Sunday, September 02, 2012

Truest statement of the week

For example, Julian Assange you know that he's been wanted for some time in Sweden for questioning on accusations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion brought by two women in Stockholm.  So he's fled and he's been in Britain which wants to extradite him to Sweden and he fought court cases and he lost court cases and so now he has taken refuge in and been given asylum by Ecuador in their Embassy in London from whence he holds forth denouncing women in Sweden as feminists -- denouncing Sweden as feminist -- Ah, take that Sweden! -- and posturing himself as a martyr to free speech and journalism because he claims the US is vamping on him because of WikiLeaks of classified documents. But the interesting thing to me now is that this great champion of press freedom and martyr to it taking refuge in Ecuador's embassy. The current president of Ecuador Rafael Correa and his regime -- it's a leftist regime but it is authoritarian -- has been accused of persecuting and jailing journalists who criticize him and his policies. So I'd like to know what part of "no" and what part of cognitive dissonance Julian does not understand? So many troglodytes so little time.

-- Robin Morgan, WMC Live with Robin Morgan.

Truest statement of the week II

The massive rise in US arms sales is driven by the accelerating turn toward aggressive war as a means of achieving the strategic global objectives of US imperialism, combined with the insatiable drive for profit and power by America’s bloated military-industrial complex.

-- Bill Van Auken, "The tripling of US arms sales" (WSWS).

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.

And what did we come up with?  First, I'm doing the note as I (Jim) usually do.  The note and the roundtable's all I participated in.  This was an Ava and C.I. steered edition to allow people to take time off if they wanted it and also because they said they could do the edition in five hours.  I didn't agree that would happen but they did pull it off.  They had two great ideas for articles that they didn't do because after five hours, that was it.  There plan was for everyone to sleep Saturday night and they'd get together around eight in the morning (our time) and start work.  Which is what they did.

Here's what everyone came up with:

Robin Morgan got a truest.
As did Bill Van Auken.

Kim Rivera had to be our editorial this week.  The clock is currently ticking.  Hopefully, the courts will step in and tell Kenney to back off.

Ava and C.I. reflect on the week in media.  This originally was going to be an in depth piece on The New Normal and on Robin Morgan's talk show.  They kept Morgan but they're not really in the mood to help The New Normal -- not because the industry's walking away from it as Ellen Barken keeps, well, barking but because they just don't see the point in rewarding her hate.  They cover the RNC and many other things instead.

No one wanted this article written more than Ann who now intends to spend a month without radio at her site.  She'll pick a new show to follow daily, she says, but not right away.  This is Ann, Ava and C.I. taking on Talk of the Nation.

Ira's so annoying.  He may have come up in another published piece.  If he didn't, he got cut from it.  The other piece is what led to this short feature.

I moderated.  I wasn't going to do anything this edition and take the whole weekend off; however, I walked in as they were starting and agreed to grab the moderator role when asked.

Jill Stein's first commercial.

We are so sick of these liars.  There are US troops in Iraq.  Get your facts straight or get off the air.

From the Jill Stein campaign.
Repost from WSWS.

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


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

Editorial: Targeting war resisters

Jason Kenney wants to deport Kimberly Rivera.

Who?  Let's start with Kim.  Back in the US on leave, Iraq War veteran Kim Rivera decided she could not return to Iraq.  In 2007, she explained:

While in Iraq losing soldiers and civilians was part of daily life.  I was a gate guard.  This was looked down on by infantry soldiers who go out in the streets, but gate guards are the highest security of the Foward Operation Base.  We searched vehicles, civilian personnel, and military convoys that left and came back every hour.  I had a huge awakening seeing the war as it truly is: people losing their lives for greed of a nation and the effects on the soldiers who come back with new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger alcohol abuse, missing limbs and scars from burns.  Some don't come back at all.  On December 21, 2006 I was going to my room and something in my heart told me to go call my husband.  And when I did 24 rounds of mortars hit the FOB in a matter of minutes after I got on the phone . . . the mortars were 10-15 feet from where I was.  I found a hole from the shrapnel in my room in the plywood window.  That night I found the shrapnel on my bed in the same place where my head would have been if I hadn't changed my plans and gone to the phone.

So she and her family went to Canada where she sought asylum as a war resister.

That's Kim, who's Jason Kenney?

In the image below,  Kim's the one with the ponytail,  War Resisters Support Campaign's Michelle the one in glasses and Jason Kenney is the large man trying to get away from the two women.


When not fleeing women he should be helping, Kenney serves as Canada's Minister of Immigration and, despite telling Kim in 2009 that his office had nothing to do with deportations, he is now attempting to deport her, wanting her kicked out of Canada by September 20th.

In the nearly five years Kim and her family have been in Canada, they've tried to make a life.  From the mother of two, she's become the mother of four.  She's not exactly a safety issue so why the need to deport her?

The War Resisters Support Campaign offers a number of ways in which you can help Kim:

How you can help the Rivera family:
1. Join the Rivera family and supporters on
Monday September 3rd at 10 am
at the Labour Day parade
(north of Armoury, on east side of University Ave)

Let’s show our support for Kim and her family, who sought refuge in Canada in 2007 when Kim decided she could no longer participate in the Iraq War. Kim faces harsh punishment, including a long jail term, if she is returned to the US – all because she followed her conscience.

