Sunday, September 22, 2013

Truest statement of the week

There is no doubt that this apparent decline in Black aversion to U.S. foreign aggressions has everything to do with the color (and party) of the commander-in-chief. For all the right historical reasons, African Americans have always been highly skeptical of U.S. motives abroad. With Obama nominally in charge, such righteous Black skepticism of “American” (meaning, white) motives is less operative.

--  Glen Ford, "Black America More Pro-War Than Ever" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

I am not advocating for a revolutionary Left, at least not in public (and not in earshot of the NSA, FBI, and CIA, whereby mass surveillance in the name of counterterrorism will be increasingly turned in the direction of antiradicalism at home, as foreign policy itself increasingly takes on China, Russia, and heretofore Third World countries rapidly industrializing), but I do think rejection of Obama must be the minimum litmus test of the genuine progressive, whom—without quibbling over definitions (an age-old malady of the sectarian Left)—one can comfortably term sufficiently critical of capitalism, hegemonic plans and aspirations, military preparations and the interventions to which they lead, indifference to job creation, mortgage foreclosures, and entrenched poverty, and not least, the expansion of Executive Power and a POTUS intimately involved in targeted assassination, as to qualify. In a better day or thoroughly-achieved political democracy, Obama’s record would be seen as repugnant to humankind.

-- Norman Pollack, "The Flatulent 'Left'" (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?

9-27-2013.  E-mails ask, "What's with the note?"  I (Jim) usually do this every edition.

This was the second one without any details (until now).  The week's edition before this was a nightmare and Ava and C.I. had no interest in participating in the note.  Usually, I type it up and get input as I type.  I knew not to press them, they wee that upset and frustrated.  

For this edition?

Sunday, they wrote the TV piece I asked for and did so early Sunday morning before heading off for LA and the Emmys.

And then?

We didn't have enough content so I caught C.I. on the phone at an Emmy after party and got her to agree to do "The KRG Elections" piece with me.

This was actually a pretty well varied edition with a little bit of everything.

This Sunday, the plan is to do a piece on comics -- I think we did that last in July.  It may have been June.

Anyway, this is just a mini-note since a number of you feel short changed by the lack of a note.

Everyone except Ava, C.I. and Jess worked on the editorial, the home remodel and the TESR test kitchen pieces.  Mike and the gang did the highlights.  Jess wrote his own piece.

Most popular piece?  

With over 100,000 views, it's Ava and C.I.'s TV article.


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

Editorial: Iraq Can Wait?

A column for the Jerusalem Post yesterday by Charles Bybelezer was headlined "Iraq is lost."  Bybelezer blames US President Barack Obama -- for his enabling of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki despite Nouri's ever-increasing authoritarian streak.


And certainly, violence is on the rise in Iraq.  Today Yang Yi (Xinhua) reports, "At least 15 people were killed and 35 others wounded in a bomb attack in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Sunday, police said.W.G. Dunlop (AFP) adds, "The UN warned on Sunday against revenge attacks in Iraq after two blasts killed 73 people in a Shiite area of Baghdad a day after a Sunni mosque was bombed."  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 815 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. 

And yet Barack and Secretary of State John Kerry can't focus on Iraq, can't talk about Iraq. They just keep yammering away trying to start a war on Syria.

At what point are Americans going to ask why billions of tax dollars continue to go into Iraq?  Especially considering that the money is just propping up a (US-installed) dictator?

At what point is the world going to tell Barack to sit his ass down and focus on Iraq and John Kerry to shut his mouth about Syria and get to work on Iraq?

The Iraqi people have been protesting for nine months.  The failure of the media to note that anniversary goes a long way towards explaining how Barack's gotten away with backing another dictator.

TV: The Tired and The Pathetic

Do you remember the Drinking Birds?  They were toys that would bend towards the water, like cranes, and then go straight up and then bend again.

We thought of them as we watched CBS This Morning last week.


Norah O'Donnell was asking Jane Fonda about the pay gap -- the differences in wages for men and women -- and how to address this issue that has been an issue for decades?

Jane did this weird backward and forward rocking (nine times in a row) while saying, "Yeah. How do we do it?  What do we do?"  She looked to Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan to answer the question Norah had specifically asked her leaving us to wonder, "Can she no longer even answer a basic question?"

A few weeks ago, we wrote a piece we didn't want to write.  But if you try to be a truth teller that means telling unpleasant truths and, equally true, it had become we either ditch Fonda or go down with her.  We wrote the piece.  And hoped that would be the last we'd have to comment on her.

Then she and her fellow Women's Media Center co-founders went on CBS This Morning.  And it was so screamingly bizarre.  [See Rebecca's "the 3 old biddies of women's media center" and Ruth's "How senile has Gloria Steinem gotten?".]  It was so bizarre that Jane's rocking/bobbing was almost normal in retrospect.

