Sunday, September 21, 2014

Truest statement of the week

Let us be clear, if that is possible, about President Obama’s plan to deal with ISIS, the boogeyman of America’s own making. The president last week swore that he would “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, after having spent three years providing weapons and money to jihadists fighters, including ISIS, in hopes that they would “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Syrian state of president Bashar Assad. So, the Americans set out to destroy one state, in Syria, whose government had never presented any danger to the U.S., and wind up creating another state, a caliphate astride the borders of Syria and Iraq, that openly declares its intention to do battle with the U.S. 
Obama assures us that he is assembling a new coalition of the willing to join him in smashing ISIS. It turns out that every prospective member of the coalition was a co-conspirator with the United States in giving birth to ISIS – Britain and France and other Europeans, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates...ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony.

-- Glen Ford, "Who's Your Daddy, ISIS?" (Black Agenda Report).

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?

Glen Ford gets another Truest. 

Dona moderated this roundtable while Jess, Ty and I (Jim) worked hard to salvage two other articles.  We couldn't make them work. 
We continue the series.
We take a look at the best in neo-noir as part of our list efforts.
And we take a look at the best of noir.

Short feature. 
What we listened to this edition.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America speak out. 
Workers World repost.
Statement of Senator Bernie Sanders.
Statement of Senator Rand Paul.

Where's highlights!!!!

No time for it this week, sorry.

That's what we got

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

Editorial: Where's the political solution?

US President Barack Obama insists, as he repeatedly bombs Iraq, that the only solution for Iraq is a political one.

How is the US helping with that?

What is the progress on that?

Does the press realize these are just empty words from the administration an is that why they refuse to make the political progress (or lack of it) a primary focus in the reporting?

The editorial board of Bloomberg News has a suggestion:

But Iraq won't be stable until the country's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish populations all have assurances that the central government will listen to them. An Iraq reconciliation commission, backed by the U.S. and preferably operating under the auspices of the United Nations, would provide precisely such assurances. It is in the U.S.'s interests, and certainly within its means, to create such an institution. The Obama administration must now decide if it has the will.

Would that help or would it harm?

Maybe that's an issue that should be included in the dialogue?

Something worthy of debate?

At present, all the news offers is deaths and more deaths.  If the press isn't going to pressure the White House to reveal progress or 'progress' all we're left with is Barack's non-stop bombings.

TV: The pack goes after Debra Messing and mothers

Joshua Logan was a real bastard.  It's one of those truths everyone's supposed to smooth over and ignore.  Like the fact that his homophobia was probably related to his sexual attraction to men -- an attraction he fought desperately to conceal.  So on every project, play or film, he'd find a whipping boy.  He'd go after that man with the bitchiest remarks ever, ridiculing and questioning the subject's manhood and, because he was Joshua Logan, he got away with it.

The mediocre talent (another truth no one's supposed to note) is long dead but how his spirit lives on.

Debra Messing, Emmy award winning actress,  has a new show -- The Mysteries of Laura premiered on NBC last week.

And Debra Messing sucks.

That's what many reviews insist.

Which puzzled us because we'd heard nothing but good things.  We were also surprised that Debra could suck because even when she's attempted to stretch and failed (as we all have) she's found a way to pull it off to a lesser degree.

Then we watched The Mysteries of Laura and it all made sense.

Debra doesn't suck.

She's wonderful in the role.

What sucks are the critics.

Whereas Logan was ruled by homophobia, the Water Cooler Set's ruled by sexism.

Each year, they choose a woman -- sometimes several women -- to go after.  Their pack mentality guarantees not only that women are trashed but also that TV just gets worse season after season.

In the time we've been reviewing, we've seen them dog pile one woman after another.

And what have they praised?

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  We were the heretics who called that show out immediately and noted that it would not connect with audiences, that Sorkin's sexism was on full display and so much more.

When Sorkin's awful The Newsroom debuted on HBO years later, we were honored to see our early worked mined by reviewers who suddenly noticed Aaron had a woman problem.  He went on to hire Jane Fonda for the awful show, give her a bit part and pretend that made up for so much.  All it did, as one of Jane's film co-stars pointed out, was take Jane into Joan Crawford Trog territory.

Trog territory is where an actress is involved in such an awful project that you wonder if they shouldn't have just gracefully retired instead of trashing their image.  In fairness to the troglodyte from the 1970 bomb, we should note he had much more sex appeal than Jeff Daniels -- but then who doesn't?

Josh Lucas oozes sex appeal -- even with the bad hair in his first scene.  He's playing Debra Messing's estranged husband.

Debra's detective Laura Diamond and he's Jake, a lieutenant  with another precinct as the show kicks off.  They have two kids -- holy terrors who are kicked out of school and who do things like pee on one another for fun.  Laura and Jake are in such disagreement over how to raise the kids that you can't imagine how they ever managed to even share a bathroom, let alone a bed.

But some of Laura's no-give position now probably stems from the fact that Jake cheated on her (he insists he got it out of his system).

