Sunday, December 13, 2009

Truest statement of the week

This 'Peace Prize'to Obama was nothing but a slap in the face to people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, North Korea, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela and anywhere that Obama's boot of Empire is crushing or threatening to crush.This 'Peace Prize' is a slap in the fact to parents like myself whose child has been killed in the Bush/Obama wars, now approved of by 'Peace committees.'This award was a slap in the face to us--we who have been sacrificing and struggling for true peace for years.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "How Dare They?" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II


-- Wally ("THIS JUST IN! IT ALL BACKFIRES!") and Cedric ("He used to think he was lucky") on the eight district of California's US House Representative attempting to influence a Massachusetts election . . . and failing.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

First thanks to all who helped. That's Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank all. What did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- Another truest for Cindy. She will end the year as the person to have spoken the most truest statements in 2009.

Truest statement of the week II -- Wally and Cedric were a choice Ava and C.I. came up with but one we were all on board with. (We almost had a third by including one of Marcia's but she asked us not to.)

Editorial: He's the world's War Hawk now -- Barry went to Oslo. If it walks like a War Hawk and it talks like a War Hawk, it's time to call it a War Hawk.

TV: When the guests call the shots -- I (Jim) was thrilled when Ava and C.I. explained to me what they were finding out about the ABC interviews -- specifically the directives from the White House on how Michelle would be taped. This is one of three pieces Ava and C.I. contribute this edition.

Those Wacky Ethics of Greg Mitchell -- The piece I asked C.I. to promote at TCI and that resulted in e-mails and e-mails. Those of you who accused us of lying? You're forgiven. We didn't lie. Mitchell just 'forgot' how to do a correction. Click on the two screen snaps to see them larger.

Every picture tells a story -- Dona and C.I. saw this and brought it in at the last second. We stopped posting long enough to write something up. Dona insisted it be short and we (Dona, Ava, C.I., Ty, Jess and myself) were agreed to that because we were so tired. Where are the people of color advising the president? Where are the women?

NPR keeps selling the wars (Ava and C.I.) -- Ava and C.I. promised to do this feature here and it's a hard hitting look at how NPR censors reality. Betty's kids did the illustration.

Roundtable -- We weren't having much luck with most features and did a roundtable as a last minute filler. It works. Betty's kids did the illustration.

Iraq -- Our weekly Iraq feature.

Not So Fast Jeff Cohen (Ava and C.I.) -- We were hoping we could do this as a group piece. We couldn't. Ava and C.I. grabbed it when time ran out and did a great job.

TV notes -- Some programming tonight and tomorrow.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Kat, Rebecca, Marcia, Ruth, Stan, Ann, Cedric and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it.

That's it, we'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: He's the world's War Hawk now

I am the war hawk you have been waiting for

Celebrity in Chief Barry O and his entourage jetted to Oslo last week to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize and allow Barry O to grandstand on the topics of war and peace.

Barry O wanted to sell war as peace, as necessary to peace. To hear Barry tell it, war was part of the life cycle. And if you were an idiot, you may have believed him.

It was full of the most mundane phrases his writers could think up:

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

"I am a living testimony"? The vanity on that man never ceases to appall.

As we listened to him babble on and liken the Nazis to 100 or so al Qaeada in Afghanistan, we kept flashing on "mindful" and then thinking mindset.

Remember when Barry O was speaking in Des Moines, Iowa December 18, 2007:

I am running to do more than end a war in Iraq - I am running to change the mindset that got us into war. It's easy for us to lay all of the problems of the world at George Bush's doorstep. His judgments will be subject to the harsh light of history, and the verdict will not be kind. But the question is what comes next. Because we also have to change a conventional way of thinking about foreign policy that values time spent in Washington over timely judgments; posturing over pragmatism; and fear of looking weak over the conviction to get things right. Here, I ask you to look no further than my record.

Back then he was going to "change the mindset that got us into war," in Oslo he was preaching war and more war, endless war.

"So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another -- that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy," he declared.

It's like the life cycle, you see. To have war, you must have peace, to have happiness, you must suffer through marriage with Michelle, to . . . .

A need for war, Barry O, explained, "will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come."

As he babbled on and on, our thoughts traveled back to a November 29th feature, "The Iraq War's British roots," and Tony Blair's 1999 speech (outlining "The Blair Doctrine") noted in the article:

This is a just war, based not on any territorial ambitions but on values. We cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand. We must not rest until it is reversed. We have learned twice before in this century that appeasement does not work. If we let an evil dictator range unchallenged, we will have to spill infinitely more blood and treasure to stop him later.

It was as if Barack's speech writers cribbed from Tony Blair (Barack: "I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That's why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.") and don't we all know how badly Blair damaged England and the world?

America elected a War Hawk. There's no point in denying it or sugar coating it. The American people were tricked and decieved. What's the Nobel Peace Prize Committee's excuse?


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Am The War Hawk You Have Been Waiting For"

TV: When the guests call the shots

Would we consider reviewing the latest Barbara Walters special? Pass, we're not interested. Really, our ABC friend said, because one of our 'friends' had reviewed and panned it. Our ABC friend was referring to the critic who hates all women and has both a print and audio platform from which to spew his misogyny. Okay, we were interested. Get us a copy by Friday and we'll take a look.


Which is how it started, but not how it ended by any means. Be careful what you wish for because, at the end, our ABC friend, bothered by what we'd learned about the shooting of the special, begged us not to weigh in.

ABC handed over one hour of prime time last week to air Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People or Barbara Walters Presents The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009. Ten people in one hour (and it was actually more than ten) would make for six minutes per person -- provided there were no commercials, no opening and no closing segments. What can you learn about a person in four minutes or less? Not a great deal.

Alternate close ups between Walters and singer Lady Gaga.

Barbara Walters: Are you bisexual?

Lady Gaga: I do like women.

Barbara Walters: Have you had sex with women?

Lady Gaga: Uhm, uh, well I -- my goodness.

Alternate close ups between Walters and 'reality' TV personality Kate Gosselin.

Barbara Walters: Are you scared?

Kate Gosselin: Yes, I don't think I would be sane if I wasn't. I have a lot of responsibilities.

And that was just the start of the opening. She'd quickly ask professional cross-dresser Tyler Perry (who is African-American) what is was like to be in a room of White people, she'd ask singer Adam Lambert if he regretted that performance, debate with Glenn Beck over whether or not he'd said the Obama administration was infiltrated with Socialists and more and, sadly, this was just the opening. It was like a really bad Saturday Night Live parody.

The stars?

Not Walters.

In fact, she came off the worst. But that's to be expected when "most fascinating" is really just "Look who made Liz Smith's gossip columns this year!" That is how the 80-year-old Walters decides what's "fascinating." The first time La Liz ever wrote about Lady Gaga this year, she wrote that she thought Lady Gaga was a drag queen. [An idiot 'reporter' for NPR last week decided to bore listeners with that rumor but was surprisingly uninformed as to who had helped spread it: Liz Smith.] So naturally Barbara would decide she must ask Lady Gaga about sex.

It was really surprising because Meredith Baxter came out earlier this month, telling the world she's happily involved with a woman and, to 'mark' the occasion, Walters and the kvetchers of The View (ABC daytime chat show) decided it was cause to yet again invite on Tubby Perez Hilton and the general consensus was that if he had forced Meredith out of the closet, that was wrong. Perez insisted that he didn't call it "outing," he called it "reporting." The look on Walters face was a study in disagreement.

But there she was probing Lady Gaga about whether or not she'd slept with women? The hypocrisy was bad enough but if you're going to drive down that highway, don't slam on the brakes. When Lady Gaga was visibly uncomfortable, Walters offered, "You don't have to answer me. We can leave it as a mystery if you want."

Leave it as a mystery? After Walters had badgered Lady Gaga with one question after another? And what sort of reporter bears down on anything and then decides to walk it back? (For the record, Lady Gaga finally admitted to "sexual relations" with women. Why she was being cross-examined on prime time, we have no idea.)