The War Resisters Support Campaign invites you to march with Kim and her family in the Steelworkers contingent.
Meet on the east side of University Ave, north of Armoury (south of Dundas)

2. Attend an emergency community meeting to support U.S. war resister Kimberly Rivera and her family!
Wednesday, September 5, 7:00 PM
Parkdale United Church, 171 Dunn Avenue, Toronto

3. Write, email, phone or fax Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and ask him to let Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera and her family stay in Canada:
325 East Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-954-1064 Fax: 613-957.2688

4. Make a donation: funds are urgently needed to support the Riveras and stop the attempt to deport Iraq War resisters:
* Donate online by going here:

* Donate by cheque:
To mail us a donation, please make a cheque payable to the War Resisters Support Campaign and mail it to:

War Resisters Support Campaign
Box 13, 427 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1X7

Media: Anger wasted, anger utilized

Robin Morgan's rant.  We kept coming back to that all week.  The media was in meltdown mode and it was difficult to follow because so many people depend upon a functioning media.  In fact, we all depend upon it so much that we've pretty much buried hopes of excellence and instead will just settle for functioning.

But last week was one long meltdown.



Possibly this was due to the GOP convention in Tampa and the fact that media outlets really don't want to play fair anymore?

Last week, Mitt Romney finally went from "presumptive Republican presidential nominee" to "Republican presidential nominee."  But before Mitt even delivered  his acceptance speech, the crazy had started.

Blame it on Bob Somerby if you want.  The media critic was at his worst last week.  Not since he savaged former US Ambassador Joe Wilson in an attempt to salvage his buddy (disgraced journalist) Matthew Cooper have we seen him so off-the-rails insane.  And people appeared to want to emulate that crazy.

On Saturday, Bob was floundering, trying to figure out what happened to The Washington Post which had spent most of the week joining him for the crazy?

What happened was the paper took a look at itself from the highest offices and didn't care for what it was seeing.

If you give a speech promoting the eating of citrus fruit for greater health and wrongly insist that oranges are best for their strong  vitamin A nutrients, part of a report on that speech is that, no, vitamin C is the nutrient oranges are famous for.

Part of a report.

Fact checking is part of journalism.  Fact checking isn't journalism.

And lost in the reporting was whatever message or themes that GOP convention might be providing as various 'independent' reporters and columnists worked from DNC supplied e-mails and faxes.  What was the convention about?  What plans were presented?

All of that was lost in screams of "LIE!" over and over.

And you can be sure that's not how the Democratic Party's national convention this week will be covered.  You can be sure that, for example, The Seattle Times will not allow a columnist to ridicule Michelle Obama the way they allowed a male columnist to ridicule Ann Romney. 

Lost in the the huffing and puffing was the fact that women were up on the stage in large numbers, larger than we saw at the DNC in 2008.  Women gave important speeches.  Former Secretary of State Condi Rice gave an in depth foreign policy speech that argued for the rightness of the Iraq War:

 And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal -- as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder,  "Where does America stand?"
Indeed that is the question of the moment -- "Where does America stand?"  When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question -- clearly and unambiguously -- the world is a chaotic and dangerous place.  The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer -- we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them -- we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom. 
To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.  I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made -- yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest.  Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty.  We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer -- they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom.  And we owe them our eternal gratitude.

 And she argued for more wars like the Iraq War:

And I know too that there is weariness -- a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough.  But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen -- no one will lead and that will foster chaos -- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum.  My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead -- and one cannot lead from behind.

We didn't agree with her on war and haven't in the last decade so weren't surprised that Condi didn't channel our inner peacenik.  She delivered the speech well, we enjoyed the personal part about the little girl from Alabama.  We didn't feel the need to tear her down.  Another strong speech came from the governor of New Mexico, the first Latina governor in the US, Susana Martinez:

 My parents also taught me about having the courage to stand for something.  So I went to law school.  And I became a prosecutor.  I took on a -- a specialty that very few choose to pursue.  I prosecuted child abuse and child homicide cases.  Cases that were truly gut-wrenching.  But
standing up for those kids, being their voice for justice was the honor of a lifetime.
Sometimes you pay a price for standing up.  When I was a young prosecutor, I got called to testify against my boss.  I could have backed down, but I didn't.  I stood up to him and he fired me for it. So, I took him on, ran against him for district attorney, and beat him by a landslide.
I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand up.  What we have now are politicians. They won't offer real plans, and only stand up when they want to blame someone else.

Other women speaking included Sharon Day, Barbara Comstock, Zoraida Fonalledas, Marsha Blackburn, Mia Love, actress Janine Turner, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kelly Ayotte, Mary Fallin, Nikki Haley, Sher Valenzuela, Luce Vela Fortuno, Ann Romney, Iraq War veteran Jeanine McDonnell, Pam Bondi, Oympic gold medal winner Kim Rhode and Jane Edmonds.

The message they were offering was largely lost in the press that hissed and attacked.

Also lost in the coverage was anyone pointing out that Barack Obama was yet again breaking the rules.  We (the left) largely overlooked his unprincipled decision in 2008 to forgo public financing in the general election (though we all want to whine about the Supreme Court's verdict on Citizen's United).  Last week, we also seemed to want to ignore his campaigning.

Specifically that it is considered bad form for the Democratic candidate to campaign the week of the RNC and for the Republican candidate to campaign the week of the DNC.  Even Bully Boy Bush observed that decorum.