And maybe some of the hatred of women Vinnie Mancuso (New York Observer) offers goes to his own issues?  He is obsessed with Laura being a "bad mother."  Poor Vinnie, despite all the Craigslist postings, he still can't find anyone to diaper him while reading out loud from Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs &  Steel: The Fate of Human Societies.

It's really amazing how Messing's Laura is repeatedly judged -- by one man after another -- to be a bad mother.  Like Vinnie, Andy Greenwald (Grantland) whines about Laura being a bad mother and frets over her wearing a bathing suit.  Did Andy grow up with a Mommy who dated?  Poor little tyke.  All he wanted was June Cleaver, asexual, robotic and hovering.

James Poniewozik (Time magazine) is so impressed with his sexism, he's basically a weinie wagger with it, writing, "All it ends up proving is that it can shoot the bacon, fry it up in a pan–and then whack you over the head with it."  Reaching, as he's had to for that tiny button penis all these years, James tries to pit Laura against the overly praised Alicia of The Good Wife and insist that The Good Wife has already addressed women's second shift of work as mothers.


Alicia's life is not a normal one or even realistic and this is probably the season that the backlash sets in (the show jumped the shark when it tried to show Kalinda turned on by domestic abuse at the hands of her estranged husband).

What is this obsession with Laura's parenting?

And this need to call her a bad mother?

The shaming her because her twin boys can't read?  The slamming her because she gives her sons pizza for breakfast?

First off, you know what's worse than pizza for breakfast?

No breakfast.

If the little boys trapped in men's bodies can take their hands out of their pants for just a moment, we're about to do the work women always have to do because if women don't do it no one does.

A lot of women could have already stepped up to the plate but if, for example, NPR's horse faced Linda Holmes took the time to decry sexism, she couldn't join in and compose 'songs' ridiculing the show, now could she?

Linda, take your hands out of your pants too.

So Debra Messing's Laura is a bad parent because her twin boys can't read?


So if a child has a learning disorder, that's the mother's fault?

That appears to be the argument the critics (noted above and many more not noted) are making.

We don't buy that.

We also think you need to forget sharing what you think  women need to do   when you clearly can't do your own job.

All the men and men wanna-bes (horse faced and otherwise)?

Do you know a damn thing about children?

We do.

We're mothers.

And children in pre-k?

They don't usually read.

Laura's kids?

They're in pre-K.

Critics have slammed the show and called Laura a bad parent because her children can't read -- her pre-K twin boys can't read.

The above (and others) should all be embarrassed by their gross stupidity.

They should also be ashamed of their sexism.

They may try to insist this isn't sexism.

Laura is with the boys pretty much all the time.  In the first 20 minutes, Josh Lucas' Jake bails on his scheduled evening with his sons.

While Laura attempts to provide discipline, Jake applauds their unruly behavior and encourages it.

So which of the critics slamming Laura as a mother took a moment to call out Jake as a father?


Not one.

How can they be trusted to evaluate anything when they're such rank sexists?

And how do outlets, in 2014, justify running this sexist crap?

The Mysteries of Laura is a charming comedy mystery series.  The Water Cooler Set doesn't like it.

But we can remember this time last year, when one of the worst sitcoms ever began airing.  We called it out.  The Water Cooler Set praised it until NBC finally pulled the plug.  The Michael J. Fox Show?  They applauded it.  They didn't have the guts to tell you the show was crap because the lead actor had a disease.

Again, how can they be trusted to evaluate anything?

TV Roundtable

Ty: It's TV roundtable time.  The fall season is kicking off and we'll be offering a few thoughts. Our e-mail address is  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's   Ava, and me; 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); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen;  Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends;   and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Dona (Con't): Okay, summer season is over.  Ruth and Stan you covered season two of ABC's Mistresses.  How did it fare compared to the first season?

Ruth: I think the show suffered this season in that there was nothing like Savi struggling with whether or not to cheat on her husband Harry.  I think the show also suffered from Alyssa Milano's pregnancy.  At the end, the big purses and strange angles couldn't hide it.  They should have just made Savi pregnant again.  Without a central storyline like that, it did seem a little disjointed.  Everyone -- all four women -- they were all on their own trajectory and, as Stan has already noted, Joss was pretty much treated as a footnote when her story was the most involving since she was falling in love with Harry, her sister's ex-husband.

Stan: I agree with what Ruth said and would just add that I don't know what they do with season three because they repeatedly go over the top with Dr. Karen Kim.  And now that she's had her AIDS scare and I'm assuming she's pregnant, I have no idea where they go next. I do agree she needs to leave her field.  She's a menace to her patients -- sleeping with her male patients, trying to become her female ones.  Season two wasn't bad but it wasn't as strong because everyone was off on their own trajectory.  You got, for example, April and Karen talking about their problems but the four women really weren't working as a team of support the way they did in season one.

Dona: But you're both eager for a season three?

Ruth: Yes.  Cannot wait to see if Savi's going to walk in on Joss and Harry making lover.

Stan: Agree and let's remember Joss and Harry are making out on the beach, the beach Joss is about to get married on so her fiancee may walk in on this as well.

Donna: Extant was a big hit this summer as well and Betty, Marcia and Ann covered that show.  Ladies, your thoughts?

