Sunday, January 22, 2012

Truest statement of the week

For the Left, the big news of the New Hampshire primary has been greeted with an embarrassed silence. For there the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, for example "Progressive" Democrats of America, failed completely to put forward a candidate for peace. This failure was not unexpected since the candidate of the progressives was and is Barack Obama who is out-Bushing Bush in the war and empire department. Nor did the wing of the progressive peace movement not formally associated with the Democratic Party raise its voice in any discernible way in New Hampshire. Here is a primary which is carefully watched in a state small enough so that a grassroots effort cam have a genuine effect and reverse the tide of war as happened in 1968 and 1952. Where were UFPJ, Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, Code Pink? Missing in action. What an abject failure, a profound indictment of what is called the "Peace and Justice" movement.

-- John V. Walsh, "A Failure for the 'Progressive' Peace Movement: New Hampshire Primary" (Dissident Voice).

Truest statement of the week II

Whose vote were the young libertarians able to deliver to their candidate, Ron Paul? That is another largely unreported story. The votes for Ron Paul came strongly not only from the under 40 set but among those earning under $50,000. In contrast Romney, a carbon copy of Obama on all major questions took the over $100,000 crowd and the older voters. "Proletariat Votes Libertarian" or "Proletariat Votes for Paul" are headlines which the progressives might find enlightening. At the least the Progressives might have joined Ron Paul's antiwar, civil Libertarian effort, but they did not because, you see, Ron Paul unlike Obama is not a "progressive," and the "struggle for peace and justice cannot be separated." (I have noticed, however, that progressives these days from Occupy Wall Street to the Recall Walker effort find it quite easy to leave out questions of peace in the "struggle for justice." MLK Jr. would be ashamed of them for that; but it is most convenient for Obama's re-election campaign.)

-- John V. Walsh, "A Failure for the 'Progressive' Peace Movement: New Hampshire Primary" (Dissident Voice).

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.

What did we come up with?

John V. Walsh.
John V. Walsh again. That's how important we think his column is.

We really don't care to be part of an Ellen Jamesian movement. Thank you.
Ava and C.I. take on the campaign coverage. (At my request. I begged them for this. They actually wrote a review of Revenge. It was great. I said, "Now fold the campaign into this." They looked at me like I was crazy. Probably I was. They went off for 30 or 40 minutes and came back with this.)

Our Iraq piece.

Clarence Page did not try to assault a dolphin. We know that. We assume most of you know that. But there are some people who believe that if it makes it onto Crapapedia, it's true. Not necessarily.

As I noted there, we couldn't get an article on this topic to work. After three different attempts, we finally decided to just repost C.I.'s commentary from Thursday.

We wanted to tackle this topic last week but ran out of time.

Garrison should be off limits. For listeners.

Patty Murray and Bob Filner raising an important issue.

Workers World repost.

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

So that's what we came up with and did so early for us for a change.


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

Editorial: Silence isn't speaking out

Last week, a number websites protested the Senate's proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act and the House's proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The proposals are both dead ("for now"). And so some might call the protests a success.

We wouldn't be among those people.

There were two forms of protests. Wikipedia offered one form of protest.


This manner of protesting was to shut down their website. Here at Third, we cursed the fact that the action took place on a Wednesday and not a Sunday. Yeah, we would have gone dark for the protest, we would have gone dark to sleep Saturday night, to awake after the sun rose on Sunday, to . . . Uh, to register our objection. Yeah.

The second form of protest could be seen by Goggle's efforts.


Like Wikipedia, Google got the word out. Unlike Wikipedia, Google didn't stop working. Google didn't silence itself.

As a general rule, we're not fond of silence as a form of protest. So many peopele in the world are voiceless that we just don't support those who have voices choosing to go silence. If that's your way of protest, feel free to do it and we're sure some people will elect to join you.

But those people won't include us.

Media: The uninformed boosting ad revenues

On ABC's Revenge, the best hour long drama introduced in 2011, Emily (Emily VanCamp) is out to even the score because some people refuse to learn. When she's done with the people who wronged her father, we hope she makes a sweep of the media because there's so much work to be done there.

And they just refuse to learn.

Which is how a broad range of outlets 'predicted' at 7:00 pm Central on Saturday that Newt Gingrich had won the South Carolina Republican primary -- everyone from POLITICO to NPR.



With less than 32% of precincts reporting, with the polls having just closed . . . unless you were already in line before 7:00 pm, in which case you were still waiting to vote, news outlets guessed Newt was the winner. It was a guess. They ended up guessing right. That can happen with guessing. But don't mistake it for reporting or for responsible journalism.

That they'd guess on Saturday was especially appalling.


Saturday, after all, was the day that a winner was declared for Iowa: Rick Santorum.

