Sunday, July 26, 2015

Truest statement of the week

David Brock is a partisan. It is not surprising that he is unhappy with some of our aggressive coverage of important political figures. We are proud of that coverage and obviously disagree with his opinion.

-- The New York Times, as quoted by Benjamin Mullin at Poynter.

Truest statement of the week II

Since Hillary is the all but inevitable Democratic nominee, confronting two minor white male candidates, demanding they “say her name” and come up with solutions that address white supremacy, structural racism and the runaway police state is pretty much a foolproof strategy to get noticed, and as Hillary did not attend NetRoots, they got to do it without antagonizing the Clinton camp. Hillary wisely covered her own ass by releasing a tweet that unequivocally said “black lives DO matter.”
But all in all, the NetRootsNation confrontation wasn't the stirring of black women activists “taking their rightful place at the front of the progressive movement,” as one breathless tweet called it. It didn't tell us anything we didn't know about O'Malley or Sanders, or about hypocritical Hillary.

It was about flying the #BlackLivesMatter flag to jockey for positions inside the machinery that is the Democratic party and its affiliates.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "NetRoots Nation Confrontation Wasn't About #BlackLivesMatter At All" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Yet another Sunday.

First, 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?

That's what we came up with.  See you next week.


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

Editorial: Turkey attacks Iraq

C.I.'s Saturday "Iraq snapshot" said it all.

If you doubt it, you missed the fact that over 24 hours later, Patrick Cockburn was expressing concern as well.

While the White House has okay-ed the Turkish government's decision to bomb northern Iraq -- allegedly to root out the PKK -- this decision is idiotic and will cause tremendous damage.

In Iraq, specifically, it will enrage Kurds as innocent civilians in their region are killed and it will enrage all Iraqis -- as it did before -- that the Turkish government is dropping bombs on their country.

This does nothing to address the threat of the Islamic State but does everything to further destabilize Iraq.

How bad is it?

Cockburn offers:

The result is that the US may find it has helped to destabilise Turkey by involving it in the war in both Iraq and Syria, yet without coming much closer to defeating Isis in either country. If so, America will have committed its biggest mistake in the Middle East since it invaded Iraq in 2003, believing it could overthrow Saddam Hussein and replace him with a pro-American government. 

This does nothing to help Iraq.

TV: The train wreck known as MSNBC

To term MSNBC "troubled" is to put it mildly.

Headlines like "MSNBC Finishes 5th Place in Demo, Behind CNBC and HLN" and "MSNBC Hits 8 Year Low" have become common place.

And last week, more cancellations were announced: Ed Schultz lost his show, Alex Wagner lost her show and The Cycle is no more.


This followed earlier cancellations this year of Joy Reid and Ronan Farrow's programs.

In fact, there's a long, long list of MSNBC departures and cancellations over the last few years including Contessa Brewer, Martin Bashir, Alec Baldwin, Cenk Uygur and, most infamously, Keith Olbermann.

Two things specifically do not speak well for MSNBC today.

First, the trickle of cancellations.

Nothing is working.

Revamp or die.

The cable chat network is said to be moving back towards news.

That would be a huge improvement.

But they can't do that with the current evening programs.

Rachel Maddow is not a hit.

She is not a success.

What is she?

7th Heaven in season nine.

The ratings are sliding and the best days are gone.

Maddow is only a success in a 'by comparison' manner.

Her show, more and more, has become televised radio.

She blathers on endlessly as if she's Rush Limbaugh.

Chris Hayes?

He's an analyst.

He's not a talk show host.

He should be a regular on Morning Joe.

Al Sharpton has no place on the network though he might argue with the disgraced Brian Williams rejoining MSNBC shortly, he has a right to be there.

The reality is that the same NBC News insiders objecting to Brian Williams over the last few years have also objected to activist Sharpton being able to use his talk show to promote various causes he's is involved in.

It's that sort of thing that's really harmed MSNBC.

Cenk could have been a way forward for the network.

He offered a point of view and it was consistent.

If he was opposed to spying on Americans, he was opposed to it regardless of who was in the White House.

But too many MSNBC hosts, not just Al Sharpton, based their right and wrong judgments based upon whether Democrats (specifically Barack Obama) were supporting something or not.

On something as basic as TPP, the hideous trade pact, Rachel Maddow, for example, was against it repeatedly until it was hailed as a victory for Barack at which point she was slobbering over the deal as something wonderful and amazing.

Viewers noticed this nonsense long ago and have fled.

The second thing that does not speak well for MSNBC is the attempt to return it to the past.

That's bringing Chuck Todd back and, of course, Brian Williams.

But, mainly, it's the rumors that the network is courting Keith Olbermann.

Of the three, Olbermann's return would make the most sense.

We are not now and have never been fans of Keith Olbermann.