Ann: It was great to see a woman, especially a woman of color, carry a TV show.  Halle Berry did an amazing job as Molly.  We're all pulling for her to get an Emmy nomination next year.  She did drama, melodrama, comedy and action in this role, it was very challenging and, especially at the start when she returns to earth from her space mission and is pregnant -- from a solo space mission -- she really had to walk a tight line to keep the thing from going over the top.

Dona: Alright.  Marcia, you really seemed to identify strongly with one character on the show.

Marcia: Ethan.  John created him, he's a robot, and John and Molly raised him as their child.  I loved Ethan.  He became aware of his surroundings and of life and began to have feelings and other things.  He was a strong character.  I say was because he apparently died in the last episode, giving up his life to save Molly.  But, if you saw the film Lucy this summer, he kind of is still around in a Lucy type way.

Dona: Betty?

Betty: My only negative criticism is they kind of lost track of Molly's friendship in the last three or so episodes.  Camryn Manheim adds a lot to the show and, to be honest, I don't take a show about a woman seriously if she has no woman friend.  I took a lot with Alias just because Francie was there as Sidney's best friend.  I don't like movies that don't reflect real life or TV shows that don't.  And reality is that most of us, most women, have at least one close female friend.  I also have close male friends.  But if I see a woman surrounded by men, it doesn't ring true to me.  Near the very end of the last episode, they had Halle and Camryn talking and that was good and long overdue.  I thought the writing was strong and that this was more than summer filler.  I really enjoyed it and plan to buy it on DVD.

Dona: Who's going to cover what this fall?

Rebecca: Scandal starts with new episodes this Thursday and I'll be covering it.  I'll also be covering Revenge -- which starts airing Sunday, September 28th.  I covered those two last year and the year before.

Dona: And you also covered Community.

Rebecca: Which Yahoo is bringing back, sadly.  I may cover it as well.

Stan: I will be covering The Good Wife and Arrow which are the two I cover during the year.

Mike: And I'll be grabbing The Flash.

Stan: I asked Mike to do that.  I don't have time to cover three shows.  I may add some to what Mike writes -- and The Flash is a spin-off of Arrow, by the way.

Dona: And, Mike, that's in addition to?

Mike: Oh, thanks.  Yes, I'll continue to cover Elementary.

Dona: Ruth?

Ruth: Betty and I are talking about teaming up to cover a show -- possibly The Mysteries of Laura or How To Get Away With Murder or both.

Betty: I'd love for us to cover a sitcom but they really didn't like women in sitcoms last year and this year's new offerings are pretty much the same.

Dona: That stands out, by the way.  The lack of interest in women.  It was awful last year and it's only a little better this year.

Ava: In October, ABC will be offering Cristela which is the only new sitcom that revolves around a female lead.

C.I.: This is one of two shows with a Latina lead.  The other is The CW's Jane The Virgin which is questionable at best.

Ava: The hour long show will revolve around Jane and her pregnancy which results from an accidental artificial insemination.  I find the concept off putting as I do the idea that a 30-year-old actress is playing a virgin.  That's before you get to the sperm donor being her boss and so much more.  This is not a tale of female empowerment in its roots, it's a tale of chattel and enslavement.  And I'd love to know how this crappy idea sold to begin with.

Dona: While only one new sitcom this fall revolves around a female lead, we will see CBS' hits 2 Broke Girls and Mom and Fox has The New Girl as well as, Ann?

Ann: The Mindy Project which I will continue to cover.

Marcia: While I'll continue to cover The Originals.

Dona: Trina, you sometimes cover 2 Broke Girls.

Trina: I love the show when I can remember to watch.  I'm just not much of a TV watcher and I usually have it on PBS watching The NewsHour as I'm fixing dinner or cleaning up after and generally forget that it's Monday and the shows about to come on.

Kat: I may grab a TV show this year.  I may not.  But I may.

C.I.: Kat should probably grab The Flash from Mike.  Mike, you're not watching Stalker?

Mike: I don't know the show.

C.I.: It's a new show CBS starts airing in October.  Dylan McDermott is one of the stars.  The other is Maggie Q.

Mike: So I will be watching.  Maggie Q is famous for playing Nikita on The CW series and I covered that show at my site.  I will make a point to catch Stalker.

Dona: Which network's doing the best by women this fall?

Ava: We'd say CBS.  C.I. and I were talking about this and CBS is doing a better job in terms of leads and co-leads.  NBC is ridiculous and their claim of Women Wednesdays or whatever that is -- it's just an attempt to distract from how little women play a role in their lineup. Debra Messing and Casey Wilson are leads in new NBC shows -- Casey's a co-lead with Ken ABC could be doing so much better and The CW appears to have forgotten all about their teen female audience.  There's a rumor NBC's Bad Judge may be pulled -- it stars a woman but it's a troubled production that's already lost its show runner and critics are savaging it already.

C.I.: Right.  And there's A-Z which is an ensemble cast sitcom that NBC will offer.

Ava: After last fall when NBC couldn't find a woman to star in a new show, this is an improvement but not much of one.

