Sunday, June 19, 2011

Truest statement of the week

We don't call them the "Nutroots" for nothing. Their annual asylum reunion used to be called "Yearly Kos." Then their fragile minds completely unhinged, they went all out for their golden calf, trashed the Democratic Party of FDR with their idolatry, and proved themselves to be "Yearly Kooks." Now they call themselves "Netroot Nation." Those of us who are reality based recognize them as Nuts. They are not very bright either. Consider what has thus far transpired at the Kook Klown Konvention. These racists (by their own definition they are racists because anyone who opposes Barack Obama is a racist) are attacking Barack Obama. Not only is this KKK event trashing Obama, they somehow have come to realize they are fools fooled by a fool. But, and this is a big but which proves how kooky the Kook Klown Konvention is, as much as they know they have been fooled by treacherous Obama they still intend to vote for him!

-- Hillary Is 44, "Minny Ninny: The Nutroots Kook Klown Konvention."

Truest statement of the week II

This is the type of crap "reporting" you get served from inside the tribal belt. But increasingly, Rachel Maddow's hapless program is a vehicle by which we gullible liberals get served all manner of tribal crap--tribal soothings designed to convince us that we and our friends are quite decent and good, while the other tribe is quite bad. Make no mistake: Governor LePage is no prize package; he has made important proposals which deserve extensive news coverage. But at this point, who can believe a word which falls from Sister Simple's mouth? Increasingly, her program is a rolling joke, an utter tribal embarrassment. And here’s the most horrible part of the stew: If we were forced to make a guess, we would guess that Sister truly believes her own twaddle! We'd guess that she isn’t mainly trying to play you--for financial reasons, let's say. We would guess that she mainly believes the silly s[**]t she broadcasts.

-- Bob Somerby, "Special Report: Life in the tribal belt!" (The Daily Howler).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. We're publishing at what's becoming our usual time.

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),
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?

Hillary Is 44 has long called out the nutroots and we felt they earned a truest this week and then some.
Remember in 2007 and 2008 when Keith Olbermann wouldn't drop the sexism? Remember how FAIR and Media Channel and The Overweight News Dissector couldn't call it out? Well Rachel Maddow's been getting away with crap for years now. (We've long called her out. One of Rebecca's first posts at her site was calling "big brain" out.) Bob Somerby refuses to play shirts and skins and calls Maddow out on her nonsense.

This is a really good editorial, I (Jim) say. It was easy to write, for a change, and it didn't require links and links and links. (Thank you to Dallas for hunting down our links.) We had an e-mail last week from someone who "just found" us online while looking for Iraq coverage. She wrote that, in her high school, Iraq's becoming a huge issue as it appears that all US troops will not leave at the end of the year. She expressed dismay over "all the silence on Iraq from The Progressive, The Nation, In These Times and the rest" with great eloquence. In many ways, that statement inspired this editorial. (We have the best readers.)

Ava and C.I.'s masterpiece. They worked two hours on this. In editing. Two hours editing. The writing edition started Saturday night. Our (Dona and my) baby woke up around midnight. Dona nursed, then I took rocking duty when the baby was still up. I fell asleep. Dona fell asleep. It was decided to send everyone off to sleep. Except Ava and C.I. figured they could do their TV piece and then go to sleep. When I woke up at five in the morning, they were just finishing it. I didn't read it outloud to anyone because they were the only ones up besides me. But I read over it and over it and loved it. But pointed out that this thing, when typed, was going to be longer than anything we'd ever done. They wrote in long hand and hadn't paid attention. It translated to 15 typed pages approximately. It required a severe edit (or we run it as it -- and I was fine with that). They spent two hours doing the edit. This really is a strong piece. It reflects on the three networks evening news -- commercial broadcast networks -- and on Iraq and on how an anchor distorts a story one night, makes the distortion bigger the next night and continues to distort. It's a must read.

Dona and Ty did this feature. It was the last thing done. How come? They did it because Dona said we had to cover some of the Congressional things C.I., Ava, Kat and Wally had been reporting on last week and because we had to have something that noted 9 US soldiers had died this month in Iraq. We were typing up pieces and getting ready to post. But we told them to go off and do it and we're glad they did. This is a really important article. It's also a rush transcript, which was not noted in it, that's how 'rush' it was.

Dona and Ty were doing their feature and Ty asked, "Could someone see about Bill's e-mail and working in a link to that Carly Simon site?" Jess finished typing two articles and then went into the e-mails, found Bill's, visited the Carly Simon website (Carly Simon Album Covers) and wrote up this article. We also put the site on our permalinks. Thanks to Bill for suggesting the website.

C.I. and Elaine were talking about a post Trina did two months ago. Two months ago. The rest of us are lucky to remember last week! But we agreed it was a shame we never did something on that topic -- "not even a short feature," Dona noted. At which point, C.I. said we could pull from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States to do a short feature now. We readily agreed.

Iraq was covered in Ava and C.I.'s piece and in our editorial (and would then be noted in "The Week" but that hadn't been written or even thought about yet). I said it's a shame we can't do more Iraq coverage due to time running out. Jess noted there was so little of it and Ty wondered why no one was doing Iraq coverage, no new people. Somehow this led to C.I. pointing out The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe was headed to Iraq for seven weeks and that Patrick Smith was reporting and Tweeting and that she wasn't sure most people were familiar with his work. We pulled it all together for a short piece.

Kat actually caught this. This is what she's referring to in the first sentence of her Saturday post "Jay The Fool Carney." Sorry but POLITICO and Burgess Everett ran an announcement. They did not report. There's been a change to Barack Obama's Twitter feed. Considering that we suggested such a change needed to take place in an article here last month, we're not surprised. Or caught off balance.

I wrote this up before we were all doing individual pieces. And before we took our sleep break in the writing edition. So Jess' feature and Dona and Ty's "The Week" plus Ava and C.I.'s TV report meant we all had individual pieces this week. Brendan's e-mail, as noted, clearly inspired this.

This is a reprint from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.

This is a reprint from Workers' World.

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


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

Editorial: They suffer in silence

Imagine being an Iraqi in Iraq. Imagine living under an occupation, being ruled by installed rulers, exiles who fled the country and returned only after the US military toppled Saddam Hussein. Imagine living in Iraq eight years after that took place and still seeing no improvement in your daily lives -- you still suffer through the daily electricity blackouts, you still suffer through the lack of potable water, there are no jobs . . .

And no jobs? Despite all the reconstruction projects? Why the hell is the puppet government allowing contract labor to be brought into the country when unemployment is said to be around 30% for Iraqis (it's actually much higher)?

But you're an Iraqi and you live with the daily violence which -- unlike the foreign press -- hasn't vanished from the country. And people you know and love are wounded -- and the wounded are ignored by the press which only wants to count kills apparently but you try living without an arm or leg and then see how easy it is. And, yes, you do see loved ones killed as well.

And you lived through Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister. The coward who fled Iraq decades ago. Ran to Syria, ran to Iran, ran like the coward he was. And he's put in charge and determined to purge all Ba'athists from Iraq. So he overseas the ethnic cleansing of 2006 and 2007. And you survive that and his other wars -- his wars on the press, his wars on women, his wars on religious minorities, his wars on Iraq's LGBT community -- and tell youself that, just maybe, the next elections can provide hope for your country.

And when the elections are delayed from 2009 to 2010, you keep hoping. You see Nouri use the Justice and Accountability Commission to take out Shi'ite rivals as well as to remove a number of Sunnis from the process. You see Nouri abuse his post to campaign. You see so much that could discourage you and yet you turn out for the Mach 10th elections.