So much went unexplored as alleged independent journalists recycled talking points from the DNC over and over.

It was a sudden and selective interest in facts to be sure.  Last week, various outlets wrongly reported that all US troops were out of Iraq.

And again this morning on Weekend Edition, the lie was repeated.  Scott Horsley didn't have to get it wrong, but he did.  The Iowan bartender and Barack Obama supporter Horsely spoke to appeared to grasp reality declaring she thanked him "for bringing home the troops home because he promised to bring home the troops and he has brought a lot of them home."

Despite the bartender grasping the truth, Horsley refused to and then declared, "There are no more US troops in Iraq."

There are no more troops in Iraq? 

 Earlier this month, when US General Martin Dempsey, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, visited IraqRTT reported, "More than 225 U.S. troops, seven Defense Department civilians, 530 security assistance team members and more than 4,000 contracted personnel are currently in the office at the Iraqi government's invitation."

It's strange, isn't it?  How facts supposedly matter so much in this political campaign and yet an NPR 'reporter' can lie, can lie, on the air and assume he'll be able to get away with it?

And thing is, he probably will get away with it.  Devin Dwyer (ABC News) got away with it last week.

Though a number of 'journalists' were able to huff that Mitt Romney didn't mention Iraq in his speech and, Wednesday morning, that the RNC hadn't even mentioned Iraq, none of them really gave a damn about Iraq.

That was obvious by the fact that when Dwyer and now Horsley repeat these lies, no one gets outraged, no one wants a fact check then.

These are real issues but no one gives a damn.

Instead, they want to take part in demonizing Republicans.

And maybe Ellen Barkin's on to something there?  Maybe being so hateful on her Twitter feed allows her to access the hatred she exudes as Jane on NBC's The New Normal (debuts September 11th)?  Or maybe she's just tapping into her own ugliness?

We don't know but we did confirm that no one at NBC, not one executive, is happy with Ellen's current public persona.   So if The New Normal flops, it's on Ellen.  She's pissed off everyone with her attacks. 

There's talk of new clauses in contracts at NBC, new clauses that would require actors and actresses not to attack potential viewers, new clauses that would require actors and actresses to be goodwill ambassadors for their programs.  It's akin to the morality clauses that existed back in the studio days.  And if that happens, there's going to be a lot more anger at Ellen Barkin from within the industry.

For those who don't know,  Ellen Barkin's decided that interviews and Twitter are where you release your hatred for your fellow Americans.  You go there and you demonize whole sections of people.  She also seems to feel that this behavior is the best way for an untried TV actress to get publicity and viewers for a brand new show.

It's this sort of thinking that led her to the career nadir that was the direct-to-video Operation: Endgame of only two years ago.  Few actors and actresses ever recover from a film and a role so bad.  But fate smiled on Ellen and she chose to answer fate by squatting and urinating over half the country. 

Somewhere along the line, she's decided she is Voice Of America and that the world really needs her every utterance -- especially the hateful ones where she aims hate at groups of people.

CAA is in a panic mode over Barkin's antics and  NBC's asking if there's a way to continue the sitcom without the character of Jane?

Ourselves, we're just wondering who the hell Ellen thinks she reaches by spitting on people?  If her show was going to make a difference -- it revolves around a same-sex couple who decide to have a baby -- that meant it was going to have to reach out.  And maybe people would become comfortable?  Maybe it was like the conversation that Mitch and Cam's fathers had last season on Modern Family, where they talked about how things change and you're constantly going to re-adjust?

 But people you've insulted don't usually watch your program.

Art has real power and it's a power that overwhelms what a Twitter feed or an actress on a hate binge can ever accomplish.

Robin Morgan was an actress, many years ago when she was a child.

She's now the host of the latest offering from the Women's Media Center, the Sunday afternoon talk show WMC Live with Robin Morgan.   The show debuted last Sunday and it revolves around current events, interviews with guests and Robin's rant.

Robin's rant isn't lovely and sweet.  No one will mistake it for that.

But it's also not offensive.

How is she able to cover the same topics that an Ellen Barken Tweets about and Robin pulls it off?

For one thing, if she has a target, it's an individual.  She's not glomming hatred on the great masses.  Thus far, when she has a target, it is a worthy target.

Equally true, she's speaking as a woman.  Women are oppressed.  As a woman, she can sound off for women and it's perfectly acceptable.

But Ellen and a large number of journalists last week though they could sound off on behalf of the President of the United States of America.  That's not truth to power, that's teacher's little suck up.  Equally true, when you are shut out of power, as the left was under Bully Boy Bush, you can get away with a great deal.  But when your supposed great leader is swept into the White House and all you're doing is bitching and moaning and whining and attacking?  You look like the most miserable person in the world.

Robin's taken an outsider position for her radio show and we hope she keeps it.  It would be so great to have a woman on the radio who is there for women.  It would be so wonderful to have a woman who calls out all the people and all the systems that oppress women and all the ways in which women are oppressed.  To have someone show that kind of strength is true liberation because it provides behavior which can be modeled.

Robin's show last week was the best thing in radio of the year.  We have high hopes for it and hope she continues to be the outsider who will defend women and fight for them.  That's not anger wasted, that's anger channeled and that would do more for the state of women, for the state of humanity, than a million and one Twitter feeds.

30% isn't 50% (Ann, Ava and C.I.)