The segment was telling because Walters wanted to have it both ways. She wanted to do the sort of questioning she makes a show of sneering at and then she wants to soften it by backing away. Another segment was telling as well.

"Let's meet a man accused of turning politics into a circus," declared Barbara Walters causing many in the news industry, no doubt, to cry back at the TV screen, "Look who's talking!" She was going to profile right-wing Glenn Beck. What did we learn from the interview? He's apparently a libertarian and not a Republican. Never having watched any of his shows (or listened), we didn't know. What we did know was that he took over the interview. What we did know was that Barbara was furious.

Glenn made a joke about whether or not Barbara was going to ask him what kind of tree he was? Barbara Walters claims she has never asked that question. (Archival footage begs to differ.) She claims that's a nasty, mean lie that has taken root because of Gilda Radner's hurtful performance as Baba Wawa on Saturday Night Live. Now, in real time, when Gilda was doing it, Walters publicly stated she thought the skit was funny. Even after Gilda left SNL, Walters continued to maintain that she thought it was funny. It's only after Gilda's dead and unable to respond (typical Walters' move) that Barbara Walters begins telling the world how hurtful she found that skit (actually all the Baba Wawa skits Gilda did).

When Beck brought it up, he might as well have farted on air by the look on Walters' face. She tried to pass it over but he wouldn't let her. Finally (look at her eyes in that moment), she asks him if he was a tree, what kind of tree would he be?

And he tells her that now she's ruined it.

For the record, Glenn Beck insisted he'd stated Socialists had been invited into the Obama administration, not invaded. Walters didn't want to explore but he's correct. Van Jones wasn't the only one, isn't the only one. And, of course, during the campaign Barack used a well known Socialist as his internet coordinator. We're not sure who, because Barbara didn't ask, Glenn would identify as a Socialist and who he wouldn't but whether he's going by facts or gut instinct, he's not incorrect. (And for the record, Ronald Reagan also had Socialists in his administration. George W. Bush had a Trotskyite.)

Glenn pushed Barbara around on camera. He was even 'breaking the third wall' by ignoring her and turning to the camera to speak directly to the audience. It was not one of Walters' finer moments.

But it wasn't the only time she got pushed around and we were almost at the end of the program when we caught on to that.

Michelle Obama was the person of the year. Now that had us wondering because, outside of Lady Gaga and Sarah Palin, we were having trouble grasping what the women did in 2009 that made them fascinating? Gosselin is apparently fascinating because her marriage ended. The wife of a governor was termed fascinating by Barbara Walters because . . . her husband cheated on her? And she lived through it? (Was she supposed to commit suicide? After the special was broadcast, the woman announced she was divorcing the governor.)

Silly us, we would have thought a person (male or female) actually had to do something in order to qualify as "fascinating." But, again, all one really had to 'do' to be a blip on Walters' radar was pop up repeatedly in Liz Smith's gossip columns. Sarah Palin being the best proof. Despite raging against Palin after Palin hurt Liz's propaganda -- Palin and Tina Fey are friends! -- and insisting she'd never write about Palin again, Liz Smith spent all of 2009 doing little but writing of Sarah Palin. No offense to Palin but we actually think Liz Smith's obvious hatred and rage is so much more "fascinating" than anything else in 2009.

Well almost. Palin, the woman who ran for vice president in 2008, resigned as governor in 2009, published a best selling book and is being greeted by large crowds around the country was ranked by Walters as number seven while Michelle Obama, who's never run for public office and hasn't done anything on her own, was ranked number one.

We would have disagreed and written about Barbara Walters' long, long history of being overly close with First Ladies (she loathed Hillary but she loves Nancy Reagan, Big Babs Bush and Laura Bush). We would have written at length about how Barbara Walters' slavish devotion to Nancy Reagan ruined Walters' third marriage.

But all those thoughts vanished as we watched Michelle Obama and wondered why she was wearing such a short skirt? And why we couldn't stop noticing it. Then we got it: The lighting. The lighting was hitting Michelle's knee, highlighting the skirt. The lighting was hitting the knee because she was seated wrong. The interview, filmed at the White House, was lit like a beauty commercial.

Which led us to work the phones.

Barbara Walters has, over the years, trashed a number of people we know and consider friends because of their 'demands' or actions during interviews. (Diana Ross, for example, had the 'audacity' to repaint a room before an interview. Since it was, in fact, Diana Ross' house, she can do whatever she damn well wants and Barbara Walters needs to get the hell over an interview that took place over thirty years ago.) Like Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters has agreed to many demands by interview subjects and then slammed them for the demands after. Trivia note, Barbara also loves to lie that no one touches her footage. She doesn't let her subjects edit the interviews. That's a lie and she better get honest on that one before she dies because we have two friends who intend to go public when she dies about the fact that they edited their interviews.

We know a professional glamor lighting job when we see one and we started working the phones. We started in the news department even though Walters no longer works in the news department -- the reason is because they always have the best dish. We were soon speaking to people who worked on the special who were confirming that, yes, the White House dictated the lighting. They also dictated that Michelle would be shot from the right.

Why from the right?

Her right eye is significantly smaller than the left. The thinking was it would be less noticeable if Michelle was photographed from that angle. The lighting took "twice as long as a normal set-up" for a Walters interview due to the demands that back lighting and stream lighting be used throughout in order to soften Michelle's harsh features.

Yet for all the care that was taken, Michelle couldn't hit her own marks. She slid forward in her chair (we've long noted her tendency to slouch) which is why her knee was reflecting so much light and, as she slouched more and more, all those harsh facial lines (forehead and around the eyebrows), which were 'burned out' by careful lighting, became more noticeable.

You know what we find fascinating? A plain to fierce looking woman insisting upon being seen as beautiful even when, at her age, she should have long grasped that beauty wasn't going to come knocking on her front door. A woman who should spend far more time working on real issues instead attempts to pursue painted on glamor. And even on those rare occasions when she manages to step out in something that's not a complete fashion travesty, she's still slouching and bow legged. If you don't grasp how desperately Michelle needs to work on grace, you obviously missed her digging in her ass while speaking on camera to Brian Williams earlier this year.

If the thong rides up, maybe Michelle should consider other underwear?

We really don't find Michelle Obama and her empty life and her empty pursuits fascinating. She's becoming a rather insipid and, yes, tragic figure. But if 'star power' is getting to dictate your own terms, than she truly was the most fascinating of all the people on Barbara's list: Only she got to dictate how she was filmed, from what angle and how she would be lighted. Again, being Michelle, she screwed it all up.

When we were finishing up the research for this piece, we called our ABC friend who asked for the review and he was dismayed to learn we'd discovered the White House demands (remember folks, a starlet lives in the Oval Office) and that we intended to write about it.

But couldn't we just focus on the positive, he nervously asked?

What positive? You can't cover ten people in one hour (or twelve people, the number Barbara actually found 'fascinating'). It was a cheaply made 'news' special that never went beyond the superficial or the sensationalistic. If ABC intends to air another next year, they might try involving viewers and getting them to vote on who the ten most fascinating were -- it would certainly be better than letting Walters waste another year scouring Liz Smith's columns as she attempts to 'make sense' of what's happening.

Those Wacky Ethics of Greg Mitchell

Last Sunday, The Third Estate Sunday Review wrote "Liar Supreme: Greg Mitchell." Throughout the week, various e-mails came in declaring Third to be liars and to have faked a quote.

Holy-Third trap! Is this the zero hour for the Tantalizing Team? Have they at long last met a gritting end?

Among those writing was Lawrence Pascal who wanted to be quoted, "Mr. Mitchell may be a little more one-sided in the last two years but he is still an upstanding journalist and the proof can be found in the fact that to mock him you had to make up a line he did not write. You say he wrote that an ad claimed Barack was born in Africa. That's not what he wrote!!!!"

Last week's article included that Greg Mitchell wrote: "The Moonie paper, already beset by firings and departure of top editor -- see NYT piece today -- chose to run this ad related to Obama's birth--in Africa." Lawrence Pascal (and others e-mailing) insisted he wrote no such thing and that, if we'd use the link, we'd see that too.