And though Nouri and his press buddies spin it as a win for Nouri before any vote tallies are released, it turns out Nouri -- even with all his cheating -- didn't win. And Nouri then demands recounts and throws fits and gets the totals changed a little in his favor but still he's not the winner. His State of Law political slate came in second to Iraqiya.

Whether you like or dislike Ayad Allawi, you may think a new leader may provide some space.

Per the Constitution, Allawi now is the one to be named prime minister-designate and given 30 days to form a Cabinet. If he can't do that (nominate ministers and have Parliament vote in favor of them) within the 30 days, someone else (per the Constitution) will be named prime minister-designate. (You only become prime minister, per the Constitution, when you've formed a Cabinet.)

But Nouri won't let it happen. And he creates a nine month political stalemate. He refuses to allow Allawi the chance to form the government. He goes to the Supreme Court he controls and gets a verdict in his favor.

Around this point, you might be wondering if it was even worth it. You're obviously not being listened to. Outside forces are obviously in charge of Iraq.

And yet, this year, Iraqis took the streets. They protested in January and throughout February. And with the Youth Movement organizing, they began protesting every Friday. (Such as last Friday, Determination Friday, screen snap via The Great Iraqi Revolution's video.)

determination friday

They have been arrested for protesting, they have been tortured for protesting, they have been attacked attacked for it. And they continue to protest every Friday for the better Iraq that they believe in.

But you rarely get to hear about that. It may be the most depressing reality about Iraq.

Not only has the foreign press largely withdrawn from Iraq, but the press is interested in other regions. So Iraq's months long protest had to compete (and lose) for the press' attention with Egypt in February and currently it has to compete (and loses) with Syria.

The press is apparently incapable of doing more than one thing at a time. J-schools appear to have succeeded only in imparting that it is not polite to chew gum and walk at the same time.

So in it's sixth month of protest, Iraqis are still being ignored.

You need to start asking yourself about the resources you're utilizing. Is a network newscast, for example, worth watching if the anchor repeatedly ignores Iraq (even when US soldiers are killed there) but finds time to note that Aaron Spellings mansion just sold? Is a 'left' magazine worth reading if, in 2011, all it wants to be about is the 2102 campaign and it can't tell you a damn thing about Iraq?

The Iraqi people suffer. They are fighting that but they still suffer largely in silence and that's due to the US media which has little-to-no interest in Iraq.


McClatchy Newspapers, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times and The Washington Post continue to have reporters in Iraq as does the wire service AP. The bulk of US papers do not and no US broadcast network has reporters in Iraq. The cable network CNN does. NPR is unable to report on Iraq due to repeatedly sending their Baghdad head (Kelly McEvers) to Syria and elsewhere they think a 'hot' story is taking place. The most reliable outlet for protests in Iraq is a foreign outlet, The Great Iraqi Revolution.

TV: Diane Sawyer, giving anchors a bad name

"And second chance! Another opening for the musical Spider Man. We interview the superstars about lessons they learned from getting it wrong," gushed Diane Sawyer Tuesday on ABC World News Tonight explaining her approach to 'news,' her inability to get basic facts right (which is either ignorance or a desire to lie -- she did so Tuesday night) and why she most likely won't be pulling into the lead in the ratings anytime soon.


As we've noted here before (and as is regularly noted at The Common Ills), the master of the evening network news is Brian Williams. Because we so often note that, we're wrongly accused of being Brian Williams fans. We're not. We personally don't like him. But he knows how to run his newscast. Every story is geared to you the viewer. It may be (as some suggest) a false front on Williams' part but the audience is provided with news and it is catered to (many of) them. That and Tom Brokaw is why Nightly News with Brian Williams remains number one. Tom Brokaw? Williams is the only current anchor who inherited a successful newscast. That's not to take away from his own accomplishments, he's built on what he was given, but he was in a better position than others.

At CBS, anchor Dan Rather imploded. We have no sympathy for him. When you report a story, you stand by it or not. You don't, as non-journalists are brought in for a 'review,' keep your mouth shut and then, after it implodes, decide to speak up. Dan did that. The story 60 Minutes II aired about Bully Boy Bush and his military 'service' was strong by journalistic standards. When Dan sat on the sidelines during the review (reportedly having been told he was 'fine' and didn't have to worry about his job), he lost the momentum to argue for the story. The 'review' came out slamming the story and those who worked on it (Dan Rather was the on air talent on that segment of 60 Minutes II) and Dan's career at CBS ended.

By that time CBS was already firmly in place as the least watched of the big three evening newscasts. Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer was brought in as anchor while CBS attempted to find a new anchor and though he was a calming presense at a time of scandal, the show remained dead last. Ratings were never really a concern though among critics. Dan Rather's entire tenure as an anchor was about low ratings, but rarely was that ever a 'hook' for coverage. Schieffer wasn't expected to take the show to the top.

Then Katie Couric was hired. And before she ever did her first newscast, months before (see "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader"), it was a public stoning as sexist men and queen bee women joined forces to trash Katie's performance as an anchor. Let's repeat, these evaluations of her performance took place months before she ever anchored a newscast. And continued daily. You had people like the rotund 'critic' Danny Schechter -- a notorious sexist who built Media Channel with female labor and treated those women very badly -- mocking her constantly -- again before she'd ever anchored -- and referring to her as "Katey." Danny thought he was cute. He obviously lives in a home without mirrors.

In September of 2006, Couric premiered as anchor. CBS wanted to try making some changes. Couric's been slammed for most of them (she was the face and had the power to say "no," so she has to take criticism). One change, was a commentary, a viewpoint that was intended to be a segment allowing different points of view to be heard from different speakers. It wasn't meant as a one-time thing, it was intended to be a regular feature. Thanks to Media Matters and other holler monkeys that segment was killed. They were offended, for example, that Rush Limbaugh was offered the chance to speak.

Of course Limbaugh would be offered that chance. He is a point of view. He is also highly critical of Dan Rather and CBS News. By getting him in early on, he would be a neutered voice. How so? As a wide spectrum was featured throughout the year and Rush Limbaugh went into on air theatrics trashing the network for it, CBS News could always respond, "We don't know what the problem is. We said this was a segment for differing views and, after all, Rush himself was happy to participate. Maybe he just doesn't like any view that's not his own?"

Now you can argue that the commentary provided wasn't needed, that America didn't need more commentary, it needed more journalism. That's a solid criticism. But what Media Matters did was ensure that left voices were not getting on air. They killed a segment that they should have applauded.

That change goes down as a failure, whatever its intent, because it did fail.

But Katie's impact is felt still. She opened with a lengthy segment -- sometimes two reports tied together -- and her tie-ins in speaking to reporters who had filed the stories usually emphasized the human costs. Her touch on that segment can be seen today . . . on all three networks.

CBS News wanted to tinker with the news format and they wanted to debut an anchor and that was probably too much to do -- especially when, over five months before she debuted, the anchor was being trashed constantly. The trashing never stopped. While Danny Schechter was constantly ridiculing Katie, excuse us, "Katey," the fact of the matter was she was anchoring a solid newscast. In June 2007, we noted that as Dan Rather was stroking his inner pig boy (and Danny Schechter was applauding it) by saying CBS had "tarted up" the Evening News, "it was left to our Manny Named Brian to note the obvious: 'But the fact is the broadcast has gotten a lot better under new Executive Producer Rick Kaplan – newsier, harder, and less features oriented. Last week, according to Andrew Tyndall, the Evening News spent 11 minutes on Iraq, while ratings champ World News With Charles Gibson spent just two'."

It never mattered what she did or how strong it was, they were determined to hate her, these sexist males and queen bee women. It's a testament to Katie Couric that she withstood it and did so professionally. No woman will ever have it as hard as Katie did. Diane Sawyer's incompent anchoring demonstrates that. Katie blazed the trail, took all the attacks and was still standing. When she left, it was on her terms.

Scott Pelley replaced her two weeks ago. The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley debuted June 6th. That morning, the US military announced 5 US soldiers died in Iraq in a single attack Saturday, DoD announced the death toll had risen to 6. At five, it was the deadliest attack in two years on US soldiers in Iraq. On that night, Pelley covered the story when Diane Sawyer 'forgot' it on ABC World News and PBS' NewsHour was under the mistaken notion that you bury 5 US deaths in a war in a brief headline while chasing down 'scandals' and gossip. Only NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams also managed to cover -- not read a 3 sentence headline the way The NewsHour did -- the 5 deaths.

Thursday, David Bauder (AP) quoted PEW's Mark Jurkowitz stating, "The message of last week could be reclaiming CBS as a more serious-minded news organization." And Bauder noted, "CBS was encouraged that viewership for Pelley's first week was up 6 percent over the same week in 2010, according to the Nielsen Co." Scott Pelley may end up the one who can challenge Brian Williams. That would require not only an emphasis on the news (already, Pelley has a greater emphasis on real news as opposed to junk news), but also a way to relate each of the segments to the audience. That's what TV is. CBS is at its best when it's willing to 'tell me a story.'

Pelley will also benefit from the fact that sexist men and the queen bee women will want him to succeed to prove they were right about Katie Couric. They weren't right but Pelley will benefit from that attitude.

Diane Sawyer benefitted from Katie Couric. We've never seen such an appalling job done by an achor day after day. But having noticed the backlash to the attacks on Katie Couric, many sexist men and queen bee women decided to give Diane a pass so it didn't appear that they hated all women. All that did was reveal them to be hypocrites. Among their biggest attacks on Katie was that she came from daytime TV (NBC's Today). Diane came from ABC's daytime TV (Good Morning America). The attacks on Katie, before she'd ever anchored, came from the left. Diane Sawyer was Richard Nixon's golden girl when he was president. Somehow 'leftists' weren't bothered by that.

Diane got a complete pass and, as a result, World News Tonight is the worst evening news broadcast there is. It wasn't all the great before Diane took over. In fact, we were hoping she'd lift the broadcast to a higher plane. ABC's problems began when Peter Jennings died. In fact, the problems were publicly aired in a (bad) tribute to the longterm network news anchor. As we noted in August of 2005:

The special demonstrated the continued conflict between the news departments and the bosses who see it all as another form of entertainment. And in this round, news lost. (Though people in the news department fought very hard.) We heard grumbles about some of the news "stars" included in the special but the message came down that the network wanted their own highlighted. Some stress to us that it's a miracle that two hours of prime time television was turned over to news. We'd agree with that if we'd actually seen any news. We didn't. Where Jennings hit hard, the special went soft focus. Who was Fox speaking of? What happened to Chris and Jeremy? Why was big tobacco present to attest to Jennings' ability to see all sides? The answer to those questions go to why this wasn't a news special. We assume that two hours (commerical free or not) of a news program would have excited and thrilled Peter Jennings. We doubt he'd look fondly at the results of this special. As the testimonials (the good ones) noted, Jennings was able to tell a story in understandable terms. The special didn't do that. It existed in a world where a report from Iran was an important as announcing it's midnight in Moscow, a world where a story was turned into a tease without an ending. It wasn't journalism. When they release it on DVD (yes, it's coming) we'd suggest that they change the title to A Peter Jennings Tribute. That's what it was (Kate Aurthur called it correctly). It wasn't Peter Jennings Reporter. And we'd suggest that people interested in news think long and hard on that special. Even with some strong people fighting to present a news special, they weren't able to win the battle against The Walt Disney Company. Jennings had power (which, as one testimonial acknowledged, he knew how to use). We're not sure anyone else in front of the camera at ABC does.

Following Jennings' death, Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of World News. Then Woodruff was seriously injured reporting in Iraq and Vargas was pregnant and ABC decided to ditch both. Ditching Woodruff was shocking and ruthless. Ditching Vargas was against the law. Charlie Gibson was moved from Good Morning America to World News as anchor.

And all those screaming about Katie Couric not being 'anchor material' because she was from a morning show? They never said a peep about Gibson. The same Gibson who was most famous for falling asleep on air during Good Morning America broadcasts. The same Gibson who was most infamous for cutting Gore Vidal off on live TV and insisting they had lost the feed when no feed was lost, Gibson just didn't like what Gore was saying.

But no one criticized him, no one called him out. And then Diane was made anchor. Many years after ABC News could boast of any quality (the Jennings years). She started at the end of December 2009. It'll be two years at the end of 2011. It's past time her 'trial' period ended.

Tuesday, as we noted at the top, she was gushing about two "superstars" who would be on the program. Yes, she had time for Bono and The Edge of U2 fame. But know what she didn't have time for? The news that 2 US soldiers had died in Iraq. That was known Tuesday morning. But just as she didn't have time the week before to note the five deaths in Iraq (or the one that happened two days later), she didn't have time Tuesday to note 2 US soldiers killed in a war. That wasn't news. What was news?

She opened with a story on sunscreen, one that she summarized at the end with, "So a golf ball size every two hours, that is a shock to me, Lisa!" Diane probably exclaims more than any other anchor. She had time to note, "President Obama spent the day in Puerto Rico -- the first president to make an official visit since John Kennedy." But he wasn't the first. President Gerald Ford went to Puerto Rico in 1976 for the Group of Seven Economic Summit. That was an official visit. You can lie -- and many did -- to whore for the White House and downgrade Ford's visit but the Group of Seven is not a personal vacation. He was invited to that summit solely because he was the sitting president of the United States.

Common sense escapes her (at best -- at worst, she's still a White House flunky) but, again, she does love exclaiming. So we had Diane declaring that Puerto Rico can't vote in the US elections but "there are even more Puerto Ricans living here than there, right here in the US! And they can vote so anyone running this year has to pay attention." Running this year? Is there an election this year that we missed? What exactly is Barack running for this year?

Diane didn't think 2 US soldiers dying in a war was news. But, in her best Mary Hart fashion, she did gush over the fact that Aaron Spelling's home sold and "$150 million was the asking price" but no one knows what was actually paid for it.

Please, please, Diane, find out for us!!! Please, the fate of the world depends upon that answer!!! It is such an important story and so much more important than the deaths of two US soldiers in the Iraq War.

Diane Sawyer is a stupid, stupid woman and a lousy anchor. To jazz up stories she repeatedly goes Mary Hart-ish. (Mary Hart, who recently ended her lengthy tenure anchoring Entertainment Tonight, did a solid job but she anchored an entertainment show and knew it. Diane's supposed to be anchoring a news broadcast, she should be aiming a lot higher.) So she chirps that "more than 50 years after Sam Cooke sang that song 'don't know much about history' and today's students are struggling as well!

Okay, Sam Cooke's song also says "don't know much about biology," etc. And we wonder if Diane knows that, we really wonder. But despite her alarmist tone, what the hell does it matter if fourth graders don't know about the Korean War or don't know that China is an ally of North Korea? They're not even teenagers. They're children. 4th, 8th and 12th graders took a standardized test and did poorly. That could have led to a report about standardized testing, that could have led to a report about what's being taught (we'd argue students are taught to take tests). But that would have been a report and what ABC offered was a face standing before the cameras providing a summary of a report issued by someone else. A summary, it should be noted, that Diane introduced as being about high school seniors when it was about three grades -- does she review the segments before they air or is she just winging it?

Regardless, this was junk news and, sadly, World News Tonight is always overflowing with junk news.

The broadcast's final segment was introduced by Diane as "two superstars who learned it's never to late to fail here is Cynthia with the writers of Spiderman . . . Bono and The Edge." Bono and The Edge are not the writers. They wrote the score -- a bad score, some argue. The writers of the play, the "book writers," are Julie Taymor, Glen Berger and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Oh, so that's Diane's lie . . .

