Monday, January 13, 2020

Truest statement of the week

The resolution adopted by the US House of Representatives Thursday evening “directing” President Trump not to go to war with Iran without congressional approval is a political fraud. It has two political purposes: to allow the Democratic Party to pretend it is opposed to war without actually imposing the slightest restriction on the military actions of the Trump administration; and to cement the ties between the Democrats and large sections of the military-intelligence apparatus who were clearly blindsided by Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Suleimani.
The impotent character of the House vote is demonstrated by the decision of the Democratic leadership to introduce it as a “concurrent resolution,” a designation generally reserved for empty formalities, statements of opinion by Congress that do not go to the president for his signature and therefore do not have the force of law.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, echoed by pro-Democratic media pundits, claimed that the Democrats would compel Trump to obtain congressional authorization before going to war, the resolution does no such thing. After passing the House by a near-party-line vote of 224-194, it goes to the Senate, where the Republicans have a 53-47 majority. If the Senate should approve it, the resolution would simply be published as a declaration of the wishes of Congress. For good reason, House Republicans sneered at the action as a vote on a “press release.”

-- Patrick Martin, "The Democrats pass Pelosi’s phony antiwar resolution" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

The role of these progressives is to keep the people on the Democratic party plantation.  The only countervailing force to U.S. gangsterism are the independently organized working class, nationally oppressed and all marginalized and exploited and oppressed people. This past weekend we saw the beginning of that resistance with demonstrations in close to 80 cities across the country in opposition to the possibility of war with Iran.
As the Black Alliance for Peace stated:
The Trump Administration along with the democrats are united in their objective interests, despite the impeachment charade, to support white power in the form of their imperialist agenda. But they need us – the people – as the cannon fodder and the passive supporters.
Obama was the ultimate sheep dog that not only kept progressives and even radicals on the democrat party plantation but gave a new respectability to U.S. imperialist criminality.  We will not fall for that again, not from the “squad” Sanders or anyone else.

 -- Ajamu Baraka, "Sheep-dogging on Steroids: The New Democratic Party Anti-War Activists" (DISSIDENT VOICE).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday morning.

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, 
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?

Patrick Martin gets another truest.
So does Ajamu Baraka 
Don't let them fake ass you.
Ava and C.I. look at NBC.  
Dona's talking food.
There's a lot of it and it's really sad.
Sarah Lazare gets the Tweet of the week.
Reader Belinda had a question.
NYT is seeking information on the murder of two Iraqi journalists.
John Kerry's a hawk.  He's not a chicken hawk.
What we listened to while writing.
US Embassy in Baghdad statement.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: You can't fake ass the people anymore

For years, Medea Benjamin and CODESTINK were able to fake ass the country.  They cared about the Iraq War!!!! They were going to fight to end it!!!! They were going to keep fighting until it was over!!!!

They didn't.

Now they're going to stop a war on Iran?  These guys and gals?  The take their eyes off the ball crowd?

You can't trust 'em.

Friday, protesters took to the streets in Iraq yet again.  Maybe you noticed that, yet again, they were ignored by Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate, Michael Tracey, Margaret Kimberley, Medea Benjamin, CODESTINK and so many more.

Iraqis are risking great danger in protesting.  Iraqi reporters covering the protests are also risking danger because the government doesn't want the protests covered.  Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali were killed Friday for covering the protests.

Just as they ignored the protests on Friday, the fake asses ignored the murders of those two journalists.  Not everyone ignored the murders. The Committee to Protect Journalism issued the following on Friday:

The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the killing of two journalists working for the Iraqi broadcaster Dijlah TV, and urged Iraqi authorities to immediately open an investigation and hold those responsible to account.
Unknown gunmen today opened fire on a car carrying Dijlah TV reporter Ahmed Abdul Samad and camera operator Safaa Ghali, according to news reports and the journalists’ employer. They were covering protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, reports said.
“No journalist should have to fear for their safety or be singled out for attack over their coverage of protests,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “We call on the Iraqi authorities to immediately open an investigation into the killing of Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali and to do their utmost to ensure journalists can cover the protests freely and without fear of reprisal.”
A video posted on Dijlah TV’s website and widely circulated on social media shows Samad slumped in the passenger seat, with a bullet wound to the right side of his head. The video shows at least three bullet holes in the right front door of the car.
Ghali was taken to Basra General Hospital where he died shortly afterward, according to news reports and his employer. A report by the news website Al-Mirbad said that Ghali had three bullet wounds in the chest.
A few hours prior to his death, Samad posted a video on his Facebook account criticizing how Iraqi security forces arrested protesters in Basra but did not arrest or beat those protesting in front of the U.S. Embassy. Dijlah TV also posted undated footage of Samad interviewing protesters on its social media accounts.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the start of protests across Iraq in October over a lack of basic services, unemployment, and government corruption, according to the Independent High Commission for Human Rights of Iraq.
CPJ documented how on November 12, Iraq’s media regulator, the Communications and Media Commission, ordered the shutdown of Dijlah TV, which is based in Amman, Jordan, and seven other outlets, and Iraqi security forces on November 26 implemented that order by raiding the Baghdad office of Diljah TV.
At least two other Iraqi journalists have been killed since the beginning of the protests in Iraq on October 1, according to CPJ research.

The fake asses said nothing.

They ignored the Friday protests, they ignored the two murders and then they ignored the protests that followed the murders.

🇮🇶: hundreds of protesters attended the funeral of Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali, two journalists who were killed in by pro- militants


Fakes asses have allowed the Iraq War to continue.  They should be the last ones leading -- or seen as leading -- any attempt today to end a war.

TV: NBC flops again

Last week, NBC tried airing an innovative show as well as yesterday's french fries 'fresh' from the microwave.  Let's start with the actual new.


Jane Levy has starred in SUBURGATORY and WHAT/IF.  She's a strong actress with plenty of appeal and NBC'S ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST is lucky to have her.  A show built on a whim is always iffy but Levy walks you through in a manner that make you care.

The series wants to bring dance and singing back to primetime.

"Wait!" you shout.  "THE VOICE and shows like that have singing.  And what about SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?"

No.  Those are shows about singing or about dancing.  And they aren't scripted, they're competition shows.  NBC's SMASH featured singing.  It featured really lame dancing unless the dancer was a background character who never had a single spoken line.  ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST is attempting to feature them both.

We're reminded of when variety shows like THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW featured both and you might tune in to catch Lesley Ann Warren dancing and singing "The Best Is Yet To Come."  In addition to ordering episodes from AMAZON PRIME, remember that some episodes of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW are available for free -- in full -- on THE ROKU CHANNEL and METV airs edited episodes Sundays at 10:30 pm EST and Monday through Friday at 11:00 pm EST. NETFLIX is delivering on sketch comedy variety shows with two first-rate programs (I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON and ASTRONOMY CLUB) but there's no real attempt at a traditional variety show in prime time.  NBC continues to air SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE which, with musical guests as well as musical segments featuring the cast, what qualifies as a variety show; however, for decades, no network has had a success in primetime with a variety show.  In 2016, Maya Rudolph and Martin Short did get a chance with MAYA & MARTY but, possibly because NBC saddled the show with Lorne Michaels, it flopped.

It should have been a hit but it decided to go political.  That's what people want, right?  As they endure one political ad after another in an election year -- more politics.  Worse, they did one-sided politics.  Even worse, they thought they could build a skit around the fact that a person from Slovenia has an accent.

Now Donatella Versace has an accent but when Maya was on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and parodied Donatella, the accent was there but it was not the joke.  On MAYA & MARTY, it was an unfunny skit where the whole joke was: Laugh at the foreign accent.

Martin Short knew the show was in trouble and was complaining before it aired.  He repeatedly insisted the show needed to be funny, not political.  He wasn't against a political skit, he was against a show built around politics.  He wasn't the only one.  One writer told us he asked Lorne Michaels, "Are we supposed to be drumming up votes or getting laughs because these skits aren't funny?"

Thanks, Lorne, for blowing the only real shot a variety show has had in years.

ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST is a scripted show.  Levy plays Zoey whose father (Peter Gallagher) is in some sort of near catatonic state and who spends her time at work trying to prove to her boss (Lauren Graham) that she deserves a promotion.  Zoey is stressing out and, in terms of her father, decides to get an MRI to be sure she doesn't have the same neurological disease; however, in the middle of the procedure, an earthquake hits and the combination leaves her with an ability to read people's minds (or at least the belief that she can).  When she reads someone's mind, they express what they're feeling in song.  She hears their thoughts as songs.  They're usually dancing as well.

 They're are some strong musical productions in the show.  And let's especially praise Skylar Astin (as Max) performing the old Partridge Family hit "I Think I Love You."  In fact, that moment, when Zoey learns that Max harbors a crush on her and another moment (non-musical) when Gallagher's Mitch grips his wife Maggie's hand are probably the two strongest moments in the show.  Mary Steenburgen plays Maggie and plays her with perfection.  Steenburgen has had a strong career and we've often been impressed (including with BOOK CLUB and THE PROPOSAL) but she's really hitting all the notes with Maggie.

MANIFEST is hitting a note too -- in fact, it's the same note over and over -- a really dull note.  For some reason, NBC decided to renew MANIFEST.  It's viewer numbers dropped with each episode last season and it wrapped things up with half as many viewers as when the show debuted.  It was similar, in ratings, to THE EVENT.  But NBC only gave THE EVENT one season.

Another difference?  THE EVENT was watchable.


Has there ever been a more one dimensional looking show?  Do they have a professional crew because no care goes into lighting a scene or blocking a scene.

No care goes into acting either.  These are either the worst actors ever or the worst directed ones.

The show runners pursue mediocrity with the same sort of zeal Divine demands cha-cha heels in FEMALE TROUBLE.

You can argue it paid off -- MANIFEST got twice as many viewers as ZOEY'S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST.  But it's also true, MANIFEST got less than half as many viewers -- less than half -- that it had for its season opener last year.  So the network failed in selling a new and potentially exciting show and also failed in drawing viewers to a returning show?  These days, the Peacock network doesn't know how to market a show unless they can slap the word "Chicago" at the start of the title.

It's all gravy (Dona)


Biscuits and gravy?  We do The TESR Test Kitchen here and get a lot of feedback on that.  An e-mail from Alex noted he loves biscuits and gravy and it's his favorite.  He can get it on campus at breakfast and even fries and gravy at lunch.  

For me, it's bread and gravy.

If we're eating and we're done and there's enough for just one more serving of gravy, I don't toss that out.  I'll put it in the fridge and heat it when I'm hungry.  I'll grab a plate, rip up four pieces of wheat bread.  Then I'll pour the heated gravy over the bread.  I'll put some pepper on top of the gravy.

Growing up, we had some hard times and gravy can be made by real cooks with just water and flour or milk and flour or something.  I don't know.  My mother's a real cook.  If I'm making gravy, I'm either buying gravy in a jar already fixed or buying the instant mix.  Left to my own devices, I couldn't make gravy.

But my mom can and did when we were little and hungry and bored with every other times-are-hard quick fix.  She'd put plates on the table for my brother and I and start fixing the gravy on the stove while we tore slices of bread apart and put them on our plates. 

 Any gravy's wonderful when my mother's cooking -- mushroom gravy, brown gravy, you name it.  But for me, I stick with the country gravy packet -- that's the white gravy.  I find I screw it up less.  I also like how it's thick (yes, I use the cup of milk suggested on the packet with one cup of water) so that the gravy sets on top of the bread as opposed to soaking through.  


The stupidity


You may have noticed that some normally calm voices have gone ridiculous.  We've noticed that too.

We were asked about that and Debra Messing sprang to mind.

It's like in 2016 when Debra crossed the last line, she was insulting all Republicans, she was trashing all Greens and she was trashing Bernie Sanders' supporters. Exactly who fit into Little Debbie's world? Only the people who supported Hillary in the 2016 Democratic Party primary. She ended up at that spot because she couldn't own her actions, she couldn't apologize and she couldn't reset.

She had painted herself into a corner. That's what these people have done.

A lot of voices who used to share insight and common sense?  They don't right now.

Right now, they rush around with their justifications for the Iranian government shooting down an airplane. And of their critics, they insist that their critics are trying to do a 'victory lap' about being right.  We  don't know about that -- we're just checking them to see if they ever note the two journalists killed in Iraq on Friday (Ahmed Abdul Samad and Safaa Ghali) or the ongoing protests in Iraq.

But what we do know is that saying it was an accident is a bit much.

An accident is someone hit a button by mistake.

'We could not establish communication with the plane so we shot it down'? That's not really an accident. You couldn't establish communication and you made the decision to shoot it down.

The Iranian government thought they had to protect their air space.We  can understand that. They regret the shooting. We can understand that. But it's not an 'accident' when you intentionally shot it down. It's a mistake. Certainly, it's a tragedy.

We're not calling it a crime. We are stating, however, that when you make the decision to shoot it down, you can't later say it was an accident.

The Maxes and Michaels and Margarets -- all of them -- have painted themselves into a corner.

Tweet of the week

There can never be too much condemnation of the Iraq war. The problem is the unforgivable lack of consequences and criticism for those responsible. The way John Kerry is closing ranks around Biden illustrates exactly how this impunity has been enabled.



Some of our readers love that we obsess in our Test Kitchen pieces over candy or snacks.  Others wish we did more nutritional pieces.  We try to please both.

So when an e-mail/challenge came in from reader Belinda, we said we could rise to the challenge.  Belinda's one of those who makes resolutions for the New Year.  And her resolution was to eat at least one salad each day.  To avoid burnout, she's seeking input from everyone (including us!).  She challenged us to come up with 30 things we include in our salads or add to our salads.

For the purpose of this piece, all add-ons are added to a basic green salad (romaine lettuce).  And each add-in, is its own add-in.  We're not saying pour all forty on one salad.  All forty?  Yeah, we took Belinda's challenge and added ten more to it.

1) walnuts

2) pecans

3) almonds

4) (drained) black eyed peas

5) bacon bits

6) tuna (drained)

7) sliced cucumbers

8) sliced red onion (in rings)

9) sliced yellow onions (in rings)

10) sliced white onions (in rings)

11) sliced black olives (drained)

12) sliced radishes

13) (drained) black beans

14) pumpkin seeds

15) two spoonfuls of wheat germ

16) freshly squeezed lemon juice

17) chopped celery

18) chopped carrots/baby carrots

19) orange slices

20) shredded cheese

21) sliced or chopped boiled eggs

22) raisins

23) dried cranberries

24) avocado slices

25) spinach

26) sun dried tomatoes

27) sliced or diced bell peppers

28) sliced tomatoes

29) garbanzo beans

30) kidney beans

31) sunflower seeds

32) sliced green onions

33) apple slices

34) two teaspoons of flax seed

35) water chestnuts

36) bamboo shoots

37) baby corn

38) artichoke hearts

39) salmon

40) slice jalapeno peppers 

NYT requesting info

The is investigating the killing of two Iraqi journalists on Friday, January 10, in Basra. Journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and photographer Safaa Ghali. Do you have any information about the incident? Or reliable photo/video evidence? Please reach out.

How stupid is Aaron Mate?

We ask that question for a reason.

  1. Pro-war chickenhawk Dems like Biden, Kerry, & the Clintons don't just have disgraceful policies on their record. They also have a consistent record of cowardly & deceitfully avoiding owning up to their records, and that helps account for their growing record of electoral failure:

John Kerry a chicken hawk?

No, not by the way the term is generally used.

Jessica Lange gave examples of chicken hawks back in September 2005 when she spoke at a DC rally:

And who are these men? Who are these men? Let's talk for a minute about these masters of war, these same men that are sending our sons and our daughters, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers to fight an undeclared and unconstitutional and unwinnable war for them. Let's talk about their service records. Karl Rove did not serve. Paul Wolfowitz did not serve. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams, Newt Gingrich did not serve. Jeb Bush did not serve. The list goes on and on. And we know George W. did not really serve.

John Kerry a chicken hawk?  John Kerry served in Vietnam.

He's not a chicken hawk.

There are many names you can call him -- and we can think of several -- but chicken hawk isn't one of them.

We'd also argue that Hillary can't be called a chicken hawk because women weren't drafted -- she didn't avoid the draft.  Knowing the self-defined "Goldberg girl," she would have enlisted if they'd allowed women in combat roles.

But there is no reason on earth to use the label to define John Kerry -- it shows (a) that you don't understand the term and (b) that you don't know John Kerry's service record.  Mainly, it demonstrates that you can't be trusted because you'll obviously type anything, whether it's true or not.

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