Sunday, September 16, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Is Nouri al-Maliki becoming Iraq's next dictator and, if he is, does anyone in Washington care? The second half of the question is easy to answer. The Pentagon wanted to keep 8,000 troops in Iraq after withdrawal. But Maliki made it clear there would be no US troops after the agreement expired on 31 December 2011. The state department also planned for an embassy up to 16,000 strong, and a CIA station 700 strong, but the Iraqi strongman made short shrift of a sizeable US civilian presence, by insisting that his office take direct responsibility for approving every US diplomatic visa. Washington could use the soft power of military supply contracts, but is unwilling to do that. Maliki is allowing Iranian overflights to resupply Assad's embattled regime in Syria. Washington still does not want to know.

--  the editorial board of The Guardian weighs in with "Iraq: back to the future."

Truest statement of the week II

In the past few weeks, we have heard riveting stories of heroism and valor from one of the U.S. soldiers who participated in the combat mission that killed Osama bin Laden. His book, written under a pseudonym (his true identity was subsequently made public by Fox News), is by most accounts devoid of any classified information. In fact, most of what is in the book had been already leaked by top officials of the U.S. government themselves. I am dismayed to read the steady stream of criticism flowing from the U.S. government aimed at the book and its author. The Defense Department and administration officials have called the author's decision to publish the book the "height of irresponsibility." Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has even gone so far as to say, "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."
At the same time that they threaten the author and try to "make clear" they're not going to accept an honest account of what happened in Abbottabad, Americans have also recently learned that the CIA and other U.S. government agencies have been cooperating with Hollywood figures on a movie about the same topic. In fact, according to CIA emails released recently, one writer was given a "deep dive" inside the Agency as they wrote a screenplay on the bin Laden raid. Are U.S. government officials angry that the author wrote a book, or that his book came out before their movie? This, of course, comes after the U.S. government officials have participated in and been sources for newspaper articles, magazine features and even movies -- like Act of Valor.
It is time for the public to make clear to our government that we will no longer accept their unsubstantiated or spoon-fed version as the only one of significant historical events.

-- Valerie Plame Wilson, "Why is the U.S. Government Bullying An American Hero?" (Huffington Post).

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?

The editorial board of the Guardian gets a truest.
As does Valerie Plame Wilson.

The BBC did an investigative series last week on how gays are persecuted in Iraq.  You wouldn't know that to follow the American TV networks.
But what they had time for was what they always have time for -- propping up Barack and attacking others.  It really was obvious last week just how much the media was skewing coverage due to their favoritism of Barack.

Which probably also explains why the Health and Human Services Secretary was found to have violated the Hatch Act last week and she hasn't been fired and she hasn't resigned.

But, hey, on Saturday Night Democrat, NBC is again allowing the tired variety show to attack and ridicule the GOP while presenting Barack as uber cool.

Lauren Bacall turned 87 today.  May she see many more birthdays.

Garcia had the idea for us to do a "short feature like Dona always wants" on the redesign and he e-mailed to pass the suggestion along.  Great suggestion and thank you, Garcia.

A brief discussion to round out Ava and C.I.'s media piece.

The Jill Stein campaign is the campaign for the people and of the people and by the people.  She is the Green Party's presidential nominee.

Mumia remains a political prisoner.

Cheri Honkala is Jill Stein's running mate.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we came up with.

See you next week.

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

Editorial: The lazy American media

While the US media was using last week to play favorites in the presidential race, BBC was practicing actual journalism, reporting on things that really matter.

That included Natalia Antelava, Peter Murtaugh, Bill McKenna and Daniel Nasaw major investigative report for the BBC on the continued persecution of LGBTs in Iraq. BBC's  continued assault which makes it very different from the CBS Evening News, ABC World News and NBC Nightly News which can't be bothered with the story.  In addition, the BBC also filed the following reports:

And the reporting on this crisis didn't start last week.  The BBC has seriously covered this issue for some time.


[Screen snap above, Ali al-Dagbah, Nouri's spokesperson, being interviewed by Natalia Antelava about the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community.]

And even after the BBC coverage this week, the American networks didn't suddenly gain interest in the topic.  They made no effort to broadcast any of the reporting.

