Sunday, May 11, 2014

Truest statement of the week

The Obama administration is in a makeover frenzy, cosmetically cleaning up its corporatist act for the sake of the lame duck president’s legacy and endangered Democrats in Congress. Evils must be reapportioned in the public mind, so that the balance between lesser and greater abominations is perceived to tilt in the Democrats’ favor – a tough trick, given the beating the party’s base constituencies have taken since 2008 at the hands of the duopoly Dem-Rep tag-team. Historical revisionism is, thus, the order of the day.

-- Glen Ford, "Jail the Bankers? Obama Has Been Their Staunchest Defender" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

In the case of the White House's machinations about what happened in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, what we observe is the opposite of "transparency."
Investigators from the House of Representatives subpoenaed from the White House an e-mail written by Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Obama. It was never provided. But the White House was forced to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the watchdog group Judicial Watch. The e-mail reveals how the White House developed a narrative about Benghazi which, it seems, had little relationship to what really happened. It blamed a video, rather than terrorists, for the attack, lest voters came to believe that terrorism had not been finally defeated, as the White House sought to proclaim.

Now, a House select committee will be investigating what really happened in Benghazi and how the White House handled the matter. Our most "transparent" administration has already declared that many of the documents the committee will seek have been classified as top secret---something the president has the power to do for any reason he chooses, Republicans, however, can hardly complain---because they are the ones who gave this power to President George W. Bush. Of course, the committee can subpoena the records and a federal judge will finally decide whether of not they will be released.

-- Allan C. Brownfield, "The Obama Administration May Be Our Least -- Not Most -- 'Transparent' Administration" ( 


A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Glen Ford on the attempts to rewrite recent history.
This is Allan C. Brownfield's first truest.
Finally, Nouri's attacks on civilians in Falluja (War Crimes) are getting a bit of attention from the press. 

Ava and C.I. insist next week will be a "simple review of one show."  But they've been insisting that for weeks now.  This is another strong piece of reporting.

Barack's gone from braless startlet to pitchwoman for Wal-Mart.
The slumped shoulders, the bad wig, the caked on lipstick and, on top of all that, she wants to make a kidnapping in a foreign country all about herself.
What we listened to while working on this edition.

We felt this was a Tweet that needed amplification.
Marcia brought this idea to the table. 
A repost of Sherwood Ross.
A repost of the American Legion. 
A repost from Workers World. 
A repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker. 
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

We'll see you next week.


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

Editorial: The silence cracks

Iraq must be a lot safer with Nouri's forcces attacking the people in Falluja.

  • Yeah, everyone must be sleeping easy now that the 'dangerous' child was taken care of.

    Nouri's been killing Iraqi civilians every day and getting away with it for months now.

    The US government is giving him even more weapons this despite the fact that he's using them on the Iraqi people.

    Thursday,  NINA reported his shelling of residential areas of Falluja left 13 civilians dead ("including a woman, three children")  and twenty-one more were injured.

    That same day, the silence in the US was finally broken.

    Janine di Giovanni (Newsweek) reported:

    “First it was hospitals, then densely populated civilian areas,” says Erin Evers from Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Baghdad. “Now it’s neighborhoods where people are just trying to live.”
    The tragedy in Fallujah was barely noticed in the run-up to the Iraqi parliamentary elections, which took place on April 30, the first national elections since U.S. troops pulled out of the country in 2011. No one much paid attention because violence has become a trademark in this campaign.
    Since January, when the Shia-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began a campaign of retaliation against the Sunni-backed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām, it is estimated that 4,000 have been killed, or roughly 1,000 a month. Researchers on the ground say 20 to 30 percent of the dead are children. Meanwhile, government forces have killed 348, according to Iraq Body Count.

    Will others follow suit?

    Already AP kind of has.  Kind of.

    But some western outlet will.

    Especially now that Al Jazeera's reporting:

    Shelling by the Iraqi army in the city of Fallujah has killed more civilians, hospital sources and witnesses have said, amid allegations that government forces were using barrel bombs in an attempt to drive out anti-government fighters from the area, 
    The use of barrel bombs in civilian areas is banned under international conventions given their indiscriminate nature.

    But Mohammed al-Jumaili, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera that the army has dropped many barrel bombs "targeting mosques, houses and markets" in Fallujah.

    And questions will arise.

    Such as why did the US government refuse to call out this slaughter?

    Such as why did the US government continue to provide Nouri with weapons?

    TV: The feedback, the fallout, the failures

    "You deliberately pimped Nashville to get it a second season!" was one reaction to our "TV: Black Box illustrates ABC's big problem" from last week. Another was:  "Clever girls, basically blackmailing ABC execs into renewing Nashville by springing a trap on them where if they cancel it they're admitting it's a flop and you've already made the case that the flop was ABC's promotion of the show."  One complained about "TV: Bad Sitcom" from two weeks ago and specifically about this line: " But the mild scripts did nothing for us and if eye candy could keep a series alive all on its own, Fox would have already renewed Almost Human."

    "I hope you get," the complainer hissed, "that when you wrote that line you signed the death sentence for Almost Human."


