e-mails she'd exchanged with Hadi.

Kat: And it was powerful and she was crying at the end, a lot of people were, and as she's walking off, she's on the phone with someone -- an economist or business person -- wiping her eyes and nose and immediately launching into questions on Barack's speech. I had no idea Doug Henwood ignored the speech, but now that I know he did, I share Stan's outrage. I mean Ava and C.I. knocked themselves out Friday night, they spent five hours doing calls on this topic and at least an hour after comparing notes and trying to rough out a basic approach to the topic. And Doug Henwood's an economist and he's taking a pass on the speech. What a little bitch.

Wally: Let me offer a critique on that, on the left response. There was very little. There was a bunch of praise. Ava and C.I. pointed this out Saturday on the plane ride back here, but it was all about style, the so-called left and their response. They didn't want to tackle the realities, the numbers involved. Or what consquences the plan would have -- especially for Medicare and Social Security. And so I share Stan and Kat's disgust with Doug Henwood. It was a chicken s**t move on his part to avoid the speech. And that takes us back to Elaine and Trina's point about how the voices of the left constantly betray us. They're too damn interested in being 'players' and not in providing information. What a bunch of losers. And how disappointing that Doug Henwood elected to become one of those losers.

Ann: I think a larger critique can be made about this being done on every topic. Reporters offer style critiques because it's easier than addressing the issues, addressing the issues requires actual work. Look at any debate, look at last week's GOP debate. Claims are made. Instead of addressing whether they're true or not or what effect they would have on the country, it becomes, "Did Ron Paul and Rick Perry throw down? Who came off better?" This is the pattern over and over. That's not excusing Doug Henwood, I'm sad he's decided to be part of the problem. But this is what happens repeatedly. And I'm also not saying that presentation doesn't matter. It could easily be half the critique and commentary. But no more than half. Instead it tends to be 100%.

Dona: And I agree with Ann that it is part of the equation, but they're not honest even when they're addressing presentation or style and if anyone doubts that they should think about the way Bully Boy Bush got graded by the commentariat. While it's true that he got worse and worse at speaking as he occupied the White House, this is the idiot who before the Supreme Court installed him in the White House couldn't even get "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" right. This is the man whose petty tirades were caught on an open mike when he and Dick Cheney were trashing reporter Adam Clymer. We could list hundreds of examples. The reality is that the commentariat was highly dishonest. So let's not pretend that when they obsess over presentation they're actually doing their job there either.

Betty: I'd agree with that and note that their 'observations' are never surprising -- meaning their 'observations' tend to fit the script that was written before a debate. They fawn over the front runner they love and they trash the ones they don't. They claim they're just providing observations and analysis but they're cherry picking to fit the narrative that they've already selected. And I would argue that if the speech is about the economy and you're an econimist, you've got no reason to grade presentation, you need to jump in and address the proposals themselves. If you don't, you're not doing your job. And the truth is most of them are not doing their jobs. And the failure of so much of the left to rise up against Barack's proposals that will harm Social Security and Medicare goes to the inability of the left to do their job.

Rebecca: It was decided in 2008 that Barack was more important than the people of Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Now the attempt to get The Great Failure four more years means that it's been decided he's also more important than those two groups plus Americans. He has failed to keep campaign promises, he has failed to lead, he has failed to improve the economy. His minions repeat the mantra of "Bush tax cuts!" and that only works (a) your first year in office and (b) when you don't extend those same tax cuts. When the Bush White House tried to blame Bill Clinton, my attitude was, "You wanted the job, do the job and stop your whining and blame games." Barack knew what he was getting into and should have come into office with a bold works program and other necessary things. And whether it was Paul Krugman or Dean Baker or this economist or that, on the left there was full agreement before Barack was sworn in that this was what was needed. He refused to listen. He refused to do what experts said was needed. That was the decision he made. The inability to improve the economy is a result of his actions and he needs to be held accountable.

Marcia: But he won't be and it will be another year of race baiting by a bunch of White people. I'm not letting my own race off, Blacks will race bait to advance Barack as well. But you'll notice Blacks aren't at The Progressive, Blacks don't host Democracy Now! or Flashpoints or this program or that program. It will be the same race baiting as 2008 from the same race baiters -- the same ones, by the way, who've refused to say one word about the targeting of Black Libyans by the so-called 'rebles' in the Libyan War.

