Sunday, November 11, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem. It's better to have a sheep in wolf's clothing than a wolf in sheep's clothing. [. . .] All of the activities against WikiLeaks by the United States have occurred under an Obama administration.

-- Julian Assange to Katy Lee (AFP).

Truest statement of the week II

If I'm lucky enough to have children, I won't tell them that Barack Obama was America’s first black president. As a black man who plans to eventually start a family with my white girlfriend, I'm going to tell them that Obama was the first man of color in the White House and that America’s 44th president was biracial.

--  Clinton Yates, "Barack Obama: Let’s not forget that he’s America’s first bi-racial president" (Washington Post).

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?

Not much to be honest.

Julian Assange gets a truest.
As does Clinton Yates.  
We think there has to be a great deal more than we're being told currently.  We feel that way especially because rumors of infidelity swirled around Petraeus going back to at least 2005.  So if infidelity alone was the issue, it seems to us he never would have been made CIA Director -- unless the vetting process failed.
An awful edition that is perhaps saved by Ava and C.I.'s masterpiece.   This really is a powerful piece and probably takes the edition up several notches.  As two who know Lily, they wanted to avoid weighing in on this show.  But they asked a friend to get them scripts and copies of shows that hadn't aired and realized, as they reviewed both, that they had to weigh in.  That meant addressing a number of issues and they certainly do.  They pair it with Partners which is a show they love and that they've noted once before already this year.  I (Jim) agree Partners is a hit.  This is the strongest piece of the edition.  Jess and Dona have taken to quoting the producer of the soap opera in Tootsie, "The girls saved it."  When an actor almost tanks the taping of a scene, Julie (Jessica Lange) and Dorothy (Dustin Hoffman) save the scene.  Certainly, Ava and C.I. save many editions here.

There were a number of Iraq reports C.I. brought to this edition.  Only she reads Arabic.  So she was telling us what she had and we pulled from that.  We will probably be doing this feature as a regular one to increase coverage of Iraq.
Rebecca and Betty wanted a Mars feature and this is what we could pull together.
Benghazi.  The reason we have a strong understanding of it -- something New York magazine and others can't claim to have -- is because we had four people who attended the hearing (Ava, C.I., Kat and Wally) and five of us have since streamed the archived hearing (Mike, Jess, Ruth, Trina and I).

A repost of Ava and C.I.'s brilliant essay.  

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

Where's the election coverage?

Ava and C.I. didn't want to participate.  They stated, "Try it but what's going to happen is that you're going to be a lot angrier than you know and it's going to end up one of those pieces that goes through various drafts and never amounts to anything publishable -- even after all the swear words are removed."  They were right.  But some of us (including me) couldn't admit this after two hours.  While Ava and C.I. typed up all the above, I said, "Well we can roundtable it."  That only encouraged more anger.  So much time was wasted on that.  We'll return to it briefly next weekend.  Or briefly if it's not working out.  Maybe we all just need some distance before we weigh in?  

And the dairy piece?  Next week.  We have an illustration but it's on a drive and we're not sure which one.  We'll either have it next week (the drive) or take a new picture.  We weren't aware when we started the edition that no one knew where that was.

See you next week.


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

Editorial: More bad judgment from Barry

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of  the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace today.


Among the things discussed was the resignation of David Petraeus, CIA Director, over an affair. 

WALLACE: Let's talk about the FBI. By law, they are supposed to inform your committee of any development of significance to the intelligence community. This clearly passed that threshold.
Is it true that you received no advance word of this? And are you going to investigate the FBI's decision not to tell you about an investigation that has been going on for at least weeks?

FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes. And yes. We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt.
The way I found out, I came back to Washington, Thursday night, Friday morning, the director told me there were a number of calls from press about this. I called David Petraeus. And as a matter of fact I had had an appointment with him, at 3:00 that afternoon, and, that was canceled.
And, so, then, when these questions came up, I obviously took the action myself, to try to find out and then, informed my vice chairman, and I talked to the director twice. This is very hard stuff.

WALLACE: And are you going to investigate why the FBI didn't notify you before?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is something they -- that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told. There is a way to do it. And that is, just to inform the chair and the vice chairman of both committees, to -- this has happened before, not with precise, same things, but, none of the four of us have ever breached that confidentiality.

 Somehow the press knew before the FBI notified the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair?  How does that happen?

If it's important enough, a risk of compromising national security, for Petraeus to resign, then the Intelligence Committee should have been informed.

Like Ruth, we're scratching our heads over the "Sex? Really just sex?" aspect of it.

