Sunday, September 25, 2011
This accounts for the fact that although the Democratic presidential candidate won his nomination by telling voters he opposed the war in Iraq, by the time he sewed up that nomination, he was appearing on the Bill O'Reilly show to praise the war in Iraq and endorse the Cheney-Bush “surge”. It explains why candidate Obama, after promising (but mostly only before labor audiences) to renegotiate NAFTA, walk a picket line and pass legislation that would make more unionization possible, president Obama pushed to extend “free trade” agreements everywhere, cracked down on federal workers, demonized teacher unions and more. It explains why Obama literally claims to walk in Martin Luther King's footsteps when it suits him --- on the campaign trail he declared himself “Joshua” to Dr. King's “Moses” --- but manages to ignore black unemployment and mass incarceration, the wave of foreclosures which are inordinately concentrated among nonwhite households, and maintains the US position as in King's words “...the number one purveyor of violence in the world today.”
-- Bruce Dixon, "Barack Obama VS Those Craaazy Republicans: Is He the Lesser Evil, or the More Effective Evil?" (Black Agenda Report).
Another late 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,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
What did we come up with?
That's what we ended up with. And for those who missed it, shortly after the note went up last Sunday, Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The backlash whines 'poor men'" went up as well.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
While insisting they support the Arab Spring and giving empty lip service to the concept of human rights, the White House is still backing up Nouri al-Maliki, a thug who it seems is exposed each year for running secret prisons in Iraq where dissidents are tortured. Each time he's caught, Nouri claims it was somehow unknown (even though the secret prison was under his command) and promises that it will never, ever happen again.
But it always happens.
Know what else seems to always happen? Since February, if you protest for a better Iraq, you stand a good chance of being beaten up, tortured, and kidnapped in public. Most recently, the Great Iraqi Revolution reports, that was activist Sanaa Aldulaimi.
While the White House publicly lectured other countries about not oppressing dissent, they never said a word as Nouri ordered protesters attacked, as Nouri ordered journalists covering protests attacked, as Nouri let his thug flag fly.
They were more than okay with it.
Why is Nouri al-Maliki prime minister?
That's the question the world should be asking.
Following the 2005 parliamentary elections, Iraq's MPs were told, by the US government, that Nouri was the only one they (the US government) would agree to. So in April of 2006, he was declared prime minister-designate. He ignored the Constitution (Article 140 was supposed to be implemented by the end of 2007), he ignored the Parliament (at the end of 2006, he extended the UN occupation mandate without consulting them but he promised it wouldn't happen again; at the end of 2007, he did the exact same thing) and he ignored the will of the people and lied to them (in 2008, he promoted the continuation of the occupation and war by backing the Status Of Forces Agreement and then lied to the people of Iraq swearing that, by the summer of 2009, there would be a referendum on the SOFA and the Iraqi people would decide).
The US is how he became prime minister in 2006.
How did he become it in 2010?
As the 2009 provincial elections indicated, Iraqis were moving away from sectarian rule. Nouri saw the way the winds were blowing and used the Justice and Accountability Commission (a commission that was supposed to have expired) to label opponents Ba'athists and push them out of the 2010 elections. He pulled a lot of stunts but, March 2010, Iraqis went to the poll and despite some in the press (Quil Lawrence of NPR, for one) predicting he would win by a huge majority and despite somein the press (Quil again) declaring that he was the clear winner by a wide margin (Quil delivered that 'news' while votes were still being counted and would continue to be counted for days and days), Nouri's political slate (State of Law) didn't come out on top.
Even after Nouri stomped and threatened and got the Electoral Commission to toss him some more votes, his political slate still wasn't the winner.
The winner was Iraqiya. The head of Iraqiya is Ayad Allawi and, per the Constitution, Allawi had first crack at forming a Cabinet and being prime minister-designate.
Nouri wasn't having it and instituted Political Stalemate I, bringing the government to a standstill for months and months and months.
What ended Political Stalemate I?
The US brokering an agreement (the Erbil Agreement) with the political blocs. The Kurds would get (among other things) Article 140 of the Constitution followed (which determines the fate of oil rich Kirkuk). They would also get to retain the post of president (Jalal Talabani). State of Law would get the post of prime minister. The winner? Iraqiya? They'd get the Speaker of Parliament post (Osama al-Nujaifi) and Ayad Allawi would head a newly created commission on national security.
This was agreed to and signed off on by all the political blocs.
And Nouri became prime minister-designate and moved on to prime minister and Iraq entered Political Stalemate II as Nouri then disregarded the Erbil Agreement.
Nine months later, the Kurds and Iraqiya are up in arms. Sometimes Moqtada al-Sadr is up in arms. (Last week, he referred to Nouri al-Maliki's attack on a Member of Parliament as the sort of behavior one expects from a dictator.)
And supposedly the political blocs are going to iron it out.
But, uh-oh, turns out the US is going to oversee that. Which means "Iraqiya and the Kurds on the verge of being screwed over again."
It's past time Iraqis told the US to butt the hell out. Not just in terms of pulling ALL US forces out of Iraq but also in terms of forever attempting to rescue their installed-puppet Nouri.
"You watch," an SNL alumni was telling us and another SNL alumni at a post-Emmy party last week, "Seth Meyers is going to show the same spine Jon Stewart is and Saturday Night Live is going to again be worth watching."
"Without false hopes," as Lily Tomlin once observed, "the economy would collapse." Oops. It has. But you'd never know that by watching Saturday Night Live.
The cold open featured idiotic 'jokes' about sound effects and alleged spoofs of politicians which had little to do with the actual candidates. You also had Alec Baldwin doing a lousy impression of Rick Perry, the voice was too high and the accent got lost somewhere in Alabama, never making it down to the Lonestar State. The whole skit was so bad it was as though Laugh In had never aired, as though Nichols & May had never broken through, as though the TV censored Don Rickles remained the height of comedy.
In last week's actual GOP debate, there was a comedy gold mine. But you'd have to do the work which means (a) watching and (b) writing actual jokes that had something to do with the politicians.
We remembered how Michelle Obama made many embarrassing statements in 2007 and 2008 and Saturday Night Live never said peep. The same with fake Elizabeth Edwards (who, please remember, felt the need to imply that Hillary made the wrong choices and had an unhappy life because of it -- unlike her and her faithful husband John). Because apparently spouses were off limits unless they had been president (Bill Clinton). We remembered that because they did a little 'joke' about Michele Bachmann's husband being gay. If you're asking, "What?" Well, you get your news from the news not from The Young Turks and Think Progress. And though they are always the first to howl that someone went too far on Barack, they are always the first to poke their depraved noses into a married couple's personal life. It was appalling to see Alec Baldwin take part in that skit, Alec who had so passionately and frequently called out Kenneth Starr's prurient interest in Bill Clinton's sex life.
You might also wonder why the skit strived to portray Michele Bachmann as horny but then you'd remember Seth writes this crap. He sexualized Sarah Palin, why wouldn't he do the same with Bachmann?
Crap was all it was. They brought Alec on Weekend Update to play Tony Bennett. We groaned because Tony got battered all last week. But we had no need to fear, topical is not something Seth can handle. So the overly long skit never referenced Tony's remarks about 9-11 or about the Iraq War and what Bully Boy Bush allegedly told Tony. That's when it starts to hit you that even topical is beyond Seth's range.
The rest of the show was not just useless, it was repeats restaged. You got a parody of a war movie -- again. You had a game show -- again. You had film auditions -- again. Including one by Alan Alda -- again. You had a commercial parody -- again. All that last one did, was demonstrate that Gilda Radner had much better writers when she did the perfume parody "Hey You" than Krirstin Wiig has for "Red Flag." Also true, hatred of women wasn't as strong back then.
As the 40 or so minutes that weren't commercials or music filled the 90 minute bloc, they decided to note All My Children. The long running daytime drama went off the air Friday, after forty-one years. The skit could have been funny. It opened with 'Susan Lucci' (Vanessa Bayer) toasting others but this show isn't really about the women these days. So Lucci had nothing to do. Instead it was avery lame attemptat parodying a soap opera -- a lame attempt apparently not written by anyone who'd ever watched an actual soap opera.
Alec Baldwin's watched a few. He was even in the cast of one, The Doctors, on NBC. On that show, he was involved with a woman who was actually the mother of the woman he thought he was actually romancing. So you'd think he would have said, "This skit is lame and not really about All My Children. Is there a way that we could do a skit about AMC? Instead of just dusting off tired jokes and squeezing them into this generic skit?"
Alec's refusal to make that, or similar, statements goes a long way towards explaining how last night's was the worst of the 16 broadcasts he's hosted. Explaining even more is that Seth Meyers remains the head writer.
Meyers, who turns 38 before year's end, is not just too old for Weekend Update, he's too stupid. Around the time he started making stale jokes about Bill Gates' haircut, viewers might have been forgiven for wondering if this was a repeat broadcast from the 90s?
But the big puzzling is being done in the suites of NBC. That's where execs are trying to figure out what the hell is going on? The most popular hypothesis is that Lorne Michaels has just lost interest in the show. Leaving aside his original run with the show, no one can think of a season where not a single new person was added to the cast. There's also the fact that NBC thinks the cast is too old. For example, Jimmy Fallon became a star on SNL and, as the suits point out, he left the show when he turned 30 whereas, last night, you could play "Oh, Look Who's Balding" with several male performers. It's felt that, at 33, Andy Samberg should be the senior performer and surrounded by a host of people in their 20s and that, if Lorne weren't so bored with the show, that's exactly what would be happening, that and John Mulaney would be headwriter.
But the opinion we were most interested in was from our false hopes friend, the SNL alumni. Did he find it funny? "Well . . .," he started before bumping into a long pause, "all good things come to an end." True. But SNL hasn't qualified as "good" for some time.
Are Burnett and the Cult willing to walk away, willing to close the door?
Burnett doesn't even raise the prospect and elsewhere these Cult members only speak of things like, "I won't campaign as vocally, but he'll still have my vote" or "I won't donate as freely . . . but he'll still get my vote!"
Do the jack asses understand tough love?
We're not supporting the practice or endorsing it.
But if you're going to put it in play, you can't be codependent or an enabler.
Tough love is setting limits. It is saying, "If you do this, you've gone too far."
But as far as Burnett and other Cult members are concerned, that's it.
No, it isn't.
"Tough love" says actions have consequences -- hence the "tough."
When it became popular, at the end of the eighties and the start of the nineties, tough love was something some parents were encouraged to do with adolescent children with substance abuse problems.
For example, if the teenager was doing cocaine, the response wasn't, "You do cocaine and you've gone too far and we will be talking about it in the morning!" The response was, "You do cocaine and you're out of the house. Don't bother coming back."
The child may beg and may plead for forgiveness and may have no where else to go. Your child. Out on the street. Put out on the street by you. That's what made it "tough" love.
But in the minds of the Cult of St. Barack, just saying "Barry don't!" becomes enough because they've spent nearly three years enabling everything that to suddenly pipe up with an objection is a major strain for them.
They can pretend all they want, but they are not setting limits and they are not practicing tough love. Until they're ready to set down some consequences and, most importantly, to follow implement those consequences if behaviors don't change, they're just codependents enabling their own abuse.
For fourteen amazing tracks, Tori Amos' Night of Hunters proves she never stops surprising and never stops digging for deeper truths and meanings. It's like nothing you've ever expected but somehow you always wanted.
Right now, it's available at Amazon.com for download at $7.99. That's a sale price and will go up soon.
He'll play a Beatles tune me more a Bach fugue
Is there such a great divide
between your world and mine?
They both can purify and heal
what was cut and bruised
-- "Your Ghost," written by Tori Amos.
We feel for Pope Benedict XVI.
How sad it must be to love another man and to love your job and to have the two in conflict.
We look forward to the day when the headline instead reads, "Catholics kiss my ass, he's my man, Pope says."
Benedict may have to give up the head-dress, but we're sure he'll be happier.
Reader Christopher reminded us that we used to do book pieces all the time and note the importance of libraries. "Seems like that's needed now more than ever," he wrote. We agree. So this feature kicks off ten books of the last ten years you shouldn't miss.
If your public library doesn't have the book in their collection, remember most libraries are partners in Interlibrary Loan programs which allow them to pull a book from another library's collection. So if a book interests you but isn't in your public library's collection, speak with the front desk or a reference librarian to determine if a special request can be made for it.
In 1992, Tori Amos took the music scene to another level with Little Earthquakes. Last week, she released her latest album, Night of Hunters (Kat reviews it here). Along the way, she's blazed a trail that few can follow. As we observed when picking her American Doll Posse tour at the tour of 2007:
While the bulk of those still around who achieved fame or semi-fame during the period known as "alternative rock" suffer through one identiy crisis after another (should I be a solo? part of a super group?) as they attempt to chase down whatever might hand them a hit, Tori Amos has repeatedly stood up for art.
And that dedication raises interest in the artist's story. Fortunately, Tori Amos and co-author (rock critic for NPR and The Los Angeles Times) Ann Power produce a book that meets the stakes and raises them with Piece by Piece.
Each album I've made represents a period in my vocal development. In Earthquakes, if you listen to the singing, there is a consistency, mainly because I was continually having to find my inner voice. Venus is very consistent -- to me, there's a real beauty throughout the album with the vocal. By then I could move into anger and out of it instead of experiencing it as an uncontainable emotion. On Pele I'm almost, you know, burning up. Whereas now, if I wanted to represent a woman in flames, I would detach myself, study it, make the needed shifts, and move the hands on my clock so that I could step into anger without being burned up. Pele is really where I think the voice unleashed. And sometimes in a way that wasn't contained. Once I found it, I could move on to temperance. At different times, you write different music for your voice and for you as a player, but you also write music that you can emotionally contain. Your soul -- your psyche -- what makes your inner world a wasteland or fertile or both, is the deciding factor in what will make up your song garden. With Choirgirl, after the Pele thing. I wasn't in a bloodletting place. I had lived that. There's a lot more containment -- I was tracking with musicians who were really skilled, and I needed to be spot on. With Pele I was also in a church, so you can imagine what was going on there -- talk about an exorcism, praise Jesus. It was about time. This girl was finding here Kundalini and letting it come forth right at the alter of the church where they would have their sacred communion. I was able to have sacred communion, finally, with the Feminine in the place where she had been circumcised. That's one reason for the haunting background vocal in "Caught a Light Sneeze," "Inanna Inanna Inanna bring your sons"; it was such a resurrection for she who is Mrs. God, right there in the church. With Choirgirl, and later with Venus, I was home. There was time to let the wife, the lover, the friend, catch up with the part of my woman who was living in these song realms. If your human woman doesn't catch up with what's happening in the song world, then you can't imprint this knowledge and thread it into your living tapestry.
From touring to motherhood, from spirituality to having to get two negative crew members in line, from creation to production, it's all here.
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray applauded the passage of H.R. 2646, the Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act of 2011. This bipartisan legislation will allow for new construction projects in five states and and will allow programs to operate uninterrupted, including vital assistance to homeless veterans. The bill also includes approval for upgrades at the VA Medical Center in Seattle.
"VA has worked tirelessly to get veterans off the streets and into housing. Their efforts are commendable, but there is still work to be done," said Senator Murray. "H.R. 2646, as amended, contains critical extensions to many of VA's programs to end homelessness among veterans. Our nation's veterans have sacrificed much in their service to this country, we must make sure they receive the care and benefits they earned."
"I'm also delighted that this bill would allow VA to begin a $51.8 million project to seismically strengthen the nursing tower and community living center at the VA Healthcare System in . It is vital that this building be upgraded so that the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System can continue to deliver world-class healthcare to veterans in a safe environment."
Specifically, the Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act of 2011 will:
· Allow for seismic corrections for Building 100 at the VA Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, in an amount not to exceed $51.8 million;
· Authorize job-creating infrastructure improvements to VA's facilities;
· Authorize increased funding for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which provides prevention and rapid rehousing assistance for homeless veterans;
· Authorize increased funding for the Grant and Per Diem program, which provides transitional housing assistance for homeless veterans;
· Reauthorize the special needs set aside in the Grant and Per Diem program which provides transitional housing for the frail, elderly, terminally ill, women, and those with children; and
· Reauthorize the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program, which provides employment assistance for homeless veterans.
Youths occupy Wall StreetBy G. Dunkel
“Occupy Wall Street” was a demonstration rooted in tweets, Facebook messages, and email exchanges. There was no call to kick it off, no list of endorsers, and no office with a director and staff. There were lists of Web pages, some of which had links to files to make leaflets, and certainly meetings occurred where issues and tactics were considered.
The models the organizers explicitly listed were the youth occupations in Spain, particularly Madrid, and Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
Nearly 1,000 people showed up on Sept. 17 starting at noon in lower Manhattan in the Bowling Green Park, which is just off Wall Street. On the weekends, this area is a popular tourist destination. Most of the demonstrators were young — some observers suggested that 85 percent were less than 25 and 95 percent were less than 35 years old. Many had bedrolls and were planning on staying in the streets to make their protest clear.
While the protesters were overwhelmingly young people, their slogans make it clear that at least some had been at other recent protests. “Whose streets? Our streets!” “This is what democracy looks like!” and “The people united will never be defeated!” were popular slogans and broke out as the march progressed.
The protest was politically inclusive and welcomed diversity. But when a right-wing group, followers of Lyndon LaRouche, tried to sing some patriotic songs, Aron Kaye, a longtime activist in New York, went up to them and told them, “This isn’t your demonstration — get lost!” They must have believed Kaye was speaking for a majority of protesters, as they did lose themselves.
One of the more popular chants at the start of the march was, “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!”
There weren’t a lot of signs carried in the protest. Most of them were on cardboard boxes, handwritten with slogans like, “Occupy Wall Street”; “Citizens against greedy bankers”; “Against personhood for corporations,” which refers to a Supreme Court decision giving corporations free speech since they are legally “persons”; and “Wall St Greed! New Yorkers Say Enough.”
Code Pink had a banner reading, “Make jobs, not war.” Workers World Party’s banner read, “A Job is a right — Capitalism doesn’t work.” WWP also had signed placards that raised the Troy Davis case and declaring that racism is a tool to divide the working class. Demonstrators picked up and carried these signs.
After a yoga class and a seminar on economics, there was an interesting speakout in front of the American Indian Museum. Larry Holmes of WWP spoke on the need to stop the execution of Troy Davis. Another speaker, drawing some cheers, called for the nationalization of the banks and the dismantling of the structure of the imperialist economy. A third speaker, carrying a Troy Davis placard, pointed out that Wall Street profits approximately equal the national debt.
After the speakout, the protesters marched a few blocks to a general assembly in Zuccoti Park, just south of the World Trade Center. While the cops had Wall Street blocked off, according to press reports about 100 people slept out on Church Street and the demonstration continued at least until Sept. 19.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week.
"Iraq snapshot" and "Post office closing raised in hearing" -- C.I. and Ava cover the House Veterans Affairs Committee and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee's joint-hearing.
"Iraq snapshot" and "Counter-insurgency and the Senate" -- C.I. and Kat cover the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified at.
"Kat's Korner: Tori's nocturnal prowl" -- Kat reviews Tori Amos' new Night of Hunters.
"Almond Chicken in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a simple recipe (and she updated it Saturday!).
"Translating the polling" -- Betty breaks down the meaning of the polls.
"community" "2 and 1/2 men" and "Death to Fox TV" -- Rebecca and Stan cover TV and Ann covers radio:
"Death Penalty" -- Ruth covers executions.
"Duchess & The Dirtwater Fox," "Blockbuster?," "Sick of Netflix," "Saying goodbye to Netflix?" and "Sea of Love" -- Stan and Mike cover movies.
"Pinocchio Obama" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this classic.
"Idiot of the Week" -- Mike picks the week's worst offender.
"THIS JUST IN! ROOM UNDER THE BUS?" and "Ted loved Barry (Barry did not love Ted)" -- Wally and Cedric note the latest tossed over as Barack's ship continues to sink.
"Julian Assange and the brokered truce" -- Ruth on Assange's new book.
"Long dead, R.E.M. finally gets buried" -- Kat notes the official demise of the group.
"Don't vacate the decision" and "Iraq snapshot" -- Marcia and C.I. explain why Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling must not be vacated.
"Two things" -- Betty offers an interesting grab bag.
"Fitness" -- C.I. fills in for Kat.
"Gloria Feldt's getting on my last damn nerve" and "Libya" -- Marcia and Elaine take on the apologists for Barack who insist they're feminists while enabling sexism.
"Historic" -- Elaine on the vanishing of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"Baby's bad day" and "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O TAKES ANOTHER HIT!" -- it's a tough life for America's Princess.
"More sexism" -- Betty calls out what others ignore.
"the holocaust denier" -- Rebecca on the increasingly idiotic Danny Schechter.