Natalia Antelava:  The situation in Iraq he says is only getting worse and without the support of international organizations, they can't find the way out of the country. They appear regularly without a warning. Each  neighborhood gets its own hit list with  names and addresses of local residents who are believed to be gay.  Each time, it drives the already hidden gay community here further underground and further into panic.  Each time, one of the gays told me, it signals the beginning of a new witch hunt.  Radical milita groups are believed to be behind this hit list.  Although officially they've been disbanded, militias still pose the greatest threat to homosexuals. But those we spoke to say that they're just as fearful of countless police and military checkpoints that are supposed to be making Baghdad safe.  This checkpoint is manned by the Interior Ministry troops.  But in Iraq, one's uniform never tells you the full story.   In this country, you can be a police man by day, a militia man by night.  These blurred lines and mixed allegiances have made it easy for the government to blame militia groups for the killings of gays. But we've discovered evidence that directly links the police with attacks on gays in Iraq. Qais is gay and a former police man. He told me he had been ordered to go after homosexuals.  He couldn't refuse and so he quit his job.
Qais: In 2006, 2007 and 2008, we were busy fighting terrorsm.  We didn't pay attention to gays.  On top of it, the Iraqi government had to respect the rule of law when the Americans and the British were here.  But now?  They have a lot of free time and the police are going after gays.
Natalia Antelava:  Have you ever been called to arrest gays or kill gays or go after gays in any way?
Qais:  Yes, twice.  We had to arrest this guy.  He was having an argument with someone.  Once they arrested him, they accused him of being gay. We were told to send him to another town where he was wanted for being gay.  We sent him to that town and he disappeared.  His family came to ask about him and we sent them to another town where they could not find him. Then they got a death certificate from the police but they never got the body.
Natalia Antelava:  With so much secrecy, fear and loathing, it's difficult to establish the exact level of the government's involvement in the persecution. But 17 gay men interviewed for this investigation said they believed they were being singled out and hunted by the state.  All see the police as a major threat.  All have recently had friends or boyfriends killed.  All said arrests were still happening.  Until recently, Ghaith worked a a police station.  One day, he came to work to find his boyfriend in a pre-trial detention cell.

The BBC could broadcast that but not the American networks.

You may remember when ABC pulled their staff out of Iraq -- December 2008 -- they insisted that they would use the BBC, that BBC reports would round out their Iraq coverage.  Yet when the BBC provided an investigative report from Iraq, ABC played dumb.

The persecution of Iraq's LGBT community is a real story, it's a tragic story.

Yet last week, the American media was more concerned with attempting to convince Americans that Barack had a strong foreign policy.


Suddenly the American media silence on the tragedies in Iraq makes sense.

TV: Media Fail

For most of the media, last week revolved around less than 100 words.  It dominated the news cycle.  Yet, how very typical of American media, they couldn't even get the words right.


Instead of going with the statement above a number of people would 'quote' it by referring to Twitter.  These people, not surprisingly, were ones who usually attacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  And "F**k Romney" was the chorus of the song the media wanted to sing last week -- non-stop as Ruth discovered when she streamed KERA's Think only to discover the host and her two guests sharing the same hymnal as they sang the same tune.

If you missed the media blitz, lucky you, Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) does the best job of explaining the order of events.  The basic storyline is a film/video that had been online for months suddenly attracted attention in the Middle East.  Protests began taking place.  The film was thought to be tied to the United States and this led to the US becoming the source of protest.  We haven't seen the film.  It is said to mock the Muslim faith.  The US Embassy in Cairo issued the above statement on Tuesday.  They would go on to Tweet the statement on their Twitter feed several more times during the day, a day that would see that embassy protested as well as the US Embassy in Libya.  At the second embassy, four Americans would be killed -- and that may have been a pre-planned attack that used the protest as cover --  Glen A. Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone S. Woods were the four Americans killed.

Late Tuesday -- almost midnight EST -- the media began reporting on Mitt Romney's criticism of the statement.  Tuesday was 9-11 and Romney and US President Barack Obama had agreed not to criticize each other in the press on that day.  Romney asked that his statement be held until midnight and it was held to close to midnight.  Mike covered the issue and noted the statement Tuesday night:

I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi.  It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

And they were off, the feral cats hunched their backs and bared their claws, hissing, screaming and attacking.  None more so than the lunatic and child-molester-look-alike Greg Sargent (blogger for The Washington Post).   Romney's statements about his statement were "incoherent," Sargent insisted on Wednesday and the rhetoric and rage continued all week possibly culminating when the always conflicted Ruth Marcus took to The NewsHour (PBS) to pronounce Romney "disgraceful."