But we're also aware that Petraeus was made CIA Director by US President Barack Obama.  April 24, 2011, Barack declared:

     I’m also very pleased that Leon [Panetta]’s work at the CIA will be carried on by one of our leading strategic thinkers and one of the finest military officers of our time, General David Petraeus.  This is the second time in a year that I’ve asked General Petraeus to take on a demanding assignment.  And I know this one carries a special sacrifice for him and his wife Holly.  After nearly 40 years in uniform, including leading American and coalition forces in some of the most challenging military missions since 9/11, David Petraeus will retire from the Army that he loves to become the next CIA director, effective early September, pending Senate confirmation.
      As a lifelong consumer of intelligence, he knows that intelligence must be timely, accurate, and acted upon quickly.  He understands that staying a step ahead of nimble adversaries requires sharing and coordinating information, including with my director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper.
      And even as he and the CIA confront a full range of threats, David’s extraordinary knowledge of the Middle East and Afghanistan uniquely positions him to lead the agency in its effort to defeat al Qaeda.
      In short, just as General Petraeus changed the way that our military fights and wins wars in the 21st century, I have no doubt that Director Petraeus will guide our intelligence professionals as they continue to adapt and innovate in an ever changing world.

 In September, Petraeus assumed leadership of the CIA.  If Petraeus was a security risk, then that should have been noted during the nomination.

You don't have to dig too deep, for example, to have heard the long rumors about Petraeus's 'fun' in Iraq with civilian, non-Iraqi women.

If an affair can compromise someone on national security matters, Petraeus should never have been nominated.

Equally true, it's cute the way this resignation comes down three days after the election, three days after Barack's national security re-election campaign ended.

And, as Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) notes, a week before he was to testify to Congress:

David Petreaus was supposed to testify to a Congressional Committee about the CIA response in the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, Libya and the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The genuine topics of concern are the issues that Petreaus may have feared would be raised at the upcoming Congressional hearing: Where was the CIA before the incident? Why did the CIA respond when they did? Whey did they not respond faster? There were reports that the incident may have been a demonstration…What were the CIA’s thoughts or plans regarding a potential demonstration? What is the information flow between the CIA and the Obama administration? What is the information flow between the CIA and Congress (And, does that flow allow for enough Congressional oversight)? What was the relationship between the US, the CIA, and Muammar Gaddafi? In what various ways did the US support for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi affect the people who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens [and Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty]?
Please try to think about these important topics before Thursday. And, think of ways that Congress and the American people can force Petreaus to testify anyway. (Maybe they need a subpoena, now that he is a civilian?)

TV: The frightening and the fascinating

Like us, you might have thought Ellen was the first big name actress to come out of the closet as a lesbian.  Apparently, though, it wasn't Ellen that came out and risked her career to be honest about who she was, it was Lily.


See, Lily Tomlin's repeatedly given interviews promoting the new show Malibu Country and, if asked, in these interviews, she keeps insisting she was always out.  We like Lily.  But, thing is, we like the truth a hell of a lot more.  Not only did Ellen have the guts to be honest, she paid for being honest.  She was attacked for being honest.  ABC put a warning before every episode of her sitcom as though being gay required a warning.  GLAAD felt they could pile on Ellen and a spokesperson (Chaz Bono) went on The Tonight Show to declare Ellen too gay for TV.  Too gay?  From GLAAD.

She lost her sitcom, her attempt at a CBS sitcom went nowhere (it lasted one season and was actually funny --  and, when briefly put on the Monday line up, it delivered an audience).  A turn in a huge children's movie, a hilarious stand up tour, wowing everyone as host of the Emmys and breathing life into the talk show format allowed Ellen to come back.  But it could have gone a different way.  And even though it's a happy ending, that doesn't mean it was an easy climb.

Ellen suffered and emerged.  It's not only dishonest to lie the way Lily has, it takes away the courage Ellen had to show to get where she is.

In the late 90s, while Ellen was coming out, Lily was in the closet.  In the nineties, she narrated The Celluloid Closet -- a documentary about the portrayals of gays and lesbians in films.  And she led a number of people to believe she would be using the project to come out.  When she didn't, she ticked off a lot of people.  It was noted then, for example, that while she was in a closet, there had been classified ads in the back of The Advocate for years offering her pubes for sale.  Ted Casablanca interviewed her at that time and kept providing opportunities for her to come out.  She played dumb.  Over and over.

It wasn't until a number of LGBTs  were outright disgusted with her and had been slamming her in the press for several years that she finally came out in an interview with US magazine in 2001.

So her whole 'I was never in the closet' declarations of late have shocked many who remember things like a lawsuit that went to court in the eighties over a documentary that had been agreed to but that contained backstage footage that Lily (and partner Jane Wagner) decided might reveal too much.  There was also the pretense of a romantic relationship with John Travolta when the two starred in Moment By Moment

Within the industry, Lily wasn't closeted.  But to claim that she was out to the public?

No.  That's a lie.

And her staying in the closet, didn't and doesn't make her a bad person.

