Sunday, July 21, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Must the government take every possible ounce of flesh from Pfc. Bradley Manning in punishing him for his massive data dump to WikiLeaks? The woeful answer is yes.

Today, the military judge in Manning’s trial decided not to drop the most serious—and least supportable—charge against him, “aiding the enemy.” The government shouldn’t have brought this charge in the first place. Whatever you think of Manning, it sets a terrible precedent for whistle-blowers. And the only gain is the possibility of a life sentence for a 25-year-old who has already pled guilty to charges that could put him in prison for 20 years. This is about revenge, not justice.

-- Emily Bazelon, "This Is Vengeance, Not Justice" (Slate).

Truest statement of the week II

Obama’s “Hidden Hand” political strategy in his second term (Peter Baker, in NYT, July 16) merits notice for its utter phoniness (and NYT/Baker gullibility), as though a low profile, designed to convey the velvet glove of measured yet steady reform, has changed anything in his presidency, which from the start has raised sophisticated corporatism, with its full antiradical implications, policies, consequences, to a high art.  Obama’s legacy—it’s too late for him to worry about this now—will be defined by his treachery as a leader and putative tribune of the people.  In retrospect, Nixon and Bush 2 appear as mere choirboys in comparison, not because of Obama’s “smarts” (he has the brashness of a hustler, which passes in our day for intelligence), but because he can use liberalism as a backdrop for the pursuit of consistently reactionary policies, domestic as well as foreign.  Liberals and progressives, especially, have been taken in, the latest enormous crime being massive surveillance which, once revealed, is allowed to become yesterday’s news, attention shifting instead to Snowden’s apprehension—an example where the real criminal seeks to pin the label of “criminal” on the one who exposes the crime.  Liberals/ progressives sit on their hands (perhaps that’s where Obama’s team got the idea of the “hidden hand” as the latest selling point to cover up a record which hardly needs covering up, so far has radicals’ rigor mortis set in) while data mining, Espionage Act prosecutions, the whole range of civil liberties made mincemeat of, all constitute only one area of manifold and fundamental abuses: the liberalization of cynicism, to render it palatable to the groupies, while the haute crowd of bankers, militarists, defense contractors, national-security advisors, DOJ apologists for international war crimes, and, as they say in the Shakespeare plays, diverse and assorted other characters, laugh in their teeth.

--  Norman Pollack,  "Obama's Praetorian Guard of Capitalism" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

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

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

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

This was a first truest for Emily Bazelon.
This is Norman Pollack's second truest.
Helen Thomas' passing caught us all by surprise.  We really think the finest piece written on Helen was Ava and C.I.'s "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" and we only realized how timely it still was when a media gadfly attacked Helen on NPR this week.  Helen's work on pressing on Iraq is not to be forgotten.  It really is a large part of her legacy.
Ava and C.I. wanted to cover Mistresses or Unforgettable.  I (Jim) promised them we would do a feature promoting Unforgettable this edition (and we do) if they would please, please cover the wall-to-wall.  I know they'd caught a healthy portion of last week's CNN, HLN and MSNBC.  I also knew there was a major story here if the people could hit hard.  They were iffy but worked a few contacts and learned that Nancy Grace was able to go HLN before the verdict was announced as she was being asked (on air) to but that she didn't want to go on until after the verdict was announced and that she had a major tantrum over that fact.  When they had that detail -- that no one else has reported -- they figured they had a hook to write their commentary.  This is mammoth.  And really helped carry the edition to another level.

After I read the piece Ava and C.I. wrote (read it outloud to everyone), we went right into the roundtable.  I think the influence of the commentary shows.
Short features, Dona always insists.  We need short features for variety.  This is one of two short features.  We consider them book-ends and the title is to go along with a theme for this edition.  
After the roundtable, Ty said he might do a Ty's corner.  He explained that Ava and C.I.'s piece was so powerful, he wanted to elaborate on it in terms of the 'message' pouring out from the TV all last week.   What was Ty's original idea became an article written by Ty, Betty, Isaiah, Cedric, Marcia, Stan and Ann.

The other short feature.  Again, these are book-ends.
Adam Kokesh offers a media critique worth viewing.

Where I explain last week's edition.  
The Unforgettable promo I promised Ava and C.I. that we would do.

A repost from Workers World.

US House Represenative Frank Wolf is attempting to focus on Benghazi in the final days before the Congress takes a summer break.
Mike and the gang wrote this.

What we don't have?  There wasn't time for a Congressional roundtable.  Dona may attempt that next week.

We'll see you next week.


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

Editorial: Helen Thomas and the importance of Iraq

helen thomas

Saturday came the news that veteran journalist Helen Thomas had died at the age of 92.  This was not her first death.  As Ava and C.I. documented in "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" (July 10, 2011), the establishment media worked to destroy her over remarks that -- to really elicit outrage -- had to be 'massaged.'  It was still being 'massaged' by media gadfly David Folkenflik on NPR Saturday.

'Massaged'?  Try 'f**king lied.'  Folkenflik lied.  Helen Thomas wasn't career assassinated once, she was destroyed over and over by so-called journalists who set aside facts and journalism to aim their guns at her.   The Falls Church News-Press was brave enough to offer her an outlet in the midst of the never-ending smears against Helen.

Few others showed the same bravery.  Helen used her bravery to question power, to call out the status quo.  Yes, she was of the left.  No, she was not MSNBC.

Helen questioned power -- whether it was Republican power or Democratic power.  She was the real deal.

She questioned war.

Barack Obama benefited greatly from the political and career assassination of Helen which meant she was no longer in the press room asking questions during White House briefings.

Doubt Helen gave equally?  In 2009, Fox News was highlighting a White House press briefing where Helen was calling out then-spokesperson Robert Gibbs on the White House's use of pre-screened questions for Barack.

In the video, she says, "That's -- That's not his point.  His point is that control from here.  We have never had that in the White House.  I'm amazed at you people who call for openess and transparency and control.  You have left open the suggestion that you are pumping the answers. It's shocking. It's really shocking."

And war was shocking to Helen.

The Iraq War was shocking and outrageous.