    "Well, Ava and C.I.," our readers say, "e-mails come with the territory."

    No doubt they do.

    But the above aren't from e-mails.  They were phone calls and a face-to-face.

    The first is from a friend who worked on Believe, the second is from a friend who worked on Intelligence and the third from a friend who worked on Almost Human.

    Those were not the only ones complaining.  Nor do we believe the complaining will cease with this new week.

    Reality, the networks dicked a lot of people around this go round.

    Execs -- including one at ABC who does feel we attempted to paint the network into a corner with regards to Nashville -- insisted to us that it seemed like a nonstop lottery of cancellations because they were doing everything they could to try to find a way to keep the shows that got cancelled -- all the shows, except of course Bad Teacher.  CBS hated that show more than even we did.

    And in trying to keep the shows, they went over everything.  They went over budgets, they went over other projects that performers might have coming up which could provide new life to struggling shows, they went over ratings from previous seasons, they went over coverage in old media and new media.

    "You just don't get," a VP of programming told us, "how hard we worked on this."

    Actually, what we got was that this spring the suits finally did the work they were too lazy to do in past seasons when they cancelled on whims.

    Cancelled and renewed on whims, countered a programming exec at Fox.

    Well touche.

    If the writers for the failed and cancelled sitcom Dads had thought up comebacks even half as quickly, the show might still be on.

    And while we applaud them for doing their job and working until the last minute (to be clear, they worked until the last minute, they did not wait until the last minute to start working). as one show after another got the axe, the mood in the entertainment community continued to drop.

    One sitcom show runner (whose show was renewed) told us, "It was like being in the office where no one won the Superbowl pool."

    Repeating, his show got renewed.

    The dragged out process that suddenly picked up as ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC all went Lizzie Borden on us felt like an assault to so many.

    An actress whose hour long show got canned told us her first thought was how so many just lost their jobs -- "Make up, hair, the crew, the crafts . . ."

    As friends stumbled around shell shocked, a number, especially those at NBC (whose shows survived or whose shows were cancelled) seemed to zero in on one series.


    How, pray tell, did the depressed and depressing show that makes The Killing look like John Huston's Annie manage to survive?

    Sometimes, the best thing that can happen for a series is to get the axe.  Certainly, the alternative, an unworthy show continuing, can actually lead to examination.

    Hannibal has no redeeming values.  It's a snuff show.

    Years ago, hosting Saturday Night Live, Matt Damon spoofed a Hannibal show that wound up on The WB and was based on Hannibal's college years.  That show would have been an improvement over NBC's pile of s**t which stars failed film actor Hugh Dancy and -- start saving your pennies now -- future trick Mads Mikkelsen.  Between the two of them, they manage to suggest two emotions: Dazed and bored.

    The latter is what most viewers have felt watching this crap. Which is why the initial audience for the first episode fled.  The second season saw further erosion.

    There's a lie being pimped by The Water Cooler Set that Dracula did a little bit better in the Friday time slot for its ten episodes, a little bit better than the second season of Hannibal has done in the same time slot.


    Dracula did a lot better.

    Dracula was a new show that had to find an audience.

    And it had to do so on a Friday night.

    We're not slamming NBC for putting the show on that night.  Friday has to be programmed.  (We also believe Saturday needs to as well -- part of the erosion in viewers the networks face currently is due to their failure to program wisely and, yes, regularly.)

    Dracula did significantly better than second season Hannibal in the ratings.

    Its lowest rated episode was 2.4 million people and its second lowest was 2.78 million.  Hannibal's lowest (so far) is 2.18 and second lowest is 2.25.

    Hannibal is in season two.  Posting those kind of numbers in your second season is proof that you'll never be a hit.

    But how some do try to fool themselves.

    Take Sady Doyle.  Last March, Elaine called out the media critic for In These Times after Doyle not only praised the crappy show but tried to pass it off as a feminist show.

    We generally like Doyle's writing and observations but this one was appalling and we had to walk away until we could calm down.  We're still not to that point all these weeks later.

    For Doyle to praise a show with no lead female character as 'feminist'?  For her to praise a show on NBC as 'feminist' during the same season when not one new series on NBC revolved around a female lead character?  For her to praise as 'feminist' a show that says nothing about women?

    Thank you, Sade, for lowering the bar for the networks and making our jobs that much harder.

    It was stupidity.

    We don't know who got Sade's panties wet but, as Ann would put it, "Stop thinking with your clit. You're embarrassing us all."

    This season of the 'classy' show, Hannibal's distinguished itself by featuring such 'wonderful' scenes as Hannibal removing body parts from a man who continued to live and then forcing the man to eat the 'meat' from those body parts, informing him he can eat himself or he can die.

    This is the level in the gutter the show sinks to.

    It debases our culture, it debases us all.

    It isn't entertainment, it's gore.  It's a snuff show.

    It's stylized and glamorized violence.

    We embrace art.  That's art that succeeds.  That's art that fails but tries.  That's art that puzzles.

    Hannibal isn't art.  It has no redeeming quality.

    It's porn.

