09/09/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-Mom’s Birthday

My Mom would have been 79 today, and I am surprised at how not okay I’m doing on her first birthday not on this planet. I’m trying to not think too  much about it, but that’s ridiculous because it just makes me think about it more. I tell myself to save some of this shit for later because I have a whole year ahead of me of firsts without her. This ain’t even the first first, that was dad’s birthday in July. But this one is hers, it feels big to me.

I sit here and tell myself that she’s free now, she’s not crazy anymore. She’s not living in a house with people that she doesn’t quite know who they are most of the time, eating the same foods day in, day out because she can’t remember liking anything else. She isn’t looking to go home when she’s already there anymore. All of that’s true, but when I think of that now, today I find too little comfort in it, I feel so angry at what dementia stole from her, from all of us.

I worry that my kids will remember the scared, difficult mommom  she became in the end, rather than the woman who spoiled them rotten, and loved them to pieces. They were so little then. I know they remember going to the beach, but not many particulars. Today this breaks my heart. The certain knowledge that they will not remember who she was. Dementia stole that too.

I know this is just part of it, part of grieving. I recognize on one level that this is that, even while it’s hitting me in waves hard enough to roll me ass over tin cups on another. I held it together while Dad was in the room, it’s hard enough for him without me blubbering and blowing my nose in front of him. Then I just let it roll over me. I thought about my mom and told myself to knock it off, that she wouldn’t want me to cry. But that’s not entirely true–she would want me to cry a little, because I loved her, then she’d want me to stop and carry on.

It’s not that they’re corrupt. It’s that they’re so cheap.

How the Makers of “Zero Dark Thirty” Seduced the CIA with Fake Earrings

Peter Maass, The Intercept

Sep. 9 2015, 2:56 p.m.

From the moment it premiered in 2012, the film by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal about the hunt for Osama bin Laden has been criticized as pro-torture propaganda. According to its many detractors, the film embraced the discredited notion that torture by CIA interrogators made Al Qaeda members talk about the whereabouts of their leader. It subsequently was revealed that Bigelow and Boal had received an unusual amount of access to CIA officials who had a keen interest in peddling the virtues of waterboarding, and this spawned a cottage industry of investigations and articles.

According to the documents, at least 10 CIA officers met Bigelow and Boal at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as at hotels and restaurants in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. In addition, the CIA director at the time, Leon Panetta, met Bigelow at a dinner in Washington and, soon after that, shared a table with her and Boal at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It also turns out that Boal read his script over the phone to CIA public affairs officials on four separate days in the fall of 2011.

But the biggest takeaway from these documents is that even as the CIA turned Bigelow and Boal into its willing propagandists, the filmmakers were turning the CIA into star-gazing dupes; the seduction went both ways. Bigelow and Boal emerge in these documents as excellent co-opters of the nation’s toughest spies – and it didn’t take much for them to do that.

Bigelow and Boal visited CIA headquarters (an officer recalled having to cover up classified material on one occasion), but the meetings soon moved off campus to “avoid jealousy” about who was getting “face time” with the famous duo, according to the CIA documents obtained by Vice. For instance, one CIA officer met Boal at his suite in the luxury Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C. and dined with him at the hotel as well as at a nearby restaurant, Citronelle, where a slab of ribeye cost $39. Not long afterwards, Bigelow met that same officer in her accommodations at the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown.

The seduction was bi-coastal. A CIA officer met Boal in Hollywood for a meal and then drove to a beach house in Malibu to talk with Bigelow. Boal gave the officer a bottle of Tequila and boasted it was worth “several hundred dollars” (although when someone at the CIA checked, the highest listed price was $169.99). The officer who had met Boal at the Jefferson Hotel also had dinner with him and Bigelow at the members-only Soho House in L.A. and later told investigators she had “developed a friendship” with the filmmakers. It had not been terribly expensive for Bigelow and Boal to develop these friendships, however – Bigelow had given the officer a set of what the director described as “black Tahitian pearl earrings” that, it turned out, were painted black and were so cheap they weren’t worth the cost of an appraisal.

The documents show that auditors at the CIA referred the matter to the Department of Justice for possible criminal action against Boal and Bigelow for bribing public officials. Prosecutors took no action.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why more debates are good for Clinton

Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton signaled that she’s willing to participate in more Democratic primary debates. “I am open to whatever the DNC decides to set up,” she said. “That’s their decision. . . . I debated a lot in 2008, and I certainly would be there with lots of enthusiasm and energy if they decide to add more debates, and I think that’s the message a lot of people are sending their way.” [..]

According to the conventional wisdom, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz designed the light debate schedule for Clinton’s protection. With fewer debates, the thinking went, other Democratic candidates would have a harder time gaining momentum in the polls, allowing Clinton to wrap up the nomination more quickly. And a shorter primary would mean fewer opportunities for Clinton to make unscripted blunders that Republicans could use against her in the general election.

But this logic is wrongheaded for several reasons, not least of which is Clinton’s well-deserved reputation as a skilled debater. Indeed, Clinton was the one calling for more debates in 2008, when many believed that she outperformed Obama. In reality, while it’s extremely unlikely that participating in additional debates would hurt Clinton’s chances, the lack of debates is already inflicting needless damage on both the party and Clinton.

Amy B. Dean: Made in Detroit, again?

The decline of factory jobs in the Motor City was a result of policy choices, not worker preferences

Over the past few months, I have been using a fine American-made bicycle to get around Chicago – a shiny new ride made in Detroit. The manufacturer, Detroit Bikes, has been producing vehicles for mass consumption for two years.

Last year, in its first full year of operation, its 50,000-square-foot factory manufactured 1,000 bikes. Its staff of about 20 is expected to grow this year amid expanding orders, including 2,415 bicycles for the New Belgium Brewing Co.

As with other artisanal manufacturers such as New York’s Re-Co Bklyn and San Francisco’s American Giant, Detroit Bikes largely produces the bikes for an upscale market. While their success is meaningful, these producers are not remotely comparable to the United States’ earlier manufacturing base in terms of job creation or economic impact.

U.S. manufacturing employment has declined significantly over the past several decades, but it is still an important part of the nation’s economy. The loss of manufacturing jobs was in large part a result of policy choices in Washington that favored Wall Street over industrial employees. This Labor Day, we should look critically at these choices and celebrate renewed efforts to create a robust, if transformed, manufacturing base in the United States.

Terry O’Neill: Before Looking at Developing World’s Gender-Equality Gap, U.S. Needs to Look at Own Backyard

End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. That’s the vision behind the 17 global goals for sustainable development that world leaders will commit to later this month at the UN. The fifth of those 17 goals, to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” is absolutely essential. You cannot solve the world’s problems while keeping half the population out of leadership and subordinated to the other half.

There are many paths toward gender equality for all women and girls. But before we in the U.S. presume that’s only a problem in the developing world, let’s take a closer look at our own backyard. I want to focus on just two things we need to do to achieve equality for women here at home: Guarantee every woman affordable access to the full range of reproductive-health-care services; and increase the minimum wage to a livable wage, indexed to inflation.

There’s no doubt that these solutions work. But there’s plenty of opposition from Congressional Republicans and far-right extremists who consider “fair” a four-letter word.

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite: The Arson Attack on Planned Parenthood and Political Violence Against Women

Well, what did you expect? After a summer of inflammatory (and inaccurate) politically motivated attacks against Planned Parenthood, one of their clinics has been heavily damaged by what is now determined to be arson.

Attacks on women’s self-determination in body, mind and spirit are a staple of our political life because they work. Unless and until we confront the root reasons why patterns of violence against women work, both overt and covert violence against women will continue to be a political mainstay.  [..]

The political attacks on Planned Parenthood, supported by conservative religious groups, do indeed fuel extremism, and are part of long-standing structural violence against women. Arson is physical violence and it is often and outcome of the structural violence of inflammatory political rhetoric. Structural violence as I have defined it, is a pattern of “constriction of opportunity” and “unjust exploitation” without overt physical violence, though most often backed up with the threat of physical violence.

Michelle Chen: The Unionization of Digital Media

A recent string of campaigns show that while unions at “legacy” newspapers are eroding, organizing still has a place in the digital space.

The digital news team at Al Jazeera America announced last week that it wants to go union, following a string of similar campaigns in recent weeks by web-based journalists who have moved toward or formally voted to establish unions at The Guardian US, Vice, Salon, and Gawker. The organizing bump suggests that, while journalism faces a troubled future, on the labor front, there’s good news to tell.

Though a few hundred workers unionizing isn’t a “game changer” exactly, the campaigns show that while unions at “legacy” newspapers are eroding, organizing still has a place in the digital space.

The announcement, issued on Thursday by New York NewsGuild (part of Communications Workers of America), stated that the workers had “petitioned for representation,” and were, as of Friday, awaiting a response. The main concerns of staff involve “a troubling lack of transparency, inconsistent management and lack of clear redress” for workers’ grievances, as well as what they see as discrepancies in pay and performance evaluation.

Naomi Dean: The Iran Deal and American Jews

Far too much of the analysis of the nuclear deal with Iran has focused on what the American Jewish community and Israeli leaders think, as if those opinions were more important than those of the other Americans, Iranians, and international community at large who are also affected by the deal.

Nevertheless, one of the few bright sides of the media spotlight on American Jewish opinion on the deal has been that the loud and highly publicized infighting has proven quite incontrovertibly that there is no such thing as a Jewish consensus, on anything. As the saying goes: two Jews, three opinions. Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel the institutional American Jewish community has long claimed to represent Jewish Opinion, enclosing the boundaries of debate within a very narrow frame. [..]

The schism in the Jewish community over the Iran deal has been making headlines all summer, but what has been missing from most of these stories is the fact that the debate isn’t solely about Iran or about faith in President Obama. Divergent worldviews-not differing understandings of Iran’s nuclear program and the nature of the deal-shape this divide.

The Breakfast Club (Wandering Star)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Inmates seize control of Attica prison in upstate New York; Mao Zedong, Communist China’s founding leader, dies; Elvis Presley first appears on TV’s Ed Sullivan Show; Soul singer Otis Redding born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

Mark Twain

On This Day In History September 9

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 9 is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 113 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Congress renames the nation “United States of America”.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire. First proposed on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, after receiving instructions from the Virginia Convention and its President, Edmund Pendleton  (in fact Lee used, almost verbatim, the language from the instructions in his resolution). Voting on the resolution was delayed for several weeks while support for independence was consolidated. On June 11, a Committee of Five  was appointed to prepare a document to explain the reasons for independence. The resolution was finally approved on July 2, 1776, and news of its adoption was published that evening in the Pennsylvania Evening Post and the next day in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The text of the document formally announcing this action, the United States Declaration of Independence, was approved on July 4.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Debut)

I’m going to try and not put too many expectations on Stephen.  He’s just an entertainer after all and it’s not his job to save the Republic, though we could use some saving.

I don’t even think he’ll come out like Daaavid Letterman.  Dave had something to prove, that he was much, much better than Jay Leno, and I think he did that.

When Dave rolled out on stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater he had a fully developed show with a format, a staff, and an audience.  He was the righful heir of Johnny Carson with a New York Rolodex full of edgy talent on the make instead of the fake tanned celebrity of Burbank (is that even really a place or just a CGI wax museum?).

I followed every moment of the build up and was never unhappy with the result.  Leno’s only virtue is that he’s compliant for which the evidence is his dismal prime time expansion and the failed Conan hand off.

Jimmy Fallon is his proper heir, a vacuous vacant airhead with half the attention span of a tweet (I call them twits and they are incapable of expressing any thought that can not be formulated in 70 characters or less simply because it exceeds their reasoning ability).

Stephen asked Dave if he would have changed anything.  Dave said- “I’d have put my desk on the other side.”  You can expect to see Stephen on the left even though he says he wants Republicans to feel included in his audience.

Thus Jeb!

What even his detractors will admit is that Stephen is a pretty fair interviewer so you can expect that aspect of his talent to be featured.  Tonight in addition to Jeb! he has George! (not quite sure why except Clooney makes a habit of debuts and farewells).  His house band is Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human.

I think that the transition to Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show has helped to psychologically prepare me.  Even about 5 months in it’s still striving to find its balance though it is much, much better than it was.  Likewise I think Trevor and Stephen get a suspension of disbelief for a time.  Material doesn’t necessarily translate.

Speaking of the new continuity-

Learn Something!


Tonightly our panelists are Mike Yard, Kerry Coddett, and Matteo Lane.