And if Helen were at the White House press briefings in the last month, Iraq would have been an issue.

In April, violence increased so greatly (it had been increasing for two years) that it reached 2008 levels.  This continued in May and in June.

"What have we done to Iraq?" Helen would have asked.  "What are we doing to help now?"

But no one in the White House press corps today cares about Iraq.  Most just care about fawning and sucking up (there are a few exceptions to that).

No one will question the White House on its responsibilities and obligations to Iraq.

No one will ask why Barack stepped in back in 2010, when the Iraqi people had succeeded in voting Nouri al-Maliki out as prime minister, and insisted Nouri remain prime minister?

No one will ask why Barack had the US broker The Erbil Agreement which went around the Iraqi Constitution to give Nouri a second term as prime minister after Nouri's State of Law came in second in the elections?

These questions will not be asked.  They will not be noted.

One of the most deadly and criminal enterprises of the US government (one which is ongoing -- since the so-called 'withdrawal,' Barack has sent more US forces back into Iraq) will simply fade from memory because to dwell on it, to acknowledge it, might prevent future wars of aggression and the US press is not about shining a light on the victims of the US government, it is only about helping to sell the aggressions and attacks of the US government.

Helen Thomas was a voice for the world's people, a voice for accountability, a voice for peace.  She is sorely missed and, if you doubt that, watch this week to see who asks even a passing question about Iraq.

[Those new to Helen Thomas or wanting to remember her can click here for Democracy Now!'s collection of interviews with Helen.]

Media: The wall-to-wall so-called 'discussion'

Jerry Springer is the bastard father of Talk TV, Jenny Jones its mother and Nancy Grace its first born. Never was that more clear than last week as the wall-to-wall went on and on.  Yes, we're talking about the verdict in the George Zimmerman case.  No, we didn't want to be.


The night of Saturday, July 13th, the verdict came down.  If you were watching HLN, you saw two men chatting nervously as they waited for the jurors to return to the courtroom.  The verdict wasn't making them nervous, HLN's star was.  That would be Nancy Grace who was preparing to provide commentary.  The men had noted she would be talking before the verdict.

Nancy Grace is many things to many people.  To those who work with her, she is a nightmare.  HLN viewers got about 10 seconds of that if they paid attention as Nancy was briefly heard having a tantrum and refusing to go on air.  She was miked, but she wasn't going on.  Not before the verdict was announced.

How would it look if Nancy Grace pronounced the verdict and then the jury disagreed with her?

She'd have egg on her face!

Her ranting was mainly amusing because who would have thought the talkers of cable had the capacity for embarrassment?

They certainly lack the capacity for shame.

And they made that clear all last week.

A verdict was reached and a noisy group of talking heads spent the entire following week projecting.  For example, a number of the gas bags referred to the verdict as a lynching but a lynching would describe the efforts to go after George Zimmerman after he was found not guilty of the charges.  Comments (and threats) about how he would never be safe and he would need to look over his shoulder were regularly made in the HLN, CNN and MSNBC coverage.  And talk show hosts -- posing as journalists -- would either remain silent or make reassuring comments. Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) spent much of the week bemoaning the lack of a fact check (such as here).  We were more appalled by the lack of a reality check.

We were also bothered by the people presented.  If you loathed the verdict, you were on non-stop.  If you agreed with the verdict, you might be one person on HLN's split screen displaying nine gas bags. If you angrily opposed the verdict, you were generally a HLN talk show host such as Jane Velez-Mitchell. As the frenzy continued day after day (Kate Middleton, you couldn't have a caesarean and spare us this nonsense?), we were reminded that once upon a time, only the admitted tabloids tried to whip up a mob frenzy.

If you didn't grasp that it was a mob frenzy, leave it to NPR and Diane Rehm to make the point clear. Friday on the first hour of The Diane Rehm Show, after much time was spent on the topic, Diane finally opened the phone lines and one listener wrongly thought this was a topic open to discussion.

Diane Rehm:  All right. To Annie, here in Washington, D.C. You're on the air. 

Annie:  Hi. I think it's terrible that that poor young boy -- this is about the Zimmerman verdict. A poor young boy lost his life. And I think George Zimmerman should have been held accountable for his moral judgment in the way he handled it. But the thing I haven't heard anyone discuss is that when Casey Anthony was acquitted for killing -- for allegedly killing her 2-year-old daughter, we didn't see any demonstrations in the streets.  We didn't see anyone breaking into Wal-Mart, stealing bicycles, running through the streets, turning over police cars. And there was just as much outrage there. So I just wondered if the panel could talk about that. 

Diane Rehm:   Any comments? 

Ed O'Keefe:  I mean, it's -- that's a good point. But, you know, I think this one certainly stirred up a lot of emotion. 

Diane Rehm:  Exactly. And I think will continue to stir up emotion until that is spent. Thanks for calling, Annie. To Durham, N.C. Hi, Peter.

And that was it for the discussion.  There was no discussion, there were only talking points to be repeated over and over, at various volumes.

Into all of this stepped Barack Obama not once but twice.  His first statement, the day after the verdict, had elements in it Betty felt were worth of praise.  But the thing about Barack is he can never leave well enough alone.  Forever in search of fresh applause, he has to revisit.  He did so at length on Friday in which he elected to act not as president but to lecture in his best "Bueller? Bueller?" Ben Stein impression.

On and on, he droned:

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they're disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

What struck us most about the speech was this:

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

No, this isn't from Friday's speech.  It's from the allegedly greatest speech of all time that Barack made in Philadelphia in 2008.  Remember that?  There's an inherent conflict between the two speeches but no one is supposed to notice.

Not much got noticed last week.  From Barack's 2008 speech:

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding. 

We thought about that a lot as well as we noticed Secretary of State John Kerry making efforts in the Middle East regarding Israelis and the Palestinians.  We thought those efforts needed coverage and analysis and, yes, questioning.  But the media didn't have time for that.  The media didn't have time to cover the very important House Judiciary Committee hearing last week either.  The media didn't have time for whistle-blower Ed Snowden, Bradley Manning, you name it.

