Monday, May 09, 2016

Truest statement of the week

The John Nichols crowd, the pundits-cum-cheerleaders of the progressive wing of the Democrats, will do their best to sell the notion of Bernie making a difference by representing reform and the future of the Party.  But Nichols and his type of progressive Dem pundit have become a self-parody, although those steeped in the True Blue Echo Chamber will never realize this.

-- John Stauber, "Strange Bedfellows: the Bizarre Coalition of Kochs, Neocons and Democrats Allied Against Trump and His #FUvoters" (COUNTERPUNCH).

Truest statement of the week II

When President Obama became President, Iraq was actually in a relatively good place. From 2007 to 2009 is the only time in the whole war that the US had the right strategy, the right leadership and the right resources. So when President Obama took over, the levels of violence were down, there was optimism in the country that everything was heading in the right direction.
And after the 2010 elections which were a tightly contested election, but a good election, the US didn't uphold the election results and the US quickly drew down its forces. That enabled basically Maliki, who lost the election, to consolidate more and more power and go after his rivals, to arrest Sunni's en masse, which created the space for Islamic State to rise up and created the problems that we see today.
So I think Iraq will go down as a blot of President Obama's record. Particularly, as his administration was claiming Iraq to be a great success. 

-- Emma Sky, author of  The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.
, appearing on ABC's THE WORLD TODAY.

A note to our readers

Hey --

A Monday.

We had hoped for better.

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:

John Stauber gets another truest.
Emma Sky gets a truest.
The never-ending Iraq War has not ended.
Ava and C.I. take on PARTY OVER HERE.
Ty moderates a roundtable discussion on THE GOOD WIFE.
What the White House really means . . .
What we listened to while writing. 
Repost of UK Socialist Worker.
Jill Stein Tweets (and, no, her Hillary Tweet neither offended nor phased us -- see C.I.'s commentary on that non-topic).
Press release from Senator Marco Rubio's office.
Press release from Senator Bernie Sanders' campaign.

Amnesty International.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: Three faces of the dead

2 US service members died in Iraq last week.



B-b-b-but Barack ended the Iraq War.

Oh, what a thin line between naive and willfully stupid.

The Iraq War continues.

  • Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, killed by ISIS in Iraq. RIP

  • AZ Gov Ducey identified the Navy SEAL killed by ISIS in Iraq as Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix. RIP

  • Lt. David Bauders of Seattle died in Iraq Friday. He is being called a selfless soldier who put others first.

    Both men died in Iraq last week.

    A lot of Iraqis died as well.

    But they're largely faceless.

    Their deaths covered only as numbers -- if they even warrant that coverage.

    The American media is 'bored' with Iraq.

    How fortunate for them.

    How lucky for them.

    Others aren't so lucky.

    US House Rep. Seth Moulton noted the death of an Iraqi last week:

    Yesterday I lost my closest friend in the Iraqi Army to ISIS and our failed policy in Iraq.

    You've got three faces there.

    The faces of three people who died in Iraq last week.

    Look at those faces and ask yourself why you pretend the Iraq War ended?

    TV: Ain't No Party On The Screen

    Saturday night, PARTY OVER HERE did a skit where a man in the audience doesn't like the show and says so online so the three performers briefly speak to him and discover he's hurting.  Then they beat him up.

    Apparently, it was too much work to make him laugh.

    Or the audience.


    We were hoping to wait until the final episode of the season to review the show but when you're doing skits mocking and then beating your critics, maybe it's time you faced a real take down?

    Saturday's broadcast was the eighth episode of FOX's late night sketch comedy starring Nicole Byer, Jessica McKenna and Alison Rich -- the eighth disappointing episode.

    The show's biggest problem is that it's just not funny.

    It tries to be.

    Certainly, the three cast members are likable enough.

    But maybe a show's always going to be in trouble when the three performers onscreen don't get half the attention as the offscreen creators?

    That would be The Lonely Island's Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone.

    The excitement over those three men creating a show should have disappeared once the series began airing.

    And it largely did.  Not because Nicole, Jessica and Alison were so entertaining but because they weren't.