Jim: And do you think it will work?

Marcia: No. I don't. I think you can only make charges for so long before people are bored with you. I think that trying that scheme again will end up backfiring and hurting Barack Obama's chances for re-election. Because here's reality -- he got elected the first time. When he was sworn in, polls were at 70% approval. Hope abounded. This same group of Americans suddenly became nasty, vile racists four years later? No, I don't think so.

Isaiah: And I honestly do believe that the race baiting worked in 2008. A lot of White guilt added up to votes for the blank slate. But Barack's not a blank slate this time. He will not have Republicans crossing over, he's obviously lost independents. And you can't lose them in the way he has and then somehow win them back. The independents are gone. He's losing Democrats and one of those stupid Airs at The Nation tried to insist that "progressive" Democrats are still with him. [For critiques of that, see "He leaves tax payers on the hook" and "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O CONTINUES TO FLOUNDER!" & "Ari Mebler tries to punk, get punked instead."] If true, and it's not, the reality is that it takes all Democrats to win and "progressive" Democrats isn't a third of the pie. And I honestly think that idiot for The Nation knew that but thought his article would 'stop the bleeding.' I think whores at The Nation and elsewhere are in a major panic because they've spent three years ridiculing and jeering the Republicans, after insisting that the 2008 election forever changed the map, only to slowly realize that a Republican just might win the 2012 election. They're in a panic. They're pissing their pants as Barack continues to poll in record lows, as Latino support drops to less than half, as even African-American support drops. 80% in one poll and that's 17% lower than in 2009. So, yeah, Barack's in real trouble and we get the whores pretending otherwise thinking that will stop people from talking about just how much trouble he's in.

Jim: Why stop the talking? Why try?

Rebecca: Using the things noted already, I'd say, I'm talking public releations here, the race baiting silenced a lot of criticism of Barack. And it created this wall where jokes couldn't be made about him -- American Dad did an episode where Republican Stan is basically drooling over him but when they did their Bush episode while Bush was in the White House, Hayley was able to rip him apart -- where criticism existed on the margins. And what they created was a public afraid to point out that the emperor wasn't wearing clothes. The polls indicate a scary reality for the likes of Ari Mebler and Ari Berman and all the other little whores because the people are not scared anymore to talk about Barack. They're not afraid saying he's doing a lousy job -- and he's doing a lousy job -- means they're racists. When this gets reported on, when a Congress member like Peter DeFazio out of Oregon -- and a progressive Democrat -- is repeatedly telling the press that his district's support for Barack has declined significantly, it encourages other honesty. And honesty is what kills Barack's re-election chances. Honesty means he's judged by what he did or didn't do. Not how he made a bunch of White writers feel warm inside. And that's why the Aris, the "Airs," show up with their crap. They're lying and they're lying. But they're whores. They whored in 2008 and now they're whoring again. They're not being honest, they're not being journalists, they're being Karl Rove and James Carville but those men were paid to lie when they were running campaigns. So the fear is that the no-criticism mandate they imposed is falling apart a year before the election and that has them running scared.

Jim: Alright. We'd planned to go another way with the roundtable and address e-mails, that didn't happen and that's okay. Dona slid me a note stating Ruth hasn't spoken. So Ruth, your thoughs on what's being discussed?

Ruth: Well we have talked about a number of things. Including the whoring for St. Barack, cooking and truth. So I would just note that when you try to deny the truth, it becomes like keeping a lid on a boiling pot. At some point, that lid is going to pop or the water is going to boil over or you are going to burn the pan. But you will not ever be able to deny what is happening forever. And that is the lesson the Cult of St. Barack should have learned long before 2012 was looming.

Jim: Thank you, Ruth. And Ava and C.I. have just joined us as we are winding down. Ava, you two wrote two TV pieces this week.

Ava: Yes. One is on Barack's speech and that was a pain in the ass to write. It was a pain in the ass to watch as well. We tried to address the economic proposals and we spent a lot of time on Friday and on Saturday asking people what his airy proposal meant. In addition, we addressed the speech itself in terms of the supposed style that had a number of idiots gushing. It was bad on proposals, it was bad on style and we document both in that piece.

Jim: C.I., you also wrote another piece.