No. We'll get to that in a moment. This was an error and a surprising one since Mike Nichols has directed films and plays and knows the difference. And since Mike Nichols is Diane's husband -- a marriage that has nearly managed to silence the rumors that have always circled Diane. But we're not really sure, "writers" or not, why the opening of a Broadway play later that evening trumps the deaths of 2 US soldiers in the Iraq War? Or, for that matter, why an announcement ("play will open") is passed off as news.

We'd ask Diane to explain it to us, but we're afraid she'd either misunderstand or lie.

She lied on ABC World News. Jake Tapper's report was introduced by Diane with a shot of Anthony Weiner's chest and comments about "that Congressional gym in the scandal headlines" -- again, if it's trashy, you're watching ABC World News.

So Congress has two gyms, Jake Tapper reported, built with tax payer money -- one for the House and one for the Senate. They pay $20 a month for the allegedly deluxe gyms. Tapper attempted to see inside them but was denied access on camera. Tapper wants to know what the price tag on this was for tax payers and attempts to find out "how much it costs to run this plush Members' Wellness Center" and that they asked the Senate Rules Committee, the Treasury Department, the House Sgt. at Arms but with no success. The only response, Tapper notes, that was given to the American tax payer was, "We do not provide information on the House gym for security purposes." Tapper was misleading if you were blind. If you were depending upon audio, that's all you got. Diane should have known both what was said and what was displayed on screen. But as she came back on screen, she stated -- with editorial disbelief, "National security to know how much tax payers are paying? Coming up . . ."

That's lying.

That's flat out lying.

ABC News was not told that the cost was an issue of "national security." That "We do not provide information on the House gym for security purposes" statement? It wasn't credited in audio. But on the screen, it was credited as "Statement from the Architect of the Capitol."

The Architect of the Capitol is many things but it is not responsible for providing financial information to the public. In some ways, it is a bit like the department in your local city that has plans for various structures. Go to your local planning office (or, more likely, the archives) and request to see a copy of a floor plan or site plan for a school or airport. You'll be told that you need written permission from a school official to see school plans. You'll not be allowed to see airport plans without some major paperwork. Those are measures put in place after 9-11. We have no idea what information Jake Tapper asked for (and it might have been, "What can you tell me about the House gym?"), but the Architect of the Capitol was not being silly, they were following policy and it is an issue of security according to policy.

The report was misleading unless you knew about the Architect of the Capitol's duties or the policy changes that took place after 9-11. Many do not know about it. But even more misleading was Diane Sawyer insisting, "National security to know how much tax payers are paying?"

That's flat out lying. The truth is they got no information on the costs. They got a statement in reply to something but, check out the responsibilities of the Architect of the Capitol, the statement they received does not apply to the cost.

And if you're thinking, on air, live television mistake, we think you're awfully generous to someone who is paid millions to provide you with the news but we'll note Diane returned to the topic the following day with scripted comments.

Diane Sawyer: And with so many painful cutbacks coming across this country, we heard from a lot of us last night after Congress claimed "national security" -- that's a quote -- "national security" to refuse to tell us how much tax payers are forking over to pay for two exclusive gyms for Congress -- one of the House, one for the Senate, including basketball, a swimming pool. And all we wanted to know was how many tax dollars are being spent to subsidize it? Well we made some more calls today and word is just in, we are being promised answers tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Congress did not tell her it was a matter of "national security." And, in fact, that's not even a quote of what they were told. ABC News was told, by a federal agency, "We do not provide information on the House gym for security purposes." Diane's the one who added "national security."

Possibly when she says "'national security' -- that's a quote," she means to say she's quoting herself?

She wasn't done clowning and fooling -- as those who "stay tuned" and caught Thursday's broadcast witnessed.

Introducing Tapper's Thursday segment, Diane declared, "And, to remind everyone, Jake was told that 'national security' reasons prevented tax payers from knowing how much was spent on the Congressional perks of two gyms with a swimming pool. So what happened?"

But that's not what was said. And there's no answer from Congress -- Congress -- on the issue, Tapper reported Thursday. It would be great if the people knew that. Jake Tapper was given no financial information other than to clarify that House members paid $20 a month for the gym while Senate members paid $40 a month. (Elsewhere, in an Anthony Weiner 'report,' we'd learn it was a lifetime membership.) It would be great if the gym were closed -- as it should be, these are cutback times, Diane Sawyer is right there. But that's not going to happen when everyone can point out that Congress never said "national security." That Congress stonewalled ABC was more than news enough. But it wasn't good enough for Diane Sawyer.

Anchors need to stop giving the news beauty makeovers and stick to what actually takes place.

The week

Dona: We've done a similar feature to what we're about to do before. But we're calling it "The Week" now. How this is going to work is that Ty and I will be speaking with The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Wally of The Daily Jot; and Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills). The four of them, as usual, were speaking out against the wars last week and they were also in DC where they attended Congressional hearings and C.I. also attended a Pentagon news briefing. Even though it's on our profile, we do try to work in our e-mail address when possible, so let me note that it's Ty, you wanted to start.


Ty: Last week saw more US soldiers die in Iraq. Since June 6th, how many have died?

C.I.: It's now 9. June 6th as an attack in which 5 died that day and yesterday came the news that a sixth had died from that attack on Thursday. The six are: Spc Marcos A. Cintron, Spc Emilio J. Campo Jr., Spc Michael B. Cook Jr., Spc Christopher B. Fishbeck, Spc Robert P. Hartwick and Pfc Michael C. Olivieri. That's 6. In addition, Pfc Matthew J. England, Staff Sgt Nicholas P. Bellard and Sgt Glenn M. Sewell were also killed while serving in Iraq.

Ty: And C.I.'s rightly been critical -- and C.I. and Ava have been critical here -- about the lack of press coverge of the deaths. But last week, C.I. noticed another failure. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on that?

Wally: You're talking about when she called out Illinois' Senator Dick Durbin and Governor Pat Quinn for refusing to issue a statement on the passing of Michael Olivieri, who went by "Mikey," by the way? I agree with her, that was disgusting. Contrast that with Minnesota where you had US Senator Al Franken, the state's governor and a member of Congress attended Emilio Campo's Friday funeral.

Kat: I agree that it's disgusting. Olivieri -- and Elaine noted this early on -- was largely ignored. If it weren't for regional media, his passing would have garnered little attention and that's not fair.

Ava: And, just for the record, Minnesota's governor is Mark Dayton. He attended the funeral of Emilio Campo, as did Al Franken, as Wally noted, and the third official was US House Rep. Tim Walz. They made time for it. Durbin and Quinn couldn't even issue a statement. That's pathetic. They didn't think it was important.

Dona: US soldiers in Iraq really have fallen off the radar and, in looking for a photo for this piece at the USF military site, I was surprised to discover that all thirteen photos they are promoting -- the US military is promoting -- are of Iraqi soldiers. It seems a bit strange to go through a 13 photo slideshow on the main page of a US military site and not find one photo that features US soldiers. Iraq came up in one of the hearings you all attended this week, C.I. reported on it in this "Iraq snapshot," the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, appeared at. It was combative, C.I. reported and I streamed it and saw that it was indeed. Kat, what happened between Gates and Senator Patrick Leahy?

Kat: Okay, conjecture on my part here. It was a fairly smooth hearing up until that point and Leahy wasn't being controversial. So the only thing I could see that ticked Gates off was that Leahy did several statements, before he got to questions, praising Mullen and Mullen's wife with whom Leahy and his wife socialize. Maybe that ticked Gates off, I have no idea.

