Sunday, October 02, 2011

Truest statement of the week

Is this the world we want? Where the president of the United States can place an American citizen, or anyone else for that matter, living outside a war zone on a targeted assassination list, and then have him murdered by drone strike.

This was the very result we at the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU feared when we brought a case in US federal court on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki's father, hoping to prevent this targeted killing. We lost the case on procedural grounds, but the judge considered the implications of the practice as raising "serious questions", asking:

"Can the executive order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organisation?"

-- the Center for Constitutional Right's Michael Ratner, "Anwar al-Awlaki's extrajudicial murder" (Just Left). Michael Ratner co-hosts the radio program Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings on WBAI and around the country throughout the week -- with fellow attorneys Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith.

Truest statement of the week II

Every American adult knows what an armed conflict is. The U.S. is engaged in armed conflict in Afghanistan and Libya. It engaged in combat in Iraq from 2003-2011. Thus, every American knows that the U.S. is not engaged in an armed conflict in Yemen - not a real armed conflict. Nevertheless, President Obama placed an American citizen in Yemen on a kill list. Anwar al-Awlaki and several other people were killed on September 20 by a “barrage” of missiles launched from drones operated by the CIA.

The president and his officials know that it is unlawful to kill persons in this way outside of armed conflict hostilities. So they have been asserting the U.S. is in a worldwide “armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces.” This assertion defies common sense. So officials also assert we have a right to kill persons who pose an “imminent” threat under the law of self-defense. In fact, the law of self-defense, found in the U.N. Charter, permits force in self-defense on the territory of a state if the state is responsible for a significant armed attack. Yemen is not responsible for any significant armed attacks.

So are we seeing a repeat of the famous “torture memo” strategy? Arguments are being asserted that are just plausible enough to keep Congress, the courts and U.S. allies at bay so targeted killing can continue. Where we once debated the legality, morality and effectiveness of “harsh interrogation methods”, we now discuss the legality of intentionally killing of suspected terrorists far from any actual armed conflict hostilities. In other words, the end justifies the means, especially with a plausible-sounding legal cover story.

-- Mary Ellen O'Connell's "Killing Awlaki was illegal, immoral and dangerous" (CNN).

Truest statement of the week III

"The assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki by American drone attacks is the latest of many affronts to domestic and international law. The targeted assassination program that started under President Bush and expanded under the Obama Administration essentially grants the executive the power to kill any U.S. citizen deemed a threat, without any judicial oversight, or any of the rights afforded by our Constitution. If we allow such gross overreaches of power to continue, we are setting the stage for increasing erosions of civil liberties and the rule of law.

-- Vince Warren, "CCR Condemns Targeted Assassination of U.S. Citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki" (the Center for Constitutional Rights).

A note to our readers

Hey --

For a change, an early 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.

What did we come up with?

This week we have three truests and they all focus on the same issue. This is Michael Ratner.
This is Mary Ellen O'Connell who teaches law at Notre Dame.
This is Vince Warren.

And the editorial is on the same topic as the truest statements. This really is one of the most important issues today. A major shift takes place if we accept that the president of the United States can assassinate anyone he wants, that he's judge and jury.

I (Jim) came up with the title. Ava and C.I. asked, after they heard my title, that I explain in the note that I'm referring to adult males who see Shirley Temple as the ideal woman. In this piece, Ava and C.I. tackle three new sitcoms featuring women. This is what they planned to cover last week but got sucked into Saturday Night Live instead. I actually asked them to cover something else but they made it very clear to me that this would be the topic. Reading it, I see why. This is one of those pieces that they write that is immediately popular and then, a year from now, becomes one of those pieces people just can't stop reading. Currently, their three most popular pieces are "TV: Cougar Town Roars," "TV: Aftermath leaves an aftertaste" and "TV: Why bad TV happens to good viewers" -- all three have over 35,000 views according to the "stats" section of Blogger/Blogspot.

We continue to pick ten books of the last ten years that you should look for in your local library.

C.I. brought a wonderful idea into this edition. It was poorly executed and didn't work. "Oh for ___," C.I. finally groaned. "Put it on hold until next week and we'll write it as a short story." We loved that idea. (This is the pitch that Marcia mentioned in a post last week, by the way.) But we were going to be short for the edition. Ava and C.I. wrote this to fill it out.

This was the idea C.I. said at The Common Ills that she would be bringing here. Yes, we finished this one.

A repost from Workers World.
A repost from Socialist Worker (UK).

And Mike and the gang did this and we thank them for it.

That's what we came up with. And we are earlier than we've been in months.


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

Editorial: Those who stood and those who shrank

Foreign Policy in Focus

Foreign Policy in Focus calls itself "a think tank without walls" but we'd suggest "a think tank without thought."

How else to explain some of the crap they posted and, most importantly, the topic they avoided:

  • Michele Bachmann "Blames" Obama for Arab Spring

    Posted: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 06:00:00 -0400
    Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann attributes President Obama with "laying the table" for the Arab Spring.
  • U.S. Congress a Standard Bearer for Israeli Expansion

    Posted: Sat, 01 Oct 2011 06:00:00 -0400
    Earlier this month, Rep. Joe Walsh and 30 co-sponsors issued a resolution supporting Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
  • The Curse of Cluster Bombs

    Posted: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 08:35:00 -0400
    U.S. cluster bombs continue to kill and maim impoverished Laotians, but the war criminals responsible have never been brought to book.
  • Answering Obama's UN Address

    Posted: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 08:20:00 -0400
    Until there is a change in the Obama administration's policies, the president has little credibility in preaching to the world about the importance of peace.
  • When Creation Myths Converge: U.S. and Israeli Colonialism

    Posted: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 08:00:00 -0400
    Both the United States and Israeli believed their wildernesses -- and those that inhabited them -- needed to be tamed.
  • Review: The Survival of North Korea

    Posted: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 16:14:02 -0400
    If North Korea isn't about to collapse, then policymakers must stop complaining and deal with it.

What's missing?

No later than Saturday, they should have been addressing the biggest issue of the week, possibly of the month and year: Barack Obama ordering the assassination of two American citizens.

We saw who would speak out and who wouldn't.

We were disturbed by what we saw.

We spoke out against the PATRIOT Act as did many other people we once admired. But a lot of them have accepted the legislation today, now that a Democrat is in the White House. And many of them will apparently accept anything now that a Democrat is in the White House.

What took place Friday was offensive and illegal. As it was explained in that day's "Iraq snapshot:"

First, in Yemen today, two American citizens were killed. Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn were killed by Barack Obama who, in a deliberate distortion of the powers of a US president, ordered a drone attack on them. Their crime?
There is no crime. They're American -- they were American citizens. In the United States, you're not guilty of a crime until you've been convicted of one in a court of law. These are the basics and they're not difficult to grasp unless you're an idiot serving in the US Congress who disgraced yourself today whooping with joy over this attack on US citizenship, attack on the US legal system and attack on the US Constitution -- the last one should especially concern Congress since they take an oath to uphold the Constitution -- clearly not an oath they take very seriously. Or maybe they're just too stupid and ignorant to grasp what they're swearing an oath to? Maybe we need to get some Constitutional tutors to spend time with members of Congress? And this was bi-paristan stupidity -- Democrats joined Republicans in treating this as a joyful moment.

Congress members weren't the only ones self-disgracing. And what followed has generally shown you who you can trust and who you can't.

Rachel Maddow?

We loathe her but were going to link to her because supposedly she'd done a powerful segment. We were going to link to it. Without watching because no one can stand her back and forth wobble that she thinks is so cute and visually arresting or her smug delivery. Elaine, Rebecca, Ava and C.I. were skeptical that she delivered anything worth linking to and bit the bullet and watched her Friday show.

Someone needs to explain to Rachel that charges never brought in court aren't convictions. She spent forever going over and over this innuendo or that assertion and implying they were factual. Then she and that lousy bastard Spencer Ackerman were discussing the assassinations in terms of how Barack Obama could spin it best for political gain. Spency isn't a legal scholar, Spency's Barack's boy toy and has been that since 2007 and especially proved it in 2008 when he advised that good campaign strategy would be to start calling someone on the right a "racist" whether it was true or not.

Rachel gave the kind of weak ass segment that, had Bush been in the White House, would have resulted in loud outcry. In the last forty seconds, they briefly touched on touched on issue but they did not, as MadCow claimed, "figure it out."

She'd have done better to brought on Chris Floyd who'd already taken on the sort of crap Rachel was chewing and swallowing:

The New York Times story on the murders relates a number of accusations against the chief target of the attack, Anwar al-Awlaki. Assertions are made, mostly by anonymous officials, that al-Awlaki was "operationally" involved in terrorist plots, although not a shred of evidence for this "operational" involvement has been offered. (Another American, Samir Khan, was also reported to have been killed in the drone hit. It goes without saying that Khan had also not been charged with any crime nor was there any evidence that he ever took part in a terrorist operation.)

It is true that the two American citizens murdered by the president did engage in a great deal of fiery rhetoric urging violent uprising against the American state. This might not be very nice -- but it does happen to be protected speech under the Constitution of the United States. Of course, that quaint document from the horse-and-buggy era has long since ceased to apply, even fitfully and imperfectly, to the operations of the United States government.

It may well be true that with their words Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan "inspired" someone to commit, or attempt to commit, heinous deeds. So has the Bible. So have The Beatles. But to inspire is not to command. Again, no evidence and certainly no proof has been offered that al-Awlaki or Khan ordered anyone to do anything, or that they were in any "operational" role to do so. (Unlike, say, the Nobel Peace Laureate who holds the top "operational" role in the American war machine, which has killed vastly more innocent people than even the most inspired terrorist groups.) If such proof existed that al-Awlaki or Khan played such a role, they easily could have been charged.

We were happily surprised to see that Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) stepped up to the plate and did so on Friday, concluding, "The President has become judge, juror, and literally executioner, and that's not the way our system is supposed to work. And it sets a new low, and a terrible precedent, for the abuse of Presidential powers." At The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss observed, "Not that killing noncitizens is kosher, but killing an American isn’t. Still, rules are rules, and American citizens are supposed to have legal and civil rights that protect them from political or prosecutorial assassinations, even if they’re bad guys. Apparently, no longer."

And, as usual, we could count on Michael Ratner not to shy away but to ask the tough questions, "Is this the world we want? Where the president of the United States can place an American citizen, or anyone else for that matter, living outside a war zone on a targeted assassination list, and then have him murdered by drone strike." Also asking the tough questions was Dean Baker, "It might seem rude to ask such questions, but is it now U.S. policy that the government can kill U.S. citizens, who are not immediately in the process of attacking the U.S. (i.e. not engaged in a firefight) any time they leave the country? In other words, there was no judicial procedure whereby Anwar al-Awlaki was determined to have committed crimes warranting the death penalty. So, do we now give the president the authority to have any of us killed if we leave the country, and if not, what is the procedure whereby it is determined who gets killed?" Glenn Greenwald pointed out:

What's most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar ("No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law"), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government's new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government. Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President's ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki -- including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry's execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists: criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

And, as Ruth pointed out, two members of the US Congress did speak out against the assassinations. US House Rep. Dennis Kucinich issued this statement:

"The Administration has a crossed a dangerous divide and set a dangerous precedent for how the United States handles terrorism cases. This dangerous legal precedent allows the government to target U.S. citizens abroad for being suspected of involvement in terrorism, in subversion of their most basic constitutional rights and due process of law. Their right to a trial is summarily and anonymously stripped from them.

The U.S. has successfully tried hundreds of terrorism cases in federal courts. Intelligence operations that have virtually no transparency, accountability or oversight raise serious legal questions, particularly when the outcomes of such programs constitute possible violations of international law and violations of the Constitution.

"Mr. al-Awlaki's allegedly violent rejection of America was not acceptable in any way. Neither is it acceptable to trample the Constitution through extrajudicial killings."

And U.S. House Rep. Ron Paul declared, "Nobody knows if he ever killed anybody. If the American people accept this blindly and casually . . . I think that's sad."

Many stayed silent. But the names of those who spoke out need to be remembered. At Mother Jones, the strongest response came from Adam Serwer:

The central question in the death of American extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is not his innocence. That really misses the point. Awlaki was the only publicly known name on a covert list of American citizens the US government believes it can legally kill without charge or trial. Awlaki's killing can't be viewed as a one-off situation; what we're talking about is the establishment of a precedent by which a US president can secretly order the death of an American citizen unchecked by any outside process. Rules that get established on the basis that they only apply to the "bad guys" tend to be ripe for abuse, particularly when they're secret.

As for those like Foreign Policy in Focus and the others who stayed silent? We think Jonathan Turley accurately captured that crowd, "It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona."

TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple

This fall, three sitcoms center around young, unmarried women and we've watched with amazement the same Water Cooler Crowd that didn't say peep for years and years as one fat-man-skinny-woman combo after another waddled across their TV screen. Unlike that bizarre coupling, young, unmarried women actually do exist across America. If the census is to be believed, they do so in large numbers.


But three shows offering different takes on womanhood show up this fall and the critics work themselves into a panicked frenzy. It takes feminists to notice that the reception to these shows from the Water Cooler Set says a great deal about the ingrained sexism that's so much a part of today's press.

NBC has Whitney, CBS has 2 Broke Girls and Fox has New Girl.

The critical favorite is New Girl which tends to remind you of another work. The Water Cooler Set insisted it was a reverse Three's Company. Really, cause it feels like a remake of 1961's Snow White and the Three Stooges.

