Sunday, December 25, 2011

Truest statement of the week

The White House followed a hands-off policy on Iraqi politics, allowing Maliki to slip back into sectarianism and the eager embrace of Iran's ayatollahs.
When Maliki cracked down on Sunni candidates before March 2010 elections, a visiting Vice President Joe Biden gave him a pass. When a Sunni coalition called Iraqiya edged out Maliki's party and he used Iraq's politicized courts to nullify some Sunni seats, U.S. officials didn't push back.
When Maliki failed to honor a power-sharing deal the United States had brokered between his party and Iraqiya, we failed to press him.

-- Philadelphia Inquirer's Trudy Rubin, "A bipartisan effort doomed U.S. venture in Iraq" (San Jose Mercury News).

Truest statement of the week II

What has been happening in Iraq in the last 24 hours cannot be seen in isolation. For the past 12 months, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to appoint a permanent minister of defense. That was supposed to be one of the portfolios that went to the Iraqiya coalition. They have nominated six people for that position. Each one of them has been rejected. He has appointed a member of his own coalition, the prime minister's own coalition, as acting minister of defense. He is acting as minister of the interior. And one of his cronies is acting minister of state for national security. He has cashiered career officers and appointed cronies to senior officer positions in the armed and security forces in Iraq. In other words, the prime minister has under his control as we speak all the instrumentalities of state security in Iraq. I'll remind your viewers that, in the early 1970s, this is precisely how Saddam Hussein came to power at the time. What we -- I think Iraqis, with our history, we have to be overly cautious when we see similar actions occur as have occurred in our relatively recent past. Strength in the new Iraq must be through constitutional democracy, and not through harassment and intimidation.

-- former Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi, "Does Maliki Want to Become Unchallenged Ruler of Iraq?" (PBS NewsHour; text, audio and video).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Trudy Rubin earns it this week.
And a name you may recongize from last week's truests.

Iraq's got a political crisis but you won't hear that on ABC, CBS or NBC's network news . . .
as Ava and C.I. explain here.
NORAD gets a happy smiley makeover each year at this time.

We roundtable Iraq and other topics.

2011 had a lot of idiots but one really stood out.
A press release from Senator Patty Murray's office.

A repost from Workers World.

Mike and the gang worked on this and we thank them for it.

That's what we managed and managed as quickly as possible. If you're celebrating today, Merry Christmas.


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

Editorial: Iraq's political crisis

Iraq is in the midst of a political crisis and that's only a surprise if you haven't been paying attention.

As Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attempts to get Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrested and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his office, his attacks on his political opponents is a repeat of 2010.

I see Ba'athists

Then he used the Justice and Accountability Commission (whose term had already expired and shouldn't have even existed) to keep political opponents from running by declaring them "Ba'athists." Nouri created his own political slate State of Law partly due to the ongoing problems he has with his political party Dawa. State of Law came in second in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, Iraqiya came in first. While State of Law was a chance for Iraqis to continue the sectarian divide in the country, Iraqiya was a mixed slate. Offered the chance to go with more of the same or to go with a unified Iraq, Iraqi voters went with the latter allowing Iraqiya to come in first -- even after Nouri huffed and puffed and got some of the votes changed after the election.

What should have happened next is clearly outlined in Iraq's Constitution. Ayad Allawi heads Iraqiya. He should have been named prime minister-designate and given 30 days to put together a government. But Nouri didn't want to give up the post of prime minister.

For eight months, the country was deadlocked, in a political stalemate, The White House could have done something. Sadly, they did. They backed Nouri.

They ignored the will of the Iraqi people and then trampled on the Iraqi Constitution.

With the White House behind him, with the full force of the US government behind him, Nouri was able to bluster and bluff and bully. The man who the country didn't want as prime minister was allowed to continue as prime minister because Barack Obama backed him.

In November of 2010, he was named prime minister-designate after the US strong-armed political blocs into going along with it (a variety of promises were made, outlined in the Erbil Agreement which Nouri quickly trashed). He was then moved to prime minister despite his inability to name a full Cabinet.

Iraq, over a year later, still has no Minister of National Security, no Minister of Interior and no Minister of Defense.

Nouri refused to name those posts. Instead, he controls them. It was a power grab.

And the power grab has continued.

Fresh from face-time with Barack, Nouri returned to Iraq this month and began targeting political enemies.

The signs were always there.

The US has long known of Nouri's secret prisons and of the torture that takes place. Last February, reporters were kidnapped in Baghdad in broad daylight by Nouri's forces and then tortured. The US government chose to look the other way.

Nouri announced months ago his intent to fill the Justice and Accountability Commission with State of Law appointees.

That should have been alarming. That committee isn't supposed to exist. In 2007, Nouri pledged (part of the White House benchmarks) to work on reconciling the Iraqi factions and that included bringing Ba'athists back into the process. He never did that. He never kept his word.

He is a thug, a liar and a tyrant.

The Iraqi people stood up to him at the ballot box in 2010. Barack Obama overrode their wishes and inflicted Nouri on them for four more years.

Back in Feburary of this year, Nouri was worried about the so-called "Arab Spring." He was afraid he might be swept away. So he made a 'promise' that he would not run for a third term. All the press outlets repeated it as fact. A month ago, his attorney began telling the press that nothing prevents Nouri from seeking a third term.

The roots to today's political crisis run deep.


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists."

TV: News on the 'news'

Last week, US President Barack Obama swore out an arrest warrant for Vice President Joe Biden on charges of terrorism. Did you see it on TV?


Actually, it wasn't Barack and Joe, it was Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki swearing out the arrest warrant on Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism. A political crisis is taking place in Iraq with Iraqiya members al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Mutlaq (Deputy Prime Minister) and Rafie al-Issawi (Minister of Finance). In the 2010 elections, Iraqiya won more votes than did Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law. With US backing, Nouri was able to circumvent the will of the people (expressed at the ballot box), the Constitution and the rule of law to remain prime minister when, by law and will of the people, Ayad Allawi, head of Iraqiya, should have been given first crack at the position of prime minister.

So Nouri is targeting his political rivals and doing so with the commercial, broadcast networks ignoring it. All last week, they ignored it.

Some might argue that ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, had more pressing topics to address?

Not news topics.

And last week was about demonstrating just what garbage the network news had become. Timid, dull and dying.

These cheaply made broadcasts do little to inform but use a lot of B-roll.

Kim Jong-Il was revealed to have died last week, ruler of North Korea, and how the networks did obsess over stock footage they've had in the vaults forever. They obsessed over whether tears for the ruler were genuine. They obsessed over every detail. Because it's cheap and offers nothing of value. Empty calories.

They obsessed over why the US government didn't know Kim Jong-Il was dead until two days after when a statement was made. They didn't obsess once over why they themselves didn't know. We could really care less whether we learn of the death of a foreign leader on the day of or two days later. But if you are going to make that a 'hook' for your gossip broadcast, you might want to grasp that it is the news media that is supposed to provide "scoops," not the government.

But TV news rarely self-checks. Instead, it's B-roll, B-roll, camera set-up, camera set-up, pretend they did something.

Watching the broadcast news in 2011 was learning that it just gets worse with each year. Investigative journalism is largely dead (unless a network can pair up with Pro-Publica or some other partner to carry at least half the expenses). But so is reporting. Going out and finding an actual story rarely happens in the network news.

Instead, it's "Snow in DC! Get some footage!" So you shoot a personality in front of the snow telling viewers that it's snowing (wow!) and then, "Back to you, Scott - George - Brian." Or stand in front of the White House and quote on camera what Jay Carney said at the day's briefing or what Barack said or in front of the Pentagon with what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.