Dona: Let me introduce that exchange. I'm using C.I.'s transcript in the snapshot.

Senator Patrick Leahy: How long -- How long do we support governments that lie to us, when do we say enough is enough? Secretary Gates, I'll start with you.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Well first of all I would say based on 27 years in the CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.
Senator Patrick Leahy: Do they also arrest the people that help us --

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Sometimes.

Senator Patrick Leahy: -- when they say they're our allies?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: Sometimes.

Senator Patrick Leahy: Not often.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: And, uhm, sometimes they send people to spy on us. And they're our close allies. So --

Senator Patrick Leahy: And we give aid to them?

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: -- that's the real world that we deal with.

Ava: And we have a problem.

Dona: What?

Ava: C.I. and I are taking on Diane Sawyer's crappy 'reporting' on World News Tonight. I didn't catch it until you read that in Dona but, correct me if I'm wrong, C.I., Diane Sawyer presented part of that exchange but edited it. I don't mean she went with two lines. I mean she took Leahy's remark and then the screen went to Gates and it wasn't where Gates' statement started. Now they can edit, that's fine. But if they're editing, they need to note it. Instead, World News Tonight, altered the exchange and did so without noting that and while making it appear that what they presented was as happened. Big no-no.

C.I.: Ava's right but we've worked two hours on that piece and I'm thinking that Ava's comments here can stand for it, what do you think?

Ava: I'm fine with it, if you are. I just want to be done with this edition.

Dona: I really don't understand how ABC World News gets away with all that it does. When I was doing grad school, that was a big issue. It seriously alters facts and it comes under so little scrutiny for that. Alright, Kat, that was the exchange. What was it like sitting through that?

Kat: Very weird. Gates was being openly hostile and there was just this tension in the room. Now Leahy's exchange continues beyond that portion. And Gates will get nastier until he finally insists that they're not trying for a "Vermont style democracy" in Afghanistan and he says it so snidely and Leahy -- who is one of Vermont's two US senators, rightly takes offense.

Dona: And at that point what happened?

Wally: We're behind the witnesses. We can see the senators but we see the back of the witnesses' heads. So normally, we wouldn't have caught this. But Gates makes a point to turn to the right, so we see his face in profile, as he makes this rude face and rolls his eyes. He had gone on NPR trashing Congress not all that long ago and I'd argue he made it obvious last week that one of the members of Congress he dislikes the most is Senator Patrick Leahy. So while Gates is making that face, Adm Mullen steps in and starts speaking and, basically, acting like Gates little tantrum never took place.

Ty: And that's something that you've all noted in past Congressional reporting that happens regularly. I think that first stood out when you were reporting on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings and you were noting Gates was not Mullen. They were both getting credit for things and Mullen was the one speaking in a manner worth praising. Mullen seems to repeatedly be put in the position of cleaning up after Gates.

Ava: That's exactly right. Gates has been praised non-stop on this never ending farewell tour but he's a nasty piece of work.

Ty: Part of the farewell tour was the Pentagon briefing last week, the one Gates called his last briefing. It took place Thursday and C.I. reported on it in that day's snapshot. Now you had a friend sneak you in. Were there any pre-conditions?

C.I.: No. But after the moment you're going to ask about happened, I was told that if I mentioned this at The Common Ills and reported on specific reporters by name disgracing themselves, my friend was worried he would suffer fallout.

Ty: Which is why you took it to a community newsletter to get specific. But at the end of the press conference, Gates, Mullen and another man left the stage. After they walked off a Pentagon spokesperson stepped forward and declared what?

C.I.: "I want everybody to sit tight. Let's kill the cameras. He'll come back out in one moment and we'll say goodbye individually and so forth with photos for you guys. This is off the record."

Ty: And what was the general reaction among the press to that?

C.I.: I would phrase it as "Oh, goody!" Meaning there was joy and excitement.

Ty: Did anyone raise the point that what was about to take place was unethical? You're not supposed to be engaged in conduct with the subjects you report on unless it is conduct you can share. Clearly when "off the record" enters into it, something's being hidden from the public.

C.I.: My friend was smiling and then sensed my shock. That's when he immediately began insisting that I couldn't name names at The Common Ills.

Ty: Without naming names, characterize the love-fest.

C.I.: Well, first off, three people immediately left. I'd love to give them credit for having the good sense to leave but if I can't name names, I can't name names. Those that remained? I saw a lot of hugging. I saw a lot of we-will-miss-you and gushing over how Gates did his job -- what they were reporting on objectively -- supposedly objectively -- remember? I saw them embarrass themselves in the worst way possible. It was disgusting.

Dona: Okay, let's go back to the hearing with Gates. Iraq was barely mentioned. VA issues were raised by Senator Patty Murray who issued a press release that we'll insert in here.

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tough questions regarding some of the all too often overlooked human costs of the ongoing war in Afghanistan during a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Department of Defense (DoD). Senator Murray also asked how these long-term costs are being factored into the decision to drawdown forces in Afghanistan. During the exchange Senator Murray expressed her strong belief that these costs of war, including the rising rate of suicide among veterans, the lack of access to much needed mental health care, and the increased number of tours of current service members, must be taken seriously by the Pentagon and the White House, particularly in decisions to bring troops home.
"Many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime," Senator Murray said today.

Excerpts from the exchange and the full text of Senator Murray's questions below.

Secretary Gates, last Friday I visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and had an opportunity to talk to a number of our wounded warriors, their dedicated providers, and their caregivers.
As you know well, many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime.
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I take this issue very seriously and I've been trying to draw attention to this all too often unseen human cost of the war in thinking about how we should consider that as part of our decision in any long-term conflict.
I think you know, the major components of this long-term war include the fact that deaths from suicide among veterans and service members from this war are on par with combat deaths, many of our warriors are facing difficult challenges accessing needed mental health care when they return home, And that many of the service members serving in Afghanistan today are on their third, fourth, or even fifth tours.
So, while we have talked a great deal about costs in terms of rebuilding projects, Afghan aid, and military resources -- I wanted to ask you today what you -- and the Pentagon -- consider to be the biggest costs of this war to our wounded warriors and their families -- particularly those costs that we will be paying for for a very long time and whether that is ever considered or factored in when you're making decisions about drawing down in Afghanistan?

Excerpts from Sec. Gates' response:

"I cannot say that decisions in terms of drawdowns or military strategy are made bearing in mind the costs of the soldiers, and the sailors, and the marines who suffer, it is on the minds of everybody who makes those decisions, but by the same token, it is the nature of war and it is frankly one of the reasons why, as I told an interviewer a couple of weeks ago, I feel I have become more conservative, more cautious, about when you use force because I've seen the consequences up front," said Sec. Gates.
"The costs are exactly as you described, in lives that are shattered, in bodies that are shattered, and in minds that are shattered," said Sec. Gates. "So from our part, in addition to the VA, we have tried to make sure that these funds for these programs have been protected and will be protected in the future."

Excerpts from Adm. Mullen's response:

"Senator, first of all, I appreciate your leadership on this because it has to have a voice. I actually believe we are just beginning to understand this," said Adm. Mullen in response to Sen. Murray's questions. "Leaders have to continue to focus on 'what are these costs' and I thought you said it very well, it is to repay this debt for the rest of their lives and we need to stay with them so that we understand what that means."
"There are time bombs set up that we know are out there, we just don't know when they're going to go off," Adm. Mullen continued. "The relationship that the Pentagon has with the VA and with communities throughout the country has got to get stronger."
"These costs are longstanding, we don't understand them as well as we should… not just for our members, but also for our families, we see that time and time again. Our families have become almost as much a part of our readiness as anything else and it wasn't that way 10 or 15 years ago. Without them we would be nowhere in these wars," said Adm. Mullen.

Dona (Con't): So that's Senator Murray's statement. She Chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. The House Veterans Affairs Committee held hearings last week. The four of you reported on the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing in "Iraq snapshot," "A failure of VA leadership (Ava)," "Who's crunching the numbers at VA? (Wally)" and "What is sexual assault?" and, Ava, I'm going to start with you because the topic was about something you'd reported on two weeks ago ["Sexual assaults at the VA (Ava)"].

Ava: Right.
So the Government Accountability Office released a report which found around 300 sexual assault cases were never reported up the system to the Inspector General's office.

Dona: And Wally, characterize the questioning.

Wally: I'd say the Subcommittee -- plus Committee Chair Jeff Miller who took part in the hearing even though he's not on the Committee -- started out concerned and quickly grew . . . I'll go with "edgy" but I think "angry" would work here as well.

Dona: And that was because?

Wally: The VA refused to provide answers. On the most basic things they couldn't provide answers. They knew they were being summoned to testify and they knew what they were being asked to testify about. But they showed up either unable or unwilling to answer questions.

Dona: I want to include one exchange, I'm pulling from C.I.'s snapshot and William Schoenard is a VA official:

US House Rep Jeff Miller: The [GAO] report covers '07 to July of 2010. Can you tell me what the statistics are from July of 2010 to today of sexual assaults that have been reported within the system?

William Schoenhard: Uh, sir, we do not have that information available here today but we will provide that to you.

US House Rep Jeff Miller: Would it have been a reasonable expectation that somebody might be asking that question?

William Schoenhard: Uh. We. Uh. Had not anticipated that question but we do have the information. We can provide that to you in short order, sir.

US House Rep Jeff Miller: If you would, for the record, so that we can make sure that all members have the answer to that question. When can we expect it?

William Schoenhard: Uh. We would provide that, sir, within three weeks.

US House Rep Jeff Miller: Three weeks?

William Schoenhard: Yes, sir. I want to make sure that we have all the information together in a complete way. We will try to provide it sooner.

US House Rep Jeff Miller: I hope that you have all the information together and that it won't take you three weeks.

Dona (Con't): Would it have been a reasonable expectation? Yeah, Wally, I can hear "edgy" in that and "angry" as well. Kat, your thoughts on what's going on with the VA?

Kat: Well, my opinion, we were discussing this with some veterans groups this week and my opinion is that one of the big errors of the Barack administration, when history looks back, is going to be the VA. Yeah, the economy'll be in there and the Justice Dept, etc. But the VA, people really aren't paying attention to it. They're just out of control. I keep waiting for Congress to call Eric Shinseki in to testify because everyone else is stonewalling. This isn't a new development. When we attend a Senate Veterans Affairs Comittee hearing, I write about it at my site and usually focus on Senator Richard Burr because he usually makes me laugh. He's got a dry sense of humor. And because he's usually got a few points worth repeating -- he's a Republican, I'm a Democrat but he does have some strong point on the VA. So he's probably my favorite on the Committee. No "probably," he is. So I cover him and since 2010, he has been calling out the VA witnesses on their refusal to provide answers in open hearings.

Ty: And explain why that matters, explain why it means less if they provide it in a paper they dash over after the hearing is finished.

Kat: The press is gone. Some will try to follow up. But most are already headed to another hearing or another story that their outlet's assigned them to. If you're not answering in the hearing, you're not going to be in the next day's paper or on the evening news. VA knows that and they deliberately refuse to answer questions. My opinion.

Ty: There was so much more that we wanted to get to but we are on a time constraint. While we're doing this, for example, pieces are being published. That's how limited our time is. In Friday's "Iraq snapshot," C.I. covered a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on mental health and, if there are no objections, I just want to go out on some of Iraq War veteran Daniel Hanson's testimony.

Daniel Hanson: So I joined the Marine Corps in 2003. Shortly after I was deployed to Ramadi Iraq in 2004. And it was a deployment that started with one of our Marines shooting himself in the head -- just kind of brushed that under the table. And then 34 marines we lost -- throughout the deployment. We had about 400, 450 Marines injured. Came back and, uh, went on leave and that was -- that was that. Started drinking pretty heavy, dealing with nightmares, dealing with things I wasn't really prepared to deal with, I would say. And I think one of the biggest reasons that I dealt with it myself was just because -- I mean, I was in a battalion with a thousand Marines, I don't think people wanted to hear, you know, my whining and complaining. So -- Then shortly after we went on antoher deployment, non-combat which, uhm, uh, just kept on drinking, kept masking my issues with whatever -- whatever would take away any of the pain. Came back and then about six months later my unit was deployed again to Iraq. This time I was in the remain-behind-element so I was kind of able to see the other side of things -- when we would get the casualty reports, we would get the KIAs in and have to notifiy and take beyond that end of things as well. I decided that I was going to get out of the Marine Corps and uh -- But I was persuaded by a good friend, Sgt Major JJ Ellis, to stay in but, on that deployment, he ended up getting killed. I went to his funeral over in Arlington National Cemetery. Then after that, a friend, also in 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, Jonathan Schulze, hanged himself in the basement of his home and that kind of got me twirling out of control just before I was going to get out of the Marine Corps. And then finally on March -- I got discharged in February, 2007. And then on March 23, 2007, my brother -- who is also in the Marine Corps -- he hung himself in the basement of his home. And at that point, I think I decided I was going to do everything I could to avoid pain, that I was going to do everything to deal with it myself as I had been doing for the last three or four years. And I got into drugs, I got into alcohol. I got into whatever it was that would mask the pain that day. Eventually, I tried to kill myself. I ended up in the St. Cloud VA Medical Center for about 48 hours in lock-up. And then I was released and off to do whatever it is that I wanted to do -- which was go back to work because that seemed like the normal thing to do after -- after something like that. And eventually I found myself in and out of jail. I'm not -- And I was getting treated on an outpatient basis for awhile at the VA Medical Center. But when you were as messed up as I was, it takes a lot more than, you know, one or two sessions a week to get through my issues. And so I eventually found my way into the dual diagnosis program to get help. It was mostly to avoid a longer stint in jail for my DUIs. Eventually, I got out after about 30 days. I think I started drinking the next day. About a year later I found myself in jail for, I don't know, the sixth or seventh time and I decided for myself that I was done hurting myself, I was done hurting my family, I was done hurting my children. And I checked into a 13 to 15 month faith-based program that was what changed my life. About a week after jail, I stopped going to work, stopped going to school and I decided that I wasn't going to be very productive unless I got help. And that's what I did at Minneapolis Teen Challenge. It was more of a holistic approach. It was -- I went to the VA once a week to get help in the combat and the military specific issues and then I would stay there, you know, seven days a week. I wasn't able to get any funding through the VA because it was not -- it was not a VA funded program. Therefore, I got backed up on bills, I wasn't able to pay things and eventually filed bankruptcy. So in my dealing with the VA Medical Center, I always felt like I was in control, I was running my own rehabilitation althought I couldn't even, you know, put my shoes and socks on correctly most days. I felt like it was "Whatever I wanted to do Mr. Hanson, whatever I wanted to do that I thought was best for me. Well I thought what was best for me to go and get drunk and get high and forget about all my troubles and forget about all my nightmares.

6-20-2011, Ty Note. Typo of date has been fixed. Otherwise, this is a rush transcript. Enjoy.

Carly Simon, how she's supposed to be . . . (Jess)

Legend, artist, beautiful person, how do you describe Carly Simon?

The woman who shot to fame with "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" in 1971 (going on to win a Grammy for Best New Artist as well as scoring a hit with the song she co-wrote with Jacob Brackman) is a legend, a living one, still capable of producing amazing work, work that many of us would argue is superior than her earliest hits.

I grew up with Carly in the house, my parents were big fans of her and Joni Mitchell and Carole King and Jackson Browne and others. Carole was an easy early hit with her Really Rosie soundtrack to the children's cartoon and her songs on the Care Bears movie soundtrack. But Carly was the first person who ever made me think about writing a song.

I was probably 8 and I was in my room listening to the radio -- too loud, but never a problem in my house. I was tired and just didn't feel like moving, not even to close the comic book I'd been reading. I was on an oldies station -- because that's the music I knew from my parents -- and Carly's "You're So Vain" came on. Now I could sing on the chorus already, I'd heard the song that often before. But laying there too tired to move, with a speaker on either side of me, I really heard the song and the story in it for the first time.

And, like a good portion of the country, I wondered exactly who she wrote that song about?

Starting with Hello Big Man and Spoiled Girl, Carly begins a shift that's courageous and extraordinary. As Kat frequently notes, Carly's male peers didn't grow older. They kept writing and performing songs like they were teenagers just falling in love.

Carly added experience and maturity to her songbook and it's allowed for some of her strongest and finest work. And I can spend forever pondering moments in the lyrics of "Like A River" (about her mother's passing) or "Scar." Or I can just get lost in the beauty of "How Can You Ever Forget?" There's a richness in her work that few of her peers can match, in part because they've refused to let go of their James Dean poses.

playing possum

A part of Carly's image is the album covers. Playing Possum, for example, scandalized a nation and Sears refused to carry it in their stores. This was eight years before Madonna began arriving on the scene. As an artist with tour issues -- small clubs she could handle, larger venues tended to invoke extreme stage fright -- in a time before music videos, Carly used the album cover to fashion her image with the public.

Walter Neff started a site this year, Carly Simon Album Covers. And there, he explores what the covers say to him and offers information you may not be aware of (like what album contains photos of Carly with film director Terrence Malick).

As always with Carly's art, there's much to explore. Check out Neff's site.

History repeats

In April, Trina noted, "Now let's talk the economy. Why is so screwed up?Because so many idiots are screwing it up. Kristina Cooke (Reuters) reports NY Fed President William Dudley spoke in Queens last week and wanted people to know that there's no problem with inflation. He was asked when he had last gone grocery shopping after he made an idiotic remark. While the price of food is rising (sharply, go check out the increases at your local grocery store), it's okay because things like the iPad are now cheaper. We don't eat iPads."

William Dudley

William Dudley (pictured above) made an idiotic and possibly telling statement. But it was also a statement that recalled an earlier one. Another William, William Jardine (pictured below), was once Secretary of the Agriculture under President Calvin Coolidge.

william jardine

Jardine was also the US Ambassador to Egypt under Herbert Hoover, but we're focused on his Secretary of Agriculture period, when the US economy was slumping and headed into the Great Depression. From Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, page 375:

Few political figures spoke out for the poor of the twenties. One was Fiorello La Guardia, a Congressman from a district of poor immigrants in East Harlm (who ran, oddly, on both Socialist and Republican tickets). In the mid-twenties he was made aware by people in his district of the high price of meat. When La Guadia asked Secretary of Agriculture William Jardine to investigate the high price of meat, the Secretary sent him a pmphlet on how to use meat economically. La Gaurdia wrote back:

"I asked for help and you send me a bulletin. The people of New York City cannot feed their children on Department bulletins. . . . Your bulletins . . . are of no use to the tenement dwellers of this great city. The housewives of New York have been trained by hard experiences on the economical use of meat. What we want is the help of your department on the meat profiteers who are keeping the hard-working people of this city from obtaining proper nourishment."

Both Williams proved their own ignorance and provided nothing for the citizens of the country. And so history again repeats.

Wanting more Iraq coverage?

As we are always noting, coverage from Iraq is decreasing, not increasing. That's why C.I. now reads through various publications in Arabic to continue to cover Iraq. But we don't all read Arabic. So we wondered if there was some new outlet or reporter worth following that we don't know of?

The answer, British journalist Patrick Smith.

patrick smith
patrick smith

Patrick Smith reports from Iraq on Twitter. And he also posts at Mustaches and Kalashnikovs: Stories from Kurdistan and reports for AK News.

In addition, The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe (of "The Federal Eye") is out of the US and (briefly) in England before heading to Iraq for several weeks so you can check his Twitter feed as well.

Burgess Everett Misses The Point

Friday, 'Barack Obama' tweeted:

The President's Twitter account has been turned over to the Obama campaign and that has been noted publicly.

For POLITICO, Burgess Everett 'reported' on the change. 'Reported'? Try parroted, try missed the whole damn point.

We know the whole damn point because we raised the issue weeks ago.

May 29th, we published "Has the White House broken the Hatch Act?" and it opened:

Is Twitter campaigning?
It's a question the FEC might want to probe. Barack Obama has a Twitter feed. No we're not a sitcom actor or Arianna Huffington -- meaning we're not stupid enough to have ever believed Barack Obama does his own Tweets. So when the news broke in November 2009 (here for Marshall Kirkpatrick reporting it at that Barack had declared in a townhall that "I have never used Twitter," we weren't at all surprised. But the Twitter feed, started after Barack became President of the United States, has managed to fool 8,309,213 people -- or help the fools delude themselves -- that he Tweets. The White House has used the feed to communicate to citizens. But, uh-oh, you gotta' draw a line between government service and campaigning.

Get it? White House lawyers did.

We advised, "First off, no more Barack Obama pretense. Now that the Twitter feed is being used as a campaign tool, the American people need to know who is writing the Tweets to ensure that the Tweets are not being written on the tax payer's bill or at the federal workplace."

Have you checked out the top of the Twitter feed? "This account is run by "Obama2012 campaign staff. Tweets from the President are signed - BO."


We saw the problem. We caught the story weeks before POLITICO stumbled over it, clomping in clown shoes and misinterpreting everything.

Tech: My evening with Clear (Jim)

Like many, we use WiFi service. Some of us are signed with Sprint, some with Clear, some with . . . So when a reader has a problem with WiFi service, we can usually relate. Brendan e-mailed us ( about a problem he was having with Clear. After reading the e-mail, I (Jim) ended up with the same problem with Clear.


I utilized the "chat" feature for technical problems.

I was greeted with "Hello Jim. Please wait while we find a CLEAR specialist to help you.
You are an existing customer with a Tech Support question."

A minute later, "All agents are currently busy. Please stand by."

Two minutes later, "An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience."

One minute later, "The next available Agent will be with you in a moment."

Seven minutes after I got the "Hello Jim" greeting, "All agents are currently busy. Please stand by."

Eight minutes in, I was finally chatting with someone. Though it took her over a minute to say anything which is why I typed "Hello Katie" (I've changed the Clear tech's name to "Katie M." -- otherwise, it's all as it was in our chat) after waiting and waiting for her to type something.

You have been connected to Katie M.

Jim: Helllo Katie.

Katie M.: What is your difficulty?

Jim: I'm not able to connect and haven't been for about four days. I contacted the man who sold me my Clear plan. He told me to unistall the connection manager and then reinstall it. I can uninstall. But I can't find that device I hooked up to my port when I first got Clear and installed it on the laptop. So I was hoping I could download it online it it was online.

Katie M: Yes there is please hold

Jim: Ok

Katie M: sb

Katie M: For security verification purposes can you please tell me what city you were born on the account?

Jim: NYC.

The agent is sending you to

Jim: So I need to click on that? Before or after I uninstall the old connection manager?

Katie M: yes

Katie M: Click on it and it will link you to clear connection manage

Katie M: Save the file

Katie M: andrun it

Katie M: It should uninstall your old one as well

And that was my conversation with Katie. Not exactly a friendly or warm one but . . .

Did it fix it?

