Sunday, November 21, 2010

Truest statement of the week

If Karl Rove had been allowed to invent the progressive TV host, Rachel Maddow is the creature Karl Rove would have conceived.

-- Bob Somerby, "WHICH PART DOESN’T SHE UNDERSTAND! Rachel rejected Jon's distinction. Which part of 'The Comedy Channel' doesn't she understand?" (Daily Howler).

Truest statement of the week II

Leafletting for [Howie] Hawkins and the Green Party slate in NYC I was dismayed at how many passersby simply shook their heads at me and scolded, "They can't win!!! Why vote for the party that can't win?" As if I were INSANE to suggest it. To some, not many, who paused long enough, I stammered out something like, "But they can't win because you think the next guy won't vote for them, so then you won't vote for them, BUT if you vote for them out of principle, because they are the party of integrity, forget the next guy, and if he forgets about you and votes for them, then they CAN win. The non-corporate-captured party CAN WIN!!!! It SHOULD win!!!!" Whew.

-- Libbyliberal, "The Green Party is No Longer the Alternative, the Green Party is the IMPERATIVE (Govt. of the People NOT the Corporate Pimps!)" (Corrente).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Latest we have ever been for the second week in a row.

Thank you to all who worked on this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

Thank you to all who assisted and apologies as well.

Bob Somerby simply stated.
Libbyliberal gets a truest.

Jess and Ty spent the weekend with their families. They didn't help on this edition. Was that the problem? I (Jim) have no idea. I just know we worked forever and we really imposed on Isaiah asking him to do drawings for features. He did them. The features didn't work out. Our apologies to him. Our apologies to Ava and C.I. who didn't want to be part of this edition and have stated that they cannot do this again. They are very clear on that issue. We had an editorial that was weak and that we all worked on. We scrapped it. After we asked Ava and C.I. to please do a long feature on a topic -- hot or otherwise -- to make up for what was a weak edition. They worked on this for at least an hour and when we read it, we said, "This is the editorial." Thank you to them.

Ava and C.I. were going to cover The Event this week. That was their plan up until one o'clock Sunday morning when the edition was falling apart. They said they could cover a 'news' program if that would help. We said it would.

The roundtable is the only feature that we all worked on which turned out. And thanks to Ann there because I was sure we were done with Iraq when she corrected me.

A short feature. This took a lengthy article we all worked on that was not working despite a good three hours spent on it. Dona distilled it, via editing, into a short feature.

Ava and C.I. proposed this repost. This is Workers World.

Mike and the gang kindly wrote this. We thank them for it.

We spent forever on this edition. And we had nothing to show for it. Had Ava and C.I. not written their second piece (which ended up being the editorial), I'm not sure we would have posted an edition. I hope things are better next week. I do understand Ava and C.I.'s vocal frustration which includes the fact that C.I. has to turn around and now pull together an entry for The Common Ills after working over 15 hours on this edition. My apologies.


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

Editorial: Fairytales die hard (Ava and C.I.)

More than a small child at bedtime, the press does love their fairytales. And once created, they have a really hard time letting them go. Hard times forced them to face a few bits of reality recently and you could hear it Friday on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) as USA Today's Susan Page filled in for Diane and spoke with David Ignatius (Washington Post), Courtney Kobe (NBC) and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) about US President Barack Obama. Excerpt:

Courtney Kobe: This comes right on the heels of a trip where President Obama had a big foreign policy embarrassment in South Korea. So the fact that --

Susan Page: His failure to get a trade deal they'd expected to be able to conclude.

Courtney Kobe: Exactly. And for him to be on the ground there and find out that it had not been approved is an enormous embarrassment and it's one that you don't really see in the White House very often.

[. . .]

David Ignatius: Well he's been pounded, by his own account, he's been pounded by the voters. He's had trouble overseas getting - getting his way with foreign leaders. So you'd have to say, right now, this is a weakened presidency. What do presidents do when they've been weakened? They try to show that they can be strong leaders. He's working as hard as he can now. I think if you take Afghanistan, an issue we were talking about at the beginning, it's hard to see how the president is going -- is going to have success without being more directly involved as commander in chief, without speaking to the country more clearly about what we're doing. There is growing skepticism and doubt in the country about the mission. If the president is going to hold the public with him, he has to communicate more emphatically and directly and I'd say that across the board. I think that -- I know this White House is really thinking, 'How do we learn lessons from our mistakes in the first two years, not just in the - in the mid-term elections, so that we communicate our policy ideas better to the country?"

Susan Page: You know that's something that we've heard about not just, as you say, in foreign policy issues like Afghanistan but on issues like the economy and health care that the communications operations have - have not worked as well as the White House would have hoped. But I guess you then face the question of: Is it the communication or the policy? And I don't know -- what -- what do you think about that, Jonathan?

Jonathan S. Landy: I can be -- my concentration being foreign policy, I can tell you that when the president first got into office, he made this policy speech on Afghanistan, I think it was in May or March, and the international community, the governments that are involved with their troops in Afghanistan said, "Okay, thanks a lot. We understand you're going to rejuvenate policy and you're going to put together a strategy." And then they had to wait another nine months for him to make the next major speech -- that was the December 1st speech last year -- on exactly what that strategy was going to be. And in that intervening period there was a lot of consternation about the fact that they hadn't heard anything more from the administration and that the administration appeared to be moving on to other things without any kind of follow through on Afghanistan.

That's huge. In therapy, it would be hailed as a breakthrough.

Sadly, for many the insight came not from their own observations but from The Televised Confessions of St. Barack. Barack went on CBS 60 Minutes (link has text and video) and owned up to a communications problem. A 'recent' one, you understand. And the press feels they have a little bit of room to tell the truth in -- or some of it.

Truth is, Barack has always been a lousy speaker. We noted it throughout 2008, his robatic manner of speaking, his weird construction of sentences, his eternal pauses. We think we best captured it when we caught a Barack speech back in February of 2009:

We watched Monday in full as Barack uh-uh-uhed and spoke in that robotic manner that allows him to find more unnatural pauses than Estelle Parsons and Kim Stanley combined. "He's our Method president!" we quickly gasped while wishing we could have one president this decade capable of normal speech. If he gets any worse, he'll be Sandy Dennis.

And he has only gotten worse. For example, he explained his problem to CBS as, "Making an argument that people can understand. I think that we haven't always been successful at that." For those who fret over what Barack will do when he leaves the White House, might we suggest portray the Robot in a Lost In Space remake?

Danger, American voters, danger.

As the month began, Mike Allen (Politico) was reporting on one of the dangers -- if not fully getting it -- when Barack agreed he 'mispoke' when he called Republicans "enemies." Not only does a good communicator not do that, a president should never do it. We would have ripped Bully Boy Bush apart if he'd referred to us as "the enemies." And we would have been right to do it. That goes far beyond "charged rhetoric" and the sort of comments that should lead for calls of something more than a radio apology. And it didn't just happen.

