Sunday, May 13, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Obama betrayed the American voters who expected he would not gut the US Constitution. But he has. And, some of us here at HLLN are lawyers.
This writer herself is a member of two US State bars where the oath I made was to protect the US Constitution. Moreover, as a born-Haitian who spent what seems a lifetime advocating against the US destruction of legitimate elections in Haiti, against the US and the wealthy's support of apartheid and ethnocide in Haiti; against US destruction of the 1987 Haiti Constitution with illegal US regime changes in Haiti; as an advocate who has had to deal with the poor Haitians' indiscriminate INDEFINITE DETENTION simply because the US and Haiti's repugnant undemocratic forces suspect these poor voted and supported Lavalas, I find NOTHING redeeming about the Constitutional lawyer, named Barrack Obama.

-- Ezili Danto, "Not Voting for Obama: We're Not Even Buying a Voting Ticket to the Show" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

You know, year after year, in annual budget submissions, in annual performance reports, quarterly reports, Congressional testimony and in countless press releases and statements, the VA has consistently touted the 14 day standard as the number one measure of mental health care access. In a five month investigation; however, the IG found that measure to have no real value and to be essentially meaningless. Mr. Secretary, how is it possible that that's not bubbling up to your level? How is it possible that you don't know that? And who is responsible for misleading Congress and the public on this metric? And how will they be held accountable?

-- US House Rep Bill Johnson to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in Tuesday House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, 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.

We thank them all. What did we come up with?

An interesting take from Black Agenda Report.
It's rare that we consider politicians for a truest but Dona especially championed this one.

When the press repeatedly gets it wrong and does so in such a way that one side is always smeared, maybe it's time they stop claiming "objectivity"?

Ava and C.I.  There was hope for a Barbie piece for this edition but most felt Ava and C.I. should participate and they ended up tasked with an assigned TV piece.  Ty had found some e-mails of especial interest and I (Jim) agreed.  So we got Ava and C.I. to do a look back and also to grade themselves.  They give themselves two As and two Fs.  I think most would grade them higher.  (Higher than an A?  One A is backed up by The New York Times noticing this month what they predicted last October.  There's no way you can grade that below an A.  The other A was for noting the sexism of the Water Cooler Set throughout the season.  Again, they earned that A.  I doubt most would give them the two Fs but they self-graded.)  This is a lot more than what Ty and I were expecting and it's sure to be a readers' favorite.  The CW is its own thing.  If readers want Ava and C.I. to weigh in on it, they're happy too but as it continues to struggle, they didn't feel it was fair to compare it to the big three plus Fox.

Dona moderated a roundtable on last week's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

If you're eating diet products, you're doing so to watch the calories. So shouldn't the calories be less -- signficantly less -- than non-diet versions of the same food?

A short feature.

Law and Disorder Radio continues their coverage of Bradley Manning.

Jill Stein is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

Workers World repost.

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


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

Editorial: The arrest warrant that wasn't

tareq al-hashemi
Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi *above)  had an arrest warrant issued on him last week by INTERPOL. 

Or at least that's the 'truth' if you (mistakenly) trust AP

What INTERPOL issued was a "Red Notice."  A Red Notice which specifically stated: "A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant."

How is that difficult to understand?

When INTERPOL's own release states, "A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant," how is that difficult to understand?  Presumably the press can read -- otherwise they'd never know what to clip for the vanity scrapbooks.

Press TV is a news outlet in Iran.  The central government in Iran is in conflict with Sunnis and the political slate Iraqiya.  Tareq al-Hashemi belongs to both.  Yet somehow, Press TV could accurately report that INTERPOL had not issued an arrest warrant while the so-called free Associated Press ran with lies and smears.  Why is that?

Probably the same way the US press earlier smeared Tareq al-Hashemi -- and continues to -- by falsely 'reporting' that he fled Baghdad after an arrest warrant was issued.

Here's what happened, following the March 2010 elections in which Iraqiya bested Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law, Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward.  He wanted a second term as prime minister -- votes and democracy and the Constitution be damned.

And the Iranian government out of Tehran was backing him as was the White House so he knew he could wait it out and did for eight months until other parties agreed to let him have a second term just to end the political stalemate.  In exchange for that (this is the US-brokered Erbil Agreement), Nouri made concessions.  Despite being made prime minister in December 2010, Nouri has refused to implement the Erbil Agreement.  While others honored their promises, Nouri refused to live up to his.

This is the second political stalemate and it's gone on for over a year-and-a-half.  In the summer of 2011, the Kurds began demanding Nouri implement the Erbil Agreement.  Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr began echoing that call. 

As most US troops left Iraq in December 2011, Nouri's power-grabs increased.  Iraqiya announced a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry.  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. Saturday, December 17th, Liz Sly (Washington Post) reported, "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .  With the permission and blessing of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and KRG President Massoud Barzani, al-Hashemi remained in the KRG.  At the start of April, he left the KRG on a diplomatic tour that took him to Qatar, then Saudi Arabia and finally Turkey where he remains currently.
If Tareq al-Hashemi leaves Iraq on December 18th and arrest warrant is issued December 19th, you can't honestly report that he fled Baghdad after an arrest warrant was issued.  That's not factual, that's not honest and it's not true.

But damned if it doesn't pop up in one so-called 'news' account after another.

Reality's not being reported.  So-called 'objective' reporters are slanting the news and doing so repeatedly. 

If you doubt that, those liars and whores made last week about whether or not Turkey would live up to its 'obligation.' 

Its obligation?

