Sunday, October 09, 2011

Truest statement of the week

Did al-Awlaki plan, authorize, or commit the terrorist acts that occurred on September 11? Well, no, but al-Qaeda did – and since the departed Muslim cleric is said to be “linked” to that nearly defunct organization, one could make a tenuous argument that the resolution covers this instance. Yet one runs up against the question of whether the killing of an American citizen without benefit of due process really is “necessary and appropriate.” The Obama administration could argue it was necessary – but appropriate? I don’t think so, at least not without issuing a formal indictment, which is one legal nicety they didn’t bother with. In any case, Congress cannot grant the President the “right’ to kill Americans in such a manner because the Constitution forbids it.

As for the international law angle: if this is what allows the US to murder its own citizens — just on the say so of the Office of Assassinations — then what business has this administration in condemning Bashar al-Assad when he cuts down his own people in the streets of Syria’s cities? After all, the Syrians claim they are only “defending” their country against foreign interference, including against acts of “terrorism.” How is this different from blasting al-Awlaki to smithereens in the desert of Yemen?

The Obamaites know they’re in the wrong, but, being self-declared “pragmatists,” i.e. utterly shameless opportunists, they put alleged necessity over principle in this and every instance.

-- Justin Raimondo, "Obama's Death Panel" (

Truest statement of the week II

That reactionary effort has its liberal or pseudo-left face as well, in the form of publications and organizations which declare sympathy for the protests, but insist that the movement must not at any cost break with the big business two-party system and those institutions, including the trade unions, which ardently defend it. The Nation magazine and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) play prominent parts in this regard.

The Nation is a house organ of the Democratic Party, with a long and discreditable history. During the 1930s, in alliance with the Stalinists of the Communist Party, the weekly magazine’s editors defended Franklin D. Roosevelt against the socialist left, helping to keep an insurgent working class under the thumb of the Democrats. It has supported and apologized for every Democratic administration, including the present one. The Nation is put out by affluent and complacent upper middle class types, who possess more than a small stake in the stock market and corporate America.

It should not be forgotten that in November 2008, Nation editor, publisher and part-owner Katrina vanden Heuvel described herself and her fellow editors and writers as “all jubilant about the new era of possibility opened up by Barack Obama’s victory,” asserting further that “Obama’s election marks a remarkable moment in our country’s history … a victory for the forces of decency, diversity and tolerance.” In fact, contrary to the hopes and wishes of millions who voted for Obama, the 2008 election has proven a victory for the forces of wealth, political reaction and militarism.

Now, the Nation proclaims its support for the Wall Street protests. Any participant or supporter, beware! In an editorial posted October 5, the magazine seeks to bring the movement safely within the sphere of respectable and thoroughly establishment politics.

After playing up to the “young protesters” in a manner that would embarrass any honest participant (“The kids are alright! … Yes, they’re angry, but they are also searching and optimistic and, above all, they have taken matters into their own hands”), the Nation editors get down to the business at hand.

“But what does Occupy Wall Street want? Whether with condescension or curiosity, that is the question being posed to the young people whose brilliant act of symbolic politics has landed them in the spotlight. Wisely, they are taking their time answering it.”

The Nation praises the one statement issued by protest leaders, which criticizes corporations for placing profits over people, then engages in this transparent sleight of hand: “The fact is, we on the left don’t have a scarcity of policy ideas. We’ve staged big rallies with detailed demands. We’ve called for a financial transactions tax and abolishing the carried-interest tax loophole, which benefits Wall Streeters. But we have lacked the power to put our ideas into practice.”

Who is this “we on the left” identified with the miserable and futile proposal to institute a “financial transactions tax,” supported by billionaires Warren Buffett, George Soros and Bill Gates and right-wing French president Nicolas Sarkozy? Vanden Heuvel and the Nation pretend that everyone participating in the protests is as cowardly and satisfied with a slightly reorganized version of capitalism as they are.

-- David Walsh, "The Nation, ISO seek to channel Wall Street protests back to the Democraci Party" (WSWS).

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.

What did we come up with?

Justin Raimondo on Barack's desire to kill US citizens.
David Walsh on the faux 'indpendent' media magazine The Nation.
Our Iraq piece. Asking a basic question that must be asked and asked until the pressure's on the press to stop their nonsense.

I (Jim) love the title I gave Ava and C.I.'s latest TV piece. (I love it even more than last week's headline "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple.") In this piece, Ava and C.I. tackle not just a TV show, but NPR and the press. This is a mammoth piece.

We continue our series of important books you should check your library for. This is the 3rd of the 10 we intended to highlight.

Mike pitched this idea and we all loved it because it's a movie (Stardust) that we all love.
A mailbag that kind of turned into a roundtable.

A repost of C.I. to up our Iraq coverage this week.

A repost from Workers World.

A repost from UK's Socialist Worker.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's our edition this week. Enjoy.


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

Editorial: An increase is an increase

Last Friday, the latest unemployment figures were published and the unemployment rate was 9.1%. The economy continues to thrive as unemployment continued its 60-plus year decline.


Unemployment is outrageous and the economy has not recovered.

But if you're willing to use The Great Depression as the baseline, when unemployment in the US was at 25%, you can spin today as 'improved.' You can ignore the fact that unemployment rose in the last years and that we have a crisis in the United States, if you're willing to spin.

So far the press has been far more honest with regards to the economy than they have to the Iraq War.

Door Breach

With the Iraq War, where violence has risen in the last two years, the press loves to disguise that fact by repeatedly using the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007 as the baseline for violence.

When they should be reporting that violence has risen, that violence is increasing in Iraq, they instead tell you that it's 'down' from a period of over five years ago.

By repeatedly using that 'baseline,' they lie and obscure the realities of Iraq.

That they continue to get away with it is appalling and says a great deal about so-called antiwar outlets which are too busy these days obsessing over the GOP primary to actually weigh in on the Iraq War.

Stupid on the small things, stupid on the big things, the US press once again demonstrated that they couldn't be counted on to cover the Iraq War as so many outlets announced that it had been decided there would be NO immunity for Iraqi troops (see C.I.'s "They bungled the SOFA coverage as well" for a critique of The New York Times' mis-reporting). Later that day, Parliament would explore one option to grant immunity -- thereby demonstrating that no blanket decision had been made and that, yet again, The New York Times can't grasp simple facts.

Why does the Iraq War continue to drag on? Because so damn few American outlets pay any attention to it and those that do seem to wallow in their own errors.

TV: That Bunny Won't Hop

When NBC's Playboy Club became the first series of the fall season to get the axe, the real question was why did it ever air in the first place? The Water Cooler Set avoided that question to protect their own self-interest.


See, in a world with functioning media criticism, things like Playboy Club would never air and embarrassments like Morning Edition last week would be called out. But the Water Cooler Set didn't go there either. Instead, they were too busy rushing to be part of the group hug and demonstrating just how stupid they are.

And they really are stupid.

We'll get to the bunnies as well as the bias of Morning Edition. But don't we all enjoy a laugh at our lessers? So let's start there.

Thursday night, Parks and Recreation aired an episode entitled "Born & Raised" which was written by Aisha Muharrar. We've praised Parks and Recreation before several times and been among the few to do so. Thursday's episode finally caught the Water Cooler Set's attention. And as they raved and gushed all last week, it really demonstrated how shallow and stupid the Water Cooler Set is.

Chicago Now's Andrew Daglas not only wanted to instruct readers on satire, the pompous ass also wanted you to know (among other things), "An episode like 'Born and Raised' shows beautifully how to wield satire lightly but pointedly, and still retain the heart to want to make the world better even for the 'goofballs' who live in it." The goofball is actually Daglas, but we're not done naming names. Sexist James Poniewozik (TIME magazine) found himself loving the show all the sudden, "Last night's Parks and Recreation, 'Born and Raised' -- in which Leslie Knope encountered the Pawnee version of birtherism -- was the strongest yet of the new-season episodes and one that gives me great hope for what it can do with her campaign storyline." Jen Chaney (Washington Post) gushed, "Tonight’s episode of 'Parks and Recreation' pulled off an impressive hit trick, delivering a genuinely funny episode, a 30-minute product placement for a new book and a scathing satire of the birther moment."

We could go on and on, kids, but what better way to note how stupid the Water Cooler set is than to point out that Docker Boy Bill Carter (New York Times) finally found the time and energy to cover and praise Parks and Recreation.

Why now?

The alibi he hides behind is: "Judging by increasingly favorable critical comment, along with the endorsements on Internet sites and enthusiastic word of mouth, the four-year-old comedy has found its comic voice."

Oh, okay.

Except "increasingly favorable critical comment" was what?

Alessandra Stanley writing for The New York Times in February of last year. (For the record, since her name's showing up here, we do not consider Stanley to be part of the Water Cooler Set. She goes her own way and is no one's club mascot -- good for her.) Alessandra praises the program in February and eight months later Docker Boy publishes an article on it? His research notes -- and expense account! -- must be epic.

Reality, he wrote about it last week because of the buzz NBC was building around the show for what the critics call (and NBC sold as) "the birther story." If you're confused, "birthers" is the name the media gave to people questioning Barack Obama's birth place. If Barack were not born in the United States, it is argued, he could not be president.

Doubts emerged for a number of reasons including the fact that the media always tried to soft peddle the fact that Barack Obama Sr. would have been a bigamist if he was married to Barack's mother Stanley Dunham. A press that hides bigamy isn't exactly a trusted press and the media had long educated Americans on bigamy. In fact, the TV movie often seemed to exist in the 70s and 80s just to explain to America that the second wife would have to get a divorce but she was not, by US law, legally married to the already married man.

Other reasons doubts may have emerged? It could be the refusal to explore Ann Dunham's government work. Or maybe the fact that at least one press report when Barack was elected to the US Senate declared his birth place was Kenya. Or it could be the fact that his only living relative who could have spoken of his birth was hidden away throughout 2007 and 2008.

Roberta McCain, by contrast, was all over the campaign trail. She was 96-years-old. But that's what family does. Or what it's supposed to do. Barack's grandmother couldn't even be bothered with giving interviews via the telephone during her grandson's run for president -- her only grandson . . . that she partially raised.

It never made sense because in the US, when you run for office, your family does as well. No one doubted, for example, that Dr. Judy Dean existed. But her refusal to take part in her husband Howard's campaign didn't set well with Americans. It raised many questions. After Dean became less of a 'winner' in the Democratic Party's primaries and while he was on the ropes, both Deans would grant Diane Sawyer an interview for ABC.

We include that because when your family doesn't participate, questions are raised. That's nothing new and shouldn't be surprising.

You can say it's uncommon to raise issues of birth place and eligibility in a presidential contest.

The press certainly does say that.

The press that kissed Donald Trump's ass for years until, in 2011, he began raising questions about Barack's birth certificate.

Remember how we were just talking about Roberta McCain? How at 96-years-old she was on the campaign trail, she was granting interviews, she was doing anything and everything to see to it that her son had a shot at the presidency while the woman Barack publicly called "my own White grandmother" couldn't even tape a commercial, couldn't even tape a radio interview, wouldn't do a damn thing for him.

You know what else was strange?

The press pretending they have no interest in eligibility due to birth.

Today they insist that wasn't them. Today they ridicule those who ask questions. That's today.

But what about in the last presidential race?

Carl Hulse's 2008 article was entitled "McCain's Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out" (New York Times). See, McCain was born at a US military installation because his father was in the service, a US military installation outside the US. And it was an issue for the press. In fact, it was an issue to them when McCain first ran for president. There was little in Hulse's 2008 article that hadn't already been covered by Ken Rudin, writing for The Washington Post, in July of 1998, "Citizen McCain's Panama Problem?" What Rudin could explain in two paragraphs, ten years later, the press was teasing into long articles. The New York Times couldn't stop going to the well on this story in 2008 and readers loved these articles, they always posted high on the day's top read pieces at the paper's website. Carl Hulse covered it again in February 2008 anod again in May of that year. The popularity of these articles might explain why, as late as July 11, 2008, the paper was still filing lengthy articles on the issue such as Adam Liptak's "A Hint of New Life to a McCain Birth Issue." There were more reports, there were opinion pieces (such as this one) and if you think the print edition of the paper was obsessed with John McCain's eligibility, you need to check out the work done by the paper's political blog The Caucus.

Eligibility was fair game for McCain whose father was a well know, press covered, military man and whose mother lived with McCain's father (and was legally married to him) and was still alive and happy to talk about her son. But this new-to-the-national-political-scene Barack must not be asked any questions, insisted the media.

It's rightly noted how the press, like locust, descended upon Wasilla, Alaska in September 2008. What's less often pointed out is that the press' double standard started with the way they treated John McCain in 2008 when compared to how Barack was treated.

The press ran with, wouldn't let go of, the eligibility issue. And yet when Americans had some honest questions about eligibility as applied to Barack, the press derided them as "birthers" and acted as if the issue of eligibility was something only crazy nuts had ever discussed. In deriding them, in attacking them, the press encouraged the rumors.

The press very rarely takes responsibility for its own actions.

And they attacked Donald Trump because the questions he raised came at a time when, as evidenced by the polling, America was beginning to ask questions about what exactly Barack stands for and exactly who is he?

Regardless of where Barack was born or not born, Donald Trump, in 2011, was a living, breathing monument to the refusal of the press to ask the needed questions in 2007 and 2008 about all the candidates. Which is why, this year, the press finally turned on Donald Trump.

And that 'birther' issue is why the press decided last week that they loved, loved Parks and Recreation.

But in 'loving' it, they revealed how stupid they were.

It was a great story they all insisted and so funny and a few (including one we linked to above) even got in the name of the notorious female whose filed one lawsuit after another on Barack's eligibility.

But while they were laughing, they seemed to miss a main point. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is running for local office and she's pushing a book she wrote as well. She goes on TV and is confronted with the accusation that she's a liar and she wasn't actually born in Pawnee. Leslie denies the accusation. Speculation builds damaging a book signing.


Leslie finds out she wasn't born in Pawnee.

If that was supposed to be -- what did The Washington Post call it, oh, yes, -- "a scathing satire of the birther movement," we're confused. Because the accusation, on the TV show, was true.

So the Water Cooler Set, please grasp this because they didn't, spent last week praising an episode for sending up the so-called birther movement when, in fact, the episode's resolution was finding that the people were correct about Leslie not being born in Pawnee.

That's how stupid the Water Cooler set is. Thinking is hard for them so they must run and write in packs.

If they didn't, they would have been calling out Morning Edition last week.

Steve Jobs died last week and, despite the fact that we both knew him, we feel like yawning at this point. In fairness to Jobs, that reaction has little to do with him and everything to do with the press and their glomming on his death.

Friday, Morning Edition aired a 640 word segment on Jobs' death and we found that to be excessive all by itself. "All by itself" meaning: That's before you consider Thursday's broadcast.

On that show, they aired one, two, three, four segments on the passing of Steve Jobs which all together broadcast 2731 words.

If that doesn't seem excessive to you, you may be suffering media damage. Steve Jobs always struck us as a nice person. We never had a problem with him. But we're struggling to figure out how his death warrants 2731 words from one NPR program let alone, nearly 2400 words (add Thursday and Friday's Morning Edition segments together).

And you can think we're mean and rude and harsh -- and maybe we are. But we know that we use speed dial all the time but have never given a thought to who invented it. Same with the microwave or wireless modems or any other technology.

We do care about those who've changed the world -- not changed the consumer, mind you, changed the world.

The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth died last week as well.

If you're asking, "Who?," you're probably suffering from some major broadcast media damage.

Elaine Woo (Los Angeles Times) opened her obituary of Shuttlesworth with this sentence, "The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a blunt-talking preacher who braved beatings, bombings and fire-hosings to push Birmingham, Ala., to the forefront of the civil rights movement and advanced the historic fight with a confrontational strategy that often put him at odds with its most charismatic leader, died Wednesday." That was echoed in the opening of Jon Nordheimer's (New York Times) obituary: "The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a storied civil rights leader who survived beatings and bombings in Alabama a half-century ago as he fought against racial injustice alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala."

Some might argue that racism is the reason that Morning Edition pretty much ignored Shuttlesworth while incessantly raving over Steve Jobs (Shuttlesworth was African-American, Jobs was considered Anglo White -- his birth father was Syrian) and there might be a strong argument to be made there. We're not denying that there is. But what it struck us as, listening to the excited voices on Jobs and the ho-hum (by contrast) on Shuttlesworth was that Jobs was 'techy' and 'new' and 'rich' and 'trendy.' Shuttlesworth? Just someone with convictions who'd been willing to risk life and limb for equality.

648 words was what NPR thought this heroic person deserved. If Shuttlesworth had been a multi-millionaire, might they have given him 1,200 words?

What the press chooses to value is screwed up and you'd be wise to bookmark that and return to it the next time some gas bag starts whining about Americans and their values. The press never wants to take responsibility. They obsess for over half of 2008 about John McCain's eligibility and then get surprised when news consumers wonder, "What about the other guy?" They obsess over the death of someone who more than hit the jackpot financially while treating the passing of a true American hero as barely worth noting.

The press is the reason something like The Playboy Club even aired to begin with.

Every network should have run from the stink of this series. One of the partners in the show was Hugh Hefner (via his Playboy Enterprises). The notion that Hugh Hefner is a disinterested party is laughable. Though billed as a "historical drama," this was always going to be revisionary history, one that, in Playboy's apparent final days, would turn Hef into a political player and equality fighter -- history and facts be damned.

Which is why the show featured a closeted lesbian bunny (played by Leah Renee) married to a closeted gay man (played by Sean Maher). The two knew their sexuality, it was a marriage for cover. They're starting a Mattachine Society in Chicago. See the problem? Ike and Tina Turner show up at the Playboy Mansion to perform "Make Me Over" and "Shake A Tail Feather." See the problem?

It's not just that the 1961 show features women in a modern version of mid-to-late sixties eye make up and hair styles, it's that it trashes history completely. NBC pushed "Make Me Over" as "Tina's Wish" -- which is in the film What's Love Got To Do With It? -- but the song was first recorded by Ike and Tina Turner as "Make Me Over" on the 1973 album Nutbush City Limits. "Shake A Tail Feather"? Forget Ike and Tina's cover, the song wasn't even written until 1963. As for Chicago's Mattachine Society? It can be traced back to 1955. 1961 was the year that the Mattachine Society broke up as a national group -- due to the emphasis on local chapters. Chicago Metro History Education Center notes, "Chicago's chapter of the Mattachine Society was established in the early 1950s and is noted for putting together a vital handbook of gay and lesbian' legal rights. Pearl Hart, a Chicago lawyer, was instrumental in advising the Chicago chapter on this handbook. She was also one of a handful of lawyers who would take on lesbian and gay rights cases in the 1950s. Along with Henry Gerber, she is remembered and honored today in the organizational name of the Gerber Hart Gay and Lesbian Library." Pearl Hart, an actual person, a thinking person, an attorney and an activist, and all of her work is rendered invisible so that we can pretend a Playboy bunny and her husband started Chicago's chapter of the Mattachine Society in 1961.

Along with rewriting history -- excuse us, replacing history with fantasy, the show also embraced sexism as most knew it would. Women were expected to show their flanks repeatedly and to be undressed regularly. While the men? Kept it covered unless they were gay men. (We're referring to the characters on the show, not the actors.) Women were shown in Bunny outfits, of course, they were also shown half in them (and half out), wearing only a man's shirt, wearing nighties, wearing bras, you name it. The hottest male actor on the show, Eddie Cibrian, was in a towel for one scene. He was supposed to have taken a shower before the camera found him at a bedroom mirror combing his hair. There was one brief shot of the room and Eddie (in profile) where you saw the towel. The rest of the time, the camera seemed nervous with the fact that Eddie was in a towel which would explain why all other shots ended about mid-nipple on Eddie. The cameras lingered and worked their way up and around the female forms but when a male worth looking at finally is in a towel, everyone got nervous.

(Gay male characters and female lesbian characters were filmed roughly -- bad lighting, bad angles. The positive take is that at least Hef didn't resort to "lipstick lesbians," the alternative take is that someone running the show has a really negative opinion of lesbians and gay men.)

Little stories ran throughout, like the lesbian subplot or a woman doesn't want to be on the cover of Playboy. Usually you saw them coming long before the other characters did. And at times, it all played out like a sad campus production of And Then There Were None.

The big plot was supposed to be covering up a murder. A gangster tried to rape Maureen (Amber Heard) at the club and Nick (Cibrian) tried to stop him. As the gangster attacked Nick, Maureen killed the man.

Long before his son (Troy Garity -- in one of the few cases of actual acting the show offered) showed up near the end of the first episode looking for his father, you knew the secret wasn't going to stay secret and that it was unbelievable a mobster -- a head mobster, at that -- disappears and no one's going to be asking questions. In Chiago, no less.

From all accounts, the mob was very much a presence in the early days of Playboy so it makes sense that the show would feature it. It just didn't make sense that the show would portray the mob and the club as being at odds with one another -- until you remembered this was revisionary fantasy and not historical fact.

Once upon a time, as we've pointed out many times, the TV critics used their power for good. They used it to champion worthwhile shows and TV movies and mini-series. Entertainment that could nourish the mind. These days, all they want to do is run with the pack. Did they even watch all of Parks and Recreation's "Born & Raised" episode before weighing in? (You'll notice that we had no problem naming the writer of the episode yet no one in the Water Cooler Set managed to.) Where were they while Morning Edition was lavishing Steve Jobs with kisses and turning Fred Shuttlesworth into a footnote?

Time and again, they misuse and abuse the power they've been given. Instead of making the hard calls, they write for one another, mirroring one another's judgment and becoming text book cases of group think. If you wonder how something as horrible as The Playboy Club ever made it on to the air, if you wonder why TV is so often so very bad, look no further than the Water Cooler Set. Those who are supposed to be the watch dogs, those who are supposed to be the police officers of the media beat, long ago turned into crooked cops more interested in pleasing one another than in actually assisting the public.

Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice


Chapter 7 opens:
Mike McConnell met Jack Baker on a blind date at a Halloween party in an Oklahoma barn in 1966 when they were 24-year-old graduate students. Distinctly unimpressed, McConnel scolded the matchmaker: "Don't ever fix me up again! I really don't like him." The matchmaker confidently responded, "You don't know what you're talking about. You two were destined for one another." McConnell admits, "He was right. It was true. I fell in love." On Baker's twenty-fifth birthday, the two young men became"betrothed," as they put it, in a private ceremony.

The book is Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's 2001 Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court, a survey of the wins and, too often, losses in the struggle for equality. The book explores issues of marriage, issues of sex, issues of privacy, issues of community and service and so much more. It's the previously unwritten history of America.

Courting Justice

For 530 pages, you hear about the issues that have mattered in the last century as well as this one, you learn about the people effected by judicial decisions (which includes a decision not to hear a case) and you learn about the Justices of the Supreme Court.

Such as Justice Lewis Powell who could have saved his reputation and his own self-image if he'd only a retired a year earlier. Retiring at the start of 1986 would have meant he never heard Bowers v. Hardwick and never took part in a homophobic argument that went against what Powell supposedly believed in when it came to privacy.

Michael Hardwick was arrested in his own residence for the 'crime' of having oral sex with another man. "Do you have the right to privacy in your home or not" should have been the issue but a campaign went on among Court Justices and their staff (such as clerk Michael Mosman) to draw a line between Americans, between hetero and homo sexual Americans. In a 5-4 decision (widely derided even in real time), the Court found that gay Americans had no rights to privacy (as the chapter on the decision is titled, "Branded Second-Class Citizens"). Powell could have (and some thought would) have sided with what became the minority. Instead, he decided to embrace hatred and stereotypes.

Powell's homophobia is on full display after he leaves the court and attempts to prepare for ways to defend it (while giving lectures to college students). His notes show frequent use of "AIDS" as a reason to attack same-sex practices. When he admitted in 1990 that his vote was "probably a mistake," he followed that by dismissing the case and the issue as "not a major case."

You'll learn about Justice Tom Clark whose son Ramsey Clark's agreed to review and critique Justice Clark's decisions for the book's authors. Tom Clark knew a man who engaged in same-sex coupling, Walter Jenkins, whom the LBJ White House kicked to the curb when he was entrapped by a police officer in a DC men's room. And his nephew Bobby Clark was gay. It didn't lead to empathy on the part of Justice Clark when deciding same-sex issues.

There's so much in this book and it hooks you very quickly.
McConnel's legal saga began in April 1970 when he accepted a $11,000 job as head of cataloging at a campus library at the University of Minnesota, where Baker was a first-year law student. Three weeks later, on May 18, the couple applied for a marriage license in Minneapolis. "PROSPECTIVE NEWLYWEDS REALLY IN A GAY MOOD," announced the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A Minneapolist Tribune photo showed two serious-looking young men in coats and ties. The university's student daily paper reported that the couple "caused only a minor stir" in the country licensing bureau, where "office workers stood in small clusters and tittered." Baker was quoted as saying, "If there's any legal hassle, we're prepared to take it all the way to the Supreme Court." He added, "This is not a gimmick. We really want to do it. A homosexual ought to have equal rights, privileges and responsibilities."

And they did try to take their case to the Supreme Court, however, the Court decided to turn the appeal away and dismiss it. Of course, dismiss is never that simple. For example, Barbara Underwood, a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, advocated for Marshall to vote for refusing to hear the case and wrote that "it is probably reasonable, within the limits imposed by equal protection, for a state to limit the institution known as marriage to heterosexual couples" -- a position she would reverse years later as New York Solicitor General.

Courting Justice is our third pick ("Anthony's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece" being the other two) in our series on important books of the last ten years that you should check your library for.

DVD Treasure

af stardust

What has Tristan (Charlie Cox) sweating? Specifically, he's just lost a fight with a witch who's about to kill him but more generally speaking, the quest for love in Stardust.

Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride was a modest box office success in 1987. Word of mouth, home rental and purchase as well as TV airings allowed it to reach a wider audience and be recognized as the classic it is. 2007's Stardust was also a modest hit and we hope it is recognized for its greatness in the coming years.

Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn's screenplay traces Tristan's growth from boy to man. As a boy, he thinks he knows everything including that Sienna (Victoria Forester) is the love of his life.

ag stardust

For this false love, he will risk anything, do anything, leave his home to find a fallen star to bring back to Sienna. And all the while, as she freely tells Tristan, Sienna's planning to marry another.

Everyone wants the star. For various reasons. Including three witches.

a stardust

Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the witch-queen. Her sisters Mormo (Joanna Scanlan) and Empusa (Sarah Alexander) allow her to devour the last piece of their previous star so that Lamia's youth can be restored and powers strengthened as she sets out on the quest to bring back the latest fallen star and carve out its heart. She will be Tristan's most formidable foe but far from his only obstacle.

ac stardust

There will be sword fights and voyages to the skies, standing on clouds and much more in this Michael Vaughn directed film (he directed this summer's hit X: Men First Class, now out on DVD). Along the way, he will get to know the fallen star, Yvaine (Claire Danes).

ai stardust

And to know himself. He'll be aided in that by a witch's slave (Kate Magowan) as well as by a pirate captain (Robert De Niro in his finest role).

ab stardust

And by Yvaine who will realize what love is and what she feels for Tristan only after after the witch Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill) turns him into a mouse.

ad stardust

All will lead up to an explosive climax that kicks off with a battle between Lamia and Ditchwater Sal

ae stardust

which builds to a showdown at the witches castle.

Stardust is a piece of film magic that garnered strong reviews and deserves a much larger audience.



Ty: It's been awhile since we did a mailbag and were considering a roundtable but Joy and Russ specifically e-mailed last week requesting a mailbag. Our e-mail address is Participating in this mailbag, besides me, are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Jess; 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; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. In other words, everybody but The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review who are finishing up a mammoth TV commentary. First up, Joanie e-mailed to ask about our new feature on books and where we got the idea?

Jess: Before today, there were two book picks. Last week's was "Anthony's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and the week before was "Tori's Piece by Piece." As is explained in the one about Tori's book, one of our regular readers, Christopher, suggested we do something to note libraries because they have seen a huge increase in usage during this Great Recession while at the same time seeing a huge decrease in funding. We were looking for something and Betty, Elaine and C.I. graciously allowed us to use something they were working on. Betty?

Betty: Elaine, C.I. and I were talking about books and how we get a lot of e-mails about books. At The Common Ills, Martha and Shirley do a yearly book review which is great. But we were thinking about upping our book coverage in some way. And we started talking about all the books that had come out since 2001. So we ended up making a list and whittling it down to 67 choices and I'll let Elaine pick up here.

Elaine: Okay, so we had this huge list, as Betty's saying, of books that we thought were important books of the last ten years -- 2001 to 2011. We needed to whittle it down and I came up with 67 for several reasons including that it adds up to 13. I'm not joking. So we worked on cutting to the bone and came up with 67 books. The plan was to do no more than two sentences and to divide the list up so that we all had at least 20 books a piece and whomever was the quickest would grab an additional seven. It was a piece we'd write ahead of time and then post at our sites when we needed a night off -- when Betty and I needed a night off. But it would also go up at The Common Ills. So we had just started it, I had two books covered, when Jim raised Christopher's e-mail and was asking for ideas.

Betty: And we threw our idea in here and the ten's coming from the list of 67 books we felt were the best of 2011.

Ty: Still on that feature, we've had e-mails that presume all the books will be on Iraq -- Roy, KeShawn and Ida especially felt that way after last week -- or entertainers -- most vocal there was Sydney.

Jim: There's a book by an actor on the list that I think should be chosen. I don't know at this point what the other choices will be. I'll go ahead and say that we just decided tonight that Courting Justice would be this week's pick. But there are a lot of books -- 67 -- on that list and we have no idea what we'll end up picking. I hope we have a wide range of books at the end but, that said, I don't think the Tori Amos book, Piece by Piece, is either an 'entertainment' book or autobiography. I think it's a book on society and art and a really important one at that. I'm really glad that was our first pick.

Isaiah: As for Iraq, we discussed that and how easy it would be to just do a list of ten books on Iraq. We're not going to do that. But there are three more we are considering for inclusion in the ten. I'm sure at least one will be included. Courting Justice, by Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price, is something C.I. gifts you with if you participate in these editions because at some point, something in the book -- an LGBT legal history -- is going to come up while we're discussing some article. It's a big book, too. And I'd advise anyone who picks it up and feels intimidated by the size to just look at the chapter titles and start the book with a chapter whose title interests you. Once you get one chapter under your belt, you really can't put the book down.

Ty Kawyin and Brody both wrote e-mails wondering about comic book coverage and where we are on that?

Mike: We did that hear in 2009 and 2010 and some this year. I imagine we'll continue to do it but we do have other things to focus on from time to time. I want to do a 'lost treasures' thing on DVDs, for example. I also think that all the super hero movies this summer pretty much burned everyone -- not just those of us participating here -- out on comic books.

Dona: And, most likely, we'll have one within the next 4 weeks. Not sure when but, as Mike notes, there's a super hero burnout at present. So I'd like to push forward my suggestion on a comic's piece. It's also the perfect time due to the economy -- mine takes money being tight into consideration.

Ty: "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" was the most cited piece by Ava and C.I. in last week's e-mails in reply to Jim's "A note to our readers" comment, "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." 57 e-mailed on the Friendly Faces piece. There were many other choices in the e-mails but that was the most cited one. I'm going to toss to Cedric on this because he got 25 e-mails about Jim's note and replied to them and forwarded me his reply to make sure he was remembering correctly.

Cedric: I explained that, in 2008, we suddenly saw a button called "Stats." Curious, we tried it at our sites. What it did was provide you stats. I don't know when it started keeping stats or how far they go back. It wasn't something we added, to be clear, it was something done by Blogger/Blogspot. But you can see most read for the day, week, month and "all time." I was surprised by Jim's note as well because those are good pieces but not what I would have guessed were the three most read. I shared my guesses in my e-mail replies and I pointed out that all of them were before 2008 -- whereas only one of the ones listed by Jim is before 2008. My point there was that I offered the hypothesis that the counter may start in 2008. If so, most read pieces prior to 2008 started at zero in 2008.

Ty: Mystique 44 e-mailed regarding Danny Schechter. M44 quoted Danny Schechter writing in 2009, "The Common Ills Blog which turned from supporting my work to turning on it, smartly features a post from Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco, an excellent book on the Iraq War. (He has new one I haven't read.)" M44 wants to know why The Common Ills "turned on Danny"?

Ruth: I reject that b.s. Danny Schechter's such a drama queen. Marcia and I called Danny out at our sites. We are not "The Common Ills." We are not even "Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)." No one has ever held people who know Danny Schechter responsible for his bad claims and insults -- and he was very insulting to Marcia at his blog -- so it is really stupid that Danny Schechter wrote that garbage.

Marcia: He's a mincing queen. And how typical that Danny would attack C.I. And that Danny would get his facts wrong. In 2008, Danny had drunk the Kool-Aid and was engaging in non-stop sexism and non-stop insults in his tacky little blog. Ruth and I both began calling it out. I made a point to go to C.I. and ask her about it because -- get this, you stupid f**k, Danny -- she actually likes you. C.I. said to me that my website was my website and I had to write about what I actually believed in. She said that if I didn't, it wouldn't be my site.

Rebecca: Words that we've all heard at one time or another. I was just writing Friday, responding to an e-mail from someone angry that I was covering Fast & Furious and the person insisted that C.I. probably knows Eric Holder. C.I. does know Holder and likes Holder. That doesn't mean she's going to say, "Rebecca, don't write about Eric, he's my friend!!!!" My blog is my blog. I'm responsible for it and if I ever doubt that, C.I. will be the first one to tell me that or anyone else. And she will never ever say, "I disagree with you." She will generally make a point to link to that post -- less so now that she links to all community posts, but back before she did that daily, she'd make a point to link to something that she might have disagreed with just to show support for your effort at being true to yourself. And Danny was really a big baby. He and his "news dissetrix" or whatever sexist name he gave his assistant who felt she could trash Ruth in an e-mail, as I damn well do recall. Does Danny recall that? If he's blogging about when he was treated poorly, maybe Ruth should publish that outrageous e-mail from Cherie or whatever her name was?

Mike: It needs to be noted that Danny delinked from The Common Ills. What a cowardly move. I have called out a lot of people at my site and often times they were people C.I. knew. She was alway supportive of my writing and of my speaking my mind. Like Rebecca pointed out, she'd never make it a point of "I agree with you" or "I disagree with you," and would instead focus on how you had to be true to your own voice and write what you thought because without that honesty you were just wasting everyone's time. Danny's a little coward in my opinion. A stupid little coward. What a wuss for delinking from C.I. because of things others wrote. There's never been anyone as supportive as Danny as C.I.

Jim: A lot of people are wanting to talk on this and I'm jumping over everyone to make some important points first. Danny Schechter has gotten an easier ride than any other Cult of St. Baracker. Everyone working on the editions knows that. They know that we toss Danny's name out in an editorial with a list of others and C.I. immediately asks, "How do you justify his inclusion on that list? Tom I understand, but back up Danny or let's pull him from the list." So a list calling out Cultist gets Danny removed. More recently, Danny finally woke up. C.I. had critiques of his wake up that were negative and positive. She opened the snapshot with Danny's piece. Danny's piece on Barack, not on Iraq. No one else would have been able to be in the opening of the snapshot for that topic. They might not even made the snapshot. C.I. treated it as news and did far more for Danny than he's ever done for her. And I can come back to that topic. She has linked to another one of his pieces since. Danny's done nothing but trash her and act like a little bitch. C.I.'s repeatedly ignored it and gone out of her way to be as kind as she can to a crazy nut. The first time she and Ava were forced to take on Danny's Cult behavior -- they'd found other things to do repeatedly -- in June 2008. Anyone who knows their writing, knows they were more than kind in that piece to Danny. They even made him Groucho Marx -- a huge compliment from C.I. who knows all the Marx Brothers films by heart. In addition, C.I. and Ava were behind the decision of
Third to promote Plunder in 2010, and, more importantly, Ava and C.I. wrote a review of it April 25, 2010 in which praised the documentary. I find it hard to understand how Danny can argue he was turned on. Danny's helpers and organization sent non-stop e-mails to the public account of The Common Ills. Until Danny left reality in 2008, C.I. always noted them -- fundraisers, new projects, whatever. C.I. noted them over and over. And never asked for anything in return, never e-mailed Danny asking for a damn thing. I'm going to shut up and let others talk but I will be doing a solo piece on this next week and will include references to the e-mails Danny Schechter and I have exchanged over the years -- some heated, some not so. I am appalled by Danny Schechter's little vindictive attacks on C.I. who has gone out of her way to be fair to him while he's been nothing but a little bitch in return. And I'm not talking about Third here, I'm talking strictly about C.I. who has done more for him online than anyone. Danny is ungrateful little bitch.

Wally: I would agree with that. And I hope you point out that C.I. does that for a ton of people. Highlights their stuff for them at their request and has never, ever asked anything in return.

Kat: Before this closes down, I do music reviews and do them at The Common Ills, C.I.'s website. A lot of people I cover are people that C.I. knows. I took on a male rock god -- twice actually -- and the first time I made a point of telling C.I. I had pulled my punches because he's a friend -- a friend of C.I.'s. She told me to go back and redo the piece because I didn't need to pull punches for her or her friends or anyone. She gave me the, "You have to be authentic and true to yourself or what's the point in reading what you write?" speech. And I did that. I went back and tore the album apart. And though the critical consensus now is that the album sucked, back when it came out it was getting praise. Anyway, about six months later, we're in New York and eating when male rock god comes over to the table and is talking about his family life for a few minutes before saying he's furious with C.I. for that piece by "that woman." C.I. never shoves it off on me, never says, "She's that woman." She says that the piece was a critical review and that he didn't have to agree with it but it was honest and it was funny and if that hurt, we'll don't put out your stuff if you're going to obsess over negative reviews. At which point, I did interrupt and say, "Don't be mad at her, be mad at me, I wrote it." And he was kind of taken aback by that. I've encountered him twice since then, most recently at C.I.'s house, and it's not a big issue anymore. But if Danny can take criticism, he needs to put all of his writing into a box and not let anyone see it until after he dies.

Ann: I would agree with that. I get criticized all the time in e-mails. That's fine. Some are right, some are wrong. It's not been the end of my life. It's amazing that a media critic, which is what Danny was until 2008 when he refused to call out sexism and other things a media critic should have been monitoring, wants to get all testy and whiney about, get this, media criticism. Apparently, when the shoes on the other foot, fat little toes get stubbed.

Trina: I can close this conversation. Before I do, does anyone else need to weigh in?

Stan: I'll just say I think Danny Schechter's a big baby and that he drifted away from media criticism in 2008 and has never made it back to it. I don't know what the so-called News Dissector blog is today, it's a bulletin board, it's not media criticism. And the refusal to cover Iraq is why so many of us find Danny useless.

Trina: Okay, in 2010, at the start of it, something happened. Due to a piece I wrote. C.I. was in my kitchen -- my physical kitchen -- so it was probably Friday night and getting yelled at by someone she knew over the phone. It was not a pleasant call. After it was over, I made a point of saying I was sorry and C.I. said if it hadn't been over my post, it would have been over something else so don't worry about it. She sighed and she moved on. So Ruth and Marcia, don't feel bad about what you wrote. C.I.'s not going to care.

Elaine: I'll jump in one more time to point out that C.I. doesn't have time for Danny's b.s. She's got too much to do, from attending Congressional hearings and reporting on them at The Common Ills, to speaking to college groups and other groups, to writing constantly at The Common Ills, to reading over a dozen publications in Arabic in order to follow Iraq which disappeared from US news, to covering media here at Third with Ava, to living a rich and full life. She doesn't have time to sweat Danny's attacks.

Ty: Thank you, Elaine and Trina and we're going to stop there. A number of you wrote about Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" and, next Sunday, I'll do a mailbag that's not a transcript piece and focus on that.

They bungled the SOFA coverage as well (C.I.)

Jim: This is a repost of a piece by C.I. Later the same day, she'd be proven correct when the Iraqi Parliament began exploring immunity. All the political blocs agreed to was that they were not (at that point) going to grant immunity themselves. A number of outlets including the notorious New York Times refused to stick to reality and took it upon themselves to 'improve' the news with details they invented.

They bungled the SOFA coverage as well

"Did you ever want to cry?," the Mamas and the Papas wondered on the 1967 classic Deliver. How about right now?

How about reading the nonsense from the New York Times? Specifically this awful article by Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt.

Where to begin?

They're covering what we spent 16 paragraphs on in yesterday's snapshot.

And they're doing an awful job of it.

Trainers have been agreed to (yes); however, then they add this, "but they declared that any remaining troops should not be granted immunity from Iraqi law." Really? Because that's not what the statement Jalal Talabani issued said.

It said, the political blocs had agreed they wouldn't grant immunity.

Not "should not."

Last night and this morning I spoke with three friends at the State Dept and two with the White House. State Dept is more cautious and their view is summarized as 'the deal is on track' -- keeping US forces on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011. The White House? All five were asked to give me one word describing the results of the meet-up. State Dept's varied. The two at the White House? "Promising." That was both of their one word choice.

I expect more than a headline crawl from the New York Times. Maybe that's my mistake?

Please note, though Tim Arango was not in Iraq or in charge of the coverage then, they also bungled the SOFA coverage. They were so wrong on the SOFA. They've never apologized for that. They've never even acknowledged that they were wrong.

But having been so grossly wrong then, you'd think they'd be a little more careful today.

They're not.

Why is you get the feeling that the SOFA and the Strategic Framework Agreement are foreign documents, unknowns, to Arango and Schmidt?

The last five paragraphs show promise but a friend with the State Dept was laughing (with me) on the phone as we read over them this morning. They have no damn clue what they're describing. It's as though they're reporting is strung together guesses from 25,000 Pyramid. (Yes, it has been years since I've watched that show. Try the seventies. I'm sure the dollar amount in the title got much higher before the show got axed.)

And the paragraph right before that produced the most howls.

But at least the five paragraphs attempt to go somewhere.

All the other paragraphs add up to little more than a CNN crawl that's been repeatedly teased out, like a bad 50s beehive.

They can't tell you what happened. They have to get creative.

It's a disaster.

Let's assume for a moment that they're correct and that there will be no immunity for US troops, that that was the decision of the meet-up.

Okay, so I assume the paper's reporters covering the State Dept and White House will be leading the questioning at today's State Dept briefing and whatever Jay Carney pulls together on the road today for the White House? I assume that these reporters will be demanding to know how the US military can stay in Iraq without immunity? And that, in addition, Michael R. Gordon will be leading that questioning at the Pentagon's briefing today?

Because that belief is what the paper sells its readers today. So if that's what the paper believes, then surely it will have its best and brightest all over DC today demanding answers. Right?

As 2008 was winding down, members of the administration serving in the Senate were very clear what would happen if the SOFA wasn't passed or a UN mandate wasn't quickly put in place. They were very clear because without either of those, the US military had no immunity.

If you can read Arabic, you should read this article by Al Sabaah whose wording is clear that the meet-up decided they would not grant immunity. (If you're not grasping my point: There's a world of difference between the political blocs saying THEY won't grant immunity and the political blocs stating NO immunity will be granted by anyone. Nouri al-Maliki should have the power to grant immunity in his role as commander in chief as evidenced by the fact that he was granted the right to decide if trainers were needed based upon that role and as evidenced by the Strategic Framework Agreement.)

Not only does the paper fail with their report today, they FAIL to inform why the meet-up was necessary. To read the New York Times solely is to be unaware of Political Stalemate II. Not only have they ignored the NGOs' criticism of this stalemate, they've covered for Nouri by refusing to address the outrage over the non-implementation of the Erbil Agreement. To read the New York Times for Iraq coverage and nothing else is to never know that the Kurds and Iraqiya are on one side and Nouri the other. As an excuse, stupidity only goes so far.

By the way, the State Dept has a legal opinion on contractors and immunity. Before the paper next muses on the topic, they might try asking someone at State to review that opinion with them. Just a thought.

It's cute the way the paper's interested in immunity today. Half-assed, at least. Al Mada reports that Parliament's backing Sabah al-Saadi and not lifting immunity from the MP. See, they skipped that story as well. Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, remember?, swore out an arrest warrant on al-Saadi because the MP is a critic of Nouri's and because of a private conversation al-Saadi had in which he told another person that Nouri would face the same ending that Saddam Hussein did. Nouri can't arrest al-Saadi as long as he has immunity -- which all MPs do -- so he's attempted to get Parliament to lift the immunity. Nouri's attorney has stated that if it's not lifted, they'll just wait (years) until Parliament's term ends and then arrest him. It's interesting how that's just not big news to the paper of record.

Yesterday's snapshot
covered the House House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing in which the Committee heard testimony from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the Commission's records locked up for decades and only a thin volume released as a report, you might think, if only to review how the Commission spent tax payer dollars, the press would be covering the hearing. Charles Keyes (CNN) covers the hearing here. He may be the only one who did. (I saw Joshy Micah's site. That's not a report of the hearing. But the writer did utilize prepared opening statements to pretend to cover the hearing.)

Reuters notes violence sweeps Iraq today with a Taji roadside bombing injuring four pilgrims, the mayor of Tuz Khurmato being shot dead, a Baghdad grenade attack left two Iraqi soldiers injured, another Baghdad attack left two police officers with bullet wounds, a Baquba attack claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with three more injured, and, dropping back to last night, a Baquba boming claimed 1 life and left six more people injured, the corpse of 1 Sahwa was discovered in Qaiyara, and a Taza bombing injured one person.

Occupy Wall St. (Tony Murphy, Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

Occupy Wall Street leaps to new level

Published Oct 6, 2011 9:23 PM

Oct. 6 — The police have once again proved to their bosses at JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs that they can be relied upon to bust heads to protect Wall Street.

New York, Oct. 5.
WW photos: G. Dunkel

A police riot last night, in which protesters against Wall Street were clubbed and arrested, must be added to the long list of reasons the New York Police Department should be shut down. These include spying on the Muslim community and occupying Black and Latino/a communities.

Just three nights ago, New York cops shot and killed a homeless person outside the New Providence Residence, a substance abuse shelter for women. The reason? She had a knife, they said.

Once again the ongoing police attacks on righteous protests against corporate greed and unemployment must be condemned.

It would be a mistake for the latest police attack to obscure the monumental tipping point solidified yesterday by the Occupy Wall Street movement. It decisively expanded its power and influence by marching with thousands of workers from major unions.

Students from at least a hundred college campuses around the country walked out of class to protest continuing tuition hikes, even as tens of thousands of people were marching in the streets of New York against austerity and Wall Street criminals.

This moment might best be described by the famous statement attributed to V. I. Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

A dialectical turning point

This quote is not just a clever description that happens to fit the moment. It is a perfect Marxist explanation of the unfolding occupy movement. It is an explanation of the way true change happens, according to the laws of dialectics.

Dialectics is an academic-sounding word meaning the science of change — or more accurately, the science of development.

One of the laws of dialectics is that everything is in a constant state of change, even if it looks like it’s standing still. The change becomes visible when a qualitative point is reached.

This is true of any inanimate object — even if it’s just sitting there, it may be rusting or decomposing — and it’s also true of society.

In other words, while it has seemed for a long time that things were getting worse and worse under capitalism with no relief in sight, in actuality things were bubbling under the surface until they erupted into the political landscape we see now.

Just this Sept. 17, Occupy Wall Street was an encampment of maybe a hundred people sleeping in New York’s Zucotti Square, with no formal demands and vague leadership.

Today the movement has spread like wildfire, with occupations or Wall Street-focused protests in more than 160 U.S. cities. Chicago’s occupation has just completed its second week. Thousands are expected to march today in Los Angeles. Occupy Madison, Wis., home of the gigantic pro-union demonstrations this spring, begins today.

Probably the most dynamic feature of the occupy movement has been its rapid embrace by so many sectors of society. Students, unions, community groups, people of color, LGBTQ people, the unemployed — thousands have been activated to protest.

Yesterday, members in New York City of 15 of the country’s largest unions — as well as students who walked out of classes at New York University, the City University system, Columbia University and the New School — joined the huge “March in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.”

Earlier this week, the Transport Workers Union took a bold stand, filing suit against the NYPD’s commandeering of city buses to ferry masses of arrested protesters. This police practice includes ordering passengers off buses — as if public transportation hasn’t been cut back enough.

In Boston yesterday, Northeastern University students blocked Atlantic Avenue and held a standoff with police. Three buses carrying several hundred nurses from the Massachusetts Nurses Association joined the protest.

Hundreds of State University students in many upstate New York campuses walked out of class.

The last four years’ acceleration of layoffs, foreclosures and looting of pensions came after decades of layoffs, cutbacks, the growth of the prison-industrial complex and the destruction of the socialist camp. This period of reaction could not go on indefinitely.

It was literally only a matter of time before the people rose up again. While it might be tempting to compare this movement with that for civil rights in the 1950s, which inspired the student, Black, gay and women’s liberation uprisings of the late 1960s and early 1970s — the last time this country saw a sustained movement that challenged the status quo — the crucial difference this time is the unemployment crisis.

On Sept. 29 a CEO association called Business Roundtable released the results of a survey of 140 executives. Of those surveyed, the number planning job cuts had more than doubled since the second quarter.