Barack is the head of the Democratic Party and, as was demonstrated here October 24th, official, glossy, campaign literature was calling the Republican Party "enemies." A lot of money was spent on those oversize glossies and the Party signed off on them. They never should have. Calling your opponents enemies -- especially in a time of (endless) war -- is tantamount to calling them "traitors." When Ann Coulter made that her fall-back trick, she quickly found media outlets closing their doors to her. But Barack basically got away with it. He got away with it because he'd been allow to get away with all that led up to it including calling out American by name from the Oval Office -- a tactic that was not only offensive but that degraded the presidency itself.

Whatever his feelings towards Rush Limbaugh, et al, he had no place naming them in his remarks. It demonstrated just how tiny the man occupying the Oval Office is.

That was always obvious. It was obvious throughout the campaign and many of us noted the anger and, yes, bitterness Barack exhibited towards Hillary Clinton in particular and women in general, how attacking voters was so frequently his way of 'attempting to reach them.' You can refer to the archives of Hillary Is 44, Uppity Woman, Not Your Sweetie, Puma PAC, Corrente, The Widdershins and The Confluence among others.

Yet somehow the notion of a great communicator took hold. TJ Walker, for example, wants to teach you the secrets to speaking like Barack. Generally speaking, a great communicator does not speak in the stop-start manner that most resembles someone first learning to drive a stick shift. Nor does a great communicator toss his own grandmother, at death's door and the woman who raised him, to the wolves in order to distract from offensive remarks made by his preacher or 'preacher.'

The 60 Minutes story was important because it had video and was a sit-down but Barack had been testing the blame-my-communication excuse for some time. John Dickerson (CBS News) detailed Barack and US Vice President Joe Biden's floating that excuse publicly back in October. But what could have been a passing moment on the evening news became so much more when CBS got the sit-down and heavily advertised it guaranteeing that many of the faithful would see it. When Barack began admitting to a slight problem with communication (sounding like a raging alcoholic in denial), many pushed back from all sides. For example, the GOP offered "Top Ten Democrat Excuses." Conservative Roger L. Simon (Pajamas Media) saw the 'communication problem' as an excuse to cover the rejection of Barack's policies, "What America is recoiling from is not Obama's elitist standoffishness (though that doesn't help), it's his policies. People don't want a health care plan passed so hastily that even the Speaker of the House admits she hasn't read it, a bailout of an inept and bloated automobile company, a stimulus plan that has no discernible positive result, a potential cap-and-trade plan when anthropogenic global warming is turning into a scientific joke, massive unemployment with numbers that were previously unthinkable and, most of all, a national debt so large the federal government and all fifty (not fifty-seven) states may soon be bankrupt."

Simon was disagreeing with centrist Tina Brown (Daily Beast) who offered, "Amazing that Obama, possessed of the bully pulpit of the presidency, is musing here about having forgotten as core a political value as bringing the public along." At Politico, Democrat and professor Andra Gillespie offered, "Given yesterday's election results, a proper response would be for President Obama to announce that he heard the voice of the electorate; in the coming days and weeks, he will present an agenda that frontloads the nation’s priorities on job creation and deficit reduction; and he looks forward to working with Republicans to come up with robust solutions to these problems. Instead, I heard President Obama say that he heard the people’s concerns, but his existing policy framework (with perhaps a little tweaking) will help to address those issues." While the increasingly crazed Theda Skocpol insisted, also at Politico, "This was not a GOP 'tidal wave' -- that is pure hyperbole. Nor was it a Democratic 'debacle'." It was in fact, as Paul Harris and Ewan MacAskill (Guardian) reported, "one of the worst Democratic defeats for 70 years." To quote the late Joan Crawford, "Dear Theda, no one knew she was still alive."

Socialist Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) avoided using the c-word (communication) though his entire column tackled how Barack was yet again blowing it, "Rather than represent an ideological alternative, he tried to blur the ideological lines. 'None of the challenges we face lend themselves to simple solutions or bumper-sticker slogans,' he said. 'Nor are the answers found in any one particular philosophy or ideology.'" Leftist Dean Baker (Politico) betrayed his own economic understanding when he insisted the remedy was more speechifying, "President Obama should remind the country that we have a 9.6 percent unemployment rate and that the top priority should be getting these people back to work." Apparently Dean has forgotten that in January 2009, right before being sworn in, Barack and his economic gurus were insisting that the stimulus would reduce unemployment to eight percent? As George Stephanopoulos pointed out to Biden in July 2009 (ABC's This Week), "How do you explain that? Because when the president and you all were selling the stimulus package, you predicted at the beginning that, to get this package in place, unemployment will peak at about 8 percent. So, either you misread the economy, or the stimulus package is too slow and to small. "

If Dean Baker has missed it, ownership of problems have never been Barack's strong suit -- which is how a speech to allegedly explain why he sat through Jeremiah Wright's screechings morphed into blame dying granny ("typical White person"). He just refuses the blame, a point Isaiah illustrated in July of this year.

tales of indonesian folklore

Kristin Cahill Garcia (Global-Politics) wrongly argues, "it’s time for Obama the A-student to take a backseat to Obama the community organizer." John B. Judis (The New Republic) offered some realities about Barack's community organizing back in 2008:

And so, Obama told Kellman, he had decided to leave community organizing and go to law school. Kellman, who was already thinking of leaving organizing himself, found no reason to argue with him. "Organizing," Kellman tells me, as we sit in a Chicago restaurant down the street from the Catholic church where he now works as a lay minister, "is always a lost cause." Obama, circa late 1987, might or might not have put it quite that strongly. But he had clearly developed serious doubts about the career he was pursuing. Yet, two decades later, to hear Obama the presidential candidate tell it, those years in Chicago as a community organizer shaped the person--and the politician--he has become. Campaigning in Iowa last year, he declared that community organizing was "the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School." In a video this spring, Obama stated that community organizing is "something I carry with me when I think about politics today-- obviously at a different level and in a different place, but the same principles still apply." "Barack is not a politician first and foremost," Michelle Obama has said. "He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change." Certainly, Obama has good reason to tout his community organizing experience. After graduating from an Ivy League college, Obama passed up more lucrative jobs to devote three years to organizing low-income African Americans in Chicago. That choice tells us something about his values, and his pride in it is understandable. But his campaign has taken the point a step further, implying that Obama the politician is a direct descendant of Obama the organizer--that he has carried the practices and principles of community organizing into his campaign, and would carry them into the White House as well. This is the version of Obama's biography that most journalists have accepted. In truth, however, if you examine carefully how Obama conducted himself as an organizer and how he has conducted himself as a politician, if you consider what he said about organizing to his fellow organizers, and if you look at the reasons he gave friends and colleagues for abandoning organizing, then a very different picture emerges: that of a disillusioned activist who fashioned his political identity not as an extension of community organizing but as a wholesale rejection of it. Indeed, the most important thing to know about Barack Obama's time as a community organizer in Chicago may not be what he gained from the experience--but rather why, in late 1987, he decided to quit.