We used the link. And, Holy Moly, he writes, "The Moonie paper, already beset by firings and departure of top editor -- see NYT piece today -- chose to run this ad related to Obama's alleged non-citzenship." (As notoriously bad spellers, we'll not pounce on his typo.)

We'd written that he was either unable to read an advertisement he was reproducing or he was a supreme liar.

But to use the link, we're the ones wrong!

Could it be???? Could we have been so wrong????

To the Third Cave!!!!!!

Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-Third Estate!

In the Third Cave, using state of the art technology ("cached versions"), we not only pull up the current webpage


. . . we also pull up the original version.


Holy Correction Without Notification! Greg Mitchell, after being caught and corrected by us, changed his article to erase his mistake and failed to alert readers that (a) he'd made a mistake and that (b) he'd corrected his error.

For those unfamiliar with the rules of journalism (which may possibly include Greg Mitchell), that's not allowed. It's unethical.

We have no idea why, as he attempts to interest a buyer/savior in Editor & Publisher, Mitchell would risk his reputation on such a tiny matter but the reality is he has.

The reality is we were accurate in our quote of him last Sunday (as the second screen snap demonstrates).

We make mistakes and we're not objecting to the 'tone' of the e-mails from Greg Mitchell defenders. The idea for the piece last week came from Wally and Cedric and had ample support, however, Jim kicked it into the "maybe" pile until C.I. informed us that Mitchell would be out of work by week's end. (Hence our teaser.) At which point, it became a piece we had to write and Jess worked forever editing it when we had overwritten it. At any point in that, the quote could have lost a few words. (It didn't.) But to get the quote completely wrong? We've never made that mistake. But if we do and if we correct it, you'll find a note at the bottom of the article noting we've corrected our error. We wonder why a journalist of so many years, in fact an one-time editor of the soon-to-be defunct Editor & Publisher didn't grasp the need to do something similar.

Every picture tells a story

Barack's Job Forum
What's wrong with that picture?

That's Barry O with his jobs forum December 3rd.

Look who's around the table.

See a problem?

And grasp that he's yet to be called out for the make up of that panel.

NPR keeps selling the wars (Ava and C.I.)

As it continues to depend on listener donations and tax payer monies, you might think NPR would stop selling war. You might think that . . . if you didn't listen.

Last week was one horror show after another where NPR journalists crossed lines, where listeners were misinformed (try: lied to) about guests and where it was non-stop propaganda. Now those listening to NPR in the early months of 2003 were aware of this garbage but it was supposed to 'tone down' and, NPR-ers swore, as the wars continued, they would make time for guests who might offer something other than White House spin. Apparently, all this time later, that day has still not arrived.


Who is Tom Bowen? He's billed as NPR's Pentagon correspondent. His December 11th performance on Morning Edition begs to differ. Even with host Renee Montagne prompting him with "they," he still felt the need to 'inform,' "And then we saw one of these guys throw this jug into a haystack."

Did we?

Bowen and other journalists saw this?

No, Bowen claims he saw this and the rest of the 'we' is some members of the US military. "We." Tom Bowen, serving proudly as a military propagandists if red-faced as a journalist.

The Afghanistan report would have you believe that "we" (Bowen and the military) had a perfect view of what was happening. In fact, everything was 'perfect,' a little bit too perfect. Which had us making phone calls (what so many call 'reporting') where we learned from a Major stationed in Afghanistan that despite Bowman's 'perfect storm' report, there was no perfection.

Bowman makes a plea (he's not only doing propaganda passed off as reporting, he's doing advocacy journalism) for the 'chains to come off' and the boots on the ground to be allowed to fight. He slants the entire 'report' to these poor, poor boots on the ground (the ones he's with) who wanted to kill some Afghans that they just 'knew' were terrorists but higher ups wouldn't let them.

The Major told us that the story was not as airtight as Bowman asserts. An intercepted radio call (which Bowman did not hear, despite presenting on air as if he had) had no revelations of bomb planting. Nothing that even held up as 'suspicious.' That's really important because Bowman puts forward that it did and, as even the Major wondered, what is his agenda?

From the story he filed (which was pure fairy tale and may as well have ended with "and they all lived happily ever after . . ."), his agenda appears to be pushing for the rules of engagement to be lowered. Bowman apparently self-styles as the new Geraldo.

We would further suggest that eight years after the Afghanistan War started, there's no excuse for a statement like this being passed off as context or perspective: "They [US military] want to kill insurgents who are trying to kill them, but their job is to make sure they only fire when they're very sure of their targets." Left unstated was why the so-called 'insurgents' (or native people) might want to kil the US military. But maybe providing those basics would have cut into the time Bowman made to whine and complain and present a 'report' which disagrees with US Gen Stanley McChrystal that the standards don't need to be lowered anymore.

Then again, maybe we should just be grateful NPR's decided to disagree with McChrystal? They generally treat him as a god jogging down from Mount Olympus.

Take December 10th when Morning Edition aired Steve Inskeep's 'interview' which allowed McChrystal to sing the praises of counter-insurgency with no questioning on Inskeep's part.

Steve Inskeep: Is this, in some very real sense, a political campaign?

Gen Stanley McChrystal: It's absolutely a political campaign. All insurgencies and counterinsurgencies are a struggle for the support of the people. To say it's winning the hearts and minds is overly simplistic. It's really winning credibility and legitimacy with the people. It's - for the government, it's convincing the people that they can provide for their basic needs, and that the people recognized that government as legitimate. The insurgent tries to undercut that and then they try to offer an alternative concept. The Taliban's weakness is they have a track record. They did govern Afghanistan, and they didn't do it very well.

Steve Inskeep: Is your side's weakness also that the Afghan government has a track record and is not seen as very credible in a lot of parts of the country?

Gen Stanley McChrystal: It's the biggest challenge. In fact, the government of Afghanistan has got to understand, and I think it does. But it needs to address the fact that it must be credible and legitimate. To the degree to which it struggles for that, it will remain difficult.

Steve Inskeep: How would you evaluate the quality of the Afghan security forces at this moment?

We include Inskeep's question to demonstrate that he changes the subject instead of pursuing it.

Counter-insurgency is war on a native population. (And "counter-insurgency" is how it's been spelled throughout history despite the Pentagon's decision to begin spelling it "counterinsurgency" this decade.) As Justin Raimondo (Antiwar) observed last week:

This effort to create a kinder, gentler form of colonialism, to make a military occupation a true labor of love, is part and parcel of the loony faux-Maoist "COIN" strategy championed by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), whose policy wonks have captured the civilian leadership of the Pentagon. Their efforts to construct a "smart" version of George W. Bush's "war on terrorism" on the Af-Pak front are imbued with just the sort of pseudo-scientific claptrap that allows liberals to think they can similarly "experiment" -- as Gen. Petraeus puts it -- on the American people as well.

Justin Rainmondo won't be booked by NPR. No one who talks about counter-insurgency apparently will be. From Inskeep's interview:

Gen Stanley McChrystal: I'm smiling because that is the insurgent strategy. They try to do several things. They try to separate the government from the people and undermine the credibility of the government. They try to separate security forces from the people by increasing pressure on them, and they try to keep development away. So if they can keep NGOs away and they can keep other development expertise, then they can go to the people and say, look, you are not benefiting from the government. It doesn't protect you. It doesn't provide development. It can't provide rule of law. So our requirement on the other side is the Afghan government and all the coalition partners and the NGOs are to push that back, try to establish enough security so that we can then bring those things in. The partnership we have between military forces and the civilian elements of all kind is incredibly important.

You can spin about counter-insurgency and be on NPR, last week demonstrated that you can't tell the truth about it and be on NPR.

Doubt us?

December 9th, Robert Siegel (All Things Considered) was interviewing 'expert' Doug Ollivant about Iraq and we were disturbed by that long before Siegel offered "he now has a private security consulting business." We were disturbed because Ollivant was a counter-insurgency guru. We were disturbed because, December 3rd, the American Anthropological Association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued their [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program" -- a report which called out counter-insurgency. But NPR never filed a story on it.