It was wall-to-wall frothing over a verdict.  And that's why Barack waded in.  Not in response to the froth but because, if you were Barack, wouldn't you rather talk about a non-issue than about something you were actually responsible for?

Non-issue?  Yeah.  Trayvon Martin's dead.  He's not coming back.  He is not the first tragic death or the last.  Rachel Corrie did not get even a day of coverage from the talk show networks passing themselves off as news networks and she actually was working to help others.  Casey Sheehan and all the other Americans who died in the illegal war were lucky to get their name on a slide during PBS' The NewsHour.

Trayvon Martin's death was as sad as all deaths are. The Constitution never guaranteed anyone -- of any race, gender or ethnicity -- a verdict that would make them happy.  You do get a day in court.  Sometimes you're pleased with the verdict, sometimes you aren't.

That's the US legal system and, guess what, it is the best there currently is.  You want to improve it, please do.

But there was no desire to improve it.

Nor was there any real desire to discuss the issues.

The reality is there was never enough evidence to push this case to trial.  Had cable TV not led the lynch mob for months, it probably wouldn't have gone to trial.

Once it went to trial, the prosecution's weak case was presented very weakly.  That includes the star witness who we'll get to in a minute.

You may in your heart believe that Travyon was brutally murdered and you may be 100% right.  But the evidence did not support that finding.  That doesn't mean it's not true, that doesn't mean it is true.  That does mean if you understand the law, you understand the verdict.

The media should have been explaining that.  They failed because they were the ones trying to hand out the rope for the lynching.  They were the ones trying to agitate and fuel anger and hatred.

Ithica professor Janell Hobson stomped her feet and screeched like a banshee at Ms. magazine's blog as she attacked the 'White' jury and White women.  She made her racial hatred very clear -- we hope her non-African-American students take note when they want to appeal their grades or file complaints on her with administration -- and Ms. felt so proud of itself for posting an attack on women.

The jury was the problem?  Not according to Jimmy Carter.  Not according to us.

The evidence and the prosecution were the problem but how telling that an educated professor would rather trash the citizens of a jury than go after the legal system itself or, for that matter, its career elements.

Janell was wounded by the verdict and wanted to lash out and, in our culture, the approved target it always women -- which explains the high rate of abuse and rape in this country.

Good for Trina and Elaine for calling out Janell's nonsense but in what world does Ms. magazine think feminism is attacking a female jury with charges that are impossible to prove even if they were true?  In what world do the rest of us have to suffer because Janell Hobson is an immature cry baby who's never learned to grow up?

Again, you don't always get the verdict you want.  Is Janell so stupid that she doesn't know how many cases are heard each day around the country?  Does she honestly think everyone is pleased with every verdict?  An African-American with the National Lawyers Guild joked to us last Thursday, "They should have made Faye Dunaway Black and instead of having the guy say, 'Give it up Jake, it's Chinatown,' the film could have gone on for another hour raging over how Faye got done in by the White world."

April 1, 2012, on NPR's Weekend Edition, Eric Deggans offered an observation on the media coverage that was true then and remains even more so after last week:

Unfortunately, what's also happened is that people have a lot of other discussions they want to have. They want to talk about the demonization of young black men, undue suspicion cast on people of color when they're in certain neighborhoods. They want to talk about how the police investigate crimes involving people of color and they're sort of piling all of these issues on top of a very specific incident that people are trying to get to the truth of. And I think sometimes that clouds the issue and makes it hard for us to figure out exactly what's going on.  


As the chatter from these talk shows went on and on, we were left to really notice how much lying took place.  For example, Rachel Jeantel appeared on CNN in an interview with Piers Morgan that (as Marcia and Betty pointed out) was notable only for the homophobia Rachel expressed -- George Zimmerman was a "punk," he wasn't a real man, she told Trayvon that Zimmerman might want to rape him, and much more.  But the whole point was to ignore what Rachel said.

For those keeping score, on air vengeance last week meant you could trash a jury, you could trash all White women and you could express homophobia openly and, damn it, no one better step in on your pity party and call you out on your crap.

Talk about unexamined lives -- and cry babies who wouldn't last ten seconds in group therapy.

The media is supposed to provide news consumers with context and the ability to contextualize.

But there is no more news media.  There are only the children of Jerry and Jenny who learned to incite and do that repeatedly on talk shows passed off as news programming.

No one does it more so than HLN's Nancy Grace so it's fitting that she inherited cable's psychotic time slot from Glen Beck when he left HLN for Fox News.  Grace 'interviewed'  Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's father and mother, in a manner that cried out for Saturday Night Live parody.

Like the huckster Beck, Grace used pauses, gestures, body movement and so much more to amp the drama. This wasn't an interview, it was a Nancy Grace performance.

"You were at work," she says to Fulton about when Fulton first learned Trayvon was missing.  Nancy shakes her head, she grasps her nose, she closes her eyes, she bows her head.  If that's not enough drama for you, Nancy's soon relating to Fulton (whose son is dead, please remember) that she knows how Fulton felt in that moment because, not long ago, she was at Babies 'R Us and there was a minute where she lost John David (presumably her son).  Oh, yes, that is exactly like burying a child.  (That was sarcasm.)

Nancy wasn't done making it all about herself, "Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord! I remember when Keith was murdered.  I was told at first there had been an accident and I thought at first -- I didn't understand -- I didn't get the truth."

After Nancy finished babbling about the death of her fiancee thirty-four years prior, we wondered if Fulton would ask Nancy if she needed a moment?

Futlon can't understand the verdict and feels that racism was involved and the jury was unable to relate to her son due to his race.  Months from now, when the sugar coating comes off, we think the issue won't just be the lack of evidence but the testimony offered by a number of people including Fulton herself.

Speaking to Nancy Grace last week, she explained (as she often does) about learning the next morning that her son was missing.  Her ex-husband calls her to tell her Trayvon never came home and to say that "he was going to  call his cousin and then he was going to call missing persons to report that he didn't come home."  Fulton's repeated some variation of that throughout the lengthy press coverage.