No one hunts down stories, they just read press releases on camera.

Katie Couric left the anchor chair at CBS mid-year. Apparently she took with her breaking news. Where she and others at CBS had been all over various VA scandals, her replacement (Scott Pelley) only cared about veterans in terms of happy-smiley faces.

In fact, the news -- or what passed for it -- got a lot lighter after Katie left CBS. Like his annoying Al Gore speaking manner, it was immediately apparent just how non-news Scott was. But as week after week demonstrated he was more interested in posing for the camera than delivering news, it became apparent that Pelley was completely unqualified for the post.

A lot of people point to Scott Pelley as a "success" -- especially a lot of people at CBS. The newscast is higher rated, they note, now than when Katie hosted.

Katie had solid ratings. That were damaged with one attack after another, over and over. And not just from rivals at other networks. Walter Cronkite's age made many avoid calling him out for his sexist remarks about Couric. Dan Rather also trashed her.

It was a never-ending onslaught. This despite the fact that she delivered the interview of 2008: the Sarah Palin interview. ABC didn't have it (though Charlie Gibson had done a mutli-episode interview with Palin) and NBC didn't have it.

When she did what an anchor was supposed to do, she still didn't credit.

When Scott Pelley faces one month of what Katie Couric endured for years, then we'll be impressed with him. Truth be told, he'd be crying back in Connecticut if he had to put up with that for even two weeks.

Instead, Pelley's gotten a soft and easy ride. And despite that, the CBS Evening News remains in their place. And this despite the fact that CBS continues to dominate in the prime time line up. By contrast, NBC is practically standing on the street corners begging for viewers but Brian Williams manages to dominate the ratings with Diane Sawyer on his heels. Distant third is Scott Pelley.

This month brought the news that Christiane Amanpour would be bounced as host of ABC's This Week. The Sunday chat & chew was no longer competative and in third place. For that, it was time for the only woman hosting a network chat & chew to take her leave.

But Scott Pelley's failure to move the CBS Evening News out of third place is no reason to be concerned?

A CBS News employee explained to us that Pelley was interested in proving himself his first weeks out of fear that the pile on Couric suffered from would also glom on him. Too bad it didn't happen. If it had, he might have continued to worry.

Instead, he went soft and soggy. And eager to give you not just the embarrassing two minutes of silly at the end of the broadcast that the networks had come to rely on but instead seven minutes of non-news that would tug at your heart strings.

Pelley doesn't know from news. He comes from a news magazine (60 Minutes II) mainly and local news. If he had to be anchor, he should have had the brains to know he wasn't suited for managing editor.

While CBS flounders, Brian Williams dominates for one reason only: He has a point of view. If Frank Capra made network news, it would be Nightly News. Williams is bound and determined to put the news into a prism of America. How does it effect you? At its best, it comes off folksy. At its worst, it comes off patronizing. Williams may well be the last great anchor in the sense of allowing a personality to dominate a newscast. And those who don't care for such domination probably explain the high ratings for ABC World News. When Diane anchors, whatever else her faults, the show does live up to the title.

When Diane's on vacation, the children come out to play. Such as human fur ball George Stephanopolous. Among the most jaw-dropping moments last week would have to be George on the economy Thursday. To watch that broadcast, was to be told the economy had recovered and things were wonderful and amazing. Yet, same night, on CBS, you were being told that middle class families were now depending on food banks in record numbers. Which was it?

As usual, with George, reality gets put on hold so he can advance the White House line now that a Democrat is president. And that bias is not an obsevation we're the first to make. It's long been known. But to see him acting as economic cheerleader when he was supposed to be anchoring a news broadcast Thursday was to see the debate on his bias settled once and for all. On Friday, a trained journalist (Josh Elliott) would replace George as anchor of World News, note the slashed prices many stores were offering and wonder,"Is it enough to lift the fragile economy?"

George, like too many in TV news, has no background in news. He wasn't educated in it and he didn't come up in the trenches of journalism. He was a flack for the Clinton White House and, though he would later fret about the toll that took on his skin, he still firmly believes that 'news' is what officials say. (Whether it's true or not is of no concern to George.)

Which makes him a perfect fit for today's network news. What US officials say was never examined this year with regards to the Libyan War. Instead, it was taken as gospel and the coverage ordered to match it. That's still the policy as evidenced Friday by CBS News' report on the 'Free Syria Army.' CBS News goes to talk to rebels . . . when the rebels are backed by the US government. When they're not, say in the Iraq War, CBS makes no effort to sound them out, travel with them, explore their hopes and dreams.

Steph is replacing Amanpour as the host of This Week and the reason for the show's ratings decline is supposedly due to Amanpour focusing on international issues. Possibly that little 'lesson' explains why Steph hosted World News last week, Monday through Thursday, and largely avoided anything outside of the US?

When he tackled Iraq on Thursday, it was due to a series of bombings in Baghdad that left over 200 injured and over 70 dead. In that report, viewers never learned about the political crisis. The same was true on Nightly News where Regular Guy Bri chewed the fat with Richard Engel. They avoided the political crisis as well. On CBS, Scott Pelley ditched any report or reporters and instead attempted to pose for the camera in his best Herb LaCrue fashion while reciting a few factoids about the bombing.

And all three ended the year with the same message they started 2011 with: We are the foot soldiers of the White House, we go where we are told and say what we are told.

That's how you get them pimping "payroll tax cut" without ever exploring what it means for Social Security, that's how you get silence on Iraq's political crisis when all the White House wants is Happy Talk. TV news on the three commercial, broadcast networks is non-existent. It's 21 minutes featuring 7 feel-good minutes, a lot of chatter and camera set ups and the reciting of government talking points. It's just not news.

Santa shot down by a predator drone?


The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) gets a smiley, friendly face once a year on Christmas Eve as it 'tracks' Santa.


It's feel-good silliness that translates as good publicity for the militarization of the United States (and for a system that completely failed the country on 9-11).

Maybe next year they can track Santa with predator drones to help put smiley faces on those instruments of destruction?

Maybe children can even be encouraged to take turns attempting to blow Santa out of the sky with predator drones?

It's all about conditioning them to believe that this is normal and allowing for the further militarization of the country.


C.I.: Roundtable time and Ava pointed out she moderated last time, so I'm grabbing the duties. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess and Ava; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; 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, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and me, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


C.I.: We will, no doubt, be talking about Iraq. But Ty's got an e-mail to start things off with. Ty?

Ty: Angela e-mailed asking what we could expect from the sites -- including this one -- next week? She meant in terms of year-in-reviews.

Ann: Stan and I are doing our third best of DVDs. We've already got our screen snaps and our top ten. We just have to write the piece.

Stan: Right. And I gave a heads up at my site at least 3 times in the last 2 weeks telling people to leave movie suggestions in the comments or to e-mail me. I noted that it expired today. It took Ann and I longer to do the screen snaps this morning than it did to make our top ten list. That list will appear at both of our sites. When? We're not sure. Maybe Tuesday night, maybe Wednesday. We're usually part of the early roll out ahead of the other things.

Ty: Which includes Ruth's look at radio.

Ruth: Yes, I will be doing my year-in-radio again. This will be the sixth or seventh time. C.I. will do her year-in-review which will be the eighth one, she'll be focusing on the year and media and a hundred things. Martha and Shirley will be doing the year in books and their top ten is based on the votes of the community. Since Stan noted the voting was closed on his, I'll note Martha and Shirley's voting is closed as well. Kat?

Kat: I'll be doing my eighth year in music. Can't believe it's been that long. And thank you, Ruth, for saying it was C.I.'s 8th year-in-review or I wouldn't have known how many I had done. So I'll be looking back at the year in music. I'll give a sneak peak here: The toughest thing is that you have three albums all worthy of first place. I haven't written anything but I have made my list.