In 1991, NPR debuted Talk of the Nation which was then hosted by John Hockenberry (now co-host of PRI's The Takeaway).  Hockenberry was replaced by Ray Suarez who was replaced by Juan Williams who was replaced by Neal Conan.   You may have already picked up on the obvious. If not, let's add that Fridays, since 1991, have been hosted by Ira Flatlow.  All those hosts and they were all male.

The show's website asserts, "When Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's live, midday news-talk program."  But it's a strange sort of 'national conversation' in that only some get included.

 a radio

In 1957's Desk Set (written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron), Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) takes a quiz from Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy).

Richard Sumner:  Uh, often when we meet people for the first time, some physical characteristic strikes us.  What is the first thing you notice in a person?

Bunny Watson: Whether the person is male or female.

Yes, it is rather basic.  Like other NPR shows (for example, only 18.546% of the guests on Fresh Air in 2010 were women), Talk of the Nation attempts to pretend it doesn't notice gender which allows them to discriminate and pretend they don't notice.

We tracked the show from Monday April 2nd through Friday August 30th, five full months.

During that time, there were 557 guests.  How many were men?  How many were women?

Better guestion: How much does NPR really care about diversity and equality?

With 557 guests,  a real attempt at equality would find one gender accounting for 278 guests and the other for 279.  Barring the booking of someone gender ambiguous like Julia Sweeney's Pat Riley or NPR's own Ira Glass, one gender would be represented by 279 guests.

But gender representation is never a concern for NPR as they make obvious every broadcast.

Of the 557 guests, only 171 were women or 30.7% of the guests were women.

In the US, women are slightly over 50% of the population yet, time and again, NPR refuses to make them even 50% of the guests.

You could complain.

But to who?

The ombudsperson?

The ombudsperson never does the work required no matter who holds the position. 

For example, right now Lori Grisham is handling issues listeners raised about political coverage (handling it badly -- if NPR wants to claim they are fair, as we noted in July, the test was how they covered Barack Obama speaking to the VFW and how they covered Mitt Romney speaking to the VFW with the same reporter speaking on All Things Considered, only one candidate got fact-checked).  What's the problem with Lori Grisham attempting to handle listeners' concerns?

For starters, she's not the ombudsperson.  Edward Schumacher-Matos is.

This isn't a new development.  Women are repeatedly under-represented on NPR.  Nothing is ever done.  Most ombudspersons never even comment on the imbalance (Alicia Shephard, to her credit, did weigh in).

We've covered it repeatedly here.  The reaction is always the same.  A few nasty e-mails from various NPR staff, a ton of e-mails from NPR listeners who wonder what can be done and phone calls from CPB friends insisting the CPB is aware of the problem and will be addressing it.

But if it's addressed, it's just blown off.

For example, earlier this year, we were noting that only 34% of the guests on The Diane Rehm Show were women.  You track it, you document it, you decry it and nothing changes because no one -- other than listeners (who are the ones keeping NPR alive) gives a damn.

On the national level or the local level, it just doesn't matter.  That was driven home earlier this year following the publication of "Would you pay to support sexism? (Ava and C.I.)" which resulted in some of the most vile e-mails we've ever received from someone whose work we've surveyed.

In that piece, we called out the refusal to play women at an equal rate as men.  On a very good half-hour 2 women would be played, on a usual half-hour one woman would be played and all too often no women were played.

Worse than the nasty e-mails from Dallas' KXT 91.7  pigs -- and, yes, those writing about our vaginas are pigs --  were the e-mails forwarded by readers who complained about the imbalance.  They were full of lies including that KERA has nothing to do with KXT.  They have everything to do with it and, in fact, they promote KXT.  They can't draw the line they're trying to.

Yet even on that basic, we can't get equality.  For those who missed the article KXT is a basically a commercial-free oldies station.  They're playing rock 'gods' of the 60s and 70s and, if the 'gods' a're still breathing today, they'll play new recordings by those people.  They can't find women to play.  They refuse to.  Not in an equal number.  And, as we noted in the article, Whitney Houston and others destroyed that sexism on popular radio.  With the emergence of the age of Whitney, the notion that two women could not be played in a role left contemporary hit radio for good.

Now here's public radio refusing to play by the same rules.

And they beg for your money but they don't want your input.  Many who complained to KXT following our article wrote us to explain how much money they had given to the station -- which depends on pledge drives to operate.  KXT is more than happy to take your money.  But they don't want your input on their playlist.  They'll take your money but throw away your opinions.

We wrote that article only after numerous complaints came in about KXT.  Our original feeling was that it was a local public radio station and there were other things to tackle and surely it couldn't be as bad as the readers were making out, not in 2012?  But as the e-mails came in from reliable, longterm readers and Ty would say, "Now ___ is writing to complain about it," we took a look at it and it was just as bad as people were saying.

And we wrote the article and it was very big (over 24,000 views to date) and resulted in a huge e-mail response that continues all these months later.  But nothing changed.

That doesn't mean we won't continue to track sexism and call it out.   It does mean that we've lost the belief that sexism happens by accident on radio and the hope that just pointing it out will change things.

To check our math (we encourage you to), you can refer to each day's guest at the Talk of the Nation website or look at Ann's posts below:

It's Ira! (parody)

 With a face made for radio, Ira Glass has to be very careful about what visual projects to embrace.  Lately, Glass has taken to noting at the This American Life website, "I've been waiting for this weekend for months. This is the weekend that our film Sleepwalk with Me opens around the country, in over 25 cities. We had a record setting premiere weekend in New York last week, tons of sold out shows. A higher per screen average than The Avengers. Though our main goal with the film, as I've said many times now, was to make a movie that feels like the best stories on the radio show. I'm proud that we managed that."  While it sure is nice of US taxpayers to allow Ira to use the This American Life website to hawk a film he produced, Ira's got bigger fish to fry.

Yes, America, Ira wants to be a movie star and not since Michael Jackson had the same desire has casting been such a problem.  But Touchstone Pictures thinks they've found the perfect property for Ira: A remake of It's Pat!


Ira reportedly sees it as a role he was born to play and, for once, we're in complete agreement with Glass.


Jim: We're going to talk Iraq, the presidential campaigns and more.  You're reading an edition that Ava and C.I. are steering. I'm participating in the roundtable and that may be it.  Their goal was to finish an edition in five hours and they may very well accomplish that.  They've got thirty minutes so we'll see.  Right now, we're having a round table.  Our e-mail address is  Participating 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); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.   Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Okay, let's start with Iraq.  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN are all condemning what action by Nouri al-Maliki's government?

Jess: Last week, 26 people were executed in Iraq.  At least 26.  This brings the total number of people executed in Iraq so far this year to at least 96.  In addition, there are 200 more executions that Iraq has planned.

Elaine: And these executions are being carried out against people who might be released if the Parliament were too pass the long talked of amnesty law.  There are some who believe it will be passed in a number of weeks and this is leading some to argue that Nouri is rushing through these executions because he's afraid the amnesty law is about to go into effect.  There was just a protest yesterday, in Kuwait, about this and about how they believe Nouri is focusing on executing Sunnis.

Jim: We're all opposed to execution.  But can we get a comparison? What's the US rate, that sort of thing?

C.I.: Last year the US executed 43 people.  Iraq's already executed twice that amount.  In addition, there are over 311,000,000 people in the US contrasted with 30 million in Iraq.  Is that what you wanted?

Jim: Yes.  Thank you.  Violence continues in Iraq.  How many people died from violence in the month of August?

Isaiah:  393 is the count provided by Iraq Body Count.  The death toll, as AFP pointed out, for August is more or less the same as June and July. The violence isn't vanishing.

Jim: Nor is the political crisis.  C.I., what's the thing there?

C.I.: Briefly, the political blocs watched as Nouri brought the country to a standstill for 8 months in 2010 following the parliamentary elections.  The US government brokered a contract to end the stalemate, the Erbil Agreement, which gave various blocs various things. Nouri honored it long enough to get his second term as prime minister and then trashed it.  Since then, the country's had a political crisis.  Iraqiya won the most seats in Parliament in the 2010 elections.  The rumors there are that Saleh al-Mutlaq has formed a deal with Nouri that will see his part of Iraqiya hooking up with Nouri's State of Law.  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, stabbed Iraqiya, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Moqtada al-Sadr in the back by refusing to allow the no-confidence vote on Nouri to take place.  Jalal then fled to Germany.  Months later, he remains in Germany.  He is yet again calling for a national conference.  Nouri's tried to push everyone off and silence demands by swearing a reform commission would handle it.  As the week ended, Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc noted that the reform commission was a joke, had wasted two months and had nothing to show for it.   There's your overview.

Jim: Alright.  The Republican National Convention took place last week.  Jill Stein and Roseanne Barr bother released commercials for their presidential campaigns.  Any thoughts?

Rebecca: Here's one: Disappointment.

Jim: In?

Rebecca: Roseanne Barr.  She said this was going to be a campaign of issues.  But she doesn't talk any issues.  Her commercial is about medical marijuana and she didn't even tape a new commercial.  She's really just pairing it with existing footage from when she was on the David Letterman program back in July.  I really don't see how that's helping advance any ideas.

Marcia: I would agree with that.  She's already the pot head and that apparently is all she wants to be because she refuses to bring up issues.  She could be popularizing Medicare For All or All Troops Home.  Instead, she's really not doing anything.  It's really disappointing.

Trina: I think part of the reason it is disappointing is because we're comparing her to Jill Stein and to Dr. Stein's campaign.  This isn't Jill's first campaign.  In 2002, she ran for governor.  So she does have more experience than Roseanne when it comes to running for office.  That said --

Ruth: That said, Roseanne has more media experience.  And she is not using it.  It is really depressing.  I was wanting Roseanne to win the Green Party ticket.  Now I am so glad she did not win their nomination.  Could you imagine if she had won the Green Party nomination?  I no longer have any doubts about Jill Stein.

Jim: So you're saying Roseanne's run has clarified and increased your support for Jill?

Ruth: That is exactly what I am saying.

Jim: Stan?

Stan: I'm trying to keep an open mind.  I also think that when Democrats think the 'answer' is to mock an old man, Clint Eastwood, third party campaigns are far from the only ones struggling.  I don't get how beating up on an old man and showing how snide and snarky you can be is political or helpful.

Jim: Do you think Eastwood was embarrassing?

Stan: I thought his skit was funny, actually.   Was it a little corny?  Yeah.  But it wasn't supposed to be edgy.

Jim: Ann, your father called you and told you to turn on the TV when Condi was speaking?