Words like "lie" were used by journalists and applied to Romney.  It was a sign of just how out of control the media has gotten, of just how low the standards have gotten.  The official media is supposed to operate within certain guidelines.  There were no guidelines at all as The New York Times' David E. Sanger made clear on Washington Week (PBS) when he wrongly declared,  "[. . .] and of course by the time Governor Romney spoke that night, or issued a statement a few hours that night, it was just a few hours later that the killings happened in Libya."

What was said?

"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi."  Is that a controversial statement for Americans?  We don't think most of the electorate will be outraged by that statement.  It may be controversial for David E. Sanger who went on TV and pretended to be familiar with the statement but clearly wasn't or he wouldn't have wrongly stated that "the killings happened" "a few hours later" after Romney issued his statement.  "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

The US Embassy in Cairo issued a statement (noted at the top) before the attacks.  President Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk that read: "The BUCK STOPS here!"  As Keith Koffler (White House Dossier) reported in July, Barack declared of presidents, "Harry Truman said the buck stops with you."  The president is over the federal government.

The Embassy statement reflects on Barack.  That's a given.  If the White House had issued their own statement, it wouldn't have been that way.  But they didn't.  You may not like that Barack's been held accountable for the statement, but Mitt Romney is not off in the weeds when he makes that call.

As it turns out, the White House didn't order the statement to be taken down after they were aware of it.  Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) reports that they were e-mailed a copy and they said not to post it, the Embassy then e-mailed them that it was already up.  The appropriate response is, "Take it down."

The order to take it down shouldn't have been a difficult one Tuesday, after all, the Embassy vanished the statement by Friday.  But the White House, having just e-mailed the Embassy not to post the statement, should have immediately e-mailed them back, "Take it down."

There are serious leadership issues here.

Having addressed the "Obama Administration's first response" aspect of that sentence, let's move over to "was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions."  'Ha!' the Greg Sargents want to insist. 'That statement was before the attacks!'  That statement was Tweeted even after the attacks.  And, pay attention here, if you can Tweet during and after the attacks, you can damn well put up another statement which the Embassy should have immediately done.  They should have known that people would check the site and they should have had something up other than the less than 100 word statement.

"To sympathize with those who waged the attacks"?  The Embassy stated: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."  "Sympathize" is a judgment call.  It's opinion.  You can disagree.  But if that's how Romney sees it -- and he's made clear in interviews that it is -- then that is his opinion.

The Embassy statement shouldn't have gone up.  According to Rogin's reporting, even the White House objected to it and told the Embassy not to post it.   It is now vanished.  The White House has publicly disagreed with the statement.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a point to disagree with it on Tuesday night. 

So how Romney's the asshole or idiot in all of this goes to the press itself and its own desire to control the election, not to report on it.  That's why issues about the attack on the embassy didn't get the same kind of coverage.

Realizing just how over the top things had gotten, even Joe Scarborough tried to walk it back a little on Morning Joe (MSNBC) insisting that there were important issues to address but . . . it was Mitt Romney's fault that the media wasn't covering them.  "[Y]ou should have talked about the warnings with the embassy," Scarborough declared referring to the media as "you," and they would have "if Mitt Romney had kept his mouth shut."


Ruth Marcus wasn't going to talk about the warnings.  If it hadn't been fuming about "disgrace," she would have found something else to talk about.  It would have been anti-Romney because that's the song the press has decided to sing.  As New York Times columnist David Brooks observed on All Things Considered (NPR) last, week, the press does have a bias and it's one "in favor of Barack Obama and against Mitt Romney."  Ruth Marcus is the best example.  She is personalizing everything.  In her conversation on The NewsHour (with Brooks), even after Judy Woodruff resets by noting, "But that point about apologizing, that has been a major part of the critique of Romney of the Obama administration."  And Ruth Marcus will cut David off less than 20 seconds after Judy notes "of the Obama administration," so that Ruth can insist, "But he never apologized!"  Ruth seems a little too close to the bone to pass for objective and that's been true of far too many in the press this election cycle.

This election has been a little too close to the bone for a significant number of the press which is why Hillary Is 44 continues to advise that the Romney campaign needs to take on Big Media.  It's hard to argue against that when, week after week, day after day, the media works overtime to rip apart Mitt Romney and to build up Barack Obama.  As Ann ("NPR's biased to which party") and Elaine ("Terry's fluff and nonsense") noted, last week saw Terry Gross give hack writer Michael Lewis fifty minutes on September 12th to do an advertorial on behalf of Barack Obama.