Ty: We've got a year in piece we may run this week, it's more a consumer product. In addition, a number of us are lobbying Ava and C.I. to do a year-end on TV piece this week.

Ava: Which we hadn't planned on and haven't agreed to at present. We'll need to think about it.

Jess: And we're considering doing something on downloads here but that may or may not come to be.

C.I.: Okay, let's talk Iraq and let's start with Betty picking up from Mike's "Nikita and idiot of the week" on Friday.

Betty: Iraq was major news last week with a massive series of bombings on Thursday and a week long of ongoing political crisis. The coverage from broadcast television has been awful -- see C.I.'s "ABC, CBS and NBC placed on academic probation" and "How do you spell 'lie'? ABC, CBS and NBC" and Rebecca's "smelly scott pelley and the sucky cbs evening news" -- and we were talking on Sunday, during last week's writing edition, about how to draw attention to Iraq. A lot of people -- like Marcia -- decided the thing to do was to focus on Iraq in their own writing. For Kat and myself, we had something different. We'd begun covering Charmed the week before. And had both gotten a ton of e-mails from other Charmed fans. So it made sense, since we all carry the Iraq snapshot in our posts each day, to keep writing about Charmed. Rebecca had long ago pointed out how this could amplify reach.

Rebecca: Right. One day I awoke to all these e-mails about Iraq from people who stated they had no idea whatever was happening then was happening in Iraq -- this was a few years back. I had written about the TV show Dynasty and, of course, copied and pasted the Iraq snapshot below it. Dynasty attracted new eye balls and they read on after my words on the TV show and found news on Iraq. We were all working hard to try to get attention to Iraq. The same is true of Wally and Cedric.

Cedric: We varied our humor stylings a great deal last week. We did that to try to be sure people were coming by that didn't usually. So we did a song parody here or a title variation there. Just tweeks and differences that Wally and I hoped would do well.

Wally: And that included varying our post time. We did some at night, we did some at morning and we made a point to do one Friday evening -- and we never post in the evening. We were just trying to amplify the news of Iraq.

C.I.: Trina and Stan have both written that they doubt Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi can get a fair trial. Stan, explain what he'd be tried on.

Stan: al-Hashemi is one of Iraq's two vice presidents currently. They had three at the start of the year but one resigned a few months back. Taqi al-Hashemi's first term as vice president was in 2006 and he was picked for a second term in the winter of 2010. He is Sunni and a member of the Iraqiya political slate, headed by Ayad Allawi, which came in first in the 2010 elections. Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister and heads State of Law which came in second. Nouri has a long history of targeting Sunnis since he came to power in 2006 and that includes his illegal use of the Justice and Accountability Commission in early 2010 to try to eliminate political rivals. After being chummy in DC with Barack Obama, the week prior, Nouri returned to Iraq and promptly declared that Tareq al-Hashemi was a terroist supporting terrorism and death squads.

Ann: And he's one of three. Tareq al-Hashemi is one three members of Iraqiya that Nouri is currently targeting. There's also Saleh al-Mutlaq who is Deputy Prime Minister and Nouri's trying to strip him of that title and immunity -- for calling Nouri a dictator. Oh, that's proving you're not a dictator and that power's not gone to your head, right? I mean does Nouri realize how stupid he looks with that over-reaction? In addition, there's the Minister of Finance and I'm forgetting his name.

Ava: Rafie al-Issawi.

Ann: Thank you. He's also reportedly going to be charged with terrorism. Again, he's part of Iraqiya.

Kat: Last Sunday, all three were on a plane intending to go to the KRG. Nouri's forces forced them and their bodyguards off the plane. 3 of Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards were then arrested. It was when the international media suddenly snapped awake to the fact that what had been taking place since the Friday before was very serious. al-Hashemi is currently in the KRG and, thus far, they've refused to hand him over to Baghdad despite Nouri's threats.

Betty: C.I., can the KRG continue to protect al-Hashemi and what's the status on al-Mutlaq?

C.I.: The Parliament has stated that Nouri is incorrect in his assertion that the law is on his side, they've stated the law is unclear. That's only a temporary time saver. If the law is unclear, it's left to the judiciary to resolve the issue and the Iraqi judiciary has long been seen as a rubber stamp for Nouri. So right now, Tareq al-Hashemi can remain in the KRG but what happens if the judiciary rules? I have no idea. Now the Iraqi judiciary could rule and, this could be a turmp card, the KRG could respond, "Okay, well that's what it says about Baghdad, but we're the KRG and we have our own courts so we'll take the issue to our courts." That could further delay it. The KRG courts might determine the law -- they'll have to go by intent if they're using Iraqi law but I don't know why the KRG would not use their own law, I think they would and give it greater emphasis -- said Tareq al-Hashemi had to be handed over. In which case, the KRG officials might hand Tareq al-Hashmi over. But what if the KRG courts, citing KRG law, stated the KRG cannot hand him over? Then you'd have a conflict and how that gets resolved would be something the whole world would watch. Saleh al-Mutlaq is a much shorter answer. Nouri wants him stripped of his title and immunity. This goes to Nouri wanting al-Mutlaq arrested. When similar remarks were made by an MP last fall, Nouri tried to have him arrested but MPs have immunity. Nouri was forced to back down. What will happen next will be determined by the Parliament. Nouri asked them to strip him of his title and immunity two Saturdays ago. Last week, Parliament told him they were doing nothing at present and would review the matter in the new year.

Ruth: I really appreciated, in the snapshot, when you provided the walk through on that earlier MP issue because I did not see that in the press coverage of Nouri al-Maliki's attacks on Saleh al-Mutlaq.

C.I.: Last September, Nouri was going after Sabah al-Saadi for similar statements. Later, Ayad Allawi would make similar statements but Nouri was smart enough just to whine there. He knew there would be no international support for his targeting Allawi.

Ruth: And it is really amazing to read a lot of bad coverage that is unaware of what took place. That seems to be a lot of what we are getting. But at the same time . . .

Rebecca: But at the same time there are so few covering Iraq that do you really pick on outlets, right?

Ruth: Right.

Isaiah: It just appalls me that people could turn on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams every day last week, they could even watch all three programs every day last week, and they'd never hear about the political crisis we're talking about right now. Talk about censorship.

Kat: And don't look for your 'independent' media to do any better. Democracy Now! ignored it except for a sentence in a headline that didn't even note Iraqiya.

Wally: What it boils down to is that when a Republican's in the White House, so-called 'independent' media works overtime to discredit the White House. When a Democrat's in the White House, they work overtime to look the other way. Corporate media? They follow whatever the White House says regardless of which party controls it.

Betty: What could have changed it, the whole dynamic, would have been outlets like FAIR agreeing to maintain consistent standards but they weren't interested in that. They wanted to whore like so many others. They threw their standards out the window to whore for Barack during the primaries and they had nothing left to hold on to. They destroyed themselves.

Cedric: And that goes to why Iraq had to be buried. Covering the Iraq War the last three years meant dealing with reality and they weren't going to do that. Even now, there is the lie that the US is gone. Really? Are we renting out our Baghdad embassy for dances? What are those 17000 Americans doing in Iraq? And the CIA? And Special Ops? But a lot of whores pleased a lot of ninnies who didn't want any bad news about Barack Obama. Barack is a War Criminal and anyone who can't cop to that is a disgusting whore. I loved, loved, Elaine's "F Ani DiFranco." I have no use for these faux peace types who want to glorify the War Criminal Barack and that includes Ani DiFranco.