C.I.: Leon Panetta was a major force in the news cycle on Tuesday as well as Wednesday and through the week as a result of an option -- one of many -- the White House is considering on Iraq. Tuesday, he taped an interview that aired later that day. And it got ignored. Probably due to the outlet. But that's what Ava and I cover in the other piece, how in that interview he floats a number of things including that veterans retirement benefits are on the table.

Jim: He specifically states veterans retirement benefits?

C.I.: Yes, he does. He says all things are on the table and specifically cites veterans retirement benefits. Besides pointing that out, we include a lengthy passage from his discussion on that topic.

Jim: Okay, so that's going to wrap up this roundtable. This is a rush transcript. Ava and C.I. didn't take notes this time but they did agree to type the whole thing up so we thank them for that.

No justice for Baha Mousa (Simon Basketter)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Inquiry report does not provide justice for Baha Mousa

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Iraqi prisoners in detention at the camp. Photo from evidence submitted to Baha Mousa Inquiry.

Iraqi prisoners in detention at the camp. Photo from evidence submitted to Baha Mousa Inquiry.

by Simon Basketter

An “appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence” by the British army killed Baha Mousa in Iraq.

British soldiers inflicted “violent and cowardly” assaults on Iraqi civilians according to the public inquiry into the killing of Baha Mousa’ published today (Thursday).

It is an indictment of military culture. It shows the vicious treatment received by civilians the army rounded up to interrogate.

Baha died within 36 hours of being taken into British military custody during a raid on a hotel in Basra, Iraq, on 14 September 2003.

He received 93 injuries, including a broken nose and fractured ribs, and died from asphyxia.

Staying tightly within its terms of reference, the report does not say that there was systematic abuse towards Iraqi suspects. It does point out the death of Baha was not a one-off incident.

The retired appeal court judge Sir William Gage puts the blame at individual soldiers and officers as well as on poor internal communications. He condemns “loss of discipline and a lack of moral courage” that meant soldiers did not report the abuse.

Senior commanders were apparently ignorant of a ban imposed in 1972 on the use of five torture techniques, including hooding, stress positions and sleep deprivation.

The hooding was “unjustified and wholly unacceptable”.

“For almost the whole of the period up to Baha Mousa’s death … the detainees were kept handcuffed, hooded and in stress positions in extreme heat and conditions of some squalor,” the report said.

The inquiry heard evidence that prisoners were scalded with boiling water, urinated on, kicked, punched and sleep deprived.

The inquiry was also played a video of one soldier, Corporal Donald Payne, screaming at the prisoners and calling them “fucking apes”.

Payne became the first member of the armed forces to be convicted of a war crime when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians at a court martial in 2006.

Gage calls him a “violent bully”.

The soldiers put on a show where they made the prisoners into a choir—by beating them till they screamed. “Towards the end of the second day they were all in so much pain that he only had to poke them to get them to make a noise,” said former soldier Gareth Aspinall in the evidence. “When visitors came across they also found it funny.”

On one occasion, the soldiers held a “free for all” where a number of soldiers attacked all the Iraqis at once.

This is what “interrogation” meant in occupied Iraq.

The report names 19 soldiers as assaulting prisoners. Though the inquiry has not been able to identify a number of others.

Colonel Jorge Mendonca, the unit’s commander, “bears a heavy responsibility for these events”. Though Gage accepted that Mendonca did not know that the abuse was going on, Mendonca, failed by not knowing “precisely what conditioning involved”.

While highly critical of the evidence of a number of soldiers, and of the lies told about the Iraqis’ detention, Gage ruled that there was no cover-up the death.

After Baha’s killing, the government claimed that hooding of prisoners had stopped, which it hadn’t, and that it wasn’t used for interrogations, which it was.

The report says that while the Ministry of Defence (MOD) provided inaccurate information, neither they, the civil service, nor ministers had intended to mislead.

Instead the inquiry condemns the “corporate failure” by the MOD.

The report provides evidence of training in what are essentially torture techniques, but concludes only that there was a lack of clarity in the way in which restraint techniques are trained.

It argues for better training for what the army refers to as “the harsh approach”. And proposes the army drops teaching methods to ‘‘maintain the shock of capture’’ and ‘‘prolong the shock of capture’’.

