Sunday, June 17, 2012

Truest statement of the week

Harvard students attending the class had no idea that their teacher was romantically involved with Chon, who spoke to them about her experience reporting in Iraq, according to a student who attended. While she described the travails of being a correspondent in a war zone, she tactfully omitted any mention of sleeping with a source.

-- Emily Heil, writing of 'reporter' Gina Chon in "McGurk invited then-mistress to be Harvard guest lecturer" (Washington Post).

Truest statement of the week II

Today disgraced former Wall St. Journal reporter Gina Chon attempted to shove Jesus off the cross so she could climb up there herself.

-- C.I., Friday's "Iraq snapshot."

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

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

Ruth and C.I. brought this one as a nominee.  We all quickly agreed.
If we'd finished Sunday morning, this wouldn't be one.  It had enough votes but C.I. says, "No, pick something else."  Except when she's tired and just wants to be done.  That's how we got this one.
The silence will not be forgotten.  Especially when the next big war comes.
Ava and C.I. tackle sitcoms and public affairs and a crazed reporter.
Did someone say crazy?  CJR's actions last week demanded another parody.  I (Jim) wish we had more time.  Ava and C.I. weren't into this until they read what we had.  They said, "Let us re-write the Gina Chon part."  They more than rewrote it, they changed it completely and it is hilarious.  After that, Betty and Wally went to work beefing up the other Erickya Fry Daddy piece. 

Dona roundtables with Kat and C.I. about veterans bills in the Senate.

This came from a reader.
Roseanne gets this.
Is that really your answer to everything, David?  How tired he gets.
The Senate discusses burn pits.

Veterans in college are still waiting for payments from the VA.

Repost from Workers World.

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


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

Editorial: Destroying their own credibility

It's 2008, the Iraq War actually gets press attention.  The United States government is negotiating to extend the US military presence, violence is again on an upward trend but by using the false standard of the 2006 - 2007 ethnic cleansing, the press is able to ignore it.  And Wall St. Journal 'reporter' Gina Chon (below) was 'covering' Iraq by sleeping with Bush official Brett McGurk.

the gentlemen's club for journalism

It was 2008 and Amy Goodman was on the road hawking another clip-job she'd written with her brother, one that called on people to "challenge the corporate media" (Standing Up To The Madness, page 219).  She was on the road hawking her wares and promoting the documentary Independent Media In A Time Of War

 NEWS CLIP: I'm back with two of our military analysts who've been with us this morning who are helping us understand this war. 

 AMY GOODMAN: We now have people like Wesley Clarke, General Wesley Clarke on the payroll of CNN who is questioning their embedded reporter on the front line. He is questioning the reporter and the reporter is saying "Yes sir, No Sir". 

NEWS CLIP: This is a very special moment in time for the men and families and for this country. It is often fascinating for me. General Clarke and I have spent a good amount of time together today and over the week. 

AMY GOODMAN: This is journalism in America today. They have redefined general news and we have got to challenge that.

Amy Goodman was calling out reporters saying "yes, sir" and "no, sir."

Yet for two weeks she hasn't called out the pillow talk between Gina Chon and Brett McGurk.

Two weeks ago, the story emerged of their affair.  Gina Chon's been rightly fired from The Wall Street Journal.

If the scandal had come out in 2008, Amy Goodman and everyone would have been screaming their heads off.  But the Bush official that Gina Chon was f**king?  He's Barack Obama's new nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq.

So they don't say a word.  Or worse, like Erika Fry, they insist that McGurk and Chon got married (she leaves out "after they divorced their spouses") so suddenly it doesn't matter.


It doesn't matter that a reporter slept with a government official and allowed him vet her copy?  It doesn't matter?

What happened to ethics?

What happened to avoiding the appearance of conflict?

What happened to the establishment left?

It apparently is gasping its last breath.

The little whores of Panhandle Media better grasp real damn quick that the real left is watching and seeing how they whore.  So when they want to scream about conflict interest in the future, everyone's going to remember when a corporate media reporter slept with a government official, slanted her coverage and let him vet her copy and Panhandle Media didn't even say "boo."  It will not be forgotten.  You have destroyed whatever was left of your credibility.


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Club for Journalism."

TV: When sitcoms preach, public affairs go funny

As a general rule, sitcoms should avoid trying to impart life lessons and public affairs programs should stick to facts.  When either stray, the results can be either flat out disaster or outright hilarity.