Jess: She's a supreme disappointment. When she had a real following, she was independent. When she had a real following, she wasn't a little whore for the Democratic Party. That's all she is today and it's part of the reason that her music sucks so much. It's a shame she self-distributes because if she had to depend upon corporate labels her career would be over as it probably should be. Instead, she'll keep whoring, keep writing one song and 14 doodles to pad out another bad album. Somebody should tell her that her day passed.

Ava: I would agree with that. She has nothing left to say and she's ridiculous trying to pass herself off as a protest singer of new protests songs as she hops on board the corporate bandwagon to re-elect Barack Obama. She's a joke, a pathetic and sad little joke. A woman who passed herself off as a lesbian when the media was fascinated with so-called "lipstick lesbians" -- so chic! -- and who married a man and had a baby. She's always been a fake. Madonna's a fake too but Madonna's always let you know she's in on the con and, wink-wink, you are too. Ani DiFranco's just a fraud.

Ann: It's really sad to hear that and agree with it. Like Ani, I supported Ralph Nader in 2000. Unlike Ani, I didn't whore myself out for Barack in 2008 and won't in 2012. You are your beliefs or you're nothing. Ani DiFranco is nothing to me.

Betty: It's people like her that allow wars. She'll be out, when a Republican's in the White House, protesting a war but forget her role in the roll out for the war under a Democratic president -- forget and ignore it. I'm so sick of people like that, I'm so sick of their desire to 'fit in' and their desire to whore.

C.I.: And on that note, we'll wrap up this roundtable. This is a rush transcript you're reading. Any links were inserted via Dallas and, as always, we thank him for his help. Again, our e-mail address is

Idiot of the Year

In his long life, he's shown great stupidity but surely even Tom Hayden grasps that he will never receive Time magazine's person of the year honor.

So he has to make do with the scraps that are thrown his way.

1 tom hayden

And we happily declare him 2011's Idiot of the Year.

This month, in The Los Angeles Times, he wrote the laughable "In Iraq, peace at last." While the paper was quickly forced to issue one correction ["A Dec. 16 Op-Ed on opposition to the Iraq war said President Obama was the first president to campaign on a promise to end an ongoing American war. Other presidents (e.g., Eisenhower and Nixon) campaigned on such promises."]; however, the larger correction has yet to be printed.

Not only did Baghdad see multiple bombings December 22nd (resulting in over 200 people being injured and over 70 being killed), the country's in a political crisis with the prime minister (Nouri al-Maliki) labeling the vice president (Tareq al-Hashemi) a terrorist and demanding that the deputy prime minister (Saleh al-Mutlaq) be stripped of his post.

In Iraq, peace at last?

Tom must start hitting the bottle a lot earlier these days than he used to.

He disgraced himself repeatedly in 2011 as he rushed to whore for Barack (see "TV: Tom Hayden's Animated Life"). But even he managed to find a new floor for shame as the year drew to a close. Tom Hayden is the Idiot of the Year.

Care for Newborn Children of Women Veterans

patty murray

Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Monday, December 19, 2011 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Murray Applauds VA Implementation of Care for Newborn Children of Women Veterans

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
issued regulations to cover the provision of care to newborn children of women veterans as required in the Caregivers and Veteran Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. This provision, authored by Chairman Murray in her Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009, would provide health services for newborns for up to seven days after the birth of the child if the mother delivered the child in a VA facility or in another facility pursuant to a VA contract for maternity services.

"This is great news for our women veterans who have earned the right to expect high-quality health care services that are tailored to meet their unique needs," said Chairman Murray. "As our remaining troops departed Iraq yesterday and thousands more prepare to leave Afghanistan in the coming months, the VA system must be equipped to help our women veterans step back into their lives as mothers, wives, and citizens. I applaud today's announcement and will continue my push for benefits and services that will help our nation's women veterans receive high quality care."


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



Get Updates from Senator Murray

They hate truth (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

They hate truth

Published Dec 23, 2011 8:26 PM

They — the Pentagon, the administration, the U.S. ruling class — fear and hate the truth. How else can you explain their passion for persecuting Pvt. Bradley Manning, who has already spent 570-plus days of his 24 years in military prisons, most of them isolated from any contact with his many friends and supporters, and most of that time in isolation that amounts to torture.

For six days in mid-December, Manning has been in an Article 32 hearing that will determine if he is to stand trial. He is accused of telling the truth, specifically of releasing the truth to the public. This particular truth includes the exposure of U.S. helicopters killing Iraqi civilians, reporters even, seen dramatically in a video made from a U.S. helicopter. This incident was one tiny part of the unspeakable war crimes the Bush administration, the Pentagon, indeed, the entire U.S. ruling class — what today we call the 1% — unleashed upon the Iraqi people.

During the hearing, Vietnam ­anti-war whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was expelled for getting too close to Manning, and Iraq anti-war ­ex-lieutenant Dan Choi was wrestled to the ground. That’s further proof the Pentagon hates those who bear the truth.

In this case the truth is that the Pentagon, which has imprisoned Manning and is trying to put him on trial, is the real criminal — the war criminal. With the full backing of the U.S. ruling class, it has waged wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya based on lies intended to deceive the people, lies that the massive imperialist propaganda machinery — as powerful and well-financed as the Pentagon itself — has spread, repeated and spread again.

The government has up to now proven nothing against Manning. It has essentially tortured this courageous private. If he really did what they accuse him of, then he is a 21st-century cyber-hero, who has dug out the truth and offered it to the world. Now we must make the best use of it.

Free Bradley Manning!

Put the generals on trial!


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"ABC, CBS and NBC placed on academic probation" and "How do you spell 'lie'? ABC, CBS and NBC" -- two most requested highlights by readers of this site, C.I. takes on the network news.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The War on Social Security" -- Isaiah's latest comic on Carney's girth and the destruction of Social Security.

Most TV is in re-runs so Betty and Kat went to a beloved series to relives it, Charmed. This week they focused on seasons four, five and six:

"grimm," "Allen Gregory" and "Nikita and idiot of the week" -- Rebecca, Elaine and Mike cover TV as well and Ann covers radio:

"Iraq and Hedy Lamar" -- Marcia on the political crisis in Iraq and the inventions of Hedy Lamar.

"F Ani DiFranco" -- Elaine calls it.

"Look who has to mow the yard again" -- why, Mike wonders, does Barack always farm out the tasks he was elected to do.

"Santa Cookies in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers 2 simple cookie recipes (while recommending that you buy cookie dough at the store and don't obsess over making it from scratch).

"the disgusting deal" -- Rebecca takes on the two dirty deals.

"War on Social Security" -- Ruth rightly wonders why this takes place with so little comment.

"10 Best Christmas Movies" -- Stan gives you ten picks for your best Christmas bets.

"So sings the cult" and "THIS JUST IN! SEASONAL TIDINGS!" -- Cedric and Wally serve up the network 'news' hymn.

"The kangaroo court" -- as Trina notes, there's no independent judiciary in Iraq.

"The birth" -- Ruth explains where it all went wrong.

"Wednesday" -- and Ruth forgets to title. This happened to Ruth and to Ann last week. Ann went back in the next day and titled her posts. But a number of e-mails asked so we'll respond here. Some people (Ruth, Ann, Trina and Elaine) are trying out a new Blogger interface. It makes titling and everything different. So they have to pay attention and remember to title. That's what was going on last week.

"The exiles get rewarded" -- Marcia notes who got what when Iraq got cut up.

"Nouri flips the White House the bird" -- Stan breaks down reality for Barack.

"Queen Nancy Pelosi" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this from 2008.

"Look at the little girl with her dog" and "THIS JUST IN! CALL HIM SAMANTHA!" -- sometimes a girl just wants to shop.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Truest statement of the week

The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010. The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done. Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name. I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing. What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers. We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.

