Sunday, March 21, 2010

Truest statement of the week

Why would it be a special accommodation then to someone who's gay to say 'Hey, I'm gay.'? Why -- why do you call that special? You don't call it special for someone who's heterosexual or straight. Why do you believe that's a special accommodation to someone who's gay?

-- Senator Carl Levin, at the US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell Thursday (Levin is the Chair of the Committee).

Truest statement of the week II

You have been told that the President has a plan! But Congressman Barney Frank confirmed to us this week that the President still is not fully committed to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. And if we don't seize this moment it may not happen for a very long time.

-- Lt Dan Choi, as quoted in Brian Montopoli (CBS News) report.

A note to our readers

Hey --

A very long Sunday. We have rough draft pieces that we hope to smooth over next week but, most likely, the inspiration will be gone when the weekend rolls around.

Participating in the writing of 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

We thank them all. It was a long, long session. We took time out to march for immigrant rights today. But even allowing for that, it was a long, long writing session.

This was Carl Levin and Marcia was the biggest champion for this but far from alone in wanting this as a truest.
Lt. Dan Choi was another one we had to recognize. We have five other worthy truests and for awhile joked about just making the edition a "truest" (seven truests) plus Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary.

Editorial: Barack is killing the left

Elaine's "They are the problem" should have been included in this. We forgot. But her Friday entry charts how left periodicals avoided the protests against the wars. They are the enablers. Everything can be killed in their non-stop efforts to pimp Barack.

A major piece. This was finished Early, early Sunday morning and Ava and C.I. put the rest of us to shame. Yes, we were tired from the protest and march and fun. But Ava and C.I. had been on planes repeatedly. They wanted to be at the San Francisco protests for a number of reasons so they flew out, they then flew to LA, they then flew back to DC. And despite that, they still had it in them to write this epic. Amazing. Ian Wilder was one of the five others we considered seriously for a truest. The fact that he is quoted in Ava and C.I.'s piece allowed us to go with others.

Our LGBT feature that the rest of us mainly smoothed over. Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally attended the Senate hearing that's being reported on.
To round out the edition, Ava and C.I. wrote this. It ups the arts coverage and the Iraq coverage for the edition.

Who would have thought David Sirota would become a stand up voice of reason? But in a world of liars, he emerged as a truth teller. Good for him.

We were looking for a short feature and C.I. was speaking to a friend with The Nation on the phone when it was suggested we check out the artwork for The Nation's cruise. High-larious.

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

That's what we managed to come up with. See you next week.

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

Editorial: Barack is killing the left

In one of the more laughable attempts to cash in on the Iraq War for the 7th anniversary, a man who never bothers with Iraq anymore wrote a column for a foreign outlet where he asserted that Iraq had vanished from the MSM (it has) but it continued to be covered by independent media (false). It was so much smoke up the ass, we're afraid he's still choking on second hand smoke.

In the real world, the election of Barack Obama has meant the death of the left.

No where did that become more clear than in Indymedia (Independent Media Center). Visit the US page and you'll quickly encounter a listing entitled "Latest news from all syndicated independent media centers across the US." And if you just read that heading, things look pretty good. However, if you read the actual headlines and -- more importantly -- the dates on them, you grasp that the IMC network is just one more thing the election of Barry O killed off.


If your an IMC outlet and you haven't published in the month, you're dead. No one's going to keep coming back in the hopes that someday you'll have something new. So we count the following sites as dead: Arizona IMC, Arkansas IMC, Atlanta IMC, Austin, IMC, Baltimore IMC, Big Muddy IMC, Binghamton IMC, Charlottesville IMC, Cleveland IMC, Colorado IMC, Hawaii IMC, Houston IMC, Hudson Mohawk IMC, LA (Louisiana) IMC, Las Vegas IMC, Madison IMC, Maine IMC, Michigan IMC, New Hampshire IMC, New Mexico IMC, North Carolina IMC, North Texas IMC, Oklahoma IMC, Pittsburgh IMC, Richmond IMC, Saint Louis IMC, San Diego IMC, and San Francisco IMC (not San Francisco Bay Area IMC -- also known as Indybay -- which continues to publish).

Apparently, with Bush to hate, there was a passion and excitement for the left. But covering up for and excusing the Corporatist War Hawk Barry just saps the soul.
We loved to be so radical But like a ragged love affair Some became disenchanted And some of us just got scared
-- "Playing Possum," written by Carly Simon, from her album of the same title

IMC, one of the successes out of the 1999 Seattle protests, now limps along. And it's far from alone. As noted in "The Capons of NYC," NYC couldn't even muster a respectable anti-war protest on Saturday.

nyc imc

A visit to NYC IMC on Saturday morning found that the protest taking place later that day wasn't even prominently noted.

WBAI ignored it as well, refusing to even list it on it's calendar of NYC events.


Barack Obama is killing the left and a large number of his faux left cheerleaders are egging him on. It's time the left strikes back, reclaims their voices and starts calling for peace and equality.

TV: Simpering, whimpering

We really didn't want to watch. We knew it would be jaw-droppingly awful. But the phones were ringing and everyone was offering some variation on "Can you believer this f**king s**t!" And, in the end, we had to turn on the faux left's very own Hindenberg.


It was Democracy Now! It was Thursday and before we get to that, let's drop back to the 90s.

For months and months and years and years the 'left' 'leaders' have insisted to you that the repeal of Glass-Steagall was one of the most life changing and threatening things that ever happened. They've usually managed to trash Bill Clinton in the process. (And, sidebar, we believe a passage -- a paragraph -- by Bob Somerby got us to thinking about this. But Dallas was kind enough to review the last three months of Somebery's Daily Howler and couldn't find it.) May 6, 1999, it passed the Senate. That bill announced it was, "An Act to enhance competition in the financial services industry by providing a prudential framework for the affiliation of banks, securities firms, and other financial service providers, and for other purposes." Others, including ourselves, see it as a repeal that aided the current financial meltdown. But July 1, 1999, the measure passed the House of Representatives. November 12, 1999, Bill Clinton signed it into law.

And this was monumental, we're told. The repeal of Glass-Steagall changed everything (PBS' Frontline offers a timeline of Glass-Steagall here.) So we were just curious how Democracy Now! covered it in real time. Would you believe that dog didn't yap?

In the weeks leading up to the Senate vote and to the House vote and to then-President Bill Clinton signing the bill into law, Democracy Now! did its hourly, daily (Monday through Friday) look at . . . issues. Just not the repeal of Glass-Steagall. In fairness to them, we should note that they had pressing, serious issues to cover such as "The Air Force's Area 51 in Nevada." We wondered how they handled the destruction of the safety net in 1996? That's when the 'Welfare Reform' Act became law ("Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act"). The House passed it July 18, 1996, the Senate passed it July 23rd and Clinton signed it into law August 22nd. Seven days after the House passed it, two days after the Senate, they did a minor 'report' on the issue. (In fairness, there is another 'report' in the archives -- explaining why "Welfare Reform" was needed -- NEEDED -- and, if they want to bicker, we'll be happy to link to that one. And they can explain why they aired government propaganda.) August 1st they finally return to the issue. And then drop it. Until the day Clinton signs it. If that sounds bad to you, you really just don't know.

See, following the passage in Congress, both of the two major political parties will hold their conventions. Meaning, we're not talking about one hour a day -- Democracy Now! expanded to two hours a day -- for two weeks -- and focused nothing but political parties but couldn't explore the Welfare Reform Act.

We bring that history up because of the appalling nonsense that's passed for 'coverage' of ObamaCare on Democracy Now! Diane Rehm (NPR) has done a better job of highlighting single-payer activists than has Amy Goodman.

In ten years, when the left is condemning the Corporatist War Hawk Barack and telling you how he destroyed any chance of single-payer in the US with his ObamaCare, make sure you remember that, in real time, when it mattered, they refused to call it out.

Part of the reason Goody wasted (and it was wasted) so much time on Haiti this year, we're told by someone with the show, was because it allowed her to avoid the topic of ObamaCare. See, even she was feeling a little embarrassed about her sorry record of coverage and wanted to just wish it all away.

Today, Amy Goodman is one of the loudest critics of the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the Welfare Reform Act but, in real time, she had other things to focus on. Those 'aliens' in Area 51 aren't going to report on themselves, right Amy?

So, if pattern holds, she'll be insisting in 2020, that ObamaCare destroyed everything and how 'we' knew it would and 'we' still got behind it. Speak for yourself, Fork Tongued Amy.

Thursday's program was really something to marvel over and, before we offer our take, let's excerpt from Ian Wilder's "Is Kucinich just herding sheep to slaughter?" (On The Wilder Side) on what happened when Amy (and Juan Gonzalez) chatted with Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader:

IW: While faux progressive sites like Daily Kos and MoveOn have threatened Kucinich for not voting for the toothless health insurance bill, independent media site like Black Agenda Report and Democracy Now! have lobbed softballs his way. Even Nader refused to directly criticize Kucinich in his roll in mollifying a potential break away of progressives from the Democratic party over the Afghanistan/Iraq Wars and Health Care Reform. We need leaders who not afraid to speak truth to power, even when it's their friends. We need a political party that is willing to stand up for the best interests of the voter, not defense contractors and insurance companies. And where is a real voice that is not afraid to speak truth to power like Cynthia McKinney? Is leaving her out part of Democracy Now's continual policy of marginalizing the Green Party?

Ian, well said. Damn well said.

Backstory, despite claiming that ObamaCare would tax workers (especially union workers), that it would bury single-payer and institutionalize privatized care, that it was a gift to Big Pharma and that he would never, ever support it, US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich held a press conference Wednesday to announce that he was voting in favor of ObamaCare.

On Thursday, the garden gnome appeared on Democracy Now! where Amy and Juan were supposedly a hostile audience -- the way the Dean Martin roasts were supposedly 'hard' on their guest of honor -- and Ralph Nader set aside public crusader in order to . . . What? The way he kept kissing up, we honestly thought we were watching Love Connection and Nader was doing his best version of "Pick me!"

Insisting that "every criticism I made [of ObamaCare] still stands," but "there's been such an effort to delegitimatize his presidency" and "we've got to be careful that we don't play into those who want to destroy his presidency".

"Do you do it for love?" Sheena Easton once asked and, Wednesday and Thursday, we believe Denny gave his answer.

Wednesday? As charted in community posts, that's when Denny declared his love for Barry. See: "ObamaCare's wrong (and so was I)," "Such a damn liar," "the not so special k," "PDA St. Dennis: Big Fraud," "Barack Zombies," "Punk Ass Kucinich," "Denny Koo-Koo Kucinich," "The spineless Dennis and his flunkies," "Barack's bad plan" and "The always pathetic Dennis Kucinich" & "THIS JUST IN! LITTLE DENNY GETS HIS WISH!"

In that press conference, Denny K sounded his "I have to do it for Barry" argument, "That hurts the nation! He was elected!"

We're really confused and, honestly, a little worried about the state of the US Congress and Dennis Kucinich's mind. Not even two years after the November 2008 elections, Denny feels he has to yell and scream in public to convince Americans Barack was elected?

That's part of the historical record, Kucinich. Far more puzzling to us was why Barack figured so heavily into Kucinich's remarks on Wednesday and Thursday. The remarks not only demonstrated an unnatural obsession with the presidency, they also demonstrated an oversized ego on gnome.

Viewers of Democracy Now! watched in vain if they were waiting to see Goody take the gloves off. She never does. She lambastes name journalists for their proximity to their sources and the kid gloves approach that results from that proximity, but she's happy to do the same on her own show.

So if anything hard hitting was going to be said, it would have to be said by Ralph.

Sadly, Ralph wasn't in on Thursday. Instead Jiminy Cricket showed up in a Ralph Nader suit:

What -- I think Dennis Kucinich has been known as the great dissenter in the Democratic Party -- against the criminal wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, for impeaching Bush and Cheney, for single payer, on and on. His subcommittee hearings, which are almost never covered by the press, provide a standard for what House subcommittees should be investigating all over the country.

Thanks for the testimonial. Which brings us back to Ian Wilder's point: Where was Cynthia?

Ralph Nader was on for what reason?

Cynthia McKinney, 2008 Green Party presidential nominee, served in the US Congress. She know about the pressure and dirty tricks of leadership -- including Nancy Pelosi. She knows all about it. It's hard to believe she would have been as detached as Ralph Nader came off.

But Democracy Now!'s really not about accuracy or information these days. That's how you get Amy Goodman stating, "Both of them, Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich, have run for president of the United States several times." Dennis Kucinich has never run for president. He has run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. There's a difference. (It's like calling 1975's Miss Bakersfield a Miss America contestant.)

And what the show was broadcasting, what it was encouraging, was the country to feel "Poor Dennis."

Poor Dennis, it's not his fault. Poor Dennis, he wanted to do something to help out Barack. Poor Dennis, . . .

A truly left show would have broadcast: Screw Dennis.

Screw Dennis and his fake stands that always collapse when the rubber hits the road. Screw Dennis and his nonsense about a peace plank in the 2004 Democratic Party platform. Screw Dennis and his "I am a real candidate" versus his "Psst, Barack, want my Iowa delegates?"

But no one made time for outrage. It was . . . surreal. It was as though an intervention took place . . . before the cameras started rolling. And what viewers were shown was the comforting that followed. If Dennis ever admitted he had a problem, it took place offscreen. The show, the big 'get,' was, in the end, as a big of a whimper as the main guest himself. As for addressing the realities of ObamaCare? They made do with a few morsels from Ralph. Click here for Kate Randall's analysis (WSWS) of what may be coming your way.

State of LGBT

On Thursday afternoon, when the HRC was busy playing extras in The Kathy Lee Griffin Story, Lt Dan Choi decided it was time for a stand.


"You have been told that the President has a plan! But Congressman Barney Frank confirmed to us this week that the President still is not fully committed to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. And if we don't seize this moment it may not happen for a very long time," he told the assembled crowd, inviting them to join him and Capt Jim Piertrangelo on a march to the White House. At the White House, Theola Labbe-DeBose (Washington Post) reported, "Shortly before 2 p.m., Park Police came upon two men who had chained themselves to a section of the iron fence on the north side, said David Schlosser, a police spokeman. Officers told the men they did not have a permit for their demonstration and gave them three warnings about the violation."

On Friday, the two appeared before a judge. Yusef Najafi (Metro Weekly) reports that Choi and Pietrangelo entered not guilty pleas this morning in court and are taking their cases to trial.

Dan Choi: There are other people who are oppressed that have the chains on them in their hearts. There were many times when people would say when you go and get arrested, it's difficult because your hands are restrained and the movement is a little bit stymied or halted on the physical level. But it is my hope that the larger movement, even with the chains on it, will do nothing but grow to the point where it cannot be controlled by anything but that freeing and that dignified expression of getting arrested for what you know is absolutely morally right. There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me and I thought of all the other people that were still trapped, that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts and we might have been caged up physically but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation or with a cocktail party or with tokens that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get his dignity back, being chained up and being arrested, that's how you get your dignity conferred back on you. So I think that my actions, my call, is to every leader -- not just gay leaders, I'm talking any leader who believes in America, that the promises of America can be manifest. We're going to do it again. And we're going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest and we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people, we will not go away .
Lt Dan Choi's brave actions are needed. Despite Barack's campaign promise to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, there was no movement on it. As campaign contributions began to be withheld, Barack made a big show about wanting to repeal it. Why, he wanted to repeal it so badly, he said, he'd propose that they do a year long study to determine whether or not it should be repealed.

When President Harry Truman decided to integrate units of the military in 1947, he did it. He issued an Executive Order and that was that. He didn't do a year-long study. He didn't waffle. He didn't whimper or whine.

He was so unlike Barry O.

Barack wants you to believe that a year-long study means Don't Ask, Don't Tell gets repealed. But a year-long study that started in January 2010 ends in January 2011. Point? Between the two dates in November 2010 -- mid-term elections. When Dems will lose some seat.

Currently, the Democratic leadership in Congress isn't even united on the move. For example, US House Rep. Ike Skelton strongly opposes repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In the Senate, you have some leadership including Senators Roland Burris and Kirsten Gillibrand. But the Senate's 800-pound guerilla on this issue is Carl Levin who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Thursday, Levin held a hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Committee heard from Lt. Jr. Grade Jenny L. Kopfstein and Maj. Michael D. Almy who were discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Committee also heard from would-be social critic Gen. John Sheehan who saw "social engineering," "Socialism" and "unionization" creeping into the world's militaries. Why, he insisted, allowing gays to serve resulted in the Dutch facing disaster in Srebrenica -- a claim he sourced to a man who doesn't appear to have existed and a claim rejected by the United Nations' 2002 report and the Dutch Embassy in DC.

Here's that section of the testimony.

Commitee Chair Carl Levin: General, you've been the NATO Supreme Allied Commander and I assume that as NATO Commander that you discussed the issue with other military leaders of our allies. Is that correct?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes, sir, I have.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Did you -- did they tell you, those allies who allow open service of gay and lesbian men and women, did they tell you that they had cohesion and morale problems?

Gen John Sheehan: Yes sir they did. If you don't -- l beg the indulgence --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Sure.

Gen John J. Sheehan: Most of this Committee knows that current militaries are a product of years of development. They reflect societies that they are theoretically paid to protect. The Europen militaries today are a product of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nations like Belgium, Luxenberg, the Dutch, etc. firmly believed that there was no longer a need for combat capability in the militaries. As a result, they declared a peace dividend and made a concentrated effort to socialize their military. That included the unionization of the militaries. It included open homo - homosexuality demonstrated in a series of other activities. But with a focus on peace keeping missions because they did not believe the Germans were going to attack again or that the Soviets were coming back. That led to a force that was ill-equipped to go to war. The case in point I'm referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs. The battalion was under strength, poorly led and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to telephone poles, marched the Muslims off and executed them. That was the largest massacre in Europe since WWII.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: And did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?

Gen John J. Sheehan: It was a combination --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: But did they tell you that? That was my question.

Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes. They included that as part of the problem.
That there were gay soldiers among the Dutch --

Gen John J. Sheehan: The combination was the liberalization of the military. A net effect, basically social engineering.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: The -- You said that no special accommodations should be made for any member of the military.

Gen John J. Sheehan: Sure.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Are members who are straight, who are heterosexual allowed in our military to say that they are straight and heterosexual? Are they allowed to say that? [Long pause as Levin waits for an answer before adding] Without being discharged?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Are they allowed to say --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Yeah.

Gen John J. Sheehan: -- sexuality.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Are they allowed to say "Hey, I'm straight. I'm heterosexual." Can you say that? Without being discharged.

Gen John J. Sheehan: There's no prohibition to my knowledge.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Is that a special accommodation to them?

Gen John J. Sheehan: [Long pause] I wouldn't consider it a special accommodation.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Why would it be a special accommodation then to someone who's gay to say 'Hey, I'm gay.'? Why -- why do you call that special? You don't call it special for someone who's heterosexual or straight. Why do you believe that's a special accommodation to someone who's gay?

Gen John J. Sheehan: I think the issue, Senator, that . . . we're talking about . . . really has a lot to do with the individuals. It has to do with the very nature of combat. Combat is not about individuals, it's about units. We're talking about a group of people who declared openly sexual attraction to a particular segment of the population and insist and continue to live in intimate proximity with them. That allows them to --

Comittee Chair Carl Levin: You allow that for heterosexuals?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Yes.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: You don't have any problem with that?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Don't have any problem. But that --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: You don't have any problem with men and women serving together even though they say they're attracted to each other?

Gen John J. Sheehan: That's correct.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: That's not a special accommodation?

Gen John J. Sheehan: No.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Okay. But it is special to allow --

Gen John J. Sheehan: It' is because it identifies the group as a special group of people who by law make them ineligible for further service.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: But the whole issue is whether it ought to be, whether they ought to be ineligible? Whether we ought to keep out of our service.

Gen John J. Sheehan: That's correct. the current debate, the current law clearly says --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: No I know what the law says, the question is should we change the law?

Gen John J. Sheehan: My recommendation is no.

Senator Carl Levin: No, I understand. And can you tell us which Dutch officers you talked to who told you that Srebenica was in part caused because there were gay soldiers in the Dutch army?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Uh, Chief of Staff of the Army who was fired by the Parliament because they couldn't find anybody else to blame.

Committe Chair Carl Levin: And who was that?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Hank van Brummen.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Pardon?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Hank van Brummen.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Why is the burden to end the discriminatory policy based on people who would end the discriminatory policy? Why do the people who want to end the policy have to show that it would improve combat effectiveness? If we're satisfied it would not harm combat effectiveness and for many who would be allowed to serve they would then be permitted to serve without discrimination and without harm. Why is that not good enough for you?

Gen John J. Sheehan: Because the force that we have today is probably the finest fighting force we have in the world.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: And maybe we could have an equally fine or even better force but if it's equally fine -- if you could be satisfied that it's no harm to combat cohesion or effectiveness, would that be satisfactory to you?

Gen John J. Sheehan: No. I think it has to be demonstrated, Senator.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: That there be an actual improvement.

Gen John J. Sheehan: An actual improvement.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: No harm wouldn't be good enough for you?

Gen John J. Sheehan: No. The reason I say --

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Pardon?

Gen John J. Sheehan: The reason I say that, Senator, is we've gone through this once before in our lifetime. You were in the Senate at the time. It was called the
Great Society. When it was deemed that we could bring into the military categories fours and fives and help the military out and make it part of a social experiment. Those categories fours and fives almost destroyed the military.

Commitee Chair Carl Levin: I don't know what that has to do with this issue.

Gen John J. Sheehan: Well it has to do with the issue of . . . being able to demonstrate that the . . . change in policy is going to improve things. We were told . . . that this was going to help out combat strength. Combat deployable strength. It didn't. It did just the opposite. It drove people out. So I think the burden has to be on demonstrating that something's going to become better, not hoping that it will become something better.

Committee Chair Carl Levin: Well I think the burden of people -- the burden to maintain a discriminatory policy is on the people who want to maintain the policy. Not on the people who want to end it.

Mainly what he shared appeared to have been that, during Vietnam, he appears to have been propositioned or felt up by a squad leader as evidenced by his testimony which began, "Senator, my experience, homosexual marines create problems in the battlefield."

Shifting points of views and verb tenses, he told a lurid story of steamy groping, hands under clothing, in the foxholes as the rest of the unit remained unaware. It was a purple prose tale, in which strapping young American males were little more than dainty Lillian Gishes strapped to the railroad tracks by mustache twisting men. He insisted, "I would stipulate that from my days in Vietnam in the early sixties when I had this sergeant that almost got a combat patrol killed."

As with all of his 'facts,' the whole thing seemed to be the product of an overactive imagination.

Sentator Kay Hagan noted that despite being titled Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the policy repeatedly asks when "third parties" provide tips. Maj. Almy didn't tell. His e-mails were violated and an investigation into his life begun leading to his being asked by a superior officer if he was gay? Even then, "I didn't tell. The Air Force asked. And I refused to answer the question. So I think, while it's true I never made a personal -- or a public statement to the military, I was still thrown out."

Senator Roland Burris raised the issue of the racial integration of the military and confronted Sheehan with, "You talk about the bright and the best. We don't know if we've got the bright and the best serving in our military service until we let everyone serve with their best distinction, best ability."

By contrast, Senator John McCain just wanted to hear the sound of his own (high-pitched) voice. He repeatedly interrupted the two witnesses discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, refusing to allow them to speak and then claimed no one could explain the issue to him. McCain, more than any other Republican on the Committee, makes it clear that the Republicans are digging into fight any change to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Which brings us back to why the policy needs to be repealed now, while Democrats control both houses of Congress.

Green Zone: Racist and revisionary (Ava and C.I.)

All last week, we were reminded that there was not just once a reason for Premiere magazine, Movieline, Film Threat and Nikki Finke, there was a need for them. That's due to the fact that the so-called 'reporting' from The Los Angeles Times last week was yet again playing favorites. A little one-on-one face time with Matt Damon certainly paid out . . . for Damon, if not the readers.

All last week, the paper repeatedly attempted to minimize the monumental flop that the Damon-starrer Green Zone is. They started out blaming audiences who apparently just weren't very smart or, the argument went, they would have flocked to the film. Then the paper moved on to blaming conservatives who apparently control the box office. The same group couldn't turn An American Carol into a hit (or even a break even), but The Los Angeles Times wanted you to believe that they had destroyed Green Zone's chances. As they got caught shading the facts once too often (going with film review aggregator Metacritic instead of Rotton Tomatoes, for example, to give the impression the film was a critical success), they ended the week with a new scapegoat: Marketing.

In a so-stupid-it's-got-to-be-a-put-on article, Patrick Goldstein (link goes to Star-Tribune version, we're not in the mood to promote LAT) maintains marketing destroyed the film and Universal. So eager to convince the reader of that, Goldstein's shoots down the paper's earlier (failed) attempts at apportioning blame and insists, "But here's the problem: Desperate to find a way to open the picture, Universal marketed the movie -- as anyone who saw the TV spots can attest -- as another installment in its wildly successful 'Bourne'" series." At The Los Angeles Times, the disaster that is Green Zone has been everyone's fault except for the people who made it.

When you get down to blaming marketing, you're really reaching. What's next? Blaming the projectionists at your local theater?

Richard Corliss (Time magazine) puts the film's actual budget at $230 million. It is Waterworld, it is Ishtar, it is Heaven's Gate -- all rolled into one -- and then some.

Marketing was faced with a turkey of a film starring an asexual lead and with no female co-star offering sexual heat. They were faced with a film 'based on' a book -- a book that has as much to do with the film as Natalie Wood's Sex and The Single Girl had to do with Helen Gurley Brown's best seller of the same name (actually, Wood's film at least used the book's title). They were faced with a film that preview audiences were either luke warm to or outright hated. Their job was to squeeze as many dollars out of Green Zone as possible before it "got off the lot and people realized what a lemon it really was" -- as a Universal exec put it to us a few weeks back.

The film was trouble, everyone at Universal knew it. They put on their game faces for public consumption but, having seen what was shot (even after reshoot), they knew the film was going to be a huge bomb.

Why is that?

It has to do with the source material being discarded, for one thing. Had it been true to the source material, even if it was a bad film, it could have broken $50 million in ticket sales during its run just by pleasing purists and those who don't read but like to pretend they do.

The book is not about a madcap blonde go-going through the streets of Baghdad and figuring out everything and possibly solving the day. The film is and, while we're not sure even Carole Lombard could have pulled that concept off, we're damn sure (as the box office receipts demonstrate) that Matt Damon can't.

The film's praise from some left quarters really demonstrates how dumbed down MSNBC has made so much of the left. Like trained seals, they clap at every strung together sentence offered by Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann never minding that the facts just don't add up and that they're being lied to (see Bob Somerby's Friday Howler for his latest catch on Maddow).

Let's go over the film for a moment -- we grasp most people will never see it -- and you should grasp why no one on the left should be applauding this garbage.

The argument the (fictional) film makes is that an Iraqi exile General Al-Rawi is the bad guy and the reason for the illegal war. He is the cause of the Iraq War because he tricked people in DC. Do you get how offensive to history that is?

Karl Rove may dispute "Bush lied and people died" (as he did last week on NPR's Fresh Air) but that's reality. (See Ann's post for how Terry Gross avoided one of the best known examples of Bush lying.) And it's really distressing to see some lefties rush to applaud this film. D-cup celeb Michael Moore gushes but he's not a man known for taste or intellect. Others are supposed to be a little smarter -- including a critic we'll be kind and not name but who sees the film as having a "message" that neocons were responsible. Did he miss the scene where General Al-Rawi brags to Matt Damon's character about tricking Washington?

Green Zone wants to tell you that the US was lied into war -- the whole US, apparently, including, yes, the occupant of the Oval Office. And in what has to rival some of the portrayals in WWII era films of the Japanese and Japanese-Americans, it wants to do 360 xenophobia on an Iraqi. Al-Rawi is the surpreme evil. We're remembering whining from certain left quarters that this film or that film on Iraq didn't have a prominent Iraqi character. We've yet to see one of those same left whiners point out that Green Zone sells xenophobia. (The only other semi-prominent Iraqi in the film is Freddy -- a characterization as insulting as the exchange student in Sixteen Candles.)

Green Zone exists in other strange worlds. For example, laptops and the internet were widely available in Iraq to US service members. It's how many soldiers were able to blog the war in real time. But when Matt Damon's character (Roy) has questions, he has to run around and threaten people for 'answers.' He finds out the entire war is a lie -- something a simple Google search on "WMD" would have told him back in 2003.

The film is insane in so many ways and that includes its idiotic ending (which tries to ape the classic 3 Days Of The Condor). The start of the Iraq War's seventh anniversary just took place in real life. But in Green Zone, we're supposed to believe that Damon's character has unearthed important information which will stop the war. If it won't stop the war, what was the point of that ending?

The film ends with Damon e-mailing (see, he did have internet access!) the information to a reporter for The Wall St. Journal and, just in case that outlet won't bite, he's e-mailed it to every other print and television news outlet.

Which presents another problem: Are any of them going to cover it?

In the real world, we saw a huge silence regarding the truth before the Iraq War started and it's a silence that continues to this day. That's why press 'objection' to the war is confined to the way it was 'planned' (or not 'planned') and avoids the issues of legality and dishonesty.

The film makes no sense at all and is so half-baked we can see an ardent Bush supporter applauding it and saying, "Yes! Yes! It wasn't Bush's fault! He was lied to! Damn Iraqis!"

You can't blame what's on the screen on the marketing division. But that's the 'bad guy' for Patrick Goldstein who is just so sure that the Bourne series is now in danger. Matt can't do a fourth installment and have it easily marketed!

What world does Goldstein live in?

Damon's already said that he will not do a fourth Bourne.

More importantly, at his age, he's really too old. The Spiderman franchise (also three films and also all released in the last decade) is in the midst of retooling without Tobey Macguire and Macguire is five years younger than Damon. The Star Trek franchise retooled last year starring Chris Pine who was 28 when the film hit theaters. Damon, who has never been box office except in Bourne films, turns 40 this year.

It's not just that he's long in the tooth that makes him a liability. Matt Damon has long had gay rumors swirl around him. That's a problem for him now because he's the 'politically active' celebrity. A lot of people still don't get it. But in 1997, the jokes he'd do about his affair with Ben Affleck got a few laughs. The reaction split into two camps: (a) he's really comfortable with his sexuality and (b) he's laying the groundwork for his eventual coming out. So we got all the interviews and all the TV spots (including Will & Grace when his character claims his boyfriend's name is "Ben"). And this has gone on and on for years. Last year, hitting the chat and chew circuit, he was doing more gay 'jokes.' He and another actor, he insists, helped spread a rumor about George Clooney being gay and it resulted in hijinks at a press conference. Matt Damon never looked more fey than when he attempted to impersonate the gay Italian who pledged his love publicly to Clooney.

It wasn't funny. It was ugly. It was ugly and mean spirited and he's really not recovered from that little bit of "let's all laugh at the gay." Remember we said "politically active"? What the hell has Matt Damon done for gay America? Without them, he'd be nowhere. Those huge buck teeth and that bad acting wouldn't have made him the minor celebrity he is. It's his gay following that made him a celebrity. And he thanks them how?

Where was he decrying Proposition 8? When has he helped anyone fight for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

Looking increasingly like a bitter old queen, Matt Damon's happy to offer 'jokes' about gay people and their lives, he's just not willing to advocate for their rights. As anyone who remembers the protests outside the 1992 Academy Awards can tell you, live by the gay sword, die by it.

Damon will talk gay until he's blue in the face if he thinks he can get a cheap laugh out of it but he'll do nothing for the LGBT community. He's done nothing. And 2009 saw what may be the early hardening against Damon by the gay community as he turned being gay into a joke, a mocking joke, a lisping caricature while chatting up Letterman and others.

Matt Damon is now a potential liability for his offscreen antics. He's never pulled in box office on his own. (The Bourne box office was covered last Sunday at The Common Ills -- how the increased ticket sales for each Bourne films indicates the audience was overcoming an aversion to Damon in order to see the films). And he's also long in the tooth when you grasp that the High School Musical set is becoming young adults and they're not really going to be in the mood for Damon's action antics anymore that the young adults of the '00s were in the mood for Ahnuld's action antics or any of the others. Marketing didn't destroy the Bourne franchise, they managed to squeeze the last drops out of the Damon franchise before rebooting.


ObamaCare is not only a big giveaway to Big Business, it's sucked all the life out of the room. Yesterday we marched against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We halted writing on this edition to march today in DC for immigration rights. Ava and C.I. have been to DC, San Francisco, LA and back to DC in that basic time period. And still there's no vote on ObamaCare.

The Washington Post reports that the vote is expected to take place some time after 8:00 p.m. tonight. Our hopes are that it won't pass. If it does pass, remember when all the problems that were known right now emerge, remember who lied, who pimped and who prostituted. If it passes, in ten years, the 'progressive' community will disown the legislation but remember these same liars helped sell it.

In the process, they had little time to cover anything else. In fact, we more than agreed with a possible response in the current In These Times poll: "Please, please stop talking about healthcare reform."

Congress is poised to vote on a final healthcare reform bill this week, after nearly a year of legislative wrangling. If you were a member of Congress, would you vote on the bill, which is basically what the Senate passed in December?

No fans of David Sirota here, we are fans of the truth and that requires that we note one of the few honest talkers on this issue, as the Congress prepares to vote, has been David Sirota. From his "What's the Matter with Democrats?" (In These Times):

First, their leaders campaign on pledges to create a government insurer (a "public option") that will compete with private health corporations. Once elected, though, Democrats propose simply subsidizing those corporations, which are (not coincidentally) filling Democratic coffers. Justifying the reversal, Democrats claim the subsidies will at least help some citizens try to afford the private insurance they'll be forced to buy -- all while insisting Congress suddenly lacks the votes for a public option.
Despite lawmakers' refusal to hold votes verifying that assertion, liberal groups obediently follow orders to back the bill, their obsequious leaders fearing scorn from Democratic insiders and moneymen. Specifically, MoveOn, unions and "progressive" non-profits threaten retribution against lawmakers who consider voting against the bill because it doesn't include a public option. The threats fly even though these congresspeople would be respecting their previous public-option ultimatums -- ultimatums originally supported by many of the same groups now demanding retreat.
Soon it's on to false choices. Democrats tell their base that any bill is better than no bill, even one making things worse, and that if this particular legislation doesn't pass, Republicans will win the upcoming election -- as if signing a blank check to insurance and drug companies couldn’t seal that fate. They tell everyone else that "realistically" this is the "last chance" for reform, expecting We the Sheeple to forget that those spewing the do-or-die warnings control the legislative calendar and could immediately try again.

It should be remembered that David Sirota told the truth. Equally important, it should be remembered how many rushed to lie.

In What World . . .

does Katrina vanden Heuvel look like this cartoon of her?


If "truth in advertising" were lie, The Nation would be compelled to withdraw that illustration. They've increased her forehead, reduced her chin, made her eyes large (as opposed to squinty) and done away with her huge nose.


That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "From the kitchen of the Peace Resister" and much more realistic.


As is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Peace Resister".

But the real question is: Why would anyone want to be adrift at sea with any of these losers?


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.

"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week. But the long delay of this writing edition allowed "The Capons of NYC" to nip closely at its heels.

"ObamaCare's wrong (and so was I)," "Katrina vanden Heuvel is a racist," "Such a damn liar"
"the not so special k," "PDA St. Dennis: Big Fraud," "Barack Zombies," "Punk Ass Kucinich,"
"Denny Koo-Koo Kucinich," "The spineless Dennis and his flunkies," "Barack's bad plan,"
"The always pathetic Dennis Kucinich" & "THIS JUST IN! LITTLE DENNY GETS HIS WISH!," "Iraq snapshot" and "Coward of the week: Dennis Kucinich" -- Community coverage of Coward Kucinich.

"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "What happened in that fox hole, General Sheehan?," "McCain wants his recognition -- just his," "McCain can't shut up long enough to get an answer," "Carl Levin's historic Senate moment," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Guantanamo, Bagram,"
"Saxby Chambliss wants clarification," and "Senate Armed Services Committee" and "Carl Levin's historic Senate moment" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat report on Congressional hearings they attended during the week. And Marcia interviews C.I. about one hearing.

"Fall On Your Swords For Prince Barry" -- Isaiah's latest comic. He hopefully has one ready for tonight. (He may not. He drew one. It has to do with the vote outcome.)

"peter biskind's bad, bad book" and "Peter Biskind's Star" -- Rebecca and Marcia talk book.

"All Night Long" -- Stan talks film.

"ObamaCare realities" -- Betty talks ObamaCare.

"No Child Left Educated?" -- Ruth on Barry O's latest attempts to destroy.

"The Good Wife" and "Tired Zeese and NBC's Chuck" -- Stan and Mike talk TV.

"Move On -- no one's friend" & "THIS JUST IN! MOVE ON'S LATEST HISSY FIT!" -- Cedric and Wally talk MoveOn.

"The Panderers" and "They are the problem" -- Elaine on the problems.

"Bully Boy and Koizumi Play Dress Up." -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

And Ann's:
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