But he did deliver ratings and that might happen again.

Or it might not.

Chances are it would be a Here's Lucy type return.  It would get ratings but more out of nostalgia than for anything new actually offered.

The main thing though, Olbermann's return would mean Maddow's departure.

Not only would he want his old time slot back, he can't stand Maddow.

This is no longer a private issue.

He made it public.

He considers her a traitor.

He brought her to the network, he supported her and then when MSNBC turned on him/tired of him, he feels Rachel Maddow refused to offer him support.

Having one attempt to toss to the other in prime time would make for tense television.

Again, Olbermann, of all the potential returnees, is the only one that makes business sense and only because he delivered an audience.

That said, does MSNBC have a strategy?

Because election 2016 is not election 2008.

Far too many announced changes and whispered rumors indicate the network is attempting to move -- but backwards, not forward.  Nostalgia rarely works when it comes to the ever changing landscape of breaking news.

You've got some really strange and creepy heroes

Cranky Clinton's in trouble for her refusal to use a secure and government e-mail account during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Because there's a recommendation that the Justice Department open an investigation into the issue, her strident followers have taken to attacking The New York Times and promoting Kurt Eichenwald and his critique of the paper.


Promoting who for what?

You mean the reporter who paid for kiddie porn?

Yeah, that would be Eichewald.

And he claimed it was for a story and maybe it was.

But he lied to the paper and he did so repeatedly.

As Wikipedia notes:

Upon his return from his book tour for Conspiracy of Fools, Eichenwald cast about for new story ideas, becoming interested in an international credit card fraud investigation that led to his becoming involved in the affairs of Justin Berry, a then-18-year-old who was selling pornographic images and videos of himself both as a minor and as an adult, creating and selling pornography involving other minors and adults, and engaging in prostitution. Eichenwald ultimately wrote a series of articles about Berry and his activities; the first appeared in The New York Times on December 19, 2005. Though the series drew attention to the issues it raised and won praise from some, it was later revealed that Eichenwald had made a series of payments to Berry before submitting the story for publication, a violation of The Times' ethics policies. Eichenwald made the first payment while representing himself to be a songwriter and a potential customer for Berry's services, in order to gain his subject's confidence and discover his true identity, so that Berry could be located and contacted. His intent being to both pursue the story, and offer help to Berry. When Eichenwald's initial $2,000 payment via cashier's check was revealed to editors at The Times in June 2007, Eichenwald claimed that Berry's family had later repaid him the full amount, and that the only other payment he had made to Berry was $10 via PayPal. In August 2007, court documents connected to a child pornography case brought against a former associate of Berry's revealed that Eichenwald had made additional payments in June 2005 via PayPal, totaling at least $1,100; some of those payments were made using pseudonyms. Eichenwald denied lying about the additional payments, claiming that he has no recollection of having made them.[4]
Eichenwald publicly stated that he, his wife, and his minister were working together to rescue what they feared was a child in danger, and that all of the actions they took in June, 2005 were not done in his role as a journalist. When Berry subsequently decided to become a source for a story, Eichenwald said he demanded and received repayment of the money used earlier to avoid a conflict of interest. However, his recollection of the money he gave Berry omitted a number of payments later revealed in the various criminal cases against Justin Berry's business partners and customers, understating the amount paid. Since this aspect of the story was revealed, many critics have argued that Eichenwald's actions as a reporter were at least deeply questionable, and his remedial steps insufficient.

In an October 19, 2007 interview with NPR's David Folkenflik, Eichenwald stated that, due to the severe backlash from the Justin Berry story, he felt compelled to disclose that his epilepsy had caused "severe memory disruptions" and that he had a "deeply unreliable memory for names, facts and events" which he compensated for by his "famed meticulous reporting methods." Folkenflik reports that "during the prosecutions of two of those men [Berry's business partners Greg Mitchel and Timothy Richards] on related child-pornography charges, revelations have surfaced that have raised questions about Eichenwald's own actions. Most notable was his failure to inform editors at the Times that he and his wife had made a series of payments worth at least $3,100 to Berry and his associates.

So a known liar is now the voice to rally behind?

When you're desperate to shut down a needed investigation, apparently you'll hop into bed with anyone.

Katharine Hepburn: The Not So Great Kate

When we noted Bette Davis was the best actress of the 20th century, Katharine Hepburn freaks e-mailed and have continued to do so in the six years since.

They rave over her cheekbones and her breeding.

We're not impressed by either.

We just note that  the reality is that Hepburn's a so-so actress.


As producer Pandro Berman once noted of Hepburn, she couldn't carry a film and was bad in bad films and good in good films.

By contrast, Bette Davis could -- and did -- give a performance even with weak material.

Hepburn is an embarrassment in multiple films.

Here are ten of her worst performances ever.