-- Iraq's former Deputy Ambassador to the UN Feisal Istrabadi, discussing Iraq with host Warren Oleny on KCRW's To the Point last Tuesday.

Truest statement of the week II

They are dangerously exposed. And you have to remember, Brian, that the military command in Iraq did not want the US troops heading home. The commanding general asked for 27,000 troops to stay behind. The fact of the matter is, if the Iranians were to launch an attack against the consulate in Basra, you have to be willing to put your money on the Iraqi government. And if the Iraqi government doesn't do it, who else is going to do it? Well as you've heard there are a lot of American troops in that region and I would put my quota on saying, they're coming back and they'll be the ones to evacuate.

-- Ted Koppel, on Rock Center with Brian Williams.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another late Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

An important radio moment. We'd suggest you stream the entire discussion.
Ted Koppel was the media giant of last week.

Poor things, they've told so many lies, it's no longer easy for them to keep it straight.

Ava and C.I. did a great job here. You actually almost had them doing nothing but media pieces. We had some trouble during the writing edition and they wanted to go to sleep after hour 18. At which point they said that in addition to the two pieces they had planned, they could write another three if it meant we could call an end to the writing edition. We were tempted to take them up on it. (And some of you will wish we had.) Here they are working very hard to convey the press misinformation last week. That is a huge, huge undertaking and there is so much more they wanted to cover in this. As it is, the piece surveys coverage by: The NewsHour, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Morning Joe, Morning Edition, The Diane Rehm Show, Talk of the Nation, Rock Center with Brian Williams and Nightline. That's a lot of ground to cover.

Dallas helps us each week and we thank him. When Katrina survivors went to Texas, he was able, here, to offer updates on those that were in Dallas. This go round, he took photos of an Occupy Dallas protest last Friday.

Ava and C.I. planned a lighter piece as well. This is it. They had hoped to cover Allen Gregory sooner but weren't sure if they'd cover it at all after they learned Fox was ditching the show. (The last episode aired on Fox tonight. Check Hulu in 8 days to stream it.) should be leading not following. With regards to their Iraq War coverage, they're making a lot of mistakes just because they fail to do their own work.

And the sexism. The never-ending sexism at This is largely an Ava and C.I. piece. Remember when I talked about how we were having problems in the writing session? And how Ava and C.I. offered to do additional TV pieces just to finish and go to sleep? When we said no on that, they asked what the problem was, where was the hold up? The Antiwar piece the rest of us had been working on. "Here's the problem," they said. "This sentence doesn't belong" that's what ended up being the first sentence of this piece "give us 20 minutes and we'll rough something out with that sentence as an opener." And they did. The rest of us then added minor polish.

Senator Patty Murray calls for a new, full-time CBOC in Washington state.

Repost from Workers World.
Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.

That's what we came up with. See you next week. (Yes, Sunday is Christmas. Yes, we will be publishing.)


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

Editorial: They can't even keep their lies straight

The press has told so many lies about Iraq, it's no surprise that even they can't keep them straight.

For example, CBS News reported today (link is text and video), "After nearly nine years of war, the last U.S. combat troops have crossed the border into Kuwait." And here's the Sydney Morning Herald offering a mash-up of The New York Times' Jack Healy and The Washington Post's Liz Sly with "The last US combat troops left Iraq yesterday, crossing the border into Kuwait just as the country's political process threatened to unravel." Angela K. Brown (AP) insists today, "Several soldiers said they were happy upon hearing the news that the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq at daybreak Sunday." And on and on it went.

But, thing is, they'd already told that lie. In fact, they told it over a year ago.

Adam Gabbatt (Guardian) reported August 19, 2010, "The last American combat troops left Iraq today, seven-and-a-half years after the US-led invasion, and two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama's 31 August deadline for withdrawal from the country." Also August 19, 2010, Aamer Madhani (USA Today) reported, "Muthanna Abdul Ameer al-Kaabi said he awoke to learn that the last of U.S. combat troops had departed. As his family watched the TV coverage Thursday, he said it hardly seemed a momentous occasion." And August 18, 2010, Brian Stelter (New York Times) blogged:

"We are with the last combat troops" in Iraq, the NBC correspondent Richard Engel said at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the same time that the military lifted an embargo that had been placed on the reporters traveling with the 440 troops, a part of the 4/2 Stryker Brigade.
The Associated Press, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera and other news media outlets also reported Wednesday evening that the last combat troops were crossing into Kuwait.

Withdrawal, like losing one's virginity, can only happen once. Yet the lovely press whores told us in August 2010 that the last US combat troops had left Iraq and they told us today, over a year later, that the last US combat troops had left Iraq.

They can't keep their lies straight.

In 2002, they lied to the people about what was happening and why. Is it all that surprising that in 2011, they'd lie again?

"But The Nation lies now!!!" Of course they do. The Nation a Whore Organ for the Democratic Party. Were Bully Boy Bush still occupying the White House, The Nation would be telling the world -- in story after story, blog post after blog post -- how CIA forces will remain in Iraq, how US Special Ops will remain in Iraq, how a little under 200 US service members will be attached the US 'diplomatic' presence, how US service members will be attached to equipment sales and that will increase their numbers as well, how the White House is still in negotiations for more US troops in Iraq after the start of the year, and so much more.

But "Democrat" Barack is in the oval office now and The Nation doesn't call out their Demmy Dreamboat.


[Above, US President Barack Obama at Fort Bragg last week, announcing he's wearing Michelle's panties to a cheering crowd.]

Can you count on the non-Democrats to tell the truth?

In most cases no. has surrendered truth telling for attacks on Hillary Clinton. Getting their sexism on became so much more important than telling the truth about the President of the United States, Barack Obama. In fact, they've taken to pimping whore Gareth Porter who has returned to lying for Barack.

Shine us on, of course. What's more important? A bunch of Iraqis whom the media has left faceless and nameless or groovy Barry O?

For most in the media the answer is: Barry O!

They love him. They love him more than truth, they love more than democracy, they love him more than reality, they love him more than their profession.

When it comes to Barack, the Cult of St. Barack delivers much more powerful nocturnal emissions than they do reporting.

The Iraq War has not ended. Not while the State Department has been militarized. Not while General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs, proclaims the US has ten "enduring" bases in Iraq, not while 1700 State Department workers remain, 40,000 US troops are stationed in the surrounding region (and in naval crafts on the water), not while US Special Ops remain in Iraq, not while the CIA remains in Iraq.

But don't worry.

At some point, maybe a year from now, maybe two, maybe five, maybe ten, the press will again be reporting that US forces have left Iraq. And maybe then it will actually be true.

Media: Ashes, ashes, they all fall down

In Elaine May's Ishtar, Rogers & Clarke sing, "Telling the truth can be dangerous business, Honesty and popular don't go hand in hand." All week long, the press struggled but -- as Ted Koppel would prove Monday and Diane Rehm would demonstrate Friday -- serving up the truth shouldn't have been that difficult. Mabye it so difficult for them because they valued popularity more than honesty?


All week long, The NewsHour demonstrated that even supposed freedom from the demands of advertisers and being public television doesn't mean you can provide the truth. Monday, there was Jeffrey Brown declaring, "President Obama and the prime minister of Iraq held a final summit today before the last American troops withdraw from Iraq." And, later, "In fact, the current schedule calls for all US forces to be out of Iraq by the holidays." While Thursday, viewers encountered Judy Woodruff maintaining, "The president today welcomed the end of the war in Iraq, with all U.S. troops due to leave before the month is out."

It wasn't any better on commercial TV. Thursday on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, Jim Axelrod was declaring, "With headquarters now closed, over the next several days the last of the US troops will begin moving towards Kuwait and leaving Iraq. The military doesn't want to say exactly when this will happen, worried about attacks from Iranian-backed militias on the way." Scott Pelley only made it worse, insisting after Axelrod's report, "And that will be by the end of the month when the last 4500 troops will leave." Wednesday Diane Sawyer could be heard gushing, "Tonight, final saulte! The president proclaims the end of the war in Iraq as the last American troops journey home after nearly nine years!" Neither she nor World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer got any better as Martha Radditz quickly grabbing the baton as she went on about "the last American troops preparing to make the final journey out of Iraq."

And then there was the sad little program known as Nightline. The ABC half-hour gave less than 3 minutes to the Iraq War on Wednesday night -- after almost 7 minutes on Mary Kay vendors doing well in a bad economy, over 7 minutes of Katie Couric interviewing and a bunch of commercials, they gave less than three minutes to the Iraq War. 'Well they are a five-day a week show,' we hear some of you say. 'Surely, they did another segment somewhere else during the week.' No, that was it for Nightline and Iraq. They had no more time for it because there were so many important topics to cover. There was time for Janet Jackson and Christmas pudding and Tim Tebow and a grandmother who may have shot her son-in-law and "extreme toddler parties" (Nightline plays like an extreme toddler party itself these days) and, most of all, pondering whether or not salt was the new food war.

With only one segment the entire week on Iraq on this supposed news program and with less than three minutes for the segment, you might think they used the limited time wisely. You would be wrong. Terry Moran started off badly (with the repetative and time consuming: "They are coming home, they are coming home.") and didn't end any better.

Now some of you -- especially news consumers -- may be wondering what's wrong with the above? Shouldn't reporters note when all US troops come home from a war?

Yes, they should. Or, as Terry Moran might word it, "Yes, they should. Yes, they should."

However, that's not what's happening.

Friday, on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, reality could be raised very easily as Diane Rehm demonstrated asking,"And David, how many people are we leaving there in Iraq? We're not moving out every soldier?"

And that the point that so many outlets repeatedly and consistently ignored. If you were a news consumer, you were told over and over by the bulk of the TV media that all US troops were departing Iraq. And NPR didn't do much better on their news programs. Steve Inskeep was declaring Monday on Morning Edition, "The last American troops are coming home from Iraq this week." And, even worse, Ari Shapiro's segment allowed Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes to make the following statement without challenging it, "They requested training and assistance beyond 2011, but we agreed with the Iraqis that the best way to do that was to remove all U.S. troops and have a relationship that's like the relationship we have with many countries around the world, where we sell them military equipment, we show them how to use it. We can do joint exercises, but we'll have no U.S. troops based in the country."

US troops will remain in Iraq. They're not all leaving. Nor did the US 'decide' that removing almost all of the troops was the best thing to do. That 'decision' was the only response to the White House insisting that the Iraqi Parliament grant US troops immunity and the Parliament (at that time) refusing. All Things Considered was just as bad. But on the programs not billed as "news," NPR had a little more success. This was true of Tuesday's Talk of the Town which found Neal Conan addressing Iraq with Ted Koppel.

CONAN: Though the president cheers his accomplishment, you say not so fast.

KOPPEL: I do say not so fast, and I think he knows better. But he's right, he did make the campaign promise to get all the troops out, and all the troops will be out, save 157 who will be guarding the embassy, and a few hundred U.S. military trainers. But as you pointed out, 16 to 17 thousand others will be remaining behind, and the extraordinary thing, Neal, is we're hearing echoes now of what we heard nine years ago. You know, we can't have that smoking gun be a mushroom cloud. No one is actually using that particular formulation anymore, but the fear of nuclear weapons. The danger of a nation that is supporting terrorism. Oil, which was the great unspoken issue in 2002 and 2003, very much a part of this. The difference, of course, now is that the target is Iran, not Iraq. But the two are very close to one another, and the fact of the matter is that Iran is exercising an enormous influence throughout Iraq. And the oil fields, which have under the surface, they have something - I believe it's the second-largest reserves of any country in the world. That's all very close to Iran, and if Iran were to exercise significant political, let alone military, control in that region, together with their own oil and gas, they would have the capacity to wreak havoc on Western economies.

Koppel wasn't gas bagging. (And for those afraid we've forgotten the gas bags, we're almost up to Mark Shields, don't worry.) He had just returned from Iraq for the reporting he did on Monday's Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC).

Ted Koppel: If those Iranian backed militias were to launch a full scale attack on this consulate [in Basra], would the US calvary ride to the rescue?

US Ambassador James Jeffrey: We depend upon the Iraqis and if we need security support, we will turn to them and we will tell them, "I've got a problem in Basra and you need to help us.

Ted Koppel: The question is will they?

US Ambassador James Jeffrey: I believe they will.

Ted Koppel: That's what an ambassador has to say about his hosts. This is the man who might actually have to deal with that nightmare, Lt Gen Robert Caslan. General, how are you going to get 1320 people out of there? I mean if you've 24 hours notice that something like this was going to happen, you're telling me the Iraqi government would evacuate immediately? Would get them all out of there?

Lt Gen Robert Caslan: I would argue that we do have, in theater, whether it's in Kuwait or elsewhere in theater, that we fall under the central command, Centcom, and I feel confident that Centcom has the necessary assets to take whatever measures they need to to counter that attack.

While the bulk of the country's press played dumb, Ted Koppel would remind everyone what reporting was.

Ted Koppel: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

Ambassador James Jeffrey: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

It was information most would avoid, over and over, day after day, all week.

The print medium was just as bad. An exception was the work done last week by Tim Arango, Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt for The New York Times -- especially this report on Nouri al-Maliki. You could have read almost every major US daily last week and been completely unprepared for what took place Saturday if the one paper you missed was The New York Times.

Take, for example, Liz Sly (Washington Post) rushing into print in today's paper insisting Iraq was "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." And quickly adding, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders." Leaving stunned readers to ponder "recent days" and why the paper had offered one wave of Operation Happy Talk after another when they should have been informing readers that the "tanks and armored personal carreis" had surrounded the homes of "top Sunni politicians" for "days."

So many seemed unwilling or unable to tell the truth. And of course there were those who had never been bound by the truth to begin with. Take MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday which was nothing but garbage.

We were hoping Bob Somerby would grab some of it, but he didn't. We can't blame him. Nor can we pretend that we're about to take on everything. But, for example, Jon Meachem, "the Iraq Study Group" was not a group advocating for war with Iraq. It was a group created, after the start of the Iraq War, by the US Congress, tasked with assessing and making recommendations about the Iraq War. (The Iraq Study Group is also the name of the Friday group Mike started in 2005 to discuss the Iraq War. A year later, March 2006, Congress would create their Iraq Study Group.) Meachem, asked about the 90s roots of the Iraq War, begins babbling, "Remember the right-wing was looking for an enemy in the 90s. It was China for awhile. It was ultimately the Iraq Study Group." No, it wasn't. And no one corrected him. Maybe because they were in shock over the outrageous claim by Joe Scarborough that Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin were all stating in 2002 "Saddam Hussein? I would invite him to Thanksgiving if he would come!" Hyperbole, maybe. But if you're stating you want to set the record straight, Joe, you stick to the facts and don't resort to hyperbole. Then came Willie Geist's highly offensive sexism (see Thursday's snapshot). In addition, you got this commentary from Willie Geist:

I do hope that one of the lessons, though, is that the country takes the war a little more seriously than it did ten years ago. I remember sitting on the night of March 20, 2003, watching those bombs fall over Baghdad and it looked like a video game. It was a war that was happening on TV and that's actually what it turned out to be. One percent of our country fighting a war that the rest of us watched on TV. It's important to remember that if we commit troops to a war, we commit troops to conflict, people will die. This is not a video game. It's not happening on TV.

Geist hopes the country takes the war a little more seriously? Apparently, the years spent kissing Tucker Carlson's ass altered reality for Willie. The American people did not call for this war, the American people did not send troops to this war. The White House and members of Congress did. No where in the endless crap flowing from Willie's facial anus did he ever address that or note the media's complicity in selling the Iraq War. The problem was not that American citizens turned the war into a video game, it was the media and the media portrayals. Willie is the worst sort of right wing reactionary. He grabs lefty slogans and lefty sounding ones and spins them around to strip them of their actual meaning and blame the people (not the powerful) for a war that they turned out in record numbers to oppose.

As outrageous as Willie's nonsense was, centrist Mark Shields may have been even more outrageous due to his age, his outlet (The NewsHour on Friday) and the fact that he should know a few things after all these years. Yet there he was yammering away:

This was a war that the generals opposed, generals like Brent Scowcroft, and Anthony Zinni, and Joe Hoar, and Norman Schwarzkopf, and Eric Shinseki, people who had seen combat and tasted it. It was a war favored by civilians who had never experienced combat, whether it was Richard Perle, or Paul Wolfowitz, or Don Rumsfeld, or George Bush, or Dick Cheney.

No, Mark Shields, civilians didn't favor this war. Were that the case, they would not have been protesting it in large numbers before it even started. It was not the reluctant generals against the civilians. Nor, for that matter, is that how we determine whether or not to go to war but Mark appears to be insisting it should be: If generals don't want it, don't do it; but if they do want it, go for it.

The generals actually have no say. While we don't buy the lie -- and it is a lie even when it's Debra Sweet repeating it -- that the peace movement ended the Iraq War, we do expect that it is recognized in the discussions of the war.

But why should anyone speak to reality when, from the top, it's all blurred.

Barack gave many speeches on Iraq last week. They were nothing to be proud of.

For example, Monday, at the White House, he delivered a series of remarks to the press including that "more than one million Americans, military and civilian, who have served in Iraq; nearly 4,500 fallen Americans who gave their last full measure of devotion; tens of thousands of wounded warriors, and so many inspiring military families."

More than.


Tens of thousands.

You know what, if you're president of the United States, your speech writers can get the actual numbers. If the number of Americans who died serving in Iraq matters, you don't say "nearly 4,500." If it matters, you ask someone to call up the Pentagon and provide you with the number (it was then and right now remains 4487). If you're the president of General Motors and you're going to give a speech on how many trucks you sold this year, you're going to ask for that exact figure.

But if 4487 lives actually mattered, you visit the graves of those who died in the Iraq War at Arlington National Cemetery. You don't, instead, take the prime minister of Iraq with you to visit the grave of the Unknown Soldier.

How insulting to those who served in the Iraq War.

By Wednesday, delivering a speech at Fort Bragg (with his two teleprompters clearly visible), he finally got an estimate on the number injured, "We know too well the heavy cost of this war. More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq - 1.5 million. Over 30,000 Americans have been wounded. And those are only the wounds that show. Nearly 4500 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice." Over 30,000.

The number most reporters noted was 32,000. And credit to Terry Moran of Nightline for noting 4487, one of the few reporters who actually did. But numbers were hard for Barack and, by Saturday when he delivered his national address, he'd be back to "tens of thousands" for the injured, "More than 1.5 million Americans have served there with honor, skill, and bravery. Tens of thousands have been wounded. Military families have sacrificed greatly -- none more so than the families of those nearly 4,500 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice."

If he truly believed it was "the ultimate sacrfice," he'd make someone at the White House supply him with a number to give.

Back to The Diane Rehm Show's second hour on Friday:

Diane Rehm: 32,000 U.S. troops wounded, more than $800 billion spent. While you say we're getting out of this rather quietly, the president didn't make a huge thing of it, the president's campaign is making a bigger thing of it, Nadia. They've got a website with a very glossy film posted.

Nadia Bilbassy: Of course, because from the beginning, Diane, President Obama described this war as a war of choice, it wasn't out of necessity.

He gave one speech after another on Iraq last week. You can't honestly say he's played it low key. As Mara Liasson (NPR's Morning Edition) explained Tuesday, "The White House has choreographed a series of events to drive home one message: The deployments to Iraq are over. At a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House yesterday, Mr. Obama reminded Americans that when he came into office there were 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and that he had pledged to bring them home."

Liasson actually reported, but so few bothered to. And looking at the junk that passed for news, we wondered why that was until Nadia Bilbassy declared (on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show Friday):

Well, that was the stated reason by the Bush administration that the regime of Saddam Hussein was dangerous, in the process of acquiring weapons of mass destruction and they will threaten the world and the United States. But looking back again, I don't know if it's worth looking into the pretext of the reason why they went to war or the actual reasons of the conspiracy theory in the Arab world why the United States decided to invade Iraq or this whimsy link with al-Qaida.

When that's the attitude of a journalist, that reflection no longer matters, that people shouldn't look back into the reasons given for doing something just don't matter, you get a very shallow press corps covering the world in a very shallow manner. For all his bluster, Willie Geist never spoke of humanity. Sadly very few bothered to. The Iraq War was a thing and now it's a thing that's ended -- and all the US troops came home! -- to follow the bulk of the press coverage. Having blown their reputations selling the Iraq War, they spent last week treating it as a meaningless event unworthy of exploration or, as Nightline demonstrated, even three minute of your time.

Occupy Dallas

In Dallas, Occupy Dallas has been thrown out of Pioneer Plaza (in front of the Dallas Convention Center and just to the west of City Hall) but they've not stopped protesting. They note, "Despite being raided by police and having our camp destroyed, the members of OccupyDallas continue to protest corporate greed and the corrupt financial system which has poisoned our government. We're now occupying Pegasus Plaza as well as the intersection of Main & Akard, home to a Chase bank and a Pegasus Community credit union."

In addition, they had a Friday action. Dallas was in Dallas and eating lunch in the West End. When he and his friends left, they saw the police out in full force in southwestern Dallas.

What was going on?

A friend saw a sign that included the word "Cabal" and they began to suspect it might be Occupy Dallas.

When police finally allowed traffic to move, Dallas and his friends saw the last of the protest (at Dealey Plaza).


ows dallas


[Note: These are Dallas' photos. They were taken with a Digital Video camera on December 15, 2011. At Flickr, where we posted them, Flickr wrongly adds, "This photo was taken on January 1, 2000 using an LG_Electronics GW300." No. December 15, 2011 and with a Digital Video camera. Take it up with Flickr.]

TV: Tom Hayden's Animated Life

Tom Hayden showed his ass in the Los Angeles Times last week, reminding us how he'd shown his ass for weeks on Fox. And reminding us of how much he'd gotten away with for so long now. And underscoring how ignorant the commentariat is.


On Fox, Tom's called Allen Gregory (voiced by Jonah Hill) and stars in the animated show of the same name. In animated and real life, Allen-Tom is desperately unpopular, always pursuing women far out of his league, identifying with abusive personalities, practicing sexism and desperate to be seen as a one of the boys. In both animated and real life, he fails.

The show was a failure, we heard right before Thanksgiving, when speaking to a friend with Fox. That was a surprise to us and only more so when episode six (featuring a guest spot by Lisa Kudrow) would go on to set a season high for the show's ratings.

We could understand the issue of Julie upsetting people, we explained, but were surprised there was objection -- We were cut off. People were objecting to the treatment of Jeremy (voiced by Nat Faxon). That was so typical of a world that embraced Tom Hayden.

Jeremy and Richard De Longpre are Allen Gregory De Longpre's parents. Though some sippers in the Water Cooler Set felt they were defending Jeremy, in our research, we saw a lot of people calling Richard (voiced by French Stewart) Allen's father but referring to Jeremy as Richard's partner (see Robert Bianco, USA Today, for that bias).

Both Jeremy and Richard are adults. Richard has known he was gay for some time. Supposedly, Jeremy was married with kids when he met Richard and had no idea he was gay until then. This led to the Water Cooler Set lodging objections that the show was saying that people could be "turned" gay. Heaven forbid they ever have to watch an actual program before objecting to it. In episode three, Allen Gregory presents that notion at a school dance and Principal Judith Gottlieb (voiced by Renee Taylor) will take to the stage to correct him.

Allen Gregory gets many things wrong -- as episode five's exploration of racism and class makes clear. All the episodes establish that Allen Gregory's bad behavior is learned from Richard.

Richard treats Jeremy like crap. Jeremy is highly indulgent of Richard or else enjoys being treated badly. Comments made -- especially about things stretching when Jeremy said they wouldn't -- appear to indicate that Richard is the top and Jeremy is the bottom. That may be too much for the Water Cooler Set to handle. (They're rather vanilla -- which explains all their panting over sex.) If indeed that is correct, then Richard and Jeremy may be carrying over bedroom behavior outside the bedroom. May. We'll never know because the show got the axe.

But we know a great deal more than the Water Cooler Set.

For starters, Richard most likely is not Allen Gregory's biological father. Look at Richard, Jeremy and Allen Gregory. Two of them have blue eyes while Richard has brown eyes. Did no one study biology? Does no one know the difference between dominant and recessive traits? Does no one notice that Allen Gregory and Jeremy have the same chin? Or that Allen Gregory's nose should grow out, in time, to be like Jeremy's but, with that upward turn, can never grow out to be like Richard's nose?

Like Richard, Allen Gregory is horrible to Jeremy. Imagine the episode when the Richard worshipping Allen Gregory learns that Jeremy is his biological father?

Richard comes from a wealthy family and, until recently, Jeremy stayed home with the kids (Allen Gregory was home schooled). Along with supplying the money, Richard throws tantrums to get his way. Not only does he delude himself about their home life, he also deludes himself about his work life and we see Jeremy know that Richard's given busy work as opposed to actual tasks at work (Richard's father started the company Richard works for) but Jeremy goes along with Richard's lie that he's a very, very important businessman. So why is it that the Water Cooler Set never stopped to think that Richard could force Jeremy into telling a story that was false?

It happens throughout the program. For example, episode six starts with Allen Gregory yet again self-embarrassing in front of his class when he interrupts his teacher (voiced by Leslie Mann) to explain that she's wrong and that men can give birth. He will tell the class that Richard gave birth to him. At home, he will recount his day at school and Jeremy will suggest it's time to tell the truth. Richard will bring out a photo album which only further documents how Jeremy goes along with Richard's lies -- they're pretending that Richard's pregnant in one photo, in another, Richard is on a birthing table supposedly having just given birth to Jeremy.

Did the Water Cooler Set not catch that?

They don't catch much. We were informed that the show was being attacked for the mean attacks on Jeremy and we saw that reflected in the reviews.


Whether Jeremy was married or this is just another lie Richard's vanity needs, Jeremy is a grown man. If Richard and Allen Gregory are disrespectful to him, that's not nice but our hearts aren't going to break.

You know who else Richard and Allen Gregory are disrespectful to?

Julie (voiced by Joy Osmanski) is Allen's sister. Supposedly she's adopted, supposedly she's Cambodian. "Supposedly" because Richard's not really a trust worthy source and it wouldn't be at all surprising to us if Richard were Julie's biological father.

But Julie is a child and she's left alone in the home during a family outing ("No one woke me up!" she will explain). She's targeted with racist remarks by Richard while eating dinner. She's dismissed and insulted non-stop.

And no one in the Water Cooler Set found that worth objecting to in any of the 15 reviews we read. Again, when we were on the phone with a Fox suit, that's what we thought the complaints were about. But apparently -- Tom Hayden must be thrilled -- abuse towards young girls is so common that no one bothers to object.

Nor do they object to the way Allen Gregory treats Gina Winthrop (the teacher Mann voices). Among other things, Allen Gregory constantly insults his teacher ("Jean, sweetheart, think we could button up that blouse all the way to the neck? Catching those weird bumps from the saline bags."; "Let's see how this goes and then we'll probably need to have a little chit-chat about you losing what? 75, 80 pounds mostly around your ass and face." ), calls her by her first name and sometimes by a variation on her first name ("JY-nah" or "JYn") that sounds like slang for vagina, interrupts her constantly and undermines her to the superintendent Stuart Rossmyre (voiced by Will Forte). And did we mention that Rossmyre's very glad that he got off (in court) after slipping a date rape drug to Gina Winthrop?
The treatment of women on this show is very, very ugly. Not unlike the way Tom Hayden attacks and demeans women. Think of his slams on Hillary Clinton in 2008 or, during his Rocky Mountain News interview in 2008, his stopping his young, female intern as she walked through the room and ordering her to slowly turn around. He's not a designer, it's not House of Hayden. That young woman could have had him up on charges of sexual harassment. And, of course, sexism is what got Tom kicked out of the Berkeley commune back in the early seventies.

The Water Cooler Set managed to register an objection about women in one way. Over and over, they complained about Joel's attraction to Principal Gottlieb. That attraction made perfect sense. Richard's instilled in him a love for power. Which adult is the most powerful at an elementary school? The principal. But the Water Cooler Set registered their disgust over the attraction often noting Gottlieb's weight (she's overweight) and declaring it unrealistic that a young boy would know about sex.

But Allen Gregory doesn't know about sex. Did they miss episode two? Where he insists he has a sex tape of himself and Gottlieb but it quickly becomes obvious that he doesn't have the first clue about sex (this will also be clear in episode six).

Last week, Tom Hayden was lying furiously in an attempt to make Barack look good. The hero worship there is disgusting not only because Barack is a War Hawk (see the illegal Libyan War) and Tom likes to self-present as a voice of peace but also because Barack first began publicly insulting Tom when he mocked what he termed "Tom Hayden Democrats." Tom's desperate pursuit of Barack is akin to Allen Gregory's forever attempting to become best friends with classmate Joel Zadak (voiced by Jake Johnson). Allen Gregory never looks more pathetic than when chasing after Joel, just as Tom never looks more pathetic than when chasing after Barack.

Had the show stayed on the air and lasted season after season, we could see Richard writing off Allen Gregory over some disappointment and Jeremy getting sick and coming to live with Allen and his spouse. But while Allen made his spouse care for Jeremy, he spent Jeremy's last days busying himself with extra-marital affairs, running for public office on his spouse's money and deciding that he needed to sign up for baseball camp. We could picture Allen Gregory being just that selfish to the only parent that ever loved himbecause, again, it's the animated life of Tom Hayden.

Maybe because our eyes are wide open, we can laugh loudly at Tom Hayden. And possibly that's why we thought that Allen Gregory had many strong points. Yes, the sexism bothered us but is there a Fox animated program not trafficking in sexism currently? Leaving aside the sexism, the show had much going for it. One critic raved over the Warhol look -- again reminding us just how stupid the Water Cooler Set is. While Allen Gregory does have a portrait that looks like a Warhol, the show's animation is nothing like Warhol but could be said to owe a debt to the work of Margaret Keane and its visual was probably the show's strongest point.
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