C.I.:  On The CW.  A 30-year-old lead?  Did the failure of Emily Owens not make clear to The CW that no one's interested?  As to whether shirtless men on the new shows can keep the audience, I have no idea.  Fox is probably second to CBS in terms of being the strongest for women.  That said, sandwiching Brooklyn 9-9 between The Simpsons and Family Guy will either be seen in a few months as genius or insane.  As a general rule, live action sitcoms have not paired well with the Sunday animation shows, not in the last fourteen years.

Dona: Alright then.  That's our preview of the fall TV season and what various sites will be covering.  As always, here you'll find Ava and C.I. covering TV each week.  Their preference is to cover entertainment programming but they have to grab news and public affairs sometimes as a result of current events.  Again, this is a rush transcript.

Turntable Triumphs



In 1979, Diana Ross reteamed with Ashford & Simpson (Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpsons) to work on The Boss.

The three had worked closely at the start of Diana's solo career resulting in massive hits such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Surrender."  Of all the songwriters and producers Diana worked with over the years, Ashford & Simpson best grasped the need to keep it sophisticated.

For this album, they worked to put together a new adult sound -- one that was so successful, all eight tracks would become dance hits, each storming to the top of the dance charts.

It's a rare album that doesn't feature weak cuts or filler.  But every track on this album is strong enough to stand on its own.  Diana has fun with tracks like "No One Gets The Prize" (where she fights with a friend over the same man) and "I Ain't Been Licked" where she announced her survival.  Her vocals are as natural as breathing on the classic "Once In The Morning."  Each track is an amazing recording with arrangements similar to what Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson would go on to do on Off The Wall.

The Boss would be a platinum album for Diana and the title track would also provide Diana with another top forty dance hit.  But most of all The Boss provided Diana with a major classic in her discography.

In this series, we've also noted Diana Ross' diana and Carly Simon's Anticipation.

10 Best Film Noir Films In Color

1) Chinatown.

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway burned up the screen in this troubled tale of corruption -- government, business and familial.

2) Blade Runner.

There's no real pairing in this film, a necessary tool of film noir, but on every other noir meter -- including mood -- it hits the right notes.

3) After Dark My Sweet.

Jason Patric's a drifter, Rachel Ward's a user, the chemistry between them is undeniable.

4) Vertigo.

Alfred Hitchock's masterpiece that was ahead of its time when released and still feels current today.

5) Black Widow.

What if the private dick who falls for the bad woman is a woman?  Debra Winger and Theresa Russell star in this 80s classic.

6) Rush.

Jason Patric teams with Jennifer Jason Leigh in this tale of an undercover operation gone horribly wrong.  Lili Fini Zanuck directed this 90s classic.

7) To Die For (tie) Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (tie) Peeper.

Can noir be a comedy?  Bob Hope proved it could with My Favorite Brunette.  Nicole Kidman burns in the sharp and acid take on noir.  Steve Martin plays opposite Rachel Ward and -- via film editing -- opposite Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster and many more. Steve's film is in black & white but we're including it on the color list because it's more neo-noir than noir.  Michael Caine really just has Natalie Wood but she's more than enough in this underrated comic gem that remains a high point of both Wood and Caine's 70s work.

8) Against All Odds.

Jeff Bridges teams with Rachel Ward in this remake of Out Of The Past.

9) The Two Jakes. 

The sequel to Chinatown was savaged but it's deserved a reappraisal for some time now.

10) The Long Goodbye.

Robert Altman's classic finds Elliott Gould offering a new take on the role of the private dick.

10 Best Film Noir Films in Black & White

1) Double Indemnity.

Fred McMurray is an insurance salesman so no one expects ethics from him.  Barbara Stanwyck's the bored wife of a wealthy man.

2) The Letter.

The original Rashomon.  Bette Davis is a victim, not such a victim, actually the killer.  The story twists and turns.

3) The Third Man.

Acting only, Orson Welles is still a force to be reckoned with..

4) The Big Sleep.

Bogart and Bacall sizzle enough to fill in the many plot holes.

5) The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Lana Turner's largely well preserved in many of her films.  This is one of the few where she's actually beautiful and the chemistry between her and John Garfield carries this film.

6) The Stranger. 

This thriller finds Orson as new good guy in town married to Loretta Young who slowly realizes nothing is as it seems.

7) The Maltese Falcon.

No Bogart film festival would be complete without this classic.

8) The Damned Don't Cry.

Joan Crawford made a number of film noir films.  This one works so well because it's similar to the shop-girl films she made in the thirties.  More than any other film actress -- including Veronica Lake -- Joan Crawford did film noir over and over -- and did it stunningly well.

9) Mildred Pierce. 

Joan Crawford had another comeback thanks to this film and she also won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

10) This Gun For Hire.

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake became a team as a result of this film (The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia would follow).

Caught in the act again

When discussing the illegal spying scandal . . .

never forget Barack is a natural snoop.

This edition's playlist

Red Velvet Car

1) Heart's Red Velvet Car.

2) James Blake's Overgrown.

3) Prince's Controversy.

4) Ben and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

5) Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon.

6) Stevie Nicks' Bella Donna.