1) The Iron Petticoat

She's no Greta Garbo and shouldn't have tried to be.

2) The Sea of Grass

So bad MGM delayed releasing it forever.  A film that proves Hepburn and Tracy needed strong writing to appear to have chemistry.

3) Dragon Seed

Hepburn couldn't play Russian (see number 1) and she also couldn't play Chinese.

4) Rooster Cogburn

Many actresses had chemistry with John Wayne.  Many more, like Joan Crawford, didn't but found a way to make the film amusing.  Hepburn just draws attention to herself and her sexless presence.

5) Spitfire

Hepburn was once convinced she could play Booth Tarkington's Cherry.  If she had played that role, that might have provided her with the most ridiculous lines of dialogue.  Instead, she has this film.

6) Quality Street 

Little Women aside, she really couldn't do period dramas.

7) Song Of Love 

And was equally lost in bio pics.

8) Suddenly, Last Summer 

While Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor turned in fine performances, what the hell was Hepburn doing?  She would slam the film (and spit at the producer) but maybe the real problem was her dead acting?

9) Love Affair 

She was jealous of other actresses.  Over 80 and jealous of other actresses?  How sad and it goes a long, long way towards explaining how she ended up with this clenched and embarrassing performance.

10) On Golden Pond 

Hepburn is simply ridiculous in this film.  Pauline Kael noted in The New Yorker in real that the actress "has become a Kate Hepburn windup doll-chipper and lyrical, floating in the stratosphere, and, God knows, spunky. Her star turn is a parody of the great Hepburn performances-it's all pirouettes."

Showing their ass

We long ago moved away from playing this-party-good-that-party-bad.

But last week, members of one party serving on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee really showed their ass.

This is from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" last Wednesday:

In the US, today could have been a very important day for veterans.  Instead, some members of Congress -- on the Republican side -- elected to play games and mess with veterans.

Senator Patty Murray has worked years to highlight a very serious problem for many veterans.  You are injured while serving.  Your injury may mean you and your spouse are unable to become pregnant.

Now if you're still active duty, if you're DoD and not under the VA, the government will cover efforts at in vitro fertilization.

But if you're VA?  No.

This isn't fair.

And Murray has led the fight for equality and the fight to see that veterans have the same rights and opportunities as anyone else.

Today, she pulled her bill because some members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (on the Republican side) attempted to turn a veterans issue into something else, a vote on Planned Parenthood, abortion and other issues that had nothing to do with helping wounded veterans start families.

Patricia Kim (Military Times) reports:

Murray called the amendments a "partisan attack on women's health," and said her bill, which passed the Senate in 2012 but failed in the House over funding concerns, would have ensured that the nation is doing "everything we can to support veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country."
"I am so disappointed — and truly angry that Republicans on the Veterans Affairs Committee decided yesterday to leap at the opportunity to pander to their base, to poison the well with the political cable news battle of the day, and turn their backs on wounded veterans," she said.
Tillis said the amendments were not intended "to kill in vitro fertilization." Rather, he said he has concerns about veterans who are waiting to receive medical care or are being denied care, including some of his constituents who have diseases related to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
"At some point, it may make sense to add another half a billion dollars for this medical treatment that's been proposed by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but not until we're absolutely certain that the promises we've already made going to be fulfilled," said Tillis, a freshman congressman.

Oh, it's not worth money to help an injured veteran start a family?

The Camp Lejeune issue?

You want to block a nominee over that?

I'll support you, I'll defend you.  I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, I will support you.

And I have.

I've supported Senator Richard Burr on this issue.  I've defended him here for blocking a nominee or a bill because of this issue.

But I can't support using Camp Lejeune as an excuse for denying other veterans and their families in need.

I can't support.

I can't defend it.

I think it's outrageous and I'm deeply, deeply disappointed in Tillis who I have had favorable impressions of as a result of recent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings.

He and others chose to play politics instead of standing up for veterans.

If he can't stand up for veterans, he really doesn't need to be on the Committee.

That's something only he can decide.

And I'm not calling for him to be ejected.

But this move wasn't about what was best for veterans.

Mediaite's Posse Don't Do Media Criticism

But they try and they try, as the Rolling Stones once sang.

media criticism

Today, Evan McMurry demonstrated once again how Mediaite continues to fail at even basic media criticism.

Rushing to hop aboard a non-story, Evan screeched:

On Friday, the Times push-alerted its readers that the Inspector General was opening up a criminal inquiry into whether Clinton discussed classified information on her private, non-=secure server while Secretary of State. This would have constituted a major development in the email story, which until now Clinton had been weathering, and seriously imperiled the frontrunner’s campaign.

First off, the IG does not open up a criminal inquiry.

Nor did The New York Times article claim that it had:

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information....

As for the report itself, it went through multiple versions.

That's the reality of the online world.

It was once the reality of multiple daily editions.

The real 'controversy' regarding the earlier claim is that the original report was based on information officials at the Justice Dept. had provided the paper with.

The real issue?

Mediaite missed it.

As did whores like Bob Somerby (who recently admitted he wasn't a media critic, just a partisan blogger) and Kevin Drum and David Brock.

Criminal investigation or not, Hillary Clinton stands accused of putting national security at risk due to her asinine decision not to use a government e-mail account while she was Secretary of State.

Somehow that basic point is missed as the strident Somerby and others rush to rescue the idiotic Hillary.

That is what she's accused of and her strident little online boyfriends can screech as much as they want but when you're accused of mishandling classified information it goes to whether or not you're fit to be president.

It is a story and the paper and other outlets need to cover it.

But partisan trash will screech and holler in the hopes that they can scare the media off.

That's not about democracy or media criticism -- it's bullying and intimidation on the behalf of their political crush.

Murray, Democrats Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT and Women Non-Discrimination Legislation


Senator Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray (above) is a senior member (and former Chair) of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following today:

 Murray, Democrats Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT and Women Non-Discrimination Legislation

Jul 24 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined 40 Senators, led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in introducing historic, comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and women.
“This year, we’ve seen major victories for the LGBT community, but even as we take strides toward equality, we must remember that there is more work to do,” said Patty Murray. “There is no place for discrimination in our country. Yet, far too many LGBT Americans and women remain vulnerable to discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We need the Equality Act to protect Americans from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity, regardless of what state they live in. I’m proud to support this legislation, and I look forward to building on the momentum we’ve seen recently and deliver on our nation’s promise of equality for all.”
Despite major advances in equality for LGBT Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, in the majority of states, an LGBT couple could be married in the morning and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment in the afternoon. The Equality Act of 2015 would ensure full federal non-discrimination equality by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws.
The bill would ban discrimination in a host of areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, access to credit, and federal funding. The bill would also add protections against sex discrimination in parts of anti-discrimination laws where these protections had not been included previously, including in public accommodations and federal funding.
The legislation was filed simultaneously in the U.S. House of Representatives by 158 Representatives, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).
In addition to Murray, Merkley, Baldwin, and Booker, the legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
For further information about the Equality Act:

Go Set A Watchman finds limits to some people's anti-racism

This is a repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Go Set A Watchman finds limits to some people's anti-racism

Fifty years after anti-racist classic To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s characters reappear in the unsettling Go Set A Watchman, writes Sarah Ensor

The Cover of Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee’s classic novel about racism in the US South, To Kill A Mockingbird, came out in 1960. Until last week it was her only published book.

Go Set A Watchman, featuring many of the same characters and some of the same events, has upset many of her fans. It shows the limits of how much change they would accept.

Lee originally wrote this novel in 1957. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch returns to her childhood home in Alabama to see her family.

At one point she recalls her lawyer father Atticus successfully defending a young black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama.

This incident was expanded to become To Kill a Mockingbird after two years of rewriting. It won the

Pulitzer Prize and is still one of the most popular books in the US.


Go Set a Watchman’s status as a draft is sometimes obvious. The writing is initially clunky, but soon becomes funny and charming. Lee further developed this skill in the later book.

To Kill a Mockingbird is told in Scout’s voice as a child—gently laughing at her family and neighbours.

With their mother dead and their adored father at work, Scout and her brother Jem were able to run in and out of the houses of the black and white people they loved.

They heard a lot more than the adults realised and were deeply affected by the racist hatred swirling around them.

As Go Set A Watcheman opens Scout, now known as Jean Louise, is travelling back to Alabama.

She is considering whether to give up her independent life in New York and marry her old friend Henry, now a lawyer working with her father.

It seems an unlikely choice—she’s done so much to avoid becoming another middle class housewife.

Then a young black man accidentally kills an old white man. Jean Louise’s secure view of her father and their relationship begin to fracture.

Atticus says he will represent the young man—but only to stop the Civil Rights organisation the NAACP sending lawyers who might stir people up.

Then at a “citizens’ council” Jean Louise witnesses her father and Henry calmly listening to the racist bile of a visiting speaker defending segregation.


It makes her physically sick. She thinks it must be all over with Henry and will never forgive her father.

This is what has shocked so many fans of To Kill a Mockingbird—that the great defender of equality before the law Atticus Finch could become a defender of segregation.

It is obviously unfinished and there’s no reason to think that Lee ever meant it to be published. And this is the real pity.

Because we will never know what this could have been if, 50 years ago, Harper Lee had been prepared to develop the rest as she did the Mockingbird section. This would have meant exploring the limits of her characters’ ideas and politics.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, Heinemann £18

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