As a community organizer, Barack was a failure. That's why his 'resume' counted things like voter registration which aren't really the big goals of community organizing (rent-control, something that would have pissed off the Chicago political machine, is an example of an issue community organizing frequently fights for). He was a failure, he was a flop. And if people could admit that Barack and the press lied about his 'amazing abilities' as a community organizer, they might start to admit the truth about his communication skills.

Barack didn't have a good year in 2010. Last fall, PEW's Andrew Kohut was explaining to Linda Wertheimer (NPR's Morning Edition, link has text and audio) that the latest polling found that the number of Americans stating they didn't know which religion Barack was had "increased from about a third, 34 percent, to 43 percent." This was not a Republican only issue, Kohutwas explained, "Even Democrats are less of the view that he's a Christian -- that declined from 55 to 44 percent -- and more of a view that, hey, I don't know what religion the president is, from 32 to 41 percent over the course of a year." Following the mid-term elections, Tina Brown offered:

As from Wednesday, I'd like the president to stop being so high-minded about avoiding corny symbolic theatrics and start playing to win. The absurd myth, for instance, that he's really a Muslim would be easier to knock out if he strode from the White House every Sunday with a big old Gutenberg Bible and marched his family -- with the first daughters in adorable Sunday best -- to the nearest Episcopalian church. Back in his Chicago Senate days, when he was seeking greater black credibility, Obama was happy enough to attend the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ. What's wrong with a bit of God-fearing symbolism of a different kind now? There was a reason Hillary Clinton showed up at the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfasts when she was trying to network across the aisles. "Worshipping in private," as Obama does, comes off as just another form of annoying elitism.

A great communicator doesn't need Tina Brown to point out the obvious and devise a plan. That Barack does -- and that he's still not followed the suggestion -- goes a long way towards refuting the myth that the Christ-child is a great communicator. The Christ-child? So great was the notion of Barack as the great communicator that when he couldn't deliver in 2008, there was outrage and conspiracy theories offered to explain his dismal April debate performance -- the performance that found him cancelling all future debates with Hillary, the performance that found Beggar Media working overtime to excuse what people had seen with their own eyes. As we pointed out in "TV: The Christ-child fumbles:"

Barack was awful throughout the debate, uanble to handle personal or policy questions, unable to stop pausing repeatedly in the midst of a single sentence, unable to stop using "uh" as a comma, noun and verb. He looked like an incompetent. And the biggest shock for his groupies was learning that, in fact, their Christ-child could not walk on water.

He was never a great communicator. When he began falling back on the excuse that he communicated poorly -- as the mid-terms approached and after -- many in the press began going along with him but insisting this was a new development. It wasn't.

Barack won the 2008 general election not by a landslide -- electoral or popular. Anyone claiming otherwise is confessing to ignorance of presidential electoral history in this country. With his co-horts demonizing Sarah Palin (even those who, like Katha Pollitt, privately confessed Palin was able to communicate) and the economy going into meltdown, with 'jokes' about McCain's age and a press that refused to explore or question Barack, he squeaked across in an election that everyone called for the Democrats back in 2007, long before the nominee was known, for the simple reason that Bully Boy Bush had destroyed the country and 2008 would be a referendum on the Bush policies (for voters it would be, turns out Barack would be a continuation of those policies).

And what the mid-terms really did was remind the United States, specifically the press, what a squeaker Barack's win in 2008 actually was. The honest ones among us might be able to admit he never really came across to most Americans. He was a blank slate upon which dreams and hopes were projected. He was never a full bodied person (as we noted in our 2008, 2009 and 2010 criticism of Saturday Night Live's portrayals of Barack). Today, we're being told that Barack will communicate better now. The future is always hopeful for Barack. Especially if you ignore both the past and reality. August 31, 2008, we covered the press coverage of the DNC convention in Denver and noted this stand-out moment:

For example, US Senator Chuck Schumer was asked about the polling which consistently does not look the way it should for a sure thing Barack win in November. Schumer insisted that it would change as people got to know Barack. Judy Woodruff rightly responded, "But he's been campaigning, with all due respect, for a year and a half."

And he's now been in office for over a year and a half, over-exposed on every medium from 60 Minutes, to The View, to Jay Leno. Yet as the mid-terms and PEW's recent polling on Barack's religious status demonstrate, the American people still don't feel they know him. Though the fairy tale tells you this is a new problem, it is not. And if the press hadn't babied him and carried him, maybe at this late date Americans would know whether or not Barack was capable of standing on his own. Instead, it's just one more thing they're left to wonder about Barack.

TV: To Know, Know, Know Her Is To Avoid Her

In a perfect world, we could leave things to Bob Somerby and focus on what we wanted. For example, we've been more than happy to leave all the lifting -- heavy and otherwise -- on Rachel Maddow to him. We avoid her, we know she's a liar, we know she lies intentionally, we know she can't handle anything but scripted moments (as demonstrated when Elaine caused her to have an on-air radio meltdown for daring to point out in 2005 that Unfiltered should have on guests opposed to the war), we know that someone involved a stable and happy relationship doesn't behave as she does . . .


When it comes to Rachel, we know pretty much all of it. About her scheme to remain on Air America Radio after Unfiltered was canceled. We know all about her explaining to AAR management how she could 'sell' Lizz Winstead's disappearance. There is no one she will not stab in the back -- and there are very few that she hasn't already. Take her sanctimonious speech on the Keith Olbermann suspension [see David Zurawik, "Free Keith: Watching MSNBC go off the rails" (Baltimore Sun)] which was analyzed from all angles but one: Suck up. Why in the hell would Rachel be allowed to navel gaze so on MSNBC?

No one paying attention caught what was happening because few people know the inner-Rachel. To most viewers, she was sticking up for her 'buddy' Keith who made her on MSNBC. To those who know her -- and those who know she screened her screed past MSNBC before delivering it (she alway was teacher's pet), it's typical Rachel. She's not defending Olbermann, she's 'going out on a limb' for her corporate masters. 'Brave' Rachel, always sucking up to who ever signs her checks.

We think she's destructive and damaging but we comfort ourselves with the fact that Bob Somerby's had her number better than many for some time. And we let him do all the lifting on this because we know something 'big brain' Rachel Maddow doesn't.

It's called: Women.

It's called: Aging.

She can play butchest MSNBC broadcaster on TV all she wants while she looks like Chachi on the verge of asking Joanie to the high school dance. But how long will that last? They've already piled on more pancake foundation than an ABC daytime drama used to fall back on in the 80s to cover the heavy drug use of two of its stars. Can this bit really age?

It's doubtful. Tomboy rarely ages well. Tomboy is what originally brought down Katharine Hepburn's film career. Maybe like Hepburn, Maddow can ritually take place in the public spectacle of a woman being degraded by a man breathing a second and third life into her later career? Doubtful and who wants to see Maddow paired with Chris Matthews anyway? Equally true, for all the stories (fables) of Hepburn as upper-class, she never made her public persona one of looking down on the people while "sneering" best describes Maddow's tired bit.

Tired bit? She's like a child actor who quickly outgrows their welcome. In fact, her closest archetype is Jane Withers,the tomboy tyke who was momentarily a craze and then managed to hang around long enough to wear out her welcome thirteen years after her brief moment passed. In the supporting role that started the brief craze, Withers squared off against star Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes and we can easily picture Maddow ripping the head off a doll and then skipping around singing "Happy, happy, happy days, happy days, happy days, happy days . . ."

In fact, anyone viewing Maddow's 'logic' and 'reasoning' in action will quickly be reminded of Jane 'informing' Shirley of realities about Santa Clause in Bright Eyes. Long after the craze passed, Withers could be found still flailing around onscreen, brimming with arrogance, as she performed "Baby's A Big Girl Now" in 1942's strictly B-movie Johnny Doughboy. The performance, like the car she's driving in the scene as well as her career itself, is running out of gas.

The same is true of Maddow. You can't picture, for example, Diane Sawyer morphing into Maddow onscreen, mincing about wildly as she scolds and screeches. Ditto Andrea Mitchell, ditto any woman behind a desk on TV. Maddow's act has a very, very short shelf-life -- a reality we take comfort in. It's also a reality she herself is aware of which is why she's the ultimate suck up, always toadying to her bosses.

And that was what was on display in her Olbermann suspension performance and everyone missed it. Rachel Maddow was not sticking up for her buddy Keith who made her an MSNBC presence, she was sticking the knife in, she was agreeing Keith did wrong and deserved to be suspended. That was the whole point of her pompous 'we aren't Fox' talking point: 'When we do wrong, we get punished!' Making that point, as she did, carries with it the tacit understanding that Keith did wrong -- a point many overlooked. (An MSNBC friend agreed to read over this. He informed us that Robert Arend, at OpEdNews, grasped the point of Rachel's little speech.)

We overlook Rachel because her mugging, mincing and other crap is so damn annoying. Watching her preen and pose makes us sick to our stomachs. Seeing her speak out of the right side of her mouth screams, "Send her back to radio!" But Friday, Bob Somerby was continuing his dissection of the Jon Stewart Gently Chides Rachel Maddow exchange and he included the following:

STEWART (11/11/10): I don’t take any satisfaction in just being a critic. Roger Ebert doesn’t make movies. So to say, like, "Well, Roger, you’re in the game." No, he’s not. He`s not making movies. He’s sitting in the seat going, "This movie sucks!" That’s me.

And by the way, very proud to do it. There is no honor in what I do, but I do it as honorably as I can.

MADDOW: In politics, in covering politics, we don’t get involved. I don’t get involved and tell people what to vote for, who to vote for.


MADDOW: I don’t tell people, you know, "Call your congressman. We need to do this thing." I don’t do anything like that.


MADDOW: And so for me, I’m not on the field either.

Now there's a lot of work Bob Somerby is doing with regards to Maddow and you can't grab everything. We understand that. But the above contains one of the biggest lies Maddow may ever tell and it zipped right past Somerby.

"In politics, in covering politics, we don't get involved," insisted Maddow. "I don't get involved and tell people what to vote for, who to vote for. [. . .] I don't tell people, you know, 'Call your congressman. We need to do this thing.' I don't do anything like that."


That would be a huge change from her AAR persona. A simple Google search demonstrated that no such transformation has taken place.

The very first result was Crooks & Liars posting video from The Rachel Maddow Show September 11, 2010. In the video, Rachel puts words into Barack Obama's mouth ("he saying") to declare, "Here's the difference between us and them . . ." Yes, the tribal wars never end on MSNBC.

"Your finanical health really does depend on who's in charge," she insists displaying a graph that she obviously doesn't grasp. Is this 'reporting' or voter action?

maddow graph

It was clearly a get-out-the-vote segment, it's entire point being that if you vote Democrat, you will be better off.

No, you won't be. Not by that graph. Though Ezra and Rachel had time to whore as well as josh ("You always dress up as a pie chart! I know your kind, Ezra!"), they didn't have time to address reality. A news program (yes, Maddow pretends she hosts a news program) deals in reality. "Under Republicans," declared Rachel, "if you're rich you did pretty great." Especially, she insisted, when compared to other income groups. A 1.9% increase is not great. For that matter, neither is a 2.1% increase.

In the graph, blue equals Democratic presidencies, red Republican ones. The income growth is measured. To accept this get-out-the-vote premise masquerading as an honest discussion, you have to (a) pretend that presidents and only presidents impact the national economy and (b) focus on income growth only.

Are you better off, economically, under Republicans or Democrats? We'd guess most people were better off under Democrats but that's a guess based on many factors including that we're Democrats. The chart from Maddow's show demonstrates nothing other than stupidity.

We were saying 1.9% growth in income is nothing big and it's not. Especially not if prices around you are going up. Yeah, that thing called inflation.


That chart is inflation rates and the red represents a negative number and the blue a positive number (an increase in inflation). There's no effort made with the chart to argue partisan politics, it's merely tracking the rate of inflation. Just eye-balling, for example, the 90s, you see that inflation goes up and you can guess that 3% is the minimum average increase for the decade. The highest income growth rate under Democratic presidencies is 2.6%. In a decade that averaged a 3% increase in inflation, by the Maddow chart, it was still running a negative in terms of income growth.

'Wait a second,' you may be thinking, 'Maddow's chart was an average increase in averages not charted by decade but by which of the two major political parties occupied the White House.'

True. And that's our point. You learn nothing from Maddow's presenation. It's pure You-Must-Vote-Democrat propagnada. A true discussion of income growth would break it down in terms of what the income growth was in this decade or that and what the rate of inflation was. If, that is, our interest was in learning about the economy.

If, however, our interest was in advancing simplistic talking points, by all means provide a simplistic graph that pretends to explore the domestic economy by focusing on only one measure and breaking it up into which party controlled the White House. By all means, look at the meager numbers (where 2.6% increase in economic growth was something to crow over) and pretend that the chart demonstrates that either party served any income group.

A real discussion might have asked why 2.6% (for one income group only) was something to be thrilled about? A real discussion might have questioned the bar appearing throughout the echo chamber revival which read: "INCOME GROWTH GRAPH SHOWS VAST MAJORITY DO BETTER UNDER DEM LEADERSHIP." A real discussion might have explored why meager increases are being hailed as anything incredible.

Laughing, Ezra declared of the income equality, "You see this in countries that are usually not America but right now we're seeing it here." We're so very glad he finds it amusing. We'll assume it's much easier for him to be amused in his income-bracket than it is for those further down the graph. If we're seeing vast inequality currently (we'd agree we are), Ezra, who occupies the White House right now, a Democrat or a Republican? He's basically half-way through his elected term. What does that say about your simplistic 'economic' 'theories'?

