Sunday, October 19, 2014

Truest statement of the week

In his recent Rolling Stone cover story (“In Defense of Obama,” October 8), Nobel Prize-winning economist,  peak liberal and New York Times commentator Paul Krugman lays out what he believes is a qualified defense of Barack Obama’s presidency: A sycophantic love letter from a man who surely must know better, but either has chosen to ignore six years of war, economic pain and social tension, or simply doesn’t care.

-- Trevor Hultner, "Paul Krugman: 'Leave Obama Alone'" (CounterPunch).

Truest statement of the week II

For instance, Klein ignores the deep connection between climate chaos, militarism, and war.  While she spends an entire chapter explaining why Virgin Airlines owner, Richard Branson, and other Green billionaires won’t save us, she devotes three meager sentences to the most violent, wasteful, petroleum-burning institution on Earth—the US military.[1]  Klein shares this blind spot with the United Nations’ official climate forum.  The UNFCCC excludes most of the military sector’s fuel consumption and emissions from national greenhouse gas inventories.[2]  This exemption was the product of intense lobbying by the United States during the Kyoto negotiations in the mid-1990s.  Ever since, the military establishment’s carbon “bootprint” has been officially ignored.[3]  Klein’s book lost an important opportunity to expose this insidious cover-up.

-- Craig Collins, "Overlooking the Obvious With Naomi Klein" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Yet another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Trevor Hultner gets his first Truest.
As does Craig Collins.
Each week there's more news of someone enlisting in the US-led bombings of Iraq or tossing troops into Iraq and where is the peace movement?  Oh, that's right: Attacking Hillary Clinton.

Ava and C.I. examine two sitcoms -- one that fails, one that works.
Barack thinks he has the standing to talk Ebola.
Mr. Wrinkles.

John Drake is probably highly prophetic here.

No one ends a party quicker than Barack.
What we listened to while writing.

UK Socialist Worker repost. 
Workers World repost.

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


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

Editorial: Iraq the never-ending rerun

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that her government would be sending 200 "elite troops" into Iraq.  New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key is considering a similar move.

Meanwhile there's little attention of the US military involvement despite the fact that Luis Martinez (ABC News) reported last week the cost of the bombings of Iraq and Syria had reached $424 million after a little over two months.

Pretend for a moment the campaign doesn't expand.  US President Barack Obama has already declared it could last three years (or longer).  If it lasts three years?  That's approximately $15 billion dollars.

Barack's 'plan' is a joke and brings neither peace nor unity to Iraq -- except the unity that an ongoing, US-led bombing will eventually unite all Iraqis against the United States.

CodeStink rubbed their tired vaginas back and forth across the carpet while harping on Hillary last week.  As usual, the anti-women women though this passed for peace work.

Oh, for the day when Medea Benjmain's led away in a straight jacket.

Barack remained unprotested.

CodeStink has trouble calling out a sitting president, you understand.

Bravery has never been their strong suit.

In the meantime, Barack has made clear he will out War Hawk even Bully Boy Bush.

Last week, Peter Certo (Other Words) observed:

If Barack Obama owes his presidency to one thing, it was the good sense he had back in 2002 to call the Iraq War what it was: “dumb.”

Now, with scarcely a whisper of debate, Obama has become the fourth consecutive U.S. president to bomb Iraq — and in fact has outdone his predecessors by spreading the war to Islamic State targets in Syria as well. With the Pentagon predicting that this latest conflict could rage for three years or longer, Obama is now poised to leave behind a Middle East quagmire that closely resembles the one he was elected to end.

And he'll have done so with the complicit CodeStink who long ago elected to stay silent on Barack's War Crimes.

TV: Lorne sinks as Casey rises

In its first five minutes Tuesday, NBC's Marry Me earned more laughs than Fox's Mulaney has in its first four episodes (the third of which airs tonight).

Pretty much everything that could go wrong with Mulaney has.

The sole bright spot is Elliott Gould's performance as Oscar.  Everything else is pretty much a disaster.

This not limited to Martin Short blasting away at full range in a one-note role as John Mulaney's boss Lou Cannon, a game show host that seems to be the latest volley in Lorne Michaels' never ending grudge match against Bill Cosby.

Lorne Michaels.

The man who, these days, seems determined to prove just how out of touch and unfunny a 70-year-old man (next month) can be.  It wasn't enough that he destroyed Weekend Update this fall, he also had to serve up Mulaney.

Mulaney is supposed to be a new sitcom starring comedian John Mulaney playing a character with the same name who has two wacky men hanging around as well as one cynical and bitter female and each episode mixes in bits of Mulaney doing stand up.  If it all sounds strangely familiar then, like millions of people, you've already seen this on the 90s classic Seinfeld.

Yes, the best Lorne can offer in 2014 is an obvious copy of Seinfeld although in a daring, if questionable move, Lorne's decided to leave out the laughs and humor.

Which leaves John Mulaney standing around looking awkward throughout most episodes.

Mulaney endures one humiliation after another as every joke lands with a thud.

He's a funny comedian and with a James Burrows or Susan Harris, he'd probably be delivering a career making performance but, with Lorne overseeing things, John Mulaney's suffering the biggest career setback since Margaret Cho did American Girl.

How bad is it?

So bad that it's on Fox.

Fox does have one of the funniest sitcoms on TV, The Mindy Project, so we're not trying to say everything on Fox today is garbage.  But we are saying Lorne Michaels' new sitcom is so bad that NBC took a pass.  NBC which wrongly believes Saturday Night Live cannot survive without him, NBC which thought he could save Thursday nights with thirty minute episodes of Saturday Night Live (he couldn't and he didn't), NBC which airs old Saturday Night Live episodes in the last hour of prime time on Saturdays, NBC which constantly allows Lorne to repackage old (and tired) bits and clips into 'specials' that most of America elects to avoid, NBC which let him destroy the season one funny sitcom Up All Night and would have allowed him to further destroy it had Christina Appelgate not walked when Lorne had no 'ideas' on how to improve the show.

That NBC, that network, passed on Mulaney but Fox grabbed it.

Even so, Fox has already tossed the hot potato into the air and announced that the thirteen episodes filmed are sufficient and there will be no fourteenth one.

It really is a shame because John is a funny stand up and he should have had a funny show to present him.  Instead, he was offered a tired Seinfeld retread with a premise no one could believe and, no one seemed to notice, at work his character seemed both younger than the actor while, in every scene not on the game show set,  Mulaney appeared to be playing a forty-something character.

We're not saying comedy's not an old man's game but we are saying it's not a Lorne Michaels' game.

Maybe the world just belongs to Casey Wilson anyway?

If so, what a great moment of karma since Wilson was never appreciated by Lorne Michaels when she was on Saturday Night Live -- but few women have been.

Wilson went on to greater fame playing Penny on the only hilarious sitcom ABC's offered in the last twenty or so years.  Happy Endings was bust a gut funny with jokes whizzing by at a dizzying rate.  Modern Family, by contrast, has always treated its middle aged audience as though they were at a bus stop and a funny moment was arriving every 11 or so minutes.

Wilson was one of six actors in the ensemble cast which also included Adam Pally, Damon Wayans Jr., Eliza Coupe, Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Kingston.  By season three, the show delivered a giddy high on whatever night ABC was airing it that week (they truly were determined to kill off the show) and it was the best thing on TV.

Since then, Pally's landed a gig as Peter on The Mindy Project where he delivers laughs consistently while the rest of the cast has been far less fortunate.  Take Coupe who was so delicious as the determined and in control Jane but now is stuck playing the unfunny ex-wife on the very sad CBS 'comedy' The Millers.

Wilson's working with Happy Endings producer David Caspe on Marry Me and her character Annie is tailor made for Wilson.  The series opened with Annie and Jake returning from a Mexican getaway and Jake lying that he wanted to take a nap which, after six years of dating, sent Annie into a verbal nose dive as she stormed around the kitchen and living room letting loose on all she had endured -- including painting her toe nails in a unisex bathroom -- and still no proposal.

It was comedy gold and that's setting aside the fact that Jake was trying to propose and that their family and friends were hearing Annie's entire rant from the bedroom where they were hiding.

It was comedy gold and that's setting aside Ken Marino.

But let's not set him aside because we love the big guy.

Marino's a good looking man.

How telling that NBC only comes calling when he's good looking.

The movie studios may have known how to turn a gorgeous Cary Grant into a star but the TV networks forever need an average looking man to get behind.

Ken's still not average but the years let NBC overlook that.

(If you're not getting how good looks opposed the network is, Jake is saddled with an overweight male best friend who also has a beard that would make ZZ Top do a double take.)

And as they overlook his good looks, he finally gets a chance to really strut his comedy chops in a way that only Yahoo (Burning Love) has allowed him to do before.

Marry Me is a winner.  Clearly the best sitcom of the fall season.

And maybe it's airing on NBC means something?

For most of the 80s and all of the 90s, NBC had the funniest sitcoms:  Cheers, Gimmie A Break (especially that show's middle period), The Duck Factory, Mad About You, Friends, Seinfeld and Will & Grace made America laugh out loud.  By the '00s, Will & Grace was the last sitcom standing on the network now populated with 'ironic' 'comedies' like My Name Is Earl where it was funny because poor people are so stupid, right?  No, it wasn't funny for that reason and it wasn't funny for any reason.  But a bunch of bad half-hours destroyed the night that Bill Cosby built.

NBC became the network that destroyed the sitcom with 'whimsical' replacing funny.  Yet now it has the funniest show on TV.

Which is both thrilling and nerve-racking.

Thrilling because there's once again a must-see sitcom.

Nerve-racking because it's NBC.  The network that last fall served up a new crops of series and they all revolved around . . . men.

NBC, the network with a hit in The Mysteries of Laura.

"Do you know how strongly the show is performing in Saturday reairings?"

Reairings are repeats.  But NBC doesn't like to admit that they can't program a full week anymore.

And the comment was made Monday, over the phone, by a vice president at the network who was thanking us for noting how strong the show was again.

And we replied, no, we didn't know how strong the show was performing in repeats but how sad that NBC, the network, wasn't making a point to issue a news release promoting that fact.

Yes, The Mysteries of Laura is a success.  That's despite it receiving some of the most vile and sexist reviews of any show this season (so far).  And unlike so many other NBC offerings, male led offerings where the show comes quickly and the audience begins departing, Debra Messing's series is retaining its audience week after week.

That's a TV miracle.

Once upon a time, it was an expected event and failure to do so got you the axe.  But these days, a Following, for example, craters throughout the season but still gets renewed.

Debra, who audiences embraced when she starred in Will & Grace, is back doing comedy with a mystery twist and, again, audiences are embracing her.

And we don't mind noting that (we're thrilled for Debra) but we do have to wonder why we're the ones who seem to be promoting the show and not the network?

Even now, NBC is acting as if the thick-tongued and two-left-footed About A Boy is the bigger deal than Marry Me.  Even now, NBC has no idea what they have in Wilson and Marino.

People who've watched get it.  And if you haven't watched yet but loved Wilson on Happy Endings, here's another reason to catch the show.  Two Tuesdays from now, Stephen Guarino shows up for the Halloween episode and, yes, he's playing his Happy Ending's character Derrick.


Saturday, US President Barack Obama wanted to set America straight about Ebola.

Barack declared:

First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.  We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.  In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.  We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus.  We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.


Oh, wait.

That's what he said September 16th.

Doesn't he look stupid now?


Despite that hideous record, he offered "Weekly Address: What You Need To Know About Ebola" on Saturday.

Don't steal this look

When they call him "Wrinkles" these days, they're not talking about his crows' feet.

The White House can't afford someone to press Barack's suits?

Tweet of the week

The migratory pattern

While the Hairy Woodpecker is primarily nonmigratory, the same cannot be said of those who once supported Barack Obama.

Jeff Mason (Reuters) reported today, "President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity."

With poll numbers dropping, the migration pattern is in full effect.

Image via

This edition's playlist

1) Prince's Art Official Age.

2) Prince and 3rdeyegirl's Plectrunemlectrum.

3)  Lenny Kravitz's Strut.

4)  The Mamas and the Papas' Deliver.

5) Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation.

6) Stevie Nicks' 24 Karat Gold Songs From The Vault.

7) Ben Harper's Lifeline.

8) Diana Ross' diana.

9) Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

10) Laura Nyro's Christmas and the Beads of Sweat.

Tory war lies unravel as British ground troops enter Iraq (Ken Olende)

This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

Tory war lies unravel as British ground troops enter Iraq

by Ken Olende

British troops are already in Iraq
British troops are already in Iraq

THE LIE that British troops would not return to Iraq is falling apart.

The British government has now admitted that it has sent soldiers to Iraq to train Kurdish fighters in the use of the heavy machine guns that Britain has supplied.

The government says that the soldiers have arrived in a “non-combat” role.

SAS special forces troops—who are certainly in a “combat role”— are also in the region.

Leaks to right wing newspapers claim that their deeds are shaping the war.

The Daily Express newspaper reported that an SAS unit stopped an entire Islamic State convoy with two shots from a sniper rifle.

First we were told that the British intervention was air drops of humanitarian supplies to save the Yazidi people trapped on a mountain.


Then it was air sorties “monitoring” Islamic State. Then it was bombing raids. Now it is about “trainer troops” and special forces.

The potential for still greater intervention is clear.

Yet both Britain and the US are nervous about the level of their involvement.

They know that air raids are unlikely to destroy Islamic State, but fear to commit the thousands of troops that could take control.

In part they know they face serious domestic opposition to any such move.

The West would like to rely on Kurdish, Iraqi and especially Turkish troops.

But US ally Turkey has said it will not get involved unless other countries supply significant numbers of ground troops.

Tensions are currently running high between the allies.

US national security adviser Susan Rice announced last weekend that Turkey had agreed to allow its airbases along the Syrian border to be used by US planes to attack Syria.

The Turkish government quickly said it had given no such permission.

Saudi Arabia has offered to train some 5,000 ­“moderate” Syrian rebels. But no such forces have appeared.

That’s why there is now so much talk of putting Western troops on the ground.

Former general David Richards, who retired as head of the British army in 2013, said, “It isn’t actually a
counter-terrorist operation. This is a conventional enemy in that it has armour, tanks, artillery, it is quite wealthy, it holds ground and it is going to fight.

“So therefore you have to view it as a conventional military campaign.”

Meanwhile Islamic State troops are said to have reached Abu Ghraib in the suburbs of Baghdad and the Iraqi government is asking for US troops to help repel them.

Islamic State has come to control most of Anbar province, which contains the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, once known as “the graveyard of the Americans”.

This was the region where the US pushed the “Sunni awakening” in an attempt to break the united resistance it faced after its 2003 invasion.

War weary (Workers World)

This is from Workers World:

War weary

By on October 19, 2014

Senator John McCain, the militarist spokesperson for the Republican opposition to President Barack Obama, had this terse comment on the president’s war on the Islamic State: “They’re winning, and we’re not,” McCain told CNN on Oct. 12 and called for ground troops.

Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Patrick Dempsey, who had already left the door open to advocate for using U.S. ground troops, told ABC’s “This Week” on Oct. 12 that to put a “no-fly zone” in Syria would involve hundreds of U.S. aircraft and cost as much as $1 billion a month.

Obama may be the CEO of the most powerful oppressor state in the history of humanity, but to wage this “war on the Islamic State,” he’s holding a weak hand. Washington’s current strategy is to avoid risking the lives of U.S. youth. The “boots on the ground” — soon to be bodies under the ground — are supposed to come from regional allies.

Obama has a problem: None of the allies want to take casualties fighting the Islamic State.

He has another problem: Hardly any working people in the United States, and especially people of color, say U.S. youth should be fighting in Iraq and/or Syria. And no one, outside of McCain and Dempsey, is volunteering to go. Come to think of it: those two are volunteering other people to go fight ISIS.

When the U.S. opened its war against Vietnam more than 50 years ago, ruling-class warmakers could count on the official veterans’ groups — the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars — to support their adventure. In those days U.S. capitalist society was providing a good living for a large section of the working class, with plenty left over for guns. This built them a strong base of support, especially among a privileged sector of anti-communist union leaders.

Now, after the earlier experience in Vietnam and the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you hardly hear from those veterans’ groups. You do hear from Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. They say: “Stay out of Syria! Stay out of Iraq!”

Meanwhile, U.S. capitalism is providing only austerity, cuts in social programs, economic stagnation and lower wages for the workers. The once-patriotic union leaders are disillusioned. Even before Obama’s war on Iraq and Syria has started in earnest, a war weariness pervades the U.S. population.

Aware of that premature war weariness, Obama and the Pentagon have planned the battle relying on drones, smart bombs and rockets fired from massive warships. No U.S. boots on the ground. They would like to maneuver with their various allies and enemies in the region to smash the Islamic State — and then maybe take on Syria. Dempsey and McCain say it will take more than that.

In prior historic situations, a negative mood alone was incapable of stopping an imperialist state on the speedway to war. Fighting today’s war drive requires action, protests, even strikes. Let’s not wait for the painful costs of war to stir us to activity. If the ruling class hasn’t the good sense to stop this militarist adventure, let us prepare the ground for the uprising that will stop them for good.

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


 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.

  "Iraq snapshot" -- pic by readers of this site for highlight of the week. 

  • "flu shot" -- Rebecca on the season.

  • "Time for Tom Frieden to go" and "Ebola"  -- Marcia and Ruth on ebola.

  • "Presidential Stature" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

  • "Johnny Mathis" -- Elaine covers music.

    "Randy J" -- Betty on books and TV.

    "Idiot of the week" -- Mike picks the winner.

    "Dodging the bill again" and "THIS JUST IN! HE KNOWS THE VALUE OF A FREE MEAL!" -- don't you hate the guy who always pretends he's going to grab the bill but doesn't?

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