You'd think that would create a little bit of a caution (if not humility), just a fraction possibly, but you'd be wrong.

You'd be wrong if you thought NPR managed to book women in equal number to men for their live coverage of the South Carolina primary. No, it was as bad as the New Hampshire coverage, just a tiny bit better than their Iowa coverage.

At least they could boast of being a tiny bit better than their Iowa coverage in one regard. In every other regard, they failed.

They failed with information, they failed with factoids.

On factoids, did you know that under Newt Gingrich's leadership, hate crimes rose significantly?It's a fact. While he was Minority Leader in the House, the number of reported hate crimes rose. Check with the Justice Department, we're not making this up.

And if his laughable claim that, in the 80s, he created jobs -- as a member of the House of Representatives -- not a Minority Leader, not even Speaker of the House -- he created 16 million jobs, is being repeated on air on NPR by NPR staff and not questioned, then let's start noting all the 'accomplishments.' Want to know the increase on reported rapes under Newt's 'leadership'? We can do this all day. But then we don't spend the bulk of our hours trying to work out an on air 'funny' in advance. Failure included research and use of time by the anchors.

The failure also included the selected music which sounded like "Hail To The Chief" -- only more pompous -- music that came in while people were still speaking or that wasn't there when people stopped speaking creating, at one point, 40 seconds of radio silence.

With Audie Cornish and Guy Raz anchoring, listeners certainly had a right to expect more.

Instead, they got less. Less prepared anchors, less prepared guests. Mainly, they got less journalism. Unless NPR considers an NPR reporter declaring of Mitt Romney's second place win ("a really bad night for Romney"), "Romney lost [laughing] so many --" The reporter never finished his sentence, so entertained with the thought of Romney 'losing.'

Shortly after that low -- possibly due to it, Audie would declare, "I know we're all talking about how it's such a drubbing, but is it that unexpected?" E.J. Dionne would rush to assure everyone that it was. Dionne's an idiot and a radio embarrassment. If you're just going to work from party talking points -- regardless of which party you're with -- NPR shouldn't put you on air. We can all read talking points if we want to. We certainly didn't need Dionne or Bill Burton ("Mitt Romney is a disaster") offering inane 'commentary.' Audie would want to serve up a slice of inane herself so she'd toss out, "President Barack Obama has joked that this campaign, it's like Survivor."

Was that funny?

We didn't laugh but maybe somebody did.

Our lack of laughter had nothing to do with rooting for anyone -- we're pretty much decided at this point that we will not be voting in the 2012 presidential election. (We is Ava and C.I. We're not speaking for Third, we're speaking for ourselves.) We could care less about this puff and pageantry -- we are totally disinterested in everything to do with the hoopla.

Our lack of laughter has everything to do with lies.

We realize that Seth Myers and others have spent months painting the GOP race -- which only just now started this month -- as a circus with no clear winner, but we don't whore. And we're actually educated.

Those two things put us miles ahead of Seth and his kind.

On the live NPR coverage, it was just amazing to them, Mitt lost. Santorum won Iowa, they told us, Romney won New Hampshire and now Newt Gingrich won South Carolina. What was going on? Is this the 2012 meltdown the Mayans predicted!!!!!

Maybe only the disinterested should be allowed to provide coverage because clearly those with vested interests -- including, apparently, NPR on-airs -- can't be counted on to tell you the truth.

Is what's taking place in the first month of primaries so unheard of? Not at all. What about the results, are these just unheard of?

Tom Harkin won the Iowa Democratic Party caucus in 1992. Paul Tsongas won the Massachusetts Democratic Party primary in 1992. Bill Clinton won the South Carolina Democratic Party primaryi in 1992 (South Carolina switched from caucus to primary in 1992).

So how is what's happening now unheard of?

Either people are lying or they're just too damn stupid to be on the air or in print.

Too damn stupid to be in print?

Danny Schechter.

Mike just named him Idiot of the Week and, goodness, did Danny earn it for his bad ZNet column. Danny was slobbering over Stephen Colbert's knob. Why? Partly because of Colbert's very weak attempt at being the new Pat Paulsen. But mainly because it let Danny pretend he was writing about that as he churned out another attack piece on the GOP.

However, using Colbert as a device to attack the GOP wasn't enough for the partisan whore. After trashing the Republicans repeatedly (while pretending he's trashing both sides), he then serves up this xenophobic nonsense, "The rest of the world is laughing not only at the politicians, but at a US electorate that seems to be taking the farce seriously." To make sure that we grasp who the "farce" is, Danny then attacks Republicans further (while remaining silent on Barack).

So how is that xenophobic?

