Sunday, July 29, 2012

Truest statement of the week

I understand that you can't account for the last 10 years, Mr. Secretary [ Eric Shinseki] and I understand that you've got two bureaucracies that don't necessarily like to be told what to do and get along all the time. But I'll submit to you that another five years is-is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me and, gentlemen, it ought to be unacceptable to you. This is not a matter of can-do or should-do. This is a matter of want-to and will-do. This is 2012. And one of the underlying issues, Mr. Secretary, quite honestly is the VA's lack of an overall technology architecture. You and I have talked about this before and it still doesn't exist today as far as I know. I've pointed that out. My Committee has pointed that out. Organizations outside that have looked at the VA's IT Dept have pointed that out. You know, I'm just not convinced that five years from now -- given that I don't know where you two will be -- but my fear is that we're going to be sitting right here talking about this same issue again because we're not going about it with the discipline that's needed. I come from an information techonology career of over 30 years. I worked at US Special Operations Command as the Director of the CIO staff. I know what it takes to get this stuff done and five years, gentlemen, is totallly unacceptable. And I don't really have a question for you I just want you to fix this for crying out loud.

--  US House Rep. Bill Johnson in last week's joint-hearing of the House Armed Services and House Veterans Affairs Committee.

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),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
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?

A politician.  We do try to avoid awarding to politicians.

This was the planned editorial and we did it early on.  Why so short? That was the plan.  Not a lot of words, just the main point.  The hope is that if the press still refuses on the 1st to offer anything but the official figures from Nouri's ministries, that people will be aware other counts existed and they were higher counts but the press ignored them.

I (Jim) would have thought up a better title to Ava and C.I.'s piece if I had more time.  I didn't.  We were talking about another piece and how we'd regroup tonight to write that last article when Ava and C.I. said no.  They said Vanessa Redgrave is on Political Animals tonight and this needs to go up before that show comes on.  So we're posting early for us.

We grade the political websites of the presidential candidates.

A political roundtable.

We had e-mails from people arguing we'd dropped the feature.  No, we just hadn't done it in a few weeks (in part due to the fiction edition last week).

Reader Lauren asked for this one.
Green Party.

Workers World repost.

Mike and the gang wrote this.


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

Editorial: 385 killed so far this month


Iraq Body Counts counts at least 385 people killed so far this month.  And the month's not over.

And the press?

Will they report these deaths or will they play dumb and just go with the numbers the Iraqi ministries hand them?

TV: Eating off his what?

"I'm just sick of it all," declares Sigourney Weaver on Political Animals.  "That's what's going on.  I'm sick to death of the bulls**t and the egos and of the men.  I am sick of the men.  Just one time, just once, I would like to accomplish something in this city without having to spend all of my energy  navigating the short sighted, seflish, self-involved and oh-so fragile male egos that suck up all the oxygen in this town."

 political animals

It's in those a-ha moments, when Weaver's Elaine Barrish vocalizes what so many have felt, that the six episode mini-series is at its strongest.  A blend of political/social commentary, humor and soap, the focus is on Secretary of State Barrish. She was First Lady Hammond in the 90s but she divorced her husband, former-President Bud Hummand (Ciaran Hinds) following the 2008 election.

After the 2008 election?  If you're not already thinking "Hillary Clinton," Elaine ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and lost to Paul Garcetti.

Following the loss, she campaigns with Garcetti in a scene which finds Adrian Pasdar dancing across the stage, leaving Elaine to say, "With that fine, round butt, I'd grab on to his 'campaign' too."  Oh, wait, that was us.  We're guessing it was also us, and not Elaine Barrish, saying, "Damn that Natalie Maines is so lucky." 

But Elaine does say a great deal and with much more than words.  The biggest message from the character is life isn't fair but you keep moving.

In that regard, you can consider it The Hillary Clinton Story.  And this mini-series, produced by Greg Berlanti, Laurence Mark and Sarah Caplan, goes a long way towards explaining how someone like Hillary Clinton could overlook the worst attacks in a campaign and go to work for her rival's administration.

As the one who shouldn't have won but did, Pasdar plays Garcetti as frivolous and fun except when Elaine's eyes fall on him.  In those moments, the spirit and life seems to leave Garcetti, as though he's been found out yet again as a poser.  Bud repeatedly notes that Elaine should be president and the lack of balance or integrity in the media, noting that Garcetti "had the press eating off his nut sack."

That sort of favoritism is all around, isn't it?

It was to be found on NPR's All Things Considered last week.  Audie Cornish apparently doesn't understand what it means to be objective.

If you missed it, US President Barack Obama spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday.  GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke to the VFW on Tuesday.  Don Guyia attended both events and spoke to Cornish about them.  On Monday's broadcast all Audie wanted to know about was Barack and what he saidOn Tuesday, she played a different role.  She suddenly wanted to talk about "accusation"s and "accusing" done by Romney.  She wanted to try to fact check Romney and she wanted, at the end of the segment (as she knew) when there was no time (ibid), to suddenly ask if he had a plan?

Gonyea was curious as well.  Has the White House been leaking, as Romney stated?  Gonyea could only use the term "he states."  If you're going to go there, if you're going to determine the truth, then do your damn job.  Online at NPR, Frank James was able to in a blog post.

But can someone explain why two people giving campaign speeches -- that's what they were -- to the VFW get treated differently by the same talk show host (Audie Cornish)?  Why with one she has no desire to question claims or to offer anything negative, not even negative verbs, but with the other she seems to think a simple speech requires her to go bat s**t crazy?

