Sunday, March 15, 2009

Truest statement of the week

The first step in this charade of false closure is Obama's drawdown. The next is to make the citizens of the occupying power forget Iraq ever happened - a brainwashing that has been in process since the "success" of Bush's "surge." One problem though: how do you brainwash the brain dead?
Iraq has been erased from public discourse in the wake of an economic meltdown at least partially invoked by the vast outlays Bush pumped into the war to keep his killing machine choogling. The television networks long ago rolled up their crews and there will be no film of today's massacre on the Six O'clock news. U.S. news media have airlifted out their aces or reduced in-country staffs to a skeleton crew. When after seven years of corpses coming home to the Dover Delaware death distribution center, Obama-Bush Secretary of Defense Robert Gates authorized the press to run photos of flag-draped coffins (if they first obtain family permission), it came much too late for both those Americans who had perished in this heinous aggression and a newspaper industry that is now being interred in its own flag-draped coffin. The New York Times daily Iraq body count has now been combined with the U.S. dead in Afghanistan and the box wedged into a rat hole on the Middle East page.

-- John Ross, "The War is Not Over" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week II

WE KNOW that Iraq will remain under occupation until at least the end of 2011, but there is very good reason to believe that between now and then, the Iraqi government, which owes its survival to Washington, will cut a deal to allow U.S. forces to remain longer. Such an agreement would also likely give the U.S. long-term access to military bases and access to Iraqi air space.
The fact remains that Iraq is a fulcrum of geopolitics and a vital front for U.S. military strategy in the Middle East. Washington's goals for Iraq and the region may be less ambitious than when the Bush administration launched its 2003 invasion, but no one is reversing the fundamental policies driving U.S. policy: the goal of controlling the region's vast energy resources and being the hegemonic foreign power there.
MoveOn should be letting its members know this--and urging far more than to "keep watching Washington" to be sure they do bring the troops home. But to do this, the group would have to take on the Obama administration more forcefully on Iraq--and on the occupation of Afghanistan, which is intimately related.

-- Anthony Arnove, "Moved on from the struggle" (Socialist Worker).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Sunday, Sunday. Along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,

Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

Ruth of Ruth's Report,

Wally of The Daily Jot,


and Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends.

We thank them all. What did we end up with?

Truest statement of the week -- John Ross.

Truest statement of the week II -- Anthony Arnove. There were other nominees for truest but it was clearly Ross and Arnove's week. The only dispute was over who should go where.

Editorial: Do you care enough to show up? -- The editorial. On this topic, we had six ways to go and, due to disputes, used pretty much all six ways. (Jess points out that he and C.I. had also proposed working in Heart's "Will You Be There In The Morning?" I missed that suggestion. Had I heard it, we would have used it. "Will you be there in the morning . . . Will you be there when I wake up . . .") The action is this Saturday. Those who want the illegal war to end should take part.

TV: The cavers and the fighters -- We piled a lot on Ava and C.I. this week. We'd asked them to just cover entertainment. Then, Saturday night, we hit them with, "Can you cover anything else?" That was when we were in a panic over this edition. They said they'd do what they could. They did. This is a lot stronger than we expected. Ava and C.I. note (TV note) that ABC World News Tonight is supposed to report on Iraq all week this week.

Talking Iraq -- The Iraq roundtable.

Barry 'No, we don't!', Arne 'Yes, we do!' -- This is an idea Mike, Ruth and C.I. pitched. In various ways, they worked it last week. (C.I. says, "I did not." Mike and Ruth have already given C.I. credit for help on Thursday.)

Barry BailOuts -- And he wants to travel!!!! He wants to leave the US!!!! And he's still not fixing the economy (still no plan released).

Ty's Corner Mailbag -- Ty grabbed the e-mails and worked through some of the most common and or most pressing topics.

The Bronze Boobs go to . . . -- Corrente more than earned it. They more than earned it. And then some.

Afghanistan -- We mainly wanted to include the excerpt from Dissident Voice. This was Wally and Betty figuring out how we could structure this after Dona had already said it had to be a short piece or she didn't want to hear about (we were all tired and trying to finish up).

The No Agenda? -- Barack's do-nothing committee got the usual easy praise -- but from whom was sometimes surprising.

Those shoulders -- Dona wanted a short feature. Someone (Rebecca?) suggested this as we were rushing to finish. It was shot down as, "That's sexism." At which point, Ava and C.I. spoke up. (They hadn't spoken prior.) "How is it sexism? She's presented herself as a fashion plate," Ava pointed out. C.I., "If I go into an interview in a short skirt and no panties, I can't be upset if the press wants to write about. If I have no projects or anything of value and waste everyone's time posing for Vogue and more, I've declared fashion all my shallow mind can handle and, in a position that the press has to cover in some form, I've invited them to talk about what I reveal by my choices of outfits." This was the surprise piece in that we all liked the way it turned out.

Friday roundtable -- The roundtable Rebecca moderated Friday.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Ruth, Stan, Wally, Kat, Rebecca, Marcia and Cedric worked on this and picked the highlights unless they note otherwise. We thank them for that. They also include the e-mail address (Dona just pointed out) A number of e-mails last week complained it was hard to locate our e-mail address (it's on our profile).

And that's it. That's what we have. We will do an edition next week. We will also be taking part in demonstrations. We hope you will be standing up as well.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Do you care enough to show up?

Did you stand up before? Did you make it known publicly that you were against the Iraq War? If so, the Iraq War continues. Do you intend to stand up this 6th anniversary and say "End the war now"? Or do you plan to WalkOn,

If you've never stood up publicly against the illegal war, when do you intend to start?

This week the Iraq War hits the six year anniversary mark. Bully Boy Bush lied. His administration promised a "cakewalk" that would end quickly. Congressional Democrats lied. They said give them one house -- the House or the Senate -- in the November 2006 elections and they'd end the Iraq War. They were given both houses and . . . they . . . did . . . nothing. In 2008, they showed up to insist the problem was they didn't have the White House but give them that and give them a few more seats in Congress and they'd end the illegal war! They would! They really, really would!

And they didn't.

Between 142,000 and 147,000 US troops are currently stationed in Iraq. Barack plans to take approximately 10,000 to 12,000 out this year. And then? Well, his hedge words tell us that more may come out or he might halt the draw down or he might send more US troops into Iraq.

This isn't ending the illegal war.

Barack's lying to the American people.

Over and over.

As John Ross (CounterPunch) explains:

Of course the war is not over. Obama's speech to the leathernecks at Lejeune was stuffed with caveats and canards. Combat troops will be gone from Iraq by August 2010 the Prez pledged, leaving 35,000 to 50,000 residuals in country - but the small print gives Baracko fiat to reclassify combatants as residuals. The remaining troops' departure by 2011 hinges on Iraqi acceptance of a status of forces agreement to be voted up this June and not what the White House decrees. Nonetheless, U.S. withdrawal is subject to Pentagon review with options extended for many years to come. No mention is made of 150,000 private contract killers or permanent bases on Iraqi soil.
[. . .]
For the Iraqis, there is no closure to this black chapter in the history of American mayhem. Their homes and their livelihoods have been decimated and their culture sacked - the NYT's Baghdad art critic recently compared the Assyrian wall reliefs unveiled at the reopened National Museum to blast walls thrown up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to separate Baghdad neighbors.
Iraqis are reminded everyday that the war is not over by the black-clad war widows threading their way through Baghdad traffic begging alms. There are an estimated 740,000 war widows in Iraq, a number that lends credence to the million plus body count estimates. Most receive no aid - one U.S. reporter found widows living in a gas station restroom. With oil prices - Iraq's only export - in steep decline, the Maliki government claims there is no money left for the social budget. Indeed, the 4,000,000 Iraqis driven from their homes into exile are now viewed as a security risk should they be forced by their host countries to return.

Is that enough to get you demonstrating? How about this from Anthony Arnove (Socialist Worker):

Obama calls the troops who will stay in Iraq through the end of 2011 "residual forces" and non-combat troops, but this is just doublespeak. Combat troops are simply being renamed non-combat troops through a verbal sleight of hand, but will certainly be able to use lethal force and will find themselves in combat situations.
And in accepting the logic of the Bush administration for not withdrawing the troops immediately--that they are needed to fight al-Qaeda, engage in "counter-insurgency operations," and continue the "war on terror"--Obama has opened the door to keeping them in Iraq beyond 2011.
Indeed, in his speech about the Iraq "withdrawal" plan at the end of February,
Obama retroactively endorsed the Bush administration's stated reasons for invading Iraq in the first place, as the Wall Street Journal gleefully noted.

Is that enough to get you out in public demonstrating against the illegal war?

How about the dead?

Will that do it?

Something better do it and you better figure out what it is because Saturday actions are taking place and those who want to end the illegal war better be participating. If they're not, they really don't want to end the Iraq War and any assertion that they do is just flapping the gums.


The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War will be present. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st
As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

US war resister Aidan Delgado will be there, "As a veteran of Iraq and Abu Ghraib prison, I'm joining this march to remind the public that even in this time of hope, when progressive policies seem just around the corner, the Iraq War is still something we should vocally protest ... Although U.S. administrations may change, the war continues, and it is our duty as citizens to ensure that this new administration changes course and lives up to its campaign promises. As a veteran, I want to send a message that the peace movement has always supported soldiers in the most meaningful way possible: by bringing them home from a war that should never have been waged."

TV: The cavers and the fighters

"But I'm in there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me." Aretha Franklin sings that in "Sister From Texas" (Hey Now Hey). And wouldn't it be great if it was something that applied to many people? Imagine what a world like that might be. If only.

Take for example NBC's Celebrity Apprentice. They had "a few more dreams" inside them, right? They were "in there fighting every day"? Maybe the bulk of the women, but the men? Not so much.

NBC's Celebrity Apprentice airs on Sunday nights (it has been repeating on Saturdays). It's the women against the men and, as the title indicates, the contestants are 'celebrities.' In the way that Ginger on Gilligan's Island was "a movie star." That's really not completely fair. Regardless of what you think of their talents, people like Joan Rivers and Clint Black, for example, are actual celebrities. People like Herschel Walker? When your big moment came in college and you're 47-years-old, you really have nothing to brag about. That becomes obvious every time Herschel opens his mouth. In fact, like Brian McKnight and Dennis Rodman, we're hoping the overfed ego gets sent home real soon.

If you've missed the show thus far and it's your idea of "Must See TV," you can take heart in the fact that only two episodes have aired thus far.

Two people have been sent home. Week one, it was Andrew Dice Clay, the one-time famous shouter. Every evil thing ever said about Clay was shown to be true throughout the first episode. The challenge was selling cupcakes which each team had to bake. Andrew doesn't bake, don't ask him. So he bailed to give interviews (on radio, TV was never his medium as any close up or his many failed sitcoms will prove). When it was time to sell the cupcakes, Donald Trump (host) pulled a surprise out of the mists, each team had to take a cupcake to a bakery where they would be judged for excellence. Andrew represented the men's team, Melissa Rivers the women's. They had to walk in together and, of course, Andrew didn't hold the door for her. Though Melissa, raised with manners, did hold the door for him. For Andrew, it's all about him. And he does the world a favor just by dragging his disgusting and unwashed body before it.

Melissa brought her cupcake in a small baker's box/cube. Andrew? He carried it over. In his hands. In his dirty, filthy hands that had the same trashy (fingerless) gloves he wears all the time. He is a walking health hazard.

Andrew couldn't get along with anyone and when both teams had to go before the Donald it was cute to see Andrew threatening to quit. When Donald wouldn't let him, we pretty much knew that was just because Donald wanted to can his ass. He had to go back into the room with Herschel and Dennis Rodman. Before he did, he sexually harassed Donald Trump's receptionist who made it clear she wasn't interested but Andrew still insisted she'd be going home with him. So we really enjoyed his firing.

Last week, Scott Hamilton was fired and thank the Big TV In The Sky for that. What a whining, never-shut-up, baby. It was as if the narrators to The Wonder Years, How I Met Your Mother and Grey's Anatomy had combined into one Scott Hamilton. He not only couldn't shut up, he couldn't stop talking about his feelings unless it was to tell you what you'd already seen.

For those who don't know, Scott was a skater once upon a time. Who is he today? Just another nobody trying to earn some scratch pretending he matters. He and Herschel got along marvelously, no surprise.

Clint Black demonstrates the worst problem in appearing on these shows. You either are laid back (Tom Green) or you end up like Clint, a control freak. "Is he that bad in real life?" asked a friend who is Tivo-ing the whole thing. No, not really. But you either try to be likable -- because you're on TV -- or you decide, "I've got to win this! I'm on TV! My reputation is on the line!" If it's the latter, you become a real ass which Clint Black has quickly become.

There are other roads you can take. For example, you can be Dennis Rodman who is never around when things need to be done but generally manages to skate away with little or no criticism. You can be Herschel who shows up for the meetings and claims credit for things he didn't do. People (on the show) also don't appear to have noticed that. Except possibly Brian McKnight who really is the most perceptive member of the men's team. He's not being Dennis Rodman. He is around. But he's not in the forefront and appears to be allowing others to burn out as they go for the glory. That's the strategy successfully employed repeatedly on CBS' Big Brother but it's not been effective thus far on The Apprentice.

The women? They have won both competitions that have aired so far. If we had to pick a winner from their side, we'd go with Tionne Watkins (once a member of TLC) who, if you pay attention, is absorbing every lesson in success and failure as the game is played. Others, Playmate Brane Roderick, for example, bask in the success after. Tionne's absorbing everything and came into the game knowing a great deal.

Annie Duke rivals Clint Black for the title of Player You Love To Hate. Duke is a poker champ and that apparently means something to someone. It doesn't mean anything in terms of the competitions thus far. She's repeatedly been wrong. (Such as when she screamed at Roderick for selling several cupcakes for several thousands of dollars or when she had a snit fit at Melissa Rivers over the cupcake that Melissa took to the bakery -- which would be the winning cupcake.) She does nothing but alienate everyone she works with by insisting upon, as Claudia Jordan has pointed out, treating them as children. (Jordan pointed out she was "a grown ass woman" and didn't need anyone telling her how to frost a cupcake.) No women have left the show yet since their team has been on a winning streak. When one does, we're starting to think it's going to be Melissa.

She continues to make mistakes. Not in the game so much as in when speaking. Her mind is somewhere else completely -- such as when she gives her mother's age and it's a year older than Joan is. Surprisingly, Joan Rivers hasn't embarrassed herself. In fact, she may come off better than anyone else because the show actually works to humanize her while embarrassing the bulk of the others. Joan can be a real ass, as most Americans know. But while the cameras document that ass-ness of the others, Joan actually gets moments that remind you why, once upon a time, a Joan Rivers appearance was something to get excited about. No matter when she exits, the show's a boost for her (long) career.

For someone like Brian McKnight, the converse is true. McKnight's an exceptional vocalist and musician. He's not had a recent run of hits, but he hasn't been recording. As long as he can breathe, he can make music. Age will not force him out of his profession as it has Scott Hamilton and Herschel Walker. But Brian has an image and it's not there on TV. His wardrobe is ill chosen and between the way he looks and the fact that some may be unaware of what he's been concentrating on since 2007 (his last single was in 2007) some might assume he's dressed the way he is because he's a has-been. Brian McKnight is one of those performers you always expect to be turned out.

The money raised in each week's contest is turned over to a charity so that and the fact that these aren't 'regular' people mitigate some of the past problems with the show. No one on the show is unaware of what the spotlight means. So you don't have to feel sorry for any of them. Donald's children appear at his side from time to time. They're actually the most appealing aspect of the show. Ivanka Trump has a very sharp eye and can pinpoint a team's problem area long before they're revealed to be the losing team in the boardroom. Don Trump actually has a sense of humor that's completely unexpected, relaxed and gentle. (We'll credit Ivana for that.)

A sense of humor -- gentle or sharp -- is something Saturday Night Live long ago misplaced. That was again made clear Saturday night when Tracy Morgan hosted a very unfunny broadcast. In his opening, he punched various unknown people and then slugged Tina Fey because . . . Well, she's a glutton for punishment. Then he went into his unfunny monologue that was made even less funny by the fact that he rushed the timing.

It was then time for him to dust off Brian Fellows and it only became more obvious that his timing was off. In a View skit, you had five women around a table -- only two were played by women. No one was supposed to object. Already in the show it was obvious the writers couldn't write for Morgan's limited talents. Every line delivered the same and always staring at the camera after each line in a tah-dah moment.

The Scared Straight skit wasn't funny last time they did it -- it was highly homophobic. And it wasn't funny last night with Morgan in it. Morgan and Kenan Thompson made fools out of themselves and worse with the non-stop homophobia.

* You're going to find yourself sideways on a prison floor.
* You'll be tasting a bunch of liquids in your mouth.
* Only thing you'll be tasting is Penis Noir
* It ain't gonna be spring time, it's gonna be ding-a-ling time.
* And he's going to have a long, skinny finger alright but it's not going to be on his hand
* The size of a beer can.
* You'll call the hospital saying "I need a new ass."

And that's not a full listing. It's interesting that Kenan's in this skit again. Last time, it ended with him stealing a police car. This time it ended with him and Morgan stealing a police car. So you get homophobia and racial stereotypes. It's a two-fer. About the only thing you don't get it any laughter.

Needless to say, Seth Meyers continues to get applause (when the APPLAUSE sign goes on) and continues to be in the midst of a laugh drought as the sole anchor of Weekend Update. Next up, Morgan revived the never funny character of Astronaut Jones (no, it's not a famous character) and tried to get laughs by having Andy play an alien woman. It didn't work. Nor did Morgan going back into drag for a Big Love spoof where he was a drag queen named Fantasia Davine brought home to be Wife Number Four.

The last skit managed a few laughs because Kristen's character was supposed to be dismayed/appalled by Morgan's character. We felt a great deal of the laughter you heard were people laughing at Morgan who probably now holds the record for worst SNL hosted by a cast alumni.

"But I'm in there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me." No we really didn't feel it from Tracy Morgan. Not at all. We did, however, notice for the first time how much smaller Tina Fey's left eye was than the right one.

Small is the mind of MSNBC viewers. Or at least the ones who take to jabbering. Pravda On The Hudson's Amy Goodman got booked on Davey The Tiny Prick Schuster's bad MSNBC show March 4th. When she's on someone else's show, Goody Liar can talk about the Iraq War. When she's on someone else's show. Last Thursday, the UK government released e-mails which added further backing to charges that the pre-war 'intel' was cooked and deliberately so. It wasn't a segment on Friday's Pravda On The Hudson. Goody Liar couldn't even make it a headline. But put her on MSNBC as an expert on the Iraq War. Well, we see now the pay-off for Panhandle Media's refusal to call out Davey when even MSNBC decided his behavior warranted a suspension. It all washes out in the whoring, eh, Amy?

Goody's not out there fighting every day. Nor is her ever-dwindling cult. At the cesspool that is Democratic Underground the 'knowledgeable' navarth ("1000+ posts"!) offers up, "Amy Goodman on Shuster??? Off to the greatest page with you! This is amazing, I'm so glad I can see it here, missed it last night, wasn't home. Wow. I truly never thought I'd see Amy Goodman on MSNBC. Shuster RULES." Poor Amy.

She sends out those e-mails for every MSNBC appearance. You know the ones, they say, "Please e-mail the show to tell them how much you enjoyed my appearance." It's even better if you play like you've never seen Amy before that appearance! Amy's been doing that for years. "I truly never thought I'd see Amy Goodman on MSNBC." Did you poke your eyeballs out in 2005? Goody's always on MSNBC. Chris Matthews brings her on regularly. Or maybe those "Write him and tell him you love me or he won't invite me back!" e-mails make it seem like she's on all the time?

Regardless, the stupidity is amazing. And apparently catching because Jefferson23 ("874 posts"!) felt the need to weigh in, "I never thought I would see Amy on the MSM, incredible." Not only has she been on Chris Matthews' show, she's been on CNN. In fact, despite the fact that she did nothing for Ehren Watada once a 'reporter' attempted to steal the focus ("I might have to testify! I don't know if I will or won't, but America needs to object! I may or may not object, I can't discuss legal strategy, but America needs to! They need to do what I'm too lazy to do!"). But Ehren's court-martial was coming up and there was Amy Goodman acting like the Ehren expert and letting the pro-War Hawk Mommy's Pantyhose walk all over her and insult Ehren repeatedly. Goody Liar never corrected him. She just smiled and waited to speak her sound-byte.

But Amy's audience (and Democrats Underground) aren't bases of knowledge. Let alone of reality.

"But I'm in there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me." A male friend at MSNBC asked us Friday night why we never mentioned Andrea Mitchell Reports? We honestly weren't aware of it. He pointed out that Mitchell, a reporter, is actually anchoring a daily hour long show (airs Monday through Friday, one p.m. to two p.m. EST). He pointed out that Women's Media Center and other "women-centric" (his term) outlets had tongue-bathed non-journalist Rachel Maddow for her on air musings and abusings but no one's giving Andrea Mitchell credit for holding down a solid hour of news.

That may be due to the fact that MSNBC hasn't created a site for her. We looked and couldn't find it. We could find other MSNBC programs (even Al Roker Reporting: Marijuana Inc.), but no page for Andrea Mitchell's show. But, yes, it is disturbing that the "women-centric" outlets can repeatedly note the factually-challenged Rachel Maddow, the non-journalist on a news channel, but they can't give even a mild shout-out to Andrea.

"But I'm in there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me." Though we frequently disagree with Andrea, we wouldn't ever claim that she's not out "there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me." And when we might lose faith in all, it's good to find someone who is. Her fights aren't usually our fights, but she keeps fighting. And for those who doubt the power of doing that, Katie Couric.

The minute she was announced as the anchor of The CBS Evening News, months before she did her first broadcast, she became the punching bag. It was non-stop attacks, sexist attacks. They continued for months and years. And she could have stopped fighting. She could have buckled. If she'd asked to be released from her contract, CBS would have agreed. She stuck it out. She stayed in there fighting every day. Her work just got recognized with a prestigious award.

And that's the thing, few people can stand up to that kind of pressure. Those who do, like Katie, find themselves having the last laugh. And while they enjoy that moment, it elevates others as well. Barbara Walters and Connie Chung and Elizabeth Vargas were all undermined by sexism. (Vargas should sue ABC News.) The United States has not become a sexism-free zone as the attacks on Katie Couric demonstrate. But in part because more people are aware of the problem and in part because of Katie's own considerable strength, she became the woman to make it on the network's evening news. Not as co-anchor, but as anchor.

At any time that's worth noting but especially during Women's History Month. The lessons, however, apply across the board. For example, the peace movement can throw up their arms in despair and head home or they can keep plugging away, every day. If you've got it in you to continue the fight to end the illegal war, you can join with The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War this coming Saturday. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:

IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st

As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)

To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.

For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

"But I'm in there fighting every day because I got a few more dreams in me."

Talking Iraq

Jim: Okay, next Saturday, actions take place to protest the sixth anniversary of the never-ending, illegal Iraq War. We're doing a roundtable on Iraq and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim, 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) and Wally of The Daily Jot. I'm going to toss to Dona because she wanted to start off.


Dona: Friday's snapshot included a transcript of a US service member 'training' the Iraqi police -- you can see the video at Adam Kokesh's site -- and this was brought up in the Friday roundtable Rebecca moderated -- in fact, good for Becky, she started with it. Normally, I wouldn't want us to go with the same topic but this one really needs to be addressed further. I want to add a qualifier. Many good points were made in the Friday roundtable about how the police are not the military and the US service member did not appear to grasp that -- to put it mildly, and about the disrespect of Iraqis, which we can go into. But I want C.I.'s original critique dealt with here because it was touched on in the Friday roundtable but so were a lot of other things.

Betty: Well I participated in the Friday roundtable -- as did Kat, Ava and C.I. -- and am participating here so I'll just add quickly that there were a number of angles to cover and people were speaking very quickly. Elaine, Ava and Kat did comment on this and Elaine was rather clear about wanting to bring it back to the issue of sexism.

Jim: Okay, well, Betty, explain it. Explain what took place.

Betty: Some US service members were sent to train Iraqi police. They assembled a neighborhood's police force facing front. The police commanders were milling about in the background. The US military guy goes out in front of the Iraqi police officers and begins cursing them out. He goes out of his way to insult them. The biggest insult he can think of -- telling -- is to call them women. It was really offensive and it fed into a hatred of women that the US has culivated in Iraq.

C.I.: I just want to interject quickly that women are police officers in Iraq. And, in fact, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday that a police woman was wounded in a Mosul shooting while Reuters states she was shot dead.

Wally: And it wasn't uncommon, before the start of the illegal war, for women in Iraq to be police officers and carry firearms. But once the US installed thugs, things got much worse for Iraqi women. Nouri al-Maliki should be infamous for attempting to ban female police members from carrying guns. He truly attemtped that. And he's also the pig who cut the already meager budget of the Women's Affairs Ministry down to $1,500 a month. He has no respect for women and he attempts to destroy their rights. So for the US military to give speeches like that, there's no excuse for it. It's appalling, it's embarrassing, there should be consequences for it.

Ty: I would agree with Wally, especially on the consequences, and I have to wonder, C.I.'s talking about a police woman being shot, I have to wonder what happens when women are brought on to the force of that neighborhood. These women will have to fight twice as hard for respect and the fact that they will have to do so because the US military -- as 'trainers' -- was preaching sexism is disgusting.

Kat: I'm glad Dona asked for this to be covered. And just to give a background on that Friday roundtable. One reason that other issues were raised was that C.I. had covered the sexism in Friday's snapshot, that day's snapshot. So people were attempting to contribute in other ways. Which was fine and what C.I. expected because in dictating that snapshot, Ava, Wally and I were asked by C.I., "If I really hit hard on the sexism, do you think other elements can be covered elsewhere?" The concern was that the lack of understanding of what the police do, etc., might not be covered. But we knew they would and said, "Go for it." So, to be clear, that is one reason people were bringing up other topics. I applaud Elaine for attempting to bring it back to the issue of how destructive for women the US soldier's words were. I think if she'd been able to get that point in earlier -- and as Betty pointed out, it was a free for all -- it might have changed the discussion. As it was, it was Ava and I and then Trina spoke briefly before we moved on to the next topic.

Dona: I just think -- and let's remember that all the people posting the Friday roundtable that night were also including the snapshot in their posting so they knew the sexism would be covered in the snapshot -- that it got kind of passed over and to me it is a very important issue. We pay those salaries -- for the military -- and we pay for the US to be in Iraq. We are not supposed to be paying for hatred or hate speech. And considering all the attacks on Iraqi women, I was and am offended by it. They are always being attacked. By Iraqis, by the US military, by the press. Perfect example of the last one, Abeer Mohammed and Alissa J. Rubin offer the only story filed from Iraq, "One Good Way to Make Female Hearts Flutter in Iraq: Throw a Shoe." They like Muntadher al-Zeidi because he's cute! Those Iraqi women! They're so silly! They're so incapable of thought or action. And, if you think about it, it's part of the press' efforts to pathologize gender in the same way as their non-stop clucking about female bombers in Iraq is. There are competent women in Iraq, there are women's rights activists, etc. But we don't read about them in The New York Times. In fact, they still haven't profiled the director of the Women's Affairs Ministry. All this time later. And they're still not covering her. But they can make time to make Iraqi women come off like lovesick fools? I'm sick of it.

Ava: I'm going to agree with Dona on that. It was an insulting article -- and I loved C.I.'s response to it -- but it's just really amazing how Iraqi women are repeatedly devalued and are expected to be some masculine idea of what a 'girl' is. I'm getting tired of it and it's part of what destroyed Hillary's run, this press reaction, this insistance that a woman be this or that. There is a great deal of sexism in the media and I would really love it if some of the bloggers online who pretend to care about sexism could make time to call some of it out. In terms of the military, the US military, that hideous speech has other implications as well.

Jess: Correct. Men and women serve in the US military. What message does it send to the women serving when they hear a man trash women, a man tell a bunch of men that they act like women, and just rip apart women. If he thought they were cowardly, he could have called them cowards. If he thought they were childish, he could've have told them that. Instead he attacked women. And what does that tell the women enlisted in the US military about what their male peers really think of them?

Betty: Good point. And if he'd done that with race, if he'd told them they were acting like some derogatory word for Blacks -- maybe for Latinos as well, but I'm Black, so I'll stick with that -- we'd be appalled. He insults women -- implying they can't serve when women are serving, in the US military and in the Iraqi police force -- and he gets a pass. And what must it be like to be a woman in the US military and discover that when some man in the US military wants to insult another man, the worst thing he can think of is to call the man a "woman." I mean what does that say?

Dona: I am glad and thrilled we have C.I. online and glad and thrilled C.I.'s never been afraid to call out sexism. But a lot of people are and that's why I told Jim I wanted to start with this. I don't want to be guilty of avoiding this issue, not mentioning it. And let me be really clear because I didn't grow up as a feminist. My mother was one but I didn't think it applied to me. So let me share this and maybe speak to some women who are where I was not all that long ago. I thought that it didn't apply to me. I was a woman, yes, but the guys liked me and I stood up to them and did it on my terms. In high school, I held my own. Whether on the yearbook, the newspaper or in a class. And there are two things that come from that. You either begin trashing other women because you want to maintain your exlusive place and to fit in or you just stay silent when women are trashed and kid yourself that it's not about you, that you are the exception. Looking back, I can see how easily I could have ended up either way and I can see very clearly that those were where it ended, one of those dead ends. I had friends who moved down one of those two roads, female friends. And I would have as well. I'm not trying to act like I'm 'better' or anything. But having Ava as a roommate early on helped me tremendously and certainly from C.I. I have learned a great deal. And here's how I will boil this down: Any time you think that defending some group of people might mean you're left out or excluded, you need to do it. And if that group of people is women, you don't need to take the opinion of, "Oh, they like me!" It's not about you, it's not about you as an individual. It's about women and you are in that class even if they're being nice when you're around. The Iraq War has created how many widows in Iraq? The idiot doctor -- a woman -- for the United Nations' WHO attacked women in a Baghdad press conference, blamed them for the cholera outbreak.

Jim: The cholera outbreak that happens every summer.

Dona: Yes, thank you. And when Iraqi women are being beaten by spouses and family members, for a doctor to blame them for the cholera outbreak and not the government which refuses to invest in infrastructure repair or to provide potable water in bottles, that's just one more attack on Iraqi women and I'm damn sick of it. And I'm damn sick of paying for sexism to be taught and that's exactly what that US service member was doing when he went into his rant against women. It causes real damage. I'm tired of it.

Jim: Okay and now we have news that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani does not plan to run for re-election. His term ends when?

C.I.: December of this year.

Jess: I really don't think there's much to say on that topic, Jim. For starters, C.I.'s covered it for two years at The Common Ills, Talabani's health. That's why community members weren't surprised by the heart surgery last year. This is a health reason.

C.I.: Well, I agree with Jess, but there are also some very real tensions involving the KRG. There have been some walkouts recently. Talabani's health was the big issue from what I've heard but the health was why he's not up to the continued fight and it is becoming a fight for the party, his political party.

Ty: If I could jump in here, I do have a topic. Christopher Hill has been nominated to be the US Ambassador to Iraq. His credentials have been called into question by Republican senators. There are two questions popping up in e-mails because C.I. covered this in Friday's snapshot. The first question is people wondering if C.I. is endorsing Hill, based on the Friday snapshot?

C.I.: I thought that would be unclear. If anyone's misunderstood that, I'll eat the sin on that. I'm not endorsing him, I'm not opposing Chris. I am, I did say Chris is qualified. There are many people who are qualified. He is one of them. Is he right for the job? That's what will be determined in the confirmation hearings. I don't want to take over the roundtable but just to be clear, the criticism is that he doesn't have training in counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism and hasn't commanded the military. He's trying to replace Ryan Crocker. He's not trying to replace Gen Ray Odierno. The criticism of Hill's qualifiactions are that he's not qualified to be a military general because the tasks listed go to the military. He's not trying to be that, he's trying to be the US Ambassador to Iraq. He's qualified for that post. Meaning he has a diplomatic resume that makes him qualified to be an ambassador. Whether he's the right person for that job is something to be decided in the confirmation hearings. But, again, if my comments confused anyone, that was my fault.

Ty: The second question is raised by two who both link to a blog post by Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times. In the snapshot, you take White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs to task for his defense of Christopher Hill and praise State Department spokesperson Gordon Duguid. Malcolm reveals that Barack has been telling people to take their "whacks" at Gibbs and the two asking the question wondered if this was "an 8:45 a.m. dictate"?

C.I.: Okay, I've got to back up. 8:45 a.m. refers to a morning call the adminstration is doing with various bloggers and organizations to get propaganada out there each day. I am not -- no one in this community -- is participating in those phone calls. For myself, I don't have the time and I'd be insulted both due to the propaganda nature and due to being considered the White House's hired help. We had a very lively discussion, the last one, on Iraq Friday afternoon. The Friday snapshot was late for that reason. It, the discussion, went on and on, over an hour past when it should have ended. So I had to do a snapshot quickly and was using three phones -- one to dictate in, two for info -- and calling everyone to get what I could. A TV reporter attending the White House press briefing raised the so-called defense by Gibbs. I already had a friend at the State Department on the other phone and quickly asked about Gordon's conference and if the issue had been raised. I don't think Gibbs has shown any promise in his role -- he may at some point -- and I did call a friend in the administration to say, "I'm ripping into Gibbs in the snapshot, just FYI." That was not seen as a problem. To be clear, I'd called because I didn't hear Gibbs. I heard a friend summarize Gibbs' tone and I was read what Gibbs said. I wanted to be sure that there wasn't something else going on. For example, had I been told, "Well he was sneezing and coughing, you know that right, he had a nasty cold." If I'd been told that, I would have pulled the critique. Because Gibbs was bad but if he were sick or something similar, it would have slid. He gives a daily press briefing. There will be another one. For example, there was a day that everyone jumped on Dana Perino -- jumped on her online -- and we never commented on her performance that day in any way because there was a family health issue/concern and I was honestly surprised she was at work and going through with the press briefing. We called her out plenty of times, I have no problem doing that or calling out Gibbs. But I was about to rip into him and I'm not aware of him getting negative criticism -- I know most of the press doesn't care for him but he's not getting negative coverage yet. So since my harsh words -- he wasn't doing his job -- were going to be among the first, I did want to check and make sure he wasn't ill or something. But I received no order to "whack" him.

Jim: What was the criticism of his press briefing?

C.I.: He couldn't give a concrete answer. Gordon did. Gordon was very clear that the administration was supporting Christopher Hill. Gibbs avoided and hedged and 'answered' a question by speaking of something that did not pertain to the question. He looked like he was dodging or fumbling. He did a lousy job. And when I say "he looked," I'm basing it on having since viewed the briefing. I didn't say in the snapshot he 'looked' anyway because I did not see him. I dealt with his refusal to answer the questions asked.

Jim: Does anyone have an opinion on Christopher Hill? How about we get a sketch of him?

Wally: Okay, I'm pulling up his State Department bio. I'll read it but ask that it gets pasted in in case I leave out a word:

Term of Appointment: 04/08/2005 to present
Christopher R. Hill was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs on April 8, 2005.
Ambassador Hill is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service whose most recent assignment was as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. On February 14, 2005, he was named as the Head of the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Previously he has served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999). He also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southeast European Affairs in the National Security Council.
Earlier in his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Hill served tours in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana, and on the Department of State's Policy Planning staff and in the Department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the Department of State's Senior Country Officer for Poland. Ambassador Hill received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the Bosnia peace settlement, and was a recipient of the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Hill served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.
Ambassador Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Economics. He received a Master's degree from the Naval War College in 1994. He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian.

Wally (Con't): So those are his qualifications.

Jess: Okay but let's put in Ryan Crocker's qualifications as well.

Term of Appointment: 03/29/2007 to present
[Amb. Crocker's
remarks at his swearing-in ceremony.]
Ryan Crocker was confirmed as Ambassador to Iraq on March 7, 2007. He assumed Chief of Mission duties at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on March 29, 2007 after serving as U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan from October 2004 to March, 2007. He served previously as the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College, where he joined the faculty in 2003. From May to August 2003, he was in Baghdad as the first Director of Governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2001 to May 2003, and served previously as Ambassador to Syria (1998-2001), Ambassador to Kuwait (1994-1997) and Ambassador to Lebanon (1990-1993). Since joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he also has had assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Washington. He was assigned to the American Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine barracks in 1983.
He grew up in an Air Force family, attending schools in Morocco, Canada and Turkey, as well as the U.S. He received a B.A. in English in 1971 and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2001 from Whitman College (Washington). Ambassador Crocker received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 1994, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service in 1997 and the Presidential Meritorious Service Award in 1999 and 2003. He also holds the State Department Distinguished Honor Award, Award for Valor, three Superior Honor Awards and the American Foreign Service Association Rivkin Award. In January 2002, he was sent to Afghanistan to reopen the American Embassy in Kabul. He subsequently received the Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for "exceptional courage and leadership" in Afghanistan. In September 2004, President Bush conferred on him the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the Foreign Service.

Jess (Con't): That way we have something to judge it by. Crocker is the current Ambasador to Iraq.

Betty: Well, for starters, Crocker was more experienced in the area. Not just the three or so months he spent in Baghdad in 2003 but also with the surrounding areas of Turkey, Syria, Kuwait and Iran.

Ava: Well, first off, C.I. and I were begging everyone we know in the administration to consider women for the post. It would send a needed statement on women if the ambassador was a woman. Now we were proposing actual women not just asking them to invent a mythical one. And I want it noted that the qualifications of those women were comparable to Christopher Hill's. And we heard back, repeatedly, "Oh, ___ doesn't have the qualifications." It would be completely understandable if, based on that, C.I. had said Friday, "Christopher Hill's not qualified!" He is qualified. So were the women we suggested. Whether he's right for the job or not, I'm not going to weigh in but he is qualified.

Jim: Ava, I want to stay with you for a second more because everyone's nodding their heads about what you're talking about but, for drive-bys, I want to back you up on the message sent aspect.

Ava: Oh sure. al-Maliki is a sexist pig. And he's picked a sexist cabinet. I would dare anyone to find a single female ambassador Iraq has sent anywhere in the world. Their ambassadors are all men. The Foreign Ministry regularly stages events at which no women are present unless it is women from other countries, women who are diplomats. When they must credit a woman, the Foreign Ministry refers to her as "Mrs" even if she uses the title "Ms" or even if she's unmarried. Iraq has been torn apart by this illegal war and women's rights are among the wreckage. Putting a strong woman into the post of US Ambassador to Iraq would allow Iraqi women to see a female face at a time when they need to see that and it would force al-Maliki's sexist cabinet to interact with women.

Kat: Women are wiped out from Iraq. They really are. And the US Ambassador to Iraq is an important post but it is especially important in Iraq. It is a high visibility post in Iraq, one that would get daily coverage in their media. It would be a really strong message to put a woman in that position.

Jim: Six years. Thomas E. Ricks thinks we're at the half-way point in the Iraq War. Anyone disagree with him on that?

Ty: I don't know how many more years are left, but, it's not over. And how many more years are left will be determined by the people of the US. If we're not going to turn out for the events this Saturday, the war's just going to drag on and on. Let me insert the announcement:

The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War are taking part in an action this month. Iraq Veterans Against the War explains:IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.)

To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.

For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Jim: Thank you, Ty. Okay, we're going to wind down by looking back on last week. If there was something you saw that impressed you, by all means, name it. If something bothered you, call it out. I'll kick it off by noting what I saw as a good development. Anthony Arnove called out the forces at play that keep insisting the illegal war is over or almost over and we should focus on other things and not get active and demand an end to the illegal war. What was the name of the woman on the panel last week who talked about demand?

C.I.: Elaine Brower. Stream is here.

Jim: Right. She talked about how the peace movement doesn't make demands all the sudden, about how weakened it's getting. And I applaud that and applaud Anthony Arnove.

Ty: I would go with the revelations out of the United Kingdom. We're not making that a topic because Polly's made it the topic for her newsletter, Polly's Brew, and Ava, C.I. and Mike participated in the roundtable yesterday on that. It is really something when you put together all the revelations that have come out about the lies to march into war. Especially the ones that have come out of England.

Kat: I'll say a little pork ass drama queen who cheerleaded the Iraq War awhile back, then decided he was anti-war and is now a Barry Obama cheerleader. And those are just the highlights. But I'd pick him as among the worst of the week and I know most people will know who I'm talking about. I also know that a take-down's taking place on pork ass. News of the take-down was the best news I heard all last week.

Betty: I'll grab John Ross. I thought he had a powerful piece of writing last week.

Jess: I agree with Betty, and with Jim, and am glad that there are a few people we can point to; however, I would go with a negative. Last week where did you hear about this coming weekend's actions. You saw the useless Phyllis Bennis and Tom Hayden pimp for UPFJ's non-action and act as if an event wasn't planned for this Saturday. I loved C.I.'s remark about Leslie Cagan having set her dogs free from the kennal and that is what the garbage we saw was. But where is the publicity for this Saturday's actions? Without that publicity, people will know because? It'll be interesting to see if Amy Goodman will go up against her spiritual mentor Leslie Cagan and actually promote Saturday's actions.

Ava: Jess and I hadn't talked about this but I was actually going to raise the same issues he did. I am very worried, honestly, about the turnout this Saturday and mainly, at this point, because so many people are unaware of the event at this point.

Wally: Right because we were talking the Saturday actions up all last week to every group we spoke to and I think it was Ava but it might have been Kat who said mid-week, "I can't believe how many people have not heard about this?" And that really is disturbing.

Jim: That's everyone except Dona and C.I.

Dona: To me the silence on Iraqi women is appalling every week. The continued and never-ending silence. I'm glad that Amnesty International and Oxfarm released their reports. Did we already do links?

C.I.: I'm not sure. But I'll grab it is our choice for the best. Both reports are PDF format. Oxfam International released "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talka bout their greatest concerns and challenges." Amnesty International's released "Trapped By Violence: Women In Iraq."

Jim: So we'll end on that note and remember that actions take place this Saturday. Actions will take place on Thursday across the country as well -- marking the anniversary. But we're promoting the Saturday action. We'll be participating locally in the Thursday actions, but we're promoting the Saturday action. The reason was explained last week. We already knew about this action and started promoting it in January. If you're a regular reader and you want to cop out and refuse to take part, you can't say we didn't give you enough time. You can't pin that on us. We've given you two months heads up on this. So you either take part or take your share of the blame for the ongoing illegal war. This is a rush transcript. Illustration by Betty's oldest son.

Barry 'No, we don't!', Arne 'Yes, we do!'

"President Obama took aim Thursday at conservative critics who claim that he is using the economic crisis to ram through an unrelated, expansive domestic agenda." CNN reported Barack vigorously protesting.

Poor Barry, he's just a natural born liar. Been lying since the day he was born. And it's a shame CNN failed to catch PBS' NewsHour Thursday. Barry's Secretary of Education (and f**k buddy?) Arne Duncan was self-stroking and the following took place:

JOHN MERROW: But you are going to be writing the checks. That's power.
ARNE DUNCAN: You see it as power; I see it as partnership.
JOHN MERROW: Do we need national standards?
ARNE DUNCAN: I think we need to look at it. I think the idea of 50 states doing things, you know, their own way doesn't quite make sense.
JOHN MERROW: Do you anticipate using some of this stimulus money, this incentive money to help these national standards emerge?
ARNE DUNCAN: Absolutely.
JOHN MERROW: So states will get money if they do this thing that Duncan wants?
ARNE DUNCAN: If you play by these rules, absolutely right.
JOHN MERROW: You're OK with having a secretary of education say, "You can get some money, Stu, if you do what I want"?
STU SILBERMAN: You know what? I think that it's a whole lot better than not getting any money.

But Barack wants to insist that the economic crisis isn't being used "to ram through an unrelated, expansive domestic agenda." And no one's supposed to notice that while he's insisting that, his Secretary of Education is demonstrating how the charges are 100% correct.


Just like no one wants to notice how much his Secretary of Education looks like Goober Pyle.

Goober Pyle

Barry BailOuts

Judy Dempsey (International Herald Tribune) reports, "Putting aside months of tension over how to deal with the global financial crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France joined forces Thursday to reject calls by the United States that Europe spend more to overcome the recession." Wow. It's a global crisis and Germany and France aren't eager to join Barack in a Hope-a-thon. Well, at least he can still count on England, right? America's longtime ally.
Clapping for themselves

That's a long and special relationship and, in fact, it's Barack-proof, so we're in some luck . . . Oops. Iain Martin (Telegraph of London) explained March 6th, "President Obama has been rudeness personified towards Britain this week." Short version, Gordon and Sarah Brown arrived for a state visit (Gordon Brown is England's Prime Minister). Gifts to the Obamas, including to their children, were selected with care. And Barack and Michelle gave White House gift shop presents: cheap, tacky and insulting. (No, Jackie Kennedy would never have allowed that to happen.) It was a huge and ugly insult and though most American outlets either ignored it or tried to laugh it off, it has caused a serious rift.

Adding to that rift? Willem Buiter (Financial Times of London) notes:

Since the Obama administration took over on January 20, the US Treasury has effectively been out to lunch. As widely reported (see e.g. this account in the Financial Times), Sir Gus O'Donnell (as cabinet secretary the top UK civil servant) has attacked the 'absolute madness' of the US spoils system, where a new Federal administration replaces the entire top stratum of the civil service with new officials possessing the right political connections and leanings. Quite a few of these top officials need to be confirmed before they can start working. This can take months. Many of the new officials have no political, government or administrative experience and spend most of their first months in office trying to figure out where the washroom is instead of designing and implementing policy.

Boston Boomer (The Confluence) highlights the above and more including wondering where the seventeen deputy secretaries are for Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury?

There are none. Zero. Zilch.

Barack wants you to believe he's hard at work. And he is. He's hard at work planning a big overseas trip. How come? Because Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, got a tremendously war reception throughout the trip she just completed.

So now Barack, who still hasn't assembled a Treasury Department, wants to take an overseas trip. He wants to visit Turkey and the other places that Hillary just visited. No, that's not how diplomacy is done. That is how an egomaniac, one not used to sharing the spotlight -- dare we say one who walked out on his own mother when a new sibling outshined him? -- responds.

The US does not have the time to live through Barack's psychosexual remnants from childhood. He's the president of the United States, a job he actively campaigned for. It's time for him to start acting like it and it's time for him to get to work. While he has managed to get Germany and France to steer their own (US-less) course and he appears eager to 'convince' the UK to do the same, he's still not working for the American people.

Ty's Corner Mailbag

Lewis e-mails to complain there hasn't been a mailbag in forever. Tony notes "No Ty's Corner!" So I'm combining the two and will call this "Ty's Corner Mailbag."

Jordan was among 52 e-mailing to praise "The Thomas E. Ricks Dialogue." Of the 52, 17 want more pieces like this and four wonder why we haven't done them sooner. The problem there would be what most of you expand many words on: C.I. No one could have done that debate/dialogue except C.I. in terms of making the case for withdrawal. And C.I.'s concern is always about "dominating" the site. C.I. will say, "I've got The Common Ills." Longterm readers will know it's a little more than that and how it was over a year after we started this site that C.I. finally would be listed as one of the Third gang. The person you need to lobby for more of those pieces is Jim. Jim held his own and I'm not sure any of the rest of us could have. Jim held his own in the dialogue -- like the readers, I think C.I. won the exchange and not Jim posing as Thomas E. Ricks -- and held his own in the lead up. This idea was floated as soon as Jim read the book. So that was probably early February or late January. (Find out the street date for the book and subtract at least two weeks.) Because Jim wanted it, C.I. agreed. And I agree with everyone who wrote that it was one of our strongest pieces.

Morey e-mails wondering if he needs to go elsewhere? He supported John McCain and he's not sure he's welcome here. Morey, Oklahoma community members voted for John McCain and they're welcome here. We've stated before, we don't care who you vote for. If coming by makes you think, laugh or get angry and you like your response, keep coming back. We have not joined in any attacks on McCain. We have not attempted to hop on the never-ending "ATTACK SARAH PALIN!" bandwagon. If McCain were wrong on something and we saw it, we'd consider calling it out. However, we (core six: Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself) did discuss this topic immediately after the election and McCain would have to make a really big blunder that was really public. Otherwise, we have other things to cover. The feeling (we were all in agreement) was that the wounds were too raw from the election, that Oklahoma community members went with Barack and that we did not want to make anyone feel unwelcome. You'll most likely see McCain covered by C.I. over any other site because C.I. covers Iraq and, as she's pointed out this year already, what McCain says on Iraq -- regardless of whether it's right or wrong -- tends to be the next stomping ground -- he usually gets there a few months ahead of the others.

John McCain remains a senator and, if need be, he will be called out. He is, however, one senator out of 100. Unlike Amy Goodman, we don't flap our gums about how I.F. Stone or whomever said the press has to make the powerful uncomfortable and then turn around and kiss Barack's rump. That's what Amy Goodman does. The president of the United States, regardless of whom he or she may be, will always be a target of this site, as long as we're around.

Morey wasn't the only one asking that, he was the only reader comfortable with having his name used. (Thank you, Morey.)

Fay wonders what it's like for all of us to live together and why we refer to it but don't write about it? For those who don't know, we all live at C.I.'s. I was the first to come out (to California from NY). I did so because I was soured on my previous college and ready to start over. I mentioned it to C.I. and how I was thinking of changing majors and considering various colleges to transfer to. C.I. encouraged me to go to one in this area and said I could live here. I came out during the summer to do an internship with a director friend of C.I.'s and ended up staying. Ava and Jess came out a few weeks after. Ava grew up out here and prefers it to NY. Some of her family lives out here (some lives in NY). Jess, Ava's boyfriend, saw why she preferred it. For all the talk of 'melting pot,' NY really isn't the 'melting pot' for Latinos. (Ava is a Latina.) She was already decided but hadn't announced when Jess asked if they should stay. So that's how they ended up staying. That left Dona and Jim back East. And they came out for a few weeks and were going to stay back East but then decided on the spur of the moment to stay here.

My boyfriend finished up at our old college. He now shares my room with me. And Betty's here with her three kids while she's working out here for a year (her job transferred her). Wally's here but he, Kat, Ava and C.I. are on the road every week (Monday through Friday) so he's really not out here -- nor is Ava or C.I. When she's not on the road, Kat can often be found here and has many times been invited by C.I. to move in but she has her own "funky" place that she's had for ten or so years and she can't see giving it up. (She had to move into the building and then wait and wait until she got the dream place.)

So that's background. Why don't we write about it? As a topic exclusively it's not something we're interested in because we know C.I.'s a private person and who wants to read about their home? We could do something on it for one of the community newsletters. But to put something like that online? No, thank you.

Randy e-mails about next Saturday's demonstrations. DC and other areas will have rallies to end the illegal war. If that's news to you, check The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Randy's question is do we feel that the turnout will be huge or small? We don't know. We would love it to be huge but we're not sure how many people are even aware of it? We've tried to get the word out on it and we will be participating. We know those two things. That's about it at this point.

Audrey wants to know what we'll cover when the Iraq War ends? We'll probably have gone dark long before the Iraq War ends. When the Democratic Party primaries were ongoing I personally thought there was a chance the illegal war would end. I thought Hillary Clinton would end it. She staked out a position and she would have stuck to it. Barack never got any pressure and he always had a weak position. But back in the days when I thought Hillary was going to receive the nomination (she won it, it was stolen from her), I would float that to others. We weren't sure when this site would go dark and there were many other things we discussed covering. I really wish, Audrey, that we could stop talking about Iraq because the war was over. But it's not and we're not going to be like the news media and other websites -- we're not going to drop the topic.

Olive (community member from Australia) pointed out in an e-mail last week that Third is lucky because there's always more than enough news for an article once a week. ("Or two or even three.") But C.I.'s got to cover Iraq every day and, no, that's not easy when the media withdraws before the troops do.

Bruce wants to know how easy or hard it is each week to do these editions?

It varies. We started this edition Saturday night. Mike, Ava and C.I. were late in joining us because they were finishing an Iraq roundtable for Polly's Brew (community newsletter published on Sunday mornings, run by UK member Polly). We weren't getting anywhere and, by the time they joined us, we still weren't anywhere. We had nothing. It was mainly we were tired. So Dona and C.I. made a list of what we knew we'd have to do: Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary, the Iraq roundtable, Highlights, etc. I was asked if I'd do a Ty's Corner and I said I would but would do it with mailbag. Dona then read the list of what we had back to us and we all sighed in relief because we actually had an edition. It didn't feel like that before the list.

Ethan wonders what we do during the writing sessions besides write? That question's come up several times before but I don't believe it's ever been answered. Ava, C.I. and Wally have the washer and dryer going. They arrive home Saturday and leave out Monday morning. So they're washing their clothes. We're generally nibbling and drinking on things. Tonight, C.I. made tortilla soup because Jim seemed under the weather. (That's two batches of tortilla soup. One with chicken, one without -- vegetable broth and no chicken.) So we've all been eating that. It's wonderful. We can't remember C.I. ever making that before but maybe it's just been awhile. We also try to clean as we go. (C.I. has household help but we try to clean our own messes.) Betty's kids are here and we'll stop for various reasons there. By the time they're down for the night, less need for that. But we will stop before that. And even Jim -- not the most tactful of people -- will stop everything when, for example, Betty's oldest son wants to show us a song he just learned to play on guitar or when he wants to ask C.I. or Jess to show him how to play a section of a song. (Wally's learning the guitar now as well. Jess and C.I. know how to play guitar. C.I. knows how to play piano, bass and I don't know how many other instruments. When we quote a song and there's a dispute about the lyric, one of us will at some point rush to the music room where all the instruments and sheet music is kept. We'll come back with the sheet music and say, "No, the lyric is ____!")

George wondered about the music? We've always got music playing. Cedric participates by phone and he's not the only one. But the others participating by phone are all at Trina's. So if Cedric's got something we can hear, we'll tell him to crank it up. Otherwise, it's generally us blasting the music. (Trina's home has her grandbaby and Rebecca's young daughter on the weekends. No blasting of music.) So far tonight, we've listened to Mary J. Blige, Jackie DeShannon, india.arie, the Kinks, the Weepies, Tracy Chapman and Jefferson Airplane. We all have eclectic tastes. Dona and Ava set out to have that. They made the first two years of college (they were roommates in college) about expanding their music knowledge. Jess grew up in a home where music played all the time but the TV was only on for PBS -- and not on that often even then. But we all bring in different things and, right now, the music just shifted, John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band is playing. We listen to a variety. I know that when she's working on a difficult entry at The Common Ills, say an end of the year summation, C.I. will put on classical, usually a ballet (The Firebird is a popular choice) but we don't listen to classical when we work on these editions. (I should also point out that C.I.'s more likely not to pick out anything during a writing edition and let's the rest of us pick it out. On her own, she'll generally go with something like Odetta or R&B of any era.) (And I'll point out that about the second time I heard The Firebird, I asked, "What is that?" I have fallen in love with it and I'm not a fan of classic music. I think it works best on a day where you don't have to rush and can wake up to it and just enjoy it.)

Melody notes we've mentioned "many times" that we divide up Sunday breakfast duties but what about lunch and dinner? Lunch? We're generally asleep after being up all night. Dinner? Some people feel like eating, some don't? Some are up to going out, some aren't. (If we go out to eat, Ava and C.I. are the sunglass twins who do not remove their sunglasses no matter how dark it is outside. Which actually has nothing to do with their eyes but everything to do with not wanting to be looked at. It's their stay-away-from-me stance.) If we're eating here and can all go for vegetables -- no meat, Jess is happy fixing something up for us. Dona will generally whip up something fairly quickly (something tasty). If it's me, it's something I can toss in the oven because I'm not going to stand over the stove. C.I. will actually cook. If one of us asks for something, C.I. will go into the kitchen and cook. Or if we don't want to go out but don't know what we want to eat, C.I. will go and cook a dinner. Italian, Greek and Mexican are her specialities. And she cooks, cooks. She's chopping things, she's doing sauces, it's always from scratch if she's cooking. She will tell you she can't fry worth s**t (that's a quote) and now that Betty's here we will have fried chicken (plus something for Jess who doesn't eat meat) (frying's an art and frying chicken even more so). If Betty's frying, the rest of us are usually doing something else. (Dona doing a green salad, Jim and me peeling potatoes so C.I. will make mashed potatoes, etc.) Because fried chicken is ready pretty quickly so that's a bit of a rush and the rest of the time, when anyone's cooking, it's usually a more leisurely pace.

The bulk of the e-mails were, as always, about Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries. Dona and I do try to reply if a reply is necessary and/or we happen to have the time. But we (and Jim) read all the e-mails. About music, a topic a number of you e-mailed on, by the middle of April, I promise another music roundtable. We may do some other music piece before then. But we will do a music roundtable by the middle of April.

The Bronze Boobs go to . . .

The Bronze Boobs this week go to Corrente.

Bronze Booby Prize
It's not that Corrente never has anything worth reading. For example, Monday morning they offered up Helen Thomas questioning the White House about single payer health care. That March 9th post was topical and news . . . when Rebecca offered "helen thomas asks why the war on single-payer?" . . . March 5th. Never worry, anything worth saying online will make it to Corrente a few days or weeks later. And never fear or fret about credit because Corrente never gives any. Hell, these days they don't even offer a blogroll.

They don't offer much of anything. You can read Sarah's right-wing rants from Texas, where Sarah rushes in to wipe drool from Barack's mouth -- when she's not attacking Arabs (most especially Palestinians). Or maybe you'll get the freak show from Canada, the one trying to rip off our own Stan. From across the northern border, the freak show shares his crazed fantasies about what really happens in America and what Americans are really like.

Leah left the building along time ago. Farmer resurrected Corrente's original site. There is no Corrente anymore. It's like Axel and a group of strangers trying to tour as Guns N Roses.

You can pin the blame for the split on Barack Obama. Lambert saw him as a phony (we agree with that take) and others disagreed. And so began the Long Walk Away which continues to this day.

So these days Corrente never knows what to do but Lambert feels like he has to do something and apparently do it repeatedly. So last Sunday, he wrote at least 17 posts. Well 'wrote.' Lengthy excerpt of someone else's writing with a wraparound sentence or two by Lambert.

For someone so anti-Barack, Lambert feels the need from time to time to decide what's acceptable and what's not. It's led to the banning of MyIQ2xu because there must be NO speaking of Bill Ayers decreed Lambert. And it's led to his repeated attacks on The New York Times and others for raising the issue of socialism with Barack.

Barack asked if he's a Socialist for good reason. He's not one. He's a Corporatist War Hawk. But the press has begun to notice (and the White House is responding with huge barricades) how Barack's treated by certain Communist and Socialist publications. It's not the way your normal Democrat or Republican president would be treated. It's a fawning, it's a worship. And speeches keep leaking out to the press -- recordings of speeches keep leaking out to the press -- where various Socialists and Communists are explaining that it is the Party's job to help Barack.

When that happens, you damn well better believe the press is going to ask about it. And when Barack can't answer a question -- and he's never been able to answer a direct question -- the press is going to repeat the question.

Barack brings it on himself by always trying to weasel out of a concrete answers. Concrete answers don't allow the changeling to be the blank slate that everyone else projects their hopes and dreams on.

Getting mad at The New York Times for asking a question is a bit childish. Getting mad at the press for continuing to ask a question when it's not answered is being opposed to actual journalism which is supposed to get an answer.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds -- were it not for actual journalism, Corrente would have nothing but the one and two sentence wrap arounds . . . with nothing to wrap them around.

Unable to do a media critique, unable to do any sort of a critique, they just keep throwing stuff up, hoping something hits. They'll praise, for example, Barack for his attempt to "normalize gender" (their words, we'd never right such an offensive phrase) and they'll forget to note that the committee in question has no budget, no meeting schedule and no staff. In other words, it's for-show, not unlike Nouri al-Maliki's Women's Affairs Ministry.

Which is why Corrente becomes less and less worth reading. If you actually follow the news, you're generally a day or two ahead of Corrente.

They have little to offer these days. For example, last week they finally 'covered' the Iraq War. This was their 'coverage' in full: "Pay 'em off. I mean, that was what the Anbar awakening was all about, right? Funding the Sunnis?" Thank you, Lambert for your hard, hard work keeping Iraq on the map,, keeping the issue of the illegal war front and center!

This month two studies on Iraq were released [PDF format warning on both], Amnesty International's "Trapped By Violence: Women In Iraq" and Oxfam International's "In Her Own Words: Iraqi women talka bout their greatest concerns and challenges." Guess reading those would have been too much work. Better to offer your single-source excerpts and pretend you did something, right?

Boston Boomer (The Confluence) managed to say more about the economy in one post last week than all the posts at Corrente did. That's apparently more work than Lambert and the gang are up to.

Over the summer, Corrente's biggest problem appeared to be Lambert's refusal to allow new people a password which would allow them to comment. Currently, the problem is no one's interested in commenting anymore. It's Week Old News. No real work. No real thought. "I just read this! And that makes it a post!"

In other words here's how you write a Corrente post:

1) Find the topic everyone can't shut up about.
2) Select one news outlet -- the more obvious, the better!
3) Grab several paragraphs.
4) Write quick one (two if you're a hard worker!) sentence into.
5) Post!
6) Take a deep breath and wipe down the sweat. Do some yoga, possibly morning star, you've certainly strained and then some.

Corrente gets the Bronze Boobs because it's become the blog about less-than-nothing.
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