Hot in Cleveland is the TV Land success that starts its fourth season this fall.  The sitcom stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White and has produced many hilarious episodes.  However, this season also offered  "Storage Wars" which is the worst episode of the series.

Were their no laughs at all in the episode?  Actually, there were some laughs in the episode.  But everything was ruined by the decision to give a message.  The message really wasn't something the characters would have gone along with.  And that's before you even consider how offensive the message was.

Through a series of sitcoms antics, Victoria (Malick) discovers a letter from Abraham Lincoln and, in the letter, he writes of an affair with an intern.  Melanie (Bertinelli) goes all Linus and starts saying people need heroes and blah, blah, blah.  If the show had been true to the characters, Melanie wouldn't have persuaded Victoria.  Instead, Joy (Leeves) and Elka (White) would have explained to Melanie that history is about facts and you let the chips fall where they may.  Would Melanie wants to lie about her divorce?  Would she want Joy to pretend she hadn't given a child up for adoption?

But instead we got the nonsense of Melanie persuading Joy to bury history.

No show starring women should ever push covering up the truth to avoid embarrassing a man.  To avoid 'embarrassing a man,' rape has been covered up, incest has been covered up, child molestation has been covered up, spousal abuse and child abuse have been covered up.

So shame on Hot In Cleveland for that b.s.  If Lincoln had an affair and someone found a letter where he confesses that, the correct thing to do is to make it public.  If you start covering up one truth, where do you stop?  And that's something Sean Hayes -- one of the producers -- should certainly realize.  By attempting to 'moralize,' the show embarrassed itself.

By contrast, NPR's Fresh Air was a laugh riot last Thursday and you had to wonder if Terry Gross had decided if Parks and Recreation could send up NPR ("Born & Raised"), why shouldn't she?

And what better guest to embrace self-parody than Jane Mayer, The New Yorker writer who gave a damn about the abuse in the Guantanamo Bay prison until Barack Obama was sworn in and oversaw it. In other words,  Jane Mayer's one of those people who've spent the last few years pissing all over herself in public while people point and snicker.

These days, she dabbles at writing with one article after another that's supposed to scare people into voting for Barack Obama.  What should really scare people is how delusional Jane Mayer is.

Attempting to expose religious conservative Bryan Fischer, Mayer babbled on about how his organization (American Family Association) compared Barack to Hitler.  Mayer was shocked and couldn't stop babbling about that.  She apparently was hopped up on too many drugs in the '00s to notice when the same comparisons were made about Bully Boy Bush and Hitler.

 Explaining why she churns out the meaningless crap of late, Mayer insisted, "Well, I was down in Mississippi actually covering the [Rick] Santorum campaign [for the GOP presidential nomination] and interviewing lots of supporters of Santorum.  And what caught my eye was their opinions were so viciously anti-Obama, not just that they were politicallly opposed, but they were really worked up about it."

Imagaine that.  Right-wing Christian Republicans who supported Rick Santorum were not embracing Barack.  Who could have guessed?  Anyone with half a brain -- anyone except Jane Mayer.

How bad was it?  A former producer and First Amendment supporter told us after hearing the interview, "If I was still doing TV, I'd turn that into a sitcom called Dumb Bitch."

And whether you'd call it that or something else, it was one embarrassment after another.  There was Mayer coming off like an out-of-touch elitist who really didn't know a damn thing about the country that she lived in and was begging to be ridiculed as she babbled on, "And what you begin to realize is out in the country, if you're from the East Coast, where I live, that there is a completely alternative universe and a completely alternative media universe. And there are even alternative sets of facts that they put out."

There was a story, a small story, in what Mayer had in front of her.  It was about a homophobic preacher.  But she was so out of touch with American that she repeatedly lost sight of that.  Which is how you got Mayer being incredulous that "sixty-six percent of the Republican voters in Mississippi don't believe in Darwin's theory of evolution.  They believe that the human race was created as told in Genesis!"  This shocked her.

What should have shocked her was that she's claiming 66% of Mississippi residents don't believe in evolution.  That's actually a left-wing lie.  We hadn't heard that number before so we had to search it out.  When we did we found numerous left-wing sites tossing "66%" around and linking to this PPP poll which actually found 60% of Mississippi Republicans saying that they did not believe in evolution. But when you're filled with hate and ignorance, like Jane Mayer, you just add 6% to the actual poll.

In the real world, a place Mayer's passport bears no stamp from, that's a fairly standard figure.  Gallup's 2009 survey found only 39% of Americans believed in evolution (25% said no, 36% said no opinion).

"They believe that the human race was created as told in Genesis!" she marveled.  We're surprised she's surprised.  Earlier this month, Gallup's polling found that 46% of Americans believe in the creation story laid out in Genesis.

We wouldn't call a sitcom based on Mayer "Dumb Bitch," but as she continued babbling "Stupid Cow" seemed an apt title.  Especially when Terry Gross is noting that this organization is considered a hate group and there are so many examples that Mayer can provide of that, legitimate examples but instead she rushes in with, "I mean he's talked about how under Obama the Homeland Security Administration, he claims, is stockpiling ammunition, which he says that the Obama administration is going to, as he puts it, use on us, meaning, you know, Americans who oppose Obama, I guess."

How is that hate speech?

Because somebody doesn't like the current president, it's hate speech?

It's not hate speech.  It may be paranoia, but it's not hate speech.

And Jane Mayer looks like a stupid, stupid woman.  An idiot.  An embarrassment.  The joke of her profession.  (Gina Chon would be the joke of her former profession.)

Maybe Mayer would be less stunned by what Americans think if she actually spent more time talking to them.  If that happened, she'd find out that many do believe in the creation story, that many don't believe in Darwinism, that not everyone was born in New York City, the way she was.  And getting out of her little goldfish bowl might not just make her more aware of the world around her, it might also make her a better journalist, one who could honestly address homophobia and stop getting distracted by the fact that there are people out there who will not vote for Barack Obama -- according to Gallup that's about the same number of American that are planning to vote for him.  A little more than that if third parties were included in the poll.

At one point, Mayer even goes so far as to note Rachel Maddow as a voice of credibility. As Bob Somerby observed of Maddow last week, "her political judgments are oftne strange, and in truth she isn't especially honest."  And Mayer's not especially honest herself.  On and on, she went about how this man, Bryan Fischer, was just edging up to the line to avoid endorsing Mitt Romney.  There is no line.  He's on a commercial radio network -- is this news to Mayer who wrote an entire article about this for The New Yorker?  He can say whatever he wants.  That's what commercial radio and has been for several decades now.  It's why the same radio network (American Family Radio) that airs Fisher story aired Michael Reagan's political program a few years back.

If we were going to do a story here on Bryan Fischer, we would focus on his well documented verbal attacks on gays and lesbians.  Jane Mayer seems to think if she can throw everything at Fischer, somehow something sticks.  But calling a belief that a president might be out to get you "hate speech," not only doesn't make it hate speech, it actually undercuts the argument against Fisher in the first place because when you're caught lying about someone you're saying is 'bad,' the impression left is, "Well, s/he can't be that bad if people have to lie about her/him."

Terry Gross chose to play straight man throughout as Mayer's crazy ran free.  If that's because Gross is as out of touch, we don't know.  But too many more shows like that one and right-wing critics of NPR will have more than enough ammunition with which to protest.

What a world we might live in if sitcoms just tried to be funny and public affairs programs just tried to be factual.


For more on Mayer's meltdown, see Ruth's "Oh, Jane Mayer, stop embarrassing yourself"" and Stan's "They grow 'em might stupid at The New Yorker."

Columbia Journalism Ridiculous


Strongly Partisan, Weak Watchdoggy

by Greg Maxie
Surely, the biggest journalism story of the week is when a reporter for The Daily Caller interrupted our sainted Barack Obama as Dear Leader was delivering a speech.  I don't really mention the reporter's name, do I?  That's because I'm obsessed with Tucker Carlson and would rather make this all about him.  
Some might wonder about how this is a watchdog matter?
Here at CJR, we pride ourselves on decorum.  Why when Victor Navasky lets one of his smelly, old man farts rip, we always light a vanilla candle because that screams class.

