Sunday, December 25, 2011

Truest statement of the week

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

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

Truest statement of the week II

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

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

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

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

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

We roundtable Iraq and other topics.

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

A repost from Workers World.

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

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


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

Editorial: Iraq's political crisis

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

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

I see Ba'athists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the power grab has continued.

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

The signs were always there.

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

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

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

He is a thug, a liar and a tyrant.

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

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

The roots to today's political crisis run deep.


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

TV: News on the 'news'

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


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

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

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

Not news topics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa shot down by a predator drone?


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


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

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

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

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


C.I.: Roundtable time and Ava pointed out she moderated last time, so I'm grabbing the duties. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess and Ava; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. and me, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


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

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

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

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

Ty: Which includes Ruth's look at radio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ava: Rafie al-Issawi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruth: Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idiot of the Year

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

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

1 tom hayden

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

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

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

In Iraq, peace at last?

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

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

Care for Newborn Children of Women Veterans

patty murray

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

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

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

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

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


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



Get Updates from Senator Murray

They hate truth (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

They hate truth

Published Dec 23, 2011 8:26 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Free Bradley Manning!

Put the generals on trial!


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

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

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

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

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

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

"F Ani DiFranco" -- Elaine calls it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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