7) Supergrass' Life On Other Planets.

8) Carly Simon's Playing Possum.

9) Stevie Wonder's Talking Book.

10) The Replacement's Pleased To Meet Me.

IAVA Responds to VA Whistleblower’s Testimony

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following last week:

IAVA Responds to VA Whistleblower’s Testimony
Posted by Kaitlin Ramlogan on September 18

IAVA Responds to VA Whistleblower’s Testimony 

New York, NY (September 18, 2014) – Yesterday, whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote blasted the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Aug. 26 report on scheduling manipulation and patient deaths at the Phoenix VA during a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC). VA Secretary Robert McDonald and Acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin also testified before the committee.

The hearing was held one day after the House of Representatives unanimously passed several key pieces of legislation to improve the lives of veterans and their families. The bills passed Tuesday included reforms to VA construction projects, the extension of numerous critical veterans programs, and a cost-of-living adjustment for disabled veterans and their dependents.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff, in San Francisco meeting with post-9/11 veterans, released the following statement:

“We thank Chairman Miller and HVAC for scrutinizing the latest OIG report on the Phoenix VA’s wait times and scheduling practices. Yesterday's hearing yet again shows how little we know about the scope of corruption and wrongdoing within the VA nationwide. Our community continues to be extremely discouraged with the report’s findings. There must be real accountability established and enforced within the VA, starting with those guilty of misconduct being identified and promptly removed from VA service.

Additionally, practical policy guidelines need to be established, disseminated and enforced, and 21st century technological updates need to be implemented. Secretary McDonald is in a position to change the course of veteran health care, we are looking to him to continue the strong leadership he has already established during his short time in office and lead this needed reform effort.”

Note to media: To schedule an interview with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff email or call 212-982-9699.  

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.

Why Obama’s ‘war on ISIS’ must be opposed

Repost from Workers World:

Why Obama’s ‘war on ISIS’ must be opposed

By on September 16, 2014

President Barack Obama announced Sept.10 that the U.S. military would build an international coalition to make “war on the Islamic State.” He said there were already 10 countries in this coalition. Administration spokespeople on the Sept. 14 Sunday morning talk shows said they were still building the coalition. The next morning a conference of 30 countries opened in Paris on this theme.

The electronic media and the pages of major newspapers — the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor, for example — were filled with debate on Obama’s new war policy. Active and retired Pentagon officers, State Department officials, policy strategists from the imperialist think tanks and op-ed writers all put out their critiques of Obama’s strategy of opening another long U.S. war while promising no U.S. “boots on the ground.”

Arguments raged from “just right” to “too little, too late,” with only a few saying “no way.” Many of the retired officers — for example, General Jack Keane, who urges a policy even more aggressive than what Obama proposes — are currently sitting on the boards of military contractors. That’s one sector of U.S. capitalism that gains from war, whichever way the battle goes.

That this debate is going on in front of the public reflects hesitations within the U.S. ruling class about the wisdom of waging yet another open-ended U.S. war of conquest in West Asia. More important than reviewing their arguments is the need to stress what this debate is really about: They are discussing what foreign policy will best defend and expand the strategic and economic interests of the U.S. ruling class.

What’s at stake are the interests of the richest one hundredth of the 1%, those who own the oil companies, the weapons industry, the banks and the other major monopolies. To the debaters, this tiny but super-wealthy and powerful group’s interests are paramount.

Far from aiding Syrians or Iraqis, U.S. imperialism’s aims are antagonistic to the interests of the masses of people there. Washington’s new war also has nothing to do with defending the interests of the working class in the United States. It will not protect the Black people of Ferguson, Mo., from racist cops. It will not protect workers from low wages and layoffs. There is already talk of raising the Pentagon budget, thereby exempting it from sequester cuts imposed on the federal budget.

What U.S. policy did

Starting with the war in 1991 and the subsequent sanctions against the Iraqi people, followed by the invasion in 2003 that led to eight years of occupation, U.S. war crimes tore Iraqi society apart. U.S.-led wars and sanctions killed between 1 million and 2 million people. They demolished Iraq’s economic infrastructure and drove 5 million more into exile. U.S. occupation policies divided Iraqi society and provoked a sectarian civil war.

Washington and its allies in NATO and West Asia have also caused great loss of life and destruction in Syria. NATO, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, weaponized the groups fighting the Syrian government. Most arms wound up in the hands of groups like al-Nusrah Front and ISIS (also called ISIL or just I.S.). Hundreds of thousands of people were killed; millions became refugees. Without NATO and Saudi Arabian aid, ISIS would have stayed local.

Various media claim that the repeated showing of two reporters from the U.S. and one from Britain being executed by ISIS have whipped up some popular fervor for “revenge” — although this mood falls short of support for another Iraq-type war.

While popular revulsion to the televised beheadings is understandable, think of what U.S. imperialism has done. U.S. weapons killed millions of Iraqis and Syrians. They, like the reporters, were victims of terror.

Much ruling-class debate involves what relationship the U.S. should have with the governments of Syria and Iran. Washington has demonized these two governments and steadily worked to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria and sabotage the economy of Iran. Yet both Syria and Iran have been on the front lines fighting against ISIS.

So far, U.S. spokespeople insist they will make no agreements with Syria or Iran. Actually, there is good reason to suspect that — should the “war on ISIS” be successful — it will quickly morph into a U.S. war against Syria.

It is the pinnacle of imperialist arrogance to pose, as many have in the ruling-class debate, the question: “Should the U.S. help resolve the conflicts in the Middle East?”

Washington’s past interventions have brought only misery and suffering to the region. From the point of view of the interests of all the people involved in the region, as well as those of the working class here, the only thing the U.S. can rightly do is get out, stay out and pay reparations to rebuild what it has wrecked.

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Senator Sanders on "another Mideast war"

Thursday, 22 US Senators voted against Barack's 'plan' to arm and train the same people the US government is supposedly at war with in Iraq (the Islamic State).

One of the senators to vote against it was Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders' office issued the following statement last week:

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday voted against the United States training and arming Syrian rebels. Sanders said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “is a brutal and dangerous extremist organization which must be defeated, but this war cannot be won by the United States alone. There needs to be a real international coalition led by the countries most threatened – Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and Iran. The worst thing that we can do now is allow ISIS to portray this struggle as East vs. West, as Muslim vs. Christian, as the Middle East vs. America. That is exactly what they want and that is exactly what we should not be giving them.”

The senator faulted wealthy Middle East nations for doing too little to protect their own interests, especially when Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest military budget in the world. He also questioned why American taxpayers are footing the bill when royal families that rule those Mideast nations are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. 

“This is not just a question of whether young men and women in Vermont and across America should be putting their lives on the line in another Mideast war.  It is not just about whether the taxpayers of our country should once again pay for a war in the Middle East. It is about the reality that, long term, this struggle will never be won by the United States alone.  It must be won with the active participation of the Muslim countries in the region,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he supports President Barack Obama’s judicious use of airstrikes which already have shown some success, but in opposing the resolution Sanders said, “I fear very much that supporting questionable groups in Syria who will be outnumbered and outgunned by both ISIS and the Assad regime could open the door to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement.”

The provision to fund forces battling the ISIS terrorist group was included in a stopgap spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 11. The measure, approved by the Senate, had passed the House on Wednesday.

Senator Rand Paul's Foreign Policy Address

Thursday, 22 US Senators voted against Barack's 'plan' to arm and train the same people the US government is supposedly at war with in Iraq (the Islamic State).

One of the 22 who voted  against it was Rand Paul whose office issued the following:

Sep 18, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul today took to the Senate floor to offer a unanimous consent request to separate the Syria rebel funding language from the Continuing Resolution. Senate Democrats objected to this request. Sen. Paul then delivered a foreign policy address outlining his opposition to arming the Syrian rebels. A video and copy of Sen. Paul's remarks as prepared for delivery can be found HERE or below.


If there is one theme that connects the dots in the Middle East, it is that chaos breeds terrorism. 

What much of the foreign policy elite fails to grasp is that intervention to topple secular dictators has been the prime source of that chaos.

From Hussein to Assad to Ghaddafi we have the same history.

Intervention topples the secular dictator. Chaos ensues and radical jihadists emerge.
The pattern has been repeated time after time and yet what we have here is a failure to understand, a failure to reflect on the outcome our involvement in Arab civil wars.

They say nature abhors a vacuum. Radical jihadists have again and again filled the chaotic vacuum of the Middle East.

Secular dictators, despots who terrorized their own people, are replaced by radical jihadists who seek terror at home and abroad.

Intervention when both choices are bad is a mistake.

Intervention when both sides are evil is a mistake.

Intervention that destabilizes the region is a mistake.

And yet here we are again, wading into another civil war in Syria. I warned a year ago that involving us in Syria's civil war was a mistake.

That the inescapable irony is that someday the arms we supply would be used against us, or Israel.

That day is now. ISIS has grabbed up U.S., Saudi, Qatari weapons by the truckload and we are now forced to fight against our own weapons.

Now, even those of us who have been reluctant to become involved in the wars of the Middle East feel that American vital interests are at stake, that our consulate, our embassy are threatened and that left to their own devices ISIS will fulfill what they have boasted-an attack on us at home.

So, yes we must now defend ourselves from these barbarous jihadists, but let's not compound the problem by arming feckless rebels in Syria who seem to be merely a pit stop for the arms that are inevitably scarfed up by ISIS.

Remember clearly the President and his Republican allies that clamored for air strikes against Assad.

Had those airstrikes occurred, in all likelihood ISIS would now be in Damascus and the threat to America even greater.

Remember that all the hawks who now clamor for boots on the ground also wanted to take out Assad last year. 
Had the hawks been successful last year, we could very well now be facing an ISIS in charge of all of Syria and parts of Iraq.

Intervention is not always the answer and often leads to unintended consequences

Some will argue: No, no it's not intervention that led to this chaos, but not enough intervention.

They say: If only we'd given the rebels more arms, ISIS wouldn't be as strong now.

The only problem is-the facts argue otherwise.

One reason is, we did give arms and assistance to these rebels, through secret CIA operations, and through our allies and not so allied countries in the region.

Reports show that the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have supplied roughly 600 tons of weapons to the militants in Syria in 2013 alone.

According to U.N. records, Turkey has sent 47 tons of weaponry to the Syrian Rebels-sending 29 tons in just this month.

Videos appear online of Free Syrian Army rebels with downed M8 helicopters and MANDPAD air defense systems.

An American made TOW anti-tank system was shown in the hands of Harakat Hazm, a group of so-called moderate rebels.

A Wall Street Journal report detailed Saudi Arabia providing weapons like this to the rebels. It also detailed millions of dollars in direct US aid to rebels - all from nearly 8 months ago or more.

The NY Times reports that Qatar used "a shadowy arms network to move shoulder fired missiles" into the hands of Syrian rebels.

According to Gulfnews, Saudi Arabia also partnered with Pakistan to provide a Pakistani made version of Chinese shoulder launched missiles to the rebels.

Iraqi officials publicly accused Saudi Arabia and Quatar of also funding and arming ISIS at the same time.

Kuwaitis, a Sunni majority country bordering Iraq, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to a wide range of opposition forces both in Iraq and Syria, according to reports by the Brooking Institute.

According to a New York Times report, over a year ago, the CIA began training Syrian rebels in nearby Jordan, thousands of them, along with delivering arms and ammunition.

New York Times reports also detailed the huge arms and financial transfers from Quatar to the Syrian rebels, beginning as early as 2011.

No one really knows where that all ended up: Jane's Terrorism Center noted, the transfer of Quatari arms to targeted groups has the same practical effect as shipping them to Al Nusra, a violent jihadist force.

The New York Times further detailed that Sudan has provided anti-tank missiles and other arms.

So the idea that these rebels haven't been armed before is ludicrous on it's face.

It is also ludicrous to believe that we know where all of the money, arms and ammunition will end up, or who will end up benefitting from these shipments.


Because we don't know for sure who the groups all are.

Even when we think we do, loyalties shift and groups become amorphous, with alleged moderates lining up with jihadists.

And finally, moderate groups have often sold their weapons or had them seized by the jihadist elements led by ISIS.

According to the Carnegie Endowment, There are no neat, clean, secular rebels groups. They don't exist. They reiterate that this is a "very dirty war" with no clear good guys for us to ally with.

The German Ambassador to the U.S. has fully admitted what our State Department tries to hide - that we can't fully control the final destination of these arms.

Former officials are more forthright with their criticism.

According to a former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Syria, "We need to do everything we can to figure out who the non-ISIS opposition, is...Frankly, we don't have a clue."

The rebels have been all over the map. There are said to be 1500 different rebel groups. The largest coalition other than ISIS, Al Quada and Al Nusra, all jihadist extremists, is the FSA-- which has three people who claim to be the leader.

There are estimates that half of the FSA has defected.

And we prove time and time again we don't know how to vet their leaders.

Two groups that were initially provided US and ally help last year provide good examples.

A top official of Ahrar al Sham, one of the largest rebel groups at the time, announced publicly that he now considers himself allied with Al Qaeda.

Robert Ford, our most recent Ambassador to Syria, said, "We must understand two vital points going in, the moderate armed opposition's biggest enemy is not ISIS, it is the Assad regime...moderate forces have and will tactically coordinate with the Al Qaeda linked Nusra front on the ground."

According to the Washington Free Beacon, one of the militants provided access to advance U.S. weapons said that it is seeking "the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel."

These are among the many problems we have in arming the Syrian opposition.

Who are we really arming? What will be the result? Where will the arms end up?

There are too many here who believe they have the answers to these questions, when they do not, indeed when all indicators are that it may well be unknowable.

I am a skeptic of this administration's policies, though I share their new-found belief that the jihadists in the region are the biggest threat.

Where I differ is whether to arm the same side as the jihadists.

Regarding whether we go to war at all, or under what circumstance, remember that the President last year wanted to intervene on the OTHER side of this war.

Let me reiterate that: This administration and its allies on both sides of the aisle in seeking perpetual war, last year wanted the United States to join this war on the side of ISIS, against the Assad regime.

I opposed them, for reasons that have now suddenly become clear to everyone else.

It's not that I am against all intervention. I favor striking ISIS.

I supported the decision to go to war with Afghanistan after our nation was attacked on 9/11.

There are valid reasons for war. And importantly, there are ways to do it and ways not to do it.

Colin Powell wrote in his autobiography: "War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support."

I believe that he had it right.

America should only go to war to win.

War should occur only when America is attacked, when it is threatened or when American interests are attacked or threatened.

I don't think the situation in Syria passes that test.

Even the State Department argues that:
"There's no military solution here that's good for the Syrian people, and that the best path forward is a political solution."

The U.S. should not fight a war to save face.

I will not vote to send young men and women to sacrifice life and limb for stalemate.

I will not vote to send our nation's best and brightest to fight for anything less than victory.

When American interests are at stake, then it is incumbent upon those advocating for military action to convince Congress and the American people of that threat.

