Monday, October 19, 2015

Truest statement of the week

CNN and Facebook co-sponsored last week’s Democratic presidential frontrunners’ “debate.” After the event, CNN conducted a poll. “Who won the debate?” it asked. The result: 83% Bernie Sanders; 12% Hillary Clinton.
Facebook also took a poll. “Who do you think won?” Over 79% responded, “Bernie Sanders.”
Slate conducted a poll. “Who won the presidential debate?” asked the magazine. 75% of respondents said Bernie Sanders; 18% gave it to Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton won,” reported Slate “senior writer” Josh Vorhees exuberantly. “She just needed to be solid in the debate. Instead, she was spectacular.”
Spectacular! with 18% of Slate’s own polling numbers. Go figure.
“Who do you think won?” asked Time Magazine. The response?  Bernie Sanders: 70%, Hillary Clinton 16%.
The Time headline:  “CLINTON IN CONTROL.”

-- Gary Leupp, "Why Hillary Won the Debate (Even though She Didn’t)" (Dissident Voice).

Truest statement of the week II

I just helped organize a news conference with Holly Sterling, the wife of jailed CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling and a number of press freedom advocates and whistleblowers.
Just prior to the news conference this morning, Democracy Now was good enough to have Norman Solomon (my boss) and Holly Sterling on the program.
The problem is how Democracy Now introed — and therefore, framed — the segment: “Sterling is serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program.”
That is a very benign way to describe what Operation Merlin (the program in question) was about.

-- Sam Husseini,  "How 'Progressive Media' Go Wrong: the Case of Jeffrey Sterling" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --

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?

A first for Gary Leuup.
And a first for Sam Husseini
The failed 'plan' Barack's instituted. 
Ava and C.I. take on THE GRINDER. [Jim note added 10/21/15 -- I have fixed my title to Ava and C.I.'s piece and changed it to "TV: Rob Lowe: Non-actor supreme."  Thank you to all who e-mailed to inform me of my incorrect spelling.]
Join the call.
Our top ten favorite live action films featuring animals in a prominent role.  
What we listened to while writing.

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


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

Editorial: Operation Inherent Failure

Operation Inherent Failure is the true name for US President Barack Obama's mission in Iraq.

AFP's headline last week said it all: "US to Iraq: Time for 'final push' into Ramadi."

For those who misplaced their trading cards, the assault on Ramadi began in May.

They're still not in Ramadi -- the Iraqi forces.

It's October.

For those who struggle with basic math, let's count it out together: 1 (May), 2 (June), 3 (July), 4 (August), 5 (September) and 6 (October).

But you can call it just five, if it makes it easier for you.

Five months.

Five months to try to take Ramadi.

And the US is urging them on?

The Iraqi forces are not ready.

But here's a truth they don't tell so easily: Neither is the Iraqi government.

Despite declaring June 19, 2014 that Iraq required a political solution to solve the crises, Barack chose to focus only on military actions.

Since August 2014, he's dropped a ton of bombs on Iraq.

He's killed a lot of people.

Chances are a few were actually terrorists.

Not as many as he claims were, but chances are that a few -- maybe 2% of the dead -- were terrorists.

This has been his focus.

And the government of Iraq remains as stalemated as ever.

Before providing military 'assistance' in August 2014, he was urging Iraq to put together a National Guard -- it would allow Kurds to police Kurdish areas, Sunnis to police Sunni areas, Shi'ites to police Shi'ite areas.

Guess what?

That law never passed.

The bill can't even get a vote.

One year and two months later.

Where's Ramadi?

Anbar Province.

Sunnis are the dominant population in that province.

They're not dominant in the Iraqi forces.

And with no National Guard, there's no trained Sunni forces that can be deployed.

See, the political solution mattered.

And Barack's desire to play toy soliders foolishly led him to believe that the political solution had nothing to do with the military solution.


TV: Rob Lowe: Non-actor supreme

Rob Lowe is very lucky.  Most good looking men who can't act end up spending their later years selling their bodies.  Like the James Dean wanna-be of the 60s who starred in bad movies before losing it and ended up a contractual 'bonus' in the mid 90s to an actress starring on Broadway -- by 'bonus' we mean the production paid for his sexual servicing of the actress who'd been hot for him back in his hey day.


With the bad acting, sex tapes -- 1988 Lowe filmed himself having sex with a woman and a 16-year-old girl and with a woman and another man -- stud services might have seemed his natural future.

Instead, he's managed to make a career out of bad acting.

Fox's new sitcom THE GRINDER continues Lowe's lucky streak while also again confirming that he truly can't act.

THE GRINDER works, when it works, solely due to Fred Savage who plays Lowe's brother Stewart.  Fred's definitely acting but, who knows, he may also be channeling his frustration over doing scenes with Lowe?

He does a slow boil beautifully, he expresses outrage humorously.  He clearly benefited from co-starring with Jane Curtin in 2006's woefully underrated sitcom CRUMBS.

Second-billed Savage makes GRINDER.

He could be assisted by a supporting cast.

But he isn't.

William Devane has been cast as Dean Sanderson Sr., father of Stewart and Lowe's character.  Devane is a wonderful actor with a natural rhythm but someone forgot to write a character for him. He's a non-stop smile on the page and it's only Devane's tremendous skills which have concealed how poorly written and planned the role is.

Devane also benefits from the easy chemistry he and Savage share (he played Fred's father in CRUMBS as well).  Mary Elizabeth Ellis benefits from nothing in the thankless role of 'the wife.'

The actress' comedic skills are wasted in one scene after another that finds her providing support and nothing else.  Natalie Morales fairs a little better as attorney Claire who strongly dislikes the actor Lowe doesn't bother to play.

Clair excites Stewart because she's immune to his brother's charms and, in a better scripted show, you could see them riffing on this in a manner similar to the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow-Alan Alda aspect of CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS.  But, at least so far, the show lacks the guts to go for that.

If only it possessed the chutzpah of, say, Rob Lowe, it might really be worth watching.

In his entire career, he's only succeeded in one role: Danny in ABOUT LAST NIGHT . . .

Opposite a strong actress like Demi Moore, he had to pull himself up but his talents are shallow and limited so he failed giving a truthful undercurrent to Danny whose whole life is failure and missed opportunities.

He's never again reached that deep.

But his non-performance, the same in the WEST WING and BROTHERS & SISTERS and PARKS & RECREATION and the Austin Power films and TOMMY BOY and . . .

They've given him a career if not any real accolades.

Tweet of the week

Add your voice to our petition: Demand consent to an                                                                                                                                                                       

10 Best Animal films (live action)


1) THAT DARN CAT (19.65 -- above).



4) BABE.







This edition's playlist



1) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.

2)  Ben and Ellen Harper's CHILDHOOD HOME.

3) Steve Grand's ALL AMERICAN BOY.



6) Sade's LOVERS ROCK.



9) James Blake's ENOUGH THUNDER.

10) Ben Harper's BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN.

Isakson Statement on Hickey Resignation


Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Committee and his office issued  the following yesterday:

Friday, October 16, 2015
Contact: Amanda Maddox,  202-224-7777

Isakson Statement on Hickey Resignation
Calls on Secretary McDonald to quickly nominate candidate who will reform VBA
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today released the following statement about the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey:
“Recent findings by the Inspector General clearly show that the Veterans Benefits Administration desperately needs new leadership. The systemic culture of fraud, waste and gross misuse of taxpayer money by VA executives for their own personal gain while veterans benefits claims have been backlogged for years is appalling and must end. While I thank Under Secretary Hickey for her military service, this is an opportunity for Secretary McDonald to nominate someone who will hold bad actors within the VA accountable and reform the Veterans Benefits Administration. I strongly urge Secretary McDonald to nominate someone as quickly as possible - this is not a position that the VBA can afford to have vacant for long.”
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

Obama shows his commitment to close Guantánamo by fighting release of 74-pound hunger striking prisoner

This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Obama shows his commitment to close Guantánamo by fighting release of 74-pound hunger striking prisoner

October 17, 2015

That is the cruel and absurd world of Guantánamo, where Tariq Ba Odah, long cleared for release by every U.S. security agency, still languishes in a cell 13 years on, waiting for the State Department and the Pentagon to finally agree on when to free him.
On Thursday, I joined Tariq’s attorney, CCR’s Omar Farah, in Washington DC, where he urged U.S. District Court Judge Hogan to order the Obama administration to release Tariq on medical grounds. Tariq has been on hunger strike, protesting his indefinite detention, since 2007. At 36-years old, he weighs roughly the same amount as the average 10-year old American boy—just 74 pounds. For more than 8 years he has been force-fed by prison staff every day.
Judge Hogan repeated these damning facts throughout the hearing, clearly concerned about Tariq’s grave medical condition and his prolonged imprisonment. “I’m not sure what the government is doing,” he said. “I don’t understand the delays.”
Omar argued that whether or not the government ever had the authority to imprison Tariq to begin with, that authority had surely now expired under section 3-12 of Army Regulation 190-8, which incorporates elements of the Geneva Conventions into US law and calls for the humanitarian release of gravely ill prisoners.  The government’s lawyers were asked directly, but could give no explanation as to why Tariq’s weight hasn’t increased even though he is forcibly-fed 2600 calories a day. Still they asserted that at 74 pounds he is “clinically stable”, and therefore ineligible for these humanitarian law protections. Moreover, they tried to convince the Court to stay-its-hand in this urgent dispute by claiming that Tariq is not entitled to these basic humanitarian law protections because the government unilaterally declared that he lacks prisoner-of-war status.
That’s the Obama Justice Department in 2015 making the same Bush-era arguments, taking exception to the Geneva Conventions, that President Obama once disavowed and the Supreme Court roundly criticized in Boumediene v. Bush.
It is troubling, indeed schizophrenic, that this is what the Obama administration says in court to a dying man, all while trying to convince the American public that it has a “new” plan to empty the prison. If the administration can’t work together to free Tariq, how could it possibly close Guantánamo?
Meanwhile, Tariq’s life is on the line, and with each additional day the consequences of the president’s inaction get more dire. In his concluding remarks, Omar articulated why the court’s intervention is so necessary.
“The government does not actually oppose Mr. Ba Odah’s release. It is here fighting on principle…so that the government can maintain the right to warehouse Mr. Ba Odah and force-feed his 74-pound frame to keep him alive only to prolong his detention,though he is cleared, so it  can release him at the time and place of the government’s choosing…That's an alarming distortion of the government's detention authority. The Court should determine that this has gone on long enough.”
We hope Judge Hogan will not let this cruel injustice continue.

Chairman Miller Statement on Resignation of VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey


US House Rep Jeff Miller (above) is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  His office issued the following statement Friday:

Chairman Miller Statement on Resignation of VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey

Oct 16, 2015

WASHINGTON – Following the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey, Chairman Miller released the below statement.

“Although Allison Hickey deserves credit for her military service and willingness to work on behalf of our nation’s veterans, she was not cut out for the job of VA Under Secretary for Benefits. She leaves the department amid a damning office of inspector general report linking her to a scheme in which senior Veterans Benefits Administration officials abused their authority, resulting in the misuse of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. And though VA statistics show the disability benefits backlog shrank on her watch, those figures must be taken with a healthy grain of salt in light of assertions from prominent veterans groups and even VA’s own inspector general that the department’s backlog numbers are not to be trusted. Right now, VBA needs a leader who will put veterans – not VA bureaucrats first – while working to end the backlog without sacrificing quality, accuracy or service to veterans. Unfortunately, Hickey was not that type of leader.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Administrative Investigation: Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and Incentives in VBA

VA Inspector General Doesn't Trust VA's Backlog Numbers

American Legion: VA Accuracy Claims Make us Chuckle

ACLU Comment on Leaked Targeted Killing Documents

The ACLU issued the following   last week:

October 15, 2015

NEW YORK — The Intercept released documents today showing that the government’s targeted killing operations are rife with intelligence shortcomings and frequent civilian casualties. The papers also reveal that the reality of the operations is far from the public picture presented by the government.
Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, had this reaction:
“These eye-opening disclosures make a mockery of U.S. government claims that its lethal force operations are based on reliable intelligence and limited to lawful targets. In fact, the government often claims successes that are really tragic losses. The Obama administration’s lethal program desperately needs transparency and accountability because it is undermining the right to life and national security.”
The ACLU is currently litigating several Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to uncover more about who the government has killed and why, as well as the legal basis for its operations.


 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.

"Crimson Peak," "What a load of crap" and "Rita Hayworth" -- Stan, Trina and Ann go to the movies.

"The Drone War" -- Betty takes on The Drone War.

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