Ann: Yes, that's correct.  He thought it was an important moment.

Jim: And he's not a Republican.

Ann: No.  He's a Green like me.  He thought it was an important moment in Black history.  There was a Black woman on TV speaking about foreign policy.  She was taken seriously -- people seriously agreed with her at the convention and some watching did as well and some watching seriously disagreed with her.

Jim: And your take on her speech?

Ann: I disagreed with the content, as C.I.'s said, but thought she delivered it well.

Jim: Marcia, you liked Tim Pawlenty's speech.

Marcia: Yes, I did.

Jim: Pick one section.

Marcia: Okay, here's one section to share:

Next week, Barack Obama will plead with America to give his failed ideas another chance. He’s asking Americans to give him more time and more money.
Well sorry, Mr. President, but you’re out of time, and we’re out of money.

Marcia (Con't):  I was driving home and caught it on NPR.  I thought it was hilarious.

Trina: I did too.  I thought it had humor and I thought it was the highlight of the convention.  Please note, my coverage was limited to NPR and The NewsHour on PBS.  And I wasn't glued to the set.  But of what I saw, I found his speech to be very humorous. And one that had a focus on the economy.

Jim: Dona's slid a note over noting that Ty, Betty, Wally, Mike, Ava and Cedric haven't spoken.  James Lipton, of that bad 'actors studio' show, went on Alex Wanger's MSNBC show to declare that Clint Eastwood was disrespectful.  Why don't you address that.

Wally: That routine was funny.  It wasn't disrespectful.  I wasn't even watching.  Cedric called me and said, "Are you near a TV?"

Cedric: Right.  Ann's father, my father-in-law, is a political junkie.  He called me to say Clint Eastwood was doing a stand up sketch or something so I turn it on and I was laughing so I'm dialing Wally to see if he's checking this out too?

Wally: And we watched the last five minutes of it together and were laughing.  It was not cutting edge comedy.  It was funny.  And I really fear those who couldn't grasp that because they seem like really ugly people who have little more to do than attack and attack some more.

Cedric: It was pretty mild comedy.  I could see Bill Cosby doing something like that.

Betty: And disrespectful?  Does Jaimie Lipton know Barack's not God?  

Ava: James Lipton's a closet case.  He's also a liar supreme.  I'm pulling in C.I. real quick.

C.I.: The Actors Studio is not a college course.  James Lipton's tried to turn it into one and what he does, what he calls his little Actors Studio chat is highly controversial among members of the real Actors Studio.

Mike: Okay.  Well the priss is a caricature so he's got a lot of nerve right there.  Second, Eastwood was doing improv and I'm not sure that Lipton's qualified to judge that -- especially if his take away is "disrespectful."

Betty: In fact, if this critic -- this alleged expert -- can only offer  "disrespectful," I think we've just seen that he's unqualified for any kind of critical thought or assessment. He wasn't a member of the Actors Studio was he?

C.I.: No.  Nor are most of the people he interviews.  Jane Lynch, for example, is a funny woman but when you're using the Actors Studio's imprint and interviewing her, you're bastardizing and insulting the Actors Studio and I am not the only one who feels that way.

Ava: It's considered tacky, that entire show, and that's because it is.

Ty: I would agree with that.  Just last week, at work, there were three who studied acting at The Actors Studio -- one was a director now, the other two stayed with acting -- and they were saying what C.I. just did.  In fact, one of them used the old joke Gilda Radner did as Roseanne Rosanna Dana about how Gloria Vanderbilt disgraced her family's good name by putting it across the ass of America with all those jeans?  It was said Lipton's program was the equivalent of that.  There's a real hatred for that program.

Jim: I had no idea.  We need to wrap up but why is that, C.I.?

C.I.:  The Actors Studio is not taffy.  You can't pull and pull.  It's either Actors Studio or it's not.  And the interviews Lipton does are not with the Actors Studio.  The program would be greeted with far less hostility if it had another name.

Jim: Alright then.  This has been a rush transcript. 

Video of the week

The first commercial released by the Green Party's presidential candidate.

Jill Stein: A Green Party president means an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, to climate change and an end to corporate rule.  We're not talking spare change.  We need a revolution. 
Man nods in agreement.
That's what we deserve.  What we don't deserve is pandering, irresponsible bull[BLEEP]  that passes itself off as campaigning.  I can't believe I just said that but that's how I feel.
Man nods in agreement.
Man rushes to window, opens it and yells, "I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Man on bicycle: I'm for Jill Stein!
Woman holding child opens window and says, "We need a Green president!"
A figure in white at an open window throws up an arm and exclaims, "Vote for Jill Stein!"
Man on bicycle: We need a Green Party president!
Man looking at newspaper shakes his head in disgust and says, "That does it!  I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Woman looks up to the sky and says, "We need Jill Stein for president!"
Camera pulls out and up as chants of "Jill Stein" are heard and we see earth from space.
Jill Stein stands at a city park.
Jill Stein: I'm Jill Stein.  Green Party candidate for president and I approved this message.
"Donate at:"

Biggest damn liar of the week: Scott Horsley


Today on Weekend Edition (NPR), Scott Horsley was allowed to lie for Barack Obama yet again.  Ignoring reality and what even NPR has reported, Horsley declared, "There are no more US troops in Iraq."

At this site, we've had many grateful e-mails from friends and family of troops who have not yet come home.  That includes the 15,000 serving in Iraq who were not brought home but transferred to Kuwait, on the border with Iraq.  There are, of course, US troops still in Iraq.

Just last month,  RTT reported, "More than 225 U.S. troops, seven Defense Department civilians, 530 security assistance team members and more than 4,000 contracted personnel are currently in the office at the Iraqi government's invitation."

And December 13th, Talk of the Nation noted all US troops would not be out of Iraq by the end of 2011:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. About 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and they will all leave by the end of this month. Yesterday, President Obama marked the end of the nearly nine-year-long war as a campaign promise kept. He stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday and reflected on the costs and said U.S. troops will leave with their heads held high.
NPR commentator Ted Koppel recently visited Iraq on assignment for NBC's "Rock Center" with Brian Williams. His report aired last night. His conclusion: The United States is not leaving. The largest U.S. embassy in the world, two huge consulates and more than 16,000 officials and contractors will remain behind.
Ted Koppel ran it by U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey.


TED KOPPEL, BYLINE: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the Joint Special Operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can you give me sort of a menu of who all falls under your control?

JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff...

CONAN: If you've been in Iraq, what are we leaving behind? Our phone number, 800-989-8255. Email You can also join the conversation on our website. Go to Click on TALK OF THE NATION. Later in the program, we'll talk with Dr. Donald Berwick, who recently stepped down as the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But Ted Koppel joins us now here in Studio 3A. Nice to have you in the studio.

KOPPEL: Well, it's nice to actually see you, Neal.

CONAN: Though the president cheers his accomplishment, you say not so fast.

KOPPEL: I do say not so fast, and I think he knows better. But he's right, he did make the campaign promise to get all the troops out, and all the troops will be out, save 157 who will be guarding the embassy, and a few hundred U.S. military trainers.
But as you pointed out, 16 to 17 thousand others will be remaining behind, and the extraordinary thing, Neal, is we're hearing echoes now of what we heard nine years ago. You know, we can't have that smoking gun be a mushroom cloud. No one is actually using that particular formulation anymore, but the fear of nuclear weapons.

And as last week drew to a close,  Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) was reporting:
More than 3,500 insurgents have been "taken off the streets of Baghdad" by the elite British force in a series of audacious "Black Ops" over the past two years.
It is understood that while the majority of the terrorists were captured, several hundred, who were mainly members of the organisation known as "al-Qa'eda in Iraq" have been killed by the SAS.
The SAS is part of a highly secretive unit called "Task Force Black" which also includes Delta Force, the US equivalent of the SAS.

So Delta Force remains in Iraq as well.

And Scott Horsley remains a damn liar.

A damn liar.

Exactly when will NPR issue a correction?  We won't hold our breath.

Green presidential ticket begins national ad campaign

Jill Stein

Jill Stein (above) is the Green Party candidate for president.  Her campaign notes:

RELEASE: Green presidential ticket begins national ad campaign

(MADISON, WI) A new ad released today features a clip of a television interview with Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein in which she expresses outrage over the state of the nation and the political campaigning tactics of Democrats and Republicans.

Stein argues that a Green Party President would mean an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, and corporate rule. “We’re not talking spare change,” says Stein. “We need a revolution.”

In the interview, Stein’s fervor culminates in some strong language-- to which she adds, “I can’t believe I just said that, but that’s how I feel.”
The ad, created and produced by North Woods Advertising, is the first of a series of ads that will appear the next week across the country in various media markets, including “heavy-up” buys in California, New York, Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, Texas, Minnesota, Maine and Rhode Island.  The mix of :60 and :30 ads will air on highly rated cable channels including MSNBC, Comedy Central, CNN, USA, MTV, Headline News, TBS, Bravo, TLC, HGTV, Lifetime, and TNT, as well as local news networks.

Ben Manski, Campaign Manager, says that with this coverage, the Stein/Honkala ticket will be the only presidential campaign truly conducting a national campaign. “After the primaries, the Democrats and Republicans tend to only focus their attention on swing states, leaving voters in other states feeling abandoned and unimportant,” said Manski. "Jill Stein and the Green Party are the only ones talking to ALL Americans by appearing on TV nationally."

This marks the first significant media buy from the Green Party Presidential campaign, just days after the Federal Election Commission declared Jill Stein for President eligible to receive federal matching funds.

The Jill Stein campaign expects to be on the ballot in at least 40 states and to spend at least $1 million. At the moment, it has secured ballot access in 33 states, including the battlegrounds of Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio where Republicans and Democrats are in heated races.

Stein, a medical doctor who ran against Mitt Romney for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, is proposing a Green New Deal for America, a program that will create 25 million jobs and transition the country to a green economy. She also proposes guaranteeing public higher education and Medicare for All, breaking up big banks, and ending corporate domination of elections.

To view the web version of the ad, visit For more information about the Jill Stein for President campaign and the Green New Deal, visit

Freeze the foreclosures (Jerry Goldberg)

Repost from Workers World:

Foreclosure moratorium needed as Bank of America gets ongoing federal bailout

By on August 29, 2012 » Add the first comment.
The nationalization of the U.S. mortgage industry by the federal government — a takeover implemented by the Democrats and Republicans to bail out Bank of America and other banks at the expense of homeowners and their communities — opens the door for activists to demand a reversal of these anti-people policies.
The first step in stopping the massive, ongoing foreclosure crisis is to demand that President Barack Obama immediately declare a moratorium to stop all foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions, and then move to implement a plan to reduce the amount owed on the 11.1 million homes currently underwater to reflect their real value.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency was created by Congress through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Under HERA, the FHFA, a government agency, assumed complete control over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which at the time were quasi-government corporations that controlled approximately half of all mortgages.
Since 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have bought up trillions of dollars in failing mortgages from investor trusts. This operated as a silent bailout to the banks, with the banks being paid full value on inflated and predatory loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac then evicted the homeowners following foreclosures and dumped the homes for a fraction of their value, with taxpayers absorbing the losses.
The cost to taxpayers for this practice thus far has been $180 billion, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating the ultimate bailout as $389 billion, while many private estimates are much higher.
According to the FHFA’s 2012 report to Congress, since the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was completed in September 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have guaranteed three out of every four mortgages originated since that date. Mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority make up the rest. A complete nationalization of the mortgage industry by the federal government has occurred.
Nationalization gives banks big profits
The federal government pays the banks that originate mortgage loans. Bank of America and other banks, which get zero-percent-interest loans from the Federal Reserve, charge borrowers 4 percent interest, and then pocket the difference when the loans are purchased by the federal government. This practice has resulted in the banks continuing to make record profits. (New York Times, Aug.8)
The HERA mandated that the FHFA implement a plan to maximize assistance to homeowners to minimize foreclosures, considering the net present value to taxpayers. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 — also known as the $700 billion bank bailout bill — similarly mandated the U.S. Treasury to implement loan modification and refinancing programs to aid homeowners.
Despite the federal takeover of mortgage loans, the Obama administration has relied on the banks to implement loan modification programs such as the Home Affordable Modification Program, which was trumpeted as a means of preventing up to 4 million foreclosures. With the banks being paid full value by the government on their inflated home loans, and making millions of dollars in fees on foreclosures, they have no incentive to work with homeowners.
As a result, the modest modification programs announced by President Obama have been a failure, helping less than one-quarter the number of families who have applied. (New York Times, Aug. 19)
By the FHFA’s own estimate, 11.1 million mortgage loans are underwater, meaning the mortgage amount owed is greater than the value of the home. The FHFA acknowledges that the reduction in house prices has resulted in a decline in housing wealth from 2005 to 2011 of $7 trillion. (FHFA Review of Options report)
Despite this reality, FHFA director Edward DeMarco has refused to implement any programs that would reduce principal on mortgages. A July 31 New York Times article implied Demarco was “defying President Obama” by this refusal. DeMarco, however, is a temporary appointment of President Obama, who could fire and replace him.
President has authority to take action
The foreclosure crisis shows no signs of slowing. In addition to the 10.9 million foreclosures between 2007 and 2011, in a January speech William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve, predicted an additional 3.6 million foreclosures for 2012-2013.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own approximately 180,000 vacant homes. The FHFA plans to sell these homes cheap to investors like Goldman Sachs — who helped create the foreclosure crisis — so they reap more profits as rental properties. (Real Estate Insider, Dec. 4)
The struggle to stop this foreclosure epidemic, which is devastating the lives of millions in the U.S., involves several forms, from anti-eviction home defenses to the launching of a political movement that targets the federal government for bailing out the banks at the people’s expense.
We must demand that President Obama immediately implement a three-year federal moratorium to halt all foreclosures and related evictions, and that he place a director over the FHFA who will begin reducing principal to market value on home mortgages for the benefit of homeowners and their families.
The vacant homes held by the federal government must be used to house the homeless, not line the pockets of investors, and the government should implement a jobs program to rehabilitate these homes for people’s use.
Goldberg is a people’s anti-foreclosure attorney in Detroit and a leading organizer of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs.

Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


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

 "I Hate The War" and  "Kimberly Rivera" -- two most requested highlights of the week by readers of this website.

 Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Vouchers." -- Isaiah examined the love/hate relationship with vouchers that the White House has in last week's comic.

"Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood" -- Betty talks books.

 "It starts to hit the fan" and  "THIS JUST IN! BAD NEWS FOR BARRY!" -- Cedric and Wally on when even the lip gloss won't cover it up.
"California Summer Harvest Salad in the Kitchen"  -- Trina offers an easy, no-cook recipe.
"8 men, 2 women" -- Ann blogs on the worst refrigerator in the world.

 "Little Julie and the Land of Candy Corn" -- Elaine offers a reality breakdown.
 "South Park" -- Ruth turns on the TV while feeling under the weather.
"Woody Guthrie" -- Kat weighs in with some thoughts on Guthrie.

"West Nile basics"  and "West Nile" -- Ruth continues to cover West Nile. 
"Ryan Lizza's an idiot" and "Idiot of the week . . ."  -- Mike and Elaine call out the stupidity.

"5 men, 2 women"  -- Ann tries to clarify a reader's misunderstanding.

"Economy and speeches," "6 men, 2 women," "The RNC," "Kimberly Rivera and other Iraq issues the DNC whor..." and  "Have you had your fill?" -- RNC coverage from the community: Trina, Ann, Marcia, C.I. and Stan.
"Celebrity President" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.
"Drones and party" -- Mike covers a party.

"THIS JUST IN! THE BAD NEWS POST!" and "Page views, baby, not journalism!"-- Wally and Cedric on the death of journalism.
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