These 'news' outlets 'forgot' to mention there was no arrest warrant.  They 'forgot' to report that Tareq al-Hashemi, if convicted, would be executed (or that State of Law keeps telling the press that's what's going to happen, he's going to be convicted).  Most of all, they 'forget' to explain that INTERPOL gets trumped by the Turkish government due to treaties signed.

Not last week, but two weeks ago,  Sinem Cengiz (Sunday Zaman) reported that,  even if Nouri filed a formal request for Turkey to hand al-Hashemi over, the Turkish government would have to refuse: "The legal obligations of Turkey stemming from being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prohibit it from handing any person over to another country if the suspect will likely be executed."

Pretend again that the United States has a free press.  Pretend again that these are just errors that the Associated Press and others keep 'accidentally' making.

They're not reporting, they're choosing sides while claiming to be objective.

TV: Score card time

Friday, NBC announced Whitney was renewed for a second season. Yvonne Villarreal (Los Angeles Times) immediately announced group think still rules supreme in the Water Cooler Set as she wrote about the renewals of Community and Parks and Recreation before declaring Whitney "probably the more shocking return."  She then whined about the finale of the show bringing in "just over 4 million viewers."  That's more than Parks and Rec's had in weeks and the same is true of Community.  Fortunately, Ann was there calling the liar out.


Reader Ellen noted that in an e-mail Ty slid over.  She was hoping we'd do a score card of some sort on the season which went along with reader Mark's hopes that we'd rate our "predictions."  We don't make a lot of predictions.  Deadline, middle of last week, predicted Whitney would be cancelled (and lied about the viewer numbers).  Maybe that's what Mark's thinking of?

But in light of this week being when new fall schedules are announced, we're willing to look back at the big four.  We'll start with NBC because it's announced its new schedule.  Smash is gone until 2013.  In this community, Elaine covers Smash each week.  We weighed in on the show back in February.  Things have changed since then.  Elaine's rightly called out many problems including the fact that every episode doesn't need to end with a big number.  She's been very kind and avoided calling out Megan Hilty, just referring to the character she plays, Ivy.  We won't be so nice.  She's just not sexy.  In an episode, Derek (Jack Davenport) even pointed out that Ivy wasn't sexy.  He was correct.  She has no sex appeal.  If you're casting Marilyn, that's the most important detail.  You don't have to be a look alike, you do have to be sexy, able to project that, or no one's going to buy you as Marilyn. Hilty  is among the reasons the show is in trouble.  Had Karen (Katharine McPhee) quickly been put into the lead of the Broadway musical being staged and Ivy tossed back into the chorus, that might have made for an interesting show; however, that's not what happened.  You don't believe it, that McPhee can't immediately convince everyone that she's a more bankable Marilyn than Hilty.

Hilty's so bad that it's easy to ignore that Christian Borle is not just a drip but a drain.  A smart show runner would have had Ellis dropping some scenery or overhead lights on Tom's head long, long ago.  Will &  Grace was an advance for the portrayal of gay men but Tom is several steps backwards.  He's a dumbed-down stereotypical bitchy queen and, sadly, not even capable of a good one liner.  It's the sad sack, the forgotten member of Boys in the Band.  Then there's the eternal bags under his eyes and that cod liver oil face -- how did he ever get cast?  As annoying as he is to look at it, it's when he opens his mouth to launch into yet another eternal whimpering and belly aching that make you just want to scream.   The show is called "Smash," not "Whine."

Smash was supposed to delight.  The first episodes did.  And then we got more Hilty and more Borle and the audience dropped significantly. 

Score card: In terms of the series itself, we were wrong.  Give us an F on that. 

Among other shows, NBC cancelled Free Agents, The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, and The Firm  and Awake.   We stand by our comments on all of them.  We'll note that if episode 7 have been the pilot of The Firm, it might have kept viewers.  No show improved more as it went along.  It's actually a shame that NBC didn't keep the show for a second season.  Of Awake, we'll note that someone needs to ask the creator what it is about his own life that's so awful and limiting that makes him forever need to create a male character with a double life?

Let's move over to Fox.  New Girl was renewed for a second season.  But Bill Carter (New York Times) was shocked earlier this month by the fact that the 'hit' show was getting lower and lower ratings.  It follows Fox's biggest live action hit (Glee) and yet it's viewership has gone down and down and down.  Carter was fretting that the show "plunged almost 20 percent from just a week ago, hitting what is by far the low point for the new series."  Well, Bill, as far bask as November, the ratings drop was obvious.  When we weighed in on New Girl (October 2nd), we actually did make a prediction: "The audience will catch on and the 'bright spot' for Fox (which they've already given a full season pick up) will droop a bit here, droop a bit there and, eventually, be so low rated that the Water Cooler Set which has been raving over it, will back away and pretend to have never watched."  Bill Carter belongs to the Water Cooler Set.  It's for that reason that he's surprised by the outcome we predicted back when only two episodes had aired.

Score card: A+.  We were right.  And the character of Jess became more and more problematic as the season wore on.

Among the shows Fox took the axe too were: Allen Gregory, Alcatraz, Breaking In (season one, season two) and I Hate My Teenage Daughter.  Want a prediction?  Allen Gregory will be a cult favorite.  We loved the show and our review resulted in a huge ton of e-mails -- both when it was published and in all the times since.  This show has an audience that will not go away.  As for the rest, strong work was done on I Hate My Teenage Daughter.  The title was glommed on by the Water Cooler Set to trash the show.  Too bad because that show had strong writing and strong acting.  Breaking In vastly improved in the second season and Alcatraz was an embarrassment from the first episode.