Here were three media savy women, leaders, feminists on network television being interviewed by Norah, Gayle King and Charlie Rose and what stuck us the most was how unprepared two of them were -- Gloria and Jane.

The more Gloria spoke, the less sense she made.  At one point, she was talking about how awful TV was in terms of presenting all women and presenting men of color and then she wanted to praise This Morning for having two women hosting (one of color) along side a male.  But something wasn't connecting in her brain and she worded it like this, "It has changed [representation] but not nearly enough.  I mean look at this show."

Moments like that -- senior moments? -- happened repeatedly when Gloria spoke.  As did our thinking of Fun With Dick and Jane, when Jane Fonda's character says, "Yes, Dad, I've heard that story before."

There was nothing fresh or new in her remarks.

Lifetime TV gets slammed a great deal.  That should actually happen a lot more.  Once upon a time, they had a talk show titled Attitudes and co-hosted by Linda Dano.  Attitudes actually brought Gloria on as a guest.  This was at a time when Gloria couldn't get booked for TV anywhere.  Gloria prepared for that lengthy appearance and she appeared before a much smaller TV audience than what tunes into This Morning.

She appeared to think she could wing it.  She so obviously couldn't.

Jane can wing it.  She didn't in the interview.  It was 9 to 5 all over again with Jane not wanting to outshine her female peers.

That left Robin.

And Robin didn't underwhelm or drop the baton.  She ran with it, she was the liveliest of the three.

She noted, "Women's Media Center was created by the three of us crazies to make women visible and powerful in the media."

And we don't doubt that she believes that.

We just don't think WMC has achieved that.

Only 25% of the guest on the Sunday chat shows, Norah noted, are women.

And WMC hasn't done anything to challenge that or anything else.

The Nation magazine has a female presence online.

You're welcome.

That wasn't WMC.  That was this site.  We went after them for their lousy representation of women.  We did so for a full year.  We ignored attacks, angry e-mails, offers of links and so much more if we'd only stop covering The Nation's lack of women.  At one point, we seriously considered it.  That was due to an e-mail insisting that women were being beefed up online.  So we gave it a bit and women didn't get beefed up.  So we didn't drop it.  We stayed with the topic, we shamed them for their awful record on women writers and now?

Today, you go to the website and you will encounter many women.

Again, you're welcome.

That's just one example.  We can provide many others.  We got a second season for a woman starring drama.   We did that by shaming a network exec here in our writing.  Another example?  Slut-shaming and other things were leading to undeserved attacks on the sitcom Whitney.  We were part of the group that stopped that cold.   That takes care of ABC and NBC.  And the third network of the Big Three.

A CBS higher up tells us we have made it very difficult for them to cancel shows starring women.

How did we do that?

By outlining CBS' long history of sexism, how it repeatedly has a pattern of attempting to destroy its hit shows starring women.

In fact, CBS underscores how useless WMC is.  When The New Adventures of Old Christine  got the axe, our readers weren't surprised because we had spent years going over how CBS disliked the show and was trying to destroy it.  After the show got the axe, Kari Lizer noted the sexism involved.

So you know WMC was all over it, right?


Lizer was advised by many (including her agent) to walk her statement back or CBS would ensure she was unemployable.  Our advice wasn't sought on that.  We would have said, "Don't walk it back.  CBS is full of bastards and they'll still go after you.  Amplify it, turn it into a routine.  NBC and ABC will be too delighted with the way you're smacking CBS around to worry what you might say about them."

Women eat s**t every day in the entertainment business and WMC has had nothing to say about that either.

Grasp that: "Women's Media" Center has nothing to say about that.  Women aren't doing very well of late on TV -- not even in sitcoms.  And where's WMC on that issue?  Where are they on any issue?

Gloria Steinem insisted, "We are introducing The New York Times and other media leaders to the Syrian Women's Peace Movement, to the Syrian Forum.  Which could be some of the solution."

The obvious reply is, "The solution to what?"

Because WMC -- and Fonda, Steinem and Morgan -- have refused to call out Barack's intent to go to war on Syria.

But the second thought that springs to mind is, "The WMC isn't even publishing currently.  Their most recent article is August 1st.  Do these women understand the power of the net?"

WMC isn't interested in going around The New York Times, they want to cultivate it.  Which is why the paper remains rotten.

Our third thought?  "You're welcome, Gloria."

It was so cute during the brief discussion of the Sunday chat and chews to hear Robin insist that men were in charge, they made the decisions behind the scenes.

On what shows?  We're thinking of Meet The Press under Tim Russert and the woman who produced the show.  We're thinking of how WMC couldn't even get it together enough to call out the fact that, in their 'historic guests' section, Gloria Steinem's name was mispelled.  We're the ones who take care of that too.