In this bad and unfunny show, a woman breaks up with a boyfriend she catches cheating and moves in with three guys. Pay attention, Montreal Gazette and other idiots, for it to be a reverse Three's Company, the woman would have to be trying to bed all of her roommates. Or has everyone forgotten the first season of Three's Company?

That's not the only puzzler. Far more confusing was whether series star Zooey Deschanel is supposed to be a Shetland pony or just a big, old collie named Lassie? When we got past her shiny coat, we realized she was Shirley Temple and that, while no one's bothered to write a character for her to play, she'll grin and wince and show all the range of a pre-pubescent child actress if not that of a functioning adult.

Hannah Simone gets a little (very little) airtime playing Cece, best friend of the lead character. That's your second clue that you're watching crap. This isn't a story about a woman, it's more stale wink-wink, hanging with the boys from the woman who wrote the alleged romantic comedy No Strings.

The audience will catch on and the 'bright spot' for Fox (which they've already given a full season pick up) will droop a bit here, droop a bit there and, eventually, be so low rated that the Water Cooler Set which has been raving over it, will back away and pretend to have never watched.

Fox knew they had to get people to watch the first episode. And that's why they made it available for free on iTunes long before it aired on TV. They knew this was the only episode that would be talked up positively and they wanted to expose as many people as possible to that episode. The writing wasn't really that much better in the episode. But what made it, what carried it through, was the character Coach wonderfully played by Damon Wayans Jr. Coach is one of the three male roommates.

Woops, for Fox, on that episode Coach was one of the three male roommates. Only on that episode. Now Damon's back on ABC's Happy Endings and Lamorne Morris is attempting to become an actor as the third roommate but coming off very much like the game show host he so recently was. Max Greenfield is playing something. No one's quite sure what. Generally, he plays gay characters. Here he's supposed to be offensive talking to Cece about "tea bags" and seeing her "party hats." The tone's never consistent and it's obvious that Greenfield doesn't know what he's doing, nor do the writers. Jake Johnson has an appeal that shines through the bad writing. Three or four years from now, America will discover him on another sitcom and marvel over his abilities. On this show, he's stuck being Bill Robinson (without the tap shoes) to Deschanel's Shirley Temple.

It says a great deal about the sexism of the Water Cooler Set that a stunted, asexual female is their idea of the ideal woman.

Whitney is too much for them to handle. While New Girl has had nothing but roses thrown at it by the Water Cooler Set, they can't stop hissing at Whitney. Even Hulu's toothless Morning After showed fangs recently by going after the NBC sitcom.

We've seen four episodes, it's funny. It's often hilarious. What's the problem here? That Whitney (played by creator and producer Whitney Cummings) has sex?

Yeah, that is the problem for the Water Cooler Set. Watching Whitney reminded us of the Saturday Night Live skit "Colonel Angus Comes Home" -- specifically of the sad little audience in the studio when the skit was broadcast. Though Maya, Amy and Rachel have some of the funniest lines in this 'racy' skit (say "Colonel Angus" fast) including Rachel's "I'm always happy to see your shining face," the audience gets silent on those while laughing at every line the men say.

Whitney is a comedy about relationships and that makes the Water Cooler Set uncomfortable. You've got to realize this is the same group that never objected as Pam was little more than a dish rag and walk-on role for the first seasons of The Office. The idea that Whitney might have sex is just too much for them. Couldn't she just embarrass herself by getting naked in front of her boyfriend only to discover him with another woman?

Relationships are tough on the Overgrown Boyz of The Water Cooler Set. And tough on the little girls who back stab to fit in -- take Gazelle Emami and Mallika Rao. Gals, you're so good at hating women, you've practically developed jock itch.

Stopping long enough from scratching their phantom balls, the two penned an attack on the show for Huffington Post which included this lament, "Within the first five minutes of 'Whitney,' the show's M.O. asserted itself and would not go away: relationships, love, sex and the lack thereof in this terrible modern purgatory we call singlehood."

This terrible modern purgatory? Aaahhhhh, they're almost as pathetic as Zooey Deschanel's character. No wonder Gazelle and Mallika fit so well in the male locker room that is The Water Cooler Set.

Whitney lives with her boyfriend Alex Green (Chris D'Elia). A neighbor in their building is Mark (also Alex's friend, played by Dan O'Brien). Whitney's best friends are Roxanne (Rhea) and Lily (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Lily's fiancee is Neal (Maulik Pancholy).

Negative criticism? Chris D'Elia could stand a shave. If he's going to have a beard, give him a beard. If not, give him a shave. Zoe Lister-Jones was erratic in the first show. By the second, she'd found her comedy rhythm and episodes three and four confirm that she'll be a strong asset to the show. Maulik Pancholy needed a big laugh early on and didn't get it. And doesn't in the first four shows. He's amusing. He's not bad at all. But he needs a moment that's not being provided and he especially needs that moment because everyone's thinking, "There's Jonathan from 30 Rock." They'll continue to think that until he gets his big laugh.

Other than that, we have no complaints. We think the show's wonderful and could be a standard bearer for NBC, the show that, if given space and time, could return Must See TV to NBC Thursdays.

Remember how we said sex was making The Water Cooler Set uncomfortable?

If you ever doubted that find your fave Water Cooler Setter and look at their reviews of the first episode of 2 Broke Girls and then at the second episode.

You'd think, looking at, for example, Entertainment Weekly, that Andrew Dice Clay wrote the first episode while Treva Silverman wrote the second, so disparate were the reactions to them. There was no major change in the two episodes. (The pilot was written by Whitney Cummings, Michael Patrick King and Molly McAleer. "And The Rich People Problems" was written by Michelle Nader.)

What was the real difference in episodes one and two? Max (Kat Dennings) wasn't making out with live-in love Robbie (Noah Miles) in the second episode because they broke up by the end of the first episode and her co-worker Caroline (Bath Behrs) moved in.

That really is the only big difference in the two episodes.

Let's come back to that. Kat Dennings is amazing. The sitcom genre seems to have been created just for her and her offbeat delivery. Beth Behrs has already found a way to maintain her own comedy rhythm while managing to mesh with Dennings. The show is set in a diner where Max is a waitress and Caroline, a socialite with a family scandal, just got hired on. The two young women have completely different personalities and outlooks but end up being friends in spit of it.

Like Whitney, this show is also co-created by Whitney Cummings and is also damn funny. We'd like to give it a full review later in the season. But instead we have to lump it in with another strong show (Whitney) because of the unrestrained and unhidden sexism at play.

Whitney is being attacked. By the same people who have applauded one non-funny sitcom after another. Whitney's actually funny. But it's being punished because it takes place in a world where women actually have some say in their own lives. See, the only way The Water Cooler Set tolerates a woman being prominent is if she's Shirley Temple-ing it through a variation of Dimples or Wee Willie Winkie. There's not one honest laugh to be found in New Girl. And Zooey Deschanel could never be as adorable as she thinks she is. But let her be the stunted girl who doesn't get any while she dispenses advice to men and acts as their helpmate and life guide and watch her be hailed as if she's some sort of breakthrough.

The reactions to the three shows say a great deal about how women are seen and how they are judged in our society. The less mature they are and the less control they have, the more they're loved by the male critic mindset. Surround them with men, toss them into another of what we long ago dubbed the Deanna Durbin One Hundred Men and A Girl syndrome and the critics love it (and never notice it's one woman surrounded by men).

Here's reality, when Marlo Thomas starred in That Girl, it was a step forward because she was playing a single woman living on her own and living her own life. But if That Girl aired today, we'd be the first to complain that Ann Marie's entire existence and universe was male defined. It would be as though The Mary Tyler Moore Show never aired, as if Mary, Rhoda, Phyllis, Sue Ann and Georgette never existed.

In other words, New Girl has nothing "new" to offer. Its stale, its not funny and its audience will drift away. You can call that 'just a prediction' and dismiss it or you can remember that we've been very good about zooming in each season on the over praised offering and telling you it was a dud while The Water Cooler Set insisted otherwise. Anyone remember the critical darling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or, more recently, Mr. Sunshine? They burnt out so quickly, didn't they?

Anthony's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal


Your local public library is, no doubt, like libraries across the country, overtaxed and facing cuts. Rather amazing when you consider the fact that public libraries are being used now more than 20 years ago. The economy means, check within your own community but our survey of 20 public libraries across the country as well as e-mails from librarians bear this out, that more people are relying on libraries for access to local newspapers, for pleasure reading and reading to improve job skills, for access to music and movies as well as access to the internet. Library usage is booming; however, the economy being what it is, libraries are also usually the first things targeted by local governments. They're now expected to do even more with even less funds which means cuts in hours of operation and cuts in budgets.

To encourage you to visit your own local library, we're picking ten books from the last ten years that you shouldn't miss or, if you've already read, you should revisit.

Historian Howard Zinn passed away in 2010 and already there are a number of variations on his work emerging. In 2006, Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal was published. It shares a title with Zinn's Vietnam: The Logic Of Withdrawal and Arnove notes Zinn's earlier book. Howard Zinn himself even writes the foreword and the afterword to the book.

Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal

However, for 105 pages of text, Arnove's written a book that pays up any debts to those who came before and carries the struggle for peace further.

From the selling of the illegal war to US audiences as a defensive need to the rejection of the occupation by the Iraqi people, the book is a resource, primer and refresher. It's also required reading these days as the White House prepares to sell the latest phase in the never ending Iraq War, US soldiers remaining on the ground in Iraq as "trainers."

Yes, the party controlling the White House has changed and yet the Iraq War continues..

As Arnove notes on pages 100 - 101 of his 2006 book:

In reality, the war in Iraq and the broader "war on terror" are based on a bipartisan consensus. The Democrats and Republicans agree on fundamental right of the United States to intervene in other countries, to topple regimes it dislikes, and to be a global hegemonic power. The Democrats will use force "without asking anyone's permission" boasts Democratic leader Joseph R. Biden Jr., of Delaware, in the party's typical "me too" fashion. Some liberals have staked their opposition to the war in Iraq on the idea that Iraq is a "distraction." The problem with this line of argument is that it accepts that Bush is now waging an otherwise legitimate war. Bush's agenda has absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism or reducing its liklihood, however. The Bush administration is pushing a series of foreign policy objectives that it had before September 11. These are not defensive but offensive goals, seeking to expand U.S. economic and military power abroad. The "war on terror" rubric is a way of selling decades of war through racism and the demonization of Arabs and of Islam, much as anticommunism was used as an ideological rationale for U.S. aims in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

It's a shame Arnove and others didn't return to that fertile ground when Barack Obama was being sold as a peace/antiwar candidate. Barack, of course, stated he was against the Iraq War because it was a "dumb war."

It's his dumb war now and the country could probably use Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal II right about now but, in the meantime, be sure to read Arnove's book.

For our take on the book in 2006, click here and be sure to read last week's pick "Tori's Piece by Piece."

TV: The Daytime Menace

"Kiss and get on the plane and don't say nothing," pronounced The View's own Wally George, Whoopi Goldberg.


As she gets ever larger, Goldberg becomes ever more conservative -- possibly suggesting the premise for a new sociological study which would examine whether media fat cats of expanded girth just naturally hate liberty and the world around them or if Whoopi and Rush Limbaugh are anomalies?

It was Friday and the tired show opened with a wide shot on Whoopi because, let's face it, she's so big you can't do a close up anymore, not if you want to get all of her on the screen. In fact, if she continues packing it on at this rate, Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie are going to have to consider broadcasting the show in letterbox format.

But there was Whoopi yammering away on a topic she, as usual, knew nothing about. Leisha Hailey is an actress most famous for being on The L Word. She and her girlfriend were planning to fly on Southwest Airlines last week and the two kissed on the plane after boarding. Southwest Airlines promptly had a fit and escorted them off the plane. Hailey offered her story via her Twitter account in a series of Tweets last Monday. They include:

* I have been discriminated against by @SouthwestAir. Flt. attendant said that it was a "family" airline and kissing was not ok.

* This is an outrage. I demand a public apology by @SouthwestAir and a refund. Hate is not a family value. I will never fly this airline.

* We were escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue. @SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees. No one made her accountable.

Once upon a time, Whoopi would have been the first to defend the actress and her girlfriend Camila Grey (the two women are also in the band Uh Huh Her). Those days are long gone. Not only is Whoopi ever more conservative and, yes, homophobic, but she also doesn't feel the need to gather even basic information before going on air.

Though Whoopi's big mouth was the one to introduce the issue Friday -- obviously and poorly reading from the teleprompter -- she had to be helped with the actress' name by co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. She also characterized the actions of the two women as "get a room, making out." Despite the fact that four days prior, Tuesday, Camila Grey and Leisha Haily had issued the following statement:

We have always promoted tolerance, openness and equality both as a band and as individuals. We both come from loving homes where our parents not only love and accept us, but are also proud of who we are. We believe everyone has the right to live openly in this society as equals. In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar. We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss. We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done. We take full responsibility for getting verbally upset with the flight attendant after being told it was a "family airline." We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we "needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline." No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud. You can't whisper hate. We ask this airline to teach their employees to not discriminate against any couple, ever, regardless of their own beliefs. We want to live in a society where if your loved one leans over to give you an innocent kiss on an airplane it's not labeled as "excessive or not family oriented" by a corporation and its employees. We find it very disturbing that the same airline who lauds itself as being LGBT friendly has twisted an upsetting incident that happened into our behavior being "too excessive." The above is not an apology and we are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the airline. We hope that when all is said and done a greater tolerance without prejudice will evolve.

Not only was this statement flat out ignored by Whoopi, but so was Camila Grey. Her name was never mentioned. Was it too much for Whoopi to mention Camila? We know part of the reason she's put on so much weight is because she's lonely and bitter that no man wants her and she's taken to making cheap shots about her former ex-Ted Danson. But if she's going to be in front of the cameras discussing 'issues,' she needs to (a) know her facts and (b) get over her anger that she's unloved and (she believes) unlovable.

We'll ignore Sherri Shepherd because someone so stupid should never have been put on TV to begin with. We refer not only to her use Friday of "extensive" when she met "excessive" (the English language remains at odds with Sherri), not only due to her well know homophobia but also to the fact that dumb ass believes the world is flat. When you're that uninformed, you shouldn't be in front of a microphone. But we will note Joy Behar briefly tried to address the issues and even tried to make jokes that touched on the issues (not distorted them) before she visibly gave up on the "hot topic." And we will note that Elisabeth, of all people, was the one speaking out for the rights of the people. It was surprising to see. Elisabeth was informed and knew what she was talking about -- whether addressing rights or addressing past problems with Southwest Airlines.

And then there was Whoopi, not sticking to facts, off blabbering away in some jibberish that had us recalling her moments in Jumping Jack Flash (one of the only two decent films she ever made) hissing, "Enuciate!" She couldn't be bothered following her own advice when she was too busy 'improvising' on the 'hot topic' by declaring "when they start taking their clothes off" -- no one stated or implied that either woman had taken their clothes off.

It was all too much for Whoopi who issued this edict, "Kiss and get on the plane and don't say nothing."

Oh, we're sorry, did the couple abuse their free ride? That was wrong of Camila and Leisha because -- Wait. They didn't have a free ride.

They paid for those tickets.

They paid a nice sum for those tickets.

"Kiss and get on the plane and don't say nothing"?

When customers are treated in an abusive and offensive manner, they have a right to complain. Airline passengers have a right to expect not only to be treated fairly but to be treated courtesouly. That this is an alien notion to Whoopi Goldberg goes to just how much nutty the woman currently packs on. Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey are calling for a boycott of Southwest Airlines. If the above doesn't make you want to reconsider flying Southwest, consider the reason we always avoid it: It's the K-Mart of the big blue skies.

A sense of perspective, please

"Fill up your proverbial cup so that it doesn't always have to be about you," counsels Alanis Morissette on "Front Row," advice someone should have taken last week.

Staff Sgt Estevan Altamirano

Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano died September 18th while serving in Iraq. His funeral was last week.

Melissa Correa (KRGV) reported, "The Valley came out to honor Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano, the Edcouch soldier who died Sept. 16 following a patrol in Iraq. The soldier's wife says he was cleaning out his weapon when it accidentally went off." Gail Burkhardt (Monitor -- link has text and video) noted:

Altamirano's stepdaughter Kayla Martinez, 16, presented a slideshow of family photos.
"I love him and he was a wonderful man," she said, her voice wavering. "And there is no one who will ever be like him."

Those people and others realized what the day was about.

Sadly, "others" does not include everyone.

Someone should have told Homer Gallegos that a funeral wasn't the place or time to work out his own decades old issues. He could be found in the media reports on the funeral stating that some WWII veterans didn't get honored the way Estevan Altamirano did and, most important to Gallegos, he didn't get honored that way.

Gallegos served during Vietnam. That ended over thirty years ago. We're not saying, "Get over it." But we are saying there's a time and there's a place. Your fussy, little pity party? Plan it for another occasion.

The day really wasn't about you.

Undocumented youths stage protest (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Undocumented youth block intersection for college access

Published Sep 29, 2011 9:56 PM

Sept. 6 protesters occupy street with banner
reading: “We will no longer remain in the shadows.”

Seven undocumented youths blocked traffic in front of Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 6. This civil disobedience was protesting the inaction of the Democratic Party, the harsh anti-immigrant agenda of the Republicans and Tea Party, and the outrageous out-of-state tuition imposed on undocumented students to attend community college.

The event started with a “coming-out” rally, with several youths sharing their stories and publicly announcing their undocumented status. Approximately 200 people, of all ages and backgrounds, gathered in support of their message and courageous actions. The rally proceeded to a march. Finally the youths sat in the middle of an intersection in uptown Charlotte, causing traffic to stall within minutes. At the top of their lungs they shouted, “Undocumented, unafraid! Undocumented, unashamed!”

Those arrested for civil disobedience include Alicia Torres, 25, of Carrboro, N.C.; Angelica Velazquillo, 25, of Charlotte; Manuel Vazquez, 21, of Raleigh, N.C.; Santiago Garcia, 20, of Asheville, N.C.; Cynthia Martinez, 20, of Sanford, N.C.; Martin Rodriguez, 20, of Hamptonville, N.C.; and Marco Saavedra, 21, of Cincinnati. However, the police also went on a rampage, arresting a total of 15 people that day. They included three more undocumented youths, two volunteer paramedics, a bystander and two Raleigh FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) members.

Those who were undocumented were taken and immediately processed at a Mecklenburg County, N.C., jail. Their cases were in the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they awaited with uncertainty as to whether they would be released or deported. Fortunately, they were all released the next night and all deportation proceedings were dropped. “I even got my alien number — everything was set for me to go and why I didn’t go I don’t know,” said Garcia.

WW photos: Dante Strobino

It was no coincidence that the date the youths held their action, Sept. 6, is also the kick-off date for the Democratic National Convention next year. The youths’ goal was for the Democratic Party to know they won’t stand by and be satisfied with empty words. NC DREAM Team ally Domenic Powell said, “This is what we have to do because these are young people whose lives are in limbo. If Democrats think we’re going to go with them, they need to remember they’re dealing with idealistic young people with nothing to lose.”

The arrested youths are frustrated that things have only gotten worse for them. They are now forced to pay out-of-state tuition and can only enroll in classes after all other U.S. residents have been enrolled.

Saudi women, still no vote (GBSW)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Saudi king says women can have the vote—just not quite yet

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The king of Saudi Arabia has announced that women citizens will finally be given the right to vote in municipal elections.

This is a sign that even one of most autocratic regimes in the region has had to bend to the demand for more political freedom thrown up by the Arab revolutions.

There were demonstrations in Saudi Arabia earlier this year calling for democracy. But they were brutally repressed.

The same violence was used against demonstrators opposing the use of Saudi forces to crush Bahrain’s democracy movement.

Yet at the same time the king pledged an extra £90 billion in social welfare spending in an attempt to placate the resistance.

Granting women the vote is a welcome reform—but it does not mean democracy has come to one of the West’s closest allies.

Women cannot use this new right in this week’s elections—and it will be another four years until the next ones.

The municipal elections are the only elections in the kingdom. They elect half the seats on the Shura Council. The king appoints the other half of this body—and it is only a consultative body.

The West likes to claim it is on the side of democracy in the Middle East. But Western leaders won’t utter a word of criticism of their repressive Saudi friends.

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.


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.

"I Hate The War" -- the most requested highlight of the week. C.I. takes on McClatchy and the US death toll from the Iraq War.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Princess Is Flying The Plane!" -- Isaiah on the disaster economy.

"Kat's Korner: Tori's nocturnal prowl" -- Kat gives Tori Amos' latest album a rave.

"Cher kept out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame again," "and then there's cher" and "Where the f**k is Cher?" -- Kat, Rebecca and Elaine cover the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame refusing yet again to nominate Cher, let alone induct her.

"Desparate Housewives," "The Good Wife," "Body of Proof," "community's bad episode" and "Chuck & Fringe" -- Betty, Stan, Rebecca and Mike cover TV.

"Margaret Prescod is an idiot" -- Betty covers radio as does Ann:

"Iraq snapshot," "The lawless Barack Obama," "Nancy Pelosi, curb your daughter," "Ugly and Unwanted Theda Skocpol" and "Non-idiot of the week: Dean Baker" -- C.I., Ruth, Kat, Elaine and Mike take on Barack's execution of two Americans never convicted in any court.

"Black Eyed Pea Soup in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy recipe (that can be vegan).

"Parenting" -- Betty talks parenting.

"new fees" -- Rebecca on the new banking ATM fees.

"If he's lost Castro . . ." -- Kat points out Barack's now lost Fidel.

"Jared's a papa" -- Marcia on the first openly gay man in the US Congress becoming a parent.

"A Little Night Music," "Will Blockbuster be the new hot thing?," "Dumping Netflix October 1st?," "movie thoughts" and "W (the movie)" -- Stan, Rebecca and Mike cover movies.

"Kamikaze Sammy" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Name that Candy Ass!," "THIS JUST IN! LIMP DICK CALLS U.S. 'SOFT'!" and "The boy princess calls others 'soft'" -- Mike, Wally and Cedric take on the sad and sorry Barack.

"Dave Johnson and other bitches" -- Ruth on the partisan whores who dismiss a genuine scandal.

"Gimp-eyed Michelle Obama" -- Marcia on Michelle.

"Patrick Martin on the con" -- Trina on WSWS.

"Princess Barry has special rules for his family" and "THIS JUST IN! HIS LATINO PROBLEM!" -- Cedric and Wally take on the hypocrisy.

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