Read what he wrote. Let's be blunt, who but a New York City White man would refer to western Europe as "the rest of the world"? He cites a UK publication trashing the GOP, then notes that the UK publication cites "the German weekly Der Spiegel" and he quotes it attacking the GOP ("club of liars, debtors, betrayers, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses"), then it's on to France's Liberation, then back to England for The Daily Mail.

So that's England, Germany and France. "The rest of the world"? China's the most populous country, it's left out, the continent of Africa completely overlooked, true also of the Middle East, of . . . You get the point. Western Europe is not "the rest of the world." Unless you're a xenophobe.

(He also includes Fidel Castro but misconstrues what Castro was writing about by including Castro in his survey of diatribes against the GOP. And if Big and Breasty Schechter had wanted to play it straight, he would have included Castro's comment about Barack. But Big and Breasty spent his entire column avoiding calling out Barack.)

It's not even February yet. It won't be until next week. The country has seen two primaries and one caucus. There are fifty states. The GOP contest could play out through May. And, if so, it won't be the end of the world. Also, as we have already established, it is not at all unheard of for the three states to have three different winners and having three different winners on the Democratic ticket in 1992 didn't prevent the Democratic Party from taking the White House that year.

(Bill Clinton won when George H.W. Bush thought he could ride a 'completed' Iraq War to a second term, despite the inflation and high unemployment. Yes, 1992 does appear to be a template year analysists should be referring to.)

What we're seeing isn't reporting. It's not even "commentary" by the historical understanding of the word. What we're witnessing is what Rob Lowe describes in St. Elmo's Fire as "a bit of self-created drama."

Who's the winner in Florida? For a brief moment, that was asked on NPR and a meaningful answer was actually given: TV stations which will carry tons of ads.

The media makes a ton of money off elections if they can build up the drama. Notch it up, make some more money. So they treat it as if it's amazing and unheard and novel and new.

When it's all so damn predictable and, yes, so damn drawn out. Other countries don't spend a year and a half gearing up for an election. Not only do we do that in the US, but we have so-called journalistic outlets on the left eager to serve not news but the Democratic Party. Which is why The Nation is unreadable today. As we've noted before, the 2006 mid-terms hadn't even taken place when John Nichols decided to start writing about the 2008 election. That's all the magazine is now and to say it may be good fodder for political junkies is insulting to political junkies.

"Campaign junkies."

That's what it is, get the term right.

And that's what our media hopes to turn the country into. That's among the many reasons that we're pretty much set on not voting in the 2012 presidential election. Maybe we'll follow Emily's example and instead come up with a revenge list. Wait and hope.

Iraq's leader who can't lead


That's a nice looking building. And nice to the neighborhood, Hasan Kanbolat (Today's Zaman) explained it "supplies electricity" to nearby residents.

The building is the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad. After Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spent days trashing the government of Turkey, Wednesday saw a rocket attack on the Turkish Embassy. No surprise, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari contacted Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to convey his condemnation of "the criminal act." No surprise, Nouri issued no public statement.

When it's time for trash-talk, you can't shut Nouri up. When it's time to act like a leader, Nouri's off on some toilet squeezing out another one of his brilliant plans.

As Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers' Miami Herald) reported, "No one has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack, in which assailants fired three rockets at the embassy. But the timing of the assault, just days after an acrimonious exchange between al-Maliki and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raised suspicions that al-Maliki sympathizers were responsible."

Nouri and his surrogates in State of Law have spent a lot of time attacking another neighbor which, like Turkey, shares a border with Iraq. The government of Saudi Arabia, Nouri claims, is attempting to destroy his regime and replace it with "Ba'athists."

So that's two neighbors that share a border with Iraq. Want a third?

Iran. Saturday Saud al-Zahid (Al Arabiya) reported, "Commander of Iraqn's Quds Force, Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani has said that the Islamic Republic controls 'one way or another' over Iraq and south Lebanon and that Tehran is capable of influencing the advent of Islamist governments in order to fight 'arrogant' powers, ISNA student agency reported on Thursday."

Now that's an assertion that the government of Iraq should respond to.

Some did respond.

Alsumaria TV reported, "Iraqi Sadr Movement headed by Cleric Sayyed Muqtada Al Sadr rebuked, on Friday, Iranian Quds Forces Commander Qassim Suleimani for declaring that Iraq is subject to Iran's will and that there is a potential to form an Islamic government in Iraq. These statements are unacceptable, Sadr Movement argued assuring that it doesn't allow any pretext to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs." In addition to Moqtada's bloc, KUNA notes that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari released a statement which includes, "Iraq has not and will never be affiliated to anyone and will not be a toy in others' game or a place to settle scores between different parties." So that's Moqtada's bloc and Kurdish Zebari and Alsumaria TV also noted Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman objected to the statements and termed them "a blatant interference in the affairs of Iraq." Iraqiya also objected. Aswat al-Iraq reported , Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damalouji read a statement decrying the statement and calling on the government to issue a reply.