Again, you're welcome, Gloria.

We haven't changed the world, we're not pretending that we have.

But we can see effects we've had.  And we didn't effect change by playing nice with Charlie Rose or anyone else.

Second Wave feminism was loud and take-no-prisoners.  The Redstockings knew what they were doing.  Their demands became immediate goals and then came to be.

Gloria Steinem discovered feminism after The Redstockings were leading the way.

Gloria, since the Democratic Party's 1976 political convention, has clamped down on women's dreams and demands.  She's inserted herself as the buffer.

It's really time for her to leave the limelight.  And if you don't agree she's now damaging feminism, the 'logic' issues are only going to become more pronounced in the next years -- at which point, people will wish Gloria was urged  to step away from the stage.

As the interview wound down, Jane was talking up WMC and insisting its power was naming the problem.  "That's the first step," she chirped.

No, that's the coward's step.

When that's the only step taken, that's the coward's step.

'The problem is women aren't invited on enough programs as guests!'  That's a first step, yes.

It doesn't do a damn bit of good.  You need to name the shows,  you need to say which outlets are not booking women (or programming shows with women).

In fact, the first step actually is to stop being afraid of being disliked.

When you give that up, you'll find that you can speak any truth.  And when you're speaking real truth?  That's when you can start helping things change.

Until then?  You're just a make work project for three women to dabble in.

Behind The Briefings: Where his attention lie

shoe envy

Lisa Monaco attempts to brief the president but Barack's too filled with shoe envy to register what she's saying.   (And, no, Barack, the heels don't come in men's sizes.)

The KRG elections

Jim: This is a gasbag piece.  I asked C.I. to join me for a conversation on the KRG elections and persuaded her by pointing out that (a) it would up the Iraq coverage and (b) we didn't have a lot of serious topics this week.  Consider this a rush transcript.  The Kurdistan Regional Government is in northern Iraq.  It's three provinces -- Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahuk -- held elections on Saturday, provincial elections.  How am I doing so far?

C.I.: Perfect.  I would add, since this is a conversation, that the KRG and the central government in Baghdad both say they have a claim on Kirkuk Province -- it's disputed.

Jim: Right.  And Article 140 of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution outlined how to resolve the dispute: Hold a census and referendum.  Nouri's refused to do that, Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq.

C.I.: Correct.  Nouri became prime minister in the spring of 2006 and the Constitution called for Article 140 to be implemented by the end of 2007.  Nouri has refused to honor the Constitution.  So Kirkuk remains disputed.

Jim: And didn't get to vote, right?  No votes in Kirkuk.

C.I.: Right and wrong.  Voting was allowed in Kirkuk in April when 12 of Iraq's provinces voted.  For example, polling stations were set up to allow Iraqi security members Nouri had sent into Kirkuk to vote since they weren't in their own provinces; however, the people of Kirkuk were not allowed to vote.

Jim: 12 provinces.  Iraq has 18.  Explain about the 12 voting.

C.I.: Only the White House exceeds the press when it comes to Nouri's fan club.  In 2010, for example, before the votes were counted, NPR called it for Nouri.  Nouri's State of Law actually came in second in that election -- even after the recount.  The press laid it on thick, in April 2012, about how popular Nouri was and other nonsense.  Nouri refused to allow Nineveh and Anbar Provinces to vote in the provincial elections.  This was where the strongest protests against Nouri were taking place --

Jim: Protests which, Friday, hit the nine month mark.

C.I.: Correct.  He at first declared it was too violent for voting.  Then it was pointed out by a number of people -- including Nineveh Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi -- that Baghdad was actually seeing more violence and they were going to vote.  So then he gave one excuse after another for not letting them vote.

Jim: Could he?

C.I.: You mean legally?  I think -- Nouri's commander in chief of the military.  I think it's debatable whether or not he has the right, in that role, to call off elections.  I would argue he doesn't, others would argue differently.  However, when he changed it to other reasons including fear of voter fraud?  No, it's no longer debatable.  He doesn't have the power to cancel elections.  He grabbed powers -- yet again -- that he didn't have.  The so-called Independent High Electoral Commission is supposed to be the only body in charge of the elections.  So why did he do it?  Because he's paranoid?  Maybe.  More than likely he wanted the good news spin.  And Nineveh Province and Anbar Province were not going to vote for his State of Law political slate.

Jim: So he holds elections in April but cuts out the two provinces he'll do poorly in to make himself look better?

C.I.: That's how it looks to me.  In July, he finally allowed the two provinces to vote.  That took us to 14 voting.  Kirkuk, again, was not allowed to vote.  That brings us to 15.  The three remaining ones are under the KRG which sets its own provincial voting schedule, being semi-autonomous.

Jim: But it will vote at the same time as the other provinces in next year's parliamentary elections.

C.I.: If they take place, the KRG will vote on the same day as everyone else.

Jim: Rudaw has the following results as we discuss the elections:

KDP 38.7 % | 726,876 
Gorran 23.26 % | 436,825 
PUK 16.84 % | 316,248 
Yekgrtu 10.1 % | 189,638 
Komall 6.52 % | 122,500 
Other 4.59 % | 86,199

Jim (Con't):  The KDP did very well.

C.I.: The Kurdistan Democratic Party, headed by KRG President Massoud Barzani, did very well.  They won the most votes.  That said, Gorran's placing was also very good.  They didn't exist prior to the 2003-invasion.  It's amazing what CIA-seed money can do.

Jim: Gorran did do very good.  What's their other name?

C.I.: Change.  Percentage wise, right now, they're actually 2% less than in the 2009 elections; however, in that election KDP and PUK ran together as the Kurdistani list.  By failing to do so this go round, the PUK allowed their own weakness to be exposed.

Jim: Right.  But to me the more interesting thing was the KDP's success.

C.I.: Why is that?

Jim: The press has said repeatedly that Massoud Barzani has overstepped his bounds, that he's unpopular, etc.  And you've argued differently for two years now.  If you were wrong, KDP wouldn't be in the lead.

C.I.: I don't know where the nonsense on Barzani got started.  He's very popular.  The press has always insisted that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is popular. He's also a Kurd -- like Barzani -- and he heads what had been the other dominant party, the Patriotic Union Kurdistan.

Jim: That's right.  Going into this election, it was a two party race.  The PUK and the KDP were the dominant political parties in the KRG -- like the Democrats and the Republicans in the US.  With the results of Saturday's elections, that has now changed.

C.I.: Right.  Gorran is now one of the two dominant parties.

Jim: But back to Barzani.  The press, Joel Wing and so many others kept insisting that Barzani was passe, over, loathed, etc.  But his party got the most votes.

C.I.: Well, first of all, he's the head of the party.  Voters voted for the party.  I don't know that you can extrapolate that he's very popular just from the results of this election.  But I do think that if he was as unpopular as many in the press have tried to pretend.  If he were, I would argue, he would have dragged the KDP down and they would not have won the most votes.

Jim: Why is he popular?

C.I.: He's emerged as the Kurdish leader on the world stage. This happened as he stood up to Nouri.  In doing so, he surpassed Jalal Talabani and became a hero to the Kurdish community -- the community beyond just Iraq.  And Talabani?  He's not even in the KRG or Iraq.

Jim:  You usually note, "Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently."

C.I.: Right.

Jim: I want to talk about that but first you wrote about the KRG elections last night and included two photos.  Why these two photos?



C.I.: The first photo is of a polling station and a poll worker is helping a man with his vote.  The second photo is KRG Prime Minister  Nechervan Barzani and his wife Nabila Barzani voting in Erbil.  Why those two photos as opposed to others?  Iraq's become very repressive for women.  That's less so in the KRG.  So anytime we've got the chance to promote women, I'm going to.  Look at the way they're dressed, the women, nothing wrong with it and they are striking women.  In the KRG, women can dress as they did before the invasion.  That's not true in many parts of Iraq.

Jim: Well then I am especially glad we are running them with this article.  What's the deal with Talabani?

C.I.: I'm sorry.  What are you asking?

Jim: What's his health.

C.I.: Talk of his death is supposed to be premature.  But talk of his recovery is inflated as well.  Now that the PUK has done so poorly, there will probably be efforts to demand Talabani return to Iraq or step down.

Jim: He's been out of the country for nine months.

C.I.: Some will argue the position is ceremonial.  Who cares?  It's a position and you're either there or you're not.  Equally true, the position comes with the power to prevent legislation from passing.  If Jalal can't return to Iraq in the immediate future, the calls for him to be replaced -- which picked up over the summer -- will only grow louder.

Jim: He blew off meeting someone in April, right?

C.I.: Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi was attempting to visit him in Germany, in the hospital and he was told no.  Only in the last weeks has al-Nujaifi gone public with that story.  I think it's having the effect of making more and more people wonder just how unhealthy Talabani is.

Jim: The KRG has always been billed as the peaceful part of Iraq.  And maybe that's why they've had time to build up a working website?  I mean, you don't have to read Arabic or Kurdish, they have an English option.  It makes it a lot easier to follow events at a time when the coverage of Iraq has vanished.

C.I.: We're talking about the KRG and the elections they held yesterday -- early voting, for security forces, was Thursday -- and I'd like to point out that the US State Department has still not issued a statement.

Jim: And they're in charge of the US mission in Iraq now.

C.I.: Correct.

Jim: Another reason I'm glad we took time to note the elections then. 


From The TESR Test Kitchen

Reader Lynette rediscovered an old favorite as a result of marketing.  A big fan of the band One Direction. she'd already purchased the dolls, the figurines, the posters, the spiral notebooks, the scrapbooks, the key chains and, oh yeah, the music.

What to buy now?

Chips Ahoy Cookies!


One Direction was featured on the package in a tie-in attempting to reach, presumably, consumers who wanted to wrap their mouths around Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson -- just don't forget to swallow!

Lynette swears that the magical awesomeness of One Direction has transformed Chips Ahoy into "the best damn tasting cookies in the whole f**king world."  To which we say, "Lynette, please, language.  This product is aimed at children."

But we decided to give it a try.

One cookie a piece turned to two turned to three turned to . . . empty bag.

Do Chips Ahoy Cookies taste better if you purchase the packages with One Direction on them?  No.  But the band does remind you one of the best cookies in the country remains Chips Ahoy.

We recommend serving the cookies with an ice cold glass of milk or soda of choice.  Dunk the cookies in them and then eat.  (In the early eighties, dunking Chips Ahoy Cookies and other cookies in soda became all the rage on the set of Guiding Light with the ringleader/originator said to be actress Lisa Brown who also set the benchmark for CBS daytime acting at that time.)

For those looking for packages with One Direction on them, if you're supermarket no longer carries the packages, check out the various dollar stores in your area.  If you are seeking out the package with the little picture of the band, we're sure it's (to retest our experiment, of course, and not because you're a zealous collectors of all things.  But in case it's the latter, we hear rumors that the band may soon be signing a deal with FLEET Adult Glycerin Suppositories for their fans who'd like to put One Direction inside them.

Home Remodel Disaster

Ava and C.I. redid Trina's kitchen and living room as a result of last week's "Media: Syria's not a simple upgrade" (honest, we're not making that up, read Trina's "Mexican Corn Chowder in the New Kitchen").  It turned out great.  Marcia already had the remodel bug but it really grabbed her after she saw Trina's remodel.

She asked Ava and C.I. about her living room and what she could do quickly, easily and inexpensively.

Marcia has soft brown walls (painted two years ago and they still look great).  A red throw rug, a leather couch and matching chairs (all black), a variety of framed prints in a variety of different colored frames, a glass and black wood coffee table, three bookshelves from college (white), a black wood end table with a red vase.  Ava and C.I. suggested she go all black except the walls. 

Get a black rug, get a black vase, get black curtains for the window, get black frames for the prints and paint the bookcases black or get new black bookcases.

Marcia liked the idea and the rug worked, the frames worked, the vase and curtains were no problem.  (She had blinds and no curtains in the living room.  "I just never got around to it," she explained.)

She didn't want to paint and figured she'd just move the old book cases into her bedroom ("where they are needed badly").  So she went looking for inexpensive book cases ("cheap") and that took her to Big Lots where she found three black book cases for less than thirty a piece.

"I should have known I was headed for disaster when the man in the furniture section refused to help me load the heavy things into the cart -- he said he was waiting on someone to finish an order," Marcia explained.  "But I managed.  I then asked him to ring me up.  He couldn't even manage that.  You want to try pushing a cart with 3 five-shelf bookcases sticking out through the store without knocking things over?  I should have known right then that I needed to go elsewhere."

But she took them home and that's when disaster hit.

"I'm handy," she explains, "I can replace a washer by myself on a faucet, I can rewire an electrical socket all by myself.  I'd put together all my bookcases before.  I couldn't do these."

The problem?

Well, the problems.

The screws, nails, et al were not all there.  This was true of all three cases.  In addition, drilled hole -- drilled at the manufacturer -- did not match up.


Oh, and the instructions.  Stapled together and useless.  For example, the drawing for step 3 shows you how to attach 3 primary shelves but fails to explain how or what devices you're to use.

She was about to toss all the wood out when she mentioned the problem to Ava and C.I.


Ava and C.I. told her to get carpenter's glue.

That turned into another problem.  Marcia couldn't find it anywhere.  Not even at Home Depot.  Ava and C.I. then suggested Elmer's Wood Glue.  Glue the framework together (top piece to the two-side pieces, glue side pieces to the next set of side pieces, glue the bottom shelf, glue the shelf at the top of the first section of side panels).  Let that sit for 24 hours.  Put the pieces on plastic before you start so that the plastic will catch the falling glue.

It worked out perfect for Marcia.

"My only complaint was I had plastic freezer bags stuck to the bookcases where the glue had dripped.  But, it turns out, those just peel right off.  And I'll never buy anything to assemble at Big Lots again."

Music news of the week


Tuesday, Cher's first studio album in twelve years comes out.  Closer To The Truth is an event and, if you don't believe our word, go read Kat's "Kat's Korner: Cher's Closer To Perfection" which is a rave for this album.  While you're listening to the album, try to figure out how we get her into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because everyone knows she's earned her place there.

A call made by Jess

Picking up with Ava's "Ava's POV" from last week, I knew our friend from college was in trouble and had ended up with a room monster when I spoke to the room monster's friend Bobby or 'friend' Bobby.


Bobby explained that Room Monster never paid back debts, that Room Monster had used her dying sister (dying of cancer) for her own ends and that Room Monster was a wretched person.

Bobby pointed out that Room Monster had 'jokingly' stated that her dog and cats liked our friend better than they liked Room Monster.  That wasn't a joke, Bobby pointed out.

Room Monster was seriously pissed that the cats and dog all rushed into our friend's room and followed him around the apartment. 

It's no surprise they did that.  He neither hit them nor yelled at them.  That was the main difference between him and Room Monster.

And I really can't stand someone who abuses animals.  I really can't.

So that's when my own Taylor Swift sense kicked in ("I Knew You Were Trouble").  She was always kicking the cats or pushing them to the ground and would insist this wasn't abuse. 

Not only do I think that was abuse, I think a small two bedroom apartment with two adults is not enough for 1 large dog and five cats.  And I think refusing to take your dog for walks daily because you're too damn lazy is abuse.  You want to keep a dog without a fenced in yard?  Then you better get off your ass and walk that dog at least once a day.

Or you better admit that you are an abusive person.

If you're late to this story and thinking, "Jess, cut the woman some slack.  She probably worked all day."

She didn't.  She hadn't worked in five years.  Her sister got sick and she moved in there and leached off her sister (whom she yelled at while she laid dying -- a fact she'd admit when she was drunk off her ass).  All she did all day was lay in bed watching TV and drinking booze.

She had no excuse for not walking that dog.

She was just an abusive person.

I Wish That Ever Day Were Peace Day (Alan Grayson)

Saturday message from US House Rep Alan Grayson:

The United Nations has designated today as the International Day of Peace. The war drums pounded out quite a cacophony, earlier this month. But in the end, the Peace Train was louder. Thanks to us.

The airwaves were rife this month with elected officials, think-tank analysts, retired generals, overpaid pundits and other bloviators telling us what they thought what we needed to think. But their voices faded, as ours grew louder. Listen:

"Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace. Peace."

We prevented a war between the United States and Syria.

I made sure that our voices were heard. I said the things that so many of us were thinking, but no one else was saying.

The current count has 25 Members of the House of Representatives supporting U.S. military intervention against Syria, and 263 against it. Listen to those 263 explain their reasons, and what you'll hear is geopolitical word salad. They all have their stated reasons, but the most important reason is this: So many of us want peace, and we made them listen to us. We sang it loud and clear, in sweet, sweet harmony.

In America, this is the greatest victory for the forces of peace since the end of the war in Vietnam.

We said "no" to the military-industrial complex. We said "no" to the foreign policy establishment. We said "no" to the ratings-desperate media. We said "no" to the bloodthirsty chicken-hawks. And we made it stick.

One Congressional office after another, Democratic and Republican; liberal and conservative; north, south, east and west; all declared that their e-mails and their phone calls from constituents were running more than 100 to 1 against military intervention. One Member who has served for 20 years in Congress told me that he had never seen anything like it before.

Finally, we left the warmongers like Sen. McCain with no choice but to pull the vote on military intervention in Syria. They weren't just going to lose. They were going to get crushed.

We spoke. They listened. They had to listen.

The U.S. Congress has declared or authorized war 18 times. And now, for the first time, the U.S. Congress has declared peace. Thanks to us.

And after all, isn't that exactly the way it ought to be? Going to war should be our decision, not theirs. We pay for these wars, and we die in them. So we should decide.

Now think about this: when you first heard about the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Syria, what would have happened if you had opened your window and shouted out your views, as loud as you could?

Answer: Nothing. Nothing would have happened. Except possibly your arrest, for disturbing the peace.

It takes an organization like ours to channel your voice, magnify your voice, and direct it exactly to where it needs to be heard. Like one of those giant amplifiers that the Rolling Stones used when they performed for a live audience of 1,500,000 people at the Copacabana Beach in 2006.

This is why our campaign is such a vital organization. And why you should chip in $25 or more today, on the International Day of Peace, so that we can continue to promote the things in which you believe.

I have had the extraordinary privilege of visiting every country in the world. And thanks to that, I've seen that some things are universal. Everywhere in the world, people want to fall in love. Everywhere, people enjoy music. Everywhere, people love children, even other people's children. Everywhere, there is a taboo against violence. And everywhere, people want to live in peace.

But you can't make peace happen all by yourself. You need organizations like ours to make that happen. Which is why we deserves your support, today. On Peace Day.

I normally end each letter with the word "courage." But today, thanks to us, I have a better alternative:


Alan Grayson

"Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come.
And, I believe, it could be, that something good has begun.

Oh, I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one.
And, I believe, it could be, that someday it's going to come.

Because out on the edge of darkness, there rides a Peace Train.
Oh, Peace Train, take this country, come take me home again.

Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come.
And, I believe, it could be, that something good has begun.

Oh, Peace Train sounding louder,
Glide on, the Peace Train.
Come on now, Peace Train.

Yes, Peace Train, holy roller,
Everyone jump on the Peace Train.
Come on now, Peace Train.

Get your bags together.
Go bring your good friends, too.
Because it's getting nearer.
It soon will be with you.

Now come and join the living.
It's not so far from you.
And it's getting nearer.
Soon it will all be true.

Now I've been crying lately,
Thinking about the world as it is.
Why must we go on hating?
Why can't we live in bliss?

Because out on the edge of darkness, there rides a Peace Train.
Oh, Peace Train, take this country, come take me home again."

- Cat Stevens, "Peace Train" (1971).

[If you would like to contribute to Act Blue, click here.  Act Blue is a group that backs Democrats for office provided they aren't centrists.  To find out more about  Alan Grayson and/or to contribute to his re-election campaign, visit his campaign website.]

Working class and England (Sadie Robinson)

Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

We're working class and we know it, finds British Attitudes survey

Reports of the death of class consciousness have been greatly exaggerated according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey, says Sadie Robinson

Mass support for a TUC march against austerity in 2011
Mass support for a TUC march against austerity in 2011 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

We are told that class is outdated and that society has become more individualistic. But the latest British Social Attitudes report contradicts this.

The 30th annual survey says “not a great deal changed” in how people see class between 1984 and 2012. Most people, around 60 percent, describe themselves as working class. That’s the same as in the early 1980s. 

The survey says, “Britain retains an intriguing attachment to a working class identity”. But it’s only intriguing for those who’d swallowed the idea that the working class is smaller or less relevant today.
Around seven in ten people say class has a big impact on opportunities. Again, that’s the same as in the early 1980s.

The researchers say their findings suggest “a need for caution before accepting some of the more sweeping claims relating to individualisation”.

Indeed, they say “the last 30 years have not seen a shift towards a less collectivist Britain”.
A massive 97 percent think it’s the government’s responsibility to provide health care. And 96 percent think the government should provide a decent standard of living for older people.
More than eight in ten said the government should provide decent housing for those who can’t afford it.


And a 59 percent majority think  that the government should make sure that those out of work have a decent standard of living.

This figure has dropped dramatically from 81 percent in 1985. Interestingly much of the change in attitudes took place under Tony Blair’s New Labour as the party shifted to the right.

“It is notable that there was relatively little change in attitudes towards welfare and redistribution before Labour came to power in 1997,” the survey report says. And “the change of attitude has been most marked among Labour identifiers”.

Much of the mainstream media seized on the long-term trend of hardening attitudes towards welfare as evidence that people back cuts. But just 6 percent back cuts to spending on health, education and social benefits. 

And people were more likely to back extra spending on benefits in 2012 than in 2011— 34 percent compared to 28 percent.

Researchers say this shift is “likely to be driven by austerity and the experience of cuts”.

So 51 percent of people surveyed said unemployment benefits are too high—a drop of 11 percent since 2011. And 47 percent agreed that cutting benefits would damage too many people’s lives, up from 42 percent in 2011.

The report’s authors conclude, “Our findings raise doubts about the claim that inexorable long-term social changes are bringing about an unrelenting movement away from support for welfare or a more equal society.”

US anti-war activists visit Syria (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

U.S. anti-war activists visit Syria

By on September 19, 2013
Anti-war delegation from U.S. meet with Syrian youth at their ‘Over Our Dead Bodies’ encampment on Mount Qasioun outside Damascus  These youth have pledged to resist any imperialist attack on Syria. U.S. delegates are Ramsey Clark,  Cynthia McKinney, John Parker, Sara Flounders, Dedon Kamathi and Johnny Achi.
Anti-war delegation from U.S. meet with Syrian youth at their ‘Over Our Dead Bodies’ encampment on Mount Qasioun outside Damascus These youth have pledged to resist any imperialist attack on Syria. U.S. delegates are Ramsey Clark, Cynthia McKinney, John Parker, Sara Flounders, Dedon Kamathi and Johnny Achi.

An anti-war delegation from the United States visited Syria the week of Sept. 16 to see for themselves what is happening there. The delegation included human rights lawyer and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Cynthia McKinney, a former six-term congressperson from Georgia; Dedon Kamathi of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and Pacifica Radio; and Johnny Achi of Arab Americans 4 Syria in Los Angeles. The International Action Center, which pulled together the delegation, sent key organizers John Parker from Los Angeles and Sara Flounders from New York.

Below are reports from the delegation, condensed from emails and a phone interview conducted by Andrea Sears of WBAI radio with Flounders and Syrian youth organizer Ogarit Dandash. It can be heard online at

Sara Flounders: “Today [Sept. 17], we are visiting a youth resistance encampment called Over Our Dead Bodies on Qasioun Mountain. It is the site of TV and communication towers overlooking Damascus. This is a human shield commitment made by hundreds of youth every day and at least 100 every night against U.S. bombing. It was begun two weeks ago, when it seemed a U.S. strike was imminent.
“What we’re involved in on this trip is people-to-people resistance, meeting people from neighborhood defense teams, also meeting people at a displaced persons center whose homes had been destroyed by the U.S.-supported rebel forces.
“Today, we visited such a center of about 300 people — 65 families in a public school in the Mezzeh neighborhood of Damascus. Families of from six to 10 people share one classroom. It is crowded! But at least families are assured shelter, good food for the kids, medical care and meds, and classes.
“We also visited a military hospital where victims of gas attacks and sniper and shrapnel fire were being treated.
“We earlier had a meeting with the Grand Mufti of Syria. He is the top Sunni religious leader and stands with the government in defense of a secular state for all religions. Because of his position and because he refused to join the Islamic right-wing jihadists, his son was publicly assassinated almost two years ago.
“He had planned to visit the U.S. this past summer to hold meetings with many Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders on the importance of a society based on tolerance. But the U.S. denied his visa.
“Day and night, we hear the boom of civil defense mortars and some heavy explosives, but most parts of Damascus are secure. It is a beautiful, modern, clean city with wide boulevards. Everything here is still well lit, even street lights all functioning. The infrastructure is pretty incredible. The housing blocks everywhere we have been are very modern. Everywhere are Syrian flags and enormous patriotic fervor.
“Women are especially outspoken about what is at stake here, when they compare it to what the future holds in Iraq or Libya.”

Ogarit Dandrash: “I am usually a journalist, but now I am an activist. The experience in Iraq has taught us. We don’t trust the U.S. government. Only when the Syrian government says we have an agreement and it is safe now will we go back to our schools or our jobs. Until then, we will stay at the encampment here.”

John Parker: “There was great relief when it seemed that President Obama had called off the attack. But over the last few days, Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made it clear that an attack is not off the table. A U.S. attack on Syria would destroy what is a very modern, developed country with results like what we’ve seen already in Iraq and Libya, which once had the highest standard of living in Africa and is now in chaos.”

Delegation members have played a big role in organizing anti-war actions in the U.S. since the U.S. government began threatening Syria during the last week of August. They intend to use their experience in Syria to strengthen their anti-war organizing among the U.S. population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. military action against Syria.

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.


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

"Mexican Corn Chowder in the New Kitchen," "The remodel bug" and "Sconces" -- Trina and Marcia on remodeling.

"Carolyn Cassady" -- Ann notes a passing. 

"The Female Brando" -- Betty covers a book.

"knots landing," "Bare Essence," "Under The Dome," "revenge, scandal and dynasty," "Ugliest actor alive" and "Revenge"-- Rebecca, Elaine, Betty and Stan cover TV.

"Pat Smith (Benghazi)" and "House Oversight Committee hearing" -- Ruth covers a Congressional hearing. 

"Zero Dark Thirty," "The Nude Bomb" and "The Family falters" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Kerry insists Obama must be bombed!" and "THIS JUST IN! KERRY GOES BALLISTIC ON OBAMA!";  "Barry O delays bombing self, cites public opinion" and "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O DELAYS BOMBING OF SELF!";  and  "Barack tentatively agrees to bomb White House" and "THIS JUST IN! BARACK AGREES TO BOMB SELF!" -- Cedric and Wally cover the saga.

"Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Syria" -- Mike on Syria.

"the 3 old biddies of women's media center" and "How senile has Gloria Steinem gotten?" -- Rebecca and Ruth on TV 'news'.  

"The paper of war" -- Elaine on NYT,

"On being a member of the Green Party" -- Ann breaks it down.
"Music Videos," "Janis Ian" and "Melinda Hughes' video" -- Kat covers music.
"A nun calls out Barack's war lies" -- Mike notes how low Barack has fallen. 
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