Sunday, June 08, 2014

Truest statement of the week

It's an operation that would attract a lot of media attention, but it's a major embarrassment for the prime minister.

-- Youssef Taha, "Iraq university hostages' ordeal ends in Ramadi" (BBC News).

Truest statement of the week II

With this background, we move to last week in illustration of Obama’s full-court press toward incipient if not also actualized fascism. I say “Obama,” because in this case the FBI but more important a discussion to follow on NSA, one finds a direct projection of/from the government; neither one, again, especially NSA, can be dismissed simply as a “rogue” agency, and instead reflect the pith of Administration policy: pursuit of continued global hegemony through solidification, beyond obviously powerful military forces, of a National Security State, a prime requirement being the practice of surveillance at home and abroad. One of the tests of a democratic polity is accountability at the very top—and regrettably America has neither, the lack of the latter testifying to the absence of the former.

-- Norman Pollack, "Techno-Fascism (NSA) and the Obama Administration" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  And look how early we are!  We've never been this early since our first year all those years ago.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Norman Pollack gets another truest.
Look who the White House is arming.

  • TV: When comedy curdles

  • Ava and C.I. weigh in on two sitcoms and, more importantly, on The Water Cooler Set. 

  • Short features, as Dona insists.
    As was this one.
    What we listened to while writing this edition.

    A new feature.
    Sleeper is a classic.  We get e-mails noting we love comedies.  Yes, it is our favorite genre.  We could list favorite comedies for hours.  Without a doubt, this film would come up in such a discussion.

    The new feature results in your e-mails over the last two months.  We even created the illustration two weeks ago.  But we kick off the feature this edition. 
    Senator Patty Murray.
    Sherwood Ross. 
    Loretta Sanchez.
    Workers World. 
    Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

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

    And that's what we came up with.

    See you next week.


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

    Editorial: Iraq gets its first F-16

    BRussells Tribunal published this photo last week.

    It's Al-Anbar University in Ramadi.

    The stain near the chair is blood.

    Sama Laith Mouayad's blood.

    She was a college student ready for finals.

    She was sitting there.

    That was her 'crime.'

    She was shot and killed by Nouri's forces.

    Nouri's forces shot dead a college student.

    And there is no outrage from the US government.

    The same White House that argued for thug Nouri al-Maliki to receive F-16s was silent on the assassination.

    As the first F-16 was shipped last week, Yerevan Saeed (Rudaw) reminded:

    On many occasions, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has expressed deep concern over the rearming of Iraq, without first setting conditions over use of the new weapons. 
    In 2012, Barzani disclosed in a television interview that Baghdad has considered military solutions for its many serious rows with Erbil. He quoted an apparent conversation in which military commanders had urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for permission to attack Erbil. 
    "They told him (Maliki), 'Sir, just give us the authority, and we would kick (the Kurds) out of Erbil," Barzani told the US-based Arabic news channel, Alhurra TV. He said Maliki had replied: "Wait until the arrival of the F-16."

    And yet the White House arms Nouri.

    Thug Nouri continues to bomb Falluja's residential neighborhoods resulting in civilians being wounded and killed.

    And yet the White House arms Nouri.

    TV: When comedy curdles

    Summer is a time of heat, so why do two new comedies leave us so very cold?


    Jennifer Falls is  TV Land's worst sitcom ever.  The series stars Jaime Pressly as a woman who was fired from her job due to anger issues.  She was fired from her high paying job which is supposed to make people laugh at her being forced to live with her mother and work at her brother's bar.

    As humiliation after humiliation is heaped upon her (speaking to an old friend, her sister-in-law approaches to lecture her about work habits), we felt Pressly had suffered enough -- especially with her Andrew Rannells haircut.

    And with Americans suffering as well, we just don't see a sitcom about humiliating someone trying to find work (she's mocked at her local work force commission when she tries to find a job) as very funny or anything America is waiting for.

    During the Great Depression, hit films didn't mock the people trying to find jobs, the people trying to feed themselves and their child (Pressly's character has a daughter).

    Maybe it still could have been funny if the tone had been so uneven and the cast so lackadaisical.  This is what happens when inexperienced comedic actors try sitcoms in the single-camera format, they flounder badly.  Pressly has talent, she just can't find the comedy in the role.  Jessica Walter is lost as Pressly's mother and that's true for everyone in the cast.

    Everyone's off doing their own thing and there's no effort to create an ensemble or, for that matter, to create comedy.

    Over on NBC, Undateable is stinking up Thursday nights.

    It's failure is more shocking because only one element fails.

    The cast is doing ensemble work and many are actually funny.

    Brent Morin is wonderful as bar owner Justin and Bianca Kajlich makes the underwritten role of  Leslie work.  Danny's friends are fine and played by David Fynn, Rick Glassman and Ron Funches.

    But one element destroys the show.

    That would be Chris D'Elia.

    D'Elia was only okay on Whitney.  He's far worse on this show.

    Danny Beeman is supposed to be a tough guy.  D'Elia minces around and speaks in weird voices but never comes off as a tough guy.

    Danny's also supposed to be catnip to women -- an idea that may make many laugh.

    D'Elia's skinny.  That may be the only nice thing that can be said about his looks.

    He looks in dire need of a bath and as if his clothes were last washed a year ago.

    Chris D'Elia is a walking eye sore that screams "bed bug carrier," but things get even worse when D'Elia opens his mouth and tries to speak in one of his many fey voices.

    That's when Danny offers advice.

    D'Elia's Danny is supposed to be a master-teacher in getting laid for Justin and his three friends and he dubs Justin "Baby Bird" which is as creepy as the show itself and the network it airs on.

    Back in October, we explained, "See, About A Boy isn't just the name of a new NBC sitcom, it was NBC entire premise for this fall season."

    We explained that to you.

    And did anyone else?


    Let's break playground code, let's name names.

    Alessandra Stanley (New York Times) didn't just praise the crap that is Undateable, she saw it as another sitcom about friends: "As the title suggests, the series revolves around a group of single friends in search of romance."  Maureen Ryan (Huffington Post) banged her keyboard to produce:

    "Undateable" is essentially a bar-hangout comedy, with an "older guy teaches younger guy the ways of the dating world" element thrown in for good measure. Earnest Detroit bar owner Justin (Brent Morin) and his friends have well-developed friendships with each other but not much luck in love. Fortunately for them, Danny Burton (Chris D'Elia), Justin's new roommate, has ample free time and is willing to teach Justin, Shelly (Run Funches), Burski (Rick Glassman) and Brett (David Fynn) all they need to know about making the right dating moves. (Danny's advice is equal-opportunity: Brett is gay but, like the rest of Justin's friends, uncertain of his skills on the romance front.)
    I approached the show with some wariness, given that the potential for douchiness clings to "Undateable's" premise like a cloud of Axe Body Spray. And in the six episodes I saw, the show did occasionally slide over into eye-roll territory (for example, a line about a woman's "cans" wasn't funny-sleazy, it was just gross). 

    You don't have to be Ann Hornaday (Washington Post) to be bothered by media portrayals.

    Or bothered by women who remain silent.

    Undateable isn't about "friends."  The 7 member case includes Kajich as Danny's sister Leslie and Briga Heelan as Nicki.

    We've already noted Leslie is underwritten.

    She's really just supposed to be a one woman Greek chorus for Danny.

    Heelan's Nicki is even worse.

    She works at Justin's bar, for Justin, who is constantly scheming how to land her and who finally does.

    Stanley and Ryan seem to think that's cute.

    We wonder where 'cute' leaves off and sexual harassment walks in?

    We wonder how a show with 5 men and 2 women is portrayed as like Friends by Stanley?

    That cast was three women and three men.  It was also three well defined female characters.

    The two women on Undateable are not characters, they're plot devices.

    Stanley never grasps that.  Ryan seems to think this passes for analysis: "the female characters, not surprisingly, are underwritten and generic, though Briga Heelan is particularly charming nonetheless."  That little tidbit is hidden away in a parenthetical -- not even worthy of a direct statement, it's a whispered aside.

    This is the reason we write about TV.  It's what it really does come down to.

    Week in and week out, The Water Cooler Set fails at their job and does so repeatedly.  They can't be bothered with critique or analysis.  And when it comes to the way women are portrayed, it never occurs to the male members of The Water Cooler Set while the female members enable it.

    The gender imbalance in the cast wasn't worth noting?

    The underwritten female characters didn't bear scrutiny?

    And typical scenes like this aren't worthy of pointing out?

    Danny:  I gotta' go meet someone.

    Nicki: Have fun with your friend.

    Danny: Oh, it's not a friend, it's a girl.

    Nicki: You don't have any friends that are girls?

    Danny: Ha! Oh, you're not joking. Single guys can't be friends with girls.  Discuss.

    Joey, on Friends, might have gotten away with that in the first season of the show.  But that's because the women did things, the women had lives.

    Not on Undateable.

    This fall, NBC will offer a new scheduled programming.

    Fall 2014 and spring 2015 found NBC offering no new programs revolving around women.

    That's rather shocking.

    Or we thought it was and we noted it and explored it -- not in one article but in a series of articles.

    And Ryan and Stanley, like their male counterparts, didn't say one word, didn't say "boo!"

    That doesn't help anyone.  It doesn't help TV and it certainly doesn't help women.

    This fall, NBC will offer four new programs that feature women in lead roles.  Sitcoms Marry, Me, Bad Judge and A to Z has them as co-leads with male characters while The Mysteries of Laura will actually revolve around a female character (Debra Messing) while women will lead the ensemble cast of State of Affairs.

    It will be a dramatic change from last fall.

    But readers of The New York Times or Huffington Post will likely be caught unaware because their leading 'critics' never bothered to notice.  These would be the same two who, let's remember, praised Undateable but let's pretend they're functioning critics.

    The fist of American diplomacy


    White House photographer Pete Souza captures the reality of American diplomacy as US President Barack Obama threatens to punch Ukraine President-elect Petro Poroshenko after Poroshenko told Barack, "You used to be cute.  What happened?"

    Tweet of the Week

  • This edition's playlist

    Cass Elliot

    1) Cass Elliot's Cass Elliot/ The Road Is No Place For A Lady.

    2) The Mamas and the Papas' The Papas and The Mamas.

    3)  Carly Simon's Never Been Gone.

    4) Radiohead's The King of Limbs.

    5) Blondie's Parallel Lines.

    6) Ben and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

    7) Diana Ross' diana.

    8) Tori Amos' Unrepentant Geraldines.

    9)   Prince's Around The World In A Day.

    10) Joni Mitchell's Blue.

    Turntable Triumphs

    In 1971, Carly Simon's Anticipation was released.

    Carly's second solo album was an acoustic affair with its own moody and dreamlike sound.

    The theme was waiting and hoping and, yes, anticipation.

    The big hits from the album were the title track, "Legend In Your Own Time" and the only song on the album Carly didn't write, Kris Kristofferson's "I've Got To Have You" (the title track was top twenty pop, "Legend" was a top twenty easy listening hit and, leaving the US charts, the Kristofferson cover hit number 2 in Australia).

    Carly's vocals provide tension in ways they wouldn't again until Playing Possum.

    It's, again, a dreamlike album -- in theme, in sound.

    Possibly due to the hits being so well known, the album itself is often overlooked today.

    Or maybe because it's so unlike anything Carly did elsewhere in her career.

    Though one of America's finest songwriters, Carly's work is often ignored when music from the time period is discussed.

    We think that's a result of prejudice.

    There's the obvious sexism that works against so many female artists.

    There's also a sneering at eclecticism.

    Carly explores sound on her albums.  She varies instrumentation, time signatures, mood, etc.

    Anticipation comes closest to fitting the sameness of sound that so many rock critics demand.

    Though she's gone on to produce many more, Anticipation was the first classic album of her career.

    Film Classics of the 20th Century

    In this ongoing series on film classics of the last century, we've looked at Diamonds Are Forever,  Sleepless In Seattle,  My Little Chickadee,  Tootsie,  After Hours,  Edward ScissorhandsChristmas in Connecticut, Desk Set,  When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

    Sleeper is a comedy which was a laugh riot in 1973 and remains one today.

    Woody Allen teamed with Marshall Brickman for the screenplay -- the first of four scripts they'd write together (the other three: Annie Hall, Manhattan and Manhattan Murder Mystery).

    The film is set in the 22nd century.  200 years prior, Miles Monroe (Allen), part owner of the Happy Carrot Health Food Restaurant,"  was frozen and now he's awakened by rebels who want to use him for a top-secret program.

    Miles can be used because he has no records on file -- everyone else has been finger printed and photographed by the government.

    It's a different world in the future, where cigarettes are good for you.  But it's a world many in 2014 will recognize, thanks to the revelations of Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

    When the government forces storm the compound, Miles goes on the run.

    He disguises himself as a robot and ends up working in Luna's home.

    There he battles, among other things, chocolate pudding.

    Luna battles the same battle taking place in the US right now.  Confronted with the abuses of her government, she insists, "I absolutely do not want to hear about it."

    Luna is played by Diane Keaton. In her second pairing with Woody Allen, Keaton really comes into her own.

    Miles goes on the run and drags Luna along.

    He gets captured by the government and reprogrammed.

    Luna lives in the wild.

    She joins a group of rebels, they abduct Miles and attempt to break his programming.

    But he confuses himself with Blanche Du Bois of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

    Providing Keaton with a hilarious moment where she riffs on Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowaiski.

    In a homage to the best of the Marx Brothers, Luna and Miles end up discovering the leader of the corrupt government is only a nose and decide to take the nose out.

    The hilarious comedy is not just one of Woody Allen's finest films as a director, it's one of the true classics of the last century.

    Yes, we listen

    Our e-mail address is

    And we do listen.

    A growing chorus has emerged wanting more music here.

    So we've created the above illustration for a regular feature which kicks off this edition.

    VETERANS: Murray Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Urge Administration to Accept Free Private Sector Help to Fix Broken VA Scheduling System

    Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following Friday:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
    Friday, June 6th, 2014                     
    VETERANS: Murray Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Urge Administration to Accept Free Private Sector Help to Fix Broken VA Scheduling System
    In letter to President Obama, Senators urge top-level private sector review of VA systems
    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, joined a bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators to call on the Obama Administration to accept private sector assistance in fixing the broken Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scheduling system. In the letter, Murray along with Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Richard Burr (R-NC), Al Franken (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), urged the VA to follow the example of the Army, which in 2010 allowed a consortium of leading technology companies to provide expertise in designing a corrective plan, at no cost to the taxpayers, to fix widespread data management issues uncovered at the Army’s Arlington National Cemetery.
    “Because of the immediacy of the many challenges at the VA, we urge you to work with us to implement a similar cost-effective, private sector initiative so we can begin restoring the trust of our veterans and the American public in the ability of the VA to meet the commitments our nation has made to our veterans.  Our military men and women, their families, and our veterans deserve nothing less.”
    “Engaging the tech sector and the best minds from leading American IT firms produced a comprehensive business plan to help the Army modernize its workflow procedures and upgrade the data management systems at Arlington.  That effort, conducted at no cost to the taxpayers, represented the very best traditions of corporate citizenship,” the senators wrote.
    Full text of the letter is below, and a PDF of the signed letter can be accessed here.
    June 5, 2014
    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, D.C.
    Dear Mr. President:
    Like most Americans, we are outraged at the documented misconduct at the U.S. Veterans Health Administration that has caused our military veterans to face long waits when seeking the medical care they have earned.  That some veterans actually have died while waiting for needed care adds urgency to our efforts to act immediately.  While last week’s preliminary Inspector General’s (IG) report indicated this is a systemic problem that dates back many years, it is our responsibility to take swift, decisive action now.
    The IG report details widespread information technology challenges that enabled many of the unacceptable and inappropriate use of scheduling gimmicks and outright fabrication of performance metrics at the VA.  We should be able to move quickly to begin restoring confidence in the VA by addressing these technology and data management problems in the current scheduling system.
    This is a crisis that requires immediate action, and we recommend enlisting the expertise of the private sector to provide an assessment and recommendations for improvements to the current IT and workflow challenges at VA.  By calling on our best minds across the private sector in a pro bono demonstration of solid corporate citizenship, we could create a blueprint for achievable action the VA should undertake within 60-to-90 days.  Our veterans deserve this quick action on these urgent issues. 
    We already have an effective template that sorts through most of the legal and process issues to allow this type of private-sector assistance.  For example, a 2010 Inspector General’s investigation revealed widespread mismanagement at the U.S. Army’s Arlington National Cemetery, including misplaced and mishandled remains of our warfighters.  The IG report also revealed that Cemetery managers continued to rely upon decades of vulnerable, hand-written paper files in managing burial records.  A consortium of technology companies operating under the auspices of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) jumped in quickly to provide their services and expertise at no cost to the taxpayer.  This task force ultimately worked with the Army to create a legal framework that enabled the Army and Arlington National Cemetery to accept their pro bono help.
    Engaging the tech sector and the best minds from leading American IT firms produced a comprehensive business plan to help the Army modernize its workflow procedures and upgrade the data management systems at Arlington.  That effort, conducted at no cost to the taxpayers, represented the very best traditions of corporate citizenship.
    We are confident that private sector expertise from across the country could be assembled to provide a similar pro bono service to help fix the challenges at the VA, and we stand ready to assist the Administration in moving quickly to help empanel this group. 
    Not every problem requires a government solution.  Because of the immediacy of the many challenges at the VA, we urge you to work with us to implement this cost-effective, private sector initiative so we can begin restoring the trust of our veterans and the American public in the ability of the VA to meet the commitments our nation has made to our veterans.  Our military men and women, their families, and our veterans deserve nothing less.
    Kathryn Robertson
    Deputy Press Secretary 
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    154 Russell Senate Office Building
    Washington D.C. 20510




    37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg

    This is from Sherwood Ross.

    By Sherwood Ross
    President Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover were behind the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King, a new book on the controversial assassination charges.
    "Hoover hated Rev. King because he thought he was a hypocrite, unfaithful to his wife, and a potentially subversive Communist, and he had opposed the Vietnam War," writes James D. Norvell, J.D., in the book "Treason, Treachery & Deceit," and "LBJ thought he would start a revolt against America's economic system."
    Rev.King was shot dead April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine motel. Escaped convict James Earl Ray was convicted of the assassination in March of 1969. Ray pled guilty in order to avoid a trial and possible death penalty but Norvell says Ray never shot Dr. King.
    The facts are clear, Norvell writes, that former FBI officials removed Dr. King's defenses just before he was killed, transferred potential witnesses the day before the murder and tampered with, "lost," and destroyed the evidence.
    Norvell---who spent 13 years investigating the assassinations of Rev. King and the Kennedy brothers---reported that Hoover and Texas oil magnate H.L. Hunt had argued over how to put an end to King's crusades. Hunt initially thought his radio broadcasts would silence Rev. King but Hoover thought they needed a "permanent" solution, Norvell writes. After the assassination of Rev. King, Hunt conceded to John Curington, his security assistant, that Hoover had won the argument.
    Author Norvell, late of Ft. Worth, Tex., was a 1964 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in naval engineering. While in the Navy, he obtained an MSE from the University of Michigan and a juris doctor with honors from George Washington University. He rose to the position of Lt.-Cmdr. in the U.S. Navy and after resigning his commission practiced law for 30 years, some of them as attorney for LBJ aide and confidant Billy Sol Estes. 
    "James Earl Ray was another innocent patsy (similar to Lee Harvey Oswald) sold down the river by his attorneys, much like Sirhan-Sirhan (alleged killer of Senator Robert F. Kennedy) was," Norvell writes. "Each attorney was interested more in his own pocketbook than in defending Ray (or the other alleged assassins)." Ray's prison escape from Jefferson City, Mo., was "engineered," Norvell asserts, so that he could be the fall guy for the murder and because Ray was probably looking at life imprisonment anyway, if captured, and wouldn't mind if his guilty plea for Rev. King's "murder" got him 99 years.
    In addition to conspirators LBJ, Hoover and Hunt, Norvell identifies two shooters of Rev. King in his book: Lloyd Jowers and a mysterious U.S. intelligence agency operative known as Raoul, said to have confessed his part in the murder. Jowers was manager of Jim's Bar & Grill opposite the Lorraine motel.
    According to author Norvell, Raoul was Ray's handler and gave him assignments, such as the purchase of a deer rifle, and moved him to several cities around the country before ordering him to Memphis. Ray was a poor shot and not used in the assassination except to be set up as a "patsy."
    Rev. King's chauffeur, Solomon Jones, waiting in the parking lot of the Lorraine, saw two white men listening to Rev. King's conversation with his aides up on the balcony. When the fatal shot was fired, Jones cried out, "There they are, right there!"
    Norvell says neither of the men was Ray. He also notes that the black officers of the fire and police departments were pulled off the job before the slaying.
    The book, "Treason, Treachery, and Deceit: The Murderers of JFK, MLK & RFK" by James D. Norvell, may be ordered through, Barnes and Noble, e-books, and nook books, among others.
    The book has been widely acclaimed and endorsed, including by military writers. Brig. Gen. John H. Grubbs, Ret., PhD, who refers to it as "a spellbinding masterpiece." Douglas Horne, former Chief Analyst for Military Records of the Assassination Records Review Board, writes, "Mr. Norvell does not pull any punches and does not sugarcoat the assassination in any way." 
    The 585-page book contains several hundred pages of graphic evidence.
    On the book's cover is the following statement: "This historical novel solves all three murders and refutes government propaganda." The book is 585 pages in length.

    (This article prepared by media consultants Sherwood Ross Associates, publicists for the book. Reach Sherwood Ross at Ross formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News, UPI, and Reuters, and was a personal friend of Dr. King.)


    US House Rep Loretta Sanchez's office issued the following at the end of last month:


    May 28, 2014

    WASHINGTON –Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), senior member of the House Armed Services Committee today released the following statement after President Obama announced yesterday that nearly 10,000 U.S. troops will remain Afghanistan until 2016.

    “Our troops have been in Afghanistan for over ten years. They have fought, they have protected and they have trained. Despite thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the situation is not changing. Our soldiers are tired and it’s time for them to come home. Staying until 2016 will not tip the scales in Afghanistan. It’s time to end this war and bring our troops home.”

    Disability rights: A rich theater of the class struggle

    This is from Workers World:

    Disability rights: A rich theater of the class struggle

    By on June 7, 2014

    Shea has been an organizer in the Disability Rights movement for more than 30 years, starting with the Disabled Peoples Liberation Front in Boston. He attended the First International Conference on the Rights of People with Disabilities held in Havana, Cuba, in 1995. The following is based upon a recent talk given by Shea.

    PART 1: There are two important things to know about the struggle of people with disabilities in the U.S.

    First, we organize to lift the restrictions imposed upon us by capitalist society. Second, we are people in isolation breaking through many barriers into the power of collective struggle. We are like the old union song: “The union makes us strong.”

    There is so much in this theatre of the class struggle. I will give an overview of some of the most significant events. Our job is to add more significant events to that history, and we will.

    The real Helen Keller

    I wanted to open with the example of Helen Keller. She is a historic figure because of her achievements despite the obvious barriers of deafness and blindness, and despite the barriers imposed by society upon deaf and blind people. Few know that she was a socialist, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, and an organizer who spoke out against the first imperialist war (World War I).

    She was criticized by the bourgeoisie for her politics. Their message was “Stick to the wonderful things you are doing with blind people; don’t comment on war and poverty.” But she didn’t keep quiet.

    She said: “So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics — that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world — that is a different matter!

    “It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.” (letter to Sen. Robert La Follette, 1924)

    The bourgeoisie’s portrayal of Keller has to be overcome because it is the usual maudlin, nauseating, inspirational tripe that they say about people with disabilities. We don’t need to inspire the bourgeoisie.
    I want to speak about some of the movements that have been influenced by people with disabilities and were formed by people with disabilities.

    1932 Bonus Army raises veterans’ rights

    There is the Bonus Army. In the spring-summer of 1932, 17,000 World War I veterans — many with disabilities — and their families and supporters marched on Washington. They demanded that the government immediately fulfill its promise of benefits. The government had awarded the mostly out-of-work veterans bonus certificates, but they were not redeemable until 1945.

    Many set up an encampment and said they wouldn’t leave until they could immediately cash in their bonus certificates. This Bonus Army consisted of many veterans who had acquired physical, psychological and emotional disabilities as a result of fighting in the war, and then found themselves dumped back into society without support. These veterans were trying to organize to get some of that support they needed and were promised.

    President Herbert Hoover’s response to the Bonus Army was to send in Army troops, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, to drive out the veterans and burn their encampment. At least two Bonus marchers were killed, many others injured, and many arrested.

    Another important group was the League of the Physically Handicapped, which organized in the 1930s in New York City. Its members had physical disabilities and organized because they were being discriminated against when seeking jobs with the government-run Works Progress Administration. They picketed and occupied WPA offices, and their picket lines were supported by much of the left. The League won some partial concessions.

    Independent Living Movement is born

    After the Second World War, improvements in health care, sanitation and medical technologies increased lifespans. These health improvements also meant that many who wouldn’t have lived before these developments were surviving with more residual impairments.

    By the 1960s and 1970s, there was a critical mass of people with disabilities, organizing mutual support and peer support networks. They set their own models for the support services they needed to live independently in their homes and communities, and in the delivery of these services. They advocated for physical accessibility in buildings, jobs, homes and schools. This was the beginning of the Independent Living Movement of the 1970s.

    In the midst of these developments, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was signed. It was significant that the wording of the act was directly lifted from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “No otherwise handicapped person [they used the term “handicapped” at that time] will be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any program or activity by the U.S government.”

    The act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, in programs receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment and in the employment practices of federal contractors.

    The signing of this act was a direct concession to the growing disability rights movement. But the law was not implemented. The Nixon, Ford and Carter admin­istrations sat on the regulations until 1977.

    It took the longest occupation of a federal building still in use to get the law applied. In 1997, protesters occupied the San Francisco offices of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for 28 days. The HEW offices in Washington, D.C., were also occupied for a shorter period. The occupation eventually won an agreement by Carter’s HEW secretary to enact the regulations.

    The major part of that struggle was the active, concrete solidarity of unions and community organizations. These groups held support demonstrations outside of the occupation and kept supply lines open to the sit-in, making sure that food got in and messages got out. The Oakland branch of the Black Panther Party extended important support, even though the BPP as a national organization was decimated by the FBI’s criminal Cointelpro program years earlier, and much of its national leadership was in prison, had been murdered or was in exile. Their support was very much appreciated.

    Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

    CIA-backed general makes a bid for power in Libya

    This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

    CIA-backed general makes a bid for power in Libya

    by Simon Assaf

    General Haftar
    General Haftar (Pic: Magharebia Flickr )

    Western backed general Khalifa Haftar is attempting a coup in Libya. On 18 May he attacked the national parliament and rival militias.

    Haftar was head of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s army during the disastrous war in Chad in the 1980s.

    He then defected to the US. He is considered a key CIA “asset” with links to Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

    Haftar returned to Libya during the 2011 revolution to coordinate between armed rebels and the West.
    He has built a base among fighters and former regime officers. He has declared himself the head of the armed forces.

    Now he is making a bid for power. He declared war on the militias and launched attacks on Islamist groups in the east of the country.

    He has won over a section of the population that has becoming deeply alienated by the militias. Depsite popular elections, militias have refused to integrate into a new national army and have often acted against the people they sought to defend.

    Islamist groups, among them the Al Qaida affiliated Ansar al-Sharia, have not won popular support. Their campaign of assassinations against their critics has helped open the door to Hafter's “war on terrorism".

    It is unclear whether his coup will succeed, but it points to further retreats from the popular power that was at the heart of the Arab Spring.


    This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

    "At this point, Hillary, what difference does it matter" -- most requested highlight of the week.

    Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Plan" -- Isaiah takes on the VA scandal.

    "Blended," "Edge of Tomorrow,""Ike Barinholtz, Albert Brooks," "Mistresses, X-men," "You little cheese eater," "the film collage," "Maleficent," "Sorcerer," and "Gore Vidal" -- Stan, Betty, Ann, Rebecca and Kat go to the movies. 

    "Scrambled Eggs in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers some ways to perk up scrambled eggs.

    "Idiot of the week" -- Mike awards the 'honor.'

    "Sign of the Times," "Carly Simon's Hotcakes," "The Bieber and his dirty mouth,"  and "Ode to Billie Joe" -- Elaine, Ann, Stan and Kat cover music.

    "Benghazi -- look what the American people say" -- Ruth continues her Benghazi coverage.

    "Grim Peace Resister" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

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