We were disturbed because while NPR was silent, others were reporting including Patricia Cohen (New York Times), Dan Vergano (USA Today), Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (Science Magazine) and Steve Kolowich (Inside HigherEd). We were disturbed because, Friday, Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) became the latest to report on this issue noting, "Today the program enjoys a core of supporters, but it's done little to address the concerns of anthropologists and, now, rising military complaints that the program has slowed the growth of the military's ability to train culturally sensitive warriors." The latest until this morning when Chistopher Shay reported for Time magazine:

But if the military's program is to continue its expansion in Afghanistan with the nation's top scholars, it may be facing an uphill battle. The AAA says the program violates its code of ethics — a sort of Hippocratic Oath in which anthropologists vow to do no harm. Two years ago, the AAA condemned the HTS program, but this month's 72-page report goes into much greater detail about the potential for the military to misuse information that social scientists gather; some anthropologists involved in the report say it's already happening. David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martins University in Washington and one of the co-authors of the AAA report, says the army appears to be using the anthropological information to better target the enemy, which, if true, would be a gross violation of the anthropological code. One Human Terrain anthropologist told the Dallas Morning News that she wasn't worried if the information she provided was used to kill or capture an insurgent. "The reality is there are people out there who are looking for bad guys to kill," she said. "I'd rather they did not operate in a vacuum." Price and other critics see this as proof that the anthropologists don't have full control over the information they gather and that commanders can use it to kill. "The real fault with Human Terrain is that it doesn't even try to protect the people being studied," says Price. "I don't think it's accidental that [the Pentagon] didn't come up with ethical guidelines."

Bit by bit, the AAA's report is getting covered. Just not by NPR. Who would ever have forseen the day when NPR -- whose roots are in educational radio -- would censor a report by the American Anthropological Association?

But that is what they've done and what they've repeatedly done.

You can come on and talk up counter-insurgency, you just can't note the ethical problems with it.

You can now be a 'security consultant' and NPR will promote you (allowing you to note "as heard on NPR . . .") as they did Ollivant, you can be the co-author of "Producing Victory: Rethinking Conventional Forces in Counterinsurgency Operations" and you'll be invited on to pontificate in your wordy albiet fact-free manner. They won't question you, they won't put you on the spot and they certainly won't bring up the American Anthropological Association's report -- despite the fact that all the NPR hosts and reporters strive to appear learned.

We have to drop back to 2007 to find someone invited on who called out counter-insurgency -- David Price was part of a panel (with pro-counter-insurgency advocates Monty McFate, Col John Agoglia and Lt. Col. Edward Villacres -- a three-to-one imbalance) on The Diane Rehm Show (see the October 11, 2007 snapshot for a transcript of some of the exchanges).

NPR wants to pretend that it informs listeners but the reality is it promotes wars and broadcast a ton of spin and a ton of lies. Sometimes from their own reporters, sometimes from the mouths of guests.

Doug Ollivant is not an expert on anything but self-promotion. Last week, speaking with Siegel, he declared, "Likewise, the Sunni insurgency has been caught up in the Sons of Iraq movement. It's beginning to be integrated into the Iraqi army, Iraqi security forces, other government jobs. They're no longer on the battlefield." Sahwa (aka "Awakenings" and "Sons Of Iraq") has not been "integrated." It takes a lot of stupid to assert that they have been and it takes a lot of cowardice on Robert Siegel's part not to correct the record.

Last month, The Telegraph of London reported, "The Sunni fighters have also been angered that the Shia-led Baghdad administration has integrated only 20 per cent of its estimated 100,000 members into the security forces." Last week, conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan (The Jacksonville Observer) wrote, "The Sons of Iraq now say the Shia government reneged on its pledge to pay their wages and bring them into the army." Commenting on last Tuesday's Baghdad bombings which resulted in at least 127 people dead and nearly 500 wounded, Ranj Alaaldin (The Guardian) explained, "Observers may also suggest the bombings can be attributed to Maliki's failure to incorporate Sons of Iraq fighters -- who were essential in the fight against al-Qaida -- into public sector jobs. Granted, by isolating these Sunnis you add yet another element of uncertainty into the pre-election environment. But the state is unable to handle the huge demand for public sector jobs, especially since it has such a weak private sector." We could go on and on but the previous establishes that the Sahwa have not been integrated. Not only that but an Arab media report last week by Dar Al Hayat stated that the there's a plan to cut off payments to Sahwa at the end of this month.

But Doug Ollivant is an 'expert' and his statements aren't questioned. NPR would go a long way towards informing their listeners if their hosts would learn to question and correct these 'informed guests.' For example, on the topic of Afghanistan, the following exchange aired on December 8th's To The Point (heard on many NPR stations):

Julian E. Barnes: The debate over the money will happen every year and uh that is -- that is probably the most important way that Congress will-will voice support but there's uh-uh no indication that there's enough doubt about this uh to withold that funding or to -- or to try to change the president's policy.

Warren Olney: Is the funding the same structurally as it was for Iraq during the Bush administration?

Julian E. Barnes: Well uh, no, President Obama has-was critical of how the Bush funded his uh the war through supplementals and they ended that uh-uh practice. It remains to be seen whether they will uh be forced to ask for a supplemental for this surge like Bush did or whether they'll be able to use the budget sumbission in February to uh to pay for this but it's more likely than not that there will be another-another vote that Congress will have to take on war funding.

Obama "ended that uh-uh practice"? That's a statement. You make it, you better be able to back it up. But instead of backing up his statement factually, The Los Angeles Times' Julian E. Barnes attempts to back track stating that, "more likely than not," Barack Obama will be using supplemental funding to pay for the Afghanistan surge. More likely than not? That would mean he hasn't ended the practice.

Someday, people will begin to grasp how their actions -- intentionally or not -- enabled Barack to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barnes' statements should be included on that list and someone might wonder at what point one of NPR's hosts steps in and asks, "Well which is it?" Until they can do that, the myth of the peace continues while the death tolls from the wars keep mounting.


Jim: The never ending edition. We've still got an editorial to write and we're really depending on Ava and C.I. who've already written two articles and have agreed to do a third. Unless we have some editorial inspiration, the bulk of what we've worked on in the last countless hours we'll end up on the cutting room floor. Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. This is a rush transcript. Ruth, start us off with an issue you brought to this edition.

Ruth: In "Polls and the embarrassing Atul Gawande," I wrote, "Are you confused by the (tiny) increase in support for the Afghanistan 'surge'? I was. I was confused by that and a number of other things and Jayson (my grandson) and I were shopping today. So I texted C.I. (Without Jayson present, I would not have texted. I am too old to operate texting alone!) So she called me about 90 minutes later (she was speaking when I texted) and walked me through it and several other issues." As I explained, I could go into at my site but I wanted to take it over here. There was an increase in support for the Afghan War after Barack Obama's speech, a small increase, but an increase none the less.

Jim: Okay. C.I.?

C.I.: The president of the US has many roles including commander in chief. A speech like the one Barack gave will generally see an increase of some sort in favorable polling. This is expected, this is predictable and that's what Ruth and I spoke of.

Marcia: Because the media fell down on the job, Big and Small. But especially Little Media. They gave lame, b.s. 'presentations. This was what Ava and C.I. were addressing last weekend in "TV: Oh what a difference a name change makes." Ruth's point was since this was known by the media, or should have been, why weren't the shows on Pacifica, etc., out in full force to combat the lies. They didn't even bother to call Barack a liar despite the fact that the speech had one lie after another, many of which had earlier appeared in George W. Bush's speeches and been called out then.

Jess: And I see that point. For one thing, combatting the lies -- and labeling them lies -- would have really cut into the tiny bump the war received in the polling. It might have even been able to eliminate it which would have been a real accomplishment.

Jim: And it was doable.

Jess: And it was doable. But they didn't do that. Why?

Rebecca: Because they refuse to call out Barack. I'm nixing Kathy Kelly and Jody Williams for "truest" this week and the reason is because both women used limited time to praise Barack's 'elequence.' Call out the lies? And stop lying. He's no elequent. He's start-stop-start-stop-pause-pause and it's a joke. Like Ava and C.I. have said many times, he's speaking like Sandy Dennis and he's our first method president. So he wasn't elequent in the spoken and he didn't write the speech, as we all know. So just stop wasting our time with that bulls**t. I'm not in the mood. And I'm not in the mood to hear how nice you just know he is. He's not nice. To the Pakistanian people dying from US drone attacks, he's not nice. To the people in Afghanistan and Iraq dying from the continued wars, he's not nice. How smug and self-righteous must you be to call a War Hawk nice.

Elaine: Agreed and every time they do that, they not only come off as simpering, they make it that much harder for people to speak out honestly. Stop sniveling, stop cowering. Stand up and speak out. With no apologies. I'm so damn sick of this. Everyone here, everyone participating in this roundtable, has spoken out repeatedly. We aren't the only ones. But those of us who are doing that are the ones who are carving out the space for other people to speak out. When C.I. first started speaking out against the Iraq War, in February 2003, one month before it started, she had to take on the Bush mirage. He was immensely popular. She had to speak the truth and not couch it or sugar it up. She carved out a space, campus by campus, for Bush to be criticized. She wasn't the only one doing that. But you don't carve out a space with timid criticism and lavish praise.

Stan: I agree with Elaine. If you're not going to call out a War Hawk, do us all a favor and shut the f**k up. Seriously. We're out there, we're doing it and we don't your weak ass, "I love him but he's wrong." Just shut the f**k up. If you can't be a grown up and call out a War Hawk, you've got no business even speaking. Not from the left. And everytime you apologize for him or minimize his actions or praise them in some form, you are continuing the illegal wars. That's reality.

Ruth: I agree with Stan completely. That is why we needed real outrage and real anger expressed after Barack Obama's speech on Afghanistan. We did not get that from any of our 'trusted' 'voices.' We got a bunch of "Blessed be, Barack, for he shall deliver us . . ." garbage. We were so far from reality that the number of people approving of the Afghanistan War actually increased.

Betty: Agreed but let me drop back to Rebecca's point because that's 100% for me. I don't need Kathy Kelly telling me how wonderful she just knows Barack is or how elequent. I need her to speak out to the War Crimes. I need her to speak out for the voiceless. If she wants to play fan bulletin for Barack, she can do that but she shouldn't expect anyone to take her seriously.

Jim: Kat's nodding. Kat?

Kat: Well, I mean, if you're going to call out Barack, call him out. What are you worried about? Some liar's going to call you a racist? Deal with it. Ralph Nader had to deal with it, anyone telling the truth about Barack has to deal with it. It's not the end of the world and most people won't believe the lie. In fact, fewer and fewer believe it each time that little stunt is pulled. They've used false charges of racism for too long to silence criticism of Barack.

Cedric: Related to what Kat's saying, you shouldn't worry about false charges but you also shouldn't go out of your way to make false charges at others. I have no respect for Paul Street who wants to claim credit for bravery when there was more bravery shown by Ava and C.I. in calling out Barack. And unlike Paul Street, Ava and C.I. have never felt the need to falsely charge entire states with racism.

Ann: Absolutely. I don't know how White people read Street's recent stunt but Cedric and I were talking about it and his 'red' state war and talking about just how disgusting he was. He's been falsely called a racist and now he'll turn around and falsely call others a racist? One of the things I'm proudest of in 2009 is that this community hasn't falsely called anyone a racist to make ourselves look better. I'm sorry, I'm Black, I deal with real racism every damn day and I don't need the sop Paul Street tosses out. I'd also agree that Ava and C.I. were much stronger in their critiques. A lot of Paul's critiques were weak and would only get weaker at ZNet where he often would weaken his article by leaving comments.

Trina: Well, to be clear, I'm not really into forgiveness when it comes to those who called whole states racists. My state --

Mike: Big Mass!

Trina: -- went for Hillary in the primary. And some of the attacks were shocking. We experienced nothing like what Kentucky, for example, did but I'm just not into this nonsense. And as Kat said, racism was always a false charge used to silence people. We were supposed to be shocked and shamed.

Rebecca: Which goes to Gloria. Gloria Steinem. They did cow her and later Robin Morgan as well. They falsely screamed racism and both women were cowed. We weren't in the mood for the bulls**t and it didn't work on us. And having stood stroong for real principles and real beliefs, we're really not in the mood for lectures from the likes of the cowardly Jeff Cohen or any of the rest of the liars who couldn't speak out in 2008.

Dona: Most people participating read their own e-mail. Elaine's assistant Sunny generally goes through Elaine's e-mail and here it's mainly Ty and me with some help from Jim. My point is that if you read the e-mails, you got used to all that crap. There was an organized effort to intimidate and bully people into silence. I've exchanged e-mails with a number of bloggers on the left -- a few that challenged the spin and more who didn't -- and there was a campaign of intimidation. Those of us who refused to be intimidated really aren't in the mood for baby steps. I can't stand, for instance, Kevin Zeese. And exactly when is he going to call Barack out? Not flatter him, call him out?

Ty: Kat said long ago, we're talking July of 2008, that Kevin needed to take the training wheels off his 'criticism' of Barack.

Kat: Actually, I was using C.I.'s phrase about "kick off the training wheels." But Kevin and I exchanged e-mails over that and he was convinced that he was Mr. Bravery and Mr. Outspoken with that weak-ass criticism. And he's still not able to offer a strong critique.

Ty: It's embarrassing. They wouldn't write this crap about Henry Kissinger, why are they doing it for Barack? I'm sick of it. And they better grasp that not only are their weak attempts preventing any pressure from being brought on Barack, they're also driving huge numbers of people away. Why do you think The Daily Toilet Scrubber finally called Barack out last week? Because continuing to tongue Barack's ass was destroying their hits and readership.

Wally: Kat, Ava, C.I. and I are on the road every week and I can tell you that half the crap these 'brave' 'voices' toss out wouldn't fly on any college campus among real activisits. And we keep hearing, over and over, "Why isn't he being pressured? Why isn't he being called out?" You can look at Cindy Sheehan who's not interested in prettying up death and destruction and frequently that's all you can look at in terms of leaders or 'leaders' -- and I rate Cindy a real leader.

Ava: Wally's exactly right and, on the road, we're not just speaking out against the Iraq War, we're trying to carve out a larger space for the left to speak out and you don't do that with apologies or by minimizing Barack's crimes. You don't do that by offering him flowing praise for every minor negative criticism you offer. We go in front of groups and we speak and we speak out. Not on bended knees, we stand up and we call out.

Mike: And that's really obvious because, think about it, before Barack who did the left criticize the most of any pundit? Who was always weak and ineffectual?

Jim: Who?

Mike: Alan Colmes. Always trying to say something 'nice' and always trying to be agreeable. And no one could relate to that. If something's outrageous, it's outrageous. You can't give it a make over. There was no happy ending for Alan Colmes and there won't be for all these cowards who refuse to call out Barack.

Cedric: I just want to echo Dona's point about the e-mails and how annoying they were. They try to intimidate you and bully you and that's regardless of whether the e-mails from Joe Blow or the sad, sad Tom Hayden.

Jim: Okay, we're going to let that be the last word. The e-mail address for this site is and this is a rush transcript.


White House photo

Last week ended with a defiant Tony Blair granting an interview to the BBC (link has text and video) where the former prime minister of England declared it didn't matter that the reasons he gave the British public for the Iraq War were inaccurate: "I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat." Henry Chu (The Los Angeles Times) called it "a startling admission" and Andrew Gilligan (The Telegraph of London) agreed: "Mr Blair's statement that he wanted rid of Saddam all along, and would simply have 'deploy[ed] different arguments' to do so in the absence of WMD, is his clearest admission to date that the famous weapons were indeed a pretext. His belief that a war on Iraq would have been necessary even without WMD is both significant -- and highly questionable."

This came on the heels of a week's worth of testimony before the Iraq Inquiry. Inquiry continues hearing public testimony. The Scottish National Party released the following:

As the Chilcot Inquiry entered its third week, more figures involved in the run up to the invasion discredit the Labour Government's case for invasion.
On Monday, the Inquiry heard first from Sir Suma Chakrabarti, then permanent secretary at the epartment for International Development, who said concerns about both the legality and the wider political legitimacy of the conflict were "inhibiting factors". He said that Ministerial secrecy had inhibited the UK's ability to plan for post-war reconstruction.
He was followed by Sir John Scarlett who was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time of the invasion and went on to become chief of MI6 --despite controversy over his role in drawing up the notorious dossier on Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction.
Sir John has acknowledged Tony Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell gave advice on the document's presentation. He confirmed to the Inquiry that Ministers had been alerted to the doubt over the functionality of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction days before the invasion.
His appearance before the Inquiry came as a Conservative MP alleged that the 45-minute claim came from "a cab driver on the Iraqi-Jordanian border".
Commenting, Mr [Angus] Robertson said:
"The contents and construction of Tony Blair's dodgy dossier are well known, and now Sir John Scarlett's evidence to the Chilcot inquiry adds to the damning dossier building up against those who took us to war.
"With each evidence session, the men who took us into the worst foreign policy disaster in modern times -- Tony Blair and Gordon Brown -- are implicated more and more.
"Instead of hearing from aides and advisors, it's time we heard from the men who sexed up the evidence and took us to war on a lie.
"This inquiry will be judged on the answers that it provides and the public deserve to hear the real story about a war fought in their name from the men who took us there."

On Thursday, the Iraq Inquiry explored the de-Ba'athification process when M16 head John Sawers testified.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: You arrived on 8 May, [head of CPA, the US' L. Paul] Bremer on the 12th, and within Bremer's first two weeks he had promulgated two extremely important decisions on de-Ba'athification and on dissolving the former Iraqi army. Can we look at those two decisions? To what extent were they Bremer's decisions or -- how had they been pre-cooked in Washington? I see you have got the Rand Report there, and the Rand Report suggests there had been a certain interagnecy process in Washington leading to these decisions, albeit Rand is quite critical of that process. And, very importantly for us, was the United Kingdom consulted about these crucial decisions? Was the Prime Minister consulted? Were you consulted? It is pretty late in the day be then for you to have changed them. Can you take us through that story.

John Sawers: Can I separate them and deal with de-Ba'athification first.

Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes.

John Sawers: When I arrived in Baghdad on 8 May, one of the problems that ORHA were facing was that they had been undiscriminating in their Iraqi partners. They had taken, as their partners, the most senior figures in the military, in -- not in the military, sorry, in the ministries, in the police, in institutions like Baghdad University, who happened to be there. And in several of these instances, Baghdad University was one, the trade ministry was another, the health ministry, the foreign ministry, the Baghdad police -- the working level were in uproar because they were being obliged to work for the same Ba'athist masters who had tyrannised them under the Saddam regime, and tehy were refusing to cooperate on that basis. So I said, in my first significant report back to London, which I sent on the Sunday night, the day before Bremer came back, that there were a number of big issues that needed to be addressed. I listed five and one of those five was we needed a policy on which Ba'athists should be allowed to stay in their jobs and which should not. And there was already a debate going on among Iraqi political leaders about where the line should be drawn. So I flagged it up on the Sunday evening in my first report, which arrived on desks on Monday morning, on 11 May. When Bremer arrived late that evening, he and I had a first discussion, and one of the first things he said to me was that he needed to give clarity on de-Ba'athification. And he had some clear ideas on this and he would want to discuss it. So I reported again early the following monring that this was high on the Bremer's mind and I needed a steer as to what our policy was. I felt that there was, indeed, an important need for a policy on de-Ba'athifciation and that, of the various options that were being considered, some I felt, were more far-reaching than was necessary but I wasn't an expert on the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and I needed some guidance on this. I received some guidance the following day, which was helpful, and I used that as the basis for my discussion with Bremer -- I can't remember if it was the Wednesday or the Thursday that week but we had a meeting of -- Bremer and myself and our political teams, where this was discussed, and there was very strong support among the Iraqi political parties for quite a far-reaching de-Ba'athification policy. At the meeting itself, I had concerted beforehand with Ryan Crocker, who was the senior American political adviser, and I said to him that my guidance was that we should limit the scope of de-Ba'athification to the top three levels of the Ba'ath Party, which included about 5,000 people, and that we thought going to the fourth level was a step too far, and it would involve another 25,000 or so Iraqis, which wasn't necessary. And I thought Crocker was broadly sympathetic to that approach but at the meeting itself Bremer set out a strong case for including all four levels, ie the top 30,000 Ba'athists should be removed from their jobs, but there should be a policy in place for exemptions. I argued the alternative. Actually, unhelpfully, from my point of view, Ryan Crocker came in in strong support of the Bremer proposal, and I think he probably smelled the coffee and realised that this was a policy that had actually already been decided in Washington and there was no point getting on the wrong side of it. I was not aware of that at that stage and, in fact, it was only when I subsequently read the very thorough account by the Rand Corporation of these issues that I realised there had been an extensive exchange in -- between agencies in Washington.

Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: Just to pause on that, this crucial decision, not just to take the top 5,000, which probably was not a matter of argument, but to add 25,000, sweeping up a lot of professionals, teachers, doctors people like that, who had been obliged to become members of the Ba'ath parties, had been stiched up between agencies in Washington but without any consultation with the number 1 coalition partner, Britain, who were going to be vitally affected by that?

John Sawers: I cannot vouch for that because I wasn't in London, I wasn't involved in those exchanges.

Commitee Member Roderic Lyne: But you would have been aware of if we'd been (inaudible), somebody would have told you.

John Sawers: When I was doing my calls in London on the previous week, this was not an issue that had been raised with me. So I don't know in the embassy in Washington or people in Whitehall were plugged into the debate. I would just say, though, Sir Roderic, that we do need to keep this in context, that a lot of parallels are drawn about Iraq in 2003 with Germany in 1945, and I have to say that was the intellectual mindset that Bremer brought with him, there was a parallel with the reconstruction of Germany in 1945. In 1945, the Allies excluded 2.5 per cent of the German population from jobs because of their links with the Naxi party. What Bremer was proposing was excluding 0.1 per cent of the Iraqi population, ie 25 times fewer, proportionately, than was the case in Germany. And in that context he was looking for a policy of -- a scope for giving exemptions.

As the Inquiry heard of one failed move after another and Tony Blair vowed it didn't matter why the war started and he'd still start it today, many, many Iraqis and US service members lost their lives.

Thursday, the US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died, Dec. 10, of non-combat related injuries. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Early Friday, the US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A Multi-National Corps-Iraq Soldier died Dec. 10 from non-combat related injuries. Release of the identity of the Soldier is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. The name of the deceased service member will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." Late Friday/early Saturday, the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq – A Multi-National Division – North Soldier died Dec. 11 from non-combat related injuries. The Soldier was discovered unresponsive in his living quarters by a non-commissioned officer in the unit. The NCO transported the Soldier to a nearby medical facility on their base, but he was later pronounced dead by attending physicians. The incident is currently under investigation. Task Force Marne extends our deepest condolences to the family during this time of loss. Release of the Soldier’s identity is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin, and will be announced through the U.S. Department of Defense Official Web site at" Iran's Press TV adds, "'A Multi-National Division-North soldier died Dec. 11. He was found not breathing in his living quarters at Camp Speicher, Tikrit, Iraq,' read a US military statement issued on Saturday." The announcement brings to 4370 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to the Iraqi killed and wounded, Sunday 6 were reported dead and 20 were reported wounded, Monday the death toll was 15 and the wounded was 50, Tuesday 130 were reported dead and at least 500 were reported wounded (for the Baghdad bombings final toll, we're going with the numbers on Wednesday), Wednesday 9 were reported dead and 27 were wounded, Thursday 1 person was reported dead and 11 were reported wounded, Friday the death toll was 6 and the wounded was 22 and Saturday 6 were reported dead and 12 were reported wounded.

But remember, none of that matters to Tony Blair, he just wanted war. The British hostages never mattered to Tony either and the Iraq Inquiry heard from an incompentent last week on the issue. The incompetent? Edward Chaplin who, in 2004, became England's first Ambassador to Iraq since 1991.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Part of this, perhaps particularly relevant for British opinion was the start of hostage taking. So we had in this period the Kenneth Bigley and Margaret Hassan cases. How aware were you of the danger to British nationals in Baghdad?

Edward Chaplin: Very aware. And, indeed, I think if you looked at the travel advice at the time, it would be "don't come anywhere near this place". They were terrible incidents. I mean, terrible obviously for the families, but terrible for the embassy in the sense that we were very helpless. Kidnapping was widespread at the time. This was often criminals rather than political. Of course, as we have seen elsewhere, often criminal gangs will carry out kidnappings of what they think are valuable people, valuable in the sense that they can be sold on to some political group. And I don't think we know even now exactly who was behind either kidnapping. I would have to refresh my memory. I mean, they were different in the sense that Ken Bigley, we didn't even now. He hadn't even registered with the embassy, we didn't know he was there. He was working with these two Americans for a Gulf company. The first thing we knew of his existence was when the news of the kidnap came through. Margaret Hassan was different. In fact, I had met her before when I was Ambassador in Jordan because she worked for CARE Australia, a very effective NGO, one of the few working inside Iraq before and after the invasion. So I admired the work that she was doing and the embassy kept in touch. So that was, if you like, an even greater blow. But just to explain -- I don't know if you want to go into detail about this, but I probably cannot because what happens when a kidnapping of a British citizen takes place is you have set up a really discrete team because this needs 24-hours-a-day attention. So that team was led my deputy and we had a lot of support particularly coming out from London, experience negotiators and so on. So after the initial phase, my job was really to keep it in the minds of Iraqi ministers who we thought would could help, the army and the police and so on, and do whatever else I could do to help.

Commitee Member Lawrence Freedman: What sort of response did you get from --

Edward Chaplin: Very positive and, of course, this was raised all the way to Allawi himself and it was raised by ministers, but they didn't have the capacity to help very much, I don't think. And, of course, they were dealing at any one time with lots of other kidnappings.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: We had no evidence oursevles of who was holding her?

Edward Chaplin: I think the assumption early on was it was a criminal gang of some sort, but we never got very far in pinning down exactly who was behind it and -- let alone having contacts that might lead to some progress.

Commitee Member Lawrence Freedman: And in the aftermath of her murder, we still seemed to have been in the dark as to what had happened and, indeed, where her body was.

Edward Chaplin: Some time later some of her clothes and possessions were found. We knew her husband as well, who stayed on in Baghdad. So we would see him from time to time. I don't know what the investigation -- continued investigation showed.

And some may wander why the British government failed to rescue hostages? The answer was in their own incompetence.

Not So Fast Jeff Cohen (Ava and C.I.)

Little Jeffy Cohen chatted it up with Lila Garrett on Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett (KPFK) last Monday and we couldn't stop laughing after Ruth clued us in to the can't-miss broadcast. Anytime Jeffy speaks, the world snickers. So we did our part to circulate the segment to various friends in and out of the media. As one wag told us, he sounds like Ed Begley Jr.'s less masculine brother.

Another wag (this one at MSNBC) urged us "to tell the truth, Cohen's not a Democrat." No, he's not. He's a weak man, a very, very weak one, hiding in the back of a political closet. They know him at MSNBC very well. Very well. And, on Monday, Jeffy was up to his old tricks.

How so?

Opposition to Barack, Jeffy insisted, is racism ("they resent having a person of color in the White House"). Strange, when over 70% of Americans loved Barack (according to polls at the start of the year), we guess they didn't realize he had an African father. Someone must have scrawled it on the bathroom wall?

Moments later, Jeffy's saying that the Republicans hate Barack the same way they hated Bill Clinton ("they hate everything that even an Obama or a Clinton does, they don't recognize Obama as legitimate, they never recognized Clinton as legitimate") . We're confused. Bill's African-American? Who knew?

For someone seen as incredibly effeminate by so many who've worked with him, we were rather startled to hear Jeffy using the homophobic term "tea b**gers" and we'd suggest that Ithaca College send Jeffy to a diversity training class before allowing him back in front of students.

But all we got was recycled talking points from the echo chamber. We couldn't build a true left wing press so we did the easy thing, re-built the existing echo chamber but from the left. It's so pathetic that 'activist' groups on the left now urge you to use their 'talking points.' Not facts, mind you, "talking points." Suddenly spin is a good thing. Again, the left did not build a media system, it built an echo chamber.

Jeffy Cohen is an asshole and simpering, whimpering asshole and he's also a revisionist. We'll get back to that.

For now we'll note that as 2009 draws to a close, Jeffy Cohen finally finds the courage to tell you what we've been covering since January 2008 [here for one example]: The mythical 'small donors' were not funding Barack's campaign. That was never true. But Jeffy couldn't call it out when it damn well mannered.

Last week he could (finally) say, "Some of us gave him fifty bucks or eighty bucks or a hundred bucks but we have to understand that no candidate in history received more money from Wall Street than did Barack Obama. In that last election, here he's running against John McCain, Mr. Military, son and grandson of Navy admirals, and Obama got hundreds of thousands of dollars more from military contractors than did McCain."

You know what, you asshole, you're not just late to the party, you missed it completely. When it was important, when it mattered, you didn't make a peep. You're a coward and fake, Jeff Cohen. You're a habitual liar who uses deceit and trickery to try to sway the public. In earlier times, you would have been flogged in public . . . for just cause.

Jeffy continued (sounding like us in early 2008), "So we have to clear away this fog of Obama as a community organizer, that was decades ago."

Golly, if Jeffy or Amy Goodman or any of the other WHORES had told the truth when it mattered, maybe a fog wouldn't exist today?

Does the left get how many segments Amy Goodman wasted promoting Barack as a community organizer? Vouched for by various freaks who couldn't own up to being Socialists or Communists or gay but want to be seen as brave and trusting? (Yeah, we're thinking of Scar especially right now.) Now Jeffy wants to show up and declare that was decades ago and doesn't matter? But doesn't want to talk about who took part in pimping that lie? (Pimps includes his own FAIR and their radio program CounterSpin.)

We were rolling when he insisted, "I think it's up to us as individual citizens and as independent journalists to stand up and take a position of independence and to take a newer look at the president."

You know when is a good time to take a newer (or even new) look at a president is? When he or she is a candidate. Not after they've been elected.

Leaving aside the homophobia and the spin, Jeffy didn't say a damn thing we haven't already said over and over here when Barack was still a candidate, when the Democratic Party primaries were still crowded.

So we're really not in the mood for his garbage. He was a coward when it mattered. When Barack set a standard (believe us, others will follow his lead) and rejected public financing during the general election despite pledging to take it, Jeffy was silent. This site was not. Jeffy didn't call it out which makes it that much harder to call the next one out. And there will be more.

What most irritated us about Jeffy -- besides that high-pitched speaking voice -- was that he thought he could get away with lying. He thought he could change what went down, erase it, make it vanish.

No damn way in hell, you asshole Jeff Cohen.

Those of us who took a stand for the truth in 2008 will not allow your WHORING ass to show up now and reinvent history.

We're referring specifically to Jeff's claims that the left was demoralized by Clinton and might end up demoralized by Barack.

No, it wasn't Clinton and it's not Barack.

The demoralization came not from those men. The demoralization came from the WHORES who refused to be independent and who continuously lied.

Yes, the left was demoralized in the 90s. That's not Bill Clinton. Yes, the left is demoralized today, that's not Barack.

The demoralization does not come from the top down.

Let's trace the demoralization because we can do that now and readers, due to the fresh history of last year, will recognize what happened.

When the Democrats were out of the White House (Ronald Reagan's two terms, George H.W. Bush's one term), those on the left (which is more than just Dems) looked for voices they could trust. And as they call out Republicans, you think these voices are brave and independent. But then, these 'independent' voices start selling a candidate, start lying for him (it's only been "him"s thus far) and, when he gets elected, they continue to lie for him.

That is 2008. That is why The Nation today doesn't want to discuss circulation. That is why a friend at another left magazine says that magazine (the one he's at) will be dead in six months. That's why Amy Goodman's podcasts and streaming are way down. It's why MSNBC's ratings are in the tank.

Various people self-presented as 'independent' voices for years in the leadup to 2008 only to reveal themselves to be partisans either controlled by the DNC or willing to be toadies for the DNC.

That, not Barack Obama, is why the left is demoralized.

2008 saw four women make strong strides. Cynthia McKinney headed the Green Party ticket with Rosa Clemente as her running mate. Sarah Palin was John McCain's running mate on the Republican Party ticket. Hillary Clinton got more votes than Barack (or anyone) running for the Democratic Party nomination. Yet not only were these women -- and all women -- not celebrated or seen as a source of pride, they were scorned, mocked and treated in the most biased manner. And where were the left watchdogs?

Usually right there -- hurling invective at the women. Ian Masters openly mocking Cynthia McKinney on KPFK moments after she'd gotten off the phone with them being but on example.

Just as the use of "tea b**gers" by 'progressives' like Jeffy Cohen today indicates there's no real acceptance of out-gays and lesbians in the 'progressive' circles, their embrace of sexism demonstrates there's no real place for women who value women on the left either.

Grasp that, as we've documented, CounterSpin, FAIR's weekly radio program, documented all real and imagined bits of racism but never weighed in on sexism during the campaign until May 2008 was drawing to a close. They must have figured Puerto Rico didn't matter so they could toss in one sentence -- ONE SENTENCE -- about Hillary being called a bitch on a CNN 'discussion' segment.

Who demoralized the left?

Jeff Cohen, why don't you grab your slice of the blame pie.

You demoralized the left by presenting as an 'independent' voice but never finding time to call out the rank sexism. You demoralize the left today by trafficking in homophobic terms.

In the 90s, what really happened, what Jeffy doesn't tell you, is that a lot of people who had audiences ran them off by WHORING for a president. Regardless of whom the president is, it is never the role of an activist movement to prop him or her up. Let's leave that for backwater countries, shall we?

Marianne Wright Edleman gets a lot of mileage out of whining today about Bill Clinton cutting the safety net (with "Welfare Reform") and she used that to trash Hillary and pimp Barack. But when the OLD WHORE forgot to tell you was that she wasn't leading a pushback against that in real time. She was off on her guns-is-bad work. She didn't give a damn about welfare reform when it mattered. If she had, she would have been working to stop it, organizing to stop it, calling it out. The OLD WHORE did what she did (and did it because she -- and her husband who worked for the Clinton administration -- had perks).

Until Barack, Bush was one of the most crooked and devious people to occupy the White House. He occupied it for eight years. During that time, a lot of people found voices who would call the crimes out. And then they watched as Barack started his own list of broken promises (campaign finance reform, one brigade a month out of Iraq after elected, illegal and warrantless spying) and crimes (continuing the illegal wars, continuing Guantanamo, bombing Pakistan, etc.).

And they waited and waited for the 'brave' 'voices' of 2007 and 2006 and 2005 and 2004 and 2003 to speak out. And they waited in vain.

And that's what demoralizes the left.

Barack's Bush. Bush couldn't demoralize the left. Barack can't. But the WHORES who keep lying for him, the ones who are supposed to be of the left, they can demoralize the left.

That's what happened in the nineties and it's what's happened today.

This bothers us because the illegal wars continue.

Jeffy frets about a demoralized left because "the Republicans are going to win at the ballot box."

Who the hell cares at this point?

Jeffy went on, later in the segment, to insist that 'progressive' members of Congress are not a threat to Barack because "they don't believe progressives will ever stand their ground."

Why should members of Congress stand their ground when so much of the left refuses to?

Jeffy wants those member of Congress to "once and for all, [. . .] say enough is enough, we're not voting with you, Mr. President."

But he can't accept the fact that a real revolution would be embracing that the Dems might get less votes. Might be establishing the narrative that Dems will get less votes and get less votes because they refused to honor promises and work for the American people.

When you constantly WHORE for the DNC, you've really got no business lecturing any member of Congress for refusing to stand his or her ground.

But Jeffy's got no reason to speak at all right now. Nor does Norman Solomon, Liar John Nichols, self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders, Amy Goodman or any of their ilk.

Unless and until they can own their part in pimping Barack, they need to just shut their mouths because everyone knows they did it. No one thinks, "Oh, you brave, Amy Goodman." Everyone just thinks, "Two-bit whore."

And that just demoralizes the left even further.

TV notes

Tonight the History Channel airs The People Speak, Anthony Arnove notes it's "the long awaited documentary film inspired by Howard Zinn's books A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States." It airs Sunday, December 13th at 8:00pm EST and 7:00 Central (8:00pm Pacific as well):

Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, the documentary feature film THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice.Narrated by acclaimed historian Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People's History, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.

THE PEOPLE SPEAK is produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove, and Howard Zinn, co-directed by Moore, Arnove and Zinn, and features dramatic and musical performances by Allison Moorer, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, David Strathairn, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Martín Espada, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O'Malley, Morgan Freeman, Q'orianka Kilcher, Reg E. Cathey, Rich Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Staceyann Chin, and Viggo Mortensen.

Monday December 14th, ABC airs Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home for Christmas (8:00 to 9:00 pm EST, first hour of prime time). Academy Award and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson's guest for her special is Michael Buble.


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. and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Strobel practices reporting, NPR self-embarrasses" -- The most requested highlight and, for those wondering, Ava and C.I. tackle NPR this edition.

"F**k Copenhagen and the Environmental movement" -- Second most requested highlight, Marcia's firm line in the sand that we do not step over the corpses of others to rush to grab what we want.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "It Takes A Starlet" -- Isaiah's most recent comic which pays homage to Joey Heatherton (as many noticed) and to Marilyn Monroe (Let's Make Love, which many missed).

"Cheesy Rice in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy recipe from a reader.

"Christmas" -- Christmas means family and travel for many. Betty observes the difficulty in flying home for the holiday in terms of presents (to and from).

"friday" -- Rebecca follows up on a piece published here last week.

"Equality" & "The equality topic" -- Ruth and Marcia continue covering the issue of equality.

"Noam Chomsky, Ron Jacobs" and "Noam Chomsky is not happy" -- Elaine on the strange recent media appearances by Noam Chomsky.

"Cry baby of the week" -- Mike picks the big whiny for the week.

"No one can figure it out" and "THIS JUST IN! EVEN HE'S SHOCKED!" -- Peace? Barack thought they said it was a Piss Prize!

"Carriers" and "Caprice" "Non-reform and movies" -- Ann and Stan offer Friday night movie posts and Mike on Carriers as well.

"They always knew" -- Kat breaks it down.

"Martha Wins, Massachusetts Wins!," "martha's a winner," "Nerves and jitters," "A win, a loss and a blow," "THIS JUST IN! IT ALL BACKFIRES!" and "He used to think he was lucky" -- Martha Coakley and Massachusetts won Tuesday night.

"Connect the Dots? Lila leaves us waiting" -- Ruth offers a media critique.

"Who's hurting our LGBT rights?" -- Marcia asks the basic question and tells the unpleasant but needed truth.

"Hillary Is 44 as well as the dope" -- Betty takes on a media critic.

"He's not winning them over" & "THIS JUST IN! THE REVIEWS WERE BRUTAL!" -- Barry O's magic touch fades.

"Robin Brims and Brian Burridge" -- Kat weighs in on the Iraq Inquiry.

"The boob" -- Stan talks Barry O and American Dad.

"The Battle of the Story of The Battle of Seattle" - Ann covers books.
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