Here's reality for a jury confronted with that statement: Either the 'child' was treated as an adult or the parent didn't care.  There's really no other excuse for it.  The father had no idea where his son was.  (Tracy Martin and his girlfriend were out on a date the night Trayvon was killed.)  He returned from his date and his son wasn't home.  Was this regular behavior, a jury will wonder?  If not, why didn't the father immediately call the cousin, the police, the hospitals?

There's a rip in the carefully cultivated Trayvon Martin narrative with that detail.  Most juries would notice it.

On the networks of Jenny Jones and Jerry Springer, maybe not.  Not when Nancy's sobbing, in her 'interview,'  "Were you praying that it wasn't Trayvon?  That it was some other person?"

Nancy's a corporate distraction.  But juries are supposed to rule on evidence.

That's what the jury did in the George Zimmerman trial.  And if the verdict surprises you, maybe it goes to the fact that you've refused to grow up and examine reality but have instead sought out an echo chamber of talk shows that provide you the same comfort as a pacifier?  Maybe it's past time to stop (as Ann pointed out) talking down to people and time to instead challenge them?

Challenge them with reality, such as what last week's trash-fest was really about.  Easy finger pointing.  The murder of Oscar Grant did not warrant such coverage.  The gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi did not warrant such coverage.  But in those cases, you had the police and the military as killers and, heaven forbid, we acknowledge -- let alone dwell on -- that.  Cheap and easy talk shows can always be found at their most talkative when they avoid questioning power.


  Jim: It's roundtable time.  We've got a bunch of topics to get through.  Remember our new e-mail address is Please note that is a change.  Participating our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); 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): Let's start with Bradley Manning.  He's the whistle-blower who released documents and video to WikiLeaks and is currently being court-martialed.  Marcia, you've blogged about him several times over the last few weeks so what's going on?

Marcia: This week's big development would have to be that the defense's attempt to get some of the charges dropped has failed.  This includes the charge of "aiding the enemy."  Yochai Benkler had a great column at The Guardian on the implications of this decision.  One point he made that I'd like to include, "Second, the decision establishes a chilling precedent: leaking classified documents to the these newspapers can by itself be legally sufficient to constitute the offense of "aiding the enemy", if the leaker was sophisticated enough about intelligence and how the enemy uses the internet."

Dona: And this charge was the one that Amnesty International had issued a release calling for it to be dropped.

Marica: Yes, good point.  Judge Denise Lind did not feel any pressure to recognize a human rights organization's plea.

Ty: And this is one of the many topics we did not hear about last week.  In their sprawling and right-on media analysis this edition, Ava and C.I. talk about how the circus around the verdict in the George Zimmerman case was cheap and easy coverage that not only distracted from real issues but also existed to begin with because it didn't challenge power.  A neighborhood watch person is not the defense industry or the government.  A number of us want to talk about the nonsense so let's get that out now.  Trayvon Martin is the 17-year-old that was shot dead last year by George Zimmerman.  The prosecution presented their case.  It was a weak case. George Zimmerman was found not guilty.  The verdict was announced 8 days ago.  It dominated what passes for news last week.  Betty, you had a point you wanted to make.

Betty: After the frenzy the media tried to whip up over this, I found it very interesting and very telling that John Bacon (USA Today) reports "thousands" took part in protests yesterday.  That shows you how overplayed this has been in the media.  When there was the march for immigration reform --

Ava: May 1, 2008.

Betty: Thank you.  When you had the May 1, 2008 immigration reform marches, there were millions turning out.  Dallas, Texas -- to give a shout out to a community that has long been supportive of Third -- broke all previous records for protests when over one million people took part in that march for immigration reform.
So when you tell me that there were thousands, I'm not surprised.

Cedric: I'm not either.  I want to back up Betty, of course, but I also want to explain that all of us -- African-Americans -- were not of one mind the way the media portrayed it.  I found much of the media portrayals and statements last week flat out offensive.  Excuse me, Ann and I are new parents, our child is barely two months old, and it's a boy.  So we have a son.  A Black son.  And I don't need this crap about 'all Black boys are going to be hunted now' or whatever else some lunatic African-American wants to spout showing his or her ignorance and stupidity and, most of all, showing their ass.  If I can on the Zimmerman case?

Ty: Go ahead.  

Cedric: George Zimmerman was not in his house or backyard when the incident happened.  He was the designated neighborhood watch.  Don't give me that Zimmerman didn't belong there.  In addition, what kind of parent lets their child be out all night?  That's a question the father's never answered.  My opinion?  Trayvon being out at all hours -- at least with the father -- wasn't uncommon or he would have been calling the police and hospitals when two o'clock got there -- if not sooner -- asking, "Where is my son?"

Ann: And that's not, "If only he'd done that, his son would be alive!"  No.  Trayvon was dead before eight o'clock rolled around.  But it is saying that when you have gone to sleep and treated it as normal that you don't know where your son is, there's a little more going on then your media portrayal of skittles and iced tea.  It may be more to do with Trayvon, it may be more to do with the father's parenting.  And I want to point out that the mother and father were not together and he was with his father.  I would assume, based on his mother's remark, if Trayvon had been at house and not returned by ten o'clock, she'd be fuming and by midnight she'd be on the phone asking where he was.  I want to be very clear on that.  

Ty: Cedric, what is the lesson?  I agree with you 100%.  I think the fear mongering was irresponsible and damaging and I'm embarrassed by last week's coverage.  But what is your take away on this?

Cedric: I guess, first off, we have a house, Ann and I, and we know our neighborhood watch people.  If we didn't, I would make a point to introduce myself.  If my son was older, or if we had a daughter who was older, I would make a point to introduce her to make sure everyone knew everyone.  The point of a neighborhood watch is to protect the neighborhood, to make it safe.  So that's the take away for me.  I don't know though, maybe Travyon's father was living with his girlfriend and he wasn't on the lease or something and they didn't want to go around introducing themselves or whatever.  

Ann: For me, the lesson is that when the media wants to protect the government, they will focus in on one story and treat it like it's world shattering.  I'm sorry for Trayvon's parents.  I'm sure Travyon had much to offer.  It is very sad that he was killed.  But a lot of parents go through that every day.  I think there's a weariness that's set in.  I was at the beauty shop -- yes, all present were African-American -- on Saturday and the women were saying how sick they were of hearing about the verdict and the protests and all the rest.  That is the one good thing, we all have a saturation point and it appears many of us have more than reached it.

Ty: Betty?

Betty: I like what Cedric and Ann said and I'll pick up on Ann's point about the media protecting the government.  The Ed Snowden revelations about Barack's spying on the American people has still not been fully addressed by broadcast media, television media.  And how nice for them that they were able to do this cheap, shlocky coverage of feelings as opposed to going out and doing actual reporting.  They should all be ashamed of themselves.  They're not reporters, they're not even journalists.  Like Ava and C.I. say, these are the children of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones.  And don't forget, Jenny Jones was the talk show host that did a 'secret crushes' ambush episode that resulted in her guest killing a gay man who had a crush on him.  Point being, this kind of frenzy crap tends to create havoc, not heal a nation.

Ty: Okay.  So we've dealt with that now, so back to you, Jim.

Jim: Ty, did you want to say anything?

Ty: I'm sorry for Trayvon Martin.  I'm also really sorry for George Zimmerman.  He's been found innocent but is now facing Eric Holder's attempts to charge him -- which to me is double-jeopardy.  He went on trial, he was found not guilty.  I feel sorry for him because, for over a week now, television has convicted him and fanned flames against him.  

Jim: Alright.  Thank you.  Ed Snowden.  Betty just noted him.  He's the NSA whistle-blower.  He's the reason we know about Barack's spying.  Stan and Elaine, you wanted to talk about this.  

Stan: Right.  Melissa Harris-Lacewell-Perry did an open-letter to Ed on her program last Sunday -- her program no one watches.  And she blamed him for this and that including that the media has focused on his flight for asylum and how, she maintains, this distracts from the revelations.  I beg to differ.  First off, Melissa hasn't care about discussing the revelations.  Second of all, the flight is part of the story and how dare you pretend it's not.  

Elaine: I agree 100%, Stan.  The battle Ed Snowden's having trying to garner asylum is part of the story -- it illustrates perfectly how the US government will come down on anyone whose actions cause the government exposure and/or embarrassment.  The bullying of Venezuela is, to me, as frightening as forcing down Evo Morales' plane.  He is the President of Bolivia.  His plane was forced down because it was believed that, as he left Russia, he had brought Ed on board.  For that reason, treaties and international law was trashed.

Jim: Elaine, the bullying of Venezuela?

Elaine: Most recently, that's John Kerry, US Secretary of State.  RT reported that he had threatend "to close NATO airspace to the country's flights and stop crucical oil product deliveries if Caracas grants asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden."

Jim: If Harris-Lacewell-Perry doesn't care about Ed Snowden, why is she discussing him, Stan?

Stan: It gives her an opportunity to trash Ed.  She's long been a handmaiden of Barack's.  She's worthless and she has no ethics or integrity.  Also it's MSNBC policy to trash Ed and she wants to keep her bosses happy.

Jim: Do you think Ed Snowden can make it out of Russia without being grabbed by the US government?

Stan: Yes, I do.  But only if we start focusing on real issues and not whining about what happened a year ago.  I reached my saturation point on the Martin-Zimmerman case in 2012, thank you.

Jim: Okay, Rebecca, you had an issue you wanted to raise.

Rebecca: I sure did.  This is Secretary of State John Kerry from the press release the State Department issued late Friday:

SECRETARY KERRY: Good evening, everybody, thank you very much for your patience. I apologize for the delay. I’m just going to make a statement, and I’m not going to take any questions at this point in time.
On behalf of President Obama, I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is a significant and welcome step forward.
The agreement is still in the process of being formalized, so we are absolutely not going to talk about any of the elements now. Any speculation or reports you may read in the media or elsewhere or here in the press are conjecture. They are not based on fact because the people who know the facts are not talking about them. The parties have agreed that I will be the only one making further comments about this.
If everything goes as expected, Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni, Minister Livni, and Isaac Molho will be joining me in Washington to begin initial talks within the next week or so, and a further announcement will be made by all of us at that time.
I want to thank particularly His Majesty King Abdullah and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who has been really enormously helpful throughout this process. I want to thank all of them for their extraordinary hospitality to our team that has been camped here for several days, and they have helped with all of the logistics and been superb hosts and collaborators in this effort.
I also want to thank the Arab League and the committee, the joint committee – the committee with respect to the peace initiative follow-on -- who traveled here during the week and who made an important difference with their statement of support.
And then there are many, many others who have contributed, many other leaders around the world, all of whom have visited here and pushed and advocated and encouraged the notion that these talks could take place. There are too many to list, but they know who they are and we are very, very grateful. It will take their ongoing effort in order to be able to have any chance of making these talks the kind of success they ought to be.
I think all of us know that candid, private conversations are the very best way to preserve the time and the space for progress and understanding when you face difficult, complicated issues such as Middle East peace. The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private. Everyone knows that this is not easy. If it were, it would’ve happened a long time ago. And no one believes that the longstanding differences between the parties can be resolved overnight or just wiped away.
We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because of the courageous leadership shown by President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here, and both of them were instrumental in pushing in this direction. We wouldn’t be standing here tonight if they hadn’t made the choices.
I’m most hopeful because of the positive steps that Israelis themselves and Palestinians are taking on the ground and the promise that those steps represent about the possibilities of the future. The path to resolution of this longstanding conflict in this critical corner of the world, that path is not about fate. It’s about choices, choices that people can make. And this is not up to chance. It’s up to the Israeli people and the Palestinian people and no one else.
So knowing that the road ahead will be difficult and the challenges that the parties face are daunting, we will call on everybody to act in the best of faith and push forward. The representatives of two proud people today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling and that the daunting challenges that we face are worth tackling. So they have courageously recognized that in order for Israelis and Palestinians to live together side by side in peace and security, they must begin by sitting at the table together in direct talks.
I thank those leaders. I thank all those who have worked so hard, my team especially, who have been part of this. And I look forward to seeing my friends from this region in Washington next week or very soon thereafter. Thank you very much.

Rebecca (Con't): I know that's long but this is an important issue and there's barely been any coverage on it at all.

Jim: Okay, let me stop you for a second.  C.I., Rebecca's correct?

C.I.: How I love being called upon to judge a friend -- that is sarcasm. Yes, Rebecca is right.  The best example I can think of?  Barbara Slavin was mocking John Kerry for having achieved nothing despite much travel -- mocking him Thursday before that statement was released.  Not only was she mocking him but other journalists, like McClatchy's Hannah Allam were laughing at him as well and retweeting Barbara Slavin's insult.  We can find that online and insert it here.

  • Jim: Okay, Rebecca.

    Rebecca: Well this is major news for many of us who care about the fate of the Palestinian people.  Is this for real?  Is this more talks?  Is this really the US planning to leverage even more from the Palestinian people while pretending to treat both sides equally?  These are questions that should be answered but are not getting answers because it's not just CNN, HLN and MSNBC wasting our time on a verdict that's 8 days old, it's also, as Kat pointed out last Monday in "The spectacle becomes everything," a question of our so-called independent media.

    Jim: Kat?

    Kat: CounterPunch ran 14 new articles on Monday.  8 of them were on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman issue -- or outrage.  Eight articles all saying the same damn thing actually. As Ava and C.I. note, it's an echo chamber.  I was writing about Ed Snowden that day and had gotten a nasty e-mail two weeks prior from a person who sometimes has writing published at CounterPunch -- I was taken to task for not including them more often.  So I made a point, last Monday, to go there for something on Ed Snowden.  They didn't have anything.  And after 8 articles, I'm sorry, you're done with the topic, move the f**k on.  But, no, CounterPunch continued with it all damn week.  Rebecca's right.  I have no idea whether to applaud John Kerry or to slam him because I don't know what's actually being proposed.

    Trina: If I could jump in here.  One of the most important stories right now, in my opinion, is what's happening in Detroit.  And rest assured if they can declare bankruptcy on Detroit, they can do it in other cities as well.  I really wanted to cover this topic Friday. I read WSWS's article and thought it was sound.  But that's not enough for me. I'm like C.I., if I'm going to write on a topic, I need a lot of articles to read so I've got a more rounded sense of what's going on.  And there just wasn't a lot of analysis of what was going on.  There was reporting -- AP especially and local Detroit reporting -- but in terms of analysis, I didn't see it.  And I'm sorry but my understanding was that the citizens of Detroit were told if they put this comptroller in charge, sidelining their council, then the city wouldn't go into bankruptcy.  So what happened?  I think they were lied to and I think the plan all along was to force Detroit into bankruptcy.  And I'm fine sharing that opinion here.  But in terms of writing about it?  I don't feel I have enough information.  I really feel that a lot of important stories were neglected last week and I would rank Detroit up there in the top ten.

    Jim: Alright.  Now I have a very important e-mail from reader Maileen.  "Why did Wally and Cedric and C.I. refuse to note the content from last week's edition of Third Estate? Were they that mad?"  Wally and Cedric do joint-posts and Cedric said Wally could answer for both of them.  So, Wally?

    Wally: It was an oversight.  I wasn't aware of it until right before this roundtable when Jim asked Cedric and I about it.  Or told us we would be asked about it.  What used to happen is that on Monday night or Tuesday morning, we noted Third and any other weekend content.  Now we're noting all the Monday night content so that we don't have the Saturday post that includes two days worth of posts.  We just started doing that a few weeks ago and we've missed a few things as a result. It was an overight. 

    Jim: C.I.?

    C.I.: Actually, I didn't note any content.  Saturday night, I generally note the Friday and Saturday content in the community.  I had no time two Saturdays ago.  I was under pressure to wrap up my writing so that we could start the Third writing session.  Sunday night is when I note Third's new content.  There was none.  It went up Monday.  Several hours after it went up, I was back up writing my morning entries at TCI and I honestly didn't include it because I forgot until I posted.  No malice was intended.

    Jim: Ruth, Benghazi wasn't addressed by much of the media last week.  Tell us what's going on there.

    Ruth: Well there are two developments.  First up, US House Representative Frank Wolf has stated that those wounded in the September 11, 2012 attack have been forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.  If true, Congress should compel them to testify and the agreements should be trashed.  Second, Congress has long wanted Marine Col George Bristol to testify.  The Pentagon has maintained he has retired and that they had no way to get a hold of him.  

    Jim: He was in command, the night of September 11, 2012, of the Special Forces stationed in North Africa?

    Ruth: Correct.  And now, last week, the Pentagon announced that they had located him and he would testify.

    Jim: Alright.  Isaiah, there are a number of e-mails praising your last two comics but asking about changes in the visuals?

    Isaiah:  Okay.  I was on a cruise and unable to do comics.  I took a photo with my cell phone of one and C.I. photo shopped it to make it look better.  She also shipped me a hand held scanner.  That's what I've used on the last two comics.  I'm still playing with it and enjoying it.  I assume I'll get better at it or more consistent but I'm still playing with it and learning about it.

    Jim: Alright.  With that we'll wrap up the roundtable.  This has been a rush transcript.

    News you might have missed

    Last week, the White House was invaded by petty people.

    petty people day

    There Is No Black Leadership

    this piece is written by Ty, Betty, Isaiah, Cedric, Marcia, Stan and Ann

    Despite claims that President Barack Obama spoke frankly to explain the anger over the George Zimmeran verdict, that was a lie.  The protests Saturday were lies.  Not honesty, not a road to honesty.

    If you've been fortunate enough to miss it, you may want to stop reading now.  Otherwise, in 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot dead by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.  Two Saturdays ago, a jury found him not guilty (of murder or manslaughter).

    Since then it's been wallow and lie.  Let's deal with a lie, Barack declared that African-American men knew what it was like to be followed in a store and others did not.  If you listened to the superficial and insulting NPR coverage over the weekend, you are fully aware that this lie was picked up.

    African-American women know what it's like to be followed.  White people know what it's like to be followed, Hispanics know what it's like to be followed, etc.  In fact, if you don't know what it's like to be followed around a store as if you're a suspected thief, go to Barnes & Noble.  Specifically, go to the DVDs and music section and you will find yourself shadowed.  Barnes & Noble is a chain that profiles every shopper as a suspected thief -- regardless of race or gender.

    There were many other lies.  But what about wallow?

    Making Dennis a Menace

    Martin Luther King is dead.

    Dr. King was a leader.

    Looking around today, there are no leaders.  Just whiners and moaners and wallowers.

    Chief among them Al Sharpton.  The MSNBC huckster organized rallies for yesterday.  The turnout was not impressive.

    That's not surprising.

    Why are we protesting?

    Travyon is dead.  Say a prayer for him, ask for grace and love for his parents.

    A leader uplifts, inspires, points to where we need to go.

    Al Sharpton can only bitch and moan.  He's useless.  This loud I'm-a-victim was good in NYC local politics, possibly.  It's not about a movement.

    Dr. King showed Black America (all America, actually) where we could be, he shined a light on the road and beckoned us to follow him down it.  There was a nobility to the struggle.

    We were all uplifted.

    Last week, Bill Cobsy made some remarks that were largely innocent and understandable but the response by a significant segment of the Black community was to demonize him as an "Uncle Tom."

    To which we say, shut your damn mouths.

    Bill Cosby is not an Uncle Tom.  He's spent his lifetime breaking down barriers and providing inspiration. That he would be attacked for disagreeing on the Zimmerman verdict goes to just how useless and, yes, harmful Al Sharpton and his anti-movement are.

    Many Black leaders -- major ones -- disagreed with Dr. King.  That didn't stop MLK.  That didn't lead to him lashing out at those people.

    MLK led with love, not with hate.  Dr. King was never elected president and didn't hail from a political dynasty family.  But he's remembered and loved and studied all these years after his death.  That's because he was everything we would want in a leader: charismatic, caring, strong, graceful, steadfast and sure.

    He was followed in his lifetime for those qualities.  He is historic and beloved today because of those characteristics.

    You saw some of that on CNN when they briefly featured Martin Luther King III (MLK's son) on Saturday.  He might have been channeling his father as he refused to leap to easy conclusions and instead spoke in terms of where we could be.

    Instead of that ray of needed MLK, we got hours and hours of angry people making snap judgments, offering bleak opinions they presented as fact.

    We spoke to our grandparents about this.  They can remember the pre-Civil Rights Movement time period.  They took exception to Martin being compared to Emmet Till, to comparisons to lynching and to claims of how awful things were now for African-Americans.

    Ty's grandmother probably said it best, "If we were so bitter and angry [then] and everything seemed so bleak, we never would have protested because what was the point?  I listen to the TV people talking their talk and I think, 'You couldn't have handled two seconds in the fifties. You don't know how easy you have it or how much power you have to change it.'  It was -- It was really sad to watch."

    And it is sad to watch.  Especially if, like Betty and Cedric and Ann, you have sons.  Cedric and Ann are the parents of an infant so any fears or worries over pundits insisting it was not 'open season' for shooting Black male youths were worries they had as parents.  Betty's two sons are in their teens.  Her oldest laughed at the "crazy ass fools" making those claims.  Her youngest son was worried and asked if that was true?

    Was that really the point of Joy Reid and others?  To scare a bunch of children?  Or was that just the byproduct of their efforts to breed hatred last week?

    We don't know.  But we reject it.

    Among the seven of us, there is a split on whether Zimmerman should have been imprisoned.  Guess what?  There is no hatred or snarling among us.  We can respectfully disagree.  We are the children of MLK.  We can love and reach beyond differences.  All of us agree that the jury verdict is the verdict.  We don't support the Justice Department pursuing additional charges because (a) we think this falls into double-jeopardy and (b) we think this encourages false hopes and (c) we think this postpones the healing.

    Like most of Black America, we long for the leader who preaches love, unity, progress and a better world.  Most of all, one who preaches, embraces and radiates love.  There's enough hate in the world already.


    The illustration is from March 2, 2009,  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts,  "Making Dennis the Menace."

    News you might have missed

    Last week, the White House was invaded by little people.

    white house celebrates little people day

    Saving which children?

    Activist, Iraq War veteran, talk show host Adam Kokesh explains how the news industry distracts you.

    Jim's World


    Last week was our summer read edition.  It was our last, our final summer edition.

    What started with so much fun and promise crashed in flames.

    As a number of you have e-mailed, I had a role in it.

    In "The Summer Tell All: The Death of the Summer Edition" C.I. writes (that piece is largely C.I.) of Marcia presenting an idea or trying to.  She immediately gets shot down with someone insisting that her sci-fy idea is useless because we already have a sci-fy feature.

    As many of you guessed, I'm the one doing the shutting down in that tale.

    And I told C.I. she could name me.  I'm really not concerned about being seen as the good guy and, obviously with most of you guessing it was me, my approach is pretty obvious.

    For those concerned, Marcia and I are fine.

    I tend to try to take charge.  If you don't like that, you can push back.  That's why Dona and I make a great couple, she does push back.

    That is only one of many examples of hurt feelings during the writing edition.

    And it took too long, it was falling apart and people were tired.  At one point, when C.I. was telling me I wasn't listening to Mike and that he and Elaine were in Hawaii and certainly had better things to do then try to help out when they weren't being listened to, even I had had enough.

    The edition should have been planned better.  It also shouldn't have been last weekend.  There were too many political stories that people wanted to tackle.

    The process itself is probably bet outlined by C.I.  We really do have too many people working on every piece.  Betty basically oversaw the poetry and she deserves applause for that.  But that should have been done with each story.  A group to work on it should have been declared or appointed.  Instead, everyone was working through a draft on each story and the bulk of the stories were turning to s**t.

    We couldn't even agree on an editorial topic when I, thinking this would get us motivated or give us something new to think about, suggested we brainstorm on that.

    C.I. brought the topic for the editorial over from her site.  And, along with getting tired of fighting me with regards to listening to people, she was getting upset over the fact that we had cut into her Saturday time for The Common Ills because we (I at least) just knew the summer edition would be quick.  So she started the edition feeling she'd neglected The Common Ills and then came Sunday where she was having to raid her writing for TCI to help us with an editorial and a feature.

    It wasn't fair.

    Ava pointed out that this was insane and a waste of time and that was a sentiment others began echoing.

    And the next thing I knew, Ava and C.I. were declaring that if this site was around this time next year, they'd write their media pieces but they would not participate in short stories.

    As they announced they were walking (in 2014), others echoed that.

    And then C.I. came back with the piece about the end of the summer edition.

    I really liked that we offered summer fiction.  It didn't have to be good.  In fact, if it was really bad, I sometimes felt that was even better.

    For me, it was part of our do-it-yourself-ethos.

    And there was always the hope that it would encourage other people to try -- maybe really talented people.

    But it was one of our signature moves.  And I'm kind of sad it's gone.

    Jess, however, has told me that next summer, if I really want to do it, one way would be to look back at our previous editions and pick from those to pull together one strong edition.

    I like that idea and plan to do it if we're still around.  That would give it the proper send-off.

    I also liked that so many of you e-mailed to say you would miss the summer edition as well.  Again, it wasn't about perfection, it was about fun.

    But the writing had become anything but fun.

    In closing on this topic, I will note that I have (slender) hopes that next year, when summer rolls around, people will be saying, "Let's try it one more time."  That's probably very unlikely but I like to think it is a possibility.

    Summer TV worth watching

    Next Sunday (the 29th), the hit TV show CBS tried to cancel returns.  Too popular to cancel, Unforgettable returns with Poppy Montgomery, Dylan Walsh and Jane Curtain.


    'Oh, yeah.  I heard about that show.  It's where the red head detective has the memory thing, she can remember everything, right?  Meant to check it out but never found time.'

    Well you're in luck because, right now, ahead of the second season debut, CBS is streaming the first season's episodes online.

    Most of you won't need to check out the streaming for anything but a reminder of how great the show is (and if you have the ability of the lead character, you'll just 'stream' in your head for that reminder).

    But be sure to tune in next Sunday night for all new episodes of Unforgettable on CBS.

    That's the way the faux opposition crumbles (David Sole, WW)

    Repost from Workers World:

    Syria opposition continues to fragment

    By on July 17, 2013 » Add the first comment.
    On July 8, the self-styled “National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces” met once again under U.S. direction in neighboring Turkey. But instead of it bringing greater unity, “Prime Minister” in exile Ghassan Hitto resigned his position. Hitto is a U.S. citizen.

    Political disunity has escalated to armed confrontation among these reactionary rebels. This is acknowledged even by the corporate media that have anointed them at various times with phrases like the “democratic opposition.” Wrote the New York Times on July 13: “Competing rebel factions in Syria are increasingly attacking each other in a series of killings, kidnappings and beheadings, undermining the already struggling effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad.”

    On July 11, Kamal Hamami, a member of the “Supreme Military Command” of the “Free Syrian Army” was killed by a rival rebel group said to be affiliated with al-Qaida in the coastal province of Latakia. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, fighting was reported between the FSA and Islamic fundamentalist forces over control of an important checkpoint in the Bustan al-Qasr district. (AP report on, July 13)
    The embattled checkpoint was the scene earlier in the week of angry protests by Syrian civilians. They were furious that the rebels were preventing them from crossing the checkpoint to shop for food. The rebels claim they are besieging the western section of Aleppo in order to force the civilian population to flee before a new ground offensive. Since about 2 million Syrians live in the government-controlled western areas, the impossibility of this strategy becomes obvious. Later reports stated that the checkpoint had been reopened.
    Many other reports are now surfacing of rebel groups fighting over control of villages and cities as well as who will control foreign aid and food being supplied to rebel areas by the Western imperialist nations and their Middle Eastern monarchist allies.

    Pressure on the reactionary rebel forces has continued to mount after a successful Syrian Army assault on the rebel stronghold of Qusair. Heavy fighting in the larger city of Homs, north of Qusair, is close to driving out rebels who controlled important areas of that city for the past two years.

    The failure of the U.S.-directed rebels to oust Assad and carry out another “regime change” creates a difficult political situation for the Obama government. Washington has to decide whether to continue to arm and direct these rebel groups, more directly intervene in the war, or pull back and accept defeat.
    The U.S. ruling class is deeply invested in this adventure and is loath to accept defeat. While Secretary of State John Kerry said publicly only recently that the U.S. had decided to directly arm rebel groups, it was exposed earlier this year that the CIA had already been coordinating huge shipments of weapons to the rebels through Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    The New York Times reported on June 30 that the U.S. had sold large Boeing C-17 military transport planes to its Middle Eastern allies in 2008 that were then employed to ship weapons to the mercenaries who were used to bring down the Libyan government.

    If the administration decides to intervene more directly in Syria, it was reported, “The United States Central Command’s forward base in Qatar gives the American military a command post in the heart of a strategically vital” region. (New York Times, June 29) Hundreds of U.S. troops are now positioned in both Jordan and Turkey, near the Syrian borders.

    But Washington also has to consider the support that Syria is receiving from Russia and China. The Russian government has publicly warned the United States not to try to establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria. The U.N. Security Council, dominated by the Western imperialist powers, declared such a zone over Libya in March of 2011. Russia and China abstained at the time, not using their veto power to stop it. The no-fly zone became the prelude to a massive NATO bombing campaign against both military and infrastructure targets in Libya.

    The U.S. government is no doubt pondering the meaning of a huge joint Russian-Chinese naval exercise in the Sea of Japan held July 5-12, which included live-fire drills. It was the largest such joint exercise between these two powers and came just weeks after U.S.-led war “games” by 17 countries held in Jordan.
    Protests inside the United States in recent weeks have drawn world attention to the fact that there is little support among the people of the U.S. for another military adventure. Demonstrators in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York and other cities responded to an unprecedented joint call for protests issued by all major anti-war organizations in the United States. (

    Speaking in Damascus, but echoing widespread sentiment throughout the world, Saúl Ortega, member of the Venezuelan National Assembly, told the speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly, Jihad al-Lahan, “The Syrian people are struggling against the powers of international imperialism in order to preserve Syrian sovereignty and independence; the victory of Syria is an important matter to Venezuela.” (Sana News Agency, July 2) 

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