Michael Lewis made all the stops last week promoting the soft-core political porn of how he played basketball with Barack and trailed him around the White House.  He was on Reuters TV, Fresh Air, NBC's Today Show, PBS' The Charlie Rose Show, NPR's Morning Edition . . . Pretty much everything except TLC's I Found The Gown.

And for what reason?  A really bad and really long feature article in Vanity Fair?  Usually that won't even get you booked on E! on a slow news day.  But surely, great insight into governance and policy was gained by putting this man all over the media landscape, right?

"And on that day, he'd had - you know, it hadn't been an especially heavy day. He'd had meetings with his generals. He had meetings with Hillary Clinton. He'd had lunch with Joe Biden. He had spent - had spent some time with a Make-A-Wish child, some child who was going to die very soon, and their last wish was to spend some time with the president."  Those sentences only work as humor and really should be delivered in Alyson Hannigan's "This one time at band camp" sing-song manner.

Or maybe you were attracted to the breathless nature of this gush, "One was his insistence that no one treat him like he was the president. He was - you would - just watching the game, you would never guess which one was the president. "  He managed to deliver a variation on that statement on every program -- on two he got it word for word.

It's not hard for us to imagine Terry Gross devoting the same amount of time to Mitt Romney.  She did just that August 28th.  Of course the difference is that last week was 50 minutes of gushing over Barack with a writer whose article was vetted by the White House but August 28th's guests were actual reporters capable of critical thought who weren't doodling "Mrs. Barack Obama" in their spirals.  Michael Kranish and Scott Helman had serious issues to discuss about Mitt Romney which, in an election year, is what public affairs programming should be about. But, as last week demonstrated on TV and radio, serious issues is something the media is no longer equipped for.

Where's the accountability?


Wednesday, the OSC released a [PDF format warning] a judgment, "The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent findings to the President today from its investigation of complaints of prohibited political activity by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  OSC concluded that Secretary Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she made extemporaneous partisan remarks in a speech delivered in her official capacity on February 25, 2012.  The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election."

That should have been "end of story" on the events themselves.

But Jake Tapper (ABC News) reports Sebelius dug her hole even deeper:

In a letter to [OSC head Carolyn] Lerner, Sebelius seemed to take issue with the some of the report, noting that she reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for related expenses. It “seems somewhat unfair to conclude that, as a result of my off-hand statements, I used my official title for political purposes,” she wrote, saying “the violation was technical and minor. These are not the type of violations that the Hatch Act is intended to address.”
Sebelius said she told the USC investigators that while she regretted making the statements that converted my participation in the event from official to political…keeping the roles straight can be a difficult task, particularly on mixed trips that involved both campaign and official stops on the same day."

If Sebelius finds it difficult to keep her "roles straight," the easiest way to fix that problem is to fire her.  She broke the law.  As Tim Funk (McClatchy Newspapers) reported of the 2007 violation of the Hatch Act, "In that last case, General Services Administrator Lurita Doan was fired by President George W. Bush."

She should be fired.  She clearly violated the Hatch Act, she now expresses confusion in her roles, she's not up to the job.  CNN quotes from the letter she wrote to Lerner, "I believe that you should have concluded that any violation was corrected when the event was reclassified as political.  I believe that you should have concluded that the consequence of my going 'off script' at an official event was to change the nature of my appearance for cost reimbursement purposes only." She didn't pay, she didn't reimburse.  After the press raised serious concerns about her remarks, Sebelius got the Democratic National Comittee to pay for her trip retroactively.  She didn't even pay her own travel cost when the heat was turned up but instead, in an act of supreme cheapness, got the DNC to pay for her.

She needs to be fired. 

2 Adorable Daughters?

 hulu new look

Last season's Saturday Night Live demonstrated that at the heart of Jay Pharoah's impressions is nothing.  He offers nothing to suggest a character.  It's an act of, "Look how much I sound like ___, watch me gesture like ____."  But there's nothing there which is why Pharoah did not stand out at all last year and he really needs others to write his skits because he lacks commentary skills and point of view leaving the celebrity impressions to seem like Mad TV rejects.

But possibly, the hollow artist may be just the right person to play the cold and hollow president?

Maybe not.  Time will tell.

But someone better start writing better dialogue.

And better grasp that the families of politicians are off limits or they are not.

When Pharoah delivers a line about Barack having "two adorable daughters and not five creepy adult sons," the Saturday Night Live gang has crossed a line yet again.

Repeating, family members are off limits or they're not.

"Adorable" is in the eye of the beholder.

In addition, Weekend Update made a 'joke' about multiple wives, compared Mitt Romney to a special needs child and more.  Futhermore, a really bad Mitt Romney impersonation found him talking about his horse at the Olympics -- this after he was raked over the coals by the media for not attending the Olympic event and noting it was his wife's horse.  So there's not even the pretense of attempting to use real life as a premise for jokes.

None of it was funny.

Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall

As Stan noted Friday, today is the 87th birthday of film, TV and Broadway actress, living legend Lauren Bacall.

Lauren Bacall

Bacall was a new 'type' for movies when she debuted in To Have and Have Not.  She wasn't the vamp and she wasn't the ingenue.  In films like Key Largo, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and How To Marry A Millionaire, Bacall played a smart woman -- wise from life's experiences. 

In the years since that initial run of performances, more recent films such as The Walker, The Mirror Has Two Faces and Misery have demonstrated that not only does the talent remain but a much wider range than was ever hinted at in her initial films.

Hulu's got a new look

Sometimes you hate change just because it's change.  Sometimes you hate it because what was the point?

hulu new look

Hulu's changed their layout and wants to pretend it's crisper and cleaner.  It's not.  Take the main page.  Information you used to be able to gather quickly in one window now requires you to scroll down and scroll down.

It really looks like Hulu's trying to copy Netflix with their new design.  But the difference is that it actually is easier to use Netflix now.  You can easily click -- at the top -- to whatever you'd like to go to and it's not just easy to navigate, Netflix has organized the content better than they had in the past and better than Hulu has at present.

Some of us have infants and small children.  Doesn't leave a lot of time for TV watching or TV planning.  Jim, "In the past, this wasn't a problem.  I'd just log on to Hulu, click TV and then go to recent episodes.  I'd be able to see, by air date, what had aired the day or day before.  That feature doesn't exist anymore.  It's going to be hell navigating that."

And indeed it is.

Hulu appears to be going for the Mosaic template that was all the rage in Blogger/Blogspot . . . four months ago.  All they've done is make it more difficult to see featured content and more difficult to locate content.

Romney and Obama last week

Jim: This is a discussion about the attack on the US embassy in Libya, the press and other things.  Ava and C.I. cover one aspect in their media piece this week and do a good job with it.  But I knew they had more to say so I'm doing a discussion with them about that.  First up, Mitt Romney, the Republican Party's presidential candidate, says that the Obama administration has practiced an apology tour or similar things.  What is the Romney campaign referring to?

Ava: They're building on images, images that many people have seen of Barack Obama since he became US president.  On trips, he's bowed before other rulers which his defenders insist was (a) either not really a bow or (b) common courtesy and which others insist is something no president should do, bow before other leaders.  The bowing was seen as appeasement.

C.I.: And for those who feel that way, those images took root a long time ago.  Isaiah did a comic back in November of 2009 about this topic, in fact.

the gesture

Jim: Great, that'll be our illustration for this piece.   Then Betty, last week, explained it wasn't just the bow.  In "When Barack got a book . . .," she explains how Hugo Chavez gives Barack a book that's a blistering critique on US policy and his response is to act happy about receiving the book.

Ava: And there are those who feel that dissidents in other countries, such as Iran, did not receive the support they needed.  Or take what's been dubbed the "Arab Spring" and how often the official policy coming out of the White House was to back many oppressive regimes in the region -- to continue to back them.

C.I.: A point that really needs to be made is that after 8 years of Bully Boy Bush, anyone coming in, even John McCain, in 2009 was going to be seen as 'softer' in their interaction with other world leaders.  That's because Bush knew no bounds -- whether it was the inappropriate touching of Germany's Chancellor or what have you.  Bush also blustered and bullied.  Anyone coming in after Bush, certainly any of the people who were running for president in 2008, would have appeared "softer" just due to comparison.

Jim: When the Mitt Romney attacks from the press over his statement started last week, I thought about how they were missing a lot and how you, C.I., killed a section of a roundtable we'd had because Bush was still in office.  You and I were discussing him and his place on the world stage and you made some important remarks but you killed them, pulled them from the piece, saying you weren't going to put that out there while Bush was in office.