At CBS, they took the axe to Unforgettable -- easily the best new series they had.  (In this community, Marcia blogged on the show.) NBC, Fox and ABC would kill for Unforgettable.  We're not saying they'll pick it up (they won't).  We're pointing out that the viewership of the show 'dropped off' to just over ten million an episode.  At NBC where they renew shows that only three million people watch a week (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, etc.), they'd kill for a show that pulled in ten million viewers.  CBS has enough ratings hits that they can actually afford to take the axe to some.  There's something else that really needs to be said (besides the fact that Poppy Montgomery and Jane Curtain did excellent work on the show) and that's how shameful it is that the Water Cooler Set has made it acceptable to discriminate.  Ratings are ratings.  The notion that you can't advertise to over 50 or over 60 is nonsense.  Equally true, the notion that 18 to 49 is a demographic is ridiculous as well.  That's not an audience, that's a series of generations.  The Water Cooler Set shouldn't obsess over demographics.  They shouldn't even be referring to them.

CBS also took the axe to Rob, NYC 22, A Gifted Man, How to Be A Gentleman and CSI Miami.  Except for CSI Miami (which we reviewed in 2005), we hadn't weighed in on any of them.  In fact, the only new show on CBS we bothered to weigh in on was 2 Broke Girls.  CBS just didn't interest us.  Not in terms of promising shows, not in terms of disasters.  We knew the Patrick Wilson show was awful.  We made it through 15 minutes of the first episode and thought, "What's the point?"

Score Card: F.  Failure to cover the network, for whatever reason, was still failure.

ABC had much more high profile misfires.  Most of which got the axe like Charlie's AngelsScandal was renewed.  A show we never weighed in on.  As it gets closer to decision time, people ask us not to review their shows.  An actor on another network -- was on, his show got axed, we've already noted it above -- is among the people who worked on a sitcom several years ago.  All with that show except for one actress blame us for their show getting cut. While the network was considering what to renew, we weighed in with how awful the show was and how bad the lead was and . . .  Now the show got lousy ratings but it was our fault that the show got the axe to hear the show runner, lead actor, etc. talk about it.   

One new show we did weigh in on was Missing.  ABC kicked it to the curb.

Score card: A+ because Missing is a great show and because it's part of the thread of the 2011-2012 season, in fact, it is the story of that season.

Missing starred Ashley Judd and was symbolic of the entire season. Patrick Wilson's awful TV show was beyond smarmy, it was maudlin and treacly.  Wilson was haunted by his ex-wife.  His dead ex-wife. But the show had a big name: Jonathan Demme.  So the critics went out of their way to fawn.  Reality: narrative isn't a stront point in the work of Jonathan Demme.  Reality: Narrative is all TV is.  There's no poetic, there's no reflection, there is only narrative.  But no critic wanted to point out that Demme has repeatedly lost the point of the film.  With a strong script (Ted Tally's Silence of the Lambs), his diversions don't harm the film.  With a mediocre script (Ron Nyswaner's Philadelphia), Demme wanders (which is why Philadelphia doesn't make for repeat viewings).  Critics could have addressed this, they could have addressed the studio's biggest beef with Demme (one that ended his big-budget film career the minute he flopped): They hired him for a Goldie Hawn film or a Michelle Pfieffer film or a -- you get the idea -- and he delivers something completely different because he's become fascinated with some supporting character.  The studio that paid X millions to land the star isn't thrilled to find that the director has filmed something other than what they greenlighted.

The Water Cooler Set didn't touch on that, wasn't interested.  What were they interested in?  Ashley Judd's face.  They wanted to write about it and rumors about it.  They weren't really interested in the show.  They just wanted to dissect Ashley Judd's looks in a way that could allow them to sound in-the-know but only came off bitchy.

Ashley Judd was and remains an attractive woman.  She also starred in a popular series.  And the Water Cooler Set wouldn't leave it alone, they picked at her week after week.  That's what they do.  They used to use that zeal to try to destroy film actresses.  For example, the eighties found them condemning Goldie Hawn for "the Goldie syndrome" and Jane Fonda for "the Fonda syndrome." They were two of the most popular film actresses.  That made them targets.  We've written of Jane's films before in 2006 -- her comedies, so let's focus on Goldie for a moment.  Private Benjamin and Protocol are not the same film.  Nor is Wildcats like the two nor is Overboard or Best Friends or Seems Like Old Times.  All were popular films in the eighties.  Goldie played a variety of characters.  Judy Benjamin was spoiled and entitled, Sunny Davis played cute and stupid because she thought it was what was expected, Molly McGrath was a shy and retiring person who stepped up when she saw one chance (the only chance) . . .  We could go on and on.  Jane's Dr. Martha Livingston was nothing like Judy Bernly or Viveca von Loren/Alex Sternbergen.

Now while those two actresses developed memorable and differing characters, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood were giving the same damn performance over and over but Vanity Fair and assorted other magazines weren't interested in in talking about "the Burt syndrome" or "the Clint syndrome."  Just as the late 90s saw a marked effort to trash Meg Ryan for the alleged sins of the romantic comedy genre.  Having trashed her, they quickly moved on to others (Katherine Heigl being the most recent topic in their slam books).  Where's the guy?

If the romantic comedy genre demands trashing, if it's not just about that genre being one of the few places actresses could hold their own, then where's the man?  Matthew McConaughey wouldn't have a career in the last 12 years if it weren't for that genre.  So where are the jokes about him?  (Seth MacFarlane, an all purpose insulter, has regularly taken on McConaughey in the TV shows he's created.  Seth isn't a member of the Water Cooler Set.)