But the government is Nouri.

And Nouri?

He's busy posing for his yearbook picture. He just wanted to be prime minister to get his picture in the annual, not because he wanted to help the Iraqi people.

Nouri remains Iraq's biggest problem. Today the Associated Press quotes Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson stating, "Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism. Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy (in Iraq), the reality is that it left behind a budding police state."

Yes, the Nouri apologists like Reidar Visser will minimize reality and justify Nouri's actions. That's what pigs do. But the reality is that Nouri is a thug.

Even as the Vissars rooted for Nouri throughout 2010 (Reidar's BFF Nir Rosen announced at Thomas E. Ricks' bad blog that Iraq should keep Nouri as prime minister because they needed someone authoritarian as a leader -- Reidar and Nir should keep their fantasies in the bedroom), the reality about Nouri was already known. And it became only more known last week. At the end of the week, newspaper readers could catch Roy Gutman, Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting:

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's security services have locked up more than 1,000 members of other political parties over the past several months, detaining many of them in secret locations with no access to legal counsel and using "brutal torture" to extract confessions, his chief political rival has charged.
Ayad Allawi, the secular Shiite Muslim leader of the mainly Sunni Muslim Iraqiya bloc in parliament, who served as prime minister of the first Iraqi government after the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein, has laid out his allegations in written submissions to Iraq's supreme judicial council.

And the week started with a Guardian article by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad:

"Look," he added, "the system now is just like under Saddam: walk by the wall, don't go near politics and you can walk with your head high and not fear anything. But if you come close to the throne then the wrath of Allah will fall on you and we have eyes everywhere."
He described the arrest of the Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi's bodyguards who, it was claimed by the Shia-dominated government, had been paid by Hashimi to assassinate Shia officials. (Hashimi was on a plane heading to Kurdistan when government forces took over the airport, preventing him from leaving. After a standoff, he was allowed to fly but his men where detained.)
"Look what happened to the poor bodyguards of Hashimi, they were tortured for a week. They took them directly to our unit and they were interrogated severely. Even an old general was hanging from the ceiling. Do you know what I mean by hanging?"
In the constricted space of the car he pulled his arms up behind his back.
"They hang him like this. Sometimes they beat them with cables and sticks and sometimes they just leave them hanging from a metal fence for three days. They are torturing them trying to get them to confess to the bombing of the parliament."

Nouri's a thug. As Iraq's former Deputy Ambassador to the UN Feisal Istrabadi explained December 13th to Warren Oleny on KCRW's To the Point:

The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010. The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done. Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name. I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing. What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers. We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.

Oh, Wikipedia, how we missed you

Last week, Wikipedia elected to go dark for 24 hours to protest the Senate's proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act and the House's proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the country was the sadder for it.

Mainly because they were unable to visit Crapapedia and howl in laughter at the 'facts' presented there.


Yes, were it not for Wikipedia, "the online encyclopedia," Americans wouldn't be able to 'learn' the Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page "attempted to kill a dolphin at the Baltimore aquarium."

As they used to say on Kids In The Hall, "It's a fact!"

Panetta takes a stand

Jim: We attempted to cover an important event from last week three different ways. It failed every time. In the end, we decided to just raid C.I.'s Thursday snapshot which had already covered it and covered it well.


Yesterday at the Pentagon, something major happened (here for video, here for transcript), a sitting Secretary of Defense called a press conference to talk about sexual assault in the military. That was Leon Panetta who noted, "Let me close by speaking directly to the victims of sexual assault in this department. I deeply regret that such crimes occur in the US military. And I will do all I can to prevent these sexual assaults from occurring in the Department of Defense. I'm committed to providing you the support and resources you need and to taking whatever steps are necessary to keep what happened to you from happening to others. The United States military has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault. And we will hold the perpetrators appropriately accountable. I expect everybody in this department to live up to the high standards that we have set and to treat each other with dignity and respect. In a military force, where the promise is to help each other in battle and to leave nobody behind, that promise must begin by honoring the dignity of every person on or off the battlefield."

Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates preceded Panetta in the office. The rate of sexual assault has been on the rise since the 90s. Yet Rumsfeld and Gates never addressed it publicly. If questioned by Congress in a hearing, they would offer some empty words. The same at a press conference. But they did not call press conferences to address the issue. Prior to Panetta, the pattern has been ignore it and know damn well that the press will assist you in ignoring it. Robert Gates spent several months in 2011 on a farewell tour with the press allegedly examining his performance but they never noted the military suicide rate and they never noted sexual assault.