C.I.: Right.  He was finally getting the criticism he deserved and I wasn't going to defend him. But to put it simple terms, you can make a political science argument in favor of Bush's image.  He was the crazy man on the world stage.  He wasn't the only one or the first one.  Some would argue Saddam Hussein cultivated the crazy man on the world stage image.  That image is one where you do and say things that are so out there that other countries wonder what you might do and about your how rational you may be.  If you're Saddam Hussein, that image can keep you in power for a number of years but not forever.  If you're leading the United States -- you know I don't use the p-word with Bush -- it's a little different in that the world has gone from a bi-polar system -- the US and the USSR being the great powers -- to a uni-polar as the USSR imploded.  Proponents of the crazy man on the world stage image would argue Bush being seen as crazy or irrational could actually deter violence and attacks on the US.

Jim: Because the reaction would be, 'He's so crazy! Who knows what he might do next! We better leave him alone.'

Ava: And why, may I ask, did this come to mind last week?

Jim: No, I'm not saying Mitt Romney's trying to cultivate that image.  I was just thinking about that conversation, from 2007, I believe, and how I was kind of blown away by it because I'd never heard about it and, by then, Bush had been in the White House forever.  And to me, that the argument had never been popularly made or floated went to how ill equipped our journalists in America are to address issues.  And I thought of that when all the nonsense and phony outrage from the pundits was fired up last week.  We're talking about image now because Mitt Romney is criticizing Barack Obama's image.  You two have talked a little earlier about where an image of weakness might come from.  But what does weakness say to the world community?

Ava: Barack is seen as weakened.  He's seen that way for a variety of reasons. To be clear, I'm thrilled that his hands are tied, or seen that way, with regards to starting new full blown conflicts.  But it's true that there are War Hawks who complained that there wasn't an on the ground offensive by US troops in Libya and that group and others also feel that there should have been US troops on the ground in Syria by now -- in fact, months ago.  So this feeds into an image of being weak.

C.I.: And the White House is aware of that.  Last week, a lot of Barack's comments were in response to fears from his campaign that Romney might 'out tough' him.  But the statements were also because the administration realizes an attack took place and that Barack, due to his image, needs to be using strong words to scare off or ward off other attacks.

Jim: Is Barack weaker?

C.I.: Than Bush? Yes, anyone would be seen that way unless they were a borderline personality.  In terms of the world, he can be seen as a kindly father or he can be seen as inept and weak.  It has to do with what's being emphasized and what the events of the world are.

Jim: Would Mitt Romney as president be seen as weaker or stronger?

Ava: I think about the same.  If he's looking to be seen as strong, the first thing he's going to have to work on is consistency.  He's had a problem there and it may be a media problem or it may be a campaign issue but there's not really been the follow up on a lot of things that should have had one.  If you look unfocused, you can come off weak.

C.I.: Of the ones running, Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, would probably be the best for America's image worldwide.  Just the fact that she could win -- a woman and a woman who is not with one of the two dominant parties, a doctor -- which translates as caring -- and someone who doesn't say "middle class, middle class, middle class . . ." but actually talks about the poor and poverty.  With Barack, there was hope in the world that, largely due to his bi-racial status, that he would be a change.  What's happened is that people around the world haven't seen any change.

Ava: A lot of people were vested in his image -- the American media still is -- and they saw what they wanted to.  There's not any real excitement about Barack running for re-election as a result of the fact that the world sees Guantanamo still open, they see the Drone War having increased under Barack, specific things like that.

Jim: Last week, a win or a loss for Barack?

Ava:  In "Was Mitt wrong? Who knows?," C.I. makes the very important point that opinion is fluid and the events are as well.  I'd say last week may have set up certain plays that take place this week and next but I don't know that it was a win for him -- or for Mitt Romney either.

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: The American people, unlike the government, have a strong sense of decency and fairness.  So for that reason, Barack was a loser and Romney was a winner.  Part of Barack's image of being weak stems from the fact that he's always rescued and pampered by the press.  When they turned themselves into attack dogs to protect Barack last week, it didn't help him and it makes him look less than strong, to put it mildly.  When they all gang up to beat up on Mitt Romney, that just helps Romney.  His supporters get fired up because the media's demonstrated yet again that they won't play fair.  If the media keeps doing this, you'll probably see a record turn out among Republicans because this is the sort of nonsense -- this refusal of the media to play fair -- that can send people to the polls.

Jim: Alright, we'll leave it there.

Jill Stein stands with the teachers

Jill Stein is the Green Party presidential candidate.  Her campaign issued the following:

Jill Stein joins Chicago strike for public education

Earlier today, Jill Stein joined the picket lines at Amundsen and Lane Tech, two Chicago high schools. On her way from Ohio, she cancelled her morning appearances in Minnesota in order to visit Chicago teachers, parents, and students who have been engaged in a citywide strike since Monday.
The battle the teachers of the Chicago Public Schools are fighting is not one of their choosing. It is one which has been foisted on them by politicians who have been bankrolled by, and who therefore represent the interests of, the 1%.
Rahm Emanuel’s war against the Chicago Teachers Union is not about wages or benefits. It is about the future of quality public education in Chicago and beyond. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, with their “Race to the Top” initiative, are seeking to destroy the influence of the teachers unions, to reroute public dollars to corporate interests, and to undermine the core fabric of public education in America.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is a staunch defender of public sector workers and for quality public education from pre-school through college. “Obama and Romney have made it  clear that they think our kids don't need a quality education,” says Stein. “They expect middle class people to bear the tax burden, and are not willing to make the wealthy pay a fair share, in order to fund our schools. The situation in Chicago is about whether the superrich pay their share, or whether we have underfunded schools.”

Stein, a Harvard-trained physician who once ran against Mitt Romney for Governor of Massachusetts, is proposing a Green New Deal for America - a four part policy strategy for moving America quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future. Inspired by the New Deal programs that helped the U.S. out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Green New Deal proposes to provide similar relief and create an economy that makes communities sustainable, healthy and just.

Stein grew up in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois.

Mumia Abu-Jamal fights life imprisonment (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Mumia Abu-Jamal fights life imprisonment

By on September 13, 2012 » Add the first comment.

As activists gear up for a Sept. 14 event in New York promoting the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the state of Philadelphia has lodged another attack against him. On Aug. 15, this internationally revered political prisoner was illegally sentenced to life imprisonment.
Abu-Jamal, a MOVE Organization supporter and a former Black Panther Party member, is known as the “voice of the voiceless” for his continued anti-racist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist journalism. After being framed and convicted for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Abu-Jamal spent decades in solitary confinement, as a worldwide movement coalesced to free him. In December Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that the state was no longer seeking a death sentence for Abu-Jamal, and he was released into the general prison population.
While the state backed off in the face of continued activism in support of Abu-Jamal – and perhaps in the hope that the movement for his freedom would dissipate — it resumed its assault on Abu-Jamal’s life nine months later. Without any notice to Abu-Jamal or to his lawyers, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole on Aug. 15.
A press statement from the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) notes that “all sentences … require a formal proceeding allowing the person to be sentenced the right to be heard and to challenge his sentence.” (Aug. 21) The sentencing is therefore illegal and, as with many of the state’s maneuverings in this decades-long case, in violation of Abu-Jamal’s rights.
Dembe had shown her willingness to deny Abu-Jamal justice in the past. In 2001, she refused to hear a legal challenge regarding the racist bias of convicting Judge Albert Sabo, who was overheard by a stenographer saying that he was going to “help them fry the n——-“ before Abu-Jamal’s trial.
Abu-Jamal filed a Post-Sentencing Motion on Aug. 23. Rachel Wolkenstein, Abu-Jamal’s attorney, reports: “Mumia’s motion not only attacks his own sentence to ‘slow death row,’ but makes the constitutional challenge to life imprisonment without parole, solitary confinement for death-row inmates and solitary confinement in general. Mumia is fighting with and for the entirety of ‘incarceration nation.’” (Aug. 24 email)
In addition to the demand to free Abu-Jamal and all U.S. political prisoners, the Sept. 14 event will focus on ending mass incarceration and solitary confinement and on closing New York’s infamous Attica prison. Speakers will include ICFFMAJ leader Pam Africa; Michelle Alexander, author of the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”; activist and former political prisoner Angela Davis; attorney Soffiyah Elijah; Jazz Hayden, a community “cop-watch” activist who is currently being framed by the New York Police Department; Marc Lamont Hill, who with Abu-Jamal co-authored the book “The Classroom and the Cell”; and Princeton University Professor Cornel West, who has been active in the campaign against the NYPD’s racist “stop-and-frisk” policies.
For more information, tickets and to sign a petition supporting the closing of Attica, visit

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

Cheri Honkala rallies for voting rights

Cheri Honkala is the vice presidential candidate for the Green Party.  The Stein-Honkala campaign notes:

Cheri Honkala rallies for voting rights

Cheri_Honkala_Voting_Rights_Rally.jpgAt a press conference today in front of the Municipal Service Building in Philadelphia, Green Party VP candidate and National Coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Cheri Honkala, made the following remarks about the state’s proposed new voter ID law, currently being challenged in the courts:
“Politicians should be our servants. It says in the Declaration of Independence that in America power is derived from the consent of the governed. And that consent is granted, formally, by our vote that elects people to office. So politicians have no just power except that which we award them by our vote. That's why the right to vote is fundamental to the legitimacy of our government. If you don't let me vote, you have no right to exercise the power of office.
“Yet the politicians don't respect our right to vote. They pass laws to avoid accountability to the voters. They use gerrymandering to redraw districts so that they can't be defeated by the vote of their constituents. They pass restrictive ballot access laws to keep independents and third party candidates off the ballot.  They find excuses for denying the vote to people in prison, to college students, and to immigrants. And they pass laws like the Pennsylvania voter ID law to discourage people from trying to vote.
“In their arrogance, they view voters as annoyances, as people to be manipulated and disempowered and kept in their place. It's up to us not to let them get away with it. We must defend the right of every person who lives, works, and pays taxes in America to register to vote, to cast their vote, and to have their vote counted. We must not accept anti-voter laws like the Pennsylvania Voter ID law. 
“We, the people, are not committing vote fraud. We, the people, are not trying to manipulate elections. We just want to exercise our right to vote.  It's the politicians who are guilty of infringing upon the sanctity of the democratic process. We can't allow them to get away with it.
“Let's demand that this voter ID law be suspended. Let's demand that it be repealed. Let's demand that everyone be allowed to vote. And if we want to run for office, let's demand that they not put obstacles in our way.
“The patriots who founded our nation by rebelling against their colonial masters had a rallying cry: No taxation without representation! Well, if you don't allow us to vote, or to be on the ballot as candidates, then you are denying us representation. How dare you do that, and then try to tax us,  or regulate us,  or impose laws to imprison us.   
“Mr. Politician, remove the barriers and let the people vote!”
Also at today’s rally were representatives from: United, NAACP President Ben Todd Jealous joins the Pennsylvania NAACP State Conference, United Steel Workers, TWU 234, PA Voter ID Coalition, National Action Network- Philadelphia Chapter, Communication Workers of America Local 13000, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, The Advancement Project, PA ACLU, Faith and Clergy Leaders, Neighborhood Networks, Committee of Seventy, Local Elected Officials. MoveON - Philadelphia, Fight for Philly/SEIU, APRI Pittsburgh Chapter

Background on the poll tax and Supreme Ct. hearing can be found in the Sept 11 York Dispatch article.


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.

 "Continued violence, continued protests" and "Was Mitt wrong? Who knows?" -- two most requested highlights of the week.  One got one more vote and it's the second one Ty says.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Tom Hayden Dem..." -- Isaiah takes a look at Tom Hayden Democrats.

"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on the House Armed Services Committee hearing.

 "Was extra security requested?" and   "The attack" -- Betty, Rebecca, Kat and Elaine on the press and the terrorism.

"Idiot of the week: Max" -- When a point is missed, look for Max Blumenthal to be staring off into space, holding an empty catcher's mitt.

"Journalist of the week: Richard Engel" -- and Mike picked a journalistic all star for the week as well.

"THIS JUST IN! BARRY SHOOTS 1ST, AIMS LATER!" and  "Barry shot his mouth first, aimed later" -- it's not easy posing for the cameras, Barry makes clear.

 "Oh, Tom, you've never been Whiter," "Economy," "Drunken Tom" and "The racist Tom Hayden" -- Betty, Ann, Marcia and Stan weigh in on Tom Hayden's latest drunken rant.

"5 of my favorite books," "full service: hollywood and prostitution" and  "Hepburn, Tracy, Burr, prostitutes and more" -- Rebecca and Marcia cover books.

 "Sauteed Basil & Garlic Vegetables in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a quick and easy recipe which is also high fiber.

"West Nile" -- Ruth continues her West Nile coverae.

"Paul Simon's Graceland" -- on its 25th anniversary, Kat notes a landmark album from Paul Simon.

"21 Jump Street," "Natalie Wood,"  "James Bond songs,"  and  "Lauren Bacall turns 87 Sunday" -- Ruth, Betty, Kat and Stan go to the movies.

"The Pig-Pen Ambassador" -- Isaiah digs into the archives.

 "i'm a victoria grayson!" -- Rebecca writes about Revenge.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }