Sunday, November 20, 2011

Truest statement of the week

"So let me get this straight, you've been here for eight weeks and you already have a ghetto?"

-- Samantha Bee (The Daily Show) in Zuccotti Park, covering Occupy Wall Street.

Truest statement of the week II

Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are. Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotiations. We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there. But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?

-- US Secretary of State Leon Panetta to Senator Joe Lieberman Tuesday at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another late Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Samantha Bee. And her report actually had several we could have used as truests.
Leon Panetta. Mainly picked because the US is still in negotiations with Iraq on US forces remaining in Iraq. Don't believe your liars and whores. Panetta explained it at the hearing. Notice how they all ignored it in their coverage.

How are we supposed to know what's going on with Iraq when the US press -- big and small -- refuses to inform us? The Iraq War is over? Then why is the US press acting as though they need to protect the American people from the fact that the US is mired in the illegal war still?

Ava and C.I. wrote a powerful piece. It wasn't an easy one for them to write for a number of reasons (including the fact that C.I. was friends with Natalie Wood). But they managed to play it journalistically and not whore. Great job and wonderful work done explaining what is real and what isn't.

Dona and I (Jim) are the moderators of this feature. Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. attended the very important Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Tuesday. The one that was grossly misreported on. The four of them were correct in their reports. Dona and I streamed the video of the hearing yesterday to be prepared for this piece and we were even more surprised then by what the press had been reporting. This hearing was completely disguised and twisted by the press. In this piece, we try to go over that while emphasizing the big points out of the hearing.
This is the 8th pick. That doesn't mean that on our list of 10, it's ranked 8th. We're providing 10 books, we're not ranking them. But what it does mean is that there are only two picks left in this series.

Who is the person of the year? Next month will be hearing a lot of people and outlets weighing in. Maybe it's Makana, maybe it's not. But he's surely the person of the month.

We analyze the 'scandalous' photo.

While Dona, Kat, Wally, Ava, C.I. and I worked on the piece about the hearing, at Kat's suggestion, I asked the others to figure out how we could note the enduring bases. This is the piece they came up with.

A release from Senator Patty Murray's office.


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

Had we been thinking, we'd have a Workers World repost but we completely forgot. But that's what we came up with. See you next week.


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

Editorial: The silences that enable and kill


In the photo above, the top US commander in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, and US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey accompany Dennis McDonough (Deputy National Security Advisor) and Antony J. Blinken (National Security Advisor to the US Vice President) to a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani yesterday. McDonough and Blinken are part of a US delegation visiting Iraq to talk about diplomatic issues like grain and wheat and . . .

Oh, wait, they're not.


They're both national security types.

They were present to continue negotiations on US troops in Iraq.

Somehow the US press missed that story. In Friday's "Iraq snapshot" had as its first item, "Starting with breaking news out of Iraq, Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports a mixture of White House officials and US military officials arrived in Baghdad Friday for a three day visit to discuss a number of issues including to "provide immunity to American trainers."

The US press was no where on Friday. And no where Saturday morning, afternoon or evening. The photo is from the President of Iraq's website.

Strange, isn't it, how The Common Ills could cover it Friday and Saturday while US outlets ignored it. The same way US outlets either ignored or trivialized the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday which explained that negotiations for US troops in Iraq continue, that some new agreement is expected by January, that 47,000 US troops will remain in the region (with at least 27,000 in Kuwait), that the Defense Department will maintain ten "enduring" bases in Iraq and will have soldiers housed there (soldiers under their umbrella, not the US State Department), that these bases will be protected by contractors and so much more.

Or maybe not so strange. As a former New York Times correspondent (from when papers ruled and the internet was yet to be funded by Congress) pointed out in a phone call late Saturday night, "How is this silence any different than the silence on the US lying about body counts during Vietnam or the silence on Nixon's ordering the dikes bombed?"

It really isn't any different at all.

Silence among vested parties is how illegal wars continue. Obviously a large number of people in the US are vested in the continuation of the Iraq War.

TV: Scandals and bumper stickers

Occupy Wall Street is in trouble and has been for weeks. Which is why many in the shadows emerged in the last weeks -- often at ZNet -- to 'impart' wisdom. It's why The Nation magazine is in full blown damage control for the movement or 'movement.' "You can't evict an idea!" offers Katrina vanden Heuvel in her most juvenile nah-nah manner.

What idea? Since when is a bumper sticker a manifesto?


On The Daily Show last week, Samantha Bee did what so many others have been unable to, get some reality out of Occupy Wall Street. In a video report, she documented not only the 'inner circle' holding their weekly meetings at the Deutsche Bank on Wall Street. She also documented the huge rift in Zuccotti Park where one group felt better than another. That group, incidentally, packed toys like iPads. Asked by Samantha if they should share them, she was informed that, no, they shouldn't.

The man explained they were opposed to private property but the iPad was personal property. He was all for everyone getting their own iPad (or having 'access' to the technology) but didn't feel he should have to share. Meanwhile in the 'poor' section of the park, the occupants complained about being used especially when the police came in. "When everything comes down and it gets scary and everyone doesn't know what to do, what do they do? They call on us."

And when CBS is out of ideas, they apparently call on us. How else to explain Saturday's broadcast? 48 Hours Presents Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal. As we've noted many times over the years, 48 Hours is the Vanity Fair of TV 'news' magazines. (Or, as we put it in 2006, "48 Hours -- Vanity Fair with streaming video.") But why be "like" something when you can "be" it?

And, based on Saturday's night viewing, the two should pair up on a regular basis. Great opportunity to put Vanity Fair out there in tough economic times. Get the name out there, get TV viewers comfortable with it, someone they invite into their living rooms on a regular basis and that's going to translate into at least a few more monthly sales of the magazine. CBS gets a less expensive show -- Vanity Fair correspondents don't cost as much as the CBS big names and the stories have already been covered in Vanity Fair so the budget's just for 'recreation' -- and a show that hits the 24 year mark in January gets some fresh(er) air.

Saturday's program addressed three scandals. The weakest was "Miranda" who had phone conversations with famous men in the 70s and 80s. Did we learn what Billy Joel, Johnny Carson, Buck Henry, Robert De Nero, Quincy Jones or anyone else told her? No. Buck appeared on camera to talk about how he began to doubt her. Richard Perry appeared on camera to talk about actually getting face-to-face with her, apparently the only famous man who did. She was not a leggy blond in her twenties, he explained. (He was too much of a gentleman to offer any more details. Good for Richard, bad for TV. As a consolation, Perry's romantic partner appeared on camera -- Jane Fonda.) Wisely, that segment was saved for last.

The middle segment relied on Cheryl Crane who, in 1958, killed the lover, Johnny Stompanato, of her mother, 40s film bombshell Lana Turner -- or did she? George Schlatter appeared on camera to discuss how a cover up would make a better story, but that Cheryl was trust worthy and present, so if she said it happened that way, then that's how it happened. But even so, for many (including Stompanato's son), doubts remain. Not noted in the broadcast, Woody Allen took on the story in the 1987 film September starring Mia Farrow as Lane whose mother Diane (played by Elaine Stritch) -- in the film Lane had taken the fall for shooting Diane's lover even though the mother actually killed him.

That was the second segment. The first segment was the topic that dominated Friday and Saturday's news cycle: Natalie Wood. As Stan noted on Friday, ". . . Natalie Wood was a movie star. And that's why she dominated the news cycle today." She died in 1981 (from drowning) and, on Friday, her death again became a question mark -- the hows of her death -- in the media. Sam Allen, Richard Winton and Christopher Goffard (Los Angeles Times) reported, "More than 40 journalists crammed around a podium outside department headquarters Friday morning for the news conference as the 30th anniversary of Wood's death suddenly received the stamp of actual news."

Recent comments by the skipper of the boat (on TV including NBC's Today show) and other things have led the police to reopen their investigation into Natalie's death. 48 Hours had a strong story on this and that's in part due to the fact that they were already preparing this story before Friday when it becamethe story. It was the program's best piece and they were able to speak to one of the men who was there when Natalie's body was removed from the water as well as an investigator on the case in 1981 who took statements from the skipper and Natalie's husband Robert Wagner. They played it fair and didn't try to present an answer.

Natalie's family -- husband RJ and daughters Natasha Gregson and Courtney Wagner -- have taken the approach of 'let this play out.' And that's the best stance you can take on something like this. If you object, even to say that it causes the daughters pain -- and it does cause them pain -- then you're assumed to be trying to cover something up.

But at some point, you grasp that it's not about you as much as it's about the legacy of Natalie Wood. There are many deaths that are re-investigated. Most are ignored by the news media. Some become minor stories. Natalie dominated the news cycle for two days running because of what she represents to so many as a result of her films.

Natalie was a real artist. She was an artist who was loved by film goers in her own lifetime. But there were a number of critics who trashed her work repeatedly. She was nominated three times for an Academy Award (Rebel Without A Cause, Splendor in the Grass and Love With The Proper Stranger), five times for a Golden Globe (Splendor in the Grass, Love With The Proper Stranger, Gypsy, Inside Daisy Clover and This Property Condemned), once for a Saturn Award (Brainstorm) and once for a BAFTA (Splendor in the Grass). She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in the mini-series From Here To Eternity.

Her first time up for an Academy Award, she lost to Jo Van Fleet, the second time to Sophia Loren and the third time to Patricia Neal. Sophia remains an enduring legend. Van Fleet and Neal not at all. And while critics weren't sure of her, the audience embraced her. And that's what put Natalie front and center in the news cycle, all the people around the world who have embraced and continue to embrace that artist whose performances continue to illuminate and teach them a little bit about themselves.

What did OWS teach? It offered a fact about the 99%. But like Barack's 2008 campaign, it attempted to be intentionally vauge. While that might work for a personality, it apparently doesn't for a movement.

Tuesday, in DC, we were asked to explain what OWS wanted? And that's been the continued problem with the movement or 'movement.' Pitching a tent with no demands is camping out, it's not really protesting. If we're protesting, we have to be clear on what we're protesting and what we want to see happen.

Not only did OWS not have a clear list of demands or even a clear message, they were repeatedly stroked when they should have been facing tough questions. Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) are attorneys and smart people. So it was sad to hear them in an exchange with a modern-day Eddie Haskell on Law and Disorder Radio where they and the Eddie Haskell acted as if these OWS movements or 'movements' were on the level of the 'sixties' (they meant early 70s) activisim and as if nothing came between. Really? Way to spit on the college students and others of the 80s who demanded the US stop supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa. And that's just one example. OWS maybe took place in 50 cities. If you want to be very generous, each city had about 1,000 participants. That would mean OWS was a 50,000 person movement or 'movement.' As a be-in, those aren't Woodstock numbers; as a political event, that's not even a minor third party's run for president.

OWS may limp along a bit more. It may even spring back to life. But what last week demonstrated was that the public knows the real deal and Natalie Wood was it while, thus far, OWS wasn't.

Enduring bases, staging platforms, continued war

Dona: Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee held a full committee hearing entitled "Security Issues Related To Iraq." In this community, it was covered by C.I. in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," by Ava in "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," by Wally with "The costs (Wally)" and by Kat in "Who wanted what?" It was 'covered' elsewhere as well -- mostly miscovered. As a woman who holds a masters in journalism, the bulk of the coverage was utter crap. Reporters and outlets should be ashamed. In one of the snapshots, C.I. offers a working definition of news and notes that actual news took place at the hearing. Instead the bulk of the coverage revolved around a testy exchange -- an often misreported testy exchange. Jim and I are moderating this piece which is a discussion with Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. about the hearing's first panel consisting of the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Jim?

iraq war

Jim: Dona and I caught the hearing Saturday by streaming the archived broadcast. You can do the same by clicking here. And having gone to the trouble of streaming it, I want to call out John Glazer bulls**t at where he writes, "But McCain, and others in Congress, didn’t see it as their decision to make, and argued the administration should have strong-armed their way into a new security agreement in Iraq." Wally, I know C.I.'s already explained this in a snapshot but how about you respond to that assertion by Glazer?

Wally: Okay. Kat, Ava, C.I. and I attended Tuesday's hearing. We were there for the full hearing, first and second panels. There's some stuff from the second hearing that C.I. might pick up on next week. As it is, she's already devoted 3 snapshots to it and several other entries at The Common Ills. But Glazer's stating that McCain -- I'll ignore others for this response -- wanted the administration to "strong-arm" is bulls**t. McCain was very clear that the Iraqi politicians he spoke to wanted to make a deal. This was not one time. This was in 2010 and in 2011. And the assumption was that a deal would be made -- a deal to keep a significant number of US troops -- 16,000 was the average of the numbers noted and it was the one General Dempsey was comfortable with in the hearing -- on Iraqi soil beyond 2011. In the spring of 2011, John McCain was one of the senators who began hearing from Iraqi leaders who wanted to make the deal about how the US wouldn't present them with a plan. The Iraqis wanted to know how many the US was willing to leave and what the mission for these troops would be. They wanted a proposal to be presented. McCain went to the administration and informed them of this. In July, he found that there was still no proposal. He found that out from Iraqis and the White House. He never stated that a deals hould have been pushed off on the Iraqis. His point was that the Iraqi leaders wanted to make a deal and the US didn't do it.

Dona: McCain had a theory as to why that was. Let's stay with Wally, what was his theory?

Wally: John McCain was of the belief that the administration intentionally botched the deal and did so because they wanted to pull US troops out of Iraq -- against all the recommendations of the military commanders -- US military commanders.

Dona: That brings up several things but let's go with the most newsworthy from that response. McCain's accusation lodged against the White House didn't get press traction and that's in part because the press failed to report the dispute between Panetta and McCain in the first round accurately. But McCain has accused the administration of ignoring military command's recommendations and acting in bad faith to end the Iraq War. Wally, what's your take on that?

Wally: John McCain was the only senator to lodge that accusation in that manner. Do I believe it? No. I don't feel the case was made. I do think the administration did a poor job of negotiations but I think that the administration does a poor job on most things. Over and over. They're still learning on the job apparently and there are too many competing forces within the administration. I didn't buy it.

Jim: Kat, on the previous topics is there anything you want to add?

Kat: We all feel as Wally did, that the administration did not deliberately torpedo the deal. To make sure that something is on the record, I will note that McCain was correct about the US command's recommendations. While Panetta tried to skirt that issue throughout the hearing, General Martin Dempsey agreed repeatedly with McCain that there was no recommendation to pull troops. 16,000 was the number he'd heard from others and he, himself, felt US troops needed to remain in Iraq.

Dona: Kat, I'm opposed to the Iraq War as are our readers. Some reading this will wonder, why should I care about this hearing or about what was discussed.

Kat: I want to toss that to C.I. because she was actually asked something similar on Friday when we were speaking to a group of college students.

Dona: Okay. C.I., as someone opposed to this hearing, why should I care what was discussed?

C.I.: There is the issue of the historical record but more pressing right now is the fact that what's being presented to the American public by Barack and the bulk of the press is not what will be taking place in Iraq. There's a world of difference between his pretense that all US troops will be coming "home" from Iraq and what's actually taking place. This hearing was about what's actually taking place. It would have been great if the press could have paid attention and focused on the realities. Back to Kat.

Kat: I just want to underscore that the hearing was so different from what was reported. You and Jim know that, Dona, because you streamed it. If someone wasn't present, I would urge them to go stream it now because there was so much misreporting on that. I still can't believe how bungled their report -- they only did one report and its full of lies. Not only is it full of lies, they miss all the important moments of the hearing. You and Jim are debating the title for this piece. What I wish you'd do is call it "Congress Discusses the Enduring US Bases In Iraq." That's what most people have no idea about and how the hell can call itself "antiwar" and not report on the enduring bases is beyond me.

Jim: You're saying "enduring bases." Throughout Wednesday's snapshot, C.I. used that term. And she noted, "'enduring' US bases (and that's a US general, not me, calling them 'enduring') will remain in Iraq" -- the US general being Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs. That's pretty big and it's pretty sad that it was so universally ignored. And we'll do a piece on just that. But there was a great deal addressed in the hearing. Ava, how do you judge the coverage outside the community?

Ava: Well Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) filed a report worthy of praise as did Laurence Vance ( But that really was it. John McCain and Leon Panetta had an exchange that -- Wally's was going McCain's side which was to note what Iraqi leaders told him -- and this was backed up by Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, John McCain's comments about what Iraqi leaders were saying -- and on Panetta's side he would say that wasn't true that the US had bungled the deal and then he'd look at his list of prepared sentences and pull one to read. I'm not joking. Leon Panetta carried a list of talking points into the hearing and referred to it frequently. Even when it wasn't a response to what McCain had said. And so many in the press ran with Panetta's comment as though it were a response to something McCain had just said. The coverage was awful. I'm glad that we can name Bumiller and Vance as doing strong reports but that we can only name two people is very disappointing. I want to say it's 2006, maybe it's 2007, but I think it's 2006, that I start going to the hearings with C.I. and Kat and Wally and I don't think in all that time I've ever seen a hearing so misreported. Usually what happens is that a hearing has a main point and the press gloms on that and you wish they'd also noticed one or two minor points in the hearing. In this case, they went to town on trivia -- testy words between McCain and Panetta! -- while ignoring all the truly important things about the hearing.

Dona: And as they rushed to portray the hearing as about a confrontation between McCain and Panetta, they missed what on those two, C.I.?

C.I.: The exchange the press focused on was in the first round and in the second round McCain and Panetta were laughing about that exchange. In other words, the great conflict, according to the press, was a blip to the two men. It didn't matter after it was over to either. To read the coverage, you would have thought McCain was going to call for Panetta to resign.

Dona: So, Ava, tell me some minor points that were ignored. And when we say "minor points" in journalism, we generally are referring to when humanity was touched upon.

Ava: Good point. Well Carl Levin, Senator Carl Levin, is the Chair of the Committee. He was the only one who brought up the plight of Iraqi Christians and voiced his concern for them. He and Senators Lieberman, McCain and Graham raised the issue of the residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian dissidents first welcomed into Iraq in the 1980s who now are covered under the Geneva Convention and have protected status but Nouri al-Maliki's government in Iraq is refusing to recognize that and has twice attacked them and is now attempting to force them out of the country. Carl Levin made it very clear that if Iraq did not keep their word to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf, the US Congress would feel a promise had been broken and that Nouri al-Maliki's government could no longer be trusted. I'd say that last part especially was pretty big news.

Jim: Kat, I've got the others working on a short piece right now about the enduring bases. That was a good point, thank you. C.I. Okay, we knew "all" US troops weren't "coming home" despite Barack's lies. We knew that, for example, several hundred would remain in Iraq under the umbrella of the State Department. We knew that Kuwait would be used as a staging area. With that in mind, what did those of us paying attention learn that we might not have known before?

C.I.: Well the State Department will have the US troops we knew of already. In addition to those, there will be US troops in Iraq under the umbrella of the Defense Department. They will be on the ten enduring bases General Dempsey testfied to. They will do training. They will stay on these based. The bases will be protected by contractors. These contractors will be working under DoD. We already knew the US State Dept's 16,000 force in Iraq would include some contractors but the DoD keeping contractors was news. Ten bases in Iraq. There's an effort -- outside the hearing -- to lie and claim that it will only be 200 soldiers. That's a lie. Why would you have ten bases if you were only keeping 20 soldiers on each. What is that? The Alamo? You're going to want a stronger force than that. I don't buy the lie -- presented by an anomyous source after the hearing -- that it will only be 200. I would expect the minimum number to be more like 500 and I wouldn't be surprised if it were higher.

Dona: And on the staging platforms, where are they?

C.I.: Secretary Panetta testified, in response to questions from Senator Lieberman, that there are 29,000 in Kuwait and that there will be further discussions with Kuwait about a larger number, that there will be 258 in Saudi Arabia, almost 7,000 in Bahrain, 3,000 in the UAE and 7,000 in Qatar. There will be at least 40,000 in the region. He didn't name other areas, what I just gave you were the numbers and sites he supplied in the hearing.

Jim: C.I., what's the other big takeaway from the hearing?

C.I.: US negotations have not stopped. It's a lie to say that they have -- especially with a delegation still on the ground in Iraq negotiating as we do this roundtable. Panetta testified that US negotations are ongoing. He testified that he felt a deal would be made in the new year for US troops in Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki's trip to DC next month was noted as well as part of the ongoing negotiations.

Dona: And we could continue down this vein and that's the problem with the bulk of the coverage, it didn't cover any of this. It pretended to be 'reporting' while working to titilate and to share gossip. News is that which effects lives. The topics we've discussed here will effect US and Iraqi lives. It's a shame that so-called reporters -- at NPR, at The Los Angeles Times, POLITICO and elswhere -- were more concerned with gossip than with what actually matters to and in our lives.

Chris Hedges Death of the Liberal Class


Each week, we get closer to winding down our series on the ten most important books of the last ten year (2001 through 2011). And more and more e-mails stream in asking us not to forget this book and that book. The ten are pretty much picked and, after this week's pick, there are only two more choices.

To clarify, there were things we wanted to include and debated before deciding no. "You Have The Right To Remain Silent," for example, is one of the most important publications of the last ten years, no question. Put out by the National Lawyers Guild, the document is one everyone should have a copy of, in our opinions. But this feature was about getting you to use your local libraries which are facing huge budget cuts and need support from their communities. The NLG publication is available online. We were looking for things that would have you visiting your library for.

But don't many people use the library computers to surf the web? Ty raised that issue but it was quickly pointed out that many libraries limit users to 15 to 20 minutes of online time due to the large number of patrons wanting to use their computers.

So we went with books that were published and that should be easily available through ILL if they were not physically at your local library.

Our eighth pick is an obvious one for readers of this site,

chris hedges

Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class. The book came out at the end of 2010 and is powerful and haunting. As Betty noted last week, "When I read his book, Death of the Liberal Class, I thought he made an interesting argument and that a great many of his calls were probably true. I did not, however, feel that it truly was the end. Now I really do. It's as if all the false-fronts have gone transparent." It's a book that, reader Woody noted in an e-mail to this site, Elaine can't stop noting at her own site. He e-mailed with a list of Elaine's posts where she's brought up the book. Hearing the list today, Elaine was surprised that she had noted it that often but states, "It goes to the fact that it's one of the books -- one of the few books -- that truly end up mattering. It was important when it was published, it's only grown more important since."

The country needs radicals on the left. They need someone who takes a hard left position and does so in an uncompromising manner. Otherwise, the country veers to the right. Next week the "SuperCongress" presents a plan (or is supposed to) for cuts, cuts that could very well gut the safety net. How did we arrive at this point?

It's all there in Chris Hedges' book. People rushed to be respectable. People rushed to serve the powers that be. People rushed to distance themselves from the controversial. People rushed to enrich themselves by turning on others. Most of all they rushed to whore for the Democratic Party.

And Hedges does this with not only his own observations but by mining earlier critiques when sell-outs were actually taking place. Such as when he drops back to the seventies to note:

Once intellectuals transfer their allegiance to the practical aims of power and material advantage, they emasculate themselves as intellectuals. They disregard unpleasant truths and morality to influence or incorporate themselves into systems of power. Stanley Hoffman denounced the liberal class for the bond between the scholarly world and the world of power in his 1977 essay "An American Social Science: International Relations" in Daedalus magazine. Academics and researchers, he notes, were "not merely in the corridors but also the kitchens of power." What had once been an intellectual exchange had become a professional one. Liberal foundations, Hoffman writes, had became "a golden halfway house between Washington and academia." Scholars saw themselves as efficient Machiavellians who were there to advise "the Prince on how best to manage his power and on how best to promote the national interest." Scholarship became directed toward the tiny elite in the hope of shaping policy. And the closer scholars came to the centers of power, the greater the temptation was to "slight the research and to slant the advocacy for reasons either of personal career or of political or bureaucratic opportunity." This meant that the scholar "may still be highly useful as an intelligent and skilled decision-maker -- but not as a scholar." Hoffman argued that "the greatest hope for the science world would lie in blowing up the bridge that leads across the moat into the citadel of power."

The liberal class today is called out as well. At this site, we identify the liberal class as whores who will not tell the truth about Barack Obama. They've whored ever since 2008. They will explode at the Tea Party, they will try to tell you how outrageous the (out of power) Republican Party is. But they will look the other way on a war mongerer like Barack Obama. To try to prove they have "balls" (the term they most equate with power -- not our term for it), they will go to town on Hillary Clinton as if that proves they're brave and independent, as if their sexist attacks on the Secretary of State excuse their silence on the sins of the President of the United States. Chris Hedges notes the corruption in today's liberal class throughout the book.

Our destitute working class now understands that the cloying feel-your-pain language of the liberal class is a lie. The liberal class is not attempting to prevent wages from sinking, unemployment from mounting, foreclosures from ripping apart communities, or jobs from being exported. The gap between a stark reality and the happy illusions peddled by smarmy television news personalities, fatuous academic and financial experts, oily bureaucrats and politicians, is becoming too wide to ignore. Those cast aside are often willing to listen to anyone, no matter how buffoonish or ignorant, who promises that the parasites and courtiers who serve the corporate state will disappear. Right-wing rage is becoming synomous with right-wing populism.
Obama, seduced by power and prestige, is more interested in courting the corporate rich than in saving the disenfranchised. Asked to name a business executive he admires, the president cited Frederick Smith of FedEx, although Smith is a union-busting Republican. Smith, who was a member of Yale's secret Skull and Bones Society along with George W. Bush and John Kerry, served as Senator John McCain's finance chair during McCain's failed run for the presidency. Smith founded FedEx in 1971, and the company had more than $35 billion in revenue in the fiscal year that ended in May 2009. Smith is rich and powerful, but there is no ethical system, religious or secular, that would hold him up as a man worthy of emulation.

For more on Death of the Liberal Class, you can also refer to our "Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class" from January of this year.

In this series of ten important books of the last ten years, we've also selected "Shirley MacLaine's I'm Over All That," "CCR's Articles of Impeachment Against Bush," "Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad," "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." Due to the Great Recession, your local libraries are both overtaxed (seeing more patrons than ever before) and underfunded. Make a point to check out your local library or local branch of your library and consider letting your local representatives know that you support increasing the budget for the library.

Makana: Person of the month


Last Sunday, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Occupy" noted the only OWS-er with the guts to take the issue to US President Barack Obama. The brave soul was Makana. Sadly, Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition) observed, "In any event, the Obamas appeared too busy to notice."

That doesn't alter or minimize the bravery of Makana's actions.

At Makana's website, the song he performed is available as a free download and he notes, 'There is love. All else is propaganda."

Makana is the person of the month and should be considered when choosing the Person of the Year. Via AllGov, here are the lyrics to the song he took to Barack.

We Are The Many

Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage
Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight
But laws of this Republic they rewrite
And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me
Their influence dictates legality
And until they are stopped we are not free

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons
But certain things belong to everyone
Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess
Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts
We occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

You can't divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide
Denial serves to amplify
And our allegiance you can't buy

Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail
We will not reward those who fail
We will not move till we prevail

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We'll occupy the streets
We'll occupy the courts
We'll occupy the offices of you
Till you do
The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many
You are the few


What's in a picture?

Last week, Benetton unveiled a new ad campaign meant to grab attention and also to note the need for tolerance. While the campaign grabbed the White House's attention, it did not result in increased tolerance on the part of the administration. POLITICO's Glenn Thrush called the response a "ding" while Alister Bull (Reuters) noted the "critical response from the White House" to the ad campaign's shots featuring Barack Obama.


Really what was the big deal? Just Monday, on NPR's Morning Edition, Louisa Lim was reporting on rumors of the man crush between South Korea President Lee Myung-bak and Barack or fears that something might "sour the bromance." This is the 'manly' administration, after all. Where Barack ignores women and golfs with men only -- until an outcry forces him to include one woman for one-time only. The Barack who plays b-ball with the men, sweating with the boys and slapping at the ball, reaching over, around and between things while grunting and sweating.

Suddenly we were reminded of a scene in the film Strangers with Candy (written by Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris; Sedaris plays Jerri Blank; Joseph Cross plays her half-brother Derrick Blank).

Derrick: I'll have you know, stump, the varsity squat thrust team took third in All Conference.

Gerri: And how does that make you not gay?

Derick: What are you talking about? We squat together! We spot each other on the workout mat! And we play grab ass in the showers! How is that gay?

And suddenly the objection becomes clear. Barack can't interact with women ("sweetie") and of all the silly rumors during the 2008 run, the only one that truly sent the campaign into a panic was where the man was stepping forward and claiming he had oral sex with Barack on repeated occassions. That one bothered them so because it got at the heart of just how false the 'manly' Barack image was.

He might pose like Superman one moment but then the next, like a desperate starlet, he was tossing off his shirt and saying to all the world, "Check out my titties!"

No, it's not manly behavior.

Nor is manicures and Barack's well tended nails on the 2008 campaign trail rivaled Teresa Heinz-Kerry who is generally thought to have sported the best campaign trail nails of any candidate's wife.

Nor were the suits that would have been cute on Leonardo di Caprio in 1997 but, as Di Caprio's matured (still younger than Barack) would look embarrassing on him. The boyish suits for the boy-child.

There was the lip gloss and lip stick to cover the blue-ish lips on the campaign trail.

There was so much.

So when an ad photo pictures Barack in a lip-lock with a man, the White House grows nervous. And, of course, it doesn't help when the ad plays into Barack's passive nature by making him appear to be the delicate flower in the relationship, kissing with adoration and grace.

What's in a picture?

More than the White House's image control can ever handle.

Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq

Senator Kay Hagan (pictured below, on the left, at a luncheon with Wounded Warriors) is one of Kentucky's two US Senators (Senator Richard Burr is the other).

kay hagan lunch with wounded warriors

General Martin Dempsey is the Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff (below on the right, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is to his left).


In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq, last Tuesday, the general discussed enduring US bases in Iraq. Transcript via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and click here to stream an archived broadcast of the hearing.

Senator Kay Hagan: Well with the drawdown taking place in less than two months, what is your outlook for the ability to continue this training process to enable them to continue to do this on their own?

General Martin Dempsey: Well they will be limited. They don't have the airlift to deliver them to the target that we might have been able to provide. They don't have the ISR target to keep persistent surveillance over the top of the target. So they'll be limited to ground movement and they'll be limited to human intelligence and we'll keep -- But part of the Office of Security Cooperation provides the trainers to keep the training to develop those other areas, but we're some time off in reaching that point.

Senator Kay Hagan: We'll, as we continue this drawdown of our military personnel from Iraq, I really remain concerned about their force protection -- the individuals that will be remaining in Iraq. So what are the remaining challenges for our military personnel in Iraq in terms of managing their vulnerabilities, managing their exposures during the drawdown?

General Martin Dempsey: Senator, are you talking about getting from 24,000, the existing force now and having it retrograde through Kuwait?

Senator Kay Hagan: The ones that will remain over there.

General Martin Dempsey: The ones that will remain --

Senator Kay Hagan: Their protection.

General Martin Dempsey: Yes, Senator. Well, they will have -- First and foremost, we've got ten Offices of Security Cooperation in Iraq bases. And their activities will largely be conducted on these bases because their activities are fundamentally oriented on delivering the foreign military sales. So F-16s get delivered, there's a team there to help new equipment training and-and helping Iraq understand how to use them to establish air sovereignty. Or there's a 141 M1 Tanks right now, generally located at a tank gunnery range in Besmaya, east of Baghdad and the team supporting that training stays on Besmaya so this isn't about us moving around the country very much at all. This is about our exposure being limited to 10 enduring, if you will, Offices of Security Cooperation base camps. And doing the job of educating and training and equipping on those ten bases. Host nation is always responsible for the outer parameter. We'll have contracted security on the inner parameter. And these young men and women will always have responsibility for their own self-defense.

Senator Kay Hagan: So we'll have contracted security on the inner-paramenter?

General Martin Dempsey: That's right.

Senator Murray calls on the VA to end the backlog

Senator Patty Murray with Iraq War veteran Ty Rose

Senator Patty Murray (pictured above with Iraq War veteran Ty Rose, one of the veterans she's spoken with about employment issues) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and last week she called for immediate action on the backlog of VA disability claims.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Chairman Murray Urges VA to Take Immediate Steps in Addressing Disability Claims Backlog

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Patty Murray sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki about the critical need to improve the efficiency of the claims processing system by eliminating unnecessary tests and procedures that are contributing to the claims backlog at the Department.

"I have heard time and time again from veterans who are frustrated with having to wait months, years and even decades for resolution of their claims and appeals," said Chairman Murray. "I am writing to bring to your attention a practice that may not be medically supported and may be unnecessarily delaying the processing of some claims."

Chairman Murray was alerted to this issue after a number of "errors" were identified at the Seattle Regional Office during an Inspector General review. She shares veterans' frustrations with the disability claims system and continues to take targeted action to address the backlog and to improve the timeliness and accuracy of claims decisions.

The full text of Chairman Murray's letter is below:

The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

The disability claims system is under enormous pressure as the number and complexity of claims continue to increase. I have heard time and time again from veterans who are frustrated with having to wait months, years and even decades for resolution of their claims and appeals. I am writing to bring to your attention a practice that may not be medically supported and may be unnecessarily delaying the processing of some claims. I request that you put an end to this practice, if there is no strong medical basis for it.

This issue was brought to my attention by a number of "errors" identified at the Seattle Regional Office during a recent Inspector General review. In some disability cases, veterans exhibit "overlapping symptoms" meaning they have symptoms that may be attributable to more than one claimed disability. Currently, medical providers are being asked whether they can differentiate what portion of the symptom is caused by each diagnosis and to provide an opinion as to which overlapping symptom is attributable to each disability. In cases where a medical provider fails to address this question, regional offices are required to return examinations to the provider delaying a final decision on the claim. The "errors" identified in Seattle were the result of a failure to return examination reports that did not address this question.

Based on staff discussions with VA physicians, it appears that a medical provider cannot scientifically, with a high degree of certainty, attribute an overlapping symptom to one disability or another. If a provider cannot say with a level of certainty greater than fifty percent that a particular symptom is due to only one of the overlapping symptoms, it calls into question the practice of asking a medical professional to answer this question.

I hope you would agree that if procedures are being used that are not necessary for the proper resolution of the claim they should be eliminated. Returning an examination for failure to address a question that is not supported by medical science delays the final resolution of a claim and unnecessarily contributes to the claims backlog.

I am therefore requesting that you ask the Veterans Health Administration and VA's General Counsel to answer the two questions attached to this letter. Thank you for your service to our nation's veterans and your consideration of this request.


Patty Murray



Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



Get Updates from Senator Murray

ETAN issues a call

From ETAN:

Open Letter to President Obama from West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,>

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

November 15, 2011

Dear President Obama,

President Obama meets with President Yudhoyono at the Istana Merdeka State Palace Complex in Jakarta, Nov. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

We urge you to seize the opportunity of your imminent return to Indonesia to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by the U.S.-Indonesia relationship more realistically than you have up to now. Your Administration urgently needs a policy that addresses the problems created by the Indonesian security forces' escalating violations of human rights and criminality and its failure to submit to civilian control. The recent <>20th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili. East Timor (Timor-Leste), when hundreds of peaceful protesters were massacred by Indonesian troops wielding U.S. supplied weapons, reminds us that a lack of accountability for past crimes -- in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago -- keeps those affected from moving on with their lives, while contributing to impunity in the present.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime.

Indonesia's security forces, including the <>Kopassus special forces and U.S.-funded and -trained <>Detachment (Densus) 88, continue to employ against civilians weaponry supplied by the U.S. and to use tactics developed as result of U.S. training. In West Papua, these security forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, most recently participants in the <>October 16-19 Congress and striking workers at the<>Freeport<> McMoRan mine. Those assaulted were peacefully asserting their right to assemble and freedom of speech. At the Congress, combined forces, including regular military units, Kopassus, the militarized police (Brimob) and Detachment 88, killed at least five civilians, beat scores more, and were responsible for the disappearance of others.

Moreover, in the central highlands of West Papua, these same forces regularly conduct so called "sweeping operations," purportedly in search of the very small armed Papuan resistance. These operations have led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and driven thousands from their village into forests where they face life threatening conditions due to inadequate access to shelter, food and medical care.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime. Several <>videoed incidents of military torture of civilians -- widely discussed during your November 2010 visit to Indonesia -- concluded in just such failures of justice. The concept of command responsibility is rarely considered in the military tribunals.

International monitoring of these developments in West Papua is severely hampered by Indonesian government restrictions on access to and travel within West Papua by foreign journalists, diplomats, researchers, and human rights and humanitarian officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross remains barred from operating an office in West Papua. Indonesian journalists and human rights officials face threats and worse when they try to monitor developments there.

Elsewhere in Indonesia, too many times security forces have stood by or actively assisted in attacks on minority religions, including deadly attacks on Ahmadiyah followers.

The Indonesian security forces -- especially the military -- are largely unreformed: it has failed to fully divest itself of its business empire, its remains unaccountable before the law, and continues to violate human rights. These forces constitute a grave threat to the continued development of Indonesian democracy. The upcoming national elections in Indonesia present a particularly urgent challenge. The Indonesian military is in position to pervert the democratic process as it has in the past. The military has frequently provoked violence at politically sensitive times, such as in 1998 when it kidnapped tortured and murdered democratic activists. For many years it has relied on its unit commanders, active at the District, sub-District and even village level to influence the selection of party candidates and the elections themselves. The territorial command system is still in place.
In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history.

Given this threat to democracy and to individuals posed by Indonesian forces, it is essential that the U.S. employ the significant leverage that comes from Indonesia's desire for U.S. security assistance and training to insist on real reforms of Indonesian security forces. Rhetorical calls for reforms are clearly insufficient. These exhortations have manifestly not worked and readily brushed aside. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent expression of "concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights" in Papua were <>dismissed by a spokesperson for Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , who called the escalating rights violations "only isolated incidents."

In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history and quickly suspend training for those units whose human rights records and impunity are especially egregious, as required by the Leahy law. We specifically urge you to end plans to re-engage with Kopassus and to end assistance to Detachment 88. These actions would demonstrate U.S. Government seriousness in pursuit of real reforms of the security forces in Indonesia.


Ed McWilliams for WPAT

John M. Miller for ETAN

see also
* <>On 20th Anniversary of Timor Massacre, Rights Network Urges Justice, ETAN Says U.S. and UN Must Act (November 12, 2011)
* <>Statement of East Timor and Indonesia Action<> Network on President Obama's Visit to Indonesia (November 5, 2010)
* West Papua Advocacy Team: <>Open Letter to President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia (November 4)
* ETAN: <>Open Letter to President Barack Obama on His 2010 Visit to Indonesia (March 18, 2010)

Support ETAN. Please donate:

Follow ETAN on Twitter:

John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email: Skype: john.m.miller



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 highight of the week. C.I. explains why so many got a Congressional hearing wrong (Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times and Lew got their coverage correct).

Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," "The costs (Wally)" and "Who wanted what?" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat cover the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Occupy" -- Isaiah on the one protesters strong enough to take his protest where it mattered.

"Union misleadership" -- Trina on unions.

"Whitney," "4 men, 2 women," "community's season best," "grimm," "Body of Proof," "Idiots of the week: NBC and Philip Glass," "The Good Wife," "Desperate Housewives"and "Fringe, Isaiah, Third" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Stan and Mike cover TV.

"Dear Cary, My Life With Cary Grant" and "Empire and books" and "Comments on raising children"-- Book coverage from Elaine and Betty.

"Libya" -- Marcia on the Libyan War.

"THIS JUST IN! PRINCESS ON CAMERA!" and "Maybe he'll autograph them" -- the every day hardships of America's princess.

"Solyndra" and "Solyndra hearing"-- Ruth continues her Solyndra coverage.

"Another bad documentary," "J. Edgar Hoover," "Natalie Wood" and "Trailers" -- Kat and Stan on movies while Ann covers radio:

"Working Class Barack" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Congressional pay and the ACLU" -- Mike weighs in on two big issues.

"You can't raise a family on an after-thought" -- Trina with some basic wisdom.

"The scamps (for lack of better word)" -- Ruth on the law breakers.

"The tale of Snow Half-White" and "THIS JUST IN! THE VAIN PRINCESS!" -- Cedric and Wally on America's Princess.

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