The capitalist crisis has created a movement for which the capitalists have no solution. The eruption of protest nevertheless demands a solution. And this has put the question of socialist revolution squarely on the table.

Occupy Wall St (Socialist Worker)

Repost from Great Britian's Socialist Worker:

Wall Street occupation inspires resistance across the US

comment on article | email | print
Share on: Delicious | Digg | reddit | Facebook | StumbleUpon

Police arrested hundreds in protests at New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge (Pic: bogieharmond/Flickr)

Police arrested hundreds in protests at New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge (Pic: bogieharmond/Flickr)

by Anindya Bhattacharyya

A left wing protest movement in New York has captured the imagination of ordinary people across the US.

The Occupy Wall Street movement set up camp on 17 September with only a few hundred people. Since then it has grown in numbers and broken into the mainstream US media.

A brutal police clampdown at the weekend drew further attention to the extraordinary scenes in Manhattan. Now similar protests are springing up across the US.

Mary Clinton, a student based in New York and a participant in Occupy Wall Street, spoke to Socialist Worker. “I’m involved with the labour outreach committee, which builds links between the occupation and organised workers,” she said.

“We’re mobilising for a huge march on Wednesday of this week that will bring together labour and community groups with Occupy Wall Street.

“We need labour union support in order to build momentum. At first there was a lot of curiosity but also wariness from the labour movement. But we’ve managed to persuade people that Occupy Wall Street is something they want to get behind.”

Protesters have put together a busy programme of marches and demonstrations to draw attention to their action.

Those marches met a heavy-handed response from the police, but one that has only strengthened the protesters’ resolve, says Mary. “The police reacted brutally—there was a ton of arrests, lots of pepper spray.

“A lot of ordinary Americans were shocked to see this kind of brutality in their backyard. People think we have the right to voice our opinions—so to see videos of mass arrests and so on is really powerful.

“Some 700 of us were arrested last Saturday. It was a pivotal moment for us. We had to organise medical attention, food and water for some of those arrested. It created a strong sense of solidarity.”


The occupation is based at Zuccotti Park, a privately owned park in Lower Manhattan. But protesters have reverted to its previous name—Liberty Plaza—partly as a reference to Tahrir Square in Cairo (“tahrir” means “liberation” in Arabic).

“There’s hundreds sleeping out every night,” says Mary. “The weather right now is beautiful, but it’s going to get colder. I’m from the Midwest so I’m pretty used to extreme weather—I’m hoping people here will toughen up!”

The occupation’s processes are a work in progress. “It’s non-hierarchical,” says Mary. “Individuals who see a need or an opportunity come together to form a working group.

“Working groups then report back to the general assembly. Things happen spontaneously, but in an organised fashion.”

Protesters initially got around a media blackout by using the internet and alternative media sources. “Everybody’s got cameras on their cellphones so we can develop our story without being dependent on mainstream media,” says Mary.

“But we were on the front page of the New York Times on Saturday and that was good for getting the word out.”

More than 70 cities across the US now have planning processes or are organising their own occupations.

“It’s really inspiring to know that’s going on. We’ve had an Arab Spring. Now we’re hoping for an American Fall—and the fall of the American empire.”

‘Austerity measures affect all of us’

The US economy has not been immune from the financial crisis. Earlier this year president Barack Obama announced savage cuts to welfare services in order to meet Republican demands for a “balanced budget”.

This has had a profound impact on the lives and political attitudes of ordinary Americans, says Mary.

“The occupation has struck a chord,” she says. “The cuts and closures to social services and education have been hitting a lot of people.

“We talk about how we are the 99 percent and they are the 1 percent—the financial and real estate industries that are running the government.

“People can’t pay their mortgages and have lost their homes, yet Wall Street and the banks got bailed out. So there’s a strong sense that we want to take our country back.

“The austerity measures are affecting all of us, from working class people who depend on social services right up to more middle class people who face losing their homes.

“Student debt is a huge issue—it’s higher than credit card debt. We were told to go to college, that it would pay off when we got a well-paid job. But we’re just not seeing those jobs.

“There’s this juxtaposition—not making the rich pay for this crisis, but instead making working and middle class pay. The millionaires’ tax was not extended. Stock transfer tax was not extended.

“Meanwhile there are cuts to schools, fire services, all the social services we depend upon. People get that—and it has inspired people to fight back.”

Mary said the protesters were inspired by the struggle in Wisconsin earlier this year, when striking workers occupied the state capitol to defend their trade union rights.

“Beforehand people felt that there were a lot of problems but maybe there was nothing we can do about it,” she says. “Wisconsin challenged that apathy and made us realise that there is something we can do about this.

“It didn’t start with the occupation of Wall Street and it won’t end here either. This has inspired people across the country, and it’s so rewarding to be part of something bigger than myself.

“Nobody can predict the revolution awakening. We’ve yet to see where this will go, but I’m looking forward to finding out.”

• Some 700 pilots from United and Continental Airlines marched down Wall Street, protesting about their contracts. The Transport Workers’ Union, the United Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union are among unions backing a march on Wednesday of this week.

© 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" -- most requested highlight for the week. (But don't ask C.I. for comment. She says, "I fell asleep three times while writing that. I have no idea what it says or what its point was an I never plan to read it.")

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "La Femme Barack" -- Isaiah on the Girl Power presidency.

"Super Sugar Crisps," "Frosted Mini Wheats," "4 men, 1 woman," "oatmeal," "Bagels, lox, Matzo Brei," "Corn flakes," "Cap 'n Crunch with Crunch Berries," "Great Grains," "Fruit Loops" and
"Lucky Charms" -- Betty, Trina, Ann, Rebecca, Ruth, Kat, Marcia, Stan, Elaine and Mike weigh in on breakfast in a theme post.

"Who sat Wonkette at the grown ups' table?" and "THIS JUST IN! THEY LOWER US ALL!" -- it is confusing when Wonkette's treated a political expert.

"Chewy Cherry Cookies in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a tasty recipe.

"Dems try to take over" -- And Trina on the efforts by the Cult of St. Barack to take over the Occupy Wall Street protests.

"Solyndra e-mails," "Solyndra, BlackBerry, press conference" -- some of Ruth's Solyndra coverage.

"Witches" -- Kat talks childhood and beyond.

"Get a damn life, Terry O'Neill" -- Marcia calls out the nonsense.

"Sommersby,""Movie Pass"and "RocknRolla" -- Stan and Elaine cover movies.

"Just Words" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one on pretty speeches.

"The Nation and other disasters" -- Elaine shares a memory and an evaluation.

"Idiot of the Week: John Pilger" -- Mike rightly picks John Pilger who is now LYING in print to whore for Julian Assange. And, in doing so, he's going to piss people off all over again. What an idiot.

"THIS JUST IN! HOW LOW CAN HE GO?" and "Princess Barry gets more bad news" -- Wally and Cedric chart Barry O's decline which includes a 55% disapproval rating.

"Solyndra and Jack In The Box" -- Betty joins Ruth in covering Solyndra.

"i had no idea" -- Rebecca explains.

"Wish I'd known before I sat through Snakes On A Plane" -- Marcia weighs in on a hot topic.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }