Sunday, June 20, 2010

Truest statement of the week

The man in charge of the federal response to the oil spill gave a status report yesterday on a ship drilling a relief well that will hopefully end the massive Gulf spill. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the ship, called the Development Driller II, has now bored 9,000 feet below seafloor. He also said it should be able to tap into the ruptured well in three to four weeks by mid-July. But as NPR's Richard Harris reports, none of these statements appear to be true.

-- Michele Norris, "Facts Garbled As U.S. Tries To Take Charge Of Spill," All Things Considered (NPR).

A note to our readers

Good morning --

Another Sunday. We made it through, how about you? We is Dallas and the following helped on this edition:

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),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
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?

Michele Norris got it this week. Either we're blanking or there wasn't a great deal of competition. Even in a stiff week, she would have gotten it.
This is our Iraq editorial. The edition got away from us. We had planned to do an Iraq article and a Gulf article. Didn't happen that way. So we went with Iraq which is falling off the radar with each passing week. I (Jim) think this is our best editorial in weeks.

Could, I asked politely, Ava and C.I. please do a light commentary? Why? It wasn't a busy news week. But they will come. And when they do, I'll be begging for them to do public affairs shows. They looked at the list of shows they want to weigh in on this summer and went with Justified. If you haven't seen the show, go to Hulu and check it out.

This was not what put us behind. It actually moved fairly quick. Ava and C.I. suggested this at the start of last week. Dona was all on board so that gave enough Third votes for the piece. But even being on board, Dona pointed out that we have a history here of championing women and we've probably done more articles on women musicians in the last five years than any other site -- "larger percentage," Dona just corrected me. And it's true. We've done cuttings of lyrics to spotlight various women. We've done roundtables on just the work of Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell (each artist had their own roundtable). We've written articles on Laura Nyro, career retrospectives on Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks. We've reviewed a Tori Amos Boston concert. And that's just the ones rolling off the top of our heads. So when Pat Benatar puts out her book, her life story, we have to weigh in. After we finished this, Dona pointed out that Belinda Carlisle also has a book out. We'll grab that before the end of summer. Maybe next weekend, maybe later than that. But we will grab Belinda Carlisle's as well.

This was another reason I wanted a lighter TV piece. Ava and C.I. do a great job here but I was looking for some balance and felt we needed lightness in the TV piece. Here they are doing the job Alicia Shepard refuses to. This almost didn't get written. It was done at the last moment when I asked them where that piece was and they said, "You wanted that? We thought you were joking."

Dona came up with this. She and Betty talked last week repeatedly about Calderon's remark. As the edition was winding down, Dona pointed out we had no short pieces. She wasn't thrilled by that. So I made some saracastic remark and she replied that Calderon was perfect for a short feature. She was right.

We went with the eyeball grabbing headline on this one.

After Dona and the gang worked on the short feature, Mike said if she wanted another short feature, he had an idea. There was one story last week that he felt should have gotten traction but never did. So this is just a repost.

We revisted the political mags (and music mags) at the request of our reader serving in Iraq. We've promised to do those once a month at least. We've been doing that a little more frequently than that.

Those not participating in the roundtable on Pat's book weighed in with this feature. And Ava and C.I. worked on both pieces.

Veterans' issues.

Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Ruth, Kat, Cedric, Wally, Marcia, Stan and Ann worked on this and we thank them for it.

And that's what we ended up with. Hope there's something that got a reaction -- joy, laughter, anger, whatever. Remember that it is now summer and we will be doing our annual summer read edition. When? We've got it penciled in for Fourth of July weekend but that's subject to change based on current events. (And that's why I felt we needed the light this week from Ava and C.I. If we end up doing fiction on a busy news week, the editorial and Ava and C.I.'s TV piece will be the only things covering that while the rest of the edition is fiction.)


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

Editorial: The Cynics Were Right

The cynics were right. If the US fatality rate in Iraq could drop to single digits per month, the Iraq War really wouldn't matter. The cynics prediction is validated by many news outlets. Take NPR's The Diane Rehm Show where host Diane Rehm pretends to give a damn about the world but she's never once devoted a show to Iraq since their March 7th elections and, in fact, for the last two Fridays, she's intentionally failed to include Iraq in the "international news roundup." (See Ava and C.I.'s "Media: Let's Kill Helen!" from last week for more on this topic.)

Iraq suddenly doesn't matter and Diane lets a guest -- from The Wall St. Journal! -- get away with lying that the media had a few faults but they certainly aren't responsible for the illegal war. Not only does Diane not correct him but McClatchy's Roy Gutman laughs out loud at the remark, thinks it's funny. And when confronted on it, he tries to lie his way out of it, claiming he didn't laugh and when it's pointed out that you can hear him on the broadcast, he clams up.

Iraq just doesn't matter.

Today is World Refugee Day and apparently that just doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that the Iraq War created the Middle East's largest refugee crisis since WWII. Last week, the UNHCR issued "2009 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Sateless Persons" which found that Afghanistan and Iraq (in that order) are the two largest sources of refugees worldwide. And the US State Dept. issued "Trafficking in Persons Report 2010" which found that Iraqi boys, girls and women are forced into prostitution and that they have no protection in Iraq and efforts to talk about what is going on only leads to them being punished.

Well that's Iraq -- or parts of it. Not the northern part, right? Not the Kurdistan region. No, it is that section as well. But for those wanting information just on the KRG and the region it governms, refer to Human Rights Watch's "They Took Me and Told Me Nothing: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan." The 81 page report issued last week documented the widespread practice of female genital mutiliation and how it really boils down to fear of women's sexuality. That's what driving the barbaric procedure.

If all of the above didn't make it clear that Iraq was a failed-state, last week you could also read the Fund for Peace's "Iraq On The Edge: Iraq Report #10 2009 - 2010."

Last week saw attacks on police, attacks on Sahwa, attacks on government representatives as well as pleas for help on the political stalemate from Ayad Allawi.

None of that was judged to be news or of interest to most news outlets.

Diane Rehm has walked away and we can all sing a chorus of "The Old Gray Mare" but the fact is that she's far from alone in walking away.

How does that work anyway? Your government is responsible for the Iraq War and you just stop caring about it because who cares if it's Iraqis suffering the brunt of the damages?

The Iraq War hasn't ended, only the coverage has.

TV: The small screen's biggest gun

FX's Justified is the rare highly praised TV series that actually lives up to the hype. That's due to the writing, the production, the acting and the direction. It's truly an ensemble in front of and behind the cameras.


However, it wouldn't work at all were it not for Timothy Olyphant. Olyphant plays the lead character, federal marshal Raylan Givens. He's got an ex-wife he's not completely over and a girlfriend who shot her husband dead. He's got a father who's tangled up with the criminal element. And, most of all, a hat he's just not going to part with. All of which are interesting details.

But Olyphant himself is the most interesting detail of all. The only man on TV who convincingly embodies the longing and lust Chris Isaak is always singing about, Olyphant's also the only man who ever made Katie Holmes come off as a sexual being in any performance (Doug Liman's Go). If you're looking for The It Boy of 2010 and 2011, look no further than Olyphant.

In "Fathers and Sons," Raylan and his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) hit the sheets and the sweat on Olyphant's chest after looked as real as the sex scene. Winona's remarried, he's a man with bigger dreams than brains, and, shortly before she showed up at Raylan's looking for sex, Raylan had to save her husband's ass. Zea played the seduction with both longing for Raylan and a desire to get back at a stupid man who'd put himself, her and Raylan in danger of being killed by the mob.

Zea's so strong in her role that you're torn whether to root for Winona to hook back up with Raylan or for him to stay with Joelle Carter's Ava. And some of the best scenes this first season have been little throw away scenes between Zea and Carter. Winona and Ava appeared to be forming a tentative friendship but that was before Ava saw her and Raylan in bed. If the two characters are going to be at cross-purposes next season (though that would be rather obvious for this show), the actresses can certainly provide the fire and smoke.

No one's giving a bad performance, but those three really are the ones digging deepest. Walton Goggins has been hampered by the fact that, until the season finale, his character Boyd was as confused as everyone else as to whether or not his 'transformation' was genuine.

Boyd Crowder is the brother of Ava's dead husband. She shot him because he beat her. The Crowder family's never been any good and with Boyd and father Bo both suddenly out of prison, the last episodes packed a lot of action. Bo trying to pull in a big drug shipment only to have transformed son Boyd shoot a missile into the truck. Bo retaliates by having his son beat up and ordering his son to leave town or his 'disciples' will be killed. Boyd walks away but, shortly afterwards, hears gunshots. Running back to his camp, he finds all of his 'disciples' dead, hanging upside down from trees.

The season started with Boyd telling Raylan to get out of Harlan within 24 hours or he'd kill him. Instead, Raylan shot Boyd in the chest. The season ended with Bo kidnapping Ava and Ava, Boyd and Raylan in a cabin, being shot at by drug dealers. After one of the drug dealers is shot dead and the other's escaping, Boyd turns his gun on Raylan and tells him to let her go because he intends to hunt her down.


She killed his father. Raylan points out that Boyd had come to the cabin to kill Bo and in Boyd's f-ed up mind, that makes no difference because there's a difference between him killing his own father and some stranger doing it. And the series works because, like Raylan, you could understand the 'logic' Boyd was operating under.

Unlike so many dramas, this isn't a show where everyone talks alike and any line of dialogue could easily be handed to another actor. The characters are fully conceived with their own tics and traits. It's probably the best drama to emerge since January and probably one of the three best dramas on TV currently.

And if you missed it on FX, you can check out Hulu's Justified page where five episodes are available. We would strongly encourage you to start with "Hatless." Raylan shoots his mouth off at the local bar and gets his ass kicked by two thugs and his hat stolen. Enjoy the textures on display, the incredible acting and, most of all, Timothy Olyphant who makes other actors starring in dramas come off about as sexy as Ray Romano.

Roundtable: Between A Heart And A Rock Place

Jim: This is a book roundtable, specifically one book, Between A Heart And A Rock Place, written by Pat Benatar with Patsi Bale Cox. Our e-mail address is Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, and me, Jim; 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); Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. A word on the participation, everyone participating -- except me -- has read the book. I haven't read the book yet and made the decision not to since I'm the moderator. I wanted to be sure the discussion was something that someone who'd not yet read the book could follow. Okay, Rebecca, I'm told you are the only choice to do the intro on this.

Pat Benatar

Rebecca: Surely. I'm a huge Pat Benatar fan. Who is Pat Benatar? She's a rocker with a huge catalogue of hits including "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Her other monster hits would include "Love Is A Battlefield," "Treat Me Right," "Shadows Of The Night," "All Fired Up," "Precious Time," "Heartbreaker," "Fire and Ice," "Invincible," "We Belong" and "Little Too Late." The book jacket says she's had 19 top forty hits which is really amazing because her chart run was mainly 1979 to 1988 and she was a rock artist, not a pop singer. She continues to tour -- currently with REO Speedwagon -- but she hasn't recorded an album since 2003's Go. Her peer group includes Stevie Nicks, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. Her first single was a cover of Mellencamp's "I Need A Lover." Her look was iconic for the early 80s and is noted in Amy Heckerling's Fast Times At Ridgemont High when Phoebe Cates tells Jennifer Jason Leigh that there are several girls at Ridgemont cultivating the Pat Benatar look. In Between A Heart And A Rock Place, she's telling her story, and doing a damn good job of that.

Jim: Before we get to the praise, let's get the negative down. I asked everyone to think up one thing and Mike's was "omissions," so let's start with Mike.

Mike: At the very least, the book needed a discography at the end. There's no index which I can live without; however, a discography was needed and they need to put one in when it goes into soft cover. The book was just released and is hard cover with a list price of $25.99, by the way. If there had been a discography, "Sex As A Weapon" might have been mentioned. The single made it to number 28 and both my father and my brother wanted to know what Pat had to say about that, for different reasons. My brother, who remembers the MTV debut of the video loves the song and thinks it was Pat's most ambitious video. My father remembers that Pat got slammed by some in the press for the song and wondered what she thought of that? We'll never know because she doesn't mention the song or the video in the book.

Jim: Trina, he's talking about your husband. Anything to add?

Trina: Mike's my son, I would hope his father would be my husband. Seriously, I will go to something to get it out of the way. Pat is the mother of two daughters. She writes about that and about being a working mother and more. She does so in a wonderful way. She is a strong woman and a feminist but some will take exception to her writing about her children and including the line, "And that was the part the feminists conviently left out" -- when she's discussing working and children. What feminists? No, feminists didn't sell the idea that "You can have it all and it will be easy!" That was Madison Avenue. But a number of women do believe it was the feminist movement which sold that. They -- and Pat is among this group -- are wrong. So I just want to get that out of the way. In terms of "Sex As A Weapon," when Pat released that song there were a lot of male critics who huffed that 'those legwarmers and leotards' didn't hurt her album sales, referring to the Crimes Of Passion era photos. That really wasn't sexed up -- certainly not for the times. Even before you read the book, if you know of Pat's career, you knew that while the label tried to market her as a sex kitten, she always presented herself as a capable and strong woman. Certainly, ballet gear does not mean weak pushover.

Jim: I'm sorry, I don't know "Sex As A Weapon." Elaine?

Elaine: I'm totally not prepared for that but will try to answer. "Sex As A Weapon" was the first single for the Seven The Hard Way album. I have no idea who wrote it --

C.I.: Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg.

Elaine: Wow. Really. Hmm. They also wrote, among other songs, Heart's "Alone." In some ways, it's similar to "Anxiety" off of Get Nervous. But the message of the song is in the chorus: "Stop using sex as a weapon." It was a tough rocker and, apparently, the lyrics were too tough for some because, as Mike and Trina have noted, the song was heavily slammed by a number of male critics. And you could argue that the song played a part in the end of her chart run. She doesn't in the book. She notes Chrysalis, her label, and how they destroyed the chart run. I find that a fair call, by the way. Whether it's Billy Idol or anyone else still on the label after 1985, they all suffered.

Jim: Okay, why would you say one song would hurt her?

Elaine: After this album, Seven The Hard Way, she releases another album and gets a hit with "All Fired Up" which is just a rock classic in my book. But that's it. And I do think that Pat noting the obvious in that song made a lot of people uncomfortable in radio. And that was before I read the book. Reading the book and learning about her showing up at a radio station for an interview and some dee jay or program director telling her to come sit in his lap -- to which she responds "F**k you" -- and how it happened over and over, you really can see a lot of wounded egos bruised by that song. Also despite being a rock record, I remember hearing it more on pop stations than on rock stations.

Jim: Betty, your favorite Pat Benatar song was what?

Betty: "Little Too Late." I always loved that song, it's stripped down sound on the verses especially, but then C.I. noted it during the never-ending Democratic Party presidential nomination race at some point, probably April, May or June, and that song had so much more to say for me then.

Jim: Because?

Betty: I listened to it and, rightly or wrongly, heard Pat singing a song about her own life. Within the context of Hillary fighting all that sexism and all that garbage thrown at her, putting the song into that context made it, for me, an anthem of women's strength and survival. And Trina was talking about how Pat's visual image was strength which I would really agree with. My older brother had those albums, on lp, and I'd look at those covers and I never thought, "Oh, there's a cream puff." Whether it was just her or the band, those covers were about strength and, many times, that might have just been the expression on her face if it was just her in the photo, but she was a strong presence. The first song I heard by Pat Benatar -- and this is after her chart run -- was "Fire and Ice." My brother made me put on the headphones and he turned off all the lights and had me listen to it that way. She was like nobody else I'd ever heard. Even now. She hit notes that Mariah and Whitney combined can't reach and she had more power than those two and about five other women combined. From the first notes, it was obvious she was one of kind.

Jim: And what stood out to you in the book?

Betty: I was really interested in "Fire and Ice" and enjoyed reading about the recording of it and other tracks for that album and how she and Neil Giraldo, her guitarist and husband and producer and songwriting partner, rehearsed it and how Neil felt that the guitar instrumental shouldn't compete with the vocal but should continue the journey. I did a lousy job of summarizing that but read the book. It's a great book.

Jim: Dona, you wrote "great" as your one word, so why don't you pick up there?

Dona: I just loved the book. Pat didn't go out of style in my area -- Midwest -- after her chart run. You can't have rock radio without Pat. And I was so curious to read about this woman who is such a part of rock history. She didn't Janis -- and I mean she didn't die of an overdose. I'm not saying that should define Janis -- or Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison -- but I am saying, Pat lived to tell. And I wanted to hear what she had to say. And I loved every word of it. Trina mentioned the part, that one sentence, that might upset some, and I can see that it might, but I loved the whole book. Even when she meets Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

Ava: Jim, I'm jumping in here. Dona, you wanted to read the book -- and you did and you loved it -- but that goes to something you and I have long discussed.

Dona: Right. One night, when we were still in college and still lived together, Ava and I made a list of all the rock women who'd written their life stories and it was a tiny list. We started with Tina Turner and then there was Michelle Phillips and then there was Melissa Etheridge and Diana Ross and then there was Grace Slick and then Tori Amos. And that's covering something like 1985 through 2005. And that was it. But these men are always writing their life stories. And if you think about it, you'll realize that is mirrored in the lack of books about women in music. Recently there was a book on Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King, and there was a book on Joni. But that's nothing compared to the tons of books each year on men. How many more books on Paul McCartney will publishers foist off on us? How much more can be said? Ditto that regarding Bob Dylan. By contrast, I'm aware of only one book in the US on Dusty Springfield and only one book on Laura Nyro. The three women in music during the rock era with the most books about them are probably Janis Joplin, Diana Ross and Madonna. And yet if you combined all the books published on those three your list would still not be a third of the books published just about Paul McCartney. It's really something. And that's why I was so glad to read this book and was right on board when Ava and C.I. proposed this as a roundtable book.

Jim: Marcia, I know Pat Benatar mainly through "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Love Is A Battlefield." Am I going to enjoy this book?

Marcia: Yes, I think you will. First off, those are covered in the book. Secondly, it's just a really readable book. Pat Benatar doesn't put on airs. If anything, she short changes herself. But it's a really readable book, with a story told in an interesting voice. I got home Thursday night and hadn't read the book yet because it was that kind of a week. I tossed something in the oven and then sat down in the living room. I as twenty pages in when the timer went off. I went to the kitchen, pulled the dish out and sat it on a stove burner. Went back to the living room intending to finish the section I was on and then eat. Instead, two and a half hours later, I was two-thirds done with the book. It's really hard to put down.

Jim: Okay. Good. Mike talked about omissions. One thing he didn't mention was photos. Does the book have photos, Stan?

Stan: Yes, it does. To pick up on Dona's comments just a second ago, though, we broke into two groups. One of us is doing the roundtable and the other is doing a short -- or it's supposed to be short -- book review article. Ava and C.I. are helping on both but the rest of us broke into two groups. And one of the books the other group is tackling is a photography book. Tina Turner doesn't have photography books every year or every two or five years. Men get that. Over and over. And I do think that's worth noting. There are sixteen pages of photos. Some are in color, some are black and white. They cover the range of her life.

Jim: Stan, your favorite Pat Benatar song and what was the best part of the book for you?

Stan: I can't say just one. If you're pressing me, "All Fired Up." But my favorite part was during the making of Tropico. I wrongly believed the sound on that was influenced by the fact that Pat was pregnant but it turns out they were already recording when they found out she was pregnant. And I won't spoil that story because how she finds out is really an interesting story. And the books filled with interesting stories. It's really well written and, as my cousin just pointed out, really hard to put down.

Jim: Coming back to you, Mike. You noted no index. I'm at the bookstore, there are a lot of books on the shelves, I'm sure a lot of them are well written. Why should I pick up Pat's book?

Mike: That's another reason she needs an index. It would help sell the book. Do you like Debbie Harry and Blondie? They're covered in the book. What did Donna Summer say to Pat at the Grammys in the women's room? When Pat wanted advice from Chrissie Hynde about being a working mother in rock, what did Chrissie tell her? There are a lot of stories like that in this book. And my favorite Pat song is "Invincible."

Jim: Ava, your favorite song and one moment in this book that you'd stress to would-be readers.

Ava: I think I'm going to go with "Precious Time." To answer your other question, I'll read this paragraph about Pat participating in the first Lilith Fair festival:

Standing up there with all those successful, capable young women made me think of the early years when every day was a fight just to be a woman in the man's world of rock and roll. I thought back to all the radio promoters and record men. The guys who'd said things just to try to make me feel uncomfortable and the guys who told me I didn't know what I was talking about. I thought about wearing baggy clothes to hide my round pregnant body and having the program directors at radio stations lick their lips as they asked me to take a seat on their laps. I thought about the extra five layers of skin I'd had to grow just to be standing on the stage two decades after that lunatic songwriter had chased me around a piano.

Ava: Pat's a trail blazer and the book's an important read.

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: Exactly. Pat's writing of what she went through and many women went through that -- in the music industry and outside of it. Her strength and her refusal to be anyone's puppet make for an encouraging and feminist tale. She's a survivor, not a victim. Whether it's slapping the head of her label when he insults her singing and says that's not why people buy tickets to her shows, or staring down the dozen or so men in a business meeting who decide the most important thing is what she will be wearing, Pat's a strong woman and her actions and steps made the path easier for other women to walk down it. That she did all that and retained her sense of humor and humanity are a testament to her and to her parents. This is a woman, one of the first, who did arena tours. As the main act, not the opener. She's accomplished a great deal and continues to. As for having it all? It hasn't been easy, but look at her life, she's juggled some wonderful moments including a ground breaking career, two daughters and a long running marriage.

Jim: And, Kat, talk about that ground breaking career. I'm 12-years-old, I've never heard of Pat Benatar. In fact, I hear that name and don't know if we're talking about a man or a woman. Who is Pat Benatar?

Kat: Pat was the woman not afraid to go toe-to-toe with any man. Vocally, that's who she is. With amazing breath control -- most notable on her cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" -- and her incredible range, Pat hits notes others couldn't and held them. It's an amazing raw power she projected vocally. In terms of the lyrics, Pat also went toe-to-toe. She wasn't backing down, she wasn't cowering. And early on, she took that strength and used it to expand on her persona. "Hell Is For Children" is my pick -- C.I.'s too -- for best Pat Benatar song. That's a song about child abuse. And Pat took the strength that she exhibited and became the protector. It's the same role she plays in "Love Is A Battlefield" and "Invincible," to name two other songs. She could sing those songs in a way that other singers -- male and female couldn't. Bono, for example, can sing an anthem. But a certain type of anthem. His creaky voice that doesn't always hit the notes and sometimes reveals no breath control at all does not project strength -- which might be part of his charm. But Pat's did. And she was the big protector who would lead you through those dark moments. I can't think of anyone who was doing that archetype when she was or before she was. She's truly an original. Now in terms of her visual image, I think Trina hit on it with the fact that she projected strength. Lita Ford, for example, is seen as a 'rocker' by some. But her solo career was nothing but tits and ass -- and both shoved in your face. That's not the road Pat Benatar pursued.

Jim: And for final thoughts, we'll return to Rebecca.

Rebecca: Pat rarely connected with the critical mass. She's a four-time Grammy winner but that's the industry, her peers. They respected her. The critics often didn't. Rolling Stone repeatedly referred to her audience as "the great unwashed," for example. So if she'd depended upon critics to sell her records, she never would have made it. What sold her records, and tickets and t-shirts and everything else, was her bond with the audience. I think Kat perfectly captured the Pat Benatar persona. And it was that persona and the talent and the way she worked the stage that created a new avenue for women. So much so that she had a number of copycats following in her wake. Probably the one that received the most success was Quarterflash -- a band that was nothing but a Pat Benatar rip-off. In retrospect, the critics have gotten her. That's in part due to the weakening of the sexism that was so prevalent when she was coming up but it's also true that the real originals are rarely immediately embraced by the critical establishment.

Jim: Alright. The book is Between A Heart And A Rock Place, $25.99 from HarperCollins, written by Pat Benatar with Patsi Bale Cox. And, as with all roundtable pieces, this is a rush transcript.

Only 30% of Diane Rehm's guests are women (Ava and C.I.)

The Diane Rehm Show airs on many NPR stations. It's a two hour broadcast (some NPR stations only take one hour), Monday through Friday. There's a 'weekend edition' that's a clip job. We ignored the clip job and focused on the real show as we continued to do the job NPR's omsbudperson Alicia Shepard refuses to do.

'Licia, you may recall was up in arms over sexist booking at NPR that let more men than women be booked
. Well, on some shows. She dubbed 'guests' voices appearing in news stories on All Things Considered, et al. She ignored the shows that exist solely on guests such as Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show.


As Diane's made repeatedly clear in recent weeks (off air more clearly and loudly than on), the old dear has lost all interest in Iraq and honestly doesn't give a damn if she ever mentions it on her show again.

Thanks, Di, we were looking for an excuse to take on your tired and sexist ass.

So what we did was go back to April 20th and look at who she booked for that day's show through June 20th (Friday).

The thing about tabulating the numbers is that, as you start out, it looks like it might be close to equal. Then, suddenly the men are ten ahead, then they're nearly double, then they are double. And then they are more than double.

232 guests were booked during the time period (again, April 20th through June 20th). How many were women? 30.17%.

*Of 232 guests, Diane brought on 70 women and 162 men.*

Let's note again that Diane books her own guests. She decides who gets to be on the show. In her world, it is perfectly acceptable to book more men than women -- this despite the fact that, as a woman, there was nowhere else she could get a start than at NPR. Yeah, she reaped the benefits of the women's movement, she just doesn't want to give back.

Equality frightens a lot of Queen Bees.

And notice please how women have to actually do something to get on the show. Meaning?

If there was a time to book Richard Gere, it ended around the time the 90s did. But as sad as giving Gere the full hour was, it was even sadder when she gave the hour to Gere's former co-star Louis Gossett Jr.

Not being Sherry Lansing, we're not required to pretend Blue Chips was a hit. Not being Gossett's mother, we don't have to fudge the facts, the last time Gossett appeared in a hit film it was 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman. So his full hour was even more shocking than Gere's.

And the men's hours are in complete contrast to the way women get treated on those oh-so-rare times when they actually get booked for the full hour solo. Take the June 7th second hour, when Katharine Weymouth was the only guest. As the interview continued, we feared Bob Somerby might be listening and gearing up to rip Katharine apart. (We know and like Katharine.) We could picture a Daily Howler devoted to how 'novel' it is for Katharine to raise children and work. With Bob pointing out that, actually, women had been doing that for years and what a spoiled princess Katharine must be to think it was somehow something special happening just to her.

But thing is, Katharine wasn't the one making a big deal out of it.

It was Diane Rehm who apparently doesn't know any working women with young children.

Diane didn't just marvel and/or ask about it on air once, she did it repeatedly. We stopped counting on the third time; however, Diane did not stop raising the issue. Just when you thought it was finally over, there was Diane raising it again. The effect was to take what was a valid question -- balancing work and home life -- and turn it into a "Look at the freak!" moment with Diane pointing at Katherine.

We noticed other things as well.

Such as where were the female politicians. Last Sunday, Politico published Erika Lovely's "Women scare on Sunday shows" which noted, "Even as women have vaulted to be House speaker and hold a host of other influential positions on Capitol Hill, female lawmakers continue to be under-represented as guests on the Sunday shows." The same was true of Diane's show from April 20th through June 20th.

In addition, it became very obvious that Diane didn't know any female attorneys. She knew plenty of male ones and she booked them repeatedly. Female medical doctors she only knew -- and are we surprised -- of them if they were plastic surgeons.

We're not surprised by the imbalance. As we pointed out in April's "WMC: Too pathetic (Ava and C.I.)," "You go to The Diane Rehm Show and you look at who gets on and who doesn't. Just her two hours on Friday, for example, feature four men and two women guests. Four men and two women. Inskeep is insisting that men might hold more positions in certain fields -- such as president of the United States since no woman's ever managed that (in part due to the go-along-to-get-along gals of WMC) -- and we won't argue with him on that. We will, however, note that women reporters are nothing new and that it's rather strange that Diane Rehm can book six reporters and journalists (some are columnists and not reporters) each Friday for her two hour show but it's almost always four men and two women."

It was strange and is strange. We saw that at least one of her listeners left a comment on that in May. Stating that he was sure the show could work a little harder and manage to book 3 men and 3 women for the Friday news roundup. And, low and behold, when a man typed it, Diane rushed to do just that the next Friday. And then she started backsliding all over again.

In Alicia's 'study,' she noted that in this society, men might hold positions that made them more likely to be news makers. To which we reply not only "Bulls**t," but also when Diane's booking Louis Gossett Jr. for the hour, don't talk to us about news makers. When she's also doing an hour with Richard Gere, don't talk to us about news makers. We could go on and on. But the point should be clear, she'll book any man to avoid booking an equal number of women.

Alicia was alarmed by women making up less than a third of the guests. Someone let her know that Diane Rehm belongs on the list of NPR producers who refuse to book women equally.

For more on this topic, you can also see "Terry Gross Hates Women (Ava, C.I. and Ann)" and "Terry Gross Still Hates Women (Ava, C.I. and Ann)."

C.I. note, June 21, 2010: "*Of 232 guests, Diane brought on 70 women and 162 men.*" added this morning as a result of Common Ills community member Helen catching the fact that Ava and I forgot to include the hard numbers and only had a percentage in the article. Thank you to Helen.

Our southern buddy

Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon decided to share some love with his northern neighbor by writing, "The origin of our violence problem begins with the fact that Mexico is located next to the country that has the highest levels of drug consumption in the world. It is as if our neighbor were the biggest drug addict in the world."

Maybe it lost something in the translation?

Because as it reads, it's kind of a slam at the United States.

Good thing our Congress doesn't worship Calderon. Good thing they wouldn't jump to their feet to applaud whatever said.

Oh, wait. They already did.


Yep. See May 23rd's "Shame of the week: US Congress" and grasp that not only did they stand and applaud him, they stood and applauded while he attacked Arizona. They applauded his public scorn heaped on one of the country's fifty states.

Willie Nelson smoked dope on White House roof

Somehow, in this economy, you managed a few extra dollars and are wondering if there's a music magazine to purchase currently?


Skip Mojo unless you formed your political identity in 1962 and have never updated it since. Mojo offers a "SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY ISSUE!" and you notice quickly that, for them, it's a man's world: U2, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, White Stripes (they ignore Meg and focus on Jack), Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits (the cover boy -- if you can believe it!), Johnny Cash, Artic Monkeys and Hank Williams III. But, remember, 1962. So they're not complete racists. In a White Man Baby Boomer way, they care. They really, really care. So they toss in Harry Belafonte. They also toss in a CD that Tom Waits compiled. 15 tracks, one is a woman (Blind Mamie Forehand). When you've included "When You Wish Upon A Star," you're not rocking, you're just revealing how much you hate women. Message received, Tom and Mojo.

Uncut has David Bowie as cover boy. But the pull quote and media attention will probably go to Willie Nelson who confesses to Andrew Mueller, "I liked Bill Clinton. And Jimmy Carter's a good buddy. I even smoked dope on the White House roof one time . . ."

WILLIE NELSON SMOKED DOPE ON THE WHITE HOUSE ROOF will be the headline. In fact, we'll use it here.

They also offer a review (Neil Spencer) of Anais Mitchell's Hadestown which they give five stars:

Singer's star-studded 'folk opera' has 'American classic' stamped on it. Mitchell has a couple of well reeived albums to her name, but Hadestown has made her an American princess. It retells the Grek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, relocating the poet and his lost lover to Depression-era USA and handing parts to Bon Iver, Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown and Low Anthem's Ben Knox Miller. The songs are pithy, their arrangements sliding between country, gospel, Dixieland and string sextet. The Waisian growl of Brown, as Hades, King of the Underworld, is a stand-out while the zest and narrative flow of the piece never falters. Beautiful package, too.

Q magazine attempts to bounce back after the ridiculous McCartney issue by tossing Muse on the cover. Yes, a cover male whose pubes are not grey. Shocking, isn't it. The bulk of the album is a look at 40 years of the Glastonbury music festivals.

They also interview Mick Jagger who replies to a question about plans for another Stones' tour with, "Nnnno. Not yet. But who knows?" They're pimping Gaslight Anthem heavy in Q. Spin also pimps the band with a feature article by Steve Kandell. For several pages, you search in favin for something -- anything -- of interest. Nothing. Not even a pull quote. If the band is as dull as Kandell makes them out to be, they better hope earnest is the new grunge. Mikael Wood's review of their American Slang (eight dots; ten means classic) indicates Spin thinks it is.

But not strongly enough to put them on the cover which is how Paramore's lead singer Hayley Williams ends up there instead. In a seven page article by Josh Eells, Williams offers many pull quotes on everything from drugs, to sex, to Twilight teeny bops.

Of the four magazines, Uncut's the page turner this month but for a solid look at the Glastonbury festivals, check out Q.

Jim Webb puts money ahead of veterans

From Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

Turning to veterans issues. WAVY reports (link has text and video) that victims of Agent Orange (specifically Vietnam era veterans) could receive addition benefits for B-Cell Leukemia, Parkinson's disease and coronary heart disease. Could? A US Senator is objecting to the proposed changes by VA. Jim Webb has written VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that ". . . this single executive decision is estimated to cost a minimum of $42.2 billion over the next ten years. A regulatory action of this magnitude requires proper Congressional review and oversight." Besides, Webb wrote, "Heart disease is a common phenomenon regardless of potential exposure to Agent Orange." That is really embarrassing and especially embarrassing for the Democratic Party (Webb is a Democrat today, having converted from a Reagan Republican). It also goes a long way towards explaining Webb's refusal to get on board with Senator Evan Bayh's bill to create a national registry that would allow those Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans to be able to receive treatment for their exposures without having to jump through hoops repeatedly.

Political mag roundup

In the June 2010 edition of The Progressive, the most interesting piece appears on page six and is written by David Pino. Excerpt:

Since the harmful Presidency of Ronald Reagan, we have had two Democratic Presidents, both of them elected solely on the basis of having more pleasing personalities than their Republican opponents. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned largely (although not entirely) as progressives, and then governed like warmed-over Republicans. In Obama's case, the situation is dire; he seems to be doing nothing more than wring his hands, while occasionally remarking that he certainly does wish that the Republicans would somehow come together with the Democrats to get something done.
[. . .]
As a lifelong (nearly seven decades) liberal Democrat, I call upon all progressives to come out of their terrible case of denial, and recognize the truth: The Democratic Party is dead. It has sold out to the same lobbyists to which the Republicans have been willing and eager slaves for more than a century.

Sadly, David Pino has not been added to the staff of The Progressive. In fact, his commentary appears in "Letters to the Editor." If magazine CEO Matthew Rothschild were smart, he'd post that letter, in full, online. It's one of the best political commentaries published on the left in some time.

Take for example, the contrasting bulls**t Rothschild serves up on the cover and in the lead article (written by Rothschild) which not only misrepresents what Noam Chomsky said [see our April 18th "Editorial: The problem with (not) listening"] but also tries to further undermine Chomsky's message as Matty rushes off to left turncoat Chip Berlet (Biggest Whore of the 20th Century -- he won that award chiefly for stabbing the Christic Institute in the back) who launches yet another fact-free attack on the American people -- including Andrew Joseph Stack and here Berlet's words are especially at odds with what Chomsky stated in his speeches -- so that Matty can whore. Matty, you need to find your bravery. Yeah, you get attacked when you tell a little truth about Barack. But if you told the full truth, you might find those subscribers that started leaving in 2007 and continued through 2008 and 2009 might return. But your candy ass efforts at serving up dollops of criticism are not going to convince them that you have stopped being in the tank for Barack. Neither will deliberately distorting the words of Noam Chomsky.

Running from the insanity to what we hope will be another staid issue of Harper's magazine (July 2010), we find the magazine still full of self-pats for 'tackling' the 'difficult' issue of cheating golf players ("Kudus to Lewis Laphim . . ."). Neither timely nor brave, Harper's more and more seems the magazine homeroom teachers utilize as punishment. In The Progressive, professional hobbit Dave Zirin was working himself into a frenzy about how -- after this column! -- he'd never again mention the Arizona Diamondbacks! Never! In Harper's, Ken Salazar gets the memo and turns a hateful eye to the state. We wonder how long it will be to all this hatred leads to Arizona students being booed at out-of-state contests? When it happens, remember that it was Davey and Kenny who encouraged America to hate All Things Arizona -- as opposed to just those who supported a law. (Fairness dictates that we also note the law is supported by the majority of US citizens.) Meanwhile Suki Kim serves up seven pages in praise of those who defected from North Korea. Maybe Suki can help citizens of adefect and then they too can get some love from Harper's?

Extra! is put out by the laughably entitled FAIR (in 2015, when all the hucksters are long gone from MSNBC, FAIR's going to have a really hard time explaining how they stayed silent for over ten years on the antics of Olbermann, et al). This month, in an appeal to your funny bone, they issue the '16' paged "SPECIAL ISSUE ON MEDIA & INEQUALITY." (Sixteen pages if you count the cover as page one and the ad for FAIR on the back cover as page 16.)

Maybe it's a 'special issue' because our penpal Jim Naureckas doesn't offer up one of his dippy notes this issue?

The bitchery Janine, Steve and Peter engage in at the top of FAIR's CounterSpin each week is recycled as "SoundBites" and, like many a reheated left over, this second-serving does not suddenly make it appetizing. As always the letters page is a joke. Extra! has about fourteen readers which requires that the magazine publish lengthy letters from those they've 'covered' objecting to misrepresentations. This leaves precious space for "great article" type letters. Fortunately, in a year's time span, all 14 Extra! readers can be recognized at least once.

Simplistic articles follow, one after the other, little, quick pieces, which treat a serious issue in the most lackadaisical manner. Anyone looking for illumination won't find it in Extra! or, for that matter, in the June 21st issue of The Nation where the biggest problem appears to be, judging (yes) by the cover, "THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE BOOK REVIEW." The cover 'story' is nothing but John Palattella adapting his lecture on the cutbacks by newspapers and magazines in book review sections. Lotta wah wah. Who really cares?

Seriously, The Nation raised the issue so let's go there. The Nation offers arts reviews . . . not informed ones, but they offer them. If the choice is, for example, suffering through a Nation magazine slam on Courtney Love that can't even get the number of tracks on the album allegedly being reviewed correct or having nothing, maybe "NOTHING" is the better answer. Why are they dying?

Because people aren't reading them. They can find better online. And online, if they find a mistake, they can usually get a correction. The Nation refused to correct, for example, their awful Courtney Love review. The New York Times, for example, was presented with a list of 16 errors in a Janet Jackson article -- sixteen factual errors -- and they issued a correction on how many? One. Newsweek, embracing pop culture in the nineties, did a feature on S&M and had Chandler Bing (Friends) handcuffing a woman to a chair in her office. Problem is, Chandler was the one handcuffed, not the woman. When the error was pointed out to two editors of Newsweek at a party, the editors responded that it was only TV. Meaning arts coverage didn't need to be factual.

That's why the arts coverage has died in print. They've refused to adapt to changing times which demand that facts be correct.

Nowhere in Palattella's five-page whine will you find those or any other examples that address why people turned away from the 'arts coverage' in the MSM. They still get it online, they still get it in magazines whose sole purpose is to cover entertainment. Where they don't want it is from the outlets that act like they're slumming by covering the arts. Can't say we blame them.

Free Inquiry's latest is the June-July issue. And Paul R. Gross' review of Robert Wright's The Evolution of God, Ronald A. Lindsay's review of Karen Armstrong's The Case for God and Daniel M. Kane's review of Michael Parenti's God and His Demons establish that, far from The Nation, book reviews can be done and can be a thrill to read. Free Inquiry should be considered this month's magazine read due to the plethora of well written articles the issue contains. Our vote for best of the issue is Wendy Kaminer's "Is Silence Prayer?" and we'll excerpt the opening:

All through elementary school, I recited the mandatory New York State school prayer, every day. I can still remember my relief at is mysterious elimination. No one told us that the Surpeme Court had invalidated the prayer (in Engel v. Vitale, in 1962); our teachers simply expunged it from our morning routine. I had always hated compulsary recitation (regardless of what was being recited), and when we stopped saying the prayer, it occured to me that I should stop saying the Pledge as well, which I did -- although after a brief ruckus I agreed to stand silently, hands at my side, while my classmates pledged.

From the high of a magazine worth reading, we felt the let down (crash landing?) that is The New Republic. In their deluded minds, an illustration of Barack pulling a bull by a chain in the bull's nose ring perfectly captures the way Barack has 'dealt' with Wall Street. In their minds. When the laughter dies, you realize that they are geared up for the election year and they will have nothing of value even more than usual because they are a bible -- The Democratic Centrist Bible.

On magazine racks currently, the only thing worth your money is Free Inquiry. Purchasing the other political magazines is like burning cash and, in this economy, no one can afford that.

Rock books

In book form, Greil Marcus hopes to be the most prolific music critic and this year's contribution is When That Rough God Goes Riding. Less a biography on Van Morrison and certainly not a critique, Marcus serves up 183 meditations on Morrison.


As with any Marcus book, it tells more about the author than the subject and, yet again, we're reminded this is the man who (at Rolling Stone) declared war on Stevie Nicks, the Wilson sisters, Carly Simon and any other woman not content to be a puppet for a male producer. That sexism can be found in the book repeatedly and certainly explains how 183 pages allegedly on Morrison can somehow never manage to even mention Jackie DeShannon.

Not only did the recent Songwriter's Hall of Fame inductee sing backup on his Hard Nose The Highway, they wrote songs together and he produced an album for her that Atlantic still refuses to release. There are several stories in that -- none of which interest Marcus.

Somehow Gavin Hopps managed to write the book Marcus repeatedly attempts to. Hopps' Morrissey: The Pageant Of His Bleeding Heart is an in depth examination of Morrissey. Here he is on the Smiths' "Hand In Glove:"

Morrissey's innuendo largely relies on the use of ambiguous words or phrases. On account of their referential openness, pronouns and other indefinite parts of speech are a particular favourite and fertile resource: 'well it's here/right under your nose'; 'I keep mine hidden'; 'you gave me something I won't forget too soon'; 'And if the lights were out/could you even bear/ to kiss her full on the mouth (or anywhere?). For the same reason, 'things' is another favourite of Morrissey's (as it was of Alexander Pope): 'these things take time'; 'he knows so much about these things'; 'All the streets are crammed with things/ eager to be held'; 'Why do you come here/ when you know it makes things hard for me?' Innuendo is a kind of parasitic discourse, which leaves its eggs in other birds' nests, and so there are, as we might expect, all sorts of other words and phrases which are used in Morrissey's lyrics to carry a supplementary cargo: 'And when we're in your scholarly room / who will swallow whom?'; 'And Sorrow's native song, / He will not rise for anyone'; 'you can pin and mount me like a butterfly'; 'I've not been feeling myself tonight'; 'It was dark as I drove the point home.'

It's a strong examination of Morrissey -- a subject we'd bet is more difficult to get a handle on than Van Morrison. But possibly one 'too soft' for Marcus? If so, more power to Gavin Hopps for tackling the artist. Good Times, Bad Times: A Visual Biography of the Ultimate Band focuses on Led Zeppelin. Jerry Prochnicky and Ralph Hulett have gathered a variety of photographs that provide a new look at the band both due to their context and due to the photographs themselves.

For example, page 94 features an illuminating photo of Robert Plant with his daughter Carmen in his lap. The Mike Randolph photo features a more mature looking Plant (when contrasted with onstage photos of the same era) and a an obviously thrilled Carmen in what may tell the story of the cost of touring better than anything else.

Anthony DeCurtis contribute the introduction to the volume and places the group in the proper context:

The year 1969 saw the release of Who's rock opera Tommy and the Beatles' Abbey Road, but also the Rolling Stones' premonitory Let It Bleed. The last date of the Stones' tumultuous American tour that year occurred at the Altamont Speedway in California, where the Hell's Angels, who were, unbelievably enough, hired to provide security at the concert, rioted instead and murdered a black man in the audience -- a black man who was himself wielding a pistol.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

In May, C.I. did a poll of veterans who were community visitors and/or visitors to The Common Ills (she published it on Memorial Day). And one of the biggest issues was having such a hard time figuring out what Congress was or wasn't doing on their issues.