It does show you how in place and firm the closet was and how brave Ellen was.  Lily deserves credit for coming out in 2000, but that doesn't mean she can rewrite history.  In fact, it's embarrassing that she tries to.

And embarrassing is Malibu Country.  Each episode just gets worse.  We didn't want to say that.  We didn't want to call Lily out for re-writing history either but somehow the two seem interrelated because there's a lot of fake to that show as well.

It didn't have to be that way.  Over on CBS, one of the season's best sitcoms debuted at the end of September. Monday night staple Partners stars Michael Urie, David Krumholtz, Sophia Bush and Brandon Routh.  It's from the creators of Will & Grace, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

Like Will & Grace, it revolves around two friends with one straight and one gay.  Unlike Will &  Grace, both friends are male.  Joe Goodman (Krumholtz) and Louis McManus (Urie) are partners in their architecture firm and have been friends all their lives.

Unless Joe ends up realizing he's gay (he's not gay at present), we really hope there's no hidden sexual attraction on the part of Louis  towards Joe.  We saw that twice in Will & Grace -- not only did Grace (Debra Messing) date Will (Eric McCormack) and get engaged to him in college, Jack (Sean Hayes) also carried a torch for Will.  We've seen that.  And the only way it would be different and novel would be if Joe were the one to have a realization.

Besides, what gay man could want more than Wyatt?  A nurse who's supportive and encouraging, caring and sensitive and who happens to look like Superman since he's played by Brandon Routh.  You would think Superman Returns had done the box office of Howard The Duck the way Routh's had to build his way back since that film.  He's made interesting choices and probably, on TV, did his best previous work on Chuck.  Now he works with James Burrows.

Where there is comedy, there is Jim.  He can't make a bad actor good.  He can make a good but uneven actor better.  Michael Urie's Louis started off spread a little too thin in the debut episode.  Working with Burrows, Louis is now a more developed character and one who compliments the cast dynamics.  As for Routh, if anyone can see comedy inside a performer and encourage it to come out, it's Burrows and he's done a great job encouraging Routh to give a different performance.  The first time you encounter Wyatt, you may not get how funny the character is.  But that's why you will laugh even louder the second time you encounter him.  It's not a play-to-the-audience bit.  It's a character role and Routh deserves huge applause for avoiding the temptation to break character, or the need to 'sweeten' up the beat with knowing wink.

Joe has a romantic partner and her name is Ali.  The two got engaged -- after Louis fixed a mess he created.  Ali's played by Sophia Bush and what a revelation she is in the role as well, and, thankfully, so far from One Tree Hill.  Her best moment is in whatever episode you just watched because, with each script, she's managed to break out.  In a show with a standout cast (which also includes Tracy Vilar from time to time as Ro-Ro, Louis and Joe's assistant), she's managed to stand out.  In a just world, she'd be Emmy nominated for this role.

The guys?  They're giving great performances as well but they are young and comedy Emmys tend to be an old man's game.  Check the nominees in any given year.  The show will be more likely to see a nomination for writing or for Burrows' direction than a male acting nod this summer.

With 83 nomination and 16 wins, Will & Grace, an all time great sitcoms, is one of the most industry recognized. It debuted in fall of 1998, shortly after Ellen lost her ABC sitcom.  As a result, there were a bit of nervousness over same-sex kisses so Will  pined over the boyfriend he broke up with before the show started and Jack talked about sex more than Blanche on The Golden Girls but had even less onscreen action than Blanche did.  Audience support would have to be very firm for the show before, seasons later, same-sex kissing took place (of a romantic nature)

Those were different times.  And, believe it or not, Sean Hayes was in the closet to the public in those days.  He was not out.  He would not answer the question.  Cher had accidentally outed him to the gay press, but it wouldn't be until 2010 that Hayes semi-seriously came out.  By contrast, Michael Urie was out publicly before he was cast as Louis on Partners.

Times have changed.  At least until you turn on Malibu Country.  Then you may wonder what year it is?  Not because it's a filmed before a live audience sitcom -- so is Partners. The show is just awful.  We hate saying that because, along with Lily, Sara Rue is also in the cast and a co-creator and executive producer is Dave A. Stewart.  Despite his past with Annie Lennox, sweet dreams are not made of Malibu Country.

The premise is that a faded country star named Reba ends it with her cheating husband and ends up leaving Nashville for Malibu.  She takes along their two teenage children Cash and June and her mother Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin).  Her next-door-neighbor is Kim (Rue) who has a step-son Sage.  She's got no money coming in and Jai Rodriguez plays Geoffrey the assistant to a music label head.

