Sunday, November 25, 2012

Truest statement of the week

In the new global landscape, as in Israel’s occupied territories and the United States’ own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and “disappeared.” The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine.

-- Chris Hedges, "Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All" (Truthdig).

Truest statement of the week II

To further circumvent international law and other hindrances to imperial reach, Washington devised the doctrine of “humanitarian” military intervention – where Susan Rice makes her mark as madwoman, demanding blockades and air strikes against Sudan, invasion of Somalia, embargoes on little Eritrea, and regime change in Libya. 

-- Glen Ford, "Obama's Mideast Policy Burns" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
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.

The bulk of the work being done by Ava, C.I., Elaine and Mike.  And I'm not joking.

And what did we come up with?

These were chosen quickly in the evening hours.  I (Jim) suggested this one.
And Ty nominated Glen Ford.  (We only had 8 nominees for truest this week -- the holidays meant a lot of people who usually write and observe were otherwise occupied last week.)

Dona and I went to her folks for Thanksgiving.  Ava and C.I. said they'd put together something but if I was working on the edition, they'd expect serious contributions on the editorial.  Our plane was late and it took forever to get out of the airport but as soon as I was back, I went right to work with the gang on this editorial.

With no holiday specials, what were they to do?  Ava and C.I. thought about offering a preview of December specials and were calling around to see what was planned (besides reruns of old seasonal cartoons) by the networks for next month.  Each ended up being pressed by an ABC friend (two different friends) to consider covering Barbara Walters upcoming 'most fascinating people' special.  They laughed about that and how fluffy that thing was when what Barbara should do . . .  "And thus," Elaine says, another Ava and C.I. classic was born.
Stan, Marcia, Betty, Mike, Jess, Ty, Rebecca and Ruth were the prime workers of this piece.
Elaine said they really should do something to note Rebecca and Marcia's continued book coverage.  How about a cutting of the two women's reviews of the book with an illustration of the book cover.  It turned out to be just a little bit more than that once everyone got to work on it.
Mike brought this one to the group based on an e-mail he got.  Stan covers movies at his site and he and Ann do a 10 best each year (last week of December) so he and Ann were on board.  It took longer than anything else -- and only some of that involved picking the films.  People were tired and there was talk of killing the piece, Wally told us, but Mike said if Ava and C.I. would go work on their TV article, when they got back there would be a usable article "that would still benefit from an Ava and C.I. polish, please."  And Mike was true to his word.  Ava and C.I. thought the article stood as is but there was a desire for a little humor in the piece and so Ava and C.I. did a quick polish.  (You'll probably be able to tell where, I can and I wasn't even there when this was written.)

Ralph Poynter's very important speech on Lynne Stewart
A C.I. repost.  I am thrilled but had nothing to do with it.  Elaine was the one calling for this.  
A repost from Workers World.
And Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

 See you next week.


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

Editorial: Nouri holds the US government hostage

Prime Minister and thug Nouri al-Maliki was first installed as prime minister by the US government (then led by Bully Boy Bush) in 2006 when they nixed Ibrahim al-Jafaari and insisted the Iraqi Parliament instead go with Nouri.  In 2010, Iraqis turned out to at the polls to vote in parliamentary elections.  They hoped for a change.  The results indicated one would take place as Nouri's State of Law finished second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya.

But votes didn't matter to the US government, now led by Barack Obama.  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (The Daily Beast) explains:

As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

And since the end of 2011, things have gotten even worse.

Now the Kurdish Regional Government and Nouri's Baghdad-based government are at loggerheads. 

Over what?

Over what else: Disputed territories.

In 2006, Nouri became prime minister and was mandated, by the Constitution's Article 140, to hold a census and a referendum in Kirkuk.  This is how it and other disputed areas would be decided, per the Constitution written in 2005.

Nouri refused to honor the Constitution.

Kirkuk is especially sensitive for historical reasons and because it is oil-rich.

March 25, 2009, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Barack Obama's nomination of the idiot Chris Hill to be US Ambassador in Iraq.  In his opening remarks, Commitee Chair John Kerry would observe:

First, resolving the status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories. Arab - Kurdish tensions run high in Kirkuk, which remains a potential flashpoint for violence, and meaningful efforts to reach agreement on Kirkuk's final status cannot be put off indefinitely. In Mosul, a strong showing in recent provincial elections by an anti-Kurdish coalition illustrated rising tensions there, as did a tense military standoff in Diyala province last summer between the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga . If progress is not made in defusing Arab-Kurdish tensions while American forces remain in Iraq, the window for a peaceful resolution of Kirkuk and other disputed territories may close.

Though the Chair of the Committee grasped the importance of Kirkuk, the nominee, Chris Hill, did not.  He couldn't speak coherently about Kirkuk and, at one point, termed it "just an old fashioned land dispute" much to the visible shock of several senators sitting on the Committee.

Even so, he was confirmed and eventually made it to Iraq where he did Nouri's bidding, attempted to undermined General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq at the time, had a hissy fit that he wasn't getting more media attention so demanded the White House tell Odierno he couldn't do anymore interviews and basically was a real bitch.  And Barack and the other idiots though Chrissy Hill was amazing and insightful -- because they wanted to think that.  Only when then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates brought Odierno to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, many months after Nouri had refused to honor the results of the 2010 elections, and after the White House had decided to back second place Nouri, did the White House realize that Chris Hill was a problem.

The administration then nominated -- and the Senate confirmed -- James Jeffrey to be the next US Ambassador to Iraq.  Apparently, the takeaway from the Hill debacle was that they had listened too closely to their ambassador so, to fix that, the White House repeatedly refused to listen to Jeffrey who was very clear that there were serious problems in Iraq, serious problems with Nouri al-Maliki (something the State Dept had noted prior to 2008 and put down on paper) and Jeffrey would grow frustrated and leave before serving two years in the post.  Then came the swinger Brett McGurk who the administration wanted six months ago.  They wanted him because the White House continues to work on putting (more) US troops back into Iraq.  McGurk was good at weasel words and managed to come up with wording in 2008 for the Status Of Forces Agreement that both Nouri and the Bush White House could live with.  (It helped that there was a bit of ambiguity between the English version and the Arabic translation.)  Brett was there boy and he would get (more) US troops back into Iraq.

A sex scandal blew him out of the water.  Eventually Robert S. Beecroft would be nominated and John Kerry would work overtime to see him quickly confirmed. 

None of it has any effect on Nouri.  In part, that's because Nouri knows -- from his discussions with McGurk (he didn't get Senate approval but the administration continues to use him in talks to send troops back into Iraq because Nouri like Brett McGurk) -- that the US has some serious wants right now.  So he can do pretty much what he wants and the US will go along.


Last week, former US Secretary of State Condi Rice showed up with a column that explained how Nouri continues to hold the US hostage -- though that wasn't Condi's intent when she wrote, "If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot count on the Americans, he will take no risks with Tehran."