    And we didn't call for it to be censored when we reviewed it last year.  We knew the ratings and (wrongly) assumed it would get the axe.  As we pointed out, the bomb that was Prime Suspect got better numbers in Hannibal's slot.

    Now it's gotten even worse ratings in the second season.

    This is a show that drags everyone through the gutter.

    And, thankfully, most in the country have rejected it.

    But NBC elects to renew it.

    3.61 million.  What's that?

    The lowest rated episode of the series Crisis.  The lowest episode (thus far) of Crisis still beat the highest rated episode of Hannibal this season (thus far) but NBC cancelled Crisis last week.  (Crisis and Hannibal both still have episodes NBC plans to air.)

    4.25 is the lowest rated episode of Believe so far.  And last week?  NBC cancelled Believe.

    'That's not fair,' someone whines.  'Those are Sunday shows.'

    Fine, let's look at Grimm.  It's ratings are usually double those of Hannibal (at least double) and Grimm airs on Friday nights and on NBC as well.  It airs right before Hannibal, in fact.  Let's look at May 2nd. 4.93 million viewers tuned in for Grimm.  How many stayed for the next show?  Not many.  Hannibal had significant erosion from the lead-in.  2.28 million people watched the May 2nd episode of Hannibal.  You can do that with any week.  Grimm delivers an audience and then this audience runs like crazy to avoid Hannibal.

    The show no one was watching should have gotten the axe.  What's going to happen now is you're going to see vocalized hatred of the show as people start noticing that NBC killed off a lot of programs that delivered while keeping the vile and disgusting Hannibal around for another low rated season.

    We're dealing with a lot of anger ourselves.

    And we'll listen to various friends vent.  We won't correct them or disagree.  They'll vent and we'll say, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

    On the phone and face-to-face, that's what we'll do.

    But here?

    We're not the reason Almost Human got cancelled.  When Fox aired the series out of order, that guaranteed the show would be cancelled.

    Believe?  The lead character is played by a 10-year-old and we don't critique (positively or negatively) child actors.  So how the hell were we going to manage to review that show?

    Intelligence?  We were being kind by ignoring it.

    Trust us, no one with that show would have liked what we would have written.

    Mixology?  Trophy Wife?  Back in the Game?

    The ABC sitcoms were largely known for being mild.  Not funny.  You can toss in CBS'  The Crazy Ones as well.

    The ABC trio?

    Dull as dishwater.  Badly acted.

    See, acting in a sitcom?

    It needs to be funny.

    The wrong tone and the joke is lost.  Even more important is timing.  Tina Fey doesn't have it (as the live episodes proved) so 30 Rock attempted to create the timing via editing.  And 30 Rock was the lowest rated long running sitcom NBC had.

    Meaning that little 'fix' didn't fix a damn thing.

    The writing on The Crazy Ones got better.  The acting did not.  The cast desperately need the lift and energy a studio audience would have provided.

    Friends With Better Lives we would have renewed.  With the exception of Zoe Lister-Jones, the cast was pretty bad in the first episode.  James Van Der Beek used his own awkwardness and it ended up adding layers to the character as the series continued.  Rick Donald was so pretty but so bad.  He improved significantly.  Brooklyn Decker and Majandra Delfino began to explore their roles and their moments and Kevin Connolly developed into a sharp and funny actor.

    While the ABC shows sunk with each episode, Friends With Better Lives got better with each episode.

    That's what happens with a live audience, shows improve.

    We've written repeatedly, since the start, that sitcoms need live audiences.

    For those who struggle with reality, PBS is currently airing their series Pioneers of Television.

    If you caught Bob Newhart, you caught why a studio audience is needed as he discussed his second hit sitcom Newhart:

    The writing was better and the actors were better because of the live audience. And the first time we used Larry, Darryl, and Darryl, I said, 'Oh, that's kind of a dangerous work.' And he said, 'It wasn't work. I just enjoy crawling under houses.' And then when they leave, they get another 20 seconds of [applause].  But without a live audience, we wouldn't have known that. Because immediately after the show, I went to the writers and said, 'You know, let's write another script with these guys in it. The audience loved them'."

    And another guest spoke about studio audiences on another episode of Pioneers of Television:

    People forget that Chaplin, when he did a lot of his movies, was performing in front of people.  That they sometimes would have -- a lot of the silent comedians would have like -- because there was no soundtrack -- they'd have an audience there, they knew where the laughs were.  Or he would take it out as stage productions.  Like the Marx Brothers did all of their movies as stage productions first so they knew where all the laughs were. 

    All the Marx Brothers films weren't first stage productions -- only their first two films (The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers).

    We have no idea what Chaplin did.

    But among the people who forgot?

    Robin Williams.

    The Crazy Ones needed a studio audience.  Robin needed it to spark off of and it would have helped his co-stars.

    We're hoping Robin Williams would agree with that because he's the one who made the Chaplin and Marx Brothers remarks on Pioneers of Television.

    And Dick Van Dyke wondered in his segment how people could do sitcoms today without studio audiences and all that they add to the filming?