Rachel stands on the sidelines, like a journalist, she insists. "Vote. It Makes All The Difference" was posted to The Maddow Blog, it's her discussion with Eugene Robinson of how Democrats will hold the House if registered voters vote. That's standing on the sidelines?

Rachel Maddow is so full of s**t that is oozes out of her heavily caked over pores and threatens to stream down her forehead and knock those false eye lashes off. Just watching her fills the room with the smell of bed pans and porta-potties. And when her manner's not running off viewers, her words are as she repeatedly ridicules America. Does she think she's funny? Seriously?

Here's some serious reality for her which friends at MSNBC grudginly now agree with: She's at her height. Rachel Maddow is not an unknown quality. She's had plenty of press, plenty of promotion. That her show still struggles for ratings, that it still can't be considered a cable hit unless you narrow "cable" down to just MSNBC, is not a case of people not knowing she's out there. She's a known. What you're seeing in each ratings cycle is viewers rejecting her.

Graphs added November 22nd, thank you to Tori for e-mailing to note they were mentioned but not inclued.


Jim: This will be a political and Iraq roundtable and, time permitting, we may work in some e-mail topics. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, 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. Ty and Jess are with their families this weekend. They'll be back next weekend.


Jim (Con't): Let's start with the SOFA. As I wrote in last week's "A note to our readers," about "Editorial: Robert Gates speaks," "We hope to roundtable the SOFA next week, FYI." So let's start there. The SOFA is the Status Of Forces Agreement which is a treaty that bypassed the Senate despite Constitutional requirements. The Bush White House pushed it. It was voted on by the Iraqi Parliament November 27, 2008. The SOFA dictated that the US leave at the end of 2011 -- didn't it? No, it didn't. If you've been reading us for long, you know that. You also know that C.I. staked this terrain out while everyone wanted to pretend. Mike, how about I start with you?

Mike: Sure. Okay, the Status Of Forces is a three-year agreement on US troops being on the ground in Iraq. The SOFA replaced the UN mandate. The UN mandate signed off on in December 2006, for example, allowed the US military to be on the ground in Iraq for one year. And when it was close to expiring, December 2007, a new one-year agreement was pushed through again. So the SOFA does not end a war. It only serves to allow the US troops to be on the ground for three years. It can be the end of it. At the end of 2011, that can be it and all US troops can leave. As C.I.'s repeatedly pointed out, that is a possibility. But it's a contract. It can expire, it can be renewed or it can be replaced.

Jim: Marcia, you were sharing a story with me last week. Would you like to share it here?

Marcia: Sure. And it wasn't unique to me. But when the SOFA passed, I was already blogging. I believe we all were except for Isaiah, Ann and Stan. And when C.I. was explaining the realities of the SOFA, I would get an occasional e-mail insisting C.I. was wrong and sometimes stronger. But six months after, when C.I. was getting really ticked about the lying on the SOFA and the attacks on her for telling the truth, she began hitting on the SOFA regularly in the snapshots -- which we all repost at our sites to keep Iraq on the radar -- and I ended up with sixty e-mails one day, most identifying as being from a certain 'peace' group. There were angry, hostile e-mails. They were attack e-mails. I read about five -- they all came in one day -- and stopped reading that day because I didn't need the attacks. But that wasn't particular to me. Anyone who was blogging at that time got those same kind of e-mails.

Cedric: They were just really, really angry, attacking e-mails. For Wally and I, we include a portion of the snapshot in our joint-posts, it just made us determined that anytime C.I. wrote about the SOFA, we were going to include it because we don't back down in the face of threats or bullying.

Rebecca: Can I jump in? I don't know how much I'll be able to offer on this topic. But one thing I can offer, for those late to the party, is why we're discussing this. Earlier this year, [US Vice President] Joe Biden noted that the US military might stay longer in Iraq, in October, a US State Department spokesperson [Philip J. Crowley] publicly declared the same thing and then this month [US Secretary of Defense] Robert Gates also stated that could happen. Point, if the SOFA meant that US forces had to leave by the end of 2011 -- as so many interprteted and insisted it did -- then all these people wouldn't be floating these remarks. You had a ton of lefty voices, a ton of leaders, telling you what the SOFA meant and how it was the end of the illegal war. You had all of them on one side. On the other, you only had C.I. C.I. was obviously right and yet where are the apologies? After all the attacks, where are the apologies?

Dona: I agree 100%. Some of the nasties e-mails to this site have been over the interpretation, C.I.'s interpretation, of the SOFA. Where are the apologies? I mean, where the hell is Raed Jarrar? Little Jar-Jar Blinks can scream and hiss but now that it turns out he was wrong -- as I explained to him some time ago -- where's his apology?

Rebecca: They were all experts -- except they weren't. I think C.I. said it best in 2009 when, tackling this subject again, she wrote something to the effect of 'When you've broken a multi-million dollar contract with a corporation and walked away without liability, come talk to me about contracts. Until then, sit your ass down and listen.' They really should have. They really, really should have.

Elaine: I have a few points that I'd like to make. First, Jim and Mike both noted that the SOFA could be followed with nothing replacing it -- that's something C.I.'s stressed as well. We're not psychics, we can't see the future. The press has repeatedly stated that the war ends in 2011 because of the SOFA. And C.I.'s rightly noted that they need to watch that wording. But the point we're making here is that the White House would not be making the statements it's making if the SOFA meant the war had to end. It might. It might not. That's what C.I. warned everyone about. Jim, I'm probably go long, cut me off if you need to. There are two main points I want to make here. The first is, C.I. and the rest of us explained that you can't break up the peace movement before the troops come home. Leslie Cagan must have been on a crack pipe or something. For about five years now, I'd guess. Cagan damn well knew during Vietnam that claims of an end of war were not an end of war. But she and the pathetic UPFJ distracted America, turned a peace movement into a get-out-the-vote effort for the Democratic Party and then, having helped elect Barack, declared "victory" and went home. This is exactly why C.I. was raising the SOFA issue repeatedly. Jim, is it okay for me to continue?

Jim: Take all the time you need. I know you're not planning to speak when we drop back to the mid-term elections.

Elaine: Thank you. Second point, C.I. was one voice, she was a lonely voice, telling the truth. Where was Howard Zinn? He wasn't dead yet? Where was the US Socialist Worker, The Nation magazine, The Progressive, ISR, etc? They all remained silent and they all whored. Now, in 2010, we can look back at February and March 2003 and marvel that any Americans would support the illegal war that the country was so obviously lied into. But, key point, people don't want to believe that they're lied to. The person who stands up and tells the truth is often unpopular. Sometimes for a brief period, sometimes for a long time. But truth telling doesn't mean popularity. Part of the silence was a result of that reality. Equally true, a lot of Americans who believed the lie about the SOFA. This wasn't because they were stupid or bad people. It did have to do with the fact that a lot of us want to believe what we are told. It is human nature. It also has to do with the fact that while the lies were being told all over, the truth was being told in small corners. But going along with whatever is always easier than taking a stand and we saw just how easy the alleged 'peace' types were to go along with the popular narrative, with Bush and Barack's spin, as opposed to taking a stand.