Yes, someday Nouri may get tough with Iran like the White House wants.

The White House wanted him to inspect Iranian planes flying over Iraq into Syria.

He refused.

Insisted publicly it would never happen.

Then John Kerry declared in a public hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Beecroft's confirmation hearing) that the Congress could cut off funding to Iraq (which is still costing US tax payers billions of new tax dollars each year) and, after grumbling about the threat, suddenly Nouri started doing inspections -- at least for-show inspections.

The White House is a joke.  Most Iraqi observers (not US citizens, not people with any ability to vote in the 2008 elections) felt Barack whored out everything when he met Nouri in the summer of 2008 and that he has little he can do now -- especially out of fear that Nouri will go on record about their conversation when Barack was a first-term US Senator desperately needing some foreign policy cred.

Nouri calls the shots.  And that would be a good thing if he'd been picked by the Iraqi people.  But thing is, Iraqis are no different than anyone else.  They're not fond of thugs who have protesters beat up.  They don't really like the idea of secret prisons where people are held and tortured.  They're not real fond of a lack of public services and a lack of jobs.  And they're not real fond of the fact that their 2010 votes didn't count and they're still stuck with the guy the US government installed -- a chicken s**t exile who fled Iraq decades ago and only returned after the US invaded in 2003.

Now this chicken s**t, this coward who fled the country while they all lived under Saddam Hussein, this coward is their leader?  Because the US government says so?

Nouri wants to take control of the disputed areas.

The people to feel most sorry for right now are the Kurds because President of Iraq Jalal Talabani pretends he gives a damn (Jalal is a Kurd) but he repeatedly sells out the Kurdish interests.  Even now, he's telling KRG President Massoud Barzani that they can trust the US government "this time" -- "this time."  The same government which has repeatedly screwed over the Kurds since 2009.  Yes, since Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States, since the 'great friend of the Kurds' Joe Biden became Vice President. 

But it takes a friend to really screw you over.  A stranger can only con you.

And now Joe Biden, who gave his word in 2010 that the US government would stand by the Erbil Agreement (a contract signed in November 2010 in which Nouri guaranteed certain things to the political blocs if they'd ignore the vote and grant him a second term), is on the telephone offering more promises. While at the same time, in Baghdad, US diplomats are telling Nouri he just needs to lower his profile and just for a few weeks, let things calm down and then, in 2013, he can pursue his obejctives.

TV: The 10 Most Disgraceful People

Each Thanksgiving weekend for the last years, we've offered a review -- at least one -- of the Thanksgiving specials.  But thing is, the networks offered no holiday specials.

There was Spike Lee's bad and confusing 'news' special on the anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Bad album.  Confusing not just because Bad is considered the weakest of the three albums Quincy Jones produced for Jackson (Off The Wall and Thriller being the other two) but also because it was released August 31, 1987.  So November 22nd really wasn't it's 25th anniversary.

Friday, NBC offered a  'special,' a dog show.  No, not a show starring dogs, the National Dog Show.  And if there's anything funnier than ABC billing Spike Lee's failed theatrical documentary as a "news special," it's NBC billing the dog show as "an NBC Sports special."

Yes, and we look forward to seeing the January ABC Sports special, the Miss America Competition. 

The dog show brought in more viewers than Lee's documentary but it still put us to sleep.


Allowing us to dream -- specifically of Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Disgraceful People.  There was Walters on the ABC in our minds, explaining that this year's selection included politicians, entertainers, officials "and even the rarest of all rarities, a book writer."

In fact, the book writer kicked it off.  Walters asked Joe Posnanski to explain his embarrassing book Paterno, specifically how, writing about disgraced college coach Joe Paterno, Posnanski could claim that Paterno never heard of the 1998 criminal investigation of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky assaulting a young boy -- this despite the fact that the Penn State investigation had already produced the report that documented Paterno knew in 1998 about Sandusky's criminal interest in young boys.  As Posnanski stammered and stuttered, Walters beamed for the cameras and said, "Disgraceful."

And now she was saying "from sports writers to sports, he was a world class hero, cozy with a former president named Bush and a faded singer named Crow, no one rode as high until, one day, a rock in the road sent his bicycle flying.  The rock, it would turn out, was performance-enhancing drugs."

And there was Lance Armstrong, sweaty faced and slack-jawed.

As he stared off into space, Walters noted, "You've been stripped of titles and banned from the sport of competitive cycling for life.  How does it feel to be a disgrace?"

With nothing to say for himself, Barbara Walters had little to do but go to a commercial break.  

"It was not a good year for politicians," Walters intoned as the broadcast resumed.

Turning her chair, she faced a nervous official.  Walters declared,  "Susan Rice, September 16th, you appeared on CBS' Face The Nation, NBC's Meet The Press, ABC's This Week, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday --  to discuss the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Begnhazi in which Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Chris Stevens were murdered.  What you said wasn't correct, was it?"

"Well, Barbara," Susan said forcing a thin smile, "as I declared earlier, I only repeated what I was told and I was told wrong."

"Right, right.  So you weren't smart enough to do the work required yet you went on national television, on five different national channels, and reveled in your own stupidity, paraded your ignorance before America, showed them what their tax dollars were wasted on."

"Well --"

"I'm done with you," Walters said swiveling her chair to face the camera.  "The Indian philosopher Chanakya once wrote, 'It is better to die than to preserve this life by incurring disgrace.  The loss of life causes but a moment's grief, but disgrace brings grief every day of one's life.'  Susan Rice learned that in 2012 and she wasn't the only one.  Take our next guest, Roseanne Barr."

"Hey, Barbara," smiled Roseanne, apparently just happy to be back on network television.

"Roseanne, in the 80s and 90s, you were a successful TV star.  Today, you've had not one but two reality shows get the axe almost immediately, NBC passed on your latest sitcom and you campaigned to be the Green Party's presidential candidate but lost.  Upon losing, you demonstrated a lack of grace as you used the week of the Green Party's national convention to repeatedly attack Jill Stein who had won.  You made a lot about not agreeing with her but you wouldn't be specific.  Having rained on that parade, you then declared you'd run as an independent but instead ran as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate.  Your campaign was such a joke that your running mate Cindy Sheehan announced she was quitting the ticket and would have had it not been for the fact that it was too late to remove her name from the ballot.  Your campaign was plagued with charges that you failed to pay campaign staff and rumors that you'd become a shut-in."

"I got 42,970 votes in California alone," Roseanne said popping a bubble gum bubble.

"Yes, and on the same ticket in California in 2008, the nominee got 108,381 votes.  So you really didn't help build the party, did you?  My next guest won re-election weeks ago, won 63% of the vote.  It was his 10th Congressional election, all of which he won.  This one was different because he hadn't been seen since June.  It was also different because he just announced that he was resigning his seat.  Jesse Jackson Jr., how are you?"