    Every now and then, there's a skit that's okay and makes you realize PARTY OVER HERE doesn't have to suck.

    But those skits are few and far between.

    A 30 minute broadcast that can barely manage one okay skit a week is one that has serious problems.

    That's even more true when they've broadcast eight episodes.

    Eight episode without one laugh out loud funny skit.

    They have writers.

    We're not sure why.

    Each skit plays as though the audience shouted out improv ideas.

    Here's the thing though, assassins in the audience?

    Not really funny.

    Comedy's based on recognition.

    We laugh at our absurdities.

    And, as SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE well knows, we're especially happy to laugh when we see characters we like returning.

    You would have thought a new sketch comedy show would work on establishing break out characters from the start.

    But then, you would have also thought they would have worked on being funny.

    We're not saying cancel the show -- it's cheap to produce and we hope it gets better.

    But we are saying that in the future when FOX airs a late night sketch comedy show, go with someone who isn't seeking Lorne Michael's blessings.

    In March, Bryn Elise Sandberg (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) reported:

    "The first thing we said to Fox was, 'We'll never go against SNL,' so we made sure that we ended before they start," said Schaffer to an intimate group of press on the set of their new sketch comedy entry, Party Over Here. "We wanted to do something new and exciting and fun but we didn't want it to have any direct conflict," added Samberg. "We want to be asked back! We're not, like, raging war on SNL. That's still our home and our family." 

    Gee, maybe if you were raging war, you'd actually be funny?

    Maybe every whimsical aside wouldn't feel like yet another punch pulled?

    Or maybe, instead of lashing out at their own audience, they could find better humor targets?

    THE GOOD WIFE Roundtable

    Ty:  THE GOOD WIFE aired it's final episode on CBS tonight, Sunday night.  We're doing a roundtable on the show and what it meant -- if anything.  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's me, Ty; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;  Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. You are reading a rush transcript.


    Ty (Con't): Marcia, you want to do the overview?

    Marcia: Sure. In the fall of 2009, this hour long show starring Julianna Margulies began airing.  As it completes its seventh season, it completes its run.  The show revolved around Alicia who was married to Peter Florrick -- played by Chris North -- who was a politician caught having an affair. Does she stand by her husband?  Does she have her own identity?  Is there any reason to care about her?

    Ty: And was there?  Ruth?

    Ruth: For a few seasons, yes.  For a few.  But she became insufferable.  And Ms. Margulies off camera difficulty with Emmy winner Archie Panjabi who played Kalinda went a long way towards destroying any good will she had with audiences.  

    Ann: Well Kalina was a person of color in an all White cast.  And when she was sidelined, that really hurt the series.  When she was then fired, that hurt the show more.  When it was learned that the White Princess Margulies would not even film a scene with her at the bar -- it had to be shot with them on the set at different times -- that really screamed White entitlement. 

    Ty: Stan, you were blogging about the show weekly and stepped away around this time.

    Stan: Yes, I did.  This was a show made by 'well meaning liberals.'  And yet, as Ann pointed out, the regular cast was all White except for Archie Panjabi.  And she was hugely popular. The actress was wonderful in the role.  But there was so much racism.  Most obviously in the use of an actor to play a drug lord -- an African-American male.  They can't make an African-American male a regular lawyer on the show but they can make him a drug lord.  Time and again, well meaning intentions were betrayed by unacknowledged racism.

    Rebecca: Which really came to bear on Kalinda -- Archie Panjabi's character.  Talk about that, Stan.

    Stan: The show runners turned on Kalinda.  They came up with this 'great' story.  They just knew it was groundbreaking.  Kalinda's husband returns.  And she is sexually attracted to him when -- pay attention here -- he beats her.  

    Rebecca: She was in an abusive relationship where her husband beat her and she escaped that.  Now he returns and she's supposed to be turned on by his violence against her.

    Ann: It was disgusting.

    Stan: And again, racist.  The only person of color in the regular cast is the one who wants to be beaten, who gets horny from being beaten.  Not "the good wife," but the person of color.  It was disgusting and went a long way towards explaining what show runners Robert King and Michelle King really thought of people of color.  They're the exotic 'other,' the savages turned on by violence.  It was so insulting and so racist.

    Rebecca: And the response?  The audience was outraged, rightly.  But the Kings didn't acknowledge their mistake.  They had a hissy fit and punished Kalinda fans by sidelining her.

    Marcia: I am so appalled that this show was so widely praised and that there was so little effort to criticize it for its awful portrayals of race.  I also felt it was the biggest waste of time ever.  In the end, what was Alicia?  Old and wrinkled.  Still pathetic.  She'd given up her chance with Jason.  She was still pathetic.  More wrinkles and still pathetic. 

    Betty: And the wig.  The Good Wig.  How can we not talk about that?

    Ty: Go ahead.

    Betty: People were praising Margulies as Becky Good Hair and then, around season five, Margulies reveals she's worn a wig in every episode.  

    Ann: And it was a bad wig in the final season.

    Betty: It was.  It was so bad.

    Trina: I hated Diane Lockhart.  Christine Baranski is a one note actress who throws every line into the roof of her mouth.  I couldn't stand her.  She betrayed Alicia repeatedly.  And in the end, her last scene with Alicia? Their last scene together is Diane slapping Alicia and Alicia taking it.  What a pathetic embarrassment Alica Florrick was.  Diane hated her from day one, felt she was only there because Will GArdner had the hots for her and, once Will died, Diane was still working against Alicia unless she felt she could use her.  Alicia was pathetic.

    Ann: I can't stand Diane and I can't stand the actress that played her.  I hate her on BIG BANG THEORY, I hate her on everything.

    Ty: Other than Kalinda, what characters did you like on the show?

    Ruth: Eli.  Eli was a good character.  Usually not very sympathetic.  Always felt he was supposed to be Rahm Emanuel.  But he was an interesting character.  And Alan Cumming did a great job playing the part.

    Wally: I'd agree. Other than Archia Panjabi's Kalinda, my favorite was Matt Czuchry's Cary.  Cary was a really important character and the failure of the show to grasp that -- repeatedly -- was embarrassing. 

    Stan: Like when they had him on trial.  That was just nonsense.

    Ty: What about the kids -- Alicia and Peter had two children -- Zach and Grace.

    Stan: The show lost its way repeatedly.  That was especially clear in the last three episodes.  Zach, in college, has fallen in love and plans to marry.  He's going to move to Paris with her and Alicia has a fit insisting that with Peter on trial -- again! -- Zach has to put his life on hold.  But in the final episode tonight, she has a fit when Grace postpones moving to California because her dad's on trial.  It made no sense at all.

    Ty: The show had a lot of guest stars.  Anyone especially stand out?

    Betty: Martha Plimpton.  She played Patti Nyholm and she was wonderful.  

    Ty: She won an Emmy for the role.

    Wally: And deserved it.  I also liked Parker Posey as Eli's ex-wife Vanessa.  And of course, the Vanessa.

    Betty: Vanessa Williams.  She had a small role in season seven as Courtney Paige and I was really pissed that there was no effort for her and Eli to have a final scene.  

    Stan: And Vanessa was wonderful in that role but that's what they did with people of color -- bring them on for a few episodes and then disappear them.  And we only got them because some of us were brave enough to call out the never ending Whiteness of this show.

    Ty: So the show finally ended tonight.  What did you think?

    Trina: Again, not impressed.  Alicia was actually more pathetic than when the show started and getting slapped by Diane and being left alone?

    Wally: It really was disappointing.

    Rebecca: I'd argue the show should have been called THE GOOD DOOR MAT and should have ended when Will died.  

    Ty: But he was on the last episode in flashbacks and fantasy scenes.

    Betty: Which was the biggest waste of time.  Will's dead, why did he get so much air time.  It also drove home who wasn't there: Kalinda.

    Marcia: I thought the show as overhyped but often entertaining.  This episode was just nonsense.  Peter resigns as governor, goes on one year probation, Alicia chooses Jason too late and he's gone and she gets slapped.  What's the point?  

    Wally: I kept waiting for them to rally in the court room with some way of proving Peter innocent.  I really wanted that because that would have allowed Alicia to stop worrying about Peter and focus on building a life with Jason.

    Ruth: And that is true and it is true that Kalinda was also lost and forgotten but Eli was on the episode and he had what, one scene?  After all the importance he has had on the show, that is all the time they gave him?  They should have brought Vanessa Williams back on, like we were saying earlier, to give Eli a happy ending.  But no one got a happy ending.  Certainly not the audience.

    Ann: It really was a screw you ending.  A big screw you to the audience.

    Rebecca: It was a potboiler that lost the ability to keep things boiling.  The show went out as an embarrassment.  

    Ty: And that's it.  Unless, two years from now, when Margulies can't find another role, CBS decides to do series of TV movies.  But that's it, that's our verdict on THE GOOD WIFE.

    Deciphering The Tweet

     Pinned Tweet
    "Yes We Can." Watch 's advice to the Class of 2016.
    President Obama's Advice to the Howard University Class of 2016
    Follow @WhiteHouse for the latest from President Obama and his administration.

    What does it really mean?

    I ran in 2007 and 2008 on ending the Iraq War.

    I failed to do that.

    Now, eight years later, I'm pushing my failure off on you!!!!

    Here it is, my gift to you, enjoy.

    What exactly has she done?


    At her campaign site, Hillary Clinton offers "112 reasons (and counting!) Hillary Clinton should be our next president."

    But reading them fails to convince us.

    Better question: She had eight years since her last run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    What does she have to show for it?

    Since she always knew she'd be running in 2016, you'd think she'd have tried to build up a resume, create some accomplishments.

    Instead, she went with photo ops and speeches.

    Eight years and nothing to show for it.

    Pretty much a whole life and nothing to show for it.

    What has Hillary accomplished?

    She did run for the US Senate and win.

    We'll give her that.

    She was First Lady only because she was married to Bill Clinton.

    She was Secretary of State because Barack Obama picked her.

    Did she do anything earth shattering with either role?


    She posed for pictures.

    She was involved in scandals.

    No real leadership.

    No real impact.

    8 years, a whole life, and nothing to show for it.

    Where's your big accomplishment, Hillary?

    How about posting that?

    This edition's playlist


    1) Ben Harper's CALL IT WHAT IT IS.

    2) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.


    8)  Carly Simon's ANOTHER PASSENGER.

    10) Wilco's STAR WARS.

    Superheroes and the fight for competing visions of society

    This is a repost from Great Britain's SOCIALIST WORKER:

    Superheroes and the fight for competing visions of society

    by Simon Guy

    Captain America
    Captain America: Saviour of and rebel against the system

    Captain America: Civil War is a superhero love-in. In a fight involving Spiderman, the line “everyone’s got a gimmick” sums up the chaos of the heroes battling it out for attention.
    Marvel’s latest instalment is fantastic visually, very entertaining and comes with mega production values.

    It echoes the US invasions of whichever country it wants.

    Violence causing violence and the consuming nature of revenge are the film’s dominating themes.

    But while criticisms of the political system are raised, they remain unresolved.

    The main division is over whether the United Nations (UN) can have oversight over the Avengers.

    This superhero team has stepped in repeatedly outside of the official channels to save the day from an otherwise unstoppable threat.

    Iron Man is willing to submit to this oversight. This is strange considering his hostile dealings with a US Senate committee. But he is confronted by the grief which the Avengers’ actions have caused.


    Yet Captain America refuses, arguing that the Avengers can only trust themselves to set their agenda.
    This is used as a justification for the antagonism between Iron Man and the Cap. But this antagonism is based on personal reasons, rather than the political issues the film raises.

    Captain America’s stand could be construed as him putting himself above democracy.

    Yet this is in a cinematic universe where high level officials and powerful people have shown themselves to be corrupt.

    But this is not a theme which comes through in the film.

    The US secretary of state is shady but never becomes a true villain. Martin Freeman is convincing as a UN bureaucrat who is seemingly just going by the book but is irrelevant to the story.

    At one point some of the characters question whether they should even be fighting each other. And the film retains the series’ ability to take the piss out of itself.

    You can’t help thinking this is a plot made to keep the franchise going.

    Each main character has a story about their “origins”. And they come together in the Avengers films and are thrust into common struggle against a formidable enemy.

    In each film they have to overcome real tensions in order to find the unity necessary to win.

    Each enemy finds ways to deepen divisions.


    In that sense Civil War is the culmination of these films, but the new opponent they face is fairly unknown.

    This character is not really developed much. In amongst the chaos his motivations are secondary, except for being a product of the carnage left in the wake of the Avengers’ “kicking ass”.

    This makes you think about “collateral damage” left by military interventions in the real world.
    In one sense, Captain America could encourage some to think there are and will always be those who are more terrifying than we can imagine.

    So we better build the baddest super soldiers to stop them.

    In another sense, he is someone struggling to hold together his team of militants. And this is all against the backdrop of a political system which is manipulated by agendas of the powerful.

    He represents the salvation of the system, but also the struggle against it.
    Captain America—Civil War. Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo. Out now

    Jill Stein Tweets

    1. Strong positions on peace, climate change, & single-payer healthcare are needed to stem the loss of life in our most vulnerable communities.
    2. Exposing war-profiteering & civil liberties-violating government actions is an act of courage.
    3. We need to take corporate money out of politics--and also end corporate personhood and pay-to-play government contracts.
    4. We need a foreign policy based on international law & human rights, which means we need to stop sending millions each day to Israel.
    5. We need a nationwide ban on fracking immediately. We're entering the 6th great extinction. This is an issue of our & our children's survival
    6. You cannot stop ISIS by doing more of what created ISIS. End wars for oil; demand Saudis stop sponsoring terrorism; convert to clean energy
    7. A Green New Deal would take emergency measures to convert our economy to 100% clean energy by 2030 while providing jobs for all willing.
    8. Younger generations are drowning in student debt. Congress bailed out the banks, now let's bail out our future.
    9. If we trash our planet by knowingly continuing to use fossil fuels, we are committing a grave injustice against future generations.
    10. Despite living in the wealthiest nation, Americans lead shorter lives in poorer health than residents of virtually all developed countries.
    11. Honor all the mothers in your life today. Then let that gratitude connect you to the origins of this holiday: mothers fighting against war.
    12. : Time To Reject The ‘Lesser-Evil’ & Stand Up For The Greater Good
    13. It's not about electing a woman to the WH for the first time but electing the woman who will lead to put people, planet & peace over profit.
    14. Clinton and Trump are both playing the “Woman Card” but the women and children living in poverty lose either way.
    15. Hillary is bankrolled by Wall St. money from countries who trample on women’s rights, meaning donations can take precedence over principles.
    16. Clinton may be ticking off a list of female-friendly promises but we need to follow the money & how that influences what she takes action on
    17. Hillary & Trump's positions on war, climate & health care will contribute to loss of life in our most vulnerable communities.
    18. Neither Clinton nor Trump are talking about a national initiative to eliminate poverty and hunger in the richest country in the world.
    19. What do my two major political rivals for Presidency offer this to +18M women living in poverty today? Certainly not ending it.
    20. The best welfare reform program would be full employment, with a strong safety net with dignity for those unable to work.
    21. What Hillary stands on is the Clinton legacy of demonizing poor women by repealing the main New Deal program for poor children.
    22. Trump's tirades have prompted Hillary to literally cash in on a “Woman Card”, a gimmick to pad her already overstuffed war chest last month.
    23. As a mother and a physician, I am outraged that this presidential election has been reduced to a battle of the sexes.
    24. Trump's demeaning comments about female opponents, members of the press & women broadly by his sexist rantings are unacceptable.
    25. Fight back against corporate-funded campaigns - donate today & your contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar:
    26. Let's remember the origins of : Women organized for peace, spoke out against war and grieved for every son that had been killed.
    27. Being a mother means solving international disputes through negotiations and a commitment to international law and human rights.
    28. A mother is also a healer. That starts with joining the rest of the industrial world and providing health care to everyone.
    29. We need to make child care a universal right, end child hunger and poverty, and increase federal support for our school systems.
    30. I agree w/ Hillary, it's time to elect a woman for President. But I want that President to reflect the values of being a mother.
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