So what the hell were they grading him on? (The answer was, they graded him on if they really, really loved him or just loved him. I was present for the "off the record" farewell photo ops between Gates and the press.)

Secretary Leon Panetta: When I was sworn into the office of Secretary of Defense, I said that I had no higher responsibility than to protect those who are protecting America. Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to try to keep America safe. We have a moral duty to keep them safe from those who would attack their dignity and their honor. That's why I've been so concerned by the problem of sexual assault in the military. Sexual assault has no place in this department. It is an affront to the basic American values we defend and it is a stain on the good honor of the great majority of our troops and their -- and our -- families. As leaders of this department, we're committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of our people. These men and these women who are willing to fight and to die, if necessary, to protect and serve our country, they're entitled to much better protection. Their families and their dependents also sacrifice and serve and so, for that reason, we have to spare no effort in order to protect them against this heinous crime. The number of sexual assaults in the military is unacceptable. Last year, 3,191 reports of sexual assault came in. But I have to tell you that because we assume that this is a very under-reported crime, the estimate is that the number actually is closer to 19,000. One sexual assault is too many. Since taking this office, I've made it a top priority to do everything we can to reduce and prevent sexual assault, to make victims of sexual assault feel secure enough to report this crime without fear of retribution or harm to their career and to hold the perpetrators appropriately accountable.

There's more but we'll stop there. There was no Tailhook exposed this week. There was no rush to defuse a just breaking scandal. Panetta did what the last two serving as Secretary of Defense should have done, he showed that the Department took it seriously by making it a focus, not an aside.

Had Gates or Rumsfeld done the same at any point in their lengthy time in office (Panetta became Defense Secretary last July), they might not be the plantiffs in a law suit right now. As Burke PLLC notes:
On Feb. 15, 2011, we filed a lawsuit in Virginia federal court on behalf of 16
active duty military and veteran victims of sexual trauma, including persons
who allege they were raped by their military colleagues. The case is Cioca
et al v. Rumsfield and Gates, C.A. 11 cv 151 in the U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Virginia. Our investigation in this case continues.
Additionally, [Susan] Burke has been invited to speak on institutional failings
that have led to extensive rape and sexual assault in the military at the 2011 National Conference on Civil Actions for Criminal Acts hosted by The
National Crime Victims Bar Association and The National Center for Victims
of Crime. The conference will be held from June 20 to June 22, 2011 at the
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Her presentation will discuss potential solutions for these issues.
If you are interested in potentially participating in this lawsuit, please contact Susan Sajadi. Read more about military rape litigation.

As disclosed before, I know Susan Burke and I know Leon Panetta. Knowing Leon is why I took a pass on this yesterday. I figured we'd string together various reports and I wouldn't have to say anything personally. But that required news actually being covered. And, of course, that so rarely happens.

At the increasingly embarrassing CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, they gave thanks for the wrecked ocean liner over the weekend. There was no news there but they had footage and opened the broadcast with it. Three days of coverage out of this, it's been a gift for Scott Pelley and for CBS Evening News . . . if not for viewers. The story was no different at ABC or NBC or PBS. (And ABC and Chris Cuomo will turn the wreck into a 'special' Friday night. Pick the bones, pick them dry. But don't pretend you've supplied news.)

Women and men in the military are at risk of sexual assault; however, victims are more often women. And, as we've seen over and over, when a story's focus can be seen as female, over and over, it gets ignored. (When Katie Couric anchored the CBS Evening News, sexual assault, breast cancer and other issues that might be seen as effecting primarily women did get covered.) The networks had plenty of time for the snow in Seattle -- a story that really only effected Seattle. They just didn't have time for major news in terms of sexual assault in the military which also included policy changes.

Secretary Leon Panetta: Over the holidays, we announced two new policies that provide greater support for the victims of sexual assault. The first policy gives victims who report a sexual assault an option to quickly transfer from their unit or installation to protect them from possible harassment and remove them from proximity to the alleged perpetrator. Second, we will also require the retention of written reports of sexual assault to law enforcement to be retained for a period of 50 years. The reason for that is to have these records available so that it will make it easier for veterans to file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs at a later date. These two policies are the first of a
broader package of proposals that we will be presenting in the coming months, many of which will require legislative action by the Congress. Today, I want to announce some additional steps that we are taking. First, I've directed the establishment of a DoD sexual assault advocate certification program which will require our sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates to obtain a credential aligned with national standards. This will help ensure that the victims of sexual assault receive the best care from properly trained and credentialed professionals who provide crucial assistance from the moment an assault is committed. Second, I have directed the department to expand our support to assault victims to include military spouses and adult military dependents, who will now be able -- this was not the case before -- they will now be able to file confidential reports and receive the services of a victim advocate and a sexual assault response coordinator. In addition, we're going to ensure that DoD civilians stationed abroad and DoD US citizen contractors in combat areas receive emergency care and the help of a response coordinator and a victim advocate. Third, because sexual assault cases are some of the toughest cases to investigate and to prosecute, I've increased funding for investigators and for judge advocates to receive specialized training. We're also putting in place one integrated data system. The data systems, frankly, were spread among the various services. We're going to put them together into one data system in order to track sexual assault reports and monitor case management so that we'll have a comprehensive data base for information available later this year. And, finally, in addition to our focus on taking care of victims and holding perpetrators appropriately accountable, we've been focusing on what more can we do to try to prevent sexual assault. Our leaders in uniform, officers and enlisted are on the front lines of this effort -- they have to be. We must all be leaders here. For this reason, I'm directing an assessment -- due in 120 days -- on how we train our commanding officers and senior enlisted leaders on sexual assault prevention and response and what we can do to strengthen that training. It's important that everyone in uniform be alert to this problem and have the leadership training to help prevent these crimes from occurring.

They missed all the above. But don't worry, that because, for example, ABC World
News with Diane Sawyer couldn't cover the sexual assault story, they missed the big news stories. No, they had time, they made time, to show the very important YouTube video of a bird playing in the snow.

My opinion? A great deal more is needed by the Defense Dept and I would include the firing of one woman we've regularly advocated for the firing of (if you refuse to testify to Congress, you should be fired, end of story). I think the words will be measured months from now in terms of whether, in practice, much changed.

But I give Leon Panetta applause for addressing the topic. Until a sitting Secretary of Defense is willing to use time to address the topic, nothing's going to change. Until a Secretary of Defense makes clear that this issue matters at the top, it's not going to matter. Leon Panetta sent a strong signal yesterday, a needed one, and became the first sitting Secretary of Defense to do so. Much more needs to be done and I hope it is but I give Leon Panetta credit for doing more than any of his predecessors have. (And I've said here and face-to-face that I will measure his performance based on this issue and the issue of suicides in the military. Those are the issues that the press should have been grading Robert Gates on.)

Look who just discovered the sisterhood

The White House wanted to distract from Jodi Kantor's book The Obamas, so they sent out Michelle Obama to insist she wasn't "an angry, Black woman." Since she made that statement to Oprah Winfrey's 'special friend' Gayle King, no one was present to point out that Kantor's book doesn't argue Michelle is an angry woman -- Black or otherwise.

rochelle riley

And half-wit Rochelle Riley ran with the claim, writing a whole column about how Michelle Obama had been called an "angry Black woman" . . . but forgetting to point out that the term was dished by Michelle herself. Riley felt the need to summon the sisterhood to take on this phantom menace and insisted, "And that means we should be angry black women, angry white women, angry Latina women, angry men and angry patriots. That office in Washington is not a backyard tree house, one that can be the target of juvenile bullies who are spitting on the symbol we hold dear."

Bullies wouldn't spit on their own tree house. If bullies had a tree house, they would hold it dear. But making sense has never been a strong feature of half-wit Riley's writing. That also explains "Latina women."

Someone tell the dumb ass that part of writing is using words correctly. "Latina"? That's a woman. "Latino" is a male. If Riley wants to toss around Latina, she should do so correctly. Don't they have editors at The Detroit Free Press?

As for the First Lady being a symbol we hold dear, get a grip. It's a swimsuit away from being a glorified pageant for plain and unattractive women.

Here's what Americans hold dear, pay attention, Rochelle, we prize and hold dear freedom of speech which includes the right to make fun of anyone -- yes, even office holders or, yes, even the spouses of office holders.

The glowering Michelle wasn't portrayed by Kantor as an angry, Black woman but if she had been, so what?

Has she been called a lesbian? Are there rumors that she and Barack got married because they both worked for the CIA? And that she's a secret lesbian trapped in a loveless marriage? Is she also, while being a 'lesbian,' accused of sleeping around with an attorney whose death she's also supposedly somehow responsible for? Has she been accused of dressing the White House Christmas trees with sex toys?

When she's been accused of the above, she still won't have walked through half the crap Hillary Clinton had to when she was First Lady.

You remember Hillary, don't you, Roach-hell?

You wanted to summon the sisterhood for Michelle. For a woman in a ceremonial post she was neither confirmed for nor voted into, you want to get your panties up your ass crack. But when the United States had the first viable woman candidate for a presidential nomination, you didn't give a damn about the sisterhood.

For those who missed it, Roach-hell appeared on Tell Me More (NPR -- link is audio and transcript) on May 21, 2008 in a roundtable on sexism.

Here's some of what Roach-hell said on air:

But I don't think that Senator Clinton can have it both ways, to cry on cue to get votes but then to be concerned when someone says something about her pant suit. I think that the bigger issue is whether she really is the women's candidate. She's not polling the kind of women numbers the way Barack Obama is polling African-American votes. And quite frankly, every time I write a column that's critical of something that she's done, I get calls and emails - and I mean a lot of them - from women, mostly white women, saying, who said that she represents me?

When did Hillary cry on cue? She never did. Does Roach-hell not know about crying? That's surprising; considering her girth and looks, we can't imagine her as the princess of her high school. But Hillary's eyes moistened. They welled up. She didn't cry. And we're not remembering her every making "pant suits" the issue. We are aware that sexists stated she cried. We are aware that sexist had 'fun' with her pant suits.

As for your delusional claim about e-mails, how do you know the person e-mailing you is White?

Do they say, "I'm White!"?

We doubt it.

We doubt anyone e-mails Roach-hell.

But what we know is that Roch-hell Riley can't have it both ways. She can't try to summon the sisterhood to defend a glorified show model from attacks that have not taken place (though we agree with Michelle Obama, she is a very angry person) after she herself attacked Hillary Clinton in 2008.

So Roach-hell can't do feminism, she can't do science, she can't do reporting, but she must be able to do something. Possibly she should explore opportunities in sanitation?

[Roach-hell Riley's crap has previously been called out in Kat's "Rochelle Riley's lust for Michelle Obama," Marcia's "Ugly Rochelle Riley" and Cedric & Wally's "Whore Rochelle Riley wants to pretend to care about women" and "THIS JUST IN! ROCHELLE THINKS YOU'RE STUPID!"]

Whose home companion?

Why is Lila Garrett looking so dour?


Oh, wait, that's not Lila Garrett, that's NPR's Garrison Keillor whose compiled a 'joke' special for fundraising purposes.

As usual, the show is heavy on the sexism and homophobia that no one ever dares to admit to, let alone call out.

But what really stood out was what a coward Garrison is.

On the same special that he declares, "Jokes take us places that civility hides from," Garrison laments that Barack Obama hasn't provided jokes. No jokes. He then goes on to note that the previous one provided plenty of jokes. We'll assume he meant George W. Bush and not Barack Sr.

And we'll assume that the coward who wants to feature Groucho jokes is a nasty little suck-up when it comes to Barry. If you can't tell a joke that makes Barack look bad, you really aren't a comedian. You're a bobby-soxer, you may be a whore, but you are no comic.

Is the VA sterilizing its equipment?

1 patty murray

1 filner

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. House Representative Bob Filner is the Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. They are calling attention to the need to ensure that medical equipment at the VA is sterilized.

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2012
Murray: 202-224-2834
Filner: 202-225-9756

Murray, Filner Request GAO Review of VA's Sterilization of Reusable Medical Equipment Policies and Procedures

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) sent a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro expressing concern over reports of shortcomings in the sterilization of reusable medical equipment. In the letter, they urge the GAO to investigate whether VA's leadership is taking appropriate actions to address these problems across the system.

"On numerous occasions, VA has reported to Congress about the various investigations it has conducted and the problems these investigations have identified, which they claim have led to the development of new processes and procedures to reduce the risk of these problems reoccurring," Senator Murray and Congressman Filner said in the letter. "However, we continue to hear about the same types of quality of care incidents at VA medical facilities and we are concerned that this is an indication that VA is not effectively learning from these incidents and subsequently translating those lessons into system-wide improvements."
The full text of the letter follows:

January 19, 2012

The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro

Comptroller General of the United States

Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

We know of repeated quality of care problems throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. Some of these problems, such as shortcomings in the sterilization of reusable medical equipment, reoccur with unacceptable frequency. This raises concerns as to whether VA's leadership is taking appropriate actions, including the appropriate disciplinary actions, to effectively address the problems across the system. On numerous occasions, VA has reported to Congress about the various investigations it has conducted and the problems these investigations have identified, which they claim have led to the development of new processes and procedures to reduce the risk of these problems from reoccurring. However, we continue to hear about the same types of quality of care incidents at VA medical facilities and we are concerned that this is an indication that VA is not effectively learning from these incidents and subsequently translating those lessons into system-wide improvements.

Therefore, we request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of VA's processes and procedures for responding to quality of care incidents that occur within its health care system. Specifically, we request that GAO review the following:

1. What processes and procedures does VA use to respond to quality of care incidents that occur at its medical facilities, including quality assurance reviews and disciplinary actions? To what extent do these processes and procedures compliment and inform each other? What, if any, gaps or inconsistencies exist?

2. How does VA determine which processes and procedures to use to respond to quality of care incidents? What factors contribute to why certain processes and procedures are chosen by VA over others?

3. What challenges, if any, do VA staff face when using these processes and procedures?

4. To what extent are the processes and procedures carried out consistently across VA's health care system?

5. What data, if any, does VA systematically collect with regard to its employees' involvement in quality of care incidents, including clinicians and others? How, if at all, are these data trended and analyzed? To what extent are these data used to determine what actions to take in response to these incidents?

6. To what extent does VA use the data to identify opportunities for system-wide quality improvement?

As a follow-on to the above work, we also request that GAO perform an in-depth assessment of the extent to which VA medical facilities follow the processes and procedures used to respond to quality of care incidents.

Thank you for your work to improve the care and services our veterans receive. We look forward to reviewing your findings.


Chairman Ranking Democratic Member
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Ranking Democratic Member
House Committee on Veterans Affairs

Stop imperialist threats to Iran (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

Feb. 4 anti-war actions called to stop imperialist threats to Iran

Published Jan 21, 2012 4:29 PM

A broad spectrum of U.S.-based anti-imperialist and anti-war organizations agreed on a Jan. 17 conference call to hold coordinated protests across the country on Saturday, Feb. 4. The demands will be: “No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran.”

The ad-hoc group that took part in the call decided that although there are only two weeks to organize, it will invite anti-war forces around the world to join in, if possible, so that this emergency action could develop into a global day of action.

All agreed on the need to stop U.S. imperialism and/or Israel from launching a military attack on Iran. There was also a consensus that the new sanctions President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 31 — with the goal of breaking the Iranian central bank — were themselves an act of war aimed at the Iranian people. The political activists on the call raised the danger of a wider war should fighting break out in or around Iran.

While the organizations involved had varied assessments of the Iranian government, they all saw any intervention from U.S. imperialism in the Southwest Asian country as a threat to the entire region and to peace. Some of the people on the call who are originally from Iran and who were in touch with family and friends there conveyed the Iranian people’s anger at the recent assassination of a young scientist.

There was agreement to make “no assassinations” one of the demands to show solidarity with the Iranian population as well as to condemn the U.S. and its allies for criminal activities against Iran and its people.

As of Jan. 19, the organizations that called the actions or endorsed later included the United National Antiwar Coalition, the International Action Center, SI! Solidarity with Iran, Refugee Apostolic Catholic Church, Workers World Party, World Can’t Wait, American Iranian Friendship Committee, Answer Coalition,, Peace of the Action,, St. Pete for Peace, Women Against Military Madness, Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality-Virginia, WESPAC Foundation, Peace Action Maine, Occupy Myrtle Beach, Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Bail Out the People Movement.

Individual endorsers include authors David Swanson, “When the World Outlawed War,” and Phil Wilayto, “In Defense of Iran: Notes from a U.S. Peace Delegation’s Journey through the Islamic Republic”; and U.N. Human Rights Award winner Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general.

The list is expected to grow steadily as word spreads. Right now people can follow developments on the Facebook link: No War On Iran: National Day of Action Feb 4,

There will also be updates, giving times and places of demonstrations, at the International Action Center website:

Catalinotto represented Workers World Party on the Jan. 17 conference call.


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" -- C.I. on Bradley Manning's case. Most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site and we agree with them (and with C.I.)

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Newsweak" -- Isaiah takes on Newsweek.

"Kat's Korner: Ani DiFranco's embarrassing odor" and "Kat's Korner: Adam Levine itches for one on the fl..." -- Kat's musical pieces.

"Spicy Chicken and Rice in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe and continue economic discussions as in her "There is NO economic recovery."

"Barack's bad decision to back Nouri" -- Elaine on Iraq.

"Whitney," "5 men, 1 woman," "grimm," "revenge," "Whitney," "Idiot of the Week: Danny Schechter""Body of Proof," "Desperate Housewives," "grimm" and "The Good Wife" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Marcia, Mike and Stan cover TV.

"Quil Lawrence is a moron"-- Ruth covers radio as does Ann:

"Semi-scandal? Is that like semi-sweet?" and "Bankrupt Solyndra wants to give out bonuses"
-- Ruth on Solyndra.

"Ani's awful album" and "AniDiFranco is petty and jealous of other women" -- Kat on Ani.

"Never trust 'blonde' men over 70" and "Does Robert Redford use a curling iron?" -- Marcia on Robert Redford.

"Take Three" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"The failure" -- Elaine on the AWOL peace groups.

"Syria" -- Mike weighs in on Syria.

"Well they'll worry about the economy tomorrow" and "THIS JUST IN! IT'S A TEEN FAN CLUB!" -- Cedric and Wally on the White House priorities.
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