Jai Rodriguez is an actor worth seeing on television, but there's no point to his role.  The label head does not want to sign Reba, Geoffrey explains in the first episode, he's not even there for a meeting.  Reba's ex is too powerful.  He doesn't want to risk offending him.  But because Reba might have some fame left in her, he doesn't want to risk offending her should she have a comeback elsewhere.  Geoffrey tells Reba she needs a hook and a song.

That should have been the end of Geoffrey unless the label signed Reba.  Though the label hasn't signed her, Geoffrey's now showing up in Malibu to chat with Reba.  In what world?

There are many more serious problems but if we thought Dave Stewart could get one thing right, it would be that the assistant to a label head who wants to move up in the world is not spending all his free time hanging out with someone his boss doesn't want to sign.

Now if only that was the only problem with the show.

The biggest problem with the show is, of course, Reba McEntire, who still can't act, who still mugs ridiculously and who still presents like the worst child actor asking "Ain't I cute?" before the director can even yell "Cut!"

She's yet again playing a wronged woman whose husband cheats on her so she leaves him and she's yet again playing something named Reba, so maybe she thinks it's okay that she's still giving the same (bad) performance she gave all those years ago on the sitcom entitled Reba.  In fact, the only real difference is that now her character's overtly homophobic. 

On the earlier sitcom, every season seemed to have at least one episode that existed just so Steve Howey's Van could discover gay people.  On this show, there are two gay characters -- Geoffrey and Sage.  Geoffrey already has had eye rolling from Reba.  Her comments about Sage have been outright homophobic.

Sage may not be gay.  Reba was outraged to catch him and her daughter June kissing -- practicing, they insisted, so they'd be ready when they fell in love.  Now Cash has caught Sage practicing with another girl. We spoke to a friend with the show who stressed Sage might not be gay.  If that happens, we said, if he suddenly becomes not gay and this was some scam for him to kiss his female classmates, that's offensive and Reba's remarks about Sage are actually even more offensive. 

What is so wrong with having gay characters, our friend asked us?

Nothing at all except it's 2012 and we've seen the wacky gay on the outside -- the neighbor, the co-worker, the acquaintance, etc.

And there's something so insulting about we-move-to-California-and-discover-gay-people. First off, you can't be responsible for as many hurting after the break up songs as Nashville is without grasping that love comes in many forms.  Second of all, Janis Ian rebuilt her career in Nashville and did so out and proud and Chely Wright has come out while k.d. lang long ago proved that a great artist was a great artist and sexuality only mattered in terms of the charisma (which k.d. has always had) brought  on stage.

What you're not getting, our friend told us, is how Reba McEntire has this huge fan base and this show is exposing them to gay people.

We're not sure how Reba's homophobic remarks help anyone.  We're also not sure how having a kid next door who might be gay or a Geoffrey who is gay helps?

Again, we've seen it all before.  A step forward would have been for one of Reba's children -- Cash or June -- to be gay.  And the scene where Cash was asking Geoffrey about being gay was offensive, even more so than all the Van-discovers-gay-people scenes of Reba's first sitcom. 

How was this helping gay people, we wondered?  How was Reba's fan base that everyone presumes doesn't know a single gay person helped by a scene where her underage son is talking to Geoffrey whose remark indicates sexual interest in Cash?  Were we watching a sitcom or NBC's To Catch A Predator

Which brings us back to Lily.  This is the show she chooses to be a part of?

For years, after she left Laugh-In, Lily wanted her own TV show.  She went through all the networks in the seventies trying to get one (CBS, ABC and NBC).  It never panned out.  In the sixties, CBS suddenly cooled on a Zelda spin-off from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  There were rumors (true) that actress Sheila Kuehl was gay.  The network was fine with keeping her a part of a hit show but they weren't willing to spend the money to develop a show around her.  A decade later, the rumors that Lily was gay and the fear that, in the midst of a series run, she would be outed or come out kept the networks from putting one of America's funniest comics in a weekly show.

So Lily did movies and TV specials and even guest spots.  Then, finally, in 1996, she joined the cast of the hit show Murphy Brown.  She would be part of an ensemble cast  of an established show.  She played Kay Carter-Shelpley for two seasons.  It wasn't a great role but Lily made it interesting.  She'd go on to play Deborah Fiderer on The West Wing -- another minor part and one that was far less interesting (but Sorkin's always had difficulty writing for women).  Margot on Will & Grace was so minor that many aren't even aware she was part of the cast.  This was followed by a brief stint on Desperate Housewives.  Then she finally did her best TV performance yet when she played Marilyn Tobin on Damages.

All of those TV shows are ones that were established already by the time she joined the cast (even Laugh-In was already a hit when she debuted on it).  Malibu Country is the first time she's established a role as part of the original cast.  Lillie Mae, sadly, isn't much of a character.  We have no idea why the hair looks the way it does.  If that's supposed to be country, someone should have grasped she just looks like Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward) when Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke) rips the wig off (Vally of the Dolls).  We're failing to see how that's "down home."  Lily's injecting a great deal of Judith Beasley into the role but neither that nor Lillie Mae's use of medical marijuana is creating a character.