by Erickya Fry Daddy
Earlier this week, I wrote about e-mails of a superintendent and pretended like this was huge news.  Now because some reader is insisting I cover the e-mails that one time journalist Gina Chon sent to Bush official Brett McGurk, I guess I have to.  But if you ask me, dealing with my smegma problem was more fun.
So Gina Chon was in Baghdad in 2008 and working for The Wall St. Journal and Brett McGurk was there working for the Bush administration.  And Gina wanted some tips and leaks and we ARE talking penises!  Gina tapped that ass.  Go, girl!!!
Tap it, tap it, tap it!  I would love to tap some ass.  In fact, ever since I read All Women Stalk's "Men To Lust After . . .," I've thought of little else.  And then I heard Lindsay Lohan was making some film with a real-life porn star and I thought, "Hot damn! Male full frontal! Coming to my multi-plex!  Coming for to carry me home! Amen!"  The "amen" because I'm real religious.
Well semi.
Okay, not at all.  But don't tell my mom.  
So I type in "big cock" and "porn star" and the results come back Conner Habib.
conner habib
And I'm all, "Oh, yeah, Mama likes!  Mama likes a lot!" 
But that "Habib."  It is Muslim?  
I'm not religious but Mom thinks I am and I can probably hide the fact that Conner's a porn star when I take him home -- and if I can't hide it, well, Mom, now we know you've been watching!  But how the heck do I hide "Habib"? 
So I go to Wikipedia which is like so much more valuable than the six years I spent as an undergraduate and I find out that "Habib" means "sweetheart" which is kind of cute and romantic.  But then I see that it also means "beloved" which has me thinking about how Oprah tells Beloved, "Baby, I ain't never going to let you go."  But Beloved just wants to know, "Why we don't have any pie no more!" And Beloved starts tearing up the room and I never got that movie at all.  Or why there wasn't any pie or why they don't sell pie at the movie concession stands.  They sell hot dogs.  And nachos.  Surely they could sell a slice or two of pie.  
So that's just confusing me but then I see that, yep, "Habib" is Arabic.
How I'm going to take Conner home now?
But then I'm looking at the pictures of Conner and that's not a corny dog in his mouth! 
He's a gay porn star.  I couldn't belive it.
So I went to YouTube and streamed five or twelve sex videos of him to make sure and, yep, that's what he was.  Like Lonnie.  Well, Lonnie was gay.  Not a porn star. 
And he was my prom date.  
And I mean, I was willing to play the beard but I wasn't willing to be the hag, if you get what I'm saying.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah.  So Gina sleeps with Brett and lets him read her copy before she turns it in and he's her source and that's breaking every known rule of journalism.  And they don't tell their bosses because Gina and Brett are considerate and they don't want other people to have to worry about them.  And what thanks do they get?
Gina's out of a job.  The Wall St. Journal fired her this week!  For love!
Fired for love!
I swear,, I haven't cried so much since Paris Hilton did her slow fade into obscurity.
So the lesson here is . . .   
When you search for male porn stars put in "NOT GAY."  
Unless you're gay.  
Or bi.  
Or get turned on by seeing two guys together even though you're a gal.  
Some women like that.  
Not me.  
But some women do.  
I mean, maybe if it's like Luke Perry and Jason Priestly and they're at the Peach Pit, I wouldn't turn it off.  You know, like Jason's closing up the Peach Pit late at night and Luke comes running over all, "Brandon, Brandon! I had a bad dream! Nate was hurt! Is everyone okay?"  And Jason's all, "Dylan, yeah, everyone's fine except my t-shirt which has a big tear in it, let me remove it."  "Oh, okay Brandon, but let me take my shirt off as well.  And my pants too!"  And Jason's like, "Yeah, you bad Daddy, you take off those pants and then you forget about the Peach Pit and get to washing my furry pits with your tongue, bad Daddy!"  I mean if something like that showed up, I'd view it at least once.  Maybe twice.

by Greg Maxi
I'm late to this, but The Washington Post's Crystal Ball had a sharp piece the other day about the election and who might win it.  I know it's hard to handicap so I'll just go with Donna Brazile because she's cooking with grease and on MSNBC all the time.  I hope she's right about Bush getting 48% of the vote and Kerry 51%. I feel really out of it because I didn't even know John Kerry was running again.  But I guess that's why Donna's a Democratic Party operative and I'm just a lowly blogger for CJR and have to assist Victor Navasky in farting after lunch.  (I press down on his belly and he lets them rip.  If I forget, there's a good chance that he could hold it in and it would build up until it threatened to blow out the eastern seaboard.)