    The clear answer is that they can't.  Modern Family isn't laugh out loud funny.  And a studio audience probably would have prevented the latest embarrassing 'drama' -- Mitch's father can't accept his son marrying a man.  After five seasons, this is where we are?  How embarrassing.  (And apparently we're supposed to forget this was already dealt with in the episode when Jay and his golf buddies bump into Cam whom Jay introduces as a friend of his son's.)  It's so embarrassing and so tired.

    And it's always needs a little moral, a little 'you see, Timmy' moment to go out on when a good sitcom goes out on a laugh.  This crappy rip off of the Christopher Guest movies (which are hilarious and never feel the need to moralize) isn't funny.  Nor was The Courtship of Eddie's Father or any of those other bad sitcoms of the 60s.

    The sixties rejected the studio audiences of the 50s.  Lucille Ball didn't.  I Love Lucy had a studio audience and so did her two shows of the 60s Here's Lucy and The Lucy Show.  But studio audiences weren't supposed to be 'cool' anymore.  And they could do so much more without them, these idiots just knew.  But it's The Dick Van Dyke Show that never stops airing.

    As one comedy after another bites the dust on TV, you'd think everyone would start noticing that the funny ones that the audience will watch?  It's 2 Broke Girls, Mom, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly -- Hell, even Hollywood Game Night has a studio audience and that's part of what provides the pacing on that show.

    The lesson of this season is that the networks are finally realizing there are problems and making serious considerations about what to keep and what to kill.  The bad news is that even in this heightened reality (or what passes for it in the entertainment industry) a flop show like Hannibal is going to be allowed to stink up the airwaves for a third season.  Baby steps, let's remember, baby steps.  Spring 2014, when the network drones finally reached self-awareness.  Let's hope they handle the moment better than Skynet does in The Terminator universe.

    Whoring the office yet again

    On Friday, Wal-Mart was in the news.  Jonathan Stempel (Reuters) reported the latest scandal for the corporation whose image makes Simon Legree look like Mary Poppins.  US Magistrate Judge Erin Setser declared there was no merit in Wal-Mart Stores motion to dismiss "a lawsuit claiming it defrauded shareholders by concealing suspected corruption at its Mexico operations, even after learning that a damaging media report detailing alleged bribery was being prepared."

    There's even suspicion that Wal-Mart "violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

    So you'd think people would avoid associating themselves with the monster corporation.

    You would be wrong.

    The President of the United States, Barack Obama, took time out from his hoops, golfing and photo sessions to abuse the office by whoring for Wal-Mart.

    In fact, his visit took place as the judge was denying Wal-Mart's motion.

    Despite this, Barack used the media power of the office to highlight the corrupt corporation which was the topic of Robert Greenwald's documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices.


    His whoring may have shocked the last few faithful still in the Cult of St. Barack.  As Dave Jamieson (Huffington Post) reminded:

    The White House's coziness with Walmart was a little harder to imagine around the time of Obama's first presidential run. Back then, candidate Obama took the standard progressive line of denouncing Walmart as a low-wage boogeyman. In 2007, the then-senator declared to an AFL-CIO town hall forum that he wouldn't shop at Walmart stores. "As profitable as they are, there's no reason they can't afford to pay" their workers a higher wage, he said.
    During Obama's bruising primary with Hillary Clinton, he even lambasted his opponent for her work on Walmart's board of directors. "If [Clinton staffers] want to defend her service to one of the least environmentally-friendly, least labor union-friendly companies in the country, they're welcome to do that," an Obama spokesman said at the time.

    Workers and their representatives didn't miss the visit, they noticed it and they decried it.  John Wildermuth (San Francisco Chronicle) reported on the outrage from labor groups and quoted the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Joe Hansen stating that Barack "will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers rights and, yes, environmental degradation."

    Jim Kuhnhenn (AP) quoted the AFL-CIO's Maria Elena Durazo stating, "While he's in California, I would hope President Obama would speak directly to Wal-Mart employees and hear from them about their daily struggles to pay the rent and put food on the table."  Durazo can hope but no such meet-up took place.  Barack played footsie with Wal-Mart while he continued to keep labor at arms' length.

    Robert Reich was the Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997.  He decried the president promoting Wal-Mart:

    More to the point, Walmart is one of the nation’s largest and worst employers – low wages, unreliable hours, few benefits, discrimination against women, and anti-union. The NLRB is investigating charges it discriminates against workers who speak out. And most of the rest of us are subsidizing Walmart by paying for the food stamps and Medicaid its workers need because Walmart doesn't pay them enough to keep them out of poverty. 

    That's who and what Barack whored for.

    B-b-but they're going green!

    No, they're using p.r. stunts to give the appearance of going green.  Stacy Mitchell (Grist) explains:

    Walmart -- despite its skill in attracting publicity like this -- is a laggard on renewable energy and one of the biggest and fastest-growing climate polluters on the planet. While many competing retailers are already running on 100 percent renewable power, Walmart’s wind and solar projects supply just 3 percent of its U.S. electricity -- and that’s down from 4 percent two years ago.
    Walmart’s fossil fuel consumption and climate emissions, meanwhile, are growing rapidly. In the last year alone, Walmart’s climate emissions rose 2 percent, or more than 500,000 metric tonnes. It now ranks just behind Chevron on the list of biggest climate polluters.