With Goldie, they worked overtime to trash her, the same with Jane, the same with Meg, the same with Katherine.  The point is to rip apart these women, serve them up for organized, mass ridicule and, in the process, ensure that they no longer breathe career wise.

That's what the Water Cooler Set did to Ashley Judd.  They tried real hard to do it to Whitney Cummings.  We addressed that in "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple."  And because so many people called out the sexist attacks on the TV show, because a large group of people said "no," the Water Cooler Set had to back off.  It still surfaces, the nonsense, the claims that the show was a flop.

The show was hilarious.  The one problem, the thing that resulted in it getting off on the wrong foot was recasting the role of Whitney's mother with Jane Kaczmarek.  Kaczmarek is a strong actress.  She was very funny in Malcom In The Middle.  She was completely wrong for the part as written.  Beverly D'Angelo had played the part and done a fine job of it.  The decision was made to recast and reshoot the scenes.  D'Angelo's energy level is very different from Kaczmarek's and that part really needed lively.

The criticism of the show were harsh but, at their root, those criticisms apply to Kaczmarek's performance in the one scene.  But they applied it to Whitney Cummings and they did something else, they trashed her like no stand up comic has ever been trashed for a TV pilot.  No one expected Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Brett Butler, Ellen DeGeneres, etc to be Meryl Streep in their first TV lead.  A completely different standard was used for Whitney.

She developed into a very solid actress -- one we think is deserving of an Emmy nomination --  and that was obvious by the third episode.  And the show was laugh out loud funny.  Not amusing.  Not quirky.  This wasn't someone speaking into their hand, this was an outright comedy.

Free Agents was the worst sitcom of the fall but it was allowed to die a quiet death.  With Whitney, the Water Cooler Set -- alleged critics -- were out to kill the show.  Instead of admitting that they were wrong, they now try to tell you that it's "shocking" that Whitney, with over four million viewers when it had to open NBC's Dead Wednesday (Whitney was the highest rated NBC show each Wednesday while it was airing), was renewed while treating it as 'non-shocking' that the three million viewer programs of 30 Rock, Community and Parks and Recreation were renewed.

But having realized that the continued attacks on Whitney and on Whitney Cummings were making their sexism and their hatred of women very obvious, the men and the Queen Bees found a new target: Ashely Judd.  And they worked overtime to attack her and the show.

This time every year, many people are disappointed as their favorite shows get the axe.  It's a damn shame that only death tends to thin out the Water Cooler Set because, if anything needs to get the axe, it's them.

Congress and Veterans


Dona: Last Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing about mental health care and the realities the VA's Office of Inspector General's VAOIG Report.  The Committee put out a statement after the hearing which included this quote from Committee Chair Jeff Miller, "A veteran who comes to VA for help should never, under any circumstance, have to wait almost two months to receive the evaluation they have asked for and begin the treatment they need.  THere is no excuse for this and no one has taken responsibility. It appears that VA's response in this instance is yet another example of a federal bureaucracy providing a quick-fix, cookie-cutter solution to a very serious, multifaceted problem." Kat, Wally, Ava and C.I. attended the hearing.   Kat reported on it with  "Congress Member Gone Wild" and C.I. reported on it with "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Congress is supposed to provide oversight"  and "Iraq snapshot."  This issue was also the topic of an April 25th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing that  was reported on in Kat's  "Fire everyone at the VA,"    "Scott Brown: It's clearly not working (Ava),"   "VA paid out nearly $200 million in bonuses last year (Wally)" and C.I. reported on it in that week's Wednesday's snapshot. and Friday snapshot.  Wally,  briefly, what did the report from the Office of Inspector General find?

Wally: The VA had been claiming for over a year that they had reduced wait time for mental health care appointments to 14 days.  As they presented it repeatedly to Congress, a veteran went in, had an assessment of some sort, and an appointment was scheduled that was for no greater than 14 days from the assessment.  And that is not the case.  That was a lie and it was a repeated lie told over and over.  Senator Patty Murray was hearing different stories from veterans and from people working at VA hospitals.  She asked the Office of Inspector General to look into the issue which is why the report was done.

Dona: Thank you.  And Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Now what Wally just said reminded me of something C.I. reported in the snapshots last week.  This was raised during Thutrsday's hearing:

You know, year after year, in annual budget submissions, in annual performance reports, quarterly reports, Congressional testimony and in countless press releases and statements, the VA has consistently touted the 14 day standard as the number one measure of mental health care access. In a five month investigation; however, the IG found that measure to have no real value and to be essentially meaningless. Mr. Secretary, how is it possible that that's not bubbling up to your level? How is it possible that you don't know that? And who is responsible for misleading Congress and the public on this metric? And how will they be held accountable?

Dona (Con't): C.I.?

C.I.: That quote was from US House Rep. Bill Johnson.

Dona: Yes, and as you reported, that question never got answered.

C.I.: No, it didn't.  Some words were said by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki but they didn't go to the question being asked.  And Bill Johnson really raised the issue with that question.  We saw and heard a lot of nonsense in that hearing, but the point Johnson raised pierced through all of that nonsense.  In this hearing, the VA's position was, "We measured by Y and the IG measured by Z so it's not really a problem."  The 14 days was a lie.  It's a lie that was repeated over and over by the VA.  To Congress and the public, they repeated it.  And it was a lie.  How does that lie start to begin with and how do they excuse repeating it over and over?