After all these years, you'd think a show could be created around Lily Tomlin.  Barring that, you'd think a new show could at least make Lily an important part of the series.

Instead, this is a paint-by-numbers, generic sitcom and Lily's acting talents are wasted.  The show's never sure of what it is from one moment to the next, it never makes sense and you're left wondering mainly why Reba's remaking her last sitcom?  Rue's playing Barbara Jean, daughter June is just daughter Kyra, son Cash is now son-in-law Van . . .  If an original idea popped up on the set, you have a feeling everyone would suffer cardiac arrest.

After she left the TV show that made her a name, Lily would often note that she was glad to have been on Laugh-In because, while it wasn't her style of humor, it was a popular show.  She's lucky in that Malibu Country has proven to be popular (so far) in the ratings giving ABC a Friday hit.  But if Lily thought Laugh-In was slumming, pray tell, what does she make of Malibu Country?

Iraq the continued stalemate

iraq image

In election developments, All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi announced Saturday that the National Accord Movement will participate in the upcoming provincial elections (scheduled for April 20th).  In a statement, Allawi declared that the National Accord Movement have fought tyranny and injustice since the accord's founding in 1975.

The last elections Iraq held were in March 2010 and those were parliamentary elections.  Parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held again in 2014.  Those candidates elected to the Parliament will then pick a prime minister-designate if the United States government lets them.  In 2010, Iraqiya won the most seats in Parliament and therefore should have seen the prime minister-designate be one of their own.  Instead, the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki who refused to surrender the post of prime minister and created an 8 month political stalemate before the United States rescued him by brokering the Erbil Agreement, a contract that allowed him a second term as prime minister in exchange for concessions from Nouri. (After getting his second term, Nouri broke the contract.)   Mustafa Habib (Al Mada) explores how Iraqiya has seen break aways since the 2010 elections.  This includes White Iraqiya which is the most removed from the larger Iraqiya bloc.  After White, the next largest splinter group is Free.  Though Nouri's State of Law insists that the splits demonstrate a weakening of Allawi, the splinter groups express no problems with Allawi and both Free and White tend to vote with the larger Iraqiya.

Possibly Nouri's State of Law eagerly points to Iraqiya's split in an attempt to distract from their own problems which include a second political stalemate that has morphed into a political crisis.  The Erbil Agreement noted above is what ended the eight-month political stalemate that followed the parliamentary elections.  Nouri's refusal to honor the contract created the second and ongoing political stalemate.  In this stalemate, the sharpest disagreements are shaping up between Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

Disagreements over oil contracts are one point of contention.  Nouri stamps his feet and whines but there's really nothing he can do because despite agreeing with the Bush White House in 2007 to pass an oil and gas law, Nouri never managed to do that.  Without that law, the KRG is within its rights to auction or lease whatever fields it wants to. 

Life on Mars?

Curiosity is the rover NASA has sent to Mars.  In the NASA image below,  we see how a sample Curiosity obtained can be analyzed.


What did NASA discover?  They explain:

"Scientists theorize that in Mars' distant past its environment may have been quite different, with persistent water and a thicker atmosphere.  NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission will investigate possible losses from the upper atmosphere when it arrives at Mars in 2014.
With these initial sniffs of Martian atmosphere, SAM [Sample Analysis at Mars] also made the most sensitive measurements ever to search for methane gas on Mars.  Preliminary results reveal little to no methane.  Methane is of interest as a simple precursor chemical for life.  On Earth, it can be produced by either biological or non-biological processes.

Dan Vergano (USA Today) explains, "Methane might have suggested that microbes lurk under the surface of Gale crater.  The $2.5 billion rover landed on Mars on Aug. 6 on a mission to look for chemistry evidence of past habitable conditions on the Red Planet." But it's not over yet.  Irene Klotz (Discovery News) reports the search continues,  "Curiosity scientists said they plan to increase their experiments' sensitivity and keep looking."

And Curiosity's mission includes more than methane searches.  Amina Khan (Los Angeles Times) notes, "Curiosity will continue to take lungfuls of air as it makes its way on its two-year mission toward Mt. Sharp, a 3-mile-high mound in the middle of Gale Crater whose layers may hold clues revealing whether Mars was hospitable to life."

Oh, Erik Wemple


Friday afternoon, at The Washington Post, media critic Erik Wemple ventured into choppy waters.  The mistake he made was on Benghazi.  Specifically, the mistake he made was in believing "the State Department" -- unnamed advisor.

His second mistake was in relying on prepared remarks to Congress to 'cover' a hearing.

Erik, it's not that easy.