    Even worse, they're crooks.  No, we're not going back to the bribery allegations again.  We're talking about the environment:

    Walmart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.
    As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the Justice Department, as well as a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Walmart will pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct. Coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Walmart will pay a combined total of more than $110 million to resolve cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

    The news outlet we're quoting from above?  It's not one.  That's an FBI press release entitled "Walmart Pleads Guilty to Federal Environmental Crimes, Admits Civil Violations, and Will Pay More Than $81 Million" and issued May 28, 2013.

    Grasp that less than a year later, less than a year after the FBI issues the press release about Wal-Mart breaking laws, last week Barack Obama whored the office of the President of the United States to pimp for the corporation.

    He never did a damn thing to create jobs for Americans but maybe Barack's finally thinking about the future? His own.  Maybe he's setting up his end for his post-presidency whoring and possibly a seat on Wal-Mart's board of directors awaits him?

    The Narcissist Queen

    In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters . . . 

    Once you get over the slouched shoulders, the cake frosting passed off as lipstick (what will everyone in home room say!!!!), the bad wig and biceps bigger than boobs, you're left with, "In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters."

    Can she just leave it at the curb already?

    Everything in the world is not about you and your husband.

    To quote Alanis Morissette, "Spend some time alone to fill up your proverbial cup so that it doesn't always have to be about you" ("Front Row," from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie).

    This edition's playlist

    Then last Tuesday came Childhood Home.

    1) Ben Harper and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

    2) Carly Simon's Hello Big Man.

    3)  Rickie Lee Jones' The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard.

    4) Natalie Merchant's Natalie Merchant.

    5) Prince's The LOtUSFLOW3R.

    6) Sade's Soldier of Love.

    7) Jack Johnson's From Here To Now To You.

    8) White Stripes' Get Behind Me, Satan.

    9) Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm.

    10) Boy Hits Car's All That Led Us Here.

    Tweet to Believe

    If I listened long enough to you
    I'd find a way 
    To believe that it's all true
    Knowing that you lied
    While I cried
    Still I look to find a reason to believe 

    Tim Harden wrote and recorded "Reason To Believe" in 1965. It was an immediate standard with Jackie DeShannon, Cher, Scott McKenzie, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin, the Youngbloods, Peter, Paul & Mary and Glen Campbell among the many artists covering the song in the first three years after Harden had.

    In the years since, it's been recorded by Rickie Lee Jones, Neil Young, Wilson Phillips, Lynn Anderson, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, Andy Williams, Vonda Shepard, Billy Bragg and the Carpenters.

    We thought of the song when we thought of Barack Obama pimping for Wal-Mart last week ("knowing that you lied") and we thought of it again when we saw this Tweet by Robert Greenwald.

  • RT Walmart and Waltons receive tax breaks of more than $7.8 billion a year – enough to hire 105,000 public school teachers.

  • Haiku in a stained dress

    彼女の黒いベレー帽のようなモニカーは盛りを過ぎた ' 離れて行く必要があります。

    Big Sleazy Monica Lewinsky returned last week trying to drag America threw her stopped up sewer yet again.

    C.I. offered some thoughts on the matter and, as Marcia pointed out, C.I.'s final thought was a haiku.

    Like her black beret, Monica is passe and needs to go away.



    This is from Sherwood Ross.
    By Sherwood Ross
    Far from being killed by "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald, President John F. Kennedy(JFK) was mowed down by a veritable firing squad of assassins.
    At least nine, and possibly as many as 12, Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) employees participated in JFK's assassination, an authoritative new book on the subject charges. Not only was Oswald NOT one of the shooters but he was a patriotic American who in the weeks previous to JFK's slaying, warned the FBI of a plot to kill the president in Chicago.
    JFK was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, by shooters from the CIA, the Mafia, and by an aide to Vice President Lyndon Johnson(LBJ). It was LBJ who, the new book says, organized the president's murder. Shooters were stationed in six different nests in the Dealey Plaza area of Dallas, positioned to fire on the Kennedy motorcade. The CIA played the lead role in an operation organized by then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Kennedy never had a chance.
    High government officials, including FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover, as well as prominent Mafia thugs and Texas business magnates, played key roles in the financing, shooting and/or the Dallas cover-up, according to military writer and lawyer Navy Lt. Cmdr. James D. Norvell, J.D., late of Ft. Worth, Tex. At least 26 individuals were involved in one capacity or another in JFK's assassination.
    LBJ and Hoover also played key roles in the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.(MLK) on April 4, 1968, and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy(RFK) on June 6, 1968. In all three assassinations, "patsy's" such as Lee Harvey Oswald, charged with the murder of JFK, were set up to take the blame for those who did the actual killings. Innocent of the killing of RFK was Sirhan Sirhan as James Earl Ray was innocent of the slaying of Rev. King, and as Oswald was also innocent of the murder of JFK and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippitt.
    CIA officials reportedly were furious at JFK's refusal to provide needed air and naval support for their invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, and JFK's subsequent remarks that he planned to destroy the CIA, "break it into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."
    In addition to his role in the three assassinations, Norvell charges that LBJ had a number of other persons killed, including a Department of Agriculture investigator.
    Norvell spent 13 years researching the book up until the time of his death last December. An Annapolis graduate in 1964, Norvell served three tours of duty in Viet Nam and afterwards earned a law degree with honors from George Washington University.
    Upon resigning his naval commission, he worked as a trial lawyer for 30 years, including as the attorney for LBJ aide Billie Sol Estes, and won a number of major cases. His book is titled, "Treason, Treachery & Deceit: The Murderers of JFK, MLK & RFK."
    Book Names CIA Killers and Conspirators Of JFK Assassination (Pages 293-299.)
    (1) In charge of the hit teams was Major General Edward Lansdale, a CIA Black Ops expert, who, just before the killing, asked James Files(2), aged 21, formerly U.S. Army, and a CIA sharpshooter on the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, "Is everything in place?"
    (3) Jim Braden, a CIA "spotter" for Mafia sharpshooter Charles Nicoletti. (Spotters back up the shooters and afterwards work to conceal the evidence.)
    (4) David Atlee Phillips, a.k.a. Maurice Bishop, head of the Mexico City CIA station, who supplied Files with one of the rifles used to fire at JFK.
    (5) CIA marksman David Sanchez Morales, who shot from the roof of the County Records Building, and was possibly the best of the CIA snipers.
    (6) William K. Harvey, known inside the CIA as "James Bond" for his specialty of assassination. He was head of the CIA's Berlin Operations Base and was assigned operations control of the entire JFK execution.
    (7) E. Howard Hunt, one of the three "tramps" arrested at Dealey Plaza, a CIA agent later to gain notoriety for his role in Watergate. 
    (8) Frank Sturgis, another of the tramps and later Watergate conspirator, who brought weapons to the assassination site.
    (9) Rip Robertson, CIA contract killer.
    In addition, the Norvell book identifies "probable" members of the CIA hit teams to include:
    (10) Felix Rodriguez, Cuban exile and known CIA assassin.
    (11) Orlando Bosch, known CIA assassin.
    (12) Freddy Lugo, CIA contract assassin.
    The business executives financing the operation called themselves the 8-F Group. (The group was formed in the 1940s to promote the interests of the Southwest, particularly Texas, and named for its original meeting place, a suite in Houston's Lamar Hotel.)
    The Book Names Non-CIA Conspirators in JFK Assassination
    Crime syndicate figures involved, Norvell wrote, included (13) Marshall Caifano, of the Chicago crime syndicate, probably the shooter from the South Grassy Knoll. Sam Giancana, the Chicago crime boss, is said to have induced underlings (14)John Rosselli, (15)Charles Nicoletti, and (16)Richard Cain, to also join the hit teams. The assassination was also supported by Carlos Marcello, New Orleans crime boss. Other shooters likely included:
    (17) Gary Eugene Marlow, a friend of Files, said to have shot officer Tippitt outside the Texas Theater.
    (18) Malcolm E. Wallace, LBJ's personal hit man who killed at least seven other persons for him. His fingerprints were found on boxes in the "sniper's nest" at the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the Texas State Book Depository(TSBD). The book charges Wallace murdered those LBJ wanted killed: Henry Marshall, George Krutilek, Harold Orr, Ike Rogers, Coleman Wade, Josefa Johnson, (the president's sister,) and John Kinser, as well as JFK. (See below.)
    (19) Financing the assassination were Texas oil magnates, H.L. Hunt, Syd Richardson(20), and Clint Murchison(21), who hosted a meeting to finalize assassination plans in his home just before the assassination.
    (22) FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, was probably the "main coverup man," Norvell writes, providing false stories to protect the real killers. 
    Also complicit(Page 297) were four Secret Service agents on duty that day, notably: Roy Kellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge(23); Gerald Behn, Chief of the White House Secret Service detail(24);  Floyd Boring, Assistant Special Agent in Charge(25);  and Emory Roberts, Secret Service Shift Leader(26). The group managed to get the Dallas police to cut their motorcycle escort in half, to keep the accompanying motorcycles behind the presidential limousine; and to stop the motorcade when shots were fired, giving the snipers a stationary target. 
    Henry Marshall: Agriculture Department investigator Marshall, 52, was examining LBJ aide Billie Sol Estes's cotton allotments.
    George Krutilek: Billie Sol Estes's CPA, was found dead in the desert near Clint, Tex., two days after being interviewed by the FBI.
    Josefa Johnson: LBJ's alcoholic sister, was killed Christmas Eve, 1961, by Mac Wallace with an overdose of barbiturates. 
    Harold Orr, president of Superior Manufacturing Co., of Amarillo, and tied to Estes, just before starting to serve his prison sentence, was found dead in his garage of carbon monoxide inhalation.
    Howard Pratt, Chicago office manager of Commercial Solvents, Estes's fertilizer supplier, also was found dead in his car as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    Coleman Wade, an Estes associate of Altus, Okla., and a target of a U.S. government investigation into Estes, died in a mysterious plane crash near Kermit, Tex.
    The book, "Treason, Treachery, and Deceit: The Murderers of JFK, MLK & RFK" by James D. Norvell, may be ordered through, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and nook books, among others.
    The book has been widely acclaimed and endorsed, including by military writers. Brig. Gen. John H. Grubbs, Ret., PhD, who refers to it as "a spellbinding masterpiece." Douglas Horne, former Chief Analyst for Military Records of the Assassination Records Review Board, writes, "Mr. Norvell does not pull any punches and does not sugarcoat the assassination in any way." And Barr McClellan, author of "How LBJ Killed JFK," and former law partner of LBJ attorney Ed Clark, praises Norvell "for bringing us nearer to the solution to the most horrific crime in American History, horrific for what it did to one man and his family, horrific for what it did to America, and horrific for the failure of the authorities to mete out justice."
    On the book's cover is the following statement: "This historical novel solves all three murders and refutes government propaganda." The book is 585 pages in length.

    (This news release prepared by media consultants Sherwood Ross Associates, consultants to book publishers including those publishing this book. Reach Sherwood Ross at or write to him in care of Ross Associates, 102 S.W. 6th Avenue, Miami, FL, 33130. Phone: (305) 205-8281.)

    American Legion calls for resignations at the VA

    Last week, the American Legion is calling for the resignations of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, VA's Dr. Robert Petzel and the VA's Allison Hickey.

    In front of local media and a live Internet audience, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger today called for the resignations of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey.

    Dellinger cited poor oversight and failed leadership as the reason for calling for the resignations – something The American Legion hasn’t done regarding a public official in more than 30 years.

    “Gen. Eric Shinseki has served his country well,” Dellinger said. “His patriotism and sacrifice for this nation are above reproach. However, his record as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs tells a different story. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks.”

    Dellinger pointed to allegations from multiple whistleblowers of a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA Health Care System that may have resulted in the death of approximately 40 veterans, that VA previously had acknowledged that 23 veterans throughout the health-care system have died as a result of delayed care in recent years, and a the findings of an investigation by VA’s Office of Medical Inspector that clerks at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency's goal of 14 days, according to the investigation.

    “These disturbing reports are part of what appear to be a pattern of scandals that has infected the entire system,” said Dellinger, noting issues that have come up in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Augusta, Ga. “Those problems need addressed at the highest level – starting with new leadership. The existing leadership has exhibited a pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership that has been amplified in recent weeks.”

    Dellinger said that the failure to disclose safety information or to cover up mistakes is unforgivable – as is fostering a culture of nondisclosure. “VA leadership has demonstrated its incompetence through preventable deaths of veterans, long wait times for medical care, a benefits claims backlog numbering in excess of 596,000, and the awarding of bonuses to senior executives who have overseen such operations,” he said. “Some veterans have waited years to have their claims decided. That same leadership has failed to provide answers to why these issues continue to occur.”

    Dellinger said that while errors and lapses can occur in any system, “The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable. This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top. “

    When asked by media what the Legion would do if the trio didn’t resign, Dellinger said a draft of the request was being sent to the White House. “This is a very serious situation,” he said. “The administration needs to take steps now. It’s long overdue. Whenever you’re talking about a patient’s life – a veteran’s life – in jeopardy, it’s always serious.”

    Dellinger also wrote an op-ed piece calling for the resignations. Read it here

    Peace March says: ‘Ban killer drones’

    This is from Workers World:

    Peace March says: ‘Ban killer drones’

    By on May 9, 2014

    Human rights activists walked from Ft. Benning, Ga., to the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta during the days from April 26 to May 8 to bring attention to the role played by these institutions in the illegal and criminal drone warfare being carried out by the U.S. This “Right to Peace” march was sponsored by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition with cooperation from SOAWatch.

    The goal of the march was to tie together the decades-long policies of repression and extrajudicial killings practiced by Latin American officers and soldiers trained at the notorious School of the Americas, based at Ft. Benning, with the high tech murder by drones equipped with missiles and bombs that terrorize communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

    Ft. Benning is also a testing site for newer drones made possible by research being done at Georgia Tech to build fully autonomous ones that will operate from a computer program, locate a target and destroy it without any human intervention or guidance.

    The peace walkers made a side trip to the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., a Corrections Corporation of America facility that holds almost 2,000 immigrant detainees in inhumane conditions and often for months and even years, without legal due process. While holding a brief vigil at the gates, they had an opportunity to talk with family members of the detainees who must travel long distances to this rural location to visit their loved one for a single hour. Many of those held inside detention centers fled the violence and poverty created by U.S. policies in their home country.

    The Right to Peace walk went through a number of small to medium towns and cities, carrying their signs such as “When Drones Fly, Children Die” and “Stop Killer Drones,” slogans which evoked honks of approval and questions from passersby, leading to thoughtful conversation and rarely, hostile responses.
    The last three miles of the walk began at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center with a short rally, and then proceeded along Peachtree Street, ending at Georgia Tech in front of the building where graduation ceremonies were to take place.

    Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOAWatch, who walked the entire way, called on the Georgia Tech administration to educate for peace and to reject militarism and violence. He invited the students to join the movement for peace and justice, to help ban drone warfare and to close the School of the Americas.

    Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

    British state manoeuvres lie behind the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

    Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    British state manoeuvres lie behind the arrest of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

    by Simon Basketter

    Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein
    Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein (Pic: Sinn Fein/flickr)

    Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, was arrested last week. 

    The arrest was in connection with the 1972 abduction and killing of Jean McConville. Jean McConville was a widow and mother of ten alleged by the IRA to have been an army informant.

    She was a Protestant in a mixed marriage who had moved to the Lower Falls area after loyalists drove her and her husband out of east Belfast.

    Adams, former MP for Belfast West and now a member of the Irish parliament, denied any part in the killing.
    Tory Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers said, “We believe in the rule of law and that people who committed terrorist crimes must face the consequences if the evidence exists to prosecute.”

    The Tories are keen to move away from investigations into state terror and British involvement with sectarian murder. Villiers said there would be a “fresh approach” to the past. It will focus on “the wrongdoing of paramilitaries” and move away from reckoning with the “activities of the state”.

    Villiers announced a day before Adams’ arrest that she would block an independent review into the 1972 murder by British paratroopers of 11 unarmed civilians—including a mother of eight—in Ballymurphy.


    Unionist politicians have long complained that too much attention has been paid to state violence.

    There is a convergence of interest over the Adams arrest. Unionist politicians are looking to shore up support. The Tories want to rewrite the history of the Troubles. The Southern Irish establishment is happy for Sinn Fein to be taken down a peg in the run-up to elections.

    And while Sinn Fein has made its peace with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the reverse is not the case.

    For more than a quarter of a century the full power of the state was applied to suppressing a popular nationalist insurgency in the North.

    Tens of thousands of young men and women were jailed and interned. Substantial numbers were tortured or killed in an effort to shore up a repressive and sectarian state.

    As Socialist Worker’s sister paper in Ireland put it, “The British state’s selective approach to the past is not just about maintaining its control over a staggering peace process that requires permanent life support in order to survive.

    “The kind of stability that they seek to preside over for Northern Ireland requires a rendering of the past that casts them as a neutral party presiding over warring tribes, and in many ways it is Sinn Fein’s complicity in this charade that has allowed them to get away with it.”

    Read more from our Irish sister paper at

    Money for tape access

    Allegations against Gerry Adams are included in taped interviews with former IRA members, recorded as part of an oral history project for Boston College in the US.
    The British government poured huge resources into bringing a
    high-profile court case in the US to win access to the transcripts.
    The former paramilitaries were told that the tapes would not be made public until after their deaths.
    Ivor Bell who gave interviews to the Boston project, was charged in March with aiding and abetting the murder of Jean McConville and membership of the IRA.
    The Boston recordings include testimony alleging that Adams ordered the abduction and murder of Jean McConville.


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

     "I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

    "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Hard At Work"" -- Isaiah features that 'hard worker' Barack.

    "Kat's Korner: Tori Climbs The Mountain In Stiletto...," "Kat's Korner: Childhood Home is an adult classic" and "Kat's Korner: Livingston Taylor brings the songs t..." -- Kat reviews new albums from Tori Amos, Ben and Ellen Harper, and Livingston Taylor.

    "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. covers a Congressional hearing.

    "Arrow (Stan)," "The blood letting (Dracula and more cancelled)," "Neighbors (without spoilers)," "Grilled Cabbage Wedges in the Kitchen," "Dracula, second season or not?," "Unforgettable and Revolution.," "the end of community," "The Neighbors, Suburgatory, Super Fun Night" "Elementary," "Arrow," "TV and Benghazi," "Fox cancels some TV shows," "The 100," "Revolution," "community," "revenge - the good," "The Tomorrow People," "The Originals," "The Mindy Project," "I offer praise for Charlie Rose (seriosly)," "The good and the awful," "You either promote women artists or you don't," "The saddest site on TV," "24's back," "The Good Open Marriage," "Nashville (TV show) aptly summarized" and "revenge - the bad" -- TV coverage in the community.

    "Benghazi and Saturn," "Paul Joseph Watson and others on Benghazi" and "Benghazi" --  Betty and Ruth cover Benghazi.

    "The Unnatural Obsession" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

    "Barack's Drone War" -- Trina covers The Drone War.

    "Rep. Jim McGovern, shut the hell up" and "Lois Lerner needs to be held in contempt" -- Trina and Elaine on the contempt citation.

    "He's working?" and "THIS JUST IN! HE'S BEGGING FOR MONEY!" -- Cedric and Wally take on the fundraiser.

    "You either promote women artists or you don't" and "Female representation online and GM" -- Elaine and Trina outline the basics.

    "He wanted to look like Anderson Cooper?" -- Ann attempts to puzzle it out.

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