Dona: And no one answered that question.  But, Kat, Shinseki rushed to assure Congress one thing about the lie.  What was that?

Kat: The VA did not intentionally lie to Congress. Shinseki stated that twice.  Interestingly enough, he could never say the same about the public.  You'd think, Eric Shinseki's a public servant, you'd think he'd take the time to say, "We didn't mean to mislead the public."  But he never did..  Of course, lying to the public isn't a crime.  Lying to Congress is.  So Shinseki was more worried about saving his ass from legal problems than from a public relations nightmare.

Dona: Thank you, Kat.  That perfectly set up a point I wanted to get to with Ava.  Kat and C.I. reported on US House Rep. Corrine Brown.  Ava, what was your take?

Ava: Brown's an embarrassment.  I can't believe the crap she pulled.  She didn't give a damn about the veterans and made excuses for the VA and lied and misled.  She's an embarrassment, I hope to hell her sorry ass is voted out of Congress.

Dona: She attacked a witness, what was that about?

Ava: Another reason her sorry ass needs to be pulled out of Congress.  The second panel was people who worked outside of the government including Dr. Nicole Sawyer who is a psychologist.  Corrine Brown wanted to show that her bad wigs weren't the trashiest things about her.  She went off on Dr. Sawyer because Chair Miller asked about the comments Shinskeki made.  Corrine Brown cut off the doctor started screaming her head and acting like a crazy woman when usually she just sounds like an uneducated one.

Dona: What set her off?

Ava: The reality was that Shinseki was being critiqued and she wasn't going to have that.  She lied and stated it wasn't fair for the doctor to critique Shinseki.  But, in the first round, when Shinseki was asked about Dr. Sawyer's written remarks, Shinseki offered a critique and Corrine Browne didn't say one damn word.

Dona:  Wally, your take?

Wally: The same as Ava's.  I'll pick up where she left off.  So Corrine Brown cuts off the witness who is answering Miller's questions --

Dona: Brown doesn't even have the floor.  She just barged in while the witness was speaking?

Wally: Correct.  And then after she has her rant, Jeff Miller, the Chair, sort of gives this look like, "Now that the crazy lady is done . . ."  He goes back to asking Dr. Sawyer a question.  Dr. Sawyer is sort of stunned and she replies to Miller's question, starts to, and tries to explain she wasn't trying to offend anyone when Brown cuts her off again and starts screaming her head off about how Miller needs to tell the witness to address her remarks to the Chair.  And it was just embarrassing.  I'm from Florida, Corrine Brown is the Congressional joke of our state.

Dona: So, let's --

Ava: Sorry.  It's not over, Dona.  Miller is attempting to calm down Crazy Corrine.  The hearing's at a complete standstill.  And the crazy woman is insulting Dr. Sawyer, stating she won't listen to Dr. Sawyer because Dr. Sawyer isn't a "doctor."  She calls the woman an "educator."  As an insult.  Miller notes that remark's not going to please educators and Brown doesn't care.  She was just so rude.  If you'd been in that hearing, you would have been shocked that a member of Congress would act the way she did.

Dona: Okay, thanks for that.  C.I., is this typical Corrine Brown?

C.I.: Since January 2009, it has been.  She makes excuses for the VA and rushes to excuse Eric Shinseki's many problems.  I remember an October 15, 2009 hearing on the VA's inability to get checks to veterans -- the GI Bill checks -- for the fall semester and how Corrine Brown was offering excuses for the VA in that hearing too.  That's just one example.  She's disgraced herself.  I have no use for her.

Dona: Kat, closing thoughts?

Kat: The hearing's not going to accomplish anything, the Committe's not going to, until everyone can agree that the veterans are the most important thing.  Corrine Brown was not serving veterans, she's usually not.  When a Republican is in office, there's the pretense that she's tough and will ask questions to protect the veterans.  But when a Democrat's in office, she reveals she's just a partisan and doesn't give a damn about veterans.

Dona: Thank you. This is a rush transcript and we're going to close with some points Disabled American Veterans' Joy Ilem made at the hearing:

The OIG conducted its own analysis and projected that in VHA only 49 percent of patients (versus 95 percent) received full evaluations, to include patient history, diagnosis, and treatment plan, within 14 days and for the remainder of patients, it took 50 days on average.  Additionally, VHA could not always provide existing patients their treatment appointments within 14 days of their desired dates.  DAV began an informal, anonymous online survey for veterans in December 2011, asking about their experience seeking and receiving VA mental health services.  To date, nearly 1,050 veterans from all eras of service have responded to the survey, and our findings were close to those reported by the OIG on waiting times for follow up appointments.  A complete report of DAV's survey results can be found on line at  The OIG report also noted that several mental health providers whom inspectors interviewed had requested desired dates for patients for follow up care based on their personal schedule availabilities rather than the patients' requests, or based on observed clinical need in some cases.  Likewise, VHA schedulers did not consistently follow VHA policy or procedures but scheduled return clinic appointments based on the next available appointment slots, while recording the patients'  "desired" and actual dates as if they were compliant with VA policies.  Since the OIG had found a similar practice in previous audits nearly seven years earlier, and given that VHA had not addressed the long-standing problem, OIG urged VHA to reassess its training, competency and oversight methods and to develop appropriate controls to collect reliable and accurate appointment data for mental health patients. The OIG concluded that the VHA  "... patient scheduling system is broken, the appointment data is inaccurate and schedulers implement inconsistent practices capturing appointment information."  These deficiencies in VHA scheduling system have been documented in numerous reports.  After more than a decade, VA's Office of Information and Technology has still not completed development of a state-of-the-art scheduling system that can effectively manage the scheduling process or provide accurate tracking and reporting.

From The TESR Test Kitchen

Does anyone eat Lean Cuisine for the taste?

Not if they're sane.

Why do they eat it then?

To lose weight and to maintain low weight.

So it's a shame Lean Cuisine can't live up to its end of the bargain.  By contrast California Pizza Kitchen just promises you that their products will be tasty.

pizza 2
Lean Cuisine's Deep Dish Three Meat Pizza has 390 calories and their Traditional Deluxe Pizza has  340 calories.  California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ Chicken Pizza has 930.  And that sounds good.

pizza 3
Except that's a full pizza California Pizza Kitchen's offering.  In fact, it takes three individual serving Lean Cuisine Pizzas to equal the size of one California Pizza Kitchen.  When you divide the CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza by three, you've got 310 calories.

So if you're able to show some restraint, your better bet is CPK.

And here's a helpful hint to all those people supposedly attempting to make diet food: DITCH THE DEEP DISH CRUST.  A thin crust will have much less calories.

Barack and his sexism captured in photo

cabinet photo chuck kennedy

That's US President Barack Obama and the administration.  It's a public domain photo and we've left the caption on (Chuck Kennedy took the photo).  We did that because the photo was recently used by an outlet to 'demonstrate' how 'fair' to women Barack Obama is.

The photo's public domain and we're glad of that because we hope it's widely circulated and posted.

While some see it as proof that Barack's not part of the so-called 'war on women,' it suggests to us quite the contrary.

Further, we'd argue that if you look at the above and see that Barack deserves praise for women, you must reall be scared of women.

Leave out Barack and Vice President Joe Biden, they were elected to their jobs.  You're left with 21 people Barack Obama nominated for their positions.  These appointees?

Only 7 are women.

14 are men.

We realize that The Washington Post is in the tank for Barack Obama.  They (and the magazine The Washington Post Company then-owned Newsweek) established that fact early in 2008.  So they do a five-page hatchet job on what someone did decades ago in high school -- showing the kind of attention to minutae that was strongly missing when it was time to vet Barack -- and run fluff like "Barack Obama's women" -- a photo essay so hastily (and poorly) put together that they miscredit the photographer of the above photo.

But that's okay because only a Kool-Aid drinking, full fledged member of the Cult of St. Barack would look at the above photo and see "equality."  Functioning adults, however, will look at the photo and see that twice as many men were appointed by Barack as women. 

We were told the election of Barack Obama as US president was a new day -- we were repeatedly told that. even rushed out a new (and bad) song proclaiming just that the day after the election ("It's A New Day").  So, if it was a fresh start for America, a new day, that would mean someone had to bring sexism onto the latest version of Noah's Arc.  How else to explain that -- 'new day' and all -- Mr. Pocket Change appointed twice as many men to his Cabinet as he did women?

Bradley Manning


Bradley Manning (above) is scheduled to face a court-martial September 21st.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.

On last week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), they continued their coverage of Bradley Manning.  The conversation included a discussion of the aiding the enemy charge.

Michael Ratner:  The question is how he aided in the enemy and I was in court when this happened and they asked the prosecutor how was he aiding the enemy and they said, 'He's aiding the enemy and he did it indirectly by giving documents to WikiLeaks which then published the documents on WikiLeaks which are then read by al Qaeda and then they get information about --
Michael Smith:  Themselves.
Michael Ratner:  Well bascially. 'And it drums up their supporters to say how bad the US is and all this.'  And that's somehow aiding the enemy.  Now what's interesting about that charge -- and Kevin alluded to this question of intent -- the New York Times, let's say for example, let me give our listeners an example, they publish the documents or information about President Bush engaging in warrantless wiretapping of people in the United States and abroad.  And, of course, that's published in the New York Times and, of course, al Qaeda reads the New York Times, so why couldn't you charge the New York Times with indirectly aiding the enemy al Qaeda?  It's obvious why you don't, because their intention, the New York Times, was not to aid al Qaeda.  Their intention was to bring out the illegalities of the US system of wiretapping.  Like a Bradley Manning allegedly putting these documents to bring out the crimes of the United States. His intention was not to aid al Qaeda. 

Jill Stein on marriage equality

Jill Stein

Jill Stein Jill Stein (above) is seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination:

According to Stein, “The long overdue statement by President Obama that he endorses same-sex marriage is indeed a milestone.  In 2008, President Barack Obama went all over America saying that the civil unions were enough, and he saw nothing wrong in discrimination against same-sex couples.  Whether it is called “evolution” or a political calculation,  the change in the President’s position is a tribute to all the activists who have worked so hard for marriage equality.  The steadily growing public support for marriage equality is convincing increasing numbers of politicians to rethink their positions.”
“I’m proud that I don’t have to change my position to match the polls. I have supported marriage equality since at least 2002, when I ran for governor.  And I’m going to continue to work to eliminate this insidious form of discrimination. President Obama is still enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act - and that has to stop. And the President is saying that its acceptable for individual states to discriminate. I believe that when it comes to basic rights, it’s improper for a President to treat them as local options. The federal government is charged with defending the human rights of all people, no matter which state they live in. ”
When Stein was in North Carolina recently, she consistently voiced her opposition to the anti-gay referendum that was on the upcoming ballot.  When President Obama visited North Carolina, he left the referendum out of his speeches. “When it comes to human rights, it’s not acceptable to look the other way for political convenience. I’m glad that the Green Party and my campaign are able to speak up when the President is silent,” said Stein.
In 2002, Stein became the first gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts history to endorse same-sex marriage. She pressed the six Democrats running for Governor to abandon their civil-unions-only stance.
The Democratic nominee, Shannon O’Brien, eventually said she was willing to sign same-sex marriage legislation, but discounted her pledge by saying she was sure such legislation would not be sent to her by the state legislature. She was right about that. It was a lawsuit decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that finally brought same-sex marriage to Massachusetts. The Democratic Party leadership (which held 85% of the seats in the Legislature) promptly began pushing a constitutional amendment to nullify the court ruling. In part, the Democratic attack on same-sex marriage was fueled by a desire to give cover to the Democratic Party presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was campaigning on a civil-unions-only platform.
Dr. Stein and the state Green Party joined the groups lobbying against the constitutional amendment. As public support for marriage equality grew, the Massachusetts legislators lost interest in nullifying the court ruling.

The press ignores some Chinese dissidents (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Imperialism hails Chen, attacks Bo as Wall Street gains in China-U.S. talks

Published May 12, 2012 9:15 AM

The capitalist media worldwide have given a resounding show of support for the cause of Chen Guangcheng, a sightless dissident activist and pawn of U.S. intelligence who was smuggled into the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on April 27.
This is in sharp contrast to the universal media condemnation of Bo Xilai, formerly the Communist Party of China’s secretary for the provincial city of Chongqing, who was purged because of his left-wing challenge to the course of China’s economic and social development.
Chen appeared in the U.S. Embassy on the eve of scheduled negotiations on economic and political matters between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on the one hand, and top Chinese government officials, on the other. Whether this was engineered by a Republican Party-oriented faction of the CIA to embarrass the Obama administration, or was a failed attempt by the Obama administration to make a showing in defense of so-called “human rights” in China, is hard to determine.
In any case, this carefully worked out plot to get Chen to the U.S. Embassy must be seen in light of the timely defection in early February by the police chief of Chongqing, Wang Lijun, to the U.S. Consulate/CIA station in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Wang showed up at the consulate and handed over alleged evidence of crimes by Bo and his spouse, Gu Kailai, to U.S. officials. Wang’s visit to the U.S. Consulate set the stage for the purge of Bo, who was at that time a strong candidate to become a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CPC. In both these incidents, U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats were central to the events.
Chen’s escape was carefully planned and orchestrated. It included a 300-mile drive to Beijing, safe houses and a closely choreographed transfer of Chen from the getaway car to a U.S. Embassy car, which then raced to the Marine compound inside the embassy. (New York Times, May 2) However the Chen affair was organized, it shows the underlying aggressiveness of Washington in its campaign to subvert the People’s Republic of China.
While the purge of Bo has far greater significance than the case of Chen, the details of the Chen case are revealing. Chen is a sightless lawyer who brought a class action suit against the government opposing alleged forced abortion. The Chinese government policy seeks to limit the number of children a family can have to control population growth in order to ensure its ability to feed the 1.3 billion people already there. It is a complicated issue.
Whatever one’s position on this, the fact is that counterrevolutionaries in China make it a practice of wrapping their anti-communism in popular grievances. Some are legitimate — like workers’ rights and peasants’ rights. Some are not — like bourgeois political reforms to empower the growing middle and upper classes who have prospered under the capitalist reforms. Whatever cause they take up, the goal is to undermine or destroy the institutions of Chinese socialism that have survived the capitalist reforms.
A counterrevolutionary network
The issue here is that Chen is part of a counterrevolutionary network that conspired to get him to the U.S. Embassy. It swung into action, from Washington to Texas to North Carolina to New York University, in a coordinated effort to fan anti-China flames.
The cheerleaders for Chen include “Pastor” Bob Fu in Midland, Texas, who “found God” after being part of the failed attempt to overthrow Chinese socialism in 1989 during the Tiananmen Square counterrevolutionary uprising. He settled in Midland, surrounded by oil wells and cattle ranches, and founded the Christian “rights” group China Aid to reach out to other counterrevolutionaries inside China. In his office is a photo of George W. Bush posing with Chinese exiles. (Washington Post, May 2)
Fu turned up at a hearing of the House of Representatives’ China Commission on May 3. The hearing was interrupted as Fu translated for national television a conversation between Chen and the chairperson of the commission, Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey. Chen was telling Smith how “disappointed” he was in Hillary Clinton, among other things.
The Obama administration suffered another setback when Chen changed his mind about staying in China, saying he wanted to go into exile in the U.S. Chen held a phone conversation while in the hospital with his lawyer, Teng Biao, who allegedly talked him into changing his mind.
Teng Biao is a lawyer at the China University of Political Science and Law. He has been the legal representative for the anti-communist group Falun Gong and for pro-imperialist Tibetan separatists. Teng was also a signer of Charter 08 in December 2008. This document was modeled on the anti-Soviet Charter 77, a counterrevolutionary manifesto signed by Czechoslovakian reactionaries that helped pave the way for the destruction of socialism in Eastern Europe.
Charter 08 called for many bourgeois rights in China. Demand number 14 of the charter begins with the following: “Establish and protect private property rights, and implement a system based on a free and open market economy,” including privatizing state enterprises and land. (, Oct. 8, 2010)
NYU law professor Jerome Cohen, a long-time collaborator of Chen and the U.S. government, on signal from the State Department became Chen’s U.S. legal adviser during the embassy events and extended an offer for Chen to study at NYU. Wang Dan, leader of the Tiananmen uprising, now in exile in California, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times welcoming Chen to exile in the U.S.
Boxun, a counterrevolutionary chat room run out of Durham, N.C., by Watson Meng, took up the cause. Meng tried to promote a “jasmine revolution” last February to start a Tunisian or Egyptian-style movement to overthrow the Chinese government. (Financial Times, April 22)
A true counterrevolutionary chorus sing the praises of of Chen reverberated from one end of the capitalist ­media to the other, inspired and led by the baton of the CIA and U.S. imperialism.
Clinton, Geithner & Wall Street
Alongside political subversion was the even more important pressure brought to bear by Clinton and Geithner in the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Geithner opened up the talks with an arrogant lecture: “China must rely more on domestic consumption rather than exports, and more on innovation by private companies rather than capacity expansion by state-owned enterprises.” (New York Times, May 4)
The U.S. delegation came with a plan for China to improve the “safety net” for the Chinese people and to build a consumer society: China should “rebalance” its economy and not rely on national development projects and exports. China should raise the value of its currency and allow more competition. It should reduce subsidies to the state-owned corporations and give private capital a better chance. State-owned enterprises should pay more dividends to the government to finance the safety net to ensure that people would spend more money.
In these demands, the predatory interests of Wall Street are couched in soothing words about improving the lives of the Chinese people. But the fact is — as the Chinese leaders know full well — the imperialist corporations are facing a world capitalist crisis and are desperate for markets, not only to utilize their overcapacity in the production of commodities but to expand their areas of capital investment.
The pressure to further open up the Chinese market is growing more intense with every report about the growing recessionary tide in Europe and the economic slowdowns in India, Brazil, Russia and throughout the world capitalist system. Capitalism is slowly buckling under the weight of its own productivity and the consequent stresses of overproduction.
Concessions on investment
Washington got agreement from the Chinese negotiators at the meeting to allow foreign firms to take up to a 49 percent stake in joint securities ventures. A hefty increase from the current limit of 33 percent, this gives American financial firms greater ability to invest in the country. China also agreed to make it easier for American firms to offer financing for auto loans. This permits U.S. finance capital to take more wealth out of China and to wield greater financial influence in the markets.
This is a Chinese concession to the urgent pressure of U.S. bankers and brokers to find new sources of profitable, secure financial investment, which is being called into question every day as the global debt crisis deepens.
The struggle over exchange rates seems to have ended in pretty much of a stalemate. The Chinese made soft, verbal promises to consider many of the measures put forward by the U.S. delegation. The U.S. side then emphasized in their briefings with the media that a new conciliatory mood existed among the Chinese negotiators. Whether or not the U.S. was spinning the talks is hard to say.
To be sure, the head of China’s central bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, said that the two countries agreed that exchange rates should ultimately be market-determined. “The two sides have some views in common. They both think that exchange rates should be determined by a market system.” (New York Times, May 4)
Zhou is in the right-wing reform camp, along with Premier Wen Jiabao, who has vowed to carry forward political and economic reform. But all these soft concessions can be pushed back by resistance from within the rest of the party, from the state enterprises, the state banks and the planning apparatus.
The concessionary attitude of the Chinese leaders, in spite of the political sabotage by Washington in the Chen case, cannot be separated from the victory over Bo Xilai and the massive campaign of political intimidation against the party grouping in China that wants to halt, if not reverse, the course toward further market reforms.
That is why the U.S. ruling class during these negotiations wanted to quickly take advantage of the political momentum to the right and get as many concessions as possible from the present leadership, before they retire and the tide turns against the new incursions of capital.
But all these leaders are looking over their shoulders. There is palpable anxiety among them that the attack on Bo could eventually backfire and openly pose the question of which direction China should take — further toward capitalism or back toward strengthening socialism. What they all dread is the day that the Chinese working class takes up the struggle to revive the political role of the working class in building socialism, as it existed during the era of Mao Zedong.
Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” More information is available at The author can be reached at


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.

"I Hate the War" -- the most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Congress Member Gone Wild," "Congress is supposed to provide oversight"  and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I. and Kat report on the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing they attended. 

 "No, stupid Rev Phelps, being frisked isn't like being raped" -- Ann sets Phelps straight that stop and frisk is not rape no matter how many times he compares it to rape.

Ruth continues her coverage of the Edwards trial:

 Trina continues to cover the economy:

"revenge in just a few minutes!!!!"  "whitney," "The most important thing Smash needs to do," "Desperate Housewives,"  "revenge,"  "The CW's renewals and axes,"  "10 thoughts on The Good Wife,"  "The power of comedy" and "Nikita: Drop Dead" -- Betty, Ann,, Rebecca, Stan, Mike, Ruth, Elaine and Marcia cover TV.

"Grow up, John Mayer"  and "Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks, Melanie Griffith and Working Girl" -- Mike and Kat cover music.

"8 men, 0 women (Harry Jackson is a prick)"
"Cougar Town (Southern Accents)"

"THIS JUST IN! WHO KNEW!!!!!"  and  "The reason for the announcement" -- Wally and Cedric explain why Barack changed his mind.
"THIS JUST IN! BLOWN OFF!"  and "No one wants to come to his party" -- Wally and Cedric continue to chart Barry O.

"Justice League of America" and "The Avengers" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Political Relations"  -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Basic Kitchen and Barbies"  and "Barbie's beach house? No, not Barbie" -- Trina and Elaine blog on Barbie.
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