Sunday, June 03, 2012

Truest statement of the week

It's hard to believe in the presidency anymore. I voted for Obama, I love Obama, but I don't want to see Obama on "The View," I don't want to see him playing Frisbee, I don't want to know that it's $40,000 a plate at George Clooney's house, and I adore George Clooney. Hey man, I've got a friend of mine who's got a $7 an hour job at Dunkin Donuts and he can't get a $9 an hour job over at the country club because there are so many people in front of him. I believe that the president should be his desk all day. I don't want to see him on vacation, I don't want to see him at Martha's Vineyard, I don't want to see Mrs. Obama in Spain. No, no, I do not want to see that because everybody's struggling.

-- Steve Guttenberg speaking to Jay MacDonald (

Truest statement of the week II

But voters should generally beware of campaigns claiming that they are fact checking.  They have an interest in conflating nonsense -- like the bizarre assertion that President Obama was born in Kenya -- with legitimate criticisms.  They want all attacks to be dismissed as falsehoods -- and that is simply not the case.

-- Jake Tapper, "Obama Campaign Truth Team Conflates Smears With Criticisms, Citing Disputed Study."

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 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),
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.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

Steve Guttenberg.  He said it all, didn't he?
Jake Tapper also offered words of wisdom last week.

Barack's had a ton of excuses and now it's really too late to do any work.  He's the student with a fifty page research paper due tomorrow morning and he hasn't even visited the library.
Ava and C.I., as always, offer something strong and hard hitting.  This week they're taking on American Masters.  I (Jim) pulled something out of this because it popped up in a place where, after you read it, all you did was go back and read that section again.  It was a show stopper, in fact.  The good news is that we cover that in the roundtable and that my removing it destroyed the flow so they had to rewrite and drop a section?  How is that last part good news?  Having dropped a topic from their piece, they then did a second piece picking up the topic.

The illustration alone makes this worth it.  Thank Kat and Ty.  We were toying with no Iraq piece.  Kat had said Iraq should be a topic for the roundtable and that with the editorial already set for the economy, Iraq would end up ignored.  I blew that off.  And then Kat was right.  We were about to just say, "Oh well," when Kat and Ty were laughing about an image (used here) that reader Janie e-mailed with a funny e-mail.  She thought that we could use the screen snap for an article about things that stink (the image is Colin Farrell flashing his pits for the camera).  Dona came up with the title we used and we quickly wrote this piece.

Ava and C.I.  This is the topic that fell out of their TV article.  So they took another go at it in this one.  I love this one and I bet you will as well.

A roundtable again.  We're told it's been over three months. If so, our apologies.

With Ava and C.I. going off to work on their second piece, I was informed I needed to come up with something on my own for this edition.

A press release from Senator Patty Murray's office.

A repost from Workers World.
Mike and the gang wrote this.  And we thank them for it.

That's what we got and for a change, we're actually publishing Sunday morning!  Can you believe it?


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

Editorial: He Killed The Economy

E.J. Dionne was lying on NPR Friday.  That's not really news in and of itself.  E.J. Dionne lies repeatedly.  Ruth caught him lying in 2008:

Enter Ms. Rehm and E.J. Dionne. On Ms. Rehm's program October 3rd, a caller phoned in to flaunt his ignorance. He was calling about a remark made by Governor Palin during the debate between her and Senator Joe Biden the night before. This is the passage from the debate:

[Sarah Palin]: We'll know when we're finished in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people. And our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met. And Maliki and Talabani -- also in working with us -- are knowing again that we are getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that's within sight.

The caller grabbed the last sentence starting with Maliki and ridiculed Ms. Palin for suggesting that the Taliban was working with the U.S. He dubbed it a "tremendous blunder."

Instead of correcting the caller, Ms. Rehm thanked the caller and passed -- and passed! -- to Mr. Dionne who declared his agreement with the caller and stated "superficial" was the correct term to describe "the lack of knowledge Palin showed yesterday." He complimented the caller and stated that people would be pouring over the "transcript for exactly that sort of gaffe." It all reminded him, he said, of the exchange between Ms. Palin and Katie Couric.

Mr. Dionne and Ms. Rehm are the ones who should be embarrassed. "Maliki" refers to Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. "Talabani" refers to Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani. If the NPR host and the Washington Post scribe do not know who Jalal Talabani is, it may be time for both of them to retire. But they know who President Talabani is, they just could not resist the opportunity to smear Governor Palin with lies yet again.

Palin had (rightly) stated Talabani and the caller wrongly thought she was referring to the Taliban.  Instead of providing the uninformed caller with facts that would have helped him, Diane Rehm and E.J. Dionne chose to lie.  Whores always reveal themselves.  They have to.  If people don't know they're whores, how will they line up johns?

Friday on All Things Considered, the awful job numbers were mentioned. David Brooks offered many thoughts including,  "I think people will look at the political class -- both Republicans and Democrats and judge them as extreme malpractice,  that they introduced health care, we had the debt crisis last summer [. . .] "  E.J. Dionne wasn't having any of it, "I-I-disagree with David that health care had anything to do with it but let's not go there."

You stupid liar.

Health care had everything to do with it.

It sucked the life out of the room for three years and counting.

There was all the whoring from bloggers and 'reporters' who pretended that insurance -- which you can purchase or not, according to your own wishes -- becoming a mandated purchase, carrying a large fine if you didn't comply was 'universal health care.'

Universal, single-payer health care is what Americans wanted.  Of course, they didn't get that.  All they got was a law that forces them to buy a product.  It was a deal for the insurance companies --which gave so much money to Barack in 2008 -- immediately the entire nation would become their customer pool.

ObamaCare was so unpopular that it took years to force it through and it took Barack getting on a plane with Dennis Kucinich and threatening what (Dennis still won't tell) to get Dennis to break his public promise not to vote for it.  Barack and ObamaCare needed every vote they could get.

When it was unpopular before it was passed, the White House and large amounts of the press insisted that it would become popular.  When it was passed and still unpopular, the same excuse was trotted out.

There have been repeated attempts to 're-educate' the American people on ObamaCare.  Those attempts have not taken.  It remains a very unpopular policy.

Had Barack instead focused on the biggest problem facing America domestically -- the huge unemployment -- unemployment might not be so high, prices might not be rising.

But the economy was something he was forever announcing he was about to focus on.  He must have made that announcement six or seven times since the summer of 2009 alone.  And remember, he said, "We meet at a moment of great uncertainty for America.  The economic crisis we face is the worst since the Great Depression."  And he said that mere weeks before the November 2008 election.  But once sworn in, he wasted everyone's time and his own political capital  on ObamaCare.

Barack Obama and his term in the White House are both failures.  Like all past failures, the American people should kick him to the curb in November -- not give him four more years to try to solve what he should have focused from the start.

As Isaiah pointed out Saturday, Barack's now blaming Congress for his failures to address the economy.

The Jobs Report

When he was campaigning for the office in October of 2008, he knew just what was needed to fix the economy:

But it will take a new direction. It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America. 

But then he's sworn in and it's all ObamaCare, golf games, hoops, workouts with his trainer flown in from Chicago, Date Nights with Michelle, vacations, beer summits and wasted pursuits (claiming a laughable Nobel Peace Prize, failing -- on the world stage -- to bring the Olympics to Chicago, taping promos for George Lopez' basic cable TV show).

And now?  Not only does he want to blame Congress, he wants four more years in the Oval Office.

 In that October 2008 speech, he declared:

Right now, we face an immediate economic emergency that requires urgent action. We can't wait to help workers and families and communities who are struggling right now – who don't know if their job or their retirement will be there tomorrow, who don't know if next week's paycheck will cover this month's bills. We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle-class and we need to do it now.

The banks and big auto got their bailouts, the people got nothing.

 "I don't think it's improving at all.  It feels overwhelming, depressing, to me," Kathy Earl told Marketplace about the jobs market and that wasn't in 2008, that was last Friday.

Mr. Pretty Words made a lot of promises, he just didn't keep them.  From Guantanamo, to holding the telecoms accountable, through he would restart the economy, the story of Barack Obama is the story of a never-ending string of broken promises.

the shooting range

This morning, Isaiah had a new comic on the economy.  Barack forgets whether he killed Osama bin Laden or the economy and the Navy Seals (who killed bin Laden) explain that Barack killed the economy.

Truer words have seldom been spoken.

People wanted jobs, he gave them ObamaCare.

TV: American Liars

With American Masters, PBS pretends they accomplish something important each week.  We guess that's true, if you rank pulling the wool over people's eyes highly.


A documentary is supposed to be truthful.  But there's nothing truthful about American Masters -- especially when it passes off others work as their own as it regularly does airing documentary films they had nothing to do with.  (Kenneth Bowser's Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune is an excellent documentary that American Masters aired -- the program did not produce the documentary.)  A documentary from PBS is supposed to be fair.  And there's nothing fair about the bulk of the crap they air unless the person is long dead.

But even death doesn't ensure that PBS can tell the truth.  Take the never-grow up fan boy Peter Jones who spent 15 years attempting to tell the story of TV host Johnny Carson.  Now we're not saying there's no story there.  Certainly the man who used late night television to proposition and hook up with Sally Field, Morgan Fairchild and so many other women might make for a riveting documentary.  But fan boyz like Peter Jones are more interested in hiding the only things of interest in order to pimp their beloved.

15 years begging to make a documentary and he can't even get his facts right.  15 years and it's not even remotely honest about Carson or anyone else.

Take  Joan Rivers.  Jones gets it right that she was named permanent guest host of The Tonight Show in 1983.  That is correct.  They claim this was a reflection of the "love" Johnny Carson had for Joan.  That's debatable.  When Joan was named permanent guest host, she already had a record of being the guest host who delivered ratings and the network as well as the affiliates had made it known in 1982 that they wanted Joan.  "Love" may or may not have been part of it but "love" didn't initiate the pressure on Johnny Carson (who owned the show at that point).  Then they play clips including one of Joan  correcting Johnny when he says she always compliments the show saying how much she owes to it.  "To you," Joan says. "Not to The Tonight Show, to you."

Then we're shown a clip from 1986 and told "Joan Rivers knew this would be her last appearance with the man that launched her career."  Another lie.  Another attempt to slant the story.  Another attempt to whore and, don't you know, another attempt to trash a woman.  If The Tonight Show launched Joan's career -- a debatable claim -- then it did so under Jack Paar.  Joan was a Tonight Show guest of many years -- including many years before Johnny Carson ever hosted the program. It takes a special kind of whoring to rewrite history in the way PBS did.


Then its time for sexists to 'tell' the story. 

Bill Zehme:  At that point she'd already been talking with Fox and already had a deal for a show of her own but what she didn't do was tell him long before.

Peter Lassally:  The night before she announced that she was starting her show on Fox at a press conference, Johnny got wind of that because she never went to Johnny and said, 'Hey, I've got this wonderful opportunity and I hope I have your blessings but I wanted you to know.  She never did that.  She never, ever mentioned it. 

To fall back to that time period: Uh, hold the phone, E.T.

First off, Peter Lassally is a useless vain glory known for taking checks for blowing smoke up his employers asses -- not known for every delivering on anything.  For example, if he had any real talent, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson would be a ratings juggernaut instead of fading show repeatedly bested by Jimmy Fallon.   Second, Bill Zehme's sexism is notorious (and on full display in the documentary).

Joan Rivers didn't owe anyone her life or her first-born.

She had a career, a thriving career.  She was one of the few female comics that did.  Her comic persona, like most personas, grabbed a social stereotype and expanded upon it.  For Joan, that was the gossipy and bitchy woman.  She made it very funny and imploded the stereotype.  (Some accuse her of perpetuating the stereotype.  As a comedy pioneer, Joan Rivers deserves credit that she's largely never given.  She and Phyllis Diller are part of a wave that changed mainstream comedy.)

She was huge in NYC and was already playing to packed houses across the country.

Even if Johnny's show had been her sole TV outlet, however, it's so very telling that Johnny's little flunkies feel she owes everything to him when Red Skelton so graciously refused to claim Johnny owed him a debt, stating he just put Johnny on TV, that the success and response was a result of what Johnny did.

Joan Rivers owed him nothing.  When she appeared on his show in the 80s, he wasn't doing her a favor.  As guest or host, she always brought with her a huge spike in the ratings.  Carson was old hat and an old man.  In the 80s, he was lost.  His sniggering at gays and lesbians, really not that funny in the 70s and by the 80s more and more people found him obsolete.  Joan Rivers had a large fan base including many gay people.  She brought modernity to his otherwise creaky show that was honestly creepy as he continued to hit on young women on the air.  (And more and more women were telling their agents they didn't want to sit across from Johnny.)  With his bald spot and his 70s sideburns, Carson looked as ridiculous in the 80s as the  soon-to-be forty Seth Meyers looks trying to do Weekend Update on the 'young people's show' Saturday Night Live.

Some will say, "That's your opinion."  And it is.  It is our opinion that Joan Rivers -- or any other guest (including those that slept with him) -- didn't owe Carson a damn thing.  We don't believe, for example, that Elvis or the Beatles owe Ed Sullivan a damn thing either.  And we can't recall ever hearing anyone make the claim that they did.  So we're wondering why it is that a woman -- a successful one who carved a career by herself and has maintained one all these years when so many men couldn't -- is said to "owe" some man anything?

If Joan owed Johnny, if you accept that nonsense, then certainly he owed Joan.  She was getting strong ratings -- better ratings, in fact -- when she would grab the show for a week of guest hosting.  A detail that they like to skip.

(However, the 'documentary' loves to make absurd claims to inflate Johnny Carson including insisting that a 1969 broadcast had over 45 million viewers.  No, over 45 million people didn't watch a late night broadcast.  The local ratings don't prove that. And that's what you have to do, to get a figure, because there was no national rating released on that program by Nielsen.  It was generally said to have been 21.4 million viewers in real time.  Some have asserted the claim of 40 million but, in real time, the press reported 21.4 million. That was the accepted number for years.  Tiny Tim's death prompted some to suddenly elevate the number to 40 million in the late 90s.  Now we're upping it to 45 million? And, no, "85% of all viewers" did not watch the broadcast.  85% is the number for NYC only and NYC was its best market.  These things are called "facts."  Documentaries should include them.)

Why did Joan Rivers decide to do her own show?  Fox was not her first offer for a late night show.  Why did she decide to leave The Tonight Show?

If it was truly a program with integrity or respect for the truth, viewers might have learned that Johnny and NBC came up with a list of replacements for him for when he retired.  Joan was now the permanent host.  There were ten names on the list.  These were who the network and Johnny could agree on.  When this is noted today, those rare times, it's usually implied that it was all the network.  No, Johnny had input too.  He and the network came up with that list.

Joan was delivering ratings and was the permanent guest host.  That she wasn't number one on the list must have been hurtful.  That she didn't even make the list was outrageous.

Trust is a two-way street unless it's PBS and they want to trash a woman.  Then they vanish that detail, they vanish the entire reason Joan Rivers was ready to leave The Tonight Show.  And little liar Peter Jones goes around giving interviews claiming Joan Rivers betrayed Carson.

If there was a betrayal of anyone, the first betrayal was when Joan Rivers was not considered for permanent replacement host.

This is not a minor detail.  Nor is it minor that women are excluded from the documentary.  We don't mean the wives of Carson though only one is present.  Or even his many lovers.  Peter Jones features one male comedian after another and other than learning that Garry Shandling is now bigger than William Conrad, we don't think we learned much of anything.  Ellen DeGeneres is featured in a clip before the documentary starts, then in a clip when she was on Carson's show, and then a clip of her briefly talking about that.  Roseanne's not featured.  In fact, Ellen's one of the few female artists to speak to the film maker. (Angie Dickinson speaks briefly of her on-again-off-again affair with Carson.)

Need more examples?  How about that 'documentary' on Pearl Jam?  Directed by Cameron Crowe, so, no, you're not getting a real documentary there either.  (Crowe is too involved with Eddie Vedder to offer a honest look at any group Vedder's in.)  Bigger question: Why Pearl Jam?

Did they do anything?

Oh, it was the 20th anniversary since they started the group.  Oh.  Okay.

Crowe treats them as the Kings of Grunge.  Americans didn't treat them that way.  Kurt Cobain's Nirvana held the title.  Pearl Jam was just one of the many bands that envied Kurt. Eddie envied him so much that when then-President Bill Clinton felt he needed to say something about Cobain's suicide, Eddie insisted it would be better for the nation if nothing was said.  That's a whole lot of professional jealousy right there.

Don't look for that or anything else in Crowe's homage to Vedder and his hog-calling style of vocalizing.  You get more reality in a 'documentary' on E! or VH1.  And that's what's really shameful, that PBS airs this sort of fawning and fiction under the umbrella of "documentary" -- thereby misinforming many Americans while letting others know just how little facts matter to PBS.

Maybe facts just don't matter at all anymore?  If they've gone out of fashion, that would certainly explain Stephanie Cutter's appearance last Wednesday on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown which we caught when News Nation with Tamrom Hall played the clip.

Focusing on the clip, Cutter's about to cry as she declares, "This is a presidential race.  Presidential races are about choices. And we have an obligation to ensure that what Mitt Romney says, he's held accountable for."  By the time she's saying "we have an obligation," her voice is breaking.

What the hell was that?

We longed for a moment, like the one in Penny Marshall's A League of Their Own, for someone to show up and insist, "There's no crying in politics!"

And why did everyone in the media avert their eyes?

[In the longer segment with Chuck Todd, at 1:56 she first becomes close to losing it.  One hint, breathe during your attacks, Stephanie.  You might not tremble and whimper so much.  She's so pathetic in the Chuck Todd segment and you just wish Chuck would hand her a tissue and go to commercial.  And there's nothing more pathetic than a man or woman thinking they're tough-talkers while they whimper.]

After the incident, Molly Ball writes 1616 words of purple prose for The Atlantic, shining it on about the greatness of Stephanie Cutter, a 'real' liberal (because real ones work for Timothy Geithner?) and proving that Cutter's amazing because a few people online left some comments saying so?

In January 2008, the press couldn't shut up about Hillary Clinton's supposed tears (she never cried).  Apparently, it's only news when it's Hillary.  In August of that same year, Joe Biden would cry -- tears -- in public and no one really made anything out of it.  Now the White House attack dog nearly loses it on live TV and everyone looks the other way?  

1616 words and Molly Ball can't make time for it?  What kind of political erotica writer is she?

Our favorite response to Ball's nonsense is from "sourcreamus" whose comments include:

This is how journalism works.  You give me access and I will write a fawning article about you. 
I loved this part:  "Shrum said in an interview, "She believes society ought to be fairer so that middle-class kids like she once was can get a break in life.""
It is about time pretty blond women from the middle class finally get a fair shake in this country.

And that is funny and well said.  But it's also true, especially 'give me access and I will write a fawning article' or, in the case of 'documentaries' that American Masters airs, 'give me face time and I will churn out a fawning film about you.'

There are many ways to cover the arts -- and we support arts coverage.  But we support honest arts coverage.  We support thinking arts coverage.  And, for the record, a hundred-and-twenty-five funny boys telling us Carson or someone else is funny?  That's a waste of film.  If someone's funny, you show it.  You don't need to prop it up repeatedly with testimonials if they're truly funny.  Testimonials, check any infomercial, are to sell products, not to display someone's talent.   It's not just the lies that damage this PBS program, it's the inability of the 'documentaries' to even capture what their subject did to ever makes them worthy of  discussion to begin with.

Something doesn't smell right!

Colin Farrell

In Iraq, the political crisis continues because Nouri al-Maliki refuses to implement the Erbil Agreement.  This contract is what ended Political Stalemate I.  Following the March 7, 2010 elections, there were eight months of gridlock because Nouri refused to let the process start since he wasn't going to be able to have a second term (Iraqiya came in first, not Nouri's State of Law).  So he dug in his heels and put himself ahead of the country refusing to allow it to move forward until he got his way.

By November 2010, the political blocs were willing to give him a second term provided he agreed to their demands and this is the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.

Nouri gets his second term as prime minister and then refuses to honor the contract.

He trashes it.

And this is Political Stalemate II.

It's gone on forever.

Erbil was the location April 28th of this year when various leaders met up.  Among them, Moqtada al-Sadr, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.  They were all agreed that the Erbil Agreement had to be honored and it was left to Moqtada to announce that they would move for a no-confidence vote to unseat Nouri as prime minister if he did not implement the already agreed upon Erbil Agreement.

They are now gathering support for the no-confidence vote.  Why?

Because Nouri won't implement it.  Despite declaring his support for it at the start of May.

The political crisis started because Nouri al-Maliki refused to honor the agreement, refused to abide by the contract.  He could end the crisis tomorrow and the threat of no-confidence vote by, as Moqtada has repeatedly noted, implementing the Erbil Agreement.

As puzzling as his refusal to do so is the US' refusal to call for that as well.  The US put together that agreement.  They gave promises to the ones agreeing to let Nouri have a second term (Nouri was Bush's pet and when Bush left, Barack got custody of him).

Even allowing that he's their passion slave with a captive braclet, what's so difficult about standing up for a contract to be honored?

Why is the US willing to trash its own image to appease Nouri?


Illustration is a screen snap of Colin Farrell from London Boulevard.

Could POLITICO change it's name to BITCHY? (Ava and C.I.)


We wondered about a possible name change as we made our way through William Bergstrom's bitchy article demeaning Scott Baio and Jon Voight.  He wanted readers to know that Barack Obama had no problem getting celebrity endorsements but Mitt Romney?  "The two most recognizable stars in attendance were Scott Baio, best known for his titular role in the '80s sitcom 'Charles in Charge,' and Jon Voight of 'Midnight Cowby' (1969) and 'Deliverance' (1972) fame, who won an Oscar in 1979 but has acted in supporting roles for many years now."

Meow.  Bergstrom's a catty one.  Let's see if we can play his game too?

But before we get to that fun, let's deal with a few facts.

First off, the 1979 Academy Award winning role was in Coming Home opposite Jane Fonda (who took home the Best Actress award).  It's also one of Voight's best known roles.

Second of all, Jon Voight is a name.  Jon Voight was certainly famous enough to be a subplot in Seinfeld's "The Mom & Pop Store."

Third of all, in 1969, he got his first Best Actor nomination.  Of the five nominees, two are dead (John Wayne -- who won for True Grit -- and Richard Burton) and three are alive (Jon, Dustin Hoffman, Peter O'Toole).   Of the three alive, none of them has been on the big screen in a lead role recently.  The year after Jon Voight won his Academy Award, Dustin Hoffman won for Kramer vs. Kramer.   The year before Jon Voight won?  Richard Dreyfuss took home the statue for The Goodbye Girl and he's not been all over the big screen recently in lead roles.

Fourth, Jon Voight will be 74 at the end of this year.  He has one film scheduled to be released this year and at least two more scheduled to shoot.

Reality, Jon Voight is a legend.  He's beyond celebrity.  You may not agree with his politics (we don't) but that doesn't change the reality that he's a legend.

Interestingly, POLITICO is only bitchy when it comes to Republicans.  Take Sarah Jessica Parker whom they've filed multiple items on -- like this one or this one -- for supporting Barack Obama.  And bitchy William Bergstrom appears to infer that she's some sort of  name and above that of Jon Voight.

Ready?  Let's play.

Reality, Sarah Jessica Parker is an ugly woman who had her chin wart removed in the hopes that it would make her a film star and it didn't.  Nothing did before, nothing did after.  Sarah Jessica Parker cannot carry a film.  She has no Academy Award to her name, not even a nomination.  She does have one Emmy for acting (for a very weak year for women -- 2004).  She also has a Razzie. She's famous for being one of four women in a 30 minute cable TV show that ended in 2004.  It had a semi-successful film (financially successful, critically a disaster) which was followed by a film that didn't do so well especially with critics.  In fact it did so poorly that the 'solution' was to reboot Sex in the City with younger actresses.

Her career is a joke as is she.  No one wants her for a lead role, she's flopped too many times.  In Lovelace, the praise for the supporting players is going to Sharon Stone and Parker's said to have delivered the same one-note performance she's been giving since Square Pegs.  We don't normally comment on Sarah Jessica Parker.  In part because we have nothing nice to say about her.  But this is what passes for a celebrity?  An actress more famous for insults hurled at her on Family Guy?  An actress who has never carried a hit film?  An actress who has repeatedly failed on broadcast TV and in every attempt to star her or make her one of two co-stars in a film?

She's 47-years-old and started playing Carrie Bradshaw in 1998?  You really think she should star in a commercial for Barack on MTV?  You really think she can appeal to Tweeners and teens?  What?  Was the campaign's alternate Carole Channing?

Wow, playing Bitchy Bergstrom was so much fun, let's take another turn!

Also earning praise from Bergstrom is plastic surgery victim George Clooney. Like his once manly looks, whatever talents he had vanished long ago.  And while, with his old face, he could deliver an audience on TV, he's not a movie star.  He's played many leading roles, he's just repeatedly failed to deliver blockbusters.  If Harrison Ford had those puny box office numbers in his hey day, he never would have been a star.  Clooney is box office poison, this is the man who killed the Batman franchise.  But, hey, with his record of box office dogs and new face, maybe the American Kennel Club will make a movie about a Pekingese and cast him in the lead?

We could go on and on.

But, reality is Jon Voight's a living legend.  George Clooney's this century's Tyrone Power -- no, his films don't have a great deal of cachet today -- and Sarah Jessica Parker has a long future to look forward to as a celebrity on The Game Show Network because she's this century's less photogenic Ruth Buzzi.

Scott Baio?  He was a good looking teen idol.  He had the acting chops to be a lead in 3 TV shows: Happy Days, Joannie Loves Chachi and Charles In Charge.  He may have future successes.  Even if  he doesn't, he's already as successful as Bob Denver and we doubt that, were he still alive, POLITICO would be ridiculing Gilligan.

There was no reason for POLITICO to be so bitchy.  Patricia Heaton is a Republican.  We don't like her politics.  For years we ridiculed her acting. In The Middle, she's proved us wrong and she is an amazing actress doing first rate work.  We hope she's honored with an Emmy nomination this year and we wouldn't dispute it if the industry gave her the award.  She has become one of the finest TV actresses -- Frankie is no sketch, she'ss a full bodied, fully realized person.

And it doesn't hurt to say that because it's true.  We can disagree with her politics all we want.   We can even mock them if we so choose.  But to deny what she's accomplished?

That's just dishonest.  Bitchy can sometimes be amusing.  Dishonesty, however, is always just embarrassing.


Jim: This is a roundtable that's going to cover many things, including a comment I'm pulling out of Ava and C.I.'s piece and insisting be included here instead.  We plan to talk politics and other things.  We'll see how it goes.  Our e-mail address is, we're making sure we do one this edition. Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts. Betty's kids did the illustration, Ava and C.I. are taking notes and you are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): First up, American Masters is a bad PBS program that Ava and C.I. take on this week.  They note it airs falsehoods and there are no corrections for those, of course.  They take on deliberate lies about Joan Rivers that the program tells.  And C.I. has a great comment in it that I think distracts from the piece but does belong in this edition.

C.I.: I'm not going to sit here and read that comment.  The point of it is that PBS and the film maker lie about Joan Rivers.  I don't like Joan Rivers as a person at all. I do credit her with being a wonderful mother.  She did a great job with Melissa and deserves praise for her role as a mother.  High praise, she deserves high praise for that.  She also deserves praise for her role as a comedy pioneer.  I'll give her that as well but  I don't like her personally and yet Ava and I are fighting to get the truth out about her so she's not unfairly attacked.  American Masters presents the lie that Joan Rivers betrayed Johnny Carson by doing a late night talk show on Fox.  This is where my personal comment that's now out of our article came in.  Joan wanted me to do her show.   I sent word through my people that I wasn't interested, thank you.  I wasn't doing anything at that time, no interviews, and actually that was for personal reasons.  But her response to that was to trash me to a magazine that cleaned up her comments.  She continued to trash me repeatedly for weeks, with the c-word.  Because I wouldn't do her show and I wasn't the only one she trashed.  She referred to me as the c-word repeatedly.  Regardless of how badly she needed guests for her Fox show, I don't care and I don't forget all the things she said.  And yet here Ava and I are, writing a piece that takes on and refutes lies that paint Joan Rivers as The Tonight Show villain.  We're trying to be fair.  PBS doesn't give a damn.  I find that appalling.  I find it appalling that I am more fair than PBS.

Jim: Ava, anything to add?

Ava:  We were trying to figure out what we were going to write about and kept tossing discs into the DVD player and fast forwarding and I was also reading sections from transcripts of public affairs programs from last week when I said, "Joan Rivers."  And C.I. grabbed the remote and went back to the start.  It was the American Masters program on Johnny Carson.  And we watched and she said, "That's not what happened. They're lying about Joan."  She called several people -- a  one-time Tonight Show associate producer, an NBC exec in 1986 and a entertainment reporter and we quizzed them about what happened versus what the 'documentary' said happened.  I know Joan and Melissa, I'm not friends with either.  But I know them and I know C.I. doesn't care for Joan.  You can check our past work where that's noted.  And we usually -- I believe always -- also note something nice about Joan regardless of that.  So I was kind of shocked when we were writing -- we write longhand.  Sometimes one of us dictates a section, sometimes one of us grabs the legal pad and writes it without dictation, sometimes we struggle over it -- sentence by sentence -- together.  So C.I. grabs the legal pad and I'm thinking, as she's writing furiously, "This is going to be funny."  Because usually when she does that, she's got something funny.  So I was surprised it was a disclaimer but it worked perfectly in the piece and now that you've removed it, we can't include another part where we were addressing other press attacks.  The flow is gone.

Jim: My apologies.  And there are a lot of press distortions these days.  Sometimes it seems like there are more distortions than anything else.  What happened there?  The internet was supposed to be the check on press lies.

Mike: I have the response for that and here it is:

Cokie Roberts has been ritually crucified -- they cut off her head and a million Cokies sprung up to replace her -- some of which were supposedly going to 'change it all.' Before there was Cokie Roberts, there were millions in different eras. There always will be. 

Jim: Well said.

Mike: I was quoting.

Jim: My bad.  I didn't know that was a quote.  Who is it?  Oh, wait.  That's C.I., isn't it?

Mike: Yeah from November 2006.  There are earlier riffs on that at The Common Ills but that was my favorite and when I heard we were roundtabling, I looked it up.

Rebecca: But it's exactly true.  And the reason is because in 2004 and 2005, we thought there were these insurgent truth tellers on the net.  The majority weren't.  They were liars and hucksters.  They didn't want to stop the Titanic from sinking, they just wanted to move up from steerage to a nice deck chair to watch the whole thing go down.

Betty: I think that's very much true.  And I think we especially saw that in 2008.  I think a number of people were posing as truth tellers in a desire to be bought off.  Though not really a blogger, not even in her Air America days,  I include Rachel Chris-Matthews-is-a-sexist! Maddow on that list.  She makes the assertion and then MSNBC offers her a show and suddenly she's telling the press Chris isn't a sexist.  That was like a period of three consecutive days.  I can't imagine a less public buy-off.  But the point I was wanting to make here is that in addition to the ones who sell out, there is the change online.  You know, Facebook and Twitter weren't issues back then.  So people who might be using their time to hold the press accountable are instead in new media.

Elaine: Betty's bringing up a good point.  There are new forms.  Myself, Twitter?  I can't imagine anything more boring.  If CNN's live reporting on a protest in Baghdad on Twitter, for instance, that's of value.  Similar live reporting from elsewhere would interest me as well.  But the idea that people are going to Twitter random thoughts?  I have enough trouble both making time for four blog posts a week and in finding things to say that aren't repeats.  I don't care if you're Stephen Hawking or Cher, I have no interest in reading your Tweets.  Random free association?  I get paid to hear that, thank you.

Jess: That's a good one.  Elaine's a psychologist, if you didn't get that joke.  I think the weblogs are still the best format out there in terms of offering media criticism and providing information.  I hope we see a revival but it's not happened yet.  There are sites that try to avoid tribal think.  But it would be great if that were the goal.

Cedric: I predict we'll see a revival or an attempted one.  If Barack loses the election, for example, I predict it will start in 2009.  Suddenly, it will be all these little whores who've stayed silent for four years or, worse, lied for Barack and suddenly they're going to care that Guantanamo is still open and that the US is still engaged in wars.  And they'll tell you, "Hey, I'd call it out no matter who was doing it!"  But they're lying because they spent the last four years ignoring Barack's crimes and wars.  But they will try.  As soon as a Republican is in the White House, they'll be trying to fool everyone.

Jim: Do you think people will fall for it?

Cedric: I think a significant number will.

Jim: Ann, you're on Facebook.  Thoughts?

Ann: I've got a Facebook account.  I'm not really on it.  I stopped posting after learning that they were tracking your web searches and visits.  I did make a point to go on and ask for input.  I got two e-mails.  The feeling is Facebook has peaked.  To that, I would add that it's good for sharing images.  Photos, cartoons, drawings, etc.  But in terms of writing?  It's not really geared for that.  The only thing less devoted to words would be Twitter.

Jim: Did the Facebook stock issues influence your opinion of it at all?

Ann: No.  But I did enjoy Trina's post "My thoughts on the Facebook offering fiasco" and to that I would add that somewhere between 1996 and 1998, my friend Arlena was all excited and e-mails me asking if I got Yahoo stock.  Huh?  Yahoo's going to go public and offering everyone that uses it a small stock, like 1% or something.  And I told her that was probably a scam by someone who wants your information to use it for identity theft.  Now I don't know what happened there and whether it was a scam or for real but one way that Facebook could have mitigated its bad image and generated some good will would have been to have offered stock to its users.  I find it disgusting that the users are going to make nothing but, at least before the stockw as available, there was the illusion that billions would be made off users.  It's, to me, more examples of slave labor.  And I say that as a Black woman.  We built Facebook, we do all the work, and someone makes billions off our efforts.  Let's be really clear that without the users, there is no reason for anyone to spend a dollar on Facebook stock.

Stan: For me the worst thing about Facebook is that newspaper and other websites include it.  I can't even look at a Yahoo story at work.  The page never finishes loading because of all the gadgets -- the Facebook widget, the Dig, etc.  There's not point in even trying.  And I think these gadgets that are supposed to help us share just prevent sharing.  I'm also with Elaine, I have no interests in your daily Tweets.  I wouldn't Tweet my own life and I have no idea why you think your life is that interesting.  That's the sort of thing you might believe as an adolescent but once you get older than that I'd hope you'd have a little more maturity.

Jim: Isaiah, your thoughts?

Isaiah: I think maturity is in short supply. Barack insulted Poland and refused to apologize.  Cedric, Wally and Mike covered it with "Nut up and apologize, you little candy ass," "THIS JUST IN! HE'S A COWARD AND DUMB ASS!,"  "He still won't apologize,"  "THIS JUST IN! STILL NO APOLOGY!" and  "Barry Punk Ass won't apologize to Poland."  If I hadn't grabbed the economy, that would have been my focus.  I think it's a telling moment.

Jim: How so?  Because of the mistake?

Isaiah: Because he refused to apologize.  Even when it was a mini-international incident.

Dona: Isaiah, I agree with you on this.  But I'm going to toss out what some Kool-Aid drinker will e-mail, "It was no big deal! It was a simple mistake!"

Isaiah: Then why the refusal to apologize?

Jim: Okay, good point.  Dona, since you're now in it, you say you agree with Isaiah.  What would you do?

Dona:  You can say it's a minor thing, the mistake. The refusal to apologize is a major thing.  If this had happened between, say, "Skip" Gates and a police officer, Barack would be calling for a summit.  And this refusal to just come out and apologize echoes one of the biggest criticisms that we on the left had of Bush.  Admit your mistakes.  That's the point.  And  I don't personally think it's a minor thing or minor mistake.   People lost their lives.  This was an insult to the Polish resistance.  This was an insult to true heroes -- some of whom gave their lives.  And it became a bigger insult once there was a refusal to apologize.

Isaiah: Exactly.  If you make a mistake and people's feelings are hurt, you need to offer an apology.  Especially if you're the President of the United States.  You need to set an example. 

Jim: So good points Dona and Isaiah.  Marcia, Ruth, Trina, Ty, Kat and Wally haven't spoken.  Dona slid me a note on that.   Trina, let me start with you.  In "More Pasta Salad in the Kitchen," you highlighted an event of Jill Stein's.  Explain why you did that.

Trina: Because there was no news at her campaign website.  There's been nothing the whole week, nothing posted.  I assume we're not going to be highlighting her campaign as a result.  Jill Stein, by the way, is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.  I'll be voting for her in November.

Jim: And what do you think of her website's failure to update?

Trina: She's still in a primary, she's not yet won the nomination, I think it's a bad thing.  I think if you're running for office, you keep the information coming.  Jim, you pointed out four or five years ago, that your website is your online office if you're a politician.  And that's now a very popular way to refer to it.  Your office should always be open.

Jim: Kat?

Kat: I agree with Trina and I'd point out that I don't live in Trina's state.  What I mean is, I wasn't exposed to Jill Stein's run for governor.  She's a face that's emerged this year for me.  Her online office should be updating constantly.  My support for her, to be honest, stems in a large part from Trina's talk on her.  I've learned more about her from Trina than from her website.  If this is the way the primaries operate, how are we going to see her compete in the general election?

Ruth: And that is a real good question.  I'd vote for Roseanne if her run was serious but since she said she was not, I am interested in supporting Jill Stein.  However, that support gets pulled if it turns out this is not a real run.

Trina: That's true of mine as well.

Ruth: Good.  Because I am not interested in another faux run by the Green Party.  She has publicly rejected the 2004 faux run strategy.  If I even feel like this is a faux run, I am done with her campaign.  I am not going to be played for a fool.

Jim: So what would you do then, Ruth?  Would you do what Ava and C.I. are most likely doing?

Ruth: Ava and C.I. believe they will not vote for president.  They have noted that could change and if it does they will state so.  But they are not voting for Barack Obama.  I am not voting for Mr. Obama.  I might do that if Jill Stein's run turned out not to be genuine.  Who knows?  I might even vote for Mitt Romney to protest against four more years of Mr. Obama.

Betty: And so Ruth's not left alone on that limb, I've expressed that thought as well.

Jim: Interesting.  Ty?

Ty: I'm planning to vote for Stein as well.  Would I vote for Romney?  I don't know.  I guess as a protest vote, it might be worth it.  I'm voting in California and Barack will carry it so I can lodge a protest vote.  But in terms of voting for him to win, it's not happening, I'd have to move to another state.  California will go Democrat. 

Jim: Marcia?

Marcia:  On this topic, my neighbor said Friday that Barack was going to win.  I found that interesting.  Bear with me just a second.  My neighbor's a Latina, 65-years-old.  She says to me that she's glad Romney's not going to win because he wants to destroy Social Security but Barack will save it.  She has no idea.  I told her to Google "Catfood Commission" for how the commission Barack appointed wants to slash Social Seucirty.  I also shared that whatever may be happening to Social Security in the near future, it won't effect her and the most likely way they'll destroy it is by offering people the choice of opting out and doing a 401K equivalent.  And once that starts, you move people to that and have less and less on Social Security and then it's easy to kill it.  But if you know how Friday went, how the whole weekend went, you know no sane person would be saying Barack's a sure thing, not a news person.  And that's when it hit me.  I said, "You saw that on the news?"  She said yes.  I said, "Do you mean MSNBC?"  She said it's all she watches.  And I said, "Of course, you do."  MSNBC appears to exist to make Fox News look genuine.

Wally: Yeah, I'd say MSNBC is part of the problem.  And it goes back to how we were going to be the left generation that changed things but all we did was prove how hollow and unethical we could be.  We stopped caring about policies and became the worshipping cult that's all about personalities.

Jim: So that brings us full circle and we'll conclude on that.  Again, this is a rush transcript.

Jim's World


The weekly editions.  There are many thoughts about them.  In "Barbie post," Kat shared some including that Ava and C.I. are longing for the day they're offline (true) and that she (Kat) believes part of the reason the editions go on so long is that we feel the need to offer a larger number than what we used to.  And that may be true.

But her post resulted in a ton of e-mails (e-mail address is  Most were variations on how mean me is making things crazy for Ava and C.I.  No.  Sorry.  They're just tired of the grind.  They're tired of never having time off.  They're the only two who have participated every week since this site started back in January of 2005.  In addition, C.I.'s never off at The Common Ills.  In addition to that addition, Ava and C.I. are on the road most weeks talking about the wars and the attacks on the Constitution.  They are tired of the grind.  Their work here is only part of the grind.

Kat is very much correct that we used to write far less for each edition than we do today and that's probably part of the reason that it takes so much longer.

It's also true that we still attempt things that never work out.  Every week.  There are probably three articles every week that we work on for at least an hour minimum (an hour each) that never get to the point where we think they are worth publishing.

And we do have fun in the edition -- sometimes too much fun takes place and not enough writing.

But as we're close to finishing our eight year, what stands out to me are how we continue to have new things to offer.  For example, if, in 2005, you'd have told me we'd do a "Barbie Roundtable," I would have said, "You're crazy."  But that took place last week and was a hugely popular article. 

A lot of people are wondering if C.I.'s going to call it quits come July 4th?  If that happens, we'll be closing then as well.  But I don't think that's happening.  I'm sure by June 20th we'll learn The Common Ills is going on for six more months and we'll do six more months.  I honestly don't see either site ending for at least another year.  That would be my guess: End of 2013.

Doesn't mean I'm right but that's what I'd guess.

Are veterans being exploited?

Senator Patty Murray (Washington) chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes this action by Murray, Senator Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Senator Bill Nelson (Florida).
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Murray, Blumenthal, Nelson Call on Departments of Justice, Treasury to Investigate Charitable Organizations Exploiting Veterans for Own Financial Gain
Recent findings raise serious questions as to whether organizations are violating federal law and abusing their tax exempt status by misrepresenting work on behalf of veterans
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee joined with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) in sending two letters regarding the Veterans Support Organization (VSO), addressing potential violations of federal law and abuse of tax exempt status by the 501(c)(3) organization. The first letter was sent to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, requesting an audit and, where appropriate, an investigation of the VSO for potential violations of federal law.
In a second letter, sent to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Senator Murray, again joined by Senators Blumenthal and Nelson, expressed concern about the membership criteria used by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Voluntary Service National Advisory Committee (NAC) to evaluate prospective member organizations and the NAC's failure to require any standards of conduct for its members. The Senators point out the lack of internal controls for membership on the advisory committee and call for the removal of any organization that fails to conduct itself in a manner befitting the Department's mission or that exploits its relationship with the Department for its own financial gain.
"Without a meaningful review process or standards of conduct, the Department risks legitimizing organizations engaged in questionable business practices by permitting their membership on the NAC," the Senators write in the letter to Secretary Shinseki. "For example, the Veterans Support Organization (VSO) has repeatedly touted its membership on the NAC as a way to represent itself as a reputable organization. But throughout the seventeen states in which it operates, VSO has drawn scrutiny from state authorities, veterans service organizations, local news organizations and veterans themselves. VSO's business practices have been characterized as dishonest, misleading and fraudulent, and in at least one instance, VSO has acknowledged breaking state law." 
The full text of both letters follow:
May 30, 2012
The Honorable Eric H. Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Dear General Holder and Secretary Geithner:
We write to request that the Departments of Justice and Treasury audit and investigate, as appropriate, the Veterans Support Organization (VSO), a registered 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation, for potential violations of federal law.
Throughout the seventeen states in which it operates, including Connecticut and Florida, VSO has attracted scrutiny from state authorities, reputable veterans service organizations, local news organizations and individual veterans. VSO's business practices have been characterized as dishonest, misleading, and fraudulent and in at least one instance, VSO has acknowledged breaking state law. Taken together, these actions and allegations raise serious questions as to whether VSO has repeatedly and intentionally misappropriated public donations and abused its tax exempt status in violation of federal law.
At the heart of VSO's suspect practices is its use of paid solicitors, violation of state solicitation laws and financial irregularities. VSO presents its paid solicitors to the public as veterans, providing them with camouflage-style uniforms and instructing them to keep thirty percent of their collected donations as commission. Through its use of these paid solicitors, VSO has been found in violation of state charitable contribution laws and has faced civil penalties as a result. VSO's paid solicitors program is its single largest expenditure, with executive and employee compensation following close behind. In 2009 alone, VSO paid its chief executive officer $255,000, or over four percent of its total revenue. That same year, VSO's spending on its paid solicitor program and executive and employee compensation was over eight times greater than its direct grant awards to other veterans service organizations, government entities, and individual veterans. Clearly, VSO's disproportionate spending on paid solicitors and its own executives, coupled with its admitted violation of state solicitation laws and general lack of transparency and accountability is cause for serious concern. For your reference, we have enclosed a background paper that details VSO's questionable conduct in greater detail.
As an increasing number of our servicemembers return home and transition to civilian life, it is especially critical that charity organizations act as good stewards of the American people's goodwill and generosity towards our veterans. On behalf of our nation's veterans and those who serve them, we thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to your timely response detailing the steps you have taken auditing or investigating, as appropriate, VSO.
May 30, 2012
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:
We write to express our concern about the membership criteria used by the Department's Voluntary Service National Advisory Committee (NAC) to evaluate prospective member organizations and the NAC's failure to require any standards of conduct for its members.
It is critical that organizations permitted to affiliate themselves with, or invoke the name of, the Department of Veterans Affairs conduct themselves in a manner befitting the Department's mission, its reputation and the integrity of its work. Yet today, any organization that meets a minimum level of monetary and material support to VA facilities is eligible for membership on the NAC. No other review is undertaken by the Department to evaluate a potential member organization, nor does the NAC have in place any standards of conduct to which its member organizations must adhere. 
This is both troubling and unacceptable. Without a meaningful review process or standards of conduct, the Department risks legitimizing organizations engaged in questionable business practices by permitting their membership on the NAC. For example, the Veterans Support Organization (VSO) has repeatedly touted its membership on the NAC as a way to represent itself as a reputable organization. But throughout the seventeen states in which it operates, VSO has drawn scrutiny from state authorities, veterans service organizations, local news organizations and veterans themselves. VSO's business practices have been characterized as dishonest, misleading and fraudulent, and in at least one instance, VSO has acknowledged breaking state law. 

In response to VSO's suspect practices, we have written to the Attorney General and to Secretary Geithner, requesting that their departments investigate whether VSO has misappropriated public donations or abused its tax exempt status in violation of federal law. We expressed our concern that charity organizations must act as good stewards of the American people's generosity towards our veterans. Surely an organization, such as VSO, which has admitted breaking state law, should be ineligible to serve on the NAC or use the Department's name in furtherance of its own financial interest. 
To protect the integrity of the NAC's work, we ask that you review this situation and take such action as you consider appropriate. It is our hope that you will rescind the membership of VSO and any other organization that fails to reflect the caliber and character of the Department's mission and work, and institute safeguards to regulate the NAC's membership accordingly. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your review of this issue. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our nation's veterans.
Eli Zupnick
Press Secretary
U.S. Senator Patty Murray

The continued campaign against Cuba (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

U.S. continues campaign against socialist Cuba

Published Jun 2, 2012 8:48 PM
Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter heard nothing but applause on May 23 as she made her first public appearance in San Francisco.
Mariela Castro, the niece of retired President Fidel Castro, received a pair of standing ovations as she took part in a panel at San Francisco General Hospital on health care for transgender patients. The panel was part of a larger conference of the Latin America Studies Association.

Although her hour-long talk focused on medical issues, she nevertheless strongly condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba and called its supporters in this country “a tiny mafia” who have “no scruples.”
Speaking through a translator, Castro said she had successfully worked within the Communist Party in Cuba to repudiate “all forms of discrimination in our society,” particularly bias against gays and transgender people.
As a member of the Communist Party and as the director for the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex), Mariela Castro is one of the most prominent and outspoken gay rights activists on the island. Her work has been pivotal in the many reforms that have been enacted in favor of recognition and acceptance of LGBT human rights, and it has also resulted in pioneering legislation, including allowance for transgender individuals to receive gender reassignment surgery without charge (as a health care provision), and to change their legal gender.
“If we don’t change our patriarchal and homophobic culture that brings stigma,” Castro said, “we cannot advance to a new society. That is what we want — the power of emancipation through socialism.” ­(SFGate, May 24)
Right wingers all over the U.S. attacked Ms. Castro and condemned the Obama administration for granting her a visa. These critics failed to mention that that very same State Department had denied visas to 11 other scholars hoping to join the same conference. Some of those turned down were prominent Cubans who have been allowed U.S. visas in the past, including Rafael Hernández, the editor of the Cuban intellectual journal Temas, who has taught at both Harvard and Columbia universities.
The pretexts for the denials were that those denied were security risks and that their presence would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” (Washington Post, May 18) which seemed contradictory and baffling to some observers.
“It’s just bizarre,” said Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America, an independent think tank. “I have trouble believing that all of these people who have been up here working at the most prestigious universities in the United States have gone from one day to the next to being a security threat.” (, May 18)
Yet, one of those who was, in fact, granted a visa was Eusebio Leal, a historian who has spearheaded the renovation of Old Havana and sits on the Communist Party Central Committee. He spoke at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.
Rafael Hernández attributed the seeming contradictions to politics: “They have denied visas to several of us who frequently travel to the United States,” Hernandez said. “That is the cost, I suppose, that they are paying to bring in the rest. They have to throw a piece of meat to [Cuban American right-wing politicians] … because they gave a visa to Mariela and Eusebio.” ­(, May 18)
A policy of terrorism against socialism
The above should be seen in the context of the long-term, unremitting hostility of the U.S. towards Cuba and its socialist system ever since 1959. Whether Washington uses war and terrorism, trade, or cultural exchanges, the U.S. goal remains ending socialism in Cuba. Even some who oppose the U.S. blockade of Cuba say they want to “open up” Cuba to better overturn the socialist government.
President Barack Obama has emphasized his “people to people” and cultural exchanges, saying it is a cornerstone of his Cuba policy. While it is true that such cultural exchanges have increased during Obama’s administration, the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba has remained firmly in place, and four of the Cuban Five remain in jail, finishing their 14th year of tortuously long sentences including double-life for Gerardo Hernandez. Although the fifth man, Rene Gonzalez, was released from prison on Oct. 7, he is forced to remain against his will in the U.S. — in Miami where his life is endangered — for three years supervised release.
Shortly after President Obama took office, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla observed that “the economic, commercial and financial blockade has been interposed between us and remains intact. There has been no change in the policy of the United States on Cuba.” (Cuban Foreign Ministry website, 2009)
Meanwhile, terrorist activities continue against Cuba.
At 3 a.m. on April 27, a Coral Gables travel agency exploded into flames. Police dogs detected accelerant inside the burnt-out building, and the agency’s owner said she suspected it was firebombed in retaliation for booking flights to Cuba.
“It’s not that it’s burned. It’s pulverized,” Airline Broker owner Vivian Mannerud told Channel 10. “All I know is that I have never seen a fire pulverize things. I’ve seen it in pictures of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.” (Miami New Times, April 27)
A billboard in Little Havana advertising a video that defends the Cuban Five was taken down just hours after it went up, amid anonymous phone calls threatening to attack a restaurant beneath the sign.
Radio Miami commentator Max Lesnick, who regularly demands the release of the five anti-terrorist Cubans, said the Alianza Martiana paid for the advertisement. Lesnick is also one of the leaders of the Alianza.
The ad went up on a billboard on the roof of a restaurant on the corner of 1st Street and 17th Avenue SW around noon Wednesday and was already down by about 7 p.m., Lesnick said.
Restaurant owner Liliana Vásquez said she received several anonymous phone threats, including one saying, “We’re going to destroy your place.” (Miami Herald, May 27)
There are some who maintain that terrorist acts against Cuba are solely the work of right-wing Cuban exiles. But the U.S. has had an active policy of terrorism and murder against the Cuban people going back five decades.
Stephen Kimber, an award-winning Canadian professor of journalism, says that the Cuban Five were arrested only after they discovered a boat-bomb anchored in Miami, part of a plot against Cuba, and after the FBI found out that the Cubans had this information. (Sting of the Wasp, April 23) It is just as unbelievable that the U.S. knew nothing of the many terrorist acts against Cuba over the years, as it is that prominent Cuban scholars are a security risk.
Cuban Foreign Minister Rodríguez Parrila said before the United Nations :
“In Cuba, children ask how it is possible that in this country [i.e., the U.S.], terrorists walk the streets and anti-terrorists are jailed. The five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters have suffered cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions for simply trying to prevent terrorist acts. They must be freed, including the one who is currently on supervised release and is being prevented from rejoining his family. It would be an act of justice and if that is not to be, at least, a humanitarian act.
“Only in a country like the United States, could the chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs … lead a tribute to international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for the in-flight downing of a civilian aircraft and, only here, could a group of children, from a theater company visiting the United States, be called terrorists and spies.
“The political battle which took place here today validates what our Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz wrote … in an article entitled, ‘NATO’s Genocidal Role’: ‘The necessity of ending not only the blockade, but the system which engenders injustice on our planet, squanders its natural resources and is placing human survival at risk.’” (Cuba MinRex, Oct. 25)


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.

"War as distraction" -- most requested highlight of the week.

"Iraq snapshot"  and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on two House Veterans Affairs hearings.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The One-on-One Summit" and "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Jobs Report" -- Isaiah covers Iraq and the economy.
 "Ruth's Report" -- Ruth did one of her radio reports noting the nonsense NPR offered on War Criminal Colin Powell.

"More Pasta Salad in the Kitchen" -- Trina on the economy and offering a new recipe.
"Look who he needs now" -- Betty notes the ironic twist of fate.
"A comeback for that one?" and "Con Artists Stick Together" -- Ruth on John Edwards.

"Dawn"  -- Kat weighs in on a Barbie competitor.

"And the night time soaps . . .,"  "Damn Jules (Cougar Town)," "Cecile" and  "666 Park Avenue" -- Marica, Ruth and Betty cover TV.

"media whore kelly mcevers," "Public radio?," "Syria" -- Rebecca, Ruth and Elaine cover radio joining Ann:

"Watch your own kid" -- Marcia 

"Public transportation" and "More on public transportation" -- Stan reports on public transportation.

"Screw Bloomberg" -- Elaine on the ridiculous Bloomberg.
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