It's very rare that you're ever provided with such a clear case of bias.

Both men gave speeches.  Both men spoke to the same group of people.  Both men were treated differently by Audie Cornish.

Some apologists for NPR might rush in to say, "But Mitt Romney attacked Barack Obama in his speech!"

It was a campaign speech.  That's what happens.  It's what Barack did as well.

You could have listened to All Things Considered from start to finish Monday and Tuesday and never heard that Barack attacked Romney.  Audie made sure you knew that Romney attacked Barack.  But what she refused to notice others did. Think Progress is nothing but a Democratic Party Organ.  It is not the press.  On Monday, its web site was trumpeting "National Security Brief: Obama Attacks Romney On Foreign Policy" which opened with, "President Obama attacked Mitt Romney for his lack of foreign policy credentials yesterday during a speech to the VFW."

But Audie wasn't interested in that and, again, All Things Considered listeners never heard about it.  If you're going to say Romney attacked Barack, might you need to note that he was responding to an attack issued by Barack the day prior?

You would need to if you cared about journalism.  You would if you gave a damn about the way you were seen.  But when you're "eating off his nut sack" -- like Audie Cornish does -- it never occurs to you.

The bias was never clearer on NPR then when Audie opened her mouth on Tuesday.  And never one to pass up a meal served on a nut sack, NPR's Ari Shapiro raised the VFW speeches on the first hour of Friday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and mentioned Mitt Romney "accused" Barack but failed to mention the attacks from Barack.  It's a curious but telling way NPR has repeatedly attempted to 'interpret.'

 It's curious the way some of the Water Cooler Set have received Political Animals.  When we read garbage by Verne Gay of Newsday, we tend to wonder if Sigourney were Stan and he was making similar observations, wouldn't Verne be a lot more comfortable and hasn't he been in the past?  In other words, isn't his real problem with the mini-series the fact that a woman's at the center of it?   Gay should consider himself lucky that the Water Cooler Set is so deeply uninformed -- meaning whenever you think you've touched bottom, there's still lower to go.  For example, David Hiltbrand of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

We're not sure if Hiltbrand watched the mini-series he's reviewing or if he's just that much of an idiot.  Maybe you can help us?  He wrote this:  "But from the opening seconds, when a fake TV news anchor identifies her as a 'feminist liberal icon,' the plot and the script draw inescapable parallels."

Do you see the problem?

That anchor was played by . . . Andrea Mitchell.  As most Americans know, she is a journalist for NBC and the anchor of Andrea Mitchell Reports.

How do you write about TV and not recognize Andrea Mitchell?  How do you write about TV and not recognize Andrea Mitchell when, as Andrea's onscreen in Political Animals, it says at the bottom left corner "Andrea Mitchell Reports"?

When you can't get that fact correct, it sort of discredits all that you write.

Journalists get discredited in Political Animals.  There's Carla Gugino's Susan Berg who's seen by some as Maureen Dowd; however, Susan has a very active sex life and a few brain cells which appears to put her far ahead of Dowd.

Berg also has a major case of Kill Mommy.  In the 90s, she wrote about Bud's affairs and many pieces then and since slamming Elaine.  And then, she's dealt a blow similar to what she first attacked Elaine for and the two seem to reach an understanding.  Elaine gives her a big break by putting her on a plane with Bud who's going to negotiate with the President of Iran.

But the Kill Mommy urge isn't gone.  The ride back home finds Susan dismayed that Bud is taking a young woman into the plane's private quarters.  And you might excuse it as concern for Elaine's feelings and dismiss the sexual dynamics between Bud and Susan except, immediately after that, Susan is grabbing a male reporter she's repeatedly blown off, hauling him into the airplane's bathroom and having sex with him.

And Susan does have her Dowd moments.  For example, given a sit-down with Bud right before the former president meets with the Iranian president and needing to prove herself since she's ended her affair with her editor, Susan blows it by kicking things off with a question about his affairs.  It's an accurate portrayal of a press that, for example, repeatedly refused to inform the American people that last Sunday the Islamic State of Iraq released a recording which promised attacks on the United States within US borders.  "Dowd moments" probably characterizes the press better than any other term these days.  Maybe Susan's editor is having them too? After all, he's not only living with her when he supervises her work, he also cheats on her with another woman who blogs for the paper, a woman whose work he also supervises.  Best of all, Berg won a the big journalism award for her trashy prose written in a faux detached and jaded manner.  We're hard pressed to think of a more accurate critique of the Pulitzers.

Accurate includes the notes that Ellen Burstyn hits as Elaine's mother Margaret.  For the last 12 years, the Academy Award winning actress has surprised with each role and Margaret Barrish is another strong credit on her resume.  She's part of a very strong supporting cast which also includes Sebastian Stan and James Wolk as Weaver's two sons TJ and Douglas.


This is the second time Wolk (above) has worked with Weaver.  The two previously appeared in the film You Again.  That may be part of the reason for the easy, relaxed relationship between Elaine and Douglas.  It's far different from the relationship with troubled son TJ (who has a drug addiction, has attempted suicide and cannot be trusted with money).

Political Animals airs and on the USA Network -- and streams at its website and you can also stream it at Hulu.  The strong acting and writing should call you to it anytime but, tonight. if you watch it on TV, you'll see an outstanding performance from Vanessa Redgrave.  Yet as amazing as Redgrave is, the third episode is another where Sigourney Weaver gets to shine.  Very few roles have given her the chance to demonstrate the range she does here.  Very few roles ever give any actress this kind of opportunity.  Whether you watch TV or catch programs via the internet, make a point to check out Political Animals

Touring the online campaign offices

Though irritating to some, splash pages are all the rage for campaign websites.


Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden are really rubbing ObamaCare in the faces of those who support universal, single-payer health care in their splash screen while Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's  offers an interesting photo.

 here's your chance

But Barack and Joe can take comfort in the fact that they don't have the worst splash.  That 'honor' goes to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.


You'll note the text never ends and continues beyond the square we're providing.  You can have the full screen to see the splash and still not see it all.  That's your first clue that you're too cluttered for a website let alone a splash which is supposed to brief and clean.

While Johnson fails the splash, he doesn't fail the online office.

Who fails the online office the most?

SEP (Socialist Equality Party) presidential candidate Jerry White.  Why does he fail?


He doesn't even have a campaign website.  He's using the Socialist Equality Party's website.  Which reminds us a little of The Simpsons' episode "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays" where Homer explains their campaign site, "For more information, visit our website,, we're not affiliated, we're just piggy-backing on their message boards."

With Jerry White setting the bar so very low, you might think the others can claim success.  They may try but two of them have no bragging rights.

It's a tough choice for who, with their own campaign office, is the worst?


We're going to go with independent presidential candidate Roseanne Barr.  We choose her because she has chosen a running mate.  We have nothing against her running mate Cindy Sheehan but it's really sad that we have to go to Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox to discover Cindy's Roseanne's running mate.  That's because there's nothing at Roseanne's site that informs you of that news.

You'll find the press release at Cindy's site.  It was written, it's been e-mailed to people.  But they 'forgot' to put it up at the campaign site.

The one that may be the worst but we're ranking it just a tad higher than Roseanne's?  Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's website.


It's a little fancier than Roseanne's and has a little more information up.  For example, while Roseanne's has no new information up from last week, Stein can point to three things her campaign posted last week.

None of the content is interesting, not in presentation, not in style, and it doesn't pull you in so it's probably only going to be seen by die-hards who already support Stein's run.

Here's some tough love for Jill Stein's campaign: It's over unless you take serious steps right now.

Your campaign is over if you don't immediately get your act together.  True story, when there was little going on, the press was willing to cover Dennis Kucinich in 2007.  But they went to his website and found nothing.  A whole week had gone by and nothing had been posted.  We know about it because we heard it from three different reporters.  We heard about how Kucinich whines that no one covers his presidential campaign but when they were ready to shine a light -- mainly because there was nothing going on that week in the other campaigns -- Kucinich wasn't ready.

You never know when the press is finally going to come looking if you're not one of the two major candidates.  You have to be prepared.  You have to treat every day like this is the one the press decides to check you out.

Due to the Green Party's national convention in Baltimore earlier this month and the press interest in Roseanne (who had run for the party's presidential nomination), there was actually press interest in Jill Stein's campaign.

She failed to capitalize on it.

She's now a press joke based on an informal survey we did of seven outlets (two networks and five papers).  She's a press joke because she's running as a Green?

No, she's a press joke because her campaign can't gets its damn act together.

She went on and on at the national convention in her speech.

Weeks later, that speech is still not up at her campaign site.

That speech explained why she was running and what she would do if elected.

Video of it and text of it should have been posted the day after the convention.  It is now weeks after the convention and Jill Stein's campaign is a joke.

It had press attention, it had enthusiasm.  In the two weeks since the convention ended, her campaign has killed off all of that.

If she wants to change that, she's going to need to upgrade her online office.  That means she needs new content Monday through Friday --  at least one bit of new content, clearly linked to on the front page, each day.  She needs a campaign blogger as well.

If she doesn't add those two things, you probably shouldn't donate to her campaign because it's money wasted.  She's not going to get press attention because she's created the impression that she's not really running.

Roseanne Barr has less new content.  But Roseanne's doesn't have Jill Stein's problems.  First off, Roseanne is Roseanne which always means she'll have more luck at press.  Second, she's independent. Her campaign needs to be posting content but she doesn't have a party behind her.  Jill Stein does.  That with a party behind her, she's not able to have a real campaign online is ridiculous and makes it appear that this is another election cycle where the Greens don't really want to win, aren't even trying to get ballot access for the 2016 cycle but just want to be sure they don't earn votes that someone might falsely accuse them of "stealing."

Jill Stein's campaign is seen as a joke.

For those who whine, "That's so unfair to Jill!," politics are unfair.  Grow up.  That's how she's seen and we've explained how she can change that.

How you can change it is one of the reasons we're doing this article now.  In 2008, we offered "Rating the presidential campaign offices" and waited until after the election for that piece.  This time, it's still July and people have time to make improvements.  And Jill Stein needs to do so or she can pack it in right now.  If she can't get her online office together, she needs to drop out because she's wasting everyone's time and the press considers her a joke.

She's brought it on herself.  Not since 2000 has a Green Party presidential candidate gotten so much press as she did the week of the convention.  And she took that interest and . . . did nothing with it.

We're left with three campaigns: Gary Johnson, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The worst of those three? Let's go by visual.


Barack Obama's.  We're not really fond of photo shop and the look of Barack's campaign site is that of someone who just discovered photo shop and can't stop using the "vintage" effect on every photo they have.

Would it be possible for Barack's team to allow even one photo to appear in focus?

Maybe that's supposed to be a commentary on how blurry and washed out his own vision is?

Doesn't seem like a selling point but who knows what the Cult of St. Barack is snorting these days.

In terms of content, the office is always open and always has something new.  Content is first-rate and the staff deserves huge applause.  We do question the posting of the Weekly Address at a campaign site, but otherwise, we praise the content.

If visuals drop Barack to number three of the top three, who comes in second?

Gary Johnson.


Sorry, Gary, but in America we like happy people.

On his splash screen and on his main webpage Johnson uses the same photo and he's not smiling in it.  We like politicians who smile and smile broadly.  We're not voting for the Mona Lisa to be president so lose the half smile.  A smile means your lips go up at the sides and you show your teeth.

Failing to provide that doesn't make you look serious when it happens in two pictures in a row, it makes it look like you have a stick up your ass.

On presentation, Johnson does a much better job.  First off, you know there's content without scrolling.  You can see the first item at the bottom of the screen.  Second, new content goes up Monday through Friday.  This is no Jill Stein office where it appears everyone's either making a run to their local pot dealer or off shopping for a new Bheka yoga mat.

The clear winner?


Mitt Romney.  The visuals are crisp.  The photos are clear and don't leave you rubbing your eyes and wondering if you need to get new contacts.  The presentation is also first-rate with plenty of new content.  It's also the only site whose navigation we'd praise. You can use pull down menus, you can search, you can click, all with ease, and find what you need quickly.

So the ranking, from best to worst:

1) Mitt Romney
2) Gary Johnson
3) Barack Obama
4) Jill Stein
5) Jerry White

We'll revisit this topic before the election.  Hopefully, everyone will have improved their sites by then.  As we observed in 2008, this is your online office.  It is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  People can visit it at any time.  You need to grasp that and you need to provide them a reason to visit you again.


Technically Barack Obama is not the Democratic Party nominee and Mitt Romney is not the GOP nominee.  That's because their party conventions have not been held yet.  We're not in the mood to use "presumptive."  If there's an upset later on, we'll note in a new feature.


Jim: Carol e-mailed to say take back her "blistering e-mail of two weeks ago, Ava, C.I. and Ann were right."  What's she talking about?  "Roseanne: The Green Party's greatest gift in 2012" which went up July 15th and noted Roseanne Barr was running for president.  Carol was among three e-mailers who felt Ava, C.I. and Ann had misconstrued a "tweet."  As people have just found out this weekend, not only is Rosenne making an independent run, she's announced a running mate.  Someone very familiar to this site.  It's roundtable time and we're talking politics.  Our e-mail address is Usually participating our 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.


Jim (Con't): Betty's kids did the illustration.  Okay, Roseanne's running.  I know Ava wants to say something.

Ava: Carol shouldn't feel bad about her e-mail.  I didn't read it, C.I. didn't read it, Ann didn't read it.  But whatever she said could not match two reporters who told C.I. she was dead wrong when, the day after our article went up, C.I. referenced it and wrote about Roseanne's campaign in an Iraq snapshot.  Those two were convinced that the three of us were seeing something in a Tweet that just wasn't there.  It was there.  If you looked you saw it.  We did and, as a result, we apparently scooped everyone by several weeks.  That may be because C.I. knows Roseanne and knows how to interpret her.  Isaiah?

Isaiah:  In "Roundtable," the same edition that Ann, C.I. and Ava's article ran in,  I was talking about the Tweets Roseanne had continued to do the day of the Green Party convention.  I brought that to the roundtable and we discussed some of it.  But I didn't raise that Tweet and I had read it.  I read it and didn't make from it that it was the announcement of an independent run for president.  After the roundtable and after Ann, C.I. and Ava finished their article and Jim read it outloud to us, I was able to see what I missed and it was so clear.  But I could see people missing it in the Tweet.  That said, once it was pointed out by Ann, C.I. and Ava, it was pretty clear the meaning of that Tweet.

Jim: It's always fun to break news.  So Roseanne is running and I'm tossing to Jess and Ann for comments if they have them.  Can someone give us some backstory?

Ann: Jess, go ahead.

Jess: Okay.  Ann and I are registered members of the Green Party.  They held their national convention in Baltimore earlier this month.  Roseanne was among those who ran for the party's nomination.  She stated months ago that she was only running during the primary and doing it to raise attention for the Green Party and that she would be supporting Jill Stein who would get the nomination.  Dr. Stein did get the nomination.  The days leading up to the convention found Roseanne sounding off on Twitter about the Green Party.  She had various charges against them and she had the idea of who Stein should choose as her running mate -- this after Stein had already announced that Cheri Honkala was her running mate.  That takes us up to the convention with one noteable omit.  Ann?

Ann: Which was the interview Roseanne gave on Smiley and West .  If you can't stream it or if you need text due to hearing issues, C.I. transcribed the significant portion in the July 15th snapshot. That interview made clear Roseanne had serious problems with the Green Party.  It took it beyond Tweets and the press seemed to treat those Tweets as "Tweets from a comedian."  Meaning they weren't taking the comments as seriously as they would have if Roseanne were famous for another profession.  Instead, there seemed to be a floating question mark of whether or not she was Tweeting to be silly or was spoofing the country.

Dona: She's not spoofing, that's should be clear now to those who couldn't see it before.  It's noted  at her campaign website, "This is an exciting time for us to vote our values! Roseanne Barr is a mother, grandmother, activist, leader, feminist, and successful business woman that is addressing the concerns of the 99%. She is the lone voice of courage and reason who is unstoppable as she holds corporate-funded politicians feet to the fire."

Ty: And Roseanne's running mate was announced early Sunday morning, Cindy Sheehan.

Jim: So what does that mean?

Kat: Cindy means everyone has to take a look at the campaign.  I don't know if any other running mate would mean that.  But Cindy means that if you were considering supporting Roseanne or not, suddenly you're looking at the campaign differently.

Jim: Continue that with why?

Kat: Cindy's consistent.  Cindy Sheehan's message in 2012 is not different from what it was in 2005 when she came to national attention.  Meaning her addition to Roseanne's ticket means all who shared Cindy's anti-war stance, the majority of Americans in 2005 and 2006, regardless of where they are now -- even if they're Cult of St. Barack -- for a second they have to consider the campaign. They may dismiss it, they may embrace it, they may take a wait and see attitude, but they have to consider it.

Marcia: I'm with Kat, I think this is sort of an in-your-face move, it puts the campaign front and center on the left.  'The issues are the same, where do you stand?' is sort of the unspoken motto.  And there are people on the left who will dismiss it because they're Cult of St. Barack, but it does force them, even for 90 seconds, to grasp that there's something inconsistent in their approach to life now.

Jim: Mike, pretend someone's asking "Cindy Sheehan who?" and answer that question.

Mike: Sure.  Cindy Sheehan's son Casey Sheehan died in the Iraq War.  As she dealt with that awful news and looked more and more at the ongoing war and the increasing death tolls for everyone, for every side in that war, she decided to start speaking out.  This eventually led to her camping outside Bully Boy Bush's Crawford residence.  So she set up Camp Casey and it really turned the tide in America, put a face on the war.  Cindy's continued to speak out against war and war mongering.  She doesn't care who's in the White House, she supports peace and so she's protested Barack as well.  This doesn't make people comfortable if they're mindless party zealots.  If they're able to break the chains around their minds, they tend to respect her for standing up and being for peace.  It's amazing that it's just as controversial now as it was in 2004 to be a supporter of peace.

Jim: Thank you, Mike.  Trina, consistency.  That's a topic you addressed in "Senator Bernie Sanders raises the issue" and you mentioned to me that you wanted to bring your post up here because "it's the only thing I'm embarrassed of."

Trina: I said "embarrassed" but I'm ashamed of it.  I don't have strong feelings about my posts for the most part.  That's one is an embarrassment.  An outright embarrassment and one that almost went up here --

Dona: Did go up here for 30 seconds.

Trina: Did go up here while Jim and I were talking and then Dona tells us and I say, "Pull it!"

Jim: And the reason for the shame?  You've got an intro noting that Bernie Sanders isn't really that strong of a senator and that the Socialist -- the only declared Socialist in the Senate -- acts like a Democrat and clamps down on criticism so that the Democrats don't run a real candidate against him.

Trina:  But I thought he was really making a statement.  He is calling out Barack Obama's silence on Social Security.  Is it going to be cut or what?  He wants Barack to tell the public.  And so I highlighted it.  And then I got to thinking about it and was talking to my husband in bed that night about it.  He said, "Call C.I., she'll remember."  And I didn't want to do that because she was in DC and I was thinking it was too late.  And I thought about calling Mike because I didn't want to try to figure out the time difference -- he and Elaine and their daughter were in Hawaii.  So I called Betty because she was on the West coast and it was three hours earlier.  Betty?

Betty: And Trina asks me, "Was Barack a supporter of Social Security?  Bernie Sanders says he was in this statement.  But I'm questioning that now." And I said no because he wasn't.  It's not just his January 2009 talk to the Washington Post, which C.I. documented in real time, right before he is sworn in, but it's all along.  He's not a friend of Social Security.  For Bernie Sanders to claim otherwise means Bernie's a liar.  I'm not in the mood.

Trina: And we talked about it and I said, "I'm so embarrassed."  I didn't want to delete the post because I don't want to airbrush my life.  I wrote what I wrote, it's there, I'm not going to pretend it's not or hide it or delete it.  My plan was to write about it the next night.  But Ava did "The joint Armed Service and House Veterans hearing (Ava)" -- which I'm thrilled to have at my site and was thrilled to read, she's focusing on US House Rep. Bob Filner's move to create an exit boot camp for service members which would inform them of the options out there for them in civilian life.  And then I forgot all about it.  So I mentioned it to Jim and asked him if I could bring it up in the roundtable today.

Betty: And we all forget things like that.  For example, all last week I told myself, tonight I'm going to link to Ruth's  "TV groundbreaker Sherman Hemsley has passed away" and I never did.  I forgot over and over.  Ruth, I'm so sorry for that and that was a wonderful post.  I've told you that privately on the phone but, since I forgot to link at my site all last week, let me publicly state that I watched Hemsley on TV but the death didn't really register one way or the other until Ruth provided the context.  Wonderfully written and thank you, Ruth.

Ruth: Thank you, Betty.

Jim: Ruth, you cover Social Security from time to time at your site.  What are your thoughts on Sanders?

Ruth: Much like Trina, I felt it was cowardly.   President Barack Obama does need to answer as to Social Security.  It is a shame that Senator Sanders was unable to leave it at that, with the question in the opening of his statement, and instead had to lie and pretend Barack Obama was a friend to Social Security.  He never has been.

Cedric: Right.  And, as Black Agenda Report's Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford have pointed out, he was DLC when he ran for the Senate.   The DLC has long supported gutting the safety net with a special target being Social Security.  Since this is the political roundtable, I'm going to put Ann on the spot.  Friday night, we went out for drinks with an old friend of mine from college and his wife.  If you read her "6 men, 1 woman," you may have picked up on the fact that Ann did not like the couple.  That's fine. I knew it at the time and I told her on the drive home that she could rip the woman, my friend's wife apart, in her blog post.  But she skipped it trying to be nice.  There's no reason to.  Ann?

Ann: Don't you love it when your husband puts you on the spot?  I'm sure the woman's nice in many ways but she's an idiot.  There's a topic Betty and I both are always planning to blog about but never do.  We probably never will at this point.  But there are some Black women who tick us off because they think they are so that.  Betty, explain what I'm talking about, please.

Betty: I don't know if it's that they -- I don't care.  I'm not going to do that.  They're stupid women and they get on my nerves and I'm not going to try to be nice about them.  They are Black women who will tell White people all the time about how hated  they are by other Blacks because they're not dark skinned and because they have either White hair or Hispanic hair.  That's what they'll call their hair.  And sometimes, these women, if they get enough booze in them or feel especially close to you, will tell you to your face -- tell Ann and I to our faces, our Black faces -- that they suffer so because Black people are so mean to them because they're not dark skinned and they look White.

Ann: And they don't look White.

Betty: No, they don't.  Sometimes they're not even light skinned though they seem to think they are.

Ann: So that was strike one.  The woman leans over, pats me on the hand after we're on our second round of drinks and says to me that she's glad I'm not one of those dark skinned women who's jealous of her because she looks White and has Hispanic hair.  And she wasn't light skinned and her hair was as kinky as mine under that weave she had on.  And I'm not putting down women with weaves or who wear wigs, I am putting down a woman who thought I was too stupid to know that her White "hair" was actually a weave.  Strike two was when she felt the need to say how great it was to be at a table where, quote, "we all love our president."  I asked her what gave her that idea?  She said, "We're all Black."  I said I'm a Green, not a Democrat which she took to mean I'm a Democrat but I'm really into the environment.  Strike three followed when she finally got that I didn't support Barack. She suggested I was uninformed and that he's done so much and I cut her off and told her I was not an idiot and Guantanamo remains open, Bush only claimed the right to imprison you without a trial but Barack claims the right to kill you without a trial, he's shredded the Constitution and he's declared war on whistle blowers.   At which point, she interrupts me and says that if you pick apart anyone's record you'll find some faults but in the big picture, Barack is wonderful.

Cedric: And I'm jumping in because Ann has tried to be nice during this.  She's made clear that she doesn't care for Barack and has said repeatedly that another topic should be discussed instead but this woman wouldn't let it go.

Ann: So when she's talking about big picture I said there was no bigger picture than life or death and that I couldn't justify Barack's wars including the Drone War.  At which point she got very mad and hissed, "He's Black!  You have to support him because he's Black!"

Cedric: At which point, her husband, my friend, says, "Well, honey, he's half-Black.  Would it be okay for Ann to just half support him?"  And he was trying to make a joke to lighten things up but that woman was so mad.  She stormed off into the ladies' room and was in there for a half hour at least.  At one point, he asked Ann if she'd go in and check on her and Ann said, 'I'm the reason she's in there, I'm sure she doesn't want to see me.'

Stan: I'm just stunned.  I'm listening and I'm stunned.  I can't believe at this late date that there's someone that stupid.  I know there are many Blacks who still support Barack but, in my circle, the fact that I don't support him isn't controversial.  Nor does it cause arguments.  This woman's such a silly whore for Barack that she sounds like a Black Naomi Klein.

Ann: Interesting because her first name actually is Naomi.

Stan: Well there you go.

Jim: We're going to have to wind down in a minute.  Dona handed me a note which says that Rebecca, Wally, Elaine and C.I. haven't spoken and C.I.'s shaking her head right now indicating she doesn't want to speak.    Who wants to offer closing thoughts?  Long pause.  Anyone?

Rebecca: Since you noted long pause, I'll jump in.  But I was willing to let someone else speak.  When Ann talks about that Naomi, I think, "It's like it's January 2009."  I really can't believe how uninformed some people still are.  Now at the end, Naomi probably got to why she really supports him but the idea that someone wants to throw a tantrum at a table because someone doesn't like Barack?  That's the Cult of St. Barack.  And, here's a tip for them from someone who had a very rewarding career in public relations: Your tantrums do not help your candidate.  But that's really all they have because, after nearly four years, Barack really has no accomplishment that can be pointed to with pride.

Jim: And on that note we'll wrap up.  This is a rush transcript.

From The TESR Test Kitchen

M&Ms are chocolate candies with a hard candy coating and they've been around since 1941. They've been around long enough to have had the brand tinkered with.  The last two years alone have seen the release of M&M White Chocolate Candy Corn, M&M Cinnamon Milk Chocolate, M&M Pretzels, M&M Raspberry and M&M Mint.


It's the last one we're interested in today.

We like M&Ms.  For some of us, it is the favored candy.  We also like mint.  We like the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and we like Chocolate Mint ice cream as well as Peppermint.  So we had high hopes for this flavor.


However, the candy company didn't quite pull it off.  It's a minty taste that tends to remind some of us of Scope and others of menthol cigarettes.

What it doesn't bring to mind is the need to taste them again.  Ever.

The worst film actress of the last 100 years

Lauren e-mailed last Tuesday to note that we'd often taken time to do various articles praising this or that actor but we had "never, ever take time out to do an article calling out a bad actor."  An entire article?  On a lousy actor?

We're game.

There are a lot of obvious choices but, for our money, the worst actress of the last 100 years is Joanne Woodward.

For an Academy Award winner to have given even one of the bad performances Woodward has is shocking because she's never merely bad, she's hold-your-nose-this-stinks! bad.  In later years especially, Shelly Winters could be hammy  But compared to Woodward, Winters was always a model of restraint.

The Three Faces of Eve is her award winning role.  And even that, in retrospect, is questionable.

There's no bold line separating a good performance by Woodward from a bad one.  In fact, there's not much difference in any of Woodward's performance.  She may alter the externals (such as accent) a little, but it's the same recycled performance she's been serving up since the 50s.


She's at her worst when she's cast in a role that requires her to be alluring.  Often, in such roles, she'll go over the top with the externals.  She'll load up with tics like the worst stereotype of Method acting but those tics will never suggest a real person.

The Stripper.  Yes, Woodward really played the title role in that film. 

A plain woman on a good day, Woodward was a challenge for hair and make up that they never managed to pull off.

In A Fine Madness, she's Sean Connery's wife and she's so awful the film makers apparently expected audiences to forgive Connery for everything from cheating on her with Jean Seberg and others to slugging her at the very end on the streets of New York as she brays at him repeatedly to just hit her and get it over with.

If you've never seen A Fine Madness, it's supposed to be a romantic comedy.

Grating is the most obvious adjective for any of Woodward's roles and one-note accompanies it.  In fact, she is so consistently bad that the only way you may be able to separate one role from another is to pay attention to what wig she's wearing.

Green Party on Emergency-Manager Law

From the Green Party of Michigan:

Green Party of Michigan

** News Release **
** ------------ **
July 27, 2012

For More Information, Contact:
John Anthony La Pietra, Elections Co-ordinator

Jennifer La Pietra, Media Co-ordinator
(508) 280-1360

Greens to Supreme Court: Let People Vote on Emergency-Manager Law

The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) counts grassroots democracy among its core principles -- its Ten Key Values. And the party has been living that value quite a lot this year in supporting the petition drive to let the people of Michigan vote on Public Act 4 of 2011, the emergency-manager law.

It was almost five months ago that Stand Up for Democracy turned in many more valid signatures on referendum petitions than opponents could hope to challenge on the merits. And it's been three months since expert testimony and common sense joined to prove that the petition both substantially and actually complied with the requirements of Michigan's Election Code.

But anti-democratic legal maneuvers have so far blocked this exercise of the people's fundamental right to a voice in their government.

The matter reached the Michigan Supreme Court this Monday -- and now there is only one month left to put the issue on the November 6 general-election ballot. Or so says the state Bureau of Elections -- basing its timetable on a law which isn't constitutionally eligible to take effect yet.

Michigan Greens urge the Michigan Supreme Court to act quickly and decisively to end the unjust delay and confusion, and put the referendum on the ballot.

"We the people of Michigan understand what 14-point type is," commented GPMI's Elections Co-ordinator John Anthony La Pietra, an attorney with training and experience in election law and other aspects of civil rights and Constitutional law.

"And over 200,000 of us saw 14-point type when we read, understood, and signed the petition to end the emergency-manager law and revive the power of grassroots democracy -- which all Greens support.

"Michigan Greens call on the members of the Supreme Court to live up to their title, and give the people justice on this matter."

La Pietra, the Green candidate for Calhoun County Clerk and Register of Deeds, added that the Court needs to act soon -- to avoid entangling the referendum on PA 4 with another controversy, and another anti-democratic bill.

Part of Public Act 276 of 2012, signed by Governor Snyder two weeks ago, will remove a current eleven-day period for finalizing the language describing ballot questions. This will give future citizen initiatives and referendums less time to go through the legal hoops to get on the ballot.

But the new law can't apply to the emergency-manager referendum, La Pietra pointed out. "The enrolled Senate Bill 823, which became PA 276, says it is to take immediate effect -- and also says it is to take effect on August 16. But the House did not approve the bill by the 2/3 majority required in Michigan's Constitution. So PA 276 can't take effect until 90 days after this legislative session ends."

Despite this, La Pietra noted, the Bureau of Elections has declared that court action on the petition against PA 4 must be finalized by August 27 to get the referendum on the ballot. That is ten days earlier than the September 7 date (60 days before the November 6 general election) established by current sections of Michigan law which PA 276 would repeal.

"Maybe the Bureau's just playing it safe, and planning for an earlier process than is really necessary," La Pietra suggests. "That would be understandable -- but it could put liberty and justice at risk.

"Perhaps we can all agree to hope that the point becomes moot -- because the Supreme Court does the right thing, recognizes precedent and common sense, and acts promptly to put the question on the ballot for voters to decide."

For more information about the Green Party of Michigan, its values, and the candidates who will represent both on the November ballot, visit:

Also check out the Green Party/Partido Verde of Michigan group on Facebook, and the party's Twitter feed @MIGreenParty.

Stand Up for Democracy, sponsor of the referendum on PA 4

Senate Bill 823, which became Public Act 276 of 2012
shows Michigan House's 68-42 vote to approve the bill;
see also link to text of enrolled bill, which says both
that it will take effect immediately and
that it will take effect August 16

Michigan Constitution, Article IV, Section 27
shows a 2/3 majority in both houses is required for immediate effect

Michigan Supreme Court Webpage on _Stand Up for Democracy v Secretary of State_
includes a summary of the case and links to briefs filed in it

# # #

created/distributed using donated labor

Green Party of Michigan
548 South Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental
issues in Michigan politics. Greens are organized
in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each
state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its
own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

Ecological Wisdom
Grassroots Democracy
Social Justice
Community Economics
Respect for Diversity
Personal/Global Responsibility
Future Focus/Sustainability

Check out the Green Party/Partido Verde of Michigan group
on Facebook – and follow us at Twitter: @MIGreenParty

Spouse of Cuban 5 to speak at Labor Conference (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Spouse of Cuban 5 hero to speak at labor conference

By on July 27, 2012 » Add the second comment.

They will return:
a billboard in Cuba honors the Cuban Five.
Teachers, students with jobless futures and indentured to enormous loan debt, and public workers from the U.S. will travel to Tijuana, Mexico, for the Aug. 17 through 19 Ninth U.S./Cuba/Mexico/Latin America Labor Conference. The conference will be preceded by a 3-day seminar from Aug. 15 through 17 led by instructors from the Cuban Workers Central Union’s Lázaro Peña Workers School. The Aug. 17 evening program will uplift the struggle to free the Cuban 5 — Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, René González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort — unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998.
Rosa Aurora Freijanes, spouse of Fernando González, will represent the family members of the Cuban 5 and participate throughout the conference. Cristina Vázquez, laundry worker leader and Workers United, Western States Regional Joint Board, SEIU international vice president, will share the successful work in bringing the case of the Cuban 5 to the U.S. labor movement.
In addition to three representatives of the Cuban Central Workers Union, international participants will include Mexican electrical workers and teachers — frontline fighters against privatization and destruction of their unions and their recent stolen election — and representatives from Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
The agenda will include two plenary sessions with floor discussion. As a new feature this year to increase the opportunities for discussion and interaction, two sets of the two Saturday afternoon workshops are planned.
Particularly in this period, when the global capitalist crisis is threatening to devour all social benefits and rights of the working class, the message and experiences from Latin America can help clarify the relationship between social movements and organized workers. Both the classes and the conference are an opportunity to learn about the Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América movement, designed to forge working-class unity, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), which has introduced equitable trade without U.S. dollar domination and the basics of social justice, including universal education and health care for the people of member countries.
Fernando González Llort, René González Sehwerert and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo all served as international combatants during the war for liberation against racism and apartheid in southern Africa. For more information about the Cuban 5, including the link to a new YouTube video featuring Danny Glover and Peter Coyote dramatizing actual testimony from the trial of the Cuban 5, go to
Pre-registration is encouraged. Online payment, instructions and information are at Participants are encouraged to make hotel reservations at the Hotel Palacio Azteca using the inclusive Cuba Labor Conference rate, which includes breakfast and dinner at the conference. Information about special hotel and registration rates for students and young workers is available from or call 313-355-8566.

Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"The threat against the US and the failure of 'trusted voices" -- the most requested highlight of the week.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "He Triesnasty" --  Isaiah weighs in on the bitter and bitchy 2012 campaign tricks of Barack.

"Iraq snapshot"  and "Iraq snapshot" and "The joint Armed Service and House Veterans hearing (Ava)" -- C.I. and Ava report on the joint-hearing of the House Armed Service and Veterans Affairs Committees last Wednesday.

 "TV groundbreaker Sherman Hemsley has passed away" -- Ruth notes a passing.

"Sally Ride" and "Frank Pierson" -- as do Betty and Kat.

"Rotini with Fennel, Carrots . . . in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a summer vegetables recipe.

"My favorite TV shows to stream on Neftlix" -- Betty tours Netflix.

"6 men, 1 woman" -- Ann asks what the hell was that opening ceremony of the Olympics?

"revenge and ricky,"  "Dynasty and Amelia" and   "Smash and McPhee" -- Rebecca, Ruth and Kat talk TV.

"How To Marry A Millionaire" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"The continuing war in Iraq,"  "Breaking the walls"  and  "Iraq and Syria"  -- Ruth, Marcia and Mike cover Iraq.

"THIS JUST IN! BABY JANE JONATHAN!" and  "But you are, Jonathan, but you are!" -- Wally and Cedric weigh in Barry O's little press cupcake.

 "Melting," "5 men, 2 women,"  "what next?,"  "And now it's food" and "Destroying our own planet" -- blogging the destruction of the planet.

"Thanks Tom Appelbaum" and "The violence and the whores"  -- Trina and C.I. weigh in on the nonsense Tom Appelbaum pulled.

"Kevin Smith needs to learn when to shut up" -- Stan on the shameless Kevin Smith.

"THIS JUST IN! THE PROTESTS!" &  "He drew a crowd"  and  "There's spirit in this land" -- Wally, Cedric and Elaine on the new crowd Barack is hugging.

"Drone wars" -- Mike on Barack's Drone War.

"Have you seen her badonkadonk?"  and  "Baby, that's not back"  & "THIS JUST IN! PACKING IT ON!"  -- Marcia, Cedric and Wally on the booty bump.

"Rounding up Lucy" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

 "We just got here" -- Elaine reflects on vacation, summer and more.

"Idiot of the week" -- Mike picks Tom Hayden.

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