"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service.  However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish --"

"Doctors?  While you have been in rehab, you're also under federal investigation."

"I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities," Jackson Jr. said nodding his head, "and am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone."

"Well they're not mistakes, Congressman Jackson," Walters pointed out.  "Mistakes are things like leaving a 6% check because you did the math wrong.  The feds do not investigate mistakes.  They investigate crimes."

As Jackson tried to insist that he should "be remembered for what I did right," Walters cut him off to go to commercial.

"We're back," Barbara Walters declared.  "And as we go into the top five, we spend the next three with disgraces of a sexual nature.  First up, our guest is Major General Margaret Woodward.  And, to be clear, she was not involved in a scandal; however, she did lead an investigation this year into allegations of misconduct and she wrote the report on her findings.  As I understand it, General, you investigated complaints about 25 military training instructors at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and 11 have now been charged, with five convicted for everything from inappropriate sexual relations with recruits to rape.  This is astounding.  And what is the reaction of the people on the base?  Are they trying to ignore the issue?"

"We have some incredible -- a great number of incredible Americans serving at Lackland as military training instructors," Major General  Woodward responded.  "And they're all extraordinarily proud, as they should be, of what they do and how important their mission is.  They believe in our Air Force culture so -- and our Air Force core values.  So they are as horrified by what's taken place by fellow -- a few of their fellow MITs, as General [Edward A.] Rice [Jr.] and I and -- and anyone else is.  And the sense I got was that as -- disappointed is probably the best word -- in their fellow MTIs, it does not detract from how important their mission is and how they believe in it."

"MTIs would be Military Training Instructors.   Well, while that's good, you talk about core values and how they are believed in and how the core values were widely known,  I would assume that they were known by those who broke the rules and, in some cases, committed crimes.  Is that correct?"

"I would say it's very clear -- every single -- of the 215 witnesses we interviewed, there was not a single individual that did not know exactly what the AETC policy and what their responsibilities as individuals were.  So the ones that chose to violate that knew that they were violating a regulation or a policy and that was very clear to them," Major General Woodward responded.

"Thank you very much, General Woodward," Barbara Walters said.  "Six commanding officers received some form of a disciplinary actions and two more were removed, according to the Air Force.  My next guest chose to remove himself.  He flew from obscurity to national prominence with the help of media admirers like Thomas E. Ricks.  Interestingly, Ricks has a book that insists that generals should be fired when they don't win wars but Ricks has spent the last weeks defending this man.  Former general David Petraeus, at one point, the top US commander in Iraq.  Oversaw a failed war and what some call an unethical policy of counter-insurgency.  Despite those realities, President Barack Obama would go on to put Petraeus over the war in Afghanistan and then to make the military retired Petraeus the CIA Director.  It was a sensitive post and one that must be free of any potential scandal out of concerns over blackmail.  Mr. Petraeus has resigned over an affair which, he insists, did not start until after he left the military in 2011.  Director, how do you explain this affair?  And why did you decide to resign not when the FBI learned of the affair but when you learned the affair was going to be made public?"

We were as shocked as Walters when David Petraeus' knees parted and Thomas Ricks crawled out from between them and began speaking.

"We now seem to care more about the sex lives of our leaders than the real lives of our soldiers."

As Ricks attempted to filibuster and brought up President Dwight D. Eisenhower's alleged affair when he was a general, Walters cut him off.

"You are a disgrace but not enough of one to be on this show.  Why do you prattle on about this general and that general and the military and all the other crap?  He is not a general who was forced to resign because of the military code of ethics.  He was a CIA Director.  As usual, your stupidity has confused the issue. As I was saying before, the Director could live with the feds knowing of the affair but could not handle it going public.  Which would indicate that if a foreign government discovered the affair and attempted to blackmail him with it, he would be very open to blackmail because he so clearly did not want the affair to go public."

As Ricks attempted to babble, Walters motioned for the burliest members of her crew who quickly escorted Ricks forcibly from the studio.  (Petraeus left on his own accord.)

"We round out the filth section with 24-year-old Rihanna.  She became a superstar in 2009 after her boyfriend beat her.  The ensuing case and her 'I'm a survivor' image allowed Rihanna to achieve new fame.  This year found Time placing you on their '100 Most Influential People in the World' list, you became the most popular artist on Facebook and the accolades never stop.  Or didn't seem to.  But your ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown, received five years probation while, in the second half of 2012, you became something more than a social embarrassment.  Entertainment Weekly called you out in August for your Oprah interview saying, 'All in all, it was just terribly sad to see Rihanna, a strong woman and sensational artist, say with tears in her eyes that "I think he was the love of my life".'  While many abused women return to their attackers, you're not many women.  You're incredibly powerful within the music industry and millions of young girls look up to you.  So what kind of message does it send when you say that garbage to Oprah about your abuser or when you decide to record a duet with him?  A 13-year-old girl whose boyfriend hits her looks at you and says, 'Well Rihanna still loves Chris Brown.'  So what kind of message are you sending, especially when young teenagers are your target audience?"

As Rihanna attempted to respond, Walters cut her off, "Why don't you just stop right now?  You've done enough harm to the young girls in America.  The mistake the public made was not grasping that you are so sick you don't even realize it and that a beating to you is just another way of showing 'love.'  So when your next boyfriend beats you with a tire iron, we'll all remember not to ask you, 'Are you doing okay?,' but instead, 'Was it a mind blowing orgasm for you?'  As 19th century humorist Josh Billings once observed, 'No one can disgrace us but ourselves'."

As the show resumed after yet another commercial break, Walters informed, "We're now down to our last two disgraces, the two most disgraceful of the year, in fact.  First up, a woman I took to task in 2009 for a children's cookbook.  I told her, 'This is a cookbook for kids.  Obesity is the No.1 problem for kids today.  Everything you have here is enormously fattening.  You tell kids to have cheesecake for breakfast.  You tell them to have chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch.  And French fries.  Doesn't it bother you that you're adding to this?'  And my guest said no, it did not.   But at the start of this year, Paula Deen announced that she had Type II Diabetes.  And she was diagnosed three years prior to her announcement.  So while promoting her fattening and sugary cookbook for children, she was already a diabetic.  The Mayo Clinic notes, 'There's no cure for type 2 daibetes, but you can manage -- or even prevent -- the condition.  Start by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.'  Eating well is not eating the sugar rich, high fat garbage that Deen has promoted in books, multiple TV shows and in her magazine Cooking With Paula Deen."

Deen babbled away about how she had to come to the right moment, spiritually, to share her disease with America and, God must have wanted it because, that was when the drug makers at Novo Nordisk came calling -- like a little sign from above: 'You make 'em sick, Paula, and we'll supply them with the treatment.'  As soon as Deen finished plugging her sponsor, Walters noted that it was now time for the most disgraceful person in America for 2012.

"President Barack Obama," Walters began, "you started the year signing the National Defense Authorization Act which, in violation of the Constitution, gave the government the right to lock people away without trial on your say so.  You appear to be ending the year backing out of your promise to provide the full truth on Benghazi.  You promised to close Guantanamo but the prison remains open.  You said all troops would be out of Iraq but hundreds remain as 'trainers' and Special-Ops while you moved 15,000 from Iraq to the border country of Kuwait, where they remain and will for many years to come. You have claimed you can kill anyone you claim to be a foreign terrorist if they are on foreign soil -- even if they are American citizens.  You have expanded your predecessor's policy of spying on American citizens.  You are both a failure in terms of what people wanted and thought they were voting for and you are also a disgrace.   How do you respond to topping our list of The 10 Most Disgraceful People?"

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?" Barack asked staring at Walters.  "Just let me eat my waffle."

"And there you have it," announced Walters.  "Big statements and then he waffles.  Pledges and promises, followed by his waffles.  President Obama is but one The 10 Most Disgraceful People this year.  As you have seen in this hour, a lot of people have done their part to disgrace not just themselves but also the country as well.  Some have threatened the country's physical health like Paula Deen.  Others, like Rihanna, threaten our mental health.  And to top the list, you have to be a threat in every direction possible which generally means you have to reside in the White House.  As we head in to 2013, I'll keep my eyes peeled for those excelling in shame and I know you will as well.  For ABC News, I'm Barbara Walters and this has been Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Disgraceful People.  Thank you for spending your holiday hour with me, an hour where we moved a little beyond glib and fluff."

The week in funny

Some of the funniest lines from last week's television.


Whitney, I'm not with you for your money.  You're a trophy wife.  Third place.
-- Alex (Chris D'Elia) to Whitney (Whitney Cummings) as they open a joint-checking account on NBC's Whitney which airs Wednesday nights.

Alex:  Okay, you know what?  Just stop, Penny.  I'm starting to get it now: You had feelings for Dave.  And you know what?  Maybe you still do.  So you said all that stuff about him not moving in.

Penny:  No!  What I said on The Real World was nothing.  And it was 2002!  It was such a crazy time.  We were all still reeling from the events surrounding the film Vanilla Sky.  I mean, what is reality?

Alex:  I am so tired of people using Vanilla Sky to defend everything!

-- Tensions erupt between Penny (Casey Wilson) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) when an old episode of The Real World finds Penny admitting that she loves Dave.  Happy Endings airs on ABC each Tuesday night.

Jimmy: I thought you said "cookie."  It sounded like you said "cookie."

Sabrina:   What?  Why would I say, "If we hurry, we can have a cookie in the shower"?  It doesn't even make sense.

Jimmy:  That's why I said "no."  Damn, I'll never get that one back.
--  Jimmy (Lucas Neff) and Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) go for a walk on Raising Hope, airs Tuesday nights on Fox.

Boy, Freckles wanted to get out of here worse than me.  Is-is he an outdoor cat?  No?  Alright then.
-- June (Dreama Walker) exiting Thanksgiving dinner after being thrown out by Chloe's mother. Don't Trust The B---- in Apt 23, airs on ABC, Tuesday nights.

Mindy: Josh, where are you?

Josh: I'm at a strip club in Atlanta with some players I rep.  The buffet here is all over the place.  Turkey, sushi, pizza.  It's weird.  I wish you could see it.

Mindy:  Josh, why are you calling me from a strip club in Atlanta?

Josh:  Because I miss you.

Mindy:  I'm sorry, I di - hear what you said.  Can you just repeat it?

Josh:  You totally heard me.  The reception in this strip club is spectacular.  

Mindy: Okay, well the reception at the strip club that I am in is not that good.  Just please repeat yourself.

Josh: Put it this way, kid, two girls just offered to take me to the backroom and grind the pretty out of me and all I can do is think about one girl who is a thousand miles away.

Mindy:  Well that is just about the grossest thing anyone has ever said to me.
-- Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Josh (Tommy Dewey) firm up their relationship over the phone on The Mindy Project which airs Tuesdays on Fox.

Okay, you don't buy sunglasses.  You find them on the train.
-- Whitney (Whitney Cummings) giving economic tips to Alex (Chris D'Elia) on NBC's Whitney which airs Wednesday nights.

Jane: I'm Greg? 

Max: I said, "I'm gay." I'm a hero!

Brad:  You're definitely a hero to all the Gregs out there.

Jane: The first openly Greg person on television.

Penny: They're letting Gregs in the military now.

--  The gang watches The Real World 2002 where Max (Adam Pally) comes out while eating a sandwich and the food in his mouth making it hard to understand what he's saying -- Alex (Elisha Cuthbert), Jane (Eliza Coupe), Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Penny (Casey Wilson).  Happy Endings airs on ABC each Tuesday night.

Mark: Lily, I'm drowning! I have no idea what I'm doing!  I have never been so scared in all of my life! And I have been shot at!  Stop looking at me!

Lily:  Mark, it's going to be okay.

Mark:  I don't know.  Last night, I dreamed that the bar ate me.

Lily:  Okay, c'mere.  Listen to me.  I have been through something like this, okay?  I was in grad school, set to get a degree in marketing.  But for fun, I would write these little reviews of restaurants around campus and it just made me so happy.  So I bailed out on school, gave up on having a really stable job to start my food blog.  And when I started it, I had nothing.  Look at me now.

Mark: You still have nothing.

Lily:  No, I have less than nothing.  I'm in debt.  I'm sleeping on Roxanne's couch.  I don't have health insurance.  I have a mole with irregular borders.  Oh my God, what have I done!

Mark:  No, no, Lily.  Lily, Lily, Lily, it's going to be fine.

Lily:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I'm going to be okay.  Right?

Mark:  I don't know.  But you just made me realize that I am.
-- Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones) helps Mark (Dan O'Brien) through a career panic on Whitney which airs Wednesday nights on NBC.

The Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe rivalry

Readers always e-mail (our e-mail address is asking for more book coverage and a number of you regularly write to say you love that Marcia and Rebecca cover a few books at their sites each year, offering their takes on books on the same night.

Elizabeth Taylor

Last month,  Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like A Dame by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince was released.   Rebecca's "book 'em friday: liz taylor" and Marcia's "Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like A Dame" went up Friday night.

Of the book, Marcia emphasized the conflict  between Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, "And Monroe and Taylor were big rivals.  It started with Taylor's first husband, before she and Nicky Hilton married, she found out he was having an affair with Hilton.  The two women would often end up bedding down the same guy.  When Monroe first met Taylor, she made a point to know how much she'd enjoyed her films . . . when she was a child!"

From pages 252 - 253 of the book, Elizabeth Taylor, then married to first husband Nicky Hilton  whose father Conrad Hilton was trying desperately to reach him with no luck.  So he called Elizabeth and she went to the Bel Air Hotel.

Getting dressed, Elizabeth drove to the hotel, fearing that Nicky might be incapacitated and perhaps needed to be rushed to a hospital.
Letting herself into the suite with her own key, she entered the darkened living room.  There was a light shing from the bedroom.  She heard voices, one of them a woman giggling.  She stopped at the door and looked in horror at Nicky and Monroe fornicating.  She yelled at him.  "Your father wants you to call him at once.  Why not tell the blonde trollop you'll f**k her later?"  Then she turned and headed back to the suite's entrance.  He did not pursue her.
Monroe, however, with a towel wrapped around her otherwise nude body, came after Elizabeth, following her into the living room.  "I'm sorry, Miss Taylor, for taking your husband away from you.  He prefers me to you. You're beautiful and I'm sure you'll find another man.  Somewhere, someone out there must find you desirable."
"Get out of my sight, you brazen little tart," Elizabeth shouted at her.  "You can have Nicky Hilton."
As Elizabeth headed into the hall, Monroe stood at the door, calling to her, "Miss Taylor, I loved seeing you in the movies when I was a little girl."
In fury, Elizabeth stood before the elevator doors.  Actually, Monroe was six years older than she was, which made the parting remark from her all the more infuriating.

That was the first meeting of Marilyn and Elizabeth.  It was also the end of the Taylor-Hilton marriage with Elizabeth immediately moving out of their home and quickly filing for divorce ("All the long-stemmed yellow roses in the world will make no difference.  You and I are through," she fired off in a telegram.)  Unlike the marriage, the rivalry would last through Monroe's death and beyond.  From pages 526 - 527:

Elizabeth might have paid scant attion to [Jose] Bolanos except for two reasons: He was the only man she'd met in Puerto Vallarta who qualified for that "revenge f**k" she'd planned as a means of getting even with [Richard] Burton for seducing Ava Gardner.  Also, she was tempted by the ieda of learning intimate secrets about Monroe's last lover, especially if the fallen star had considered Bolanos as marriage material.

Rebecca emphasized Elizabeth Taylor's porno movie (you didn't know? neither did she -- read the book) and recommended 'so pick up the book and learn about her conflicts with [joan] crawford, katharine hepburn, marlene dietrich. and especially marilyn monroe.'

The book is in soft cover with a list price of $23,95.

10 Worst Films for 2012


On this list, you won't find a series of intentional B movies or worse.  But our list of Worst Films For 2012 are based on films there was, at one point, actual interest in.  (Breathe easy, Madonna, no one was ever interested in W.E., so your directorial debut does not make our list.)

(1) The Raven.  How do you screw up Poe?  Edgar Allan Poe was scaring the world before film even existed so how do you screw up Poe?  You do so in part by casting John Cusak.  The 46 years have been so rough that they wear like 60.  With more bombs to his name than any other 'name' actor --   City Hall, Grosse Pointe Blank, Pushing Tin, Serendipity, Runaway Jury, Must Love Dogs, Grace Is Gone, The Martian Child and The Ice Harvest, among others -- you have to wonder who keeps making the mistake of casting Cusak in lead roles?  At the very least, you'd think they'd make him get a big boy haircut and hit the gym or at least go on a diet.  Throughout the film, the humor fails flat and the thrills produce yawns.  The only reason for this film to exist is to really make you appreciate the charm and life Jude Law and Robert Downing Jr. bring to Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films.

2)  The Words should have been a fascinating film.  Granted the script was badly put together and wanted to be overly cute with chronology, but the basic story works.  A couple go on a honeymoon, the wife buys her writer husband an old briefcase. Inside, he discovers a manuscript, an amazing one.  He types it up on his laptop just to enjoy the words.  She discovers it on the laptop and believes he wrote it and, before you know it, he's meeting a publisher and 'his' book is coming out.  But it's not his book and the real author surfaces.  How do you screw that up?  You do it by jumbling a timeline so that you take an adult tale and make it into The Princess Bride -- what we've told you is read to an audience at a book reading by Dennis Quaid's character.  Only at the end do you learn that what Quaid was reading probably happened to him and this is his second book (but only the first he's actually written himself).  You do that by casting Dennis Quaid.  The spark went out there long ago.  He's a solid B-lead.  Nothing to draw in an audience (in terms of ticket sales or holding interest).  It doesn't help that the couple in the story Quaid, Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, have absolutely zero onscreen chemistry. If the film succeeds on any level, it's Olivia Wilde who at last does a big screen appearance to justify the hype.  It's a small role but she does everything required and does it quite well.

3) Alex Cross.  Tyler Perry is unconvincing as a woman.  He strangles his vocal chords and never manages to come off like anything other than a transvestite.  So when he dropped Medea long enough to pull on some pants, we hoped it would work.  We were big fans of Morgan Freeman in this role (he played Cross in Kiss The Girls and Along Came a Spider).  This has to be the all time worst attempt at rebooting a series.  It's flacid and poorly edited.  You keep wondering if you're missing something because surely things can't be as obvious as they seem.  But when the ending comes to this non-thriller, if you're still awake, you discover, yeah, you know the whole movie bfore the first ten minutes.

4) Haywire.  Gina Carano was as awful in the lead of this film as Tyler Perry was in Alex Cross; however, there were some outstanding supporting performances in the film including ones by Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonior Banderas and Ewan McGregeor.  This was never going to be an Academy Award winning Best Picture but with a real actress in the lead, say Rose McGowan, this could have been a superior popcorn movie.  Instead you start to see why Steven Soderbergh has decided to retire.

5) The Avengers.  A lazy film redeemed only by some small turns by Robert Downey Jr. and a great performance by Mark Ruffalo.  The film explains why Captain America was so useless in the comic book of The Avengers: Because he's boring.  It also explains what you do with the sole female lead when she's a 'superhero' without any super powers: Have her on her back firing pistols while others fight bad guys.  An awful film that was never going to be anything but awful when some idiot decided that Black Widow was to be the sole female character  -- not Scarlet Witch or any of the women with real power, but 'secret agent' Black Widow.  As Stan noted, Jessica Alba was wasted in the Fantastic Four films but, unlike Scarlett Johansson,  she still managed to come off as believable.

6) Rock of Ages.  Jukebox musicals don't really bring in the praise on Broadway.  So pulling together a bunch of hit songs from various artists and stringing together something resembling a plot around it might bring in the 'out of towners' but who thought it would result in ticket sales at the movies?  With the exception of Catherine Zeta Jones and Mary J. Blige, the film is a huge mess.  Tom Cruise is appalling and really needs to keep the shirt on.  The only thing more laughable than Cruise singing onstage shirtless is that people are supposedly turned on by it.  Then there is Alec Baldwin whose treatment of Kim Basinger during their marriage and tormenting phone calls to his only child appear to have finally come back to haunt him in karmic form.  That limited acting he's pioneered for the last 16 years may be great for commercials but they offer nothing on the big screen.  How bad was it?  The soundtrack hasn't even managed to go gold.

7)  Katy Perry: Part Of Me.  Let's stay with the musical for this bad infomercial that made it to the big screens.  Too faked to be a concert film (Katy's fans pay for something other than live singing) and too sugar-and-fluff loaded to pass for a documentary, this film clearly left even Katy Perry fans puzzled   It played out like Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful but as though Julie Brown weren't in on the joke.

(8)  Arbitrage.   AKA When Richard Gere Became Sally Kirkland.  Arbitrage is a hideous film.  Its attempts at addressing the economic crisis are too pat to be called facile.  Its attempts at suspense leave you yawning.  Time and again, the supporting actors fail (especially Susan Sarandon in what should be a career killing performance).  The direction is so mediocre that this might as well be an ABC Movie of the Week.  Yet through it all, Richard Gere delivers one of the year's finest performances.  As many did after seeing Anna, you'll probably walk out wondering how the hell one actor managed to shine surrounded by such crap?  [Anna is the hideous 1987 film that Sally Kirkland so excelled in she was nominate for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for the film.]

(9) Snow White and the Huntsman. and (10) Mirror Mirror were two attempts at Snow White served up in 2012.    This film stars one of the great actresses of film, Charlize Theron.  It also stars Chris Hemsworth who made as strong impression recently as Thor.  We expected it to be the stronger film -- especially after seeing Mirror, Mirror.  Both films seemed not to grasp that Snow White is beautiful.  This isn't a minor thing.  The fairy tales are full of one beautiful blond woman after another.  Snow White is the exception.  Then there's the fact that the step-mother wants to kill Snow White when she comes of age because she's now the 'fairest of them all.'  Not being Twilight fans, we'd never really seen Kristen Stewart but what her portrayal of Snow White taught us was that she can't really act and the only thing more make up does is make her look more like a man -- specifically Macaulay Culkin.  You never see Kristen's Snow White as a threat, on any level, to Charlize Theron's evil queen.  And you also stop caring about Snow White.  A film about Snow in which you don't care about her?  Not a good film.

Mirror, Mirror has many, many problems.  But director Tarsem Singh has given the film a real look and created a fully functioning world within the film. Singh has clear and incredible talent.  The film is also helped by the fact that Lily Collins is very pretty.  She also delivers a winning performance as do Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer, Danny Woodburn, Martin Klebba, Sebastian Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo and Ronald Lee Clark.  Possibly attempting to live up to the winning tone the ensemble was producing, Julia Roberts went light?  She was way, way too light for the evil queen.  That the woman once known in the industry as Tinker Hell couldn't play a threatening scene convincingly was a surprise.  She's never menacing so, when the queen finally suffers at the end, it feels too much. It should be a minor point considering how much works for the film but when the nemesis contributes no tension at all, a film tends to fall flat.

'WE need her out here with us on the front lines!'


Ralph Poynter is the husband of the people's attorney, political prisoner Lynne Stewart  and we've long covered Lynne here.  With each year, we shake our heads in disbelief over the acceptance of her imprisonmnet in a federal facility when the woman has broken no law on the books.  In the past, crimes have been 'created' for many political prisoners.  They didn't bother to do that with Lynne.  And they got away with it.  Ralph Poynter repeatedly rallies support for Lynne.

He gave an amazing speech at the National Lawyers Guild convention last month which is now posted at the Justice for Lynne Stewart website.  We are reposting it here as part of the effort to keep Lynne front and center -- something that was difficult to do during the Bully Boy Bush years but something that has become even harder to do with Barack in the White House when so many, gripped by celebrity, don't believe the US government can do any wrong -- or believe it can do no wrong when Democrats hold the reigns of power.


The following is the speech that Ralph Poynter, the husband of Lynne Stewart, presented half of during his limited speaking time at the National Lawyers Guild convention, October, in Pasadena, California. As his speaking time was running out, before the end of the speech, he called upon the delegates to stand, as a commitment to support Lynne’s struggle for justice and freedom, at which time the Guild members provided a thundering standing ovation. Thanks to Carole Seligman for the transcript and Roxana Orell for the photo.
Brothers and Sisters, Comrades, Supporters and Friends, I hope you’re not saying Lynne Stewart is just old news. Those of you who know her personally and remember her at these conventions know she will always be a vital force among us. Those of you who were still in high school when she was arrested back in 2002 owe it to yourselves to find out about her, her career, and her case, which is still crucial to all that the Guild stands for.
Let me just say that I am Lynne’s husband and a lot prejudiced in her favor. I have lived with her, fought with her and beside her, and loved her for almost 50 years. I want her to be out of Prison where she has languished for the last three years. Did I say languish? – Lynne can’t languish – she is always the activist, always political, always compassionate. They can’t jail her spirit. But WE need her out here with us on the front lines!
The federal government locked her up because they wanted to control her defense of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and she believed that ethically and morally she had obligations to her client; and that her adversary should not, could not, dictate or curtail what strategy a lawyer must adopt. Maybe you would not have been audacious in the same way Lynne was, in issuing a press release, but she was representing a man who had been subjected to a vicious solitary confinement for many years, was ill, and appeared to be fading. It was “mandatory” to do this to save him. Now that Mubarak has been toppled and the new President has been calling for the repatriation to Egypt of that client, Sheik Omar; Lynne was right, and the lie has been put to the government’s's strident and false claims that her actions somehow contributed to terrorism. And we are still fighting her case – now in a petition for Certiorari to the US Supreme Court due in December.
The last thing I want to speak on at this convention of lawyers are the legal arguments that are available in Lynne’s petition and the chances that any of them might have before the Supremes.
Many of you are familiar with the trial and have followed her appeal, and then her re-sentencing, and that appeal. I do want to say that Lynne’s case should be important to all criminal defense lawyers and particularly to Guild lawyers because what the Government has done to her can happen again. And it can particularly happen to Guild lawyers who regularly take on the cases of people whom the Government despises and who they believe cannot be permitted to win. In essence, using regulations promulgated by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons, Lynne’s adversaries attempted to thwart her campaign to keep her client alive in Egypt and the world. Her press release, not secret, to Reuters, mirrored the many that her co-counsel Ramsey Clark had issued in the face of the same regulations. But they came after her. She is nothing more, or less, than a smart woman with great politics from a working class background. But her amazing loyalty and relationships with her clients were a threat.
Lynne’s case is important for all of you to support because someday you may be confronted in your professional life with a choice between conforming to conduct that pleases the “system”, “authority,” and doing that which you know to be right and just. Lynne chose her client and her obligation to him, and if you want to increase the safety zone for lawyers centered as she was, you will support her. To be reminded of just who Lynne is, she asked me to read a portion of a speech she gave to the Guild in Minneapolis at the convention there in 2007. It is her credo:
“I believe we have formidable enemies not unlike those in the tales of ancient days. There is a consummate evil that unleashes its dogs of war on the helpless. Our enemy is motivated only by insatiable greed with no thought of other consequences. In this enemy there is no love of the land or the creatures who live there, no compassion for the people. No thought of future generations. This enemy will destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink as long as the the dollars keep filling up their money boxes.
We have been charged here, once again, with, and for our quests, … to shake the very foundations of the continents. We go out to stop police brutality; to rescue the imprisoned; to change the rules for those who never have been able to get to the starting line, much less run the race, because of color, physical condition, gender, mental impairment.
“We go forth to preserve the air and land and water and sky and all the beasts that crawl and fly. We go forth to safeguard the right to speak and write; to join; to learn; to rest safe at home, to be secure, fed, healthy, sheltered, loved and loving, to be at peace with one’s identity.
“Our quests are formidable. We have in Washington poisonous government that spreads its venom to the body politic in all corners of the globe. We have wars – big war in Afghanistan, smaller wars in Palestine, Central Africa, Columbia, Kashmir …. Now we have those Democratic and Republican candidates and then an election, with the corporate media ready to hype the results and drown out the righteous protests.”
I now need to raise to you the plight of political prisoners in the US, (not just because Lynne is one) – numbering more and more Muslims, Earth Firsters, veterans of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s defense of minority communities, resisters, peace activists… brave men and women, held in the harshest conditions, some for more than 40 years. This is more than a worthy focus for Guild lawyers, whose opposition to illicit power should be consistent and militant. Check these folks out at Jericho and Project Salam websites. And join their struggles. Many have no legal representation or contact. Even if you correspond, or visit, or join a defense team, or take on one of their cases, your reward will be great – the satisfaction of doing the right thing with people who remain the best among us.
In closing I want to urge you to defend and champion Lynne Stewart, one of our own! Defend and champion all political prisoners! Set her free! Set ‘em all free!

When silence emits a deathly roar

Repost of C.I. piece on counter-insurgency and silence.

The ethical bankruptcy of the faux left

We get e-mails.  'Can you please highlight this?'  'I'm going to be here.'  'I'm trying to raise money for . . .'  'I have a new book coming out.'  On and on, the requests never end.  And when I can, I squeeze in what I can.  Knowing that a very good friend directed a great movie and I really should have promoted it here but I got my dates mixed up and it was out before I could.  I feel so guilty about that (and have apologized face-to-face repeatedly).  And that's a friend.

So I do get bothered sometimes when someone's writing or project didn't get immediately noted and I hear from someone (usually Martha or Shirley), 'They've written again.  They're asking if you're going to promote their thing.'

A lot of people this week seem to think I owe them promotion because they've written 'about Iraq' in what they wanted highlighted.

'About Iraq'?

No, they've written about former CIA Director David Petraues who was once the top US commander in Iraq.  And they've written about that badly.

In the last three weeks everyone has written about Petraeus.  Most of it was style-free and/or content-lite.

On the left, on the real left, if we're writing about Petraeus, the so-called 'surge' is the least of the problems.  Though clearly a lot of left writers have no idea what they're writing about.  The 'surge' was a failure.  Petraues surveyed one aspect of it, the military part.  That actually was successful.  Was it successful only because the ethnic cleansing had reached a tapering off point with so many dead and so many fled from the country?  Maybe and you can make that argument.  But the number of US military on the ground was increased.  And the plan was that it would provide a little more stability.  It did.

And if that was the 'surge' then it would be a success.  But that was only one aspect of it.  The White House wasn't concerned about the Iraqis being killed.  It was concerned that legislation wasn't being passed (specifically a hydrocarbons law).  The 'surge' was supposed to provide a level of stability to create the space for Iraqi lawmakers to focus on passing legislation (oil and gas and others on the White House benchmarks).

That did not happen.

But David Petraeus was not over that aspect.

Unlike a lot of the people calling out Petraeus this month,  we called him out in real time.  Long before MoveOn, this community (I believe Wally and Cedric were the ones) was using "Betray us."  When it was 'borrowed' and blew up in MoveOn's face, we all just laughed.

I didn't like Petraeus because I had a friend who worked with him and heard what a nightmare he was.  (And his first affair did not take place in 2011.) The sudden discovery that he was driven by vanity?  We noted that long ago.

We also noted the real problems with Petraues: Counter-insurgency.

Tom Hayden wrote articles calling out counter-insurgency (here, here, here and here for starters).  David  Price wrote many (here's one example), helped form the Network of Concerned Anthropologists and organized and contributed to the The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual.  (Before someone e-mails saying "Price was robbed!"  Tom's work is noted and then some because I will call him out with no problem.  I also will give him credit when he does something good.  Tom Hayden got counter-insurgency discussed in places it wouldn't have otherwise.  In terms of counter-insurgency awareness, Tom Hayden is a hero.  David Price's work is heroic as well but I've never felt the need to call out Price and instead have praised him repeatedly.  You can find a great deal of his work on counter-insurgency at CounterPunch.)

In December 2006, a friend called and asked, "Remember that weird girl who everyone thought should be playing with kids her own age?  Remember how she was always sexualizing dolls and you were adamant that she not be around your kids?"  Uh-huh.  "There's an article on her in The New Yorker."  Monty McFate was a nightmare child.  She grew up to be a hellish adult.  And that was really clear when I read that awful piece in The New Yorker (see "When Dumb Ass Met Dumb Ass").  There was no body of work calling out Monty McFate and her ethically betraying scholars (see Ava and my "Charlie Rose by any other name would still be as bad" for more on Monty's roll dogs).

The New Yorker article was when I learned that counter-insurgency was having yet another make over.  The pundit class of the Iraq War on the left has been shameful.  During Vietnam, we called out counter-insurgency.  We didn't buy this 'kinder and gentler' claims.  And if you went very deep into what was taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan with counter-insurgency, you found not only compromised social scientists who were betraying their discipline and should have been stripped of professional credentials, you also found violence.  Because you have to scare to 'endear' when you're the foreign invader.

So for nearly three weeks now, every day brings at least six people wanting their articles on Petraeus highlighted.  And some of you think you've been real 'naughty' by going smutty.  Some think you're really funny.  But I look at it, I look at all of it, and I just shake my head and wonder why any of you bother getting out of bed in the morning.

Counter-insurgency is and always will be war on a native people.  You probably never saw The Battle of Algiers but did you also miss Avatar?

David Petraeus' failure is the failure of counter-insurgency.  For some stupid reason, people on the left can't say that.  They can babble on about the 'surge.'  They can babble on about the 'naughty parts' of the scandal.  But they can't call out counter-insurgency.

Why are you even writing?

Do some research, there's a huge body of literature on this topic from the days of Vietnam. Criticism of it exists before that as well but, for the US left, it was during Vietnam that counter-insurgency received the most critical attention.

And before someone says I'm picking on young people, no, I'm not.

I said the pundits of today.

That includes Noam Chomsky.  I can remember Noam 'rapping' about counter-insurgency back in the day.  He's had very little interest in raising the issue in the last ten years.  When he has raised it, it's been in the middle of a book chapter.  He's not given any speech devoted to the topic, he's not penned any column calling it out. Noam Chomsky is not Gen-Y -- no matter how many times he watches Twilight.  And search in vain for Amy Goodman's exploration of counter-insurgency on Democracy Now!  Pacifica Radio was not at all afraid to tackle the subject during Vietnam. 

And before anyone notes that Goody's got a segment on "Counterinsurgency" with CIA contractor Juan Cole, wake the hell up.

I was opposed to General Petraeus becoming head of the CIA in the first place, because one of the CIA’s charges is to evaluate policy, and one of the big policies that needs to be evaluated is the troop escalation, what is called the "surge," in Afghanistan, the big counterinsurgency program that Petraeus put into place and then shepherded through as commander on the ground. And the CIA can’t properly evaluate that program if its head is the author of the program. And I’m sure the analysts tried, and maybe, you know, Petraeus tried to be objective and so forth, but it’s just not right. So I think that’s the real issue here, is why—why did the Obama administration put an actor in a military role, then as the head of the agency that will evaluate the actions?

If the pathetic, CIA-paid Juan Cole (or Amy Goodman for that matter) thinks one sentence on counter-insurgency is addressing it, they're really stupid.  They're not stupid.  They've chosen not to call it out.  It is unethical, it is a betrayal of the native people, an attempt to trick them and pit them against one another to allow colonization to take place.  The 'surge' is not counter-insurgency.  Juan Cole is an idiot but I have a hard time buying that even he's dumb enough to believe that.  (But maybe he is?  Most academics would know to run like hell from the CIA.  Instead, Juan got on their payroll.)

The cowardice of the left, the ethical bankruptcy is truly something to witness.

Where you stood with regards to counter-insurgency during Vietnam defined whether you were left, right or center.  The idea of tricking a native people, pitting them against each other, trying to turn them into snitches on one other to foreign invaders?  That was not something we encouraged or tolerated or an issue we weren't quite sure what we felt about it.

But these wars of today have produced very little discussion of the ethics involved.  Social scientists are supposed to be bound by ethics.

Good for David Price, Tom Hayden and the very few others that called this nonsense out.  But it is a very small list and it is nothing like the way we called this out during Vietnam.

Again, the pundits have a ton to say.  A lot of time to waste too, apparently, since nothing they're saying is of any value.  A left that cannot call out counter-insurgency is not a left.  Not a real one.  It's a faux left and one far more damaging than anything Chris Hedges can imagine in this column.  (That is not a slam at Chris Hedges.  I'm saying the decayed left he's writing about is actually even more craven and more disgusting than what he's documenting.)

'Save the Berkeley post office!' (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

‘Save the Berkeley post office!’

By on November 25, 2012 » Add the first comment.
Berkeley, Calif. — When the major banks and financial institutions in this country were facing economic failure, they were quickly given a multitrillion-dollar bailout. But the U.S. Postal Service, a public institution serving millions of people, is getting sold out instead of bailed out. The government in collaboration with major real estate interests is closing post offices and selling the properties to the highest bidder. In Berkeley, Calif., a growing movement of workers, activists and city residents is coming together to make clear, “Our post office is not for sale.”
People gathered Nov. 14 at the historic downtown Berkeley Post Office to protest its planned sale to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s spouse, Richard Blum, a University of California regent and chair of CBRE, a major real estate firm. According to the “Save the People’s Post Office” newsletter (Nov. 2012), CBRE has the “exclusive contract to sell off Berkeley’s historic Main Post Office and some 70 other post offices nationally.” The new community/labor coalition charges Blum and other big-business interests with trying to privatize and profit from the federal postal system.
At the rally, Berkeley City Council member, Max Anderson, called the proposed post office sale “a slap in the face for the people of Berkeley. It should not be up for sale.” He said the sale smacks of a corporate mentality that was just defeated on Election Day. Anderson said the defeats of Measure S, which would have criminalized people who sat on the city streets, and Measure T, which would have given big developers a green light to further “develop” Berkeley, were victories for everyone’s civil rights.
Susan Hammer, chief shop steward of the American Postal Workers Union, East Bay Area, Local 47, had her first postal job at the downtown Berkeley post office. Hammer called the sale “unnecessary” and urged everyone to fight this latest attempt to privatize the postal system.
According to the organizers of “Save the People’s Post Office,” this movement won an important victory by forcing a postponement of the public hearing on the sale of this historic building. The original meeting was scheduled for two days before the “Thanksgiving” holiday, which would have guaranteed a low attendance. The hearing will probably be scheduled for sometime in January.
Following the rally, protesters walked into the post office to view the priceless New Deal murals on its walls and then marched up to Constitution Square in downtown Berkeley to gather more support for the campaign to stop the illegal sale of the Berkeley post office.
The next action of the community/labor coalition will be Dec. 4. Protesters will expose the role of real estate mogul Blum by gathering at his San Francisco office, 909 Montgomery St. in San Francisco, and marching to Sen. Feinstein’s office. For more information, contact or visit

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 ethical bankruptcy of the faux left" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Grand Bargain" -- Isaiah's latest took on the attempts to gut the safety net.

"Ham and potato casserole in the Kitchen,""Last minute turkey tips" and "Stuffing" -- Trina offers recipes and cooking tips.

"book 'em friday: liz taylor" and "Elizabeth Taylor: There Is Nothing Like A Dame" and "A complex topic produces a simplistic book" -- Rebecca and Marcia cover a new biography on Elizabeth Taylor while Elaine tackles a book on sleeping and personalities.

 "Whitney,"  "Whitney," "Whitney and Happy Endings," "Revolution," "The Good Wife," "Fringe: Five-Twenty-Ten," "The end of 666 Park Avenue"  and  "Chuck" -- Betty, Ann, Marcia, Stan and Mike talk TV.

"Idiot of the week: Erik Lorenzsonn" -- Mike picks this week's idiot.

"Junior's disgrace," "Crooked Jesse Junior" and "Make Junior pay the $5.1 million" -- Betty, Marcia and Stan on Jesse Jackson Jr.
"truth will be told on michael moore" -- Rebecca on the reaction to Moore these days.

"JFK" -- Kat weighs in JFK.
"They're painting a target on Niagara Falls" -- Kat on what a drone cell means for Niagara Falls.

"10 best Christmas films" -- Stan covers films.
"China and Larry Hagman" -- Elaine notes a passing.

"THIS JUST IN! HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW HER NAME!"  and "Give her some space, Barry" -- Wally and Cedric on the 'crowder.'
"Joe Klein insults the fallen" -- Mike on the insulting Joe Klein.

"Thanksgiving" -- C.I., Marcia and Mike were posting on Thanksgiving Day.  Marcia's post is included in the TV listings.  C.I. asked us to be sure to note Mike's.

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