And this issue on the footage of the attacks?  You've missed the boat completely.  Patrick Kennedy -- not Charlene Lamb -- was the one the press should have paid attention to.  And the footage was addressed in the rounds of questions, not in the prepared remarks of witnesses.

Since you didn't attend the hearing that you now want to act like an expert on, you're going to need to get your  fingers over to the House Oversight Committee website and stream the now archived hearing.

C.I., Ava,  Wally and Kat don't have to stream it because they attended the hearing.  And they reported on it in: "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot," "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing," "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment" and "What we learned at today's hearing."

It's interesting that Wemple has yet to report on the fact that the video that exists was not released to Congress at the time of the hearing or that the FBI had no objection to Congress viewing the video.  Wemple might try reporting on who kept the video from Congress.  He could ask his unnamed State Department source.   Again, these are questions he would be asking if he'd attended the hearing.

Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.)

Ava and C.I. wrote this the morning after the election last week.

Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.)

Lies about Iraq drove the 2008 election and they drove the 2012 election as well.

The country was transformed to the elephant in the room for 2012 that no one could be honest about.  President Barack Obama  lied that he'd 'ended' the Iraq War, he misled people into believing that all US troops had left Iraq, and he failed to inform Americans that he was negotiating to send even more US troops into Iraq.

While the uninspiring victory speech last night blended The Hollies "He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother" ("The road is long") with Jerry McGuire ("You've made me a better president"), it also made clear that the administration was on fumes even before the second term officially begins in January.

The administration is as empty as the media.  If you doubt that, September 26th, the New York Times' Tim Arango reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

September 26th it was in print.

Days later, October 3rd, Barack 'debated' Mitt RomneyAgain October 16thAgain October 22nd.
Not once did the moderators ever raise the issue.

If Barack's sitting before them and he's flat out lying to the American people, it's their job to ask.  They didn't do their job.  Nor did social menace Candy Crowley who was apparently dreaming of an all-you-can-eat buffet when Barack was babbling away before her about how he wouldn't allow more "troops in Iraq that would tie us down."  But that's exactly what he's currently negotiating.

Maybe Candy Crowley missed the New York Times article?  Maybe she spends all her time pleasuring herself to her version of porn: Cooking With Paula Deen Magazine?

That is possible.

But she was only one of the three moderators.  Bob Schieffer and Jim Lehrer also moderated.  Of course, they didn't foolishly self-present as a fact checker in the midst of the debate  nor did they hit the publicity circuit before the debate to talk about how they were going to show how it was done.

Poor Crowley, a heavy weight strutting into a non-competition will always look woefully misdressed.

Barack lied and Americans will face that or not.

He wasn't the only one.

It's going to be very difficult for the Republican party to nominate a governor next go round.  If they do, it will be someone like Jeb Bush who has a knowledge of politics beyond state politics.  Why?

Senate Republicans are fuming and furious.

Iraq is a disaster.

They spent the last four years setting the stage for a GOP challenger to make that case.  They went on the record objecting to the idiot Chris Hill (Barack's first failed US Ambassador to Iraq).  They went on the record objecting to the way negotiations were being carried out.  They went on record over and over.

And the point was: Barack is a hypocrite.

That was what they were going for.

And it might have worked.

Republicans traditionally go after a strength.

Barack promoted himself for re-election by insisting that Osama bin Laden's death and Iraq demonstrated he was a success.

But he was lying to the American people because he had kept forces in Iraq, he had sent more Special-Ops in over the summer and he was negotiating to send even more troops in.

This is how you prove someone's a hypocrite.

But Mitt's campaign wouldn't listen.  (Mitt's responsible for his campaign.  GOP Senators, however, felt like they were flunkies trying to land a prime table for the boss every time they attempted to get Mitt on the phone.  Even worse was getting a face to face.)

They went with a cartoon because the campaign didn't believe Americans can handle complexity.

That's why Mitt couldn't deliver on any issue.

The campaign felt the American people were not very bright and that, if a story (issue) had too many details, the American people would nod off.

So the simple path was to say, "Uh-uh!"  Whatever Barack said, say, "Uh-uh!"

Senate Republicans spent four years laying a trap for Barack with regards to Iraq but Mitt Romney didn't want any help, didn't want to address reality.  Keep it simple, he insisted, keep it simple.

So he went with the cartoon Barack offered (I removed all US troops from Iraq and ended the Iraq War) and responded, "Uh, that was a mistake."

Senate Republicans were also appalled by his refusal to run with Benghazi after Crowley's 'fact check' began to implode on her.

Senate Republicans spent a great deal of time complaining to Paul Ryan who does understand Congress but felt his hands were tied with regards to Mitt (who was called "remote" and "unreachable" by Congressional Republicans).  They are very adadment that the GOP would be in the White House in January if Mitt had listened or had known anything about politics.  "Massachusettes is not the United States," huffed one in a phone call late last night.