The inquiry has shone a light on the brutality of the war in Iraq. But it has left the establishment untouched, the command structure and the politicians blameless. That is not justice for Baha Mousa.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Video showing how British soldier treated Iraqi prisoners

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

The War On Africa (Abayomi Azikiwe)

Repost from Workers World:

Imperialists plot theft of African wealth

Published Sep 8, 2011 7:24 PM

After nearly seven months of war against the North African state of Libya, the combined forces of NATO and its National Transitional Council “rebel” units are tightening their noose around the areas of the country where armed resistance has prevented the counterrevolution from taking over. Those millions of Libyans who remain loyal to the government and are opposing the efforts to loot the national wealth of this oil-producing nation are being pressured to lay down their arms and surrender.

It is being reported that tribal elders supposedly representing the people of Bani Walid agreed to allow the peaceful entry of NATO-backed forces into their city of 100,000 people, which has been loyal to the Gadhafi government. Abdallah Kanshil of the NTC reportedly told the elders, “We won’t go into anyone’s house and we won’t kill anyone.” (Bloomberg News, Sept. 6)

Kanshil’s promise exposes the terrible retribution that has been taking place in other towns and cities where the “rebels” gained ground after heavy NATO bombing of pro-government forces. On Sept. 3, NATO fighter jets had carried out at least 48 airstrikes in and around Bani Walid. Whether the elders who agreed to surrender really speak for the people of the city and whether the NTC will keep its promises remains to be seen.

The battle for Bani Walid has been viewed by the imperialists and their allies as key in their strategic objective of taking control of the central and southwest regions of Libya. These areas are viewed as bastions of defense against the United States and Western European ruling-class plot to seize the natural resources of the country and establish North Africa as a beachhead for imperialist intrigue on the continent.

Roads leading into Bani Walid were blocked by NATO airstrikes that bolstered the armed checkpoints of the rebels. People attempting to leave Bani Walid have been halted, the men being arrested and the women and children sent back into the city in order to face further NATO airstrikes, which targeted fuel depots, water and food storage facilities and other surviving infrastructural resources.

Charles Levinson of the Wall Street Journal, which serves as the voice of the bankers and transnational oil firms that are ecstatic over the prospect of robbing Libya of its vast wealth, indicated on Sept. 5 that the seizure of Bani Walid was essential in consolidating their plans for Libya, a country that contains the largest proven oil reserves in Africa. Before the imperialist-instigated war started on Feb. 17 of this year, Libya produced 1.5 million barrels of oil per day.

Levinson asserted, “If Bani Walid falls, it could help expedite the fall of Sirte, since it would help cut off Sirte’s access to the south, leaving it fully invested by rebel forces from the east, west and south and from North Atlantic Treaty Organization warships at sea to the north.” (WSJ, Sept. 5)

Central role of Pentagon

Since the invasion of Tripoli on Aug. 20-21, various news agencies and publications have acknowledged with quotes from Western government officials that the NTC rebels would not have been successful without the tactical and strategic assistance of special forces units from Britain, France, Canada and the U.S., along with various intelligence agencies, including Britain’s MI6 and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This support for the ground movements of the rebel forces was even more essential in the assault on Tripoli.

While NATO ostensibly took over control of the war against Libya on March 31, the indispensable role of the U.S. was further confirmed in a statement made by NATO figurehead Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The NATO chief remarked: “European Allies and Canada led the effort. But this mission could not have been done without capabilities which only the United States can offer.” (Azerbaijani Press Agency, Sept. 5) He added: “Let me put it bluntly: those capabilities are vital for all of us. More Allies should be willing to obtain them. That is a real challenge. And we will have to find the solutions at the next NATO Summit in Chicago.”

NATO and the G8 imperialist states will be holding a joint summit May 15-19, 2012, in Chicago, a city severely impacted by the current capitalist world economic crisis. Activists are planning to organize protests and a countersummit to expose the criminal actions of NATO and the economic policies within the capitalist states, where millions of jobs, homes, health care and pension plans have been taken away from the workers.

A recent meeting convened by the United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC) at the Kent School of Law in downtown Chicago drew activists from various organizations across the U.S. and Canada to respond to the NATO-G8 Summit invasion in May. Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is a Democrat and the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, who began his political career in Chicago. The authorities in the “Windy City” say they are prepared to arrest thousands of activists during protests surrounding the summit.

Paris conference held to carve up Libya

Another meeting called and sponsored by the Western imperialist states seeking to dominate Libya was held in Paris on Sept. 1. This date also represented the 42nd anniversary of the Al-Fateh Revolution that brought Col. Moammar Gadhafi to power in 1969.

The Paris conference was designed to foster the idea that the NTC rebels are the “legitimate” government of the country. The major players in the Paris meeting have recognized the NTC, as has the currently Western-dominated Arab League.

Conflicting reports emanated from the Paris conference on what amount of oil and other resources each imperialist state would take from Libya. In addition, ongoing resistance by the people in Libya against the neocolonial takeover of their country could very well require the presence of U.S. and NATO military forces indefinitely.

According to a Russian news network, “This foreign military and advisory presence may turn Libya into another puppet regime where the oil pipes and stations — in which Western companies have a vested interest — may become a separate kingdom within a ‘kingdom’ to be protected by international troops in the Western importers’ interests.” (, Sept. 1)

Yet the African Union, the continental organization of 54 member states, has refused to recognize the NTC as the government in Libya, despite tremendous pressure from the U.S. and other NATO countries. The AU has consistently called for a negotiated settlement in Libya and the withdrawal of foreign forces.

The AU maintains that the NTC does not represent the people of Libya and has been placed in authority by the NATO states. It has continued to draw attention to the NATO-backed forces’ systematic abuse of Black Libyans and Africans from other countries who live and work in this North African state.

A Sept. 1 New York Times article reported, “This is a dangerous time to be a black African in Libya.” The article exposed the imposition of racist norms within Libya as a result of the imperialist war by pointing out that dark-skinned people have been arrested, beaten, tortured and killed by the NTC and its supporters.

At detention centers set up by the U.S.- and NATO-supported rebels in al-Zawiya and Tripoli, up to one-half of the people being held come from other African states. The Associated Press reported, “Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted Moammar Gadhafi.” (AP, Sept. 1)

Also, at least two African states have condemned the racism carried out by the NTC rebels and their Western supporters in NATO. During late August, gunmen sprayed the Kenyan Embassy in Tripoli with bullets and attempted to rape a Libyan woman working at the building. Kenya Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Richard Onyonka said that all dark-skinned people were being linked to Gadhafi by the NTC. (The Standard, Sept. 1)

Later the Arab League objected to Kenya having any involvement in a United Nations plan to dispatch a stabilization force into Libya.

Another East African state, Tanzania, has backed the AU decision not to recognize the NTC rebels as the government of Libya.

These developments in both the AU and the Arab League must be viewed within the context of the economic and political dominance of the imperialist states over the governments of oppressed and post-colonial nations. All of these states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America are constantly under threat of destabilization and military assault.

Challenges for anti-war movement in U.S.

It is even more crucial during this period that the anti-war and peace movements develop and maintain a solid anti-imperialist view of developments in Libya and throughout the regions of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The worsening economic crisis within the capitalist states is propelling the ruling class to escalate the war drive against the oppressed nations and to intensify the exploitation and repression of working people inside these Western countries.

What workers and the oppressed are learning in the present period is that there is no benefit for the masses when their governments wage war on other peoples throughout the world. As the “war on terrorism” evolved during the last decade, tens of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in social wages have been taken away by the bankers and bosses.

Working people cannot accept any aspects of the lies and propaganda that are generated by the Pentagon and Wall Street to build public support for their wars in Central Asia, Iraq, Palestine and Libya. The imperialists have no right to wage war and to expropriate the wealth of the oppressed nations.

Even though the corporate media have attempted to generate support for the wars being waged by the U.S. government against various nations and peoples around the world, public enthusiasm for the assaults on Libya has remained nonexistent. Most people realize that the real struggle is against the bourgeoisie in the U.S., which has generated the economic turmoil that is forcing joblessness, poverty, social destruction and death on the world.

It will be the movement and organization of the workers and farmers that can effectively arrest imperialist war and capitalist plunder. These movements in order to succeed must take on an anti-imperialist and proletarian internationalist character to ensure the total freedom of humanity.

Those Iraq War 'media critics' and their tired retreads

Jim: A great piece by C.I. that we're including this week via repost.

Those 'men' of The Nation magazine and their tired retreads

Heaven save us all from the media critics that think the work required ended around 2003. I hate stupid almost as much as I hate lazy. Let's start with Greggers apparently reeling from another pot-induced high, Greg Mitchell realizes he bit off more than he could chew and "updated" his column -- with "Updated" in the title -- to make a few changes -- none of which are documented in any notes to the column -- including the fact that he promised he'd return to the topic with another column on Thursday. That promise gets dropped and forgotten. But, hey, if he had any real drive, Editor & Publisher wouldn't have been run into the ground under his 'leadership,' now would it?

Now Greg works in the beggar media -- where all the failed and failures run to. I guess when your actual work isn't considered to have any market value, you just stand on the street corner and beg and beg and beg and beg some more.

"Send us money! We're doing wonderful work! Look at me Greg Mitchell! Live blogging WikiLeaks!"

Every time he insists he's live blogging WikiLeaks I feel like I'm seeing an elderly man attempting to act 'hip' and 'with it' by saying, "You kids like the rap, right? You down with Tone Loc, right? He's all the rage now, right?"

Can no one explain to the old fool that live blogging is something you do, for example, from a courtroom or during a speech. Or look at Katharine Q. Seelye's strong live blogging for the New York Times during the 2004 presidential debates. That is live blogging an event.

Writing every day about press coverage of an issue isn't live blogging.

Yes, Greg Mitchell, you are alive and you are blogging. But "live blogging" has its own requirements and you've yet to meet them despite your ridiculous claims.

A friend at The Nation called late yesterday -- shortly after I finished dictating the snapshot -- and asked why I was on a tear against The Nation? I said to read the snapshot when it went up because it had more on The Nation. Then I explained that I couldn't believe that the crap repeated on the Sunday chat & chews now showed up in text form at The Nation. Its had highs and lows, peaks and valleys before, but the magazine has never been as useless or as trashy as it is today. The circulation has rightly crashed -- look for Greggers and others on street corners with donation cans shortly -- and they've betrayed everything they supposedly stood for.

As if their repeating of stale talking points wasn't bad enough, grasp that Greg Mitchell boasts in his Wednesday column that this is just part one and that part two is coming tomorrow and then, apparently, spends most of Thursday doing bong hits before deciding, "I'll remove my promise from the column and call it an 'update'." No wonder he can't get work at a real outlet.

The Nation's AlterPunkyBrewster emerges from beneath his rock as well. It's been years since we last walked in the wasteland that is Eric Alterman's thinking cap (see Elaine, Rebecca and my "From the Mixed-up Mind of Eric Alterman" from July 2006 -- a reply to Eric Alterman's bullying e-mail to Elaine). I can't remember now, had he already been dropped from the only real outlet that carried his work?

I do remember his public raging over being dropped by MSNBC.

Why should they traffic in his garbage?

When not attacking Noam Chomsky and others who qualify as his "betters," little Alter Punky likes to pretend he's a media critic just like Greg Mitchell.

They're both frauds and fakes.

In fact, if Eric Alterman is remembered in 20 years for anything other than announcing his official conversion to the right wing, it will be for his attack on Noam and, no, it won't be applauded, it'll be another example of Eric's attempt to prove he's better than everyone else that only demonstrated that he suffers from some cognition failure.

Eric and Greg share so many traits you sort of picture them circling one another on all fours and sniffing each other's ass.

One of their big traits -- which makes them so perfect for The Nation magazine -- a sexist institution that ran 491 male bylines in 2006 and only 149 female bylines -- is that they hate women while pretending otherwise. The absence of women from their praise circles is always the hallmark of their work.

On those rare times when the sunken chest boys do utter a woman's name, it's to trash her. So Judith Miller pops up and, in Eric's piece, he mentions Peggy Noonan and a woman I've never heard of (which doesn't mean she's not important to the right, just that I haven't obsessed over her the way Eric Alterman clearly has). Both men have published repeatedly on the topic of who was in right in 2002 and 2003 and both men have repeatedly failed to notice the women who were right. But if they couldn't make it an all boys club, then they probably wouldn't be members, right? I mean if membership required actual qualifications and not just gender identifcation, neither one of these embarrasing 'men' would make the cut, would they?

At American Progress, Eric wants to rage against Bill Keller as well.

Is it the anniversary of the Iraq War?

I mean, I'm busy with an actual life and actual work to end the Iraq War so maybe I got confused about the month or year. But I thought the Iraq War started in March 2003. And, generally speaking, the garbage that Greg and Eric have trotted out only shows up at that time of the year. You know, when writers feel shamed into it, feel they have to churn out something on Iraq? They haven't paid attention enough to the ongoing war to have a fresh thought or insight, so it just drop back to the overtilled ground of 2002 and 2003.

I'm sick to death of their little Golden Book 'history' lessons. Reality, Bill Keller didn't campaign for the US Congress in 2006. Reality, Bill Keller didn't say, "Give me control of just one house of Congress and I'll end the Iraq War."

I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in repeated columns pretending to address the Iraq War that do nothing but obssess over the lead up to the Iraq War. I know what it was like. Unlike the sunken chest boys, I was out on the road before the war started speaking out to college groups about the war. I faced the jeering, I faced the booing, I faced the charges of not being aware or of not caring enough about Iraq or whatever other crap they wanted to throw your way. And I did so outside of the fishbowl that is NYC. I faced down the detractors and the idolation of the Bully Boy Bush (just as in 2009 and 2010, I faced down the Cult of St. Barack).

I don't and haven't seen the need to drop back to 2002 and 2003 and scream, "I was right!" But that's all Greg Mitchell and Eric Alterman have to offer when it comes to supposedly writing about Iraq.

It's an ongoing, illegal war. And supposedly both 'men' are media critics. And never has Iraq received so little attention from the press. But all these two 'men' can offer us, in 2011, is a look back at 2002 and 2003 and cries of "I was right!"

And their 'writing' exists to pimp the lie that the Iraq War goes on today because of the roll out in 2002 and early 2003. That's not why.

There was nothing to prevent John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Party's presidential nominee, from robustly denouncing the Iraq War. Instead, we got "John Kerry, reporting for duty." And in that pompous moment, pay attention, that's how the GOP was able to disgrace him and tear apart his military record. He looked like such a fool, such a wooden fool. And I know John but that's reality deal with it. There was nothing to prevent the ending of the Iraq War in 2007. That's when, following the 2006 mid-terms, Democrats now controlled both houses of Congress. Voters put them in charge of both houses and the party failed to do a damn thing.

Nancy Pelsosi (who I know and who does represent my district) is correct that Harry Reid in the Senate ensured that none of the attempts by the House got very far. But she's incorrect when she claims that's all she could have done as Speaker of the House. All they ever had to do was cut off funding. Didn't even take a majority for that, just took a filibuster. Former US Senator Mike Gravel went around schooling the nation on that in 2007 and 2008.

There were other things that could have been done. With control of both houses of Congress, their could have been public hearings on the lies of the administration. Democrats didn't want to do that either. Excuse me, elected Democrats didn't do it because Congressional Democratic leaders didn't want to do it, fearful that it might hurt 2008 election prospects. Democratic voters strongly favored hearings and, yes, impeachment of Bush.

Maybe on November 7th, Greg and Eric can write about that?

Of course, they won't. They work for The Nation where never a discouraging word is heard that holds the Democratic Party accountable.

The Nation that decries Abu Ghraib -- or did when George W. Bush occupied the White House -- and the 'few bad apples' theory makes it a point to repeatedly tell you the problems today within the Democratic Party are just a few bad apples. Really?

The billions that the 2012 election will cost is a few bad apples? Barack killing off public financing in 2008 (becoming the first post-Watergate presidential candidate for one of the two major parties to turn down public financing in the general election) is a few bad apples?

It's not the whole damn tree, it's not the whole damn system?

Oh, good. If it's just a few bad apples, The Nation can keep telling us that and we can work real hard -- like in 2006 with Joe Lieberman? -- to get them out of the Democratic Party and then all will be right in the land.

That is what is so offensive about the crap that oozes out of the heads of Greg and Eric. It's nonsense, it's distraction.

With little help from The Nation magazine, the American public woke up in 2005 and turned firmly against the Iraq War. Give credit to Cindy Sheehan for her strong work on that -- though The Nation didn't. They largely ignored her (one cover story when all the media was covering Cindy does translate as ignoring). And then remember what happened? Cindy ran against Nancy Pelosi in 2008 because the Democrats refused to live up to the 2006 mid-term campaign promise of ending the Iraq War.

The Nation, briefly courting the anti-war camp that was rising up around the country, had done an editorial -- a poorly written one, granted, but they don't really have writers at that magazine -- saying that they wouldn't vote for any candidate who wasn't for ending the Iraq War. They were so proud of that editorial that they put the opening of it on their cover. No photo, just text.

But that was then. Once Dems were in power in 2007, that editorial was forgotten. And when Cindy took the spirit of that editorial and decided to run for Congress to hold Nancy accountable, what was the reaction from The Nation?

Well, for one thing, Katha Pollitt finally mentioned Cindy Sheehan.

Katha's a damn liar. She's on Journolist telling everyone how formidable Sarah Palin is (after Palin gives her speech at the GOP convention in 2008) but this columnist, this opinion writer, never shares that opinion with the audience she's paid to share with. What a damn liar.

And there she was in 2008 attacking Cindy. But telling you (lying) that she was a huge fan of Cindy's, a huge supporter, and thought Cindy had done great work. She had a monthly column in the magazine and an online blog at the magazine (as well as her own blog) and yet she'd never written about Cindy before. In the summer of 2005, there was no great media story than Cindy. But Katha never found time. 'Feminist' Katha never found time in three years to write about Cindy Sheehan, a working class woman who became a national leader. A 'feminist' never found time to write about this woman.

But there was Katha in 2008, finally writing about Cindy for the first time, in order to attack her for deciding to run for Congress (specifically for running against Nancy).

[Added 9-11-2011: Word drifts back from The Nation that Katha is enraged by the above and has caught me in an error -- her attack on Cindy was in August 2007, not 2008. I stand corrected. Thank you to Katha Pollitt for catching that error. And my apologies for the error.]

You really think The Nation magazine has any ethics?


I believe it's Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign (could be the 1984, I try to block out all things Reagan -- as Bette Davis used to say, "He was a lousy actor and he's a worse president.") that FAIR and other media critics like to go to town on George Will for. It was 1980. And George Will prepped Ronald Reagan pre-debate and then went on ABC where he praised Reagan's performance and didn't reveal that he'd prepped Reagan.

Myself, I find that to be a huge ethical violation.

But in 2009, I didn't add Melissa LieFace Harris-Lacewell-Perry to my staff. The Nation magazine did. LieFace started working for Barack's campaign in 2007. LieFace went on The Charlie Rose Show in 2008 and 'forgot' to disclose that she was working for a campaign. She was part of a panel of journalists (though she herself was not a journalist) and presented as an analyst not affiliated with any campaign. She made two appearances on Democracy Now! in January 2008. On the first, she was just an analyst in New Hampshire. One who just happened to praise Barack's speech like crazy. It was only the next week, while enraged at her own White parent (that she was then hiding) and snarling at Gloria Steinem that LieFace let it slip that she was working for Barack's campaign.

Those are disclosures. You are supposed to make them. If we believe in ethics, if we're not just trying to score points against George Will and work the refs, then we call out Melissa LieFace Harris-Lacewell-Perry-Whatever It Is Two Years From Now. But The Nation magazine didn't call her out. In 2009, they hired her. Because ethics don't matter. (For more on that, for helping Barack write a speech and then showing up at The Huffington Post to praise that speech the day after it's delivered while 'forgetting' to disclose you helped write the speech, see "Emory University, address your ethics problem.")

Greg and Eric write about Iraq this week not because they give a damn about the issue (if they cared about the Iraq War, they'd cover it and they wouldn't have to drop back to 2002 and 2003 to write about it) but because they want to take on Bill Keller. Neither is up for the job and that's why they are in Panhandle Media as opposed to at a real outlet.

Bill Keller's never going to take accountability for what he did. That's part of what makes Bill Keller so sad. He's unable to grow, he's unable to learn from any experience. It's sad. But grandstanding on a topic you don't even give a damn about is pretty pathetic as well.

Considering that both Greg and Eric have ignored the Iraqi protests all these months, they must think their audience is pretty stupid to show up this week with their bad pieces supposedly on Iraq. A war's going on, an illegal war. It hasn't ended, just the interest of elements of the faux left. In March each year, I can usually ignore the bad writing and accept that bad writers are dusting off their yearly Iraq War pieces. In September when protests are starting back up in Iraq, when Barack Obama is trying to extend the Iraq War, when the country remains open to the threat of a pandemic, when big oil believes it's finally moving in to Iraq, when journalists opposed to Nouri are targeted and assassinated, I'm not really in the mood for a bunch of little boys to tell me how brave they were eight years ago.

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