Too often, the debate begins and ends with an assertion that our national interest is at stake without any evidence of that assertion.

The burden of proof lies with those who wish to engage in war, and they must convince the people and their representatives in Congress.

Bashar Assad is clearly not an American ally. But does his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or would his ouster actually encourage instability?

Are any of the Islamic rebels our allies?

Will they defend American interests?

Will they acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Will they impose Shari'ah law?

Will they tolerate Christians, or will they pillage and destroy ancient Christian churches and people?

The President and his Administration have not provided good answers to any of these questions.

Shooting first and aiming later has not worked for us in the past, and it should not be our game plan now.

In 2007, then Senator Obama stated that no President should unilaterally go to war without congressional authority unless there is an actual or imminent threat to our nation.

I would like for President Obama to re-read some of the speeches of candidate Obama.

Our Founding Fathers understood that the Executive Branch was the most prone to war and so with due deliberation they gave the power to declare war to legislative branch.

President Obama's new position, though, is that while he requests congressional input, he doesn't necessarily need Congress's approval.

Secretary Kerry stated explicitly yesterday his understanding of the constitution when he argued that NO congressional authorization was necessary.

The President and his Administration view this vote as a courtesy vote.

Even if Congress votes against it, the President still believes that he reserves the right to involve our soldiers in a war unilaterally.

But Mr. President, that is not how our Constitution works.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 gives Congress - and Congress alone - the power to declare war. If Congress does not approve this military action, the President must abide by that decision.

Our founders understood this.

Thomas Jefferson said the Constitution gave "one effectual check to the Dog of war by transferring the power [to declare war] from the Executive [branch] to the Legislative body."

Madison wrote even more clearly:
"The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."

There is no debate more significant for a legislator than the decision to engage in war.
We must hold our leaders accountable.

If we do not, there will be no end to war. The ridiculous and the absurd must be laid to rest. You've all heard it before.

Toppling Ghaddafi led to a jihadist wonderland in Libya,

Toppling Hussein led to the chaos that is Iraq,
Toppling Assad will lead to a new chaos and greater danger from the jihadists.

The moss covered too-long-in-Washington crowd cannot help themselves.  War, war, what we need is more, more war . . .

Their policies and the combination of feckless disinterest, fraudulent red lines, and selective combativeness of this administration have led us to this point.

Yes, we must now confront ISIS, in part for penance for the President's role in their rise.

But while we do so to protect our interests here, what we need is someone to shout:
War, war, what are we fighting for...

Amidst the interventionist's disjointed and frankly incoherent rhetoric,
Amidst the gathering gloom that sees enemies behind every friend,
And friends behind every enemy,
The only consistent theme is war.

These barnacled enablers have never met a war they didn't like.

They beat their chests in rhythmic ode to failed policies.

Their drums beat to policies that display their outrage but fail to find a cure.

Unintended consequences drown and smother the possibility of good intentions.

Must we act to check and destroy ISIS? Yes, and again yes, because of the foolishness of the interventionists.

But let's not mistake what we must do.

We shouldn't give a pass to forever intervene in the civil wars of the Middle East.

Intervention created the chaos.

Intervention aided and abetted the rise of radical Islam and intervention made us less safe in Libya and Syria and Iraq.

To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere:
Remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and "heroes" in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq...unaware that so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers, killers or both.
Are the so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria friends or foes? Do we know who they really are? All debatable questions at best.

As the interventionists clamor for boots on the ground, we should remember that they were wrong about Iraq.
They were wrong about Libya.

They were trying to intervene last year on the wrong side of the Syrian war.

When will we quit listening to the advocates of perpetual war?

When does a track record of being consistently wrong stop you from being a so-called expert when the next crisis arises?

We should remember that they were wrong, that there were no WMD's, that Hussein, Khaddifi, and Assad were no threat to us.

We should remember that radical Islam now roams about in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

We should remember that those who believe that war is the answer for every problem, were wrong.

We should remember that war against Hussein, that war against Khaddafi, that war against Assad led to chaos.

That intervention enhanced the rise of radical Islam, and ultimately led to more danger for Americans.

Before we arm the so-called moderate Muslims of Syria, remember what I said a year ago:
"The irony you will not be able to overcome is that these arms will someday be used against America."

That prediction is now true.

We will fight ISIS, a war I accept as necessary, largely because our own arms and the arms of our allies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have enabled our new enemy ISIS.

Will we ever learn?

President Obama now wishes to bomb ISIS and arm their Islamic allies in Syria.

The Emperor has no clothes.  Admit it.

The truth is sometimes painful.

We must protect ourselves from radical Islam, but we should never, ever have armed radical Islam, and we could make it worse by arming it more today!

We have enabled the enemy we must now confront.

Sending arms to so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria is a fool's errand and will only make ISIS stronger.

ISIS grew as the U.S. and our allies armed the Islamic rebels in Syria.

The barnacled purveyors of war should admit their mistakes and not compound them.

ISIS is now a threat.  Let's get on with destroying them.

But make no mistake arming Islamic rebels in Syria will only make it harder to destroy ISIS.

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