It will be very difficult for any Republican governor to get the nomination in 2016 if the Republican Senators have any say.  They feel that, outside of a Bush, governors don't grasp national politics.  The only thing they hate right now more than an abstract governor as a 2016 candidate is the thought that a certain New Jersey Governor may try to run.  If he does, they plan to "show him all the love he showed the party," said another. 

That's the Republicans, we've covered Barack.

Jill Stein.

As feminists, we wondered six weeks ago, what do we do?

Roseanne had already imploded.  (Cindy Sheehan has a story to tell and then some.)  She couldn't and wouldn't campaign, she apparently wouldn't pay workers she hired for her campaign, she was an embarrassment.

And so was Jill Stein.

As feminists, do we call it as it is?

We debated that for three days.  Jill wasn't going to win the presidency.  In fact, it was obvious she was running off the limited votes she did have a shot at.

But did we tell the truth on that?  Did we call her out?

We crossed the line on gender with the decision -- a feminist one (not "the" feminist one) -- that she was running for public office and therefore had to be treated the same as anyone else would even if, in the closing weeks, we were going to tear her apart.

But . . .

Having dealt with the feminist issue, we still had the issue of third parties.

Was it really fair to beat up on a third party candidate?

Adding to the problems, one of us (Ava) is involved with a lifelong Green (Jess), has a child by him, has made a home with him.

And Jess was very clear that Jill Stein was "a f**king idiot but the Greens need to be on ballots."  And they were.  Texas, for example.  We heard from Billie who early voted for Jill Stein.  She was so excited because Jill Stein was on the ballot.  She didn't have to write her in.  Right there on the Texas ballot was the Green Party.

What do we do?

In the end, we decided, "We don't promote her.  We don't mention her.  That's true here, that's true at Third."

So we bit our tongues.

As she ran a stupid campaign.  As she made a fool of herself and the Green Party.  (Granted, it's a party that loves to make a fool of itself.)

She -- and others -- did a debate with Larry King.  A debate that did not include all.  A new hurdle was invented.

Green Party members, you know what a hurdle is, right?  It's what keeps your candidate out of the so-called presidential debates every four years.  Why the hell would you take part in a debate that did not invite everyone who made it onto a state's ballot as a presidential candidate?

Because hypocrisy is a charge you live to embrace?

Maybe so.

Supposedly the Green Party is opposed to war.

So when Tim Arango reported the White House was negotiating with Nouri to send more troops back into Iraq, Jill Stein should have led on that.

But she's a politician which is just a whore without the desire to please a customer.

So Jill ignored it.

She ignored a lot.

Six weeks ago, in fact, after Barack cratered in the first debate, she and her campaign began going after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.


You're a Green.  You're on the left.  The high profile left vote getter just imploded on national TV.  It's the perfect time for you to pick up some of his voters.

But you refuse to try.  You rush to go after Romney and Ryan instead.

Why is that?

Because you are not a real party.

Because you will forever be the little sister of the Democratic Party.

Because every four years, you start off with promise and end up revealing just how craven and disgusting you are.

If we are offering commentary four years from now, please note, being a Green will not save you.  Being third party will not save you.

We will call you out in real time.

Gary Johnson?

At the end of July, we participated at Third in a tour of the online campaign offices.  Our contributions are probably the bitchiest.  We were tired and not in the mood.  And whining got back to us about how some things could have been said nicer.

We never heard that Gary Johnson whined.  We never heard that one of his supporters whined.


 Sorry, Gary, but in America we like happy people.
On his splash screen and on his main webpage Johnson uses the same photo and he's not smiling in it.  We like politicians who smile and smile broadly.  We're not voting for the Mona Lisa to be president so lose the half smile.  A smile means your lips go up at the sides and you show your teeth.
Failing to provide that doesn't make you look serious when it happens in two pictures in a row, it makes it look like you have a stick up your ass.

Johnson had the good sense to switch to smiling photos.  It did make a difference.  No one wants to embrace glum.

So good for Johnson.  However, he was anti-war.  So why wasn't he seizing on Barack's negotiations with Iraq?

We have no idea.  We'll assume he doesn't know.  We've talked and talked and talked about Arango's report.  It has had an impact.  More so overseas where something here about Arango's story went up at an Arabic  news outlet.  But it is having an effect and Arango report (and Tom Hayden's blog post) are finally getting attention.

If Johnson didn't know?  He's running for president.  It was his responsibility to know.

Jerry White was running on the Socialist Equality Party.  His name was on two state ballots.  We strongly argue that he should have been invited to any and all third party debates (and should have been at what the networks call the "presidential debates").  But saying that doesn't change the fact that World Socialist Web Site if the party's outlet and they have refused to note what Tim Arango reported.  They have refused to cover it.  They have been called out for it.  We have many e-mails from people saying they have begged WSWS to write about this topic or griped them out for not covering it.