Jim: Thanks, Elaine. Those are some important points. C.I., you have covered this for two years solid this month, what the SOFA does do and doesn't do. I know you don't want to get into this topic too deeply, but can you share something here?

C.I.: Sure. First, as you, Mike and Elaine have noted, the SOFA can be followed to the letter and not replaced with anything. That is a possibility. To share, I did get hate mail as well for the coverage. It was interesting how many 'names' felt comfortable attacking me in e-mails. I also know there were e-mails from people who didn't get it at first or in whatever they read I had left out a key point so they were confused when they first encountered the realities of a contract. So I'd get that feedback and the next time we'd tackle it a little better. Whether in e-mails or at speaking engagments, if you can provide the walk through, people will understnad what you're talking about. They may or may not agree, but they will understand. It's also much easier to make this argument today. Whoever may not like it but when Gates, Joe and the State Department are publicly talking about the US military staying in Iraq past 2011, they look rather silly screaming at me that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Jim: If I can, an e-mail. Pamela e-mailed asking, of you C.I., "Are you glad you were right?"

C.I.: No. I'd be glad if the war was over. I'd be glad to have my own life back. I'd be glad not to have to spend another day tlaking about Iraq or hearing about Iraqi gay men and men suspected of being gay being tortured or Christians being murdered in Iraq. I'd be glad of any number of things. Glad that I was right? Is that question supposed to mean I'm saying, "Yea! History backed me up!" I always knew I was right. I know contract law. This wasn't a prediction on my part. This was reading over the contract and grasping what it actually said. I'm appalled that so many who should have known refused to take a stand. In the Bush years, we marched and rallied with "Out of Iraq now!" Not a year from now, not two. And look at all the time wasted under Barack Obama. Our chants today would have to be "Out of Iraq sometime . . . if you want it, Mr. President . . . if not . . . well okay."

Jim: Ava, Wally and Kat are on the road with C.I. every week speaking out against the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War as well. What's your sense on the SOFA and where people stand?

Wally: I'll start. Back in 2009, at the start of it, I would usually grab the SOFA. That's because people just didn't want to hear about it. You had Hopium addicts. They didn't want to know anything but Barack pisses rainbows and solid gold comes out of his ass. Now it didn't bother C.I. if groups were hostile to what she was talking about and she'd make her points and do so very well. But, as I saw this, I thought, "Okay, this is something we need to double up on." So I'd use my time on that as well. By August of 2009, that really wasn't needed. And I think a lot of that has to do with people beginning to realize the huge gulf between the press hype of Barack Obama and the reality of Barack Obama. Kat and I used to joke, in early 2009, that we felt like the town crier or Paul Revere or something.

Kat: There were times in early 2009 when I'd call Elaine and ask, "How did C.I. do this?" She started speaking out against the war in February 2003. Bush was still hugely popular, beyond popular. The same sort of zeal that existed towards Barack in 2009? Bush had that sort of following back then. It was over three years later when I started joining her and the mood in the country had shifted. So at the start of 2009, I was just thinking, "Oh, this is going to be very interesting." And I'd call Elaine about it and ask her for advice and reassurance. And she's say it will turn, the sentiment will turn, and she'd talk about how important this work was and how we needed a space on the left to criticize Barack from. So that kept me going. But if I had any real guts, I would've followed Wally's lead and used my speaking time back then on the SOFA as well.

Ava: Kat had plenty of guts. There were times, in 2009, when it felt like various groups were going to turn on us -- and I mean beyond booing. It wasn't easy to talk about the wars when the whole country appeared to have enlisted in the Cult of St. Barack. But we weren't the only ones, that's a point that needs to be made. Until recently, Aimee Allison worked for KPFA. And she wasn't silent. She stepped forward with praise for Barack's use of drones in Pakistan. That's really important to remember. How quickly so called lefties, so called antiwar types, started marching with war instead of opposing it. CODEPINK did how many mailings in 2009 which would congratulate Barack on ending the Iraq War and call for him to rethink the Afghanistan War? I can write a book, I remember all the whoring, on everyone who should have been standing up but instead were staying silent. And Elaine's point and C.I.'s and Kat's earlier? So true. So damn true. Where would be right now -- in terms of the wars -- if we hadn't spent nearly two years lying that the wars were ending? Really, where would be?

Wally: The Iraq War didn't end when Barack was sworn in. And all this time later, there is still no demand on Barack on this issue. It's disgusting.

Jim: It is disgusting. We're going to switch over to the political side, the mid-terms, now. And Ava and C.I. take notes for this transcript piece. I don't know how much Matt Taibbi will be discussed in this but during that discussion, C.I.'s not speaking at all. As with child actors, she doesn't weigh in on Taibbi.

Ann: Actually, Jim, I want to stay on Iraq a bit. We haven't done anything here on Iraqi Christians. At our own sites, Mike, Ruth, Betty and I have covered it -- I'm sorry if I forgot anyone -- and certainly C.I.'s done all the heavy lifting daily. At my church it is an issue we're following, I'm sure that's true of other churches in the US as well.

Jim: That's fine. Let's do this topic then. C.I., can you give us an overview?

C.I.: In Iraq, the question sometimes seems: Who isn't persecuted? Everyone's at risk for the most part unless they're an exile the US-installed or someone working for the exiles. Iraqi Christians have been targeted since the start of the illegal war. The latest wave started on October 31st when assailants attacked Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad and at least 70 people died with at least another seventy wounded. Iraqis covered in the press -- in the foreign press, little coverage on this comes from the domestic press -- would state in that immediate aftermath that they were thinking of moving to Mosul but a relative or friend warned them that it wasn't safe there. Mosul was the focus of a 2008 wave of assaults on Iraqi Christians and, since the siege of the Church in Baghdad, Mosul's again become a place where Iraqi Christians are targeted.

Jim: Ann, what's the biggest issue on this in your church?

Ann: Honestly, the lack of coverage. People are using the links C.I.'s been providing in the snapshots whether it's to the BBC, AFP, Vatican Radio or what have you -- Asia News is another big one in terms of coverage. Those are all foreign sources. In the US? It's really difficult to find this story in our mainstream press. NPR, for example, has done two stories on it. That's it? That's coverage? Do you realize how many times they bored with handicapping the mid-terms and all they can give us is two stories? It's embarrassing, it's shameful.

Betty: And it really says a lot more than people may realize. For example, this is a story Amy Goodman doesn't give a damn about judging by her own 'coverage' which has been AWOL. And then they wonder why they -- people on the left -- have trouble with people of faith? Seriously. When Iraqi Christians are targeted, it does register with American Christians. Not because we think, "Oh, those are Iraqi Christians! So they're important! Only them!" It registers because we have a common bond with them and can easily put ourselves in their shoes. We realize how fortunate we are to live in a country where we're not targeted for our religion. We start to notice all the silences on this subject and suddenly start recalling all the hand wrining for this Muslim issue or that Muslim issue. And we start to wonder does Beggar Media actually give a damn about the misfortunate who are targeted or do they just run with a spit-on-Christians message? I'm very serious here.

Stan: And I agree with you. And it's very telling how silent Barack's been on this issue. Supposedly he'd a Christian. Supposedly he's shocked that people don't believe that. But Mr. I Can't Stop Yammering About The Muslim World can't say a damn word about the persecution of Christians in Iraq?

Trina: Can't and won't. And what happened? You saw it if you paid attention. We had a little repeat of 2008 take place. When Barack can't do something, attack Hillary. And that's how we got the idiotic and stupid column last Sunday where Hillary was attacked -- and it was all over the internet -- for not speaking out. But Barack's the one who was and is silent. And it was an attack on Hillary to distract from the fact that Barack, who is president, can't speak to the issue and won't speak to the issue.

Isaiah: That's a good point. I hadn't seen it that way until Trina made it. I was thinking, "Oh, look, they're attacking Hillary to avoid calling out Barack." But I wasn't thinking, "Yeah, just like all the way through 2008." It's for those reasons that I wish she'd turned down Secretary of State. She often seems to exist in the administration to deflect criticism from Barack. But she did address the subject and I've yet to read any supposed lefty call out Barack's silence. It is a silence and it is offensive. A church was assaulted, people shot dead, bombs went off. If that had been a mosque, you know Barack would have called it out. But he can't muster a word about this? That's exactly why people doubt that he's a Christian.

Ruth: Who was it that said -- I think on NPR -- that they wished Barack would make a show of going to church? I cannot remember. But it was a supporter of his and they were saying this is an issue he could deal with so easily and they just cannot understand why he will not. It is a mystery. It is estimated that there are 8 Jews left in Baghdad or in Iraq depending upon what news outlet you are being informed by. How many more waves of attacks on Iraqi Christians before they dwindle in the numbers that Iraqi Jews have?

Cedric: And then there is the issue of what do you do? I think C.I. has called it correctly -- we've discussed this at length in our church, Ann and I -- which is, "This is their choice." If Iraqi Christians want to stay in Iraq, great for them. Let those of us not in Iraq raise our voices and get some global attention to this issue. But if Iraqi Christians want to leave, we need to be pressuring our governments to admit them. It is the decision of each Iraqi and they alone can make it.

Stan: And it is offensive -- and I'm glad C.I.'s called this out -- when an Iraqi who found asylum in the US starts insisting that Iraqi Christians have to stay in Iraq. If you're worried about Christians vanishing from Iraq and you are an Iraqi Christian in America, why don't you hop on a plane and go home? What the heck is that? Why would anyone leave Iraq due to the violence and then turn around and demand that other Iraqis stay and endure the violence? Talk about hypocrisy.

Marcia: I had not thought of it -- until Ruth just made her point -- in terms of the Iraqi Jews. The Jewish community was targeted in Baghdad. And they disappeared. That could easily be how it turns out for Iraqi Christians. And I find Barack Obama's continued silence both disgusting and disturbing. Last week, a six-year-old, little girl was killed with her father.

Mike: And remember George W. Bush and Tony Blair: Self-proclaimed Christians. Same with the men who replaced them and continued the wars: Barack and Gordon Brown. I don't know what David Cameron is -- England's new prime minister -- so I'll leave him out of it. But that's four people who started and continued the illegal war on Iraq and all claimed to be Christian and it is Iraq's Christian community that has been among the hardest hit by the Iraq War.

Jim: Ann and Cedric were talking about what a big issue it is in their church. Mike or Trina, is that the case, the same case, with you?

Mike: Not trying to be in a competition here but I think it may be a bigger issue in my Church just because our leader is the Pope and the Pope has spoken out against this wave of assaults, the various Catholic news sources have covered it widely and regularly. Again, I'm not trying to turn it into a competition, I am, however, noting the importance of the Pope and his statements to my religion.

Ann: And I think Mike's right. We're not Catholic -- Cedric and I -- and I do think the Catholic Church -- judging by C.I.'s snapshots -- has been on this issue from the start and has not faltered in calling it out. It's isn't a competition but Mike is absolutely correct that the Catholic faithful in the US are probably better informed on this issue than other faiths.

Jim: Okay we're closing on that note because we have run out of time. This is a rush transcript.

How Iraq is just like the US

Despite US government officials insisting that democracy has or is emerging in Iraq, it's not. But maybe neither country has democracy?

In March 2008, Iraq held elections. The political slate with the most votes? Left out in the cold while the runner up slate gets the prize of prime minister-delegate (Nouri al-Maliki, thirty days to form a cabinet and get it approved by Parliament or President Jalal Talabanai names another prime minister-designate.)

In the US?

First week of November saw the mid-term elections. The Democrats lost the House. You have to go back to FDR's era for a period when Dems lost so many seats in the House in one election.


Which, in a rational world, would mean Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would have announced she wants to spend more time with her family and family surgeon.

Instead, she ran for the post of Minority Leader and won. And issued a statement:

Pelosi Remarks at Press Availability Following Democratic Leadership Elections Today

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra held a news conference this afternoon following their elections to new leadership positions in the 112th Congress. Below are the Speaker’s opening remarks and the question and answer session:

Speaker Pelosi Opening Remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I wish all of America could have seen our Caucus today—and yesterday, as you mention, Mr. Chairman. To hear the commitment that they have for fighting for the middle class, for saving Social Security, for honoring our men and women in uniform and building a future worthy of their sacrifice for our great country.

“We are just going to speak briefly each of us. But I am proud to be part of this leadership team. Our consensus is that we go out there listening to the American people. It’s about jobs. It’s about reducing the deficit. And it’s about fighting for the middle class. So I look forward to doing that with this great leadership team.

“Let me make one special mention because we have a new position for Chris Van Hollen, who has been chosen to be the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee. The budget many expect to be a statement of our national values. I know that Chris Van Hollen will make that fight based on values, based on reducing the deficit, based on fighting for the middle class. So I want to congratulate him on his new position.”

* * *

Question and Answer Session:

Q: What do you say to Americans who may look at this and say, you know, it’s the same leadership now as it was before November 2nd. They thought they sent some message. What do you say to those voters?

Speaker Pelosi. The message we received from the American people was that they want a job — they want jobs. 9.5% unemployment is a very tough screen to get through with any other message. What we want to say to the American people is what Mr. Hoyer was saying, we want them to “Make It In America” — to manufacture in our country so that their families can make it in America.

This is an experienced, diverse leadership team that is very strong. It is a team that took us to victory in ’05 and ’06 and will take us to victory again. In the meantime, I would say to the American people: “We extend a hand of friendship to the Republicans; we look forward to hearing their ideas on job creation and deficit reduction.”

I hearken back to a President in my youth who inspired me, John F. Kennedy, who said, “We must not seek a Republican way or a Democratic way, we must find the right way” to go forward as we take our own responsibility for the future. Now I have the privilege of serving under another young inspiring President of the United States, and I want the American people to know that we all strive to work together wherever possible in a bipartisan way to create jobs and reduce the deficit.

And I’m very, very proud of our leadership team and proud of the role that Mr. Clyburn will serve as Assistant Leader. He’s an icon in our country in terms of working for the middle class and a new change, Mr. Van Hollen as the ranking Member on the Budget Committee. And I say then, how sad we are to lose Mr. Spratt, a very distinguished Member of Congress who always put forth a budget that was a statement of our national values, what’s important to our country was reflected there. That’s what I would say.

The release continues but where in the above 'answer' to the question does Pelosi answer the question?


What does she say to voters?

Loosely translated, she says, 'I give them a long response that ignores and overlooks the sentiments they expressed at the voting booths and by their decision not to visit the voting booths. I tell them my wants matter more than their needs.'

In Iraq and in the US, the voters wishes were ignored and spat on.

Afghan Withdrawal pushed back to at least 2014

From Workers World:

Pentagon postpones Afghanistan withdrawal to 2014

Published Nov 20, 2010 6:45 AM

In an affront to peace-loving people across the United States and around the world, Washington is walking away from a promise to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. According to the McClatchy Report, the White House has decided to postpone the withdrawal until 2014. (Nov. 9)

This announcement came a week before a major NATO meeting in Lisbon to consider how to turn over military operations to the Afghanistan military. It provided one more reason for what are expected to be massive protests in Lisbon on Nov. 20.

The New York Times on Nov. 11 described the new policy as “effectively a victory for the military” in choosing the strategy. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, had openly criticized the 2011 date before the Obama administration could even announce they were rethinking their withdrawal policy. The administration still denies that there has been any change in policy, even though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come out publicly supporting the new date.

These events make up another gross violation of the principle of civilian control of the military. But this is no surprise. In the U.S. the Pentagon has effectively called the shots on questions of war and peace in every administration since World War II.

Every president from both political parties has found it necessary to publicly defer to “the commanders on the ground” before undertaking even the smallest change in military policy. Even the famous firing of Gen. Douglas McArthur by President Harry Truman during the 1950-1953 U.S. war on Korea was only done after Truman had secured the support of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This latest incident is all the more egregious because the earlier date of withdrawal was part of an agreement between President Barack Obama and his generals. During a period of declining popular support for the war, Obama agreed to increase U.S. troop levels by 30,000 and backed increased offensive actions by the military in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was openly admitted that this would cause increased casualties for both NATO troops and Afghan civilians.

This “surge,” the generals told Obama, would beat down the Afghan resistance enough so that military operations could be turned over to the puppet Afghan government beginning in July 2011.

The cost of war

According to a CNN and Opinion Research Corporation poll released on Oct. 15, support for the war in Afghanistan has never been lower, with only 37 percent of all U.S. residents favoring it, and 52 percent saying the war in Afghanistan has become a Vietnam-type war. Meanwhile, most of the NATO allies of the U.S. are busy with plans for withdrawing their own troops.

For all their so-called concern about big government spending, the right-wing politicos in Congress and elsewhere have had little to say about the war in Afghanistan during or since the recent midterm elections. Where they have spoken out has been to support the military.

Yet the projected cost of another three years of fighting in Afghanistan is staggering and rarely reported. Assuming the current pattern of American casualties and costs through 2012, followed by a 50 percent reduction in those figures in 2013-14, Pentagon data reveal the following:

• October 2001-November 2010: U.S. troops killed, 1378; U.S. troops wounded, 9,256; direct taxpayer costs, $364 billion.

• 2011 projection: 450 more U.S. troops killed, bringing the cumulative total to 1,850; 5,000 more wounded, bringing the cumulative total to 14,800; another $113 billion in direct taxpayer costs, bringing the cumulative total to $503 billion.

• 2012 projection: at present rates, the cumulative death toll will become 2,300; the cumulative wounded number will become 19,800; and the cumulative budget cost will become $616 billion.

• 2013-14 projections (assuming a 50 percent reduction): another 450 killed over two years, bringing the total to 2,750; another 5,000 wounded over two years, bringing the total to 24,800; another $113 billion over two years, bringing the total to $728 billion. (Tom Hayden, “Will the War in Afghanistan Ever End?”, Nov. 12)

In plainer terms, the projected U.S. casualties and costs in Afghanistan will double from present levels over the next three years. Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex clamors against health care and demands tax cuts for the rich.

According to the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, the war in Afghanistan is now more than twice as expensive as the one in Iraq. (Altman-Haass, “American profligacy and American Power,” p. 31)

Those numbers do not include Pakistan, Yemen or tens of billions of dollars in the growing U.S. intelligence budget. Nor do the tax-dollar figures include rising indirect costs such as veterans’ health care. Nor are the casualties of Afghan civilians known or estimated.

Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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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.

"The Iraq elections (talking entry)" -- most requested highlight, C.I.'s talking entry on the elections which beat out "I Hate The War" by 3 votes from readers of this site.

"E-mails in the Kitchen" -- Trina takes cooking questions.

"Fringe and Chuck," "Still on Desperate Housewives," "Still Desperate Housewives," "Desperate Housewives," "No Ordinary Family," "Medium," "Baby, You Knock Me Out" and "The Good Wife" -- Mike, Betty, Stan and Ruth cover TV while Ann covers radio

"Alberto Gonzales from the Land of Denial" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one on the then-departing Alberto.

"explaining maddow's 'popularity'," "The embarrassment is Kate Clinton" and "Text 2-2 to bring Joe Scarborough back" -- media criticism from Rebecca, Elaine and Ruth.

"Cher" and "'Cher" alike -- Kat covers Cher whose latest film opens Thanksgiving Day.

"Loretta Ross, one of many smart Black women" -- Marcia begins a new regular feature.

"The Walker" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Iraqi Christians" -- Mike covers the targeting of Iraqi Christians.

"How did I end up at Hooters?" -- Marcia goes out to eat.

"Unemployment and unemployment benefits" -- Trina covers the economy.

"YouTube" - - Elaine answers an e-mail.

"More media time for the 'fun' couple" & "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O CAN'T STOP EXPOSING HIMSELF!" -- Cedric and Barack serve up the ugly truth.

"Christmas" -- Betty writes about the upcoming herculian task for the holiday.

"He knows just how to fix it" & "THIS JUST IN! HE'S GOT A NEW BOOK!" -- another way to avoid the job he was elected to.

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