Well there was more to do than Katie said.

After doing the above, I still had things to do. I didn't know what they were

The WiMAX Bus Driver had to be installed. What's that? The thing the USB device uses.

I just got a message that I had to install the WiMAX Bus Driver and was thinking, "What the heck is that?" (Jess and C.I. enlightened me.) After doing that, it appeared to be working fine.

Brendan's tried that and his now up and running. He had less luck with Clear chat and was to the point that he was going to go to the local AT&T store in his neighborhood and see what kind of WiFi router and service they offered.

In terms of tips, I'm no font of wisdom. Overall, Clear offers good service for me. But that may be because I anticipate problems when in motion. If I have a signal on a train or in a car, I open several windows and find what I'll need for the trip. That way when the signal slips out, as it usually does when you're in motion, I've already got what I need.

How we won our rights (GBSW)

Repost from Great Britian's Socialist Worker:

How we won our rights

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Attempts by the rich to smother resistance by arresting protesters and threatening repressive laws have a long history, writes Yuri Prasad

The British ruling class has always hated democracy. In the 18th century our rulers denounced attempts by ordinary people to fight for reforms as “mob rule”.

Edmund Burke, the father of modern Conservativism, talked of the threat of the “swinish multitude” that would dominate if suffrage—the right to vote—was extended to everybody.

Although parliament existed, it was only for the very rich. Largely aristocratic MPs were elected by a tiny electorate.

The rich feared the loss of their privileges if the millions of people who created the wealth in society were given a say in how it was run.

So in 1789, when France exploded in revolution against its king, the wealthy of England were quick to clamp down on the spread of those ideas.

They banned Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, The Rights of Man, which called for democratic change.

They put the leaders of the London Corresponding Society, a group of radicals that championed the cause of the poor, on trial. Thomas Hardy and three other leaders were charged with treason for wanting reform.

But attempts to snuff out the movement failed.

Huge gatherings spread across Britain. In 1795, a panicking government passed sedition laws banning meetings of more than 50 people. Habeas corpus, which guarantees basic legal rights, was suspended.

And, for a time, it seemed that repression had worked.

The rich, rocked by the revolt, were forced to implement mild reforms. But this was not enough to quell the resistance—they still had to station hundreds of troops in every populous area.

By 1815 a new radical wave of struggle broke out, combining demands for democracy with calls for the redistribution of wealth.

Newcastle-born schoolteacher Thomas Spence was one of many who argued private property was the root of society’s ills.


He wrote a book called Pig’s Meat—a mocking parody of Burke’s “swinish multitude”. In it, he wrote, “The question is no longer about what form of government is most favourable to liberty but which system of society is capable of delivering us from the deadly mischief of great accumulations of wealth which enable a few unfeeling monsters to starve whole nations.”

Spence’s writings continually landed him in jail. But his calls to mass action won him a large following.

By 1819 the reform movement reached another high. Some 60,000 people gathered in Manchester’s St Peter’s Field to protest.

The ruling class sent in armed yeomanry—a type of cavalry—to attack the demonstration. They killed 11 and injured 140 on the day that became known as the Peterloo Massacre.

The leadership of the movement feared the scale of the repression. Rather than call more protests, they turned to the courts to win redress for the massacre—and failed.

But the spirit of the rebellion continued, and extended beyond the right to vote. It became about who controlled the land, the mills and the factories—in short, who controlled society’s wealth.

“Swing Riots” spread as gangs of agricultural labourers set fire to hundreds of estates owned by the landed gentry. Letters threatening landowners were signed “Captain Swing”.

Some 600 rioters were imprisoned, 500 transported to Australia, and 19 executed in the clampdown.

In 1831, Tory MPs voted down limited parliamentary reforms, while riots engulfed cities.

Working people also rose up against the assault on poor families, who were forced into the hated workhouses where they lived in prison-like conditions and performed unpaid slave labour.

New organisations and methods of struggle were born as people

increasingly looked to industrialised workers, who were challenging the exploitation at the heart of capitalism.

The Lancaster Co-operator newspaper proclaimed, “The workman is the source of all wealth... Yet the labourer remains poor and destitute, while those who do not work are rich.”

The ruling class was also facing an internal battle between the aristocrats, who wanted to defend their dominance, and the rising bourgeois class of merchants and factory owners who wanted parliamentary reform and power.

But both groups feared radical change would lead to more rebellion, and united around a programme of limited reform as a way of heading off insurrection.

Between 1832 and 1839 a series of laws were passed, although the numbers who could vote barely expanded.

Out of a population of 13 million adults, the franchise only grew from 720,000 to 850,000.

The weakness of the reforms on offer led different strands of the working class rebellion to come together to launch the People’s Charter in 1839.

Chartism was born, grabbing the popular imagination on a bigger scale than all previous movements.

Whole communities got involved, with women playing a particularly prominent role.

The Chartist newspaper, the Northern Star, had a circulation of 60,000 a week—rivalling the bestselling Times.

James “Bronterre” O’Brien used his column in the paper to explain why the ruling classes would not budge: “Take a factory—is not the proprietor a sort of petty monarch?” he wrote.

“Has he not a sort of absolute control over all the wealth produced in it, though he has not added one single particle to that wealth?”

O’Brien said political reform might lead to “industrial democracy” too—something he saw as the only way to stop exploitation. Chartism ignited a fire that in some areas, such as Newport, developed into insurrection.


In the summer of 1839 the streets were full of “poorly armed crowds” thirsting for action. They were backed by a series of strikes that could easily have spread to become a nationwide revolutionary movement.

And in 1842 the first general strike in British history took place. It had started spontaneously by Black Country miners in protest against wage cuts, but quickly spread through the Potteries into Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Workers marched from town to town to spread the strike. By August half a million people had joined it.

But the revolt was stopped from spreading to become a revolutionary movement. Time and again Chartist leaders, fearing a bloodbath, called for an end to industrial action.

The ruling class exploited their hesitancy by clamping down on the movement on an unprecedented scale.

Hundreds of activists were swept into jails where they remained until their deaths. Many more were executed.

Yet the movement re-emerged in 1848, with the same fearless radicalism—and the same demands for basic democratic rights.

It came as the spectre of revolution haunted the rulers of all of Europe.

Many of the rich now began to realise that the choice they faced was reform or revolution.

The question they asked themselves was, “is there a way to bring about political reform that does not threaten our ownership and control of the wealth in society?”


They discovered that extending the right to vote did not necessarily undermine their power to determine the policies of the state—in fact, it could even strengthen it.

Most state power lay outside of parliamentary control, residing instead with unelected heads of the police and the military, the civil service and the judiciary.

In a battle that lasted for over 100 years, thousands of working class people gave their lives in the fight for basic democratic rights—the right to assemble, to organise at work, to print their own newspapers and pamphlets and to contest elections and vote.

The ruling class resisted every reform, using the utmost brutality to defend their privileges and the system that guaranteed them.

That is why the struggle so often exploded with revolutionary potential.

But the contradiction that existed between that potential on the one hand, and the fears and hesitancy of the leadership on the other, meant that the ruling class were able to hold onto their power.

Yet the movement did force the ruling class to make sweeping reforms that fundamentally changed the nature of British democracy.

As the acclaimed Marxist writer Ralph Miliband noted, “The politicians’ appropriation of ‘democracy’ did not signify their conversion to it: it was rather an attempt to exorcise its effects. A carefully limited and suitably controlled measure of democracy was acceptable, and even from some aspect desirable. But anything that went beyond that was not.”

Today, the rich cloak themselves in democracy, hoping that we forget how fiercely they once resisted it.

But their recent attempts to criminalise protest and clamp down on dissent betray their true colours. And once again, the growing anger of the millions who yearn for real democracy has the potential to explode.

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