As such, today we'll note two press releases (both were sent to the public account of The Common Ills). First up, Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee:


Senators call for specific actions from Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to the secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs sent yesterday, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and a bipartisan group of Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services committee members urged stronger coordination and better follow up on traumatic brain injury (TBI).

"For the past nine years we have been a nation at war, and traumatic brain injury has become the signature wound. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have taken commendable steps to understand and treat TBI, but they must improve collaboration and share what they have learned. Veterans and their families should not have to wait nearly a decade for the government to adapt to the needs of the wounded," said Akaka.

The Senators called for specific improvements from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, including:

  • Prompt action to finalize and implement DOD's draft policy mandating evaluation and rest periods for individuals with TBI, and to ensure that existing policies are being adhered to by each military service branch;
  • Action to ensure documentation of TBI and follow-up during Post-Deployment Health Assessments and Reassessments;
  • Expedited establishment of DOD centers of excellence for military eye injuries, and for hearing loss and amputations;
  • Quicker progress to make VA/DOD collaboration and data transfers more robust, comprehensive, and seamless; and
  • Making full use of authority granted by Congress for VA to partner with state, local, and community providers to improve access to care and reduce the burden on veterans receiving treatment for TBI, and their family members.

Last month, the Veterans' Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on the state of care for troops and veterans suffering from TBI. In January 2008, Congress passed provisions authored by Chairman Akaka and approved by the Veterans' Affairs Committee to reform VA/DOD collaboration and care related to TBI as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Akaka continues to work with committee members and others to ensure effective implementation.

To view the letter, click here: LINK


Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman

The Committee held a hearing on Wednesday. During the first panel, one of the Committee members asking questions was Senator Mark Begich (D, Alaska). The senator actually ended up chairing the second panel. (C.I. covered the hearing in Wednesday's snapshot and Friday's snapshot.) Begich's office issued the following:

Contact: Julie Hasquet, Press Secretary
(907) 258-9304 office
(907) 350-4846 cell
June 16, 2010

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, chairing a hearing of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, today secured a commitment from the Veterans Administration (VA) to a high level meeting in the next three months with officials from the Indian Health Services (IHS) to focus on ways to improve care for rural veterans.

The topic of the hearing was VA Health Care in Rural Areas and included testimony from three Alaska witnesses directly involved in health care delivery to Alaska's veterans.

"I am pleased the VA recognizes the challenges faced by Alaska's veterans, particularly in rural areas, in accessing affordable and easily available health care services," Begich said. "The more we can coordinate and find ways to improve the system, the better off Alaska's veterans will be."

The committee heard testimony from Dan Winkelman, Vice President and General Counsel at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation; Brigadier General Deborah McManus, Assistant Adjutant General and Commander, Alaska National Guard; and Verdie Bowen, Director, Office of Veterans Affairs, Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

All of the Alaska witnesses testified about the difficulty in providing efficient services for veterans in rural parts of the state.

Winkelman testified that high energy, food and personnel costs add to the enormous disparity rural veterans have in accessing health care, a problem compounded by the fact there are few veterans health facilities in rural areas.

"To lack access upon their return from duty to culturally appropriate and quality health care services by the VA is a shame," Winkelman said.

Witnesses talked about the possibility and need for allowing rural veterans to access care at IHS funded facilities and have the VA reimburse the provider later, in many cases saving money and time by not forcing veterans to travel to Alaska's larger cities where VA facilities are located.

In response to the testimony and under questioning from Sen. Begich, VA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management, William Schoenhard agreed to organize a high level meeting between VA and IHS officials in the next few months.

"We should collaborate. I would certainly welcome how we can better serve and get veterans engaged with IHS," Schoenhard testified.

Schoenhard admitted the VA doesn't have a thorough understanding of some of the obstacles faced by rural veterans and is looking at ways to revitalize the Rural Pilot Project, an outreach program designed to enroll more rural Alaska veterans in the VA health system.


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 and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

The most requested highlight by readers of this site was not C.I.'s "I Hate The War" -- for the first time ever, we think. The most requested highlight was C.I.'s "Dumping The Political Voices of (faux) Women."

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not A Clue" -- This is a great comic. And for the backstory, see Rebecca's "gulf, ted kennedy, fbi."

"Kat's Korner: Forget the plantation, who forgot to pack up the songs?" -- This is one of two album reviews by Kat going up today at The Common Ills. (The other is already written, it will go up later today.)

"Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. reports on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

"Cucumber Salad in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers an easy summer recipe.

"And now I endorse Laura Welles for governor" -- Betty's pick for governor in the California race.

"trust the book, not the author" -- Rebecca captures an author making a fool of himself.

"Don't call him Keith Kos anymore!" -- divorces can be messy.

"Man's Favorite Sport?" -- Stan goes to the movies on Friday.

"Clarifing" -- We love it when Elaine can just barely contain how pissed off she actually is. (And we agree with her.)

"Idiot of the Week, Roy Gutman and more" -- Mike finds an idiot for the week and . . . it's . . .
himself! (We're not joking. He picked himself.) Also see his "Roy Gutman" for more on the e-mails he and Da Gut exchanged.

"THIS JUST IN! RECOVERY SUMMER HITS THE ROAD!" & "Tuning up for summer" -- How pathetic is the adminstration? Pretty damn pathetic.

"Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter," "NPR busts Thad Allen," "Brave Daniel Schorr?," "Barack flops and Queer Voices" -- radio coverage in the community from Ruth, Marcia, Elaine and Mike -- and don't forget Ann:

"Day 57" -- Betty on the Gulf Disaster.

"Barack Obama's Stepford Wives," "Cheryl Johnson, why didn't we listen to you?" -- Ruth and Marcia dig into the recent past to remind you of the warnings.

"Bob Etheridge belongs behind bars" -- Kat noted Bully Bob Etheridge belongs behind bars, not in Congress.

"E-mails" -- Stan covers e-mails.

"It's an honor just to win" and "THIS JUST IN! ACCEPTANCE SPEECH!" -- as is the case with any good acceptance speech, someone gets forgotten. Cedric and Wally note that they intended to thank Trina and apologize for the oversight.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }