Monday, November 03, 2014

Truest statement of the week

But a visit to the Sunni settlement this week laid bare the huge cost of that victory. The town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been destroyed – by air strikes, bombings and artillery fire.
After four months of battles between the Isis and the Iraqi army, about 10,000 pro-government Shia militiamen were poured into this area in Babil province for a final push, according to Hadi al-Amiri, who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade and co-ordinated the operation.
Defeating the militants involved clearing out all the residents and leaving the town nearly flattened, underscoring the challenge the Shia-led government faces in areas where demographics do not work in its favour.

-- Loveday Morris, "Iraq’s victory over militants in Sunni town underlines challenges government faces" (Washington Post).

A note to our readers

Hey --

And so it's a Monday.

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?

We'd agreed to just go with Loveday Morris.  Outside of The Common Ills, we haven't seen anyone note this very important report on Iraq.

Ban Ki-moon is a joke.  He's had years to show independence, years to show strength.  He's only gotten weaker each year. 
Ava and C.I. examine the new channels and how they replicate the best and worst of TV's past.
Stevie Nicks.  This was suggested by reader Mia.  She wanted us to note 10.  We couldn't agree on ten so we went with 20.
Since we weren't able to finish on time, I figured the least I could do was offer a Jim's World.

Remembering Linda's best.
Short feature.

What we listened to. 
Socialist Worker repost. 

Workers World repost.

Mike and the gang wrote this.


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

Editorial: The United Nation's touching concern

Last week, the United Nations landed plenty of ink as a result of their declaration opposing foreign fighters in Iraq.

Time wrote it up,  Deutsche Welle did as well, PRI and so many more.

We're also opposed to foreign fighters in Iraq.

But when we say that, we mean the US, Australia, Canada, et al.

Last week, the United Nations yet again demonstrated how useless they are and how empty Ban Ki-moon's reign as Secretary-General has been.

Unlike Kofi Annan, to cite only one example, Ban Ki-moon has been more than happy to be seen as a powerless pawn to US' interests.

Much is being made (rightly) of the White House doing little for months and months to address the violence in Iraq but what of the United Nations?

What of Ban Ki-moon's failures.

The European Union has shown greater interest in and leadership on Iraq than any other body including the United Nations.

Ban Ki-moon's tenure has been marked by Nouri al-Maliki mocking him at a press conference (with Ban standing right beside Nouri when it happened) and rumors of corruption on the part of his former envoy Martin Kobler.

What it has not been marked by is any progress in Iraq.

TV: The Clone Wars

TV our way!  The easiest decision you'll make all day!  It doesn't get any better than This! Memorable Entertainment Television! TV how it was meant to be!

So many promises made, so few kept.

If you're a struggling college student or someone else struggling financially, you've probably noted the influx in new TV channels broadcast over the airwaves.

And new channels, free of charge, should be something to rejoice over.

Should be.

Instead, it's largely one disappointment after another.

Take This TV which promises films but works in a lot of episodes of the TV show The Outer Limits for a supposed film channel.  When not airing that, it offers a lot of films that most people passed on long ago.  Take this coming Saturday where, eight hours will be taken up with The Kickboxer franchise.

Being This TV, they do things their own way, which is to say: half-assed.

So Kickboxer II: The Road Back kicks things off and Kickboxer IV: Redemption winds things down.

Yes, they're showing four installments of the film series including the last two -- films so bad they never made it to a theater but were "direct to video" flicks.

Some will say, "Sasha Mitchell is eye candy."  Possibly, if you like your eye candy to leave you with two black eyes.  Whatever did or did not happen between Mitchell and his first wife, we're not the police, it ended his career as well as his following.

Sometimes This TV will decide to focus on women -- or pretend to -- and do a block of bad films based on fairy tales.  Films so bad, you'd find them for $1.99 in a bin at a gas station.  The production values may be the only thing worse than the acting.  But for some reason, This TV is convinced that grown women want to watch badly acted fairy tales.

At least This TV makes an effort -- a bad effort.

That's more than can be said for ME TV which is easily the worst new channel to emerge in decades.

It wasn't always so bad.

A year ago this time, the network offered an hour of prime time of The Bob Newhart Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda and more.

Today, it's just The Bob Newhart Show.

That show was never that interesting and many episodes are downright offensive today.

For example, while you can watch the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Phyllis learns her brother Ben is not gay without cringing.  The same cannot be said when Howard Hessman's character comes out as gay on The Bob Newhart Show.  And it's true that Marcia Wallace does heroic comedy as Carol but that doesn't change that the character is a rip off of Sally Rogers (The Dick Van Dyke Show) or that Sally was out of date when Rose Marie played her.

The Bob Newhart Show was never that funny.

(Newhart, by contrast, was hilarious from the second season on.)

The Bob Newhart Show struggled in the ratings from the start (back when there were just three networks, coming in 53rd for the year was bombing) and the industry wasn't impressed which is why the series never won an Emmy and, in fact, only received two nominations its entire six year run.

But from one night a week, MyTV has now spread the lackluster show across five nights of prime time and, teams it with such other trash as M*A*S*H.

M*A*S*H was a film classic.

Like the late Robert Altman, we don't know what the hell that crap airing on TV was but it wasn't M*A*S*H.

The so-so comedy stands as a testament to the whorish nature of TV critics.

Homeland is little more than Mosad propaganda that exists to sell torture.  We know that.  So does a prominent Water Cooler Set TV critic.  But he will offer to us all these excuses about Homeland is doing this and doing that.

And when we point out that this 'miracle' show is produced by one of Rush Limbaugh's best friends, he'll struggle to find new excuses to justify his fascination with (and addiction to) torture porn.

Something similar happened with M*A*S*H.

Alan Alda said all the right things for us liberals -- said them off screen.

So we looked the other way on M*A*S*H.

It is not a funny show.

And his Hawkeye is prissy and irritating and the sexism on the show never fails to offend.

Along with those two crap-fests, MeTV thinks they can grab viewers by airing, in prime time, The Andy Griffith Show.  The only thing that would ever make that show interesting would be Aunt Bee warbling "Andy!" as she walked in on Barney plowing the sheriff doggy-style while an excited Gomer exclaimed "Golly!" and unzipped his own pants.

Then it's Hogan's Heroes and Gilligan's Island and do women exist on MeTV as anything but props -- largely props so that closeted actors could portray straight men?

MeTV is the worst of the lot, offensive and dull, what's the best?

Two that actually offer promise are Bounce TV and Cozi TV.

They're the only ones doing original programming.

Bounce, which is geared towards African-American viewers, offers the original sitcom Family Time starring Angell Conwell and Omar Gooding.  They also offer Sheri Shepherd hosting The Dating Game.  Plus there are specials and documentaries (The Jackie Robinson Story, for example), sports and even theater productions.

Theater productions? NBC was bottom of the barrel in the ratings a few decades back and vehicles like SuperTrain and Pink Lady and Jeff hadn't helped any with the ratings.

So NBC moved towards a return to live theater.  Academy Award winner Sally Field scored with All The Way Home (directed by Delbert Mann) and Pearl Bailey, Dana Hill and Howard E. Rollins Jr. scored with The Member of the Wedding (also directed by Mann).

NBC still does the occassional live production -- last year's successful Sound of Music performance, for example -- but it's not a staple of their programming.

But Bounce does regularly air (recorded) theater productions.

Cozi doesn't.

They don't really do much in terms of original programming that's scripted.

They do offer the Emmy award winning Talk Stoop, a talk show hosted by Cat Greenleaf on the stoop outside her Brooklyn home.  Cat's a laidback talker with a knack for memorable interviews -- she gives the guest enough rope to swing to new heights (Cyndi Lauper) or to hang themselves (Oliver Stone).

Cozi also offers original comedy specials where comedians riff on their programming -- for example, examing the fashions of Magnum P.I. and Charlie's Angels.  Though not earth shattering, the blend of clips and zingers makes for entertaining TV.

In terms of reairings, they offer such shows as  The Avengers, Here's Lucy, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Charlie's Angels, Hart to Hart, McMillan & Wife and The Dick Van Dyke Show.  They also offer late night movies, as Ruth frequently noted at her site.

If there is one thing holding back Cozi right now, it's the reliance on Westerns.  MeTV's already doing that and then some.  Cozi could stand out if it would, for example, stop broadcasting the TV show Maverick during Saturday prime time or lose the horse operas during the week.

But Cozi and Bounce are strong channels.

The question is, why aren't others?

MeTV is filth.

We're not saying it's "indecent."  Decency doesn't concern us.

We're saying it's pure garbage that would bore even the Reader's Digest set.

It started out with a tiny edge but now that's been sanded off and it is that TV is at its worst.

The garbage most never want to see again collects at the bottom of the drain and airs on MeTV.

It exists as a tired kinetoscope of the past.

A world where all the players are White and, if they do anything, they're men.

A world that never reflected reality but MeTV is all about sexism and racism and being the worst network on TV.

It didn't have to be that way.

As these new channels emerged in the 21st century, they could have been ironic (Cozi), maverick (Bounce) or just utilized some of the best programming of the past to build a bridge to this century.

The latter is what Antenna TV has done.

Bewitched, All in the Family, Good Times, Maude, Sanford & Son, Three's Company, The Nanny, Gidget, The Flying Nun, I Dream of Jeannie, Diff'rent Strokes, WKRP in Cincinnati, It Takes A Thief, The Patty Duke Show, The Burns and Allen Show, etc.

Antenna TV is not creating any new content.  But it is digging through some of TV's better offerings that amused in the past and can still do so today.  To spend time with Antenna TV is to realize why TV ever caught Americans attention in the first place.

Top 20 Stevie Nicks' epics

Whether recording with  Fleetwood Mac or solo, Stevie Nicks has written one classic after another.

More than classics, they are often epics.

As Kat noted in her review of Stevie's new album 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault, "Few song writers produce epics the way Stevie does. She's not writing story songs, she's writing films."

With that in mind, here are our picks for Stevie's twenty greatest epics.

1) "Sara"

2) "Beauty & The Beast"

3) "Edge of 17"

4) "Belladonna"

5) "The Dealer"

6) "Wild Heart"

7) "Juliet"

8) "Rhiannon"

9) "Wide Sargasso Sea"

10) "Lady"

11) "Landslide"

12) "One More Big Time Rock and Roll Star"

13) "Sisters of the Moon"

14) "Violet and Blue"

15) "Gypsy"

16) "Welcome to the Room . . . Sara"

17) "Mabel Normand"

18) "Hard Advice"

19) "Thrown Down"

20) "Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)"

Jim's World



A few of you e-mail asking where are the roundtables.

A few weeks ago, we did one.

And as I noted in my "A note to the readers," we ended up pulling it at the last minut.

We'd probably spent three hours on it -- including typing it up -- and now it was trashed.


We were talking about the useless whores who can't call out Barack.

One person offered, for example, that 'radical' Michael Ratner talks about Barack sending US troops back into Iraq on Law & Disorder Radio and keeps his voice even and smooth until he gets to Hillary Clinton who, for the record, is not President of the United States or even in the administration today.

We called out silly whores like Michael Ratner.

Silly 'radicals' too afraid to call out the 'Black' man but more than fine with attacking Hillary Clinton for Barack's decision to send troops back into Iraq.

It was a lively roundtable.

But then some started having reservations.

Since Michael was (at last) speaking out and (finally) remembering Iraq maybe we shouldn't call him out?

I thought that was a load of s**t.

Since, in my note, I put in that Ava and C.I. walked out on that discussion, let me now make clear they weren't asking for any edits or changes.

Their opinions were, we said it, it's our opinion, let's print it and move on.

But not everyone felt that way.

And after that, and after it not being published, I just haven't been in the mood for a roundtable.

Maybe writing about it will change that?

Maybe not.

I don't dislike Michael Ratner.

But I'm not doing The Third Estate Sunday Review to produce content that will never, ever hurt his feelings.

Last week, Chris Floyd called out Digby.

Long time coming.

I think if, on the left, we were holding the various Barack whores accountable, we'd have a lot less silence on the left and a lot more get-in-the-street action.

Top Ten Linda Ronstadt recordings

This year, Rhino released a collection of duets Linda Ronstadt had previously recorded (she retired in 2011).


Kat reviewed it here.  And we thought we'd use the opportunity to offer and rank our top ten favorite Linda Ronstadt recordings.

1) "Tracks Of My Tears"

2) "Ooh Baby Baby"

3) "Don't Know Much" (duet with Aaron Neville)

4) "Walk Away Renee" (duet with Ann Savoy)

5) "After The Gold Rush" (with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris)

6) "Love Has No Pride"

7) "Poor Poor Pitiful Me"

8) "The Waiting"

9) "To Know Him Is To Love Him" (with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris)

10) "Different Drum" (with the Stone Poneys)

Johnny Loves Benjamin

Well how cute.  John Kerry got himself a boyfriend.

My baby whispers in my ear
Mmm, sweet nothings
He knows the things I like to hear
Mmm, sweet nothings
Things he wouldn't tell nobody else

Secret, baby
I keep it to myself
Sweet nothings
We walk along hand in hand
Mmm, sweet nothings
Yeah, we both understand
Mmm, sweet nothings

-- "Sweet Nothings," written by Ronnie Self and Dub Albritton and performed by Diana Ross on her Why Do Fools Fall In Love album.

This edition's playlist


1) Aretha Franklin's Aretha Sings The Great Diva Classics.

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

3) The Mamas and The Papas' Deliver.

4) Prince's Art Official Age.

5) Janis Joplin's Pearl.

6) Prince and 3rdeyegirl's Plectrunemlectrum.

7) Laura Nyro's Nested.

8)  Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

9) Ben Harper and Ellen Harper's Childhood Home.

10)  Carly Simon's Anticipation.

The Case of Comrade Norris—a fascinating politcal fable with lessons for today

This is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

The Case of Comrade Norris—a fascinating politcal fable with lessons for today

by Mick Mulcahy

Case of Comrade Norris cover
This fascinating novel is based on the life of worker and left wing activist James Norris.

It charts his life from poverty in the backstreets of a north west England town to a national press witch hunt in the 1980s.

Norris became a member of the Militant Tendency—a left wing group in the Labour Party.

The first chapters look at Norris’s personal and political development.

It’s at times quite moving, as we’re taken on a journey through his formative years—his love of sport and experience of school.

It tells us something of what it was like to be working class and at university in the post-war era.

And, as a teacher, Norris imparts his enthusiasm for working class kids.

But there are dark sides too as Norris finds himself blacklisted and unemployed.

The author brilliantly helps us to understand Norris’s emotions and thoughts as he grapples to find a meaningful identity and set of social values.

On this journey, Norris develops a passion for visual art and literature and the novel itself is a rich patchwork of cultural references.

The final chapters focus on the Labour leadership’s purge of Militant Tendency in the fictitious north west Brownedge constituency.

The novel becomes gripping as the Brownedge Militant story hits the national press.

Norris is physically threatened, his windows are put through and flat is stripped bare.

His personal journey reaches a crescendo as he contemplates walking away from politics.

This book is topical, when we think of all those who think the left can somehow reclaim the Labour Party.

It asks pertinent questions about the nature of democracy and the unscrupulousness of power.

And you get a real flavour of the impact of the 1980s and the witch hunt on ordinary people’s lives.

The Case of Comrade Norris
S Kadison
The Pennyless Press

The U.S. mercenary war drive

This is from Workers World:

The U.S. mercenary war drive

By on November 2, 2014

Because of the enormous pressure placed on the U.S. government by the heroic surviving victims and witnesses to the Blackwater massacre at Baghdad’s Nusoor Square, a federal jury convicted four Blackwater contractors on Oct. 23 in Washington, D.C. One was found guilty of murder and three of manslaughter, as well as several weapons charges.

Seventeen civilians were killed, including two children, on Sept. 16, 2007. Twenty more were injured.
The four killers were underlings in the criminal U.S. war machine, whose executive officers included the top war criminals of the George W. Bush administration and the Blackwater bosses.

“Seven years ago, these Blackwater contractors unleashed powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children,” said Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case.

“It was horror. People running out of their cars were being shot at. … Anything that moved in Nusoor Square was shot. Women, children, young people, they shot everyone,” said witness Hasan Jaber, who himself was shot three times. (CNN, Oct. 23)

“Holding individuals responsible is not enough,” noted Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented Iraqi victims of the killings in a human-rights case against Blackwater that settled in 2010.

“Private military contractors … have engaged in a variety of war crimes and atrocities during the [2003 Iraq] invasion and occupation while reaping billions of dollars in profits from the war. To this day, the U.S. government continues to award Blackwater and its successor entities millions of dollars each year in contracts, essentially rewarding war crimes,” Azmy said. (, Oct. 23)

None of Blackwater’s executives were charged with any crimes around this massacre, even though they tried to cover it up. Blackwater Worldwide repaired and repainted its trucks immediately after the Nusoor Square shooting. “The repairs essentially destroyed evidence that Justice Department investigators hoped to examine in a criminal case that has drawn worldwide attention.” (Harpers Blog, Jan. 19, 2008)

Blackwater execs, Bush leaders walk free

Letting Blackwater executives walk free is in stark contrast to the prosecution of heroes like U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who face decades in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes.

For its “services,” Blackwater has received some $2 billion in U.S. government contracts for providing armed personnel to the Pentagon, the State Department and, secretly, to the CIA.

Other U.S. mercenary companies, like CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved with the torture of prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Numerous reports indicate these private firms also worked with the CIA in its infamous “rendition” torture campaign.

Why is Wall Street employing its own private armies when it has the most powerful war machine in the world at its disposal — the U.S. military? To supplement U.S. recruits, reduce the number of U.S. troops killed in action and provide more tax dollars for private profit, the Pentagon hires companies like Blackwater.
U.S. imperialism has poured billions upon billions of dollars from the people’s treasury to pay these hired killers like those from Blackwater to conduct torture and murder, much of it in secret, to further protect the vast flow of wealth into its coffers.

Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, told a reporter that the new “promised land” is Africa, where he is “investing in firms providing services to the oil and gas industry, in places where he thinks his expertise in providing logistics and security can give him a competitive edge.” (, Nov. 23, 2013)

The conviction of the Blackwater contractors is a step in the right direction. But why stop there? The Blackwater executives also deserve punishment. And it was the political leaders in the Bush administration who plotted the plunder of Iraq; sold it to the rest of the U.S. ruling class by promising an easy, quick and cheap victory; and sold it to the world with the Big Lie that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.”

Massacres like the one at Nusoor Square will not stop until all these mercenaries and those who stand behind them are brought to justice before the people of the world.

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.

"Stupid Disney," "Why Sex Tape flopped," "captain marvel and wonder woman,"   "Before I Go To Sleep" and "Love At First Bite" -- Marcia, Betty, Rebecca, Stan and Ruth go to the movies.

"Idiot of the Week: Fox (entertainment),"  " Stalker and Chris Floyd," "scandal (let's all hate fitz),"  "Arrow -- only one scene with Felicity," "How To Get Away With Murder," "How To Get Away With Murder (and tell the female students apart,)" "revenge - the good," "The Flash sucks," "The Mysteries of Laura gets full season pick up,"  "revenge - the bad," "The Originals (Eli's in trouble)" and "Look what Neil Patrick Harris is doing now" -- Mike, Rebecca, Stan, Ruth, Betty and Elaine cover TV.

"Some thoughs on The Hulk" -- Marcia shares. 

"Operator error" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Planned Parenthood clearly doesn't care about African-American women" -- Ann calls out Planned Parenthood for using a racist as a spokesperson.

"Chris Hedges is just another slave" and "The copycat" -- Elaine and Mike call the useless out.

"Sucky Wal-Mart online" -- Ann details how awful Wal-Mart can be.

And Wally and Cedric continue to chart the whorish ways of Robert Parry:

  • The dirty details of the dirty affair
  • Robert Parry wants his Baby Daddy
  • He's got a sweet tooth
  • Child birth fears

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