So Jerry White is a failure twice over.  He failed as a candidate.  He failed as a reporter.

Virgil Goode?  We didn't follow his campaign.  We can't comment on what we don't know.  If we did, we'd be on the Sunday Chat &  Chews.

'Why can't you say something nice?'

Because Iraqis continue to die.

Because too many Americans are living under the lie that the Iraq War ended.  Because too many Americans wrongly believe the US troops came home.  Not only are a number still in Iraq, you've got over 15,000 stationed in Kuwait.  And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report in June --  [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council."-- recommending the 15,000 that were transitioned to Kuwait from Iraq remain in Kuwait for several years to come.

Iraqis continue to die.

That's not just the fault of Bully Boy Bush.

January 2009, Barack was sworn in.  March 2010, Iraqis went to the polls to cast their votes for their future.  Iraqiya won that election.  Ayad Allawi should be prime minister as a result.  But the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki for a second term.

From John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq’s first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

Barack's responsible.  He subverted democracy.  What a message to send a struggling Iraq: Go to the polls, risk your lives voting and then the US government will overturn your results.

Sadly, it's a lesson that the US government has been teaching for longer than we've been alive.

And a real left would call that out and should call that out.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Second Term" went up this morning.

the second term

Sunday, we participated in the writing of Third's "Editorial: We support Barack Obama . . ." for impeachment.

And the second term means a few stop lying.  There's no need to whore for a War Criminal when he can't be re-elected.

The press also has less reason to whore as the next four years progress.  And reading Kat's "It's going to be a squeaker" we were reminded of a film.  Kat wrote:

"Now is a good time to try something new."  Dak-Ho, Maggie, Toni and I had Chinese.  That's what my fortune cookie said.
I agree.

It's all very Shampoo.  If you've forgotten that classic, it has an election as a backdrop.

Last night, Barack got re-elected president.

Yes, and the American people re-elected Richard Nixon as well.

Let the fun begin.

Senator Murry to Speak at Veterans Day Memorial Service

 Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and she will be attending an observation in Washington state on Monday.  Her office notes:
Friday, November 9th, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
MONDAY: Senator Murray to Speak at Veterans Day Memorial Service in Seattle
Murray: Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the shared duty we owe to our nation's veterans
(Washington, D.C.) -- On Monday, November 12, 2012, Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, will attend Evergreen Washelli Cemetery's 63rd Annual Veterans Day Memorial Celebration with veterans and their families.  She will give remarks on the importance of honoring the shared duty owned to our nation's veterans, specifically in ensuring veterans can easily access the care and benefits they deserve.  The event is a Service of Remembrance and will take place at the Doughboy statue at the base of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
WHO:     U.S. Senator Patty Murray
              Veterans and their families
WHAT:    Senator Murray will give a speech at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery in 
               observance of Veterans Day
WHEN:      Monday, November 12th, 2012
                 11:00 AM PST
WHERE:    Evergreen Washelli Cemetery
                 11111 Aurora Avenue North
                  Seattle, WA 98133
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


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.
"Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.)" and "I Hate The War" -- Ava and C.I. analyze the presidential election campaigns and C.I. takes on the nonsense of oh-awful-crime-killed-because-she-is-from-a-foreign-country-what-killed-by-husband-oh-we-don't-care-now sexism of the beggar press.
 "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Second Term"  -- Isaiah's election comic.

"Potato Chips in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe and talk about the economy.

"scandal: all roads lead to fitz," "Nikita: Consequences," "Revolution,"  "666 Park," "revenge," "The Good Wife" and "Fringe, Third" -- Rebecca, Mike, Marcia, Betty and Stan cover TV.

"THIS JUST IN! TITTY BABY CRIES!" and  "He's such a little four-year-old girl" -- Barry O cries.  The first of many of his teary jags this week.

"Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime" -- Stan covers online streaming.
"Three best election films (non-sexist picks),"  "Nicole Kidman," "Coma," "Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice," "One more election movie,"  "Skyfall"  -- Elaine, Mike, Trina and Stan cover the movies.

"Rihanna's trash, Pink knows better" and  "Muse?" -- Betty and Kat talk music.
Ann talks radio:

Ruth continues her Benghazi coverage:

"Bring on the facts" and "THIS JUST IN! ARE WE WAKING UP?" -- Wouldn't it be nice if it were happening.

"So that party won't get my vote again" -- Betty on why she won't vote Green for a presidential candidate.

"It's going to be a squeaker" -- Kat on the election.
"NPR, educate your idiot!" -- Marcia on a big dope.

"Lowering the Brand" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

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