Monday, November 19, 2018

Truest statement of the week

Forget the midterms. The “blue wave” was a low tide. The Democrats took the House but lost the Senate, and badly. The good news is that another excessively hyped election is over. Let’s talk instead about how under US imperialism, war is a constant. Republican and Democratic Party officials are members of the War Party. US imperial wars rage on regardless of whether a Democrat is elected for President or Congress. The War Party follows of the dictates of Wall Street and the war machine. Party membership not only includes Democratic and Republican officials but also the corporate media.
Democratic Party officials described last week’s midterm elections as the most important electoral moment in U.S. history. So-called “blue wave” politicians such as Stacy Abrams and Beto O’Rourke were deemed the “new” face of the Democrat side of the War Party. Democrats have promised their base that they will protect Obamacare, institute immigration reform, and “resist” Trump. These empty promises lacked the substance necessary to improve the conditions of poor and oppressed people. Beyond empty promises and corporate gesturing, Democrats gave a wink and a nod to the military industrial complex by remaining silent on the question of war.
The War Party planted military and intelligence candidates in midterm electoral races throughout the country. Stacy Abrams colluded with billionaires like Oprah but said nothing about war in her failed bid to become Governor of Georgia. Beto O’Rourke went a step further in his losing effort to the despicable Ted Cruz by promising the military industrial complex that he would shore up the resources necessary to “win” the six wars that his campaign identified in the global War on Terror. Corporate media outlets such as MSNBCand CNN further silenced the question of war by speaking non-stop about the elections as a “referendum” against Trump. What the corporate media and the Democrats didn’t say was that their “resistance” to Trump has always been a pro-war project.

-- Danny Haiphon, "Midterm Results: War Party Rules" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

Donald Trump’s boorishness and stupidity always ruffle feathers but almost always for the wrong reasons. Such was the case with his decision to skip one of the World War I commemoration ceremonies held in France. A very public spat with French president Emmanuel Macron may have been the precipitating factor but the tempest is a teachable moment. Focusing on Trumpian mood swings is no substitute for a study of history.
Despite the pomp, circumstance and wreath laying, there is no reason to celebrate World War I. In 1914 European powers squabbled like predatory animals over their various imperialist claims. They all miscalculated and none of them foresaw a four-year long catastrophe that would kill millions of people. When it became clear that the stalemate would only result in more suffering they refused to relent. Instead they accelerated the deadliness of the conflict and developed mustard gas, the flame thrower and aerial warfare.
But the victors eventually got the spoils. Britain and France ended up taking the Ottoman Empire territories in the Middle East and snatching Germany’s colonies in Africa too. They stole Germany’s money and set the stage for another conflagration just 20 years later. The United States got in on the action towards the end of the war and ended up securing its own empire. Woodrow Wilson’s promise of self-determination was never intended to apply to the peoples of the global south, who were expected to accept colonialism without complaint.
One hundred years later the same nations are still making decisions that impact everyone in the world and they still do so with the worst of intentions. The NATO framework that resulted after the great war of the 1940s was a defensive apparatus against the Soviet Union which collapsed in 1991. The end of the USSR should have meant the end of NATO too but instead it expanded eastward right up to Russia’s border.

-- Margaret Kimberley, "The Legacy of 1918" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Almost Monday morning on the west coast and we're finally done.

Let's 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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
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?


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

Editorial: Iraq's still a mess

May 12th, Iraq held elections.  All this time later, they still don't have a full Cabinet.  BASNEWS reports:

After over three weeks of establishing a new government in Baghdad, the Iraqi Shi'ite factions have not yet agreed to have one sole nominee for the position of interior ministry, reports said.
According to Iraqi media reports, the Alliance of Reform and Building, which consists of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sa'eroun, Haider Abadi’s Victory and 16 other political groups, cannot agree with the al-Bina Coalition, led by Hadi al-Amiri and Nouri al-Maliki as the latter insists on nominating Falih Fayaz, a former Hashd al-Shaabi official and Iraq’s national security advisor.
Earlier the year, Abadi dismissed Fayaz from the post of national advisor, arguing that the official cannot hold a political and military position simultaneously, while Sadr is determined to not give ministerial posts to people who have previously held such positions.

No Minister of Interior.  No Minister of Defense.

Nor any efforts to meet the demands of the protesters in Basra.  This weekend did see the assassination of protest leader Wissam al-Ghrawi -- but that doesn't appear to have lit any fired under prime minister Adil Abdul al-Mahdi.

But he does appear frustrated and BASNEWS notes he's making threats:

Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi's threatenings to resign from his position, due to political confrontations among the parties over ministerial posts in his government, is "not just words", a Kurdish lawmaker said on Saturday.
Abdul-Mahdi has lately started to threaten to step down if the factions continue disputes in the process of concluding the new cabinet in Baghdad.
"Abdul-Mahdi's threat is, in part, [intended] to get the political factions to arrive at a deal to complete his cabinet," of which "eight ministries have not been voted on," Hoshiyar Abdullah, head of the Change Movement (Gorran) bloc in the Iraqi parliament, told Kurdistan 24.

All this time later, Iraq remains a mess.  So much for the illegal war that was supposed to be about 'liberation' and 'freedom' and 'democracy.'

TV: The Selfie


Former First Lady went on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network to promote her new book BECOMING.  She'll be everywhere shortly.

And, as on Oprah, she'll be fuming because she's very upset over her life.  It's all there in her book.

She was First Lady but it's all about her.  She was First Lady so you'd think she'd be able to write about the American people -- she was, after all, supposedly representing them.

That's not what the book is about, it's just about her.

Your first clue is the table of contents.

"Becoming Me" starts on page 1.  The next chapter?  "Becoming Us" (meeting and marrying Barack) starts on page 109.  Yes, it's that kind of self-indulgent routine.

Remember her work for veterans?  She does in a single sentence noting herself and Jill Biden.  But not noting any veteran.  Sort of explains to you why so many veterans and reporters called her out in real time -- including Thomas E. Ricks, here and here, for just two examples.

In interviews, she whines about herself or about her family.  They live with Secret Service protection for life.  She and her husband are proving to be as money grubbing as Bill and Hillary Clinton.  She's really concerned about herself, not so much about the people of the world -- and certainly not about the people who died in the wars Barack continued as well as the ones he started.

It's a selfie in text.

The selfie?

As with so many bad things in society of late, it can be traced back to Ellen DeGeneres.  Ellen, after all, can't dance and encourages others who can't dance to dance awkwardly with her on her show.  Ellen also started the rehabilitation of Bully Boy Bush by bringing him on her show and dancing with the War Criminal.  And then there are the 2014 Academy Awards where Ellen took that ridiculous selfie.

Selfie's -- where the focus is on one's self.

Armie Hammer got in trouble last week over selfies.  Stan Lee, the legendary creator of so many comics, had passed away.  TWITTER erupted in selfies.  Armie dared to note the vanity in this and was attacked for it.

Whiners insisted they would post photos with their grandfather if he died.


Presumably, they would have known their grandfather.

They didn't know Stan Lee.  The point of their Tweets was that they'd briefly met him once.  Yes, that was making it about them.

Amrie's point -- a valid and simple point -- was that someone had passed away and maybe we should honor the work that the person did which so inspired us and not make the story about us.

That was too much in this Age of The Selfie.

Did you ever see UP THE SANDBOX?  For years, Barbra Streisand has shared that the inspiration for the family scene where one idiot member keeps taking photos over and over was her own brother Sheldon and that she told him, "You know, you're not here.  You'll be here when you develop those pictures."  That was true then.  Today?  With selfies?  Maybe they're never here.  Maybe with so much self-focus, even after the event, when they're looking at the selfies, the focus remains on them.

It is the focus that so many of us spend our lives fighting.  The media tends to focus on the power.

We were reminded of that with THE SMITHSONIAN's hideous AMERICA IN COLOR.  There are so many problems with 'colorizing' old film.  We'd say the segment on Greenwood, Oklahoma outlined one huge one.  It's interesting, in this Black community, how everyone shown was light skinned.  Was that reality?  We don't think so.  We do think it was the bias by those coloring the prints, they determined to include only light skinned African-Americans and erase anyone else.

Who gets the focus is about the power in this country which is why AMERICA IN COLOR ignores all the people initially run over as the automobile became huge in the 1920s -- all but the young son of a family who built a fortune with hand cream (they leave out the fact that the hand lotion promised honey and almonds but contained neither).  That's a death to recognize.  They note he was the fourth one in the city -- fourth child -- to die in 24 hours from being run over but somehow the other three people just didn't rate.  No photos of them were shown, they weren't even named.

It's this self-focus that Michelle exhibits but doesn't understand.  The same as Hillary Clinton.  Which is clear in  A&E's mini-series THE CLINTON AFFAIR (which kicked off Sunday night and continues for five more episodes).  It's a bad mini-series, a really bad one.

Monica Lewinsky comes off well.  She makes her case.  And it underscores how Hillary just doesn't get it -- Monica's remarks.  She's a volunteer at the White House, Bill Clinton is the president of the United States.  How is this equal?  And that's before you add in age.  Bill conducted a long running sexual affair with a young woman.  It was a huge abuse of power.  We don't believe it was an impeachable one.  We do believe it goes to how corrupting power is and that, yes, Bill was corrupted by power.

Paula Jones also gets to make her case.  But we don't care for the mini-series because we remember Hillary.  We remember Hillary's public remarks about various women -- Gennifer Flowers, for example -- about how if she had them on the stand, she'd prove this and she'd do that and blah, blah, blah.  (Flowers had a long standing affair with Bill.  Under oath, he admitted to at least one instance of sex with her.  Her recordings of their phone calls make clear that it was a long standing affair.) Clintonista Bob Somerby, among others, has created a revisionary history with a narrative of Hillary never attacking the women who stepped forward.  That's all she did was attack them.  The famous "vast right wing conspiracy"?  That was when she was on THE TODAY SHOW to attack Monica Lewinsky's credibility.

For six nights, the mini-series pretends to provide a complex look.  It doesn't.  It does give Monica a chance to really speak about what she saw as a love affair but was clearly, on Bill's part, just sexcapades.  It allows you to grasp how cruel and calculating Bill was with regards to women.  He was president, he was conducting an affair with an intern and he was married at the time.  He was leading this young woman on.  He's disgusting.  He's as much a pig as the character married to Jill Clayburgh in AN UNMARRIED WOMAN -- and we can picture him, like the guy in that film, crying when he finally had to tell Hillary about the affair.

Juanita Broaddrick get a tiny bit of time in the final episode. Not enough.  If you're going to revisit this topic, Juanita needs to be front and center.  Her allegations came after the impeachment -- and they came after the impeachment because NBC sat on her interview and had to be shamed into finally airing it by THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's Dorothy Rabinowitz.  Juanita charges that Bill Clinton raped her when he was governor of Arkansas (we believe her).  She has stood by the story for two decades now.  We believe her.  She certainly deserved far more attention than she received in THE CLINTON AFFAIR.

All the women did -- including Paula Jones -- but that's the thing about the focus, it continues to be on the powerful and their lackeys who make excuses for them.  There is no need for all the supporting players -- Joe Conason, liar David Brooks (who is able to airbrush his own actions), James Carville, et al -- who show up.

Today, when Hillary slams Monica or defends Bill's abuse of power, it just reminds us of how the news that her 2016 campaign staff (male) committed multiple acts of harassment and that Hillary's response to this after-the-fact exposure was to assure the world that the women involved -- who were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements -- were all okay and thrilled with the way she handled things.  That's where the press put the focus.  On Hillary and her statements.  The focus should have been: "If what you say is true, we're sure you'll waive those non-disclosure agreements to let women speak for themselves."

Over and over, Hillary has aligned herself with men who prey on women.  Just like her husband preyed on women, Hillary tolerates the behavior among the men who work for her (Philippe Reines, we're looking at you).  Hillary harmed her own 2016 campaign in many ways but that did include refusing to send her aid Huma packing because Anthony Weiner was a freak show.  Hillary tolerates freak shows, she tolerates abusive men.  It's why, today, Bill's behavior now reflects on her.  It's not longer that she's the wronged wife, it's now that she has a pattern of allowing these abusers (Patrick Kennedy in the State Dept.) to remain in jobs she should fire them from.

But the victims don't get to speak.  We have our problems with Alyssa Milano and we've gone past the point where we can simply believe someone who steps forward blindly.  But we do understand why Alyssa and others do: It's about the need to enlarge the focus from the He Said of the Powerful.  In The Age of the Selfie, it's especially important to enlarge the focus.  Hopefully, that's something most people can agree on.

We stand with Julian

  1.   Retweeted
    Trump officials want to put Assange behind bars because he revealed U.S. war crimes. Democrats want to put him behind bars because he revealed corruption at the highest levels of the DNC, writes .

Julian Assange, publisher of WIKILEAKS, has committed no crime.  He remains in England, unable to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy.  If he leaves the embassy?  He will be arrested.

For what crime?

Bail jumping.  We kid you not.

At one point, there were charges against Julian Assange.  He was on trial.  The charges are now dropped.  He is no longer confused of a crime; however, because he saw sanctuary from Ecuador, the UK authorities to this day will arrest him if he leaves the Embassy.

For what crime?

Bail jumping from a trial for charges that he's no longer charged with.

Repeat that over and over, it will never make any more sense.  That's because it does not make sense.

Remember on REVENGE when Emily was on trial and broke out of jail so that she could prove she was innocent?  After the charges were dropped, she was then arrested for breaking out of jail.

But TV apparently is a little more grounded in reality than life.

Especially when it's time to attack a truth teller.

That's Julian's real crime: Exposing truths that politicians want buried.

These are serious issues, real issues, and not everyone's up to the task of participating in the public dialogue.  Ann noted one example of that in "There's crazy in the air" -- an idiot American who had Tweeted Julian was guilty of treason.  As Ann explained, Julian Assange is a citizen of Australia, not America.  He has not committed treason by exposing the American government.

Pamela Anderson actually understands the issues, unlike some.  In an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia at THE DAILY BEAST, she writes:

You trivialized and laughed about the suffering of an Australian and his family. You followed it with smutty, unnecessary comments about a woman voicing her political opinion.
We all deserve better from our leaders, especially in the current environment. 
Following the show, 60 Minutes canvassed the views of Australians online. People responded in the thousands, overwhelmingly—92% of more than 7000—in favour of bringing Julian home. 
Rather than making lewd suggestions about me, perhaps you should instead think about what you are going to say to millions of Australians when one of their own is marched in an orange jumpsuit to Guantanamo Bay—for publishing the truth. You can prevent this.

He could.  The Prime Minister of Australia could be someone on the world stage and please Australians by standing up.  But he'll probably just continue to be a weak sister, an uninspiring little nobody who refuses to stand up and instead prefers to be a lapdog of the United States government.

Who is he?

We're not repeating his name because, right now, he's a little nobody.  If he stands up, we'll note him here.

There are huge issues at play here.

Assange lawyer: US government extraditing a publisher in the UK for publishing in the UK is going to see China, Russia, Saudi use the precedent to extradite everyone

It is amazing that there was non-stop whining for a week over Jim Acosta's 'plight' but no one wants to spend hours talking about the very real issues in Julian Assange's case.

We stand with Julian.

Radio moment of the week

BLACK AGENDA RADIO:  "The nation’s best known political prisoner says prison officials don’t want to break the cycle of recidivism that sends former inmates back to confinement. As an example, Mumia Abu Jamalcites the plight of  'Mike,' a young inmate at Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy prison who was denied a Pell grant because he already 'knew too much'."

Read a book?


Readers have e-mailed us asking for more book coverage at community sites.  We've passed this request on.

So far, the book coverage includes:

"Leslie Bennetts writes about something but it's not Joan Rivers" -- Trina.

"Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reviews Michelle Obama's BECOMING.

"The Women’s Suffrage Movement is an awful (and rac..." and "Penguin's embarrassing and racist book on feminism" -- Ann and Elaine.
"Alice Isn't Dead" -- Marcia.

"When a book no longer pleases" -- Betty.


"Parker Posey's YOU'RE ON AN AIRPLANE" -- Mike.

"Sally Field IN PIECES" -- C.I. 

"Neil deGrasse Tyson and his superficial book" -- Betty.

"Alice Walker's The Chicken Chronicles" -- Marcia.

"The really bad book The Bridge" -- Ann.

"The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg" -- Trina. 

"T.J. Berry's Space Unicorn Blues" -- Marcia.  

"HELLO GORGEOUS by William Mann" -- Stan.


"Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman Paperback" -- Ann.

"No one Peter Bogdanovich knows is ever gay" -- Marcia.

"Seymour Hersh meanders throughout REPORTER: A MEMOIR" -- C.I. 

"Dusty (by Karen Bartlett)" -- Marcia.

"Media critiques -- Nora Ephron's SCRIBBLE SCRABBLE" -- Mike.

"Judy Garland (the biographies)" -- Kat.


"UNCOMMON TYPES: Let's kill whomever taught Tom Hanks to type" -- Elaine.


"Anne Sexton: THE COMPLETE POEMS" -- C.I.

"Charlotte Chandler's MARLENE" -- Elaine.

"A sexist woman writes She's a Rebel and distorts music history" -- Ann.

"barbara ehrenreich's 'natural causes'" -- Rebecca. 

"Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook" -- Trina.


"Blackfish City" -- Marcia.

"THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES by Alice Walker" -- Ruth.

"Harry Belafonte" -- Mike.

"THE SAME RIVER TWICE (Alice Walker)" -- Isaiah.

"Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield" -- Marcia.

"Good for Jimmy Stewart, bad for readers" -- Stan.

"Conversations with Toni Morrison" -- Marcia.

"Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream" -- Ann.

"He Ran All The Way" -- Trina.

And we'll also note Ann's "How a book store could stay alive in today's economy" about the book business.

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