by Erickya Fry Daddy
"Why you leave me?"  That's what Beloved asks Oprah.  They're showing it on cable this month so it's been on my mind.  But it really works here.  Why you leave me?
Courtney Cox has responded to David Arquette's petition for divorce with one of her own and we know it's for reals because she's "Courtney Cox" now and no longer "Courtney Cox Arquette."
If I got married, I don't think I would add his name to mine or change my name to his.  Not because I'm a feminist.  (You know CJR doesn't hire feminists.  Or women who refuse to be doormats.)  But because I figure any man I could land would be such a loser that I wouldn't want to advertise that we were together, you know?
I mean, I could see calling myself Erickya Fry Daddy Pattison or Erickya Fry Daddy Lautner but I'd never get those guys and not just because they'll probably end up together.
I've had two dates my whole life.  Three if you count a doctor's visit where I was in the stirrups as "Afternoon Delight" played on the PA.  I count that one.
But three dates doesn't make me an expert on love.  Which means I'm the perfect one at CJR to write about it.  Like Victor always says, "We need gas bags, not experts!  Respect the gas! Release the gas!" Then Victor sits on a whoopi cushion.  I hope that's a whoopi cushion.
I don't know why Courtney Cox would leave David Arquette.  But I'm not really sure why she would marry him either.  I mean, did he have a big organ or could he go for hours?
If so, I could totally understand that. 
But he just seemed funny.  And didn't she already have Chandler for that?
You know what would have been a really good Friends episode?  That one where Joey and Ross start napping together.  If like things had gotten sexual.
But it didn't.  
Except in my slash fiction.  I'm on chapter 42 of "Joey Takes Ross."  Each chapter is at least 14K.  Sometimes I'll be pretending to write something for CJR here in the office but really be working on my slash fiction.  Once I got so aroused, I had to drop to the floor and 'release' if you know what I mean.
Not really.  But if Victor ever checks my work I need that in there.  "I said I was joking.  Didn't you read it all?"  
So Courtney and David are splitting up.  And Cougar Town's going to TBS.  I guess nothing lasts forever.  Things fade and get forgotten.  Things like love and people.
Hey, do you think Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray would still be around today if he hadn't kept telling Rolling Stone he had a small penis?  I wonder about that too.  It's like the most important journalistical issue of the day if you ask me and my good buds here at CJR!

Congress and Veterans


Dona:  Last Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on  proposed legislation.  Senator Patty Murray is the Committe Chair, Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member.  C.I. and Kat attended and reported on the hearing in "Iraq snapshot,"  "Camp Lejeune" and  "Iraq snapshot."  The hearing can be streamed at the Committee's hearing page.  This was a really intense hearing with a great deal to cover.

Kat: It was.

Dona: So you two covered Camp Lejeune which is a toxic dump that's left hundreds of veterans and their families at risk.  And you covered burn pits, the GI education bill, unemployment and possibly something I've missed.  What's the one thing you would have covered if you'd had more time?

Kat: I don't know.  C.I., the profit, non-profit.

C.I.: That was probably the most intense moment of the hearing.

Dona: Then let's start there.  Profit, non-profit?  What we are talking about?  Educational institutions?

Kat: Correct.  There's a concern that for-profit institutions are taking money from veterans -- using their benefits -- and then, after it's all used, up, the veterans has nothing they can apply to the job market.

Dona: And that sounds like a fair concern but I know C.I.'s written of this before.  Back when the GI Bill was being proposed, in fact.

C.I.: Right.  Back when the Congress was first considering the Post 9/11 G.I. Education Bill, the issue did come up.  My opinion is let the veteran determine it.  I offered as an example that it was the earlier GI Bill that gave the world Steve McQueen.  He attended The Actors Studio on the GI Bill.  Now if you'd given Congress the says so on Lee Strasberg's school, it might not have been allowed because The Method was ridiculed by many at the time.  But it's where Steve McQueen honed his acting chops.  To me, that's a success story.  Are there failure stories?  I'm sure there are and, as with most stories, I'm sure they outweigh the success stories.  But I wouldn't want to be in the position of asking the government to allow this or that.

Dona: So what's the answer?

C.I.: Congress hopes the answer may be in S.2179, the Military and Veterans Educational Reform Act of 2012.  Senator Jim Webb proposed the legislation, it has wide support with Democrats like Senator John Kerry, Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein and Jon Tester signing on as co-sponsors and Republican Scott Brown signed on as did Socialist Berni Sanders.  What it intends to do is to create a set of standards that the Secretary of Education would approve of for all institutions.

Dona: Do you support it?

C.I.: As it reads, I'm not seeing how The Actors Studio qualifies.  Maybe I'm missing it.  Everybody doesn't do a trade that requires a degree.  There are serious problems with veterans being ripped off.  I don't know that this addresses it.  But it's not the primary focus of my life.  If it gets the votes and passes, it gets the votes.

Dona: So how did this become an explosive issue?

Kat: Ranking Member Richard Burr felt for-profit institutions were being scapegoated which lead to a heated exchange betweeen him and a witness.

C.I.:  IAVA's Tom Tarantino.

Dona: And how did that resolve itself?

Kat: Senator Burr does what he does so well which is refuse to let witnesses run out the clock and made the witness admit that the legislation included measurements that would be applied to both for-profit and non-profit.  He also called out the notion that for-profit was evil and noted we didn't offer this same opinion when it came to hospitals.  I'd say he won the round.

Dona: Burn Pits 360 is an advocacy organization for victims of burn pits.   The issue of burn pits was raised.  Before we get into that, we're going to be running the exchange on burn pits and on the GI Bill -- the payments of the GI Bill -- as their own articles.  So don't feel you have to cover every thing.  I know they are important issues and that's why we're doing them as their own articles.  Kat, explain what burn pits are.

Kat: Burn pits were used in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military -- they are still in use in Afghanistan.  Medical waste, human waste, car batteries, etc. were all burned off in a pit.  This leads to toxic fumes.  Many veterans are suffering today as a result.  And what's being proposed is a Burn Pit Registry similar to the Agent Orange Registry.

Dona: C.I., you reported on this Wednesday and noted that the bill has an uphill fight despite tons of support in Congress.

C.I.:  S. 1798 is the Open Burn Pits Registry Act.  A similar bill is in the House of Representatives, sponsored by US House Rep. Todd Akin.  Senator Mark Udall introduced the bill in the Senate.  In both the House and Senate, there is huge support.  You have co-sponsors Senators Bill Nelson, Bob Casey, Lamar Alexander, Claire McCaskill, Chuck Schumer, Jon Tester and more.  In the House, Representatives Bob Filner, Shelley Berkley, Russ Carnahan, Jim McGovern and more are co-sponsors.  The reason this is an uphill battle is because we've seen this before.  Then-Senator Evan Bayh championed this bill after he, then-Senator Byron Dorgan and others held multiple hearings on the burn pits.  And Bayh came before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to make the case for the bill and Jim Webb killed it. Jim Webb's still on the Committee, there's a good chance he'll see to it that this is buried again.

Dona: And Webb killed it because?

C.I.: As Kat noted, this would be similar to the Agent Orange Registry.  Based on the tantrum Webb threw when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki expanded coverage for Agent Orange victims, it's a cost issue.  For those who missed that moment, it's the reason Jim Webb is not running for re-election.  Veterans did not appreciate that.  His support cratered in 2010 as he repeatedly attacked Shinseki's decision which was very popular with veterans. For those who missed the public exchange between Webb and Shinseki, you can refer to the September 23, 2010 Iraq snapshot.

Dona: So this is needed but there's powerful opposition to it that could prevent it from being voted on.  I think we all agree that if it came to a floor vote in both houses it would pass. The Post 9/11 GI Education Bill did pass and is the law.  What's the problem there?

Kat: The same problem that existed in 2009: Veterans are not getting their payments in a timely manner.  There are five that were mentioned in the hearing who might be evicted because they've been enrolled since May but still aren't getting their checks.  And were told that the VA is six weeks behind in issuing the checks.  The VA did a song and dance in the hearing but Senator Burr pointed out that the veterans were told the VA was six weeks behind and then all the sudden, the rosy claims the VA was handing out fell away.

Dona: This was supposed to have been dealt with.

C.I.: Which is why it's so frustrating.  The VA's been offered money for equipment, money for additional staff.  The Congress has been told it's not necessary.  Yet it's the same problems, as Kat pointed out, that we saw in 2009.

Dona: Okay, so this is rush transcript and we will continue to cover veterans issues. 

Look what they did to Storm

After "When to worry about Wonder Woman, when not to," reader Nicole suggested we check out 2007's Storm by Eric Jermone Dickey.  The hardcover book may carry the name "Storm" but the X-men's Ororo Iqadi T'Challa is really present just for the hopes that she might bring eye balls over to Black Panther.

Supposedly an origin story, it exists so Black Panther (T'Challa) can impose his will -- sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly -- over Storm.

In 2007, the characters married.  Apparently Eric Jermone Dickey secretly fears that Black Panther is a weak ass, a wuss and there for the only way to make the man come off as strong is to make Ororo weak?

The strain of sexism is an embarrassment and Dickey should be ashamed that he feels the only way to uplift a Black male superhero is by devaluing a Black female superhero.

The volume ends with an especially telling moment.  Black Panther hisses at Storm, "Behave."  She responds, "What did I tell you about talking to me like I'm a child?  I am a woman, T'Challa."  To which he responds, "Then behave woman."  Then two panels later, he speaks again, "Behave."

Best review at Amazon is Maxine Shaw's "Not sure what's worse: the complete rewriting of the story to where T'Challa saves Storm (when it's been the other way around since the 1980s), or the explicit, detailed storm of a 16-year-old boy making love to a 12-year-old girl. Absolutely terrible."

Tweet of the week

there's no real revolutionary movement that attacks women or women's rights or dignity-sexists are reactionaries all

Dumbest Idiot of the Week, Male Division

David Ehrenstein is one of those "Tom Cruise is gay!" bloggers.  You know the type: Worthless.


Way too old to fit in on the club scene and too ugly and too broke and too broke ugly to make it as a sugar daddy, there are very few options for David.

He wrote a really bad book that ended with Tom Cruise and winks.  If Cruise were gay, he's certainly made it clear he's not coming out.  And as far as Moby Dicks go, you'd think Ehrenstein could find a more worthy target.

But that would be crediting him  with more class and brains than he has.

Friday, Barack Obama was giving yet another speech.  Neil Munro (Daily Caller) interupted him.  (Oliver Knox has the story at ABC News.) It was not the end of the world.

Unless you were David. At CJR last week, he rushed to again inform the world:

PURE UNADULTERATED RACISM. That an Afican-American has been duly elected president of the United States enrages Carlson and his fellow Klansmen.

Oh, go back to the E! Channel were you can talk about other people since no one in America cares about you, David.  And where spelling "African" as "Afican" won't be a big deal.

Like a parrot with just two phrases, David either labels someone a racist or secretly gay.  Yes, that reads just as tedious as it sounds. And so is David.

Burn Pit Registry

senator udall

Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on proposed legislation.  One proposal is a Burn Pit Registry.  Senator Mark Udall (pictured above) championed that bill and we'll include those remarks as well as Committee Chair Patty Murray's remarks and Senator Bill Nelson's remarks on the bill.

Senator Mark Udall:  Sitting in the audience today is Master Sergeant Jessey Baca a member of the New Mexico Air National Guard and his wife Maria.  [to them] Just give everybody a waive here, you two.  Master Sgt. Baca was stationed in Balad, Iraq and exposed to burn pits. His journey to be here today was not easy.  He has battled cancer, chronic bronchitis, chemical induced asthma, brain lesions, TBI, PTSD and numerous other ailments. Maria has traveled that difficult road with him.   They know first hand the suffering caused by burn pits and they need to know the answers.  It is because of them and so many others like them that we are here today.  Last year, I introduced S. 1798, the Open Burn Pits Registry Act with Senator Corker.  Representative Todd Akin introduced it in the House.  It is not a partisan issue.  We have each met with veterans and active duty members of the military and they have told us how important it is that we act now.  In both Afghanistan and Iraq, open air burn pits were widely used at forward operating bases.  Disposing of trash and other debris was a major challenge.  Commanders had to find a way to dispose of waste while concentrating on the important mission at hand.  The solution that was chosen, however, had serious risks.  Pits of waste were set on fire -- sometimes using jet fuel for ignition.  Some burn pits were small but others covered multiple acres of land. Often times, these burn pits would turn the sky black.  At Joint Base Balad Iraq, over 10 acres of land were used for burning toxic debris.  At the height of its operations, Balad hosted approximately 25,000 military, civilian and coalition provision authority personnel.  These personnel would be exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals released into the atmosphere.  According to air quality measurements, the air at Balad had multiple particulates harmful to humans: Plastics and Styrofoams, metals, chemicals from paints and solvents, petroleum and lubricants, jet fuel and unexploded ordnance, medical and other dangerous wastes.  The air samples at Joint Base Balad turned up some nasty stuff. Particulate matter, chemicals that form from the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas garbage or other organic substances, volatile organic compounds such as acetone and benzene  -- benzene, as you all know, is known to cause leukemia --  and dioxins which are associated with Agent Orange.  According to the American Lung Association, emissions from burning waste contain fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. All of this was in the air and being inhaled into the lungs of service members.  Our veterans have slowly begun to raise the alarm as they learn why -- after returning home -- they are short of breath or experiencing headaches and other symptoms and, in some cases, developing cancer.  Or to put it more simply, by Maria Baca, when she describes her husband's symptoms, "When he breathes, he can breathe in, but he can't breathe out.  That's the problem that he's having.  It feels like a cactus coming out of his chest.  He feels  these splinters and he can't get rid of them."  The Dept of Army has also confirmed the dangers posed by burn pits.  In a memo from April 15, 2011, Environmental Science Engineering Officer, G. Michael Pratt, wrote an air quality summary on Baghram Airfield.  And I would respectfully ask that the full memo be included in the record.  Referring to the burn pits near Baghram Airfield,  he said there was potential that "long-term exposure at these level may experience the risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, atherosclerosis  and other cardio pulmonary diseases.  Many of our service members are coming home with these symptoms.  I believe, like you do, Madam Chair, that we are forever in debt for their service, so we must ask the question, "How did these burn pits impact the health of our returning heroes?"  This bill is a step towards finding the answers we owe them.  The legislation will establish and maintain and Open Burn Pit Registry for those individuals who may have been exposed during their military service.  It would include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines is applicable to possible health effects of this exposure. develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry and periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pits exposure.  It is supported by numerous groups including BurnPits 360, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of US Navy,  Retired Enlisted Association, the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees and the National Military Family Association.  Madam Chair and Ranking Member Burr, thank you for your attention to this important issue.  I look forward to working with both of you and members of your distinguished Committee on this important legislation.  Thank you and a pleasure once again to be with you today. 
Chair Patty Murray:  Thank you very much, Senator Udall.  And thank you for your critical work on this.  I really appreciate it.
Senator Mark Udall:  And I would also ask to be excused unless there are questions from the Committee.
Chair Patty Murray:  Absolutely.  I appreciate it very much.  
Senator Mark Udall:  Thank you very much.
Chair Patty Murray:  Senator Nelson?
Senator Bill Nelson: Madam Chairman, Senator Burr, members, I want to second what Senator Udall just said.  We've had a number of cases of the burn pit exposure in Florida and it is horrific.  So thank you, Senator Udall, for that testimony.

Veterans still not getting education payments

Remember when we thought the days of veterans having to take out loans and risk eviction because the VA was unable to process the education benefits checks were over?

Guess what?

Those days are still not over.

senator burr
Wednesday in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Richard Burr (above), the Ranking Member on the Committee, addressed what was going on with two VA officials.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: I need to move to the GI Bill real quick.  And I just want to paraphrase an article which was written [by Tony Burbeck] on June the 12th which was Tuesday in the Charlotte Observer.  It talks about local veterans who are now enrolled in a school that aren't getting their tuition and student housing money as promised from the GI Bill and it's threatening their ability to stay in school and to pay their rent. I won't name the veterans, five of them.  "They say that they're facing the same problems: thousands of dollars in government backed tuition money from their GI Bills plus a monthly basic housing allowance which hasn't come through since they started class May the 7th." Not even a book fee.  Haven't received anything.  "We got out of the United States Marine Corps April 22nd."  "Hall's certificate of eligibility says he's entitled to 100 percent of benefits covered under the GI Bill at an institution of higher education.  He's in school, but his tutition hasn't been paid. Hall says he might have to drop out of if the GI Bill tuition payment doesn't come through.  He added the Department of Veterans Affairs also told him they are six to eight weeks behind processing payments.  Hall is already at the end of the line with rent money that could be paid with the housing allowance.  He said he faced eviction if he didn't receive the money.  Some veterans have taken out student loans they didn't think they needed to.  Others are working all night to make up for those missing benefits.  'I have received zero of my VA benefits,' White said."  And Maxwell said "Nothing."  Does that disturb you?  Because everytime this Committee asks the question of the VA, "Are we late on payments? Is this thing working?," the answer we get is, "Yeah.  It works perfectly.  We're getting them out there."  These are guys who have been in school since May the 7th   They're veterans. It's a pretty reputable media outlet.  Feel fairly certain that this Marine didn't get it wrong, 100% eligable.  But there's no payment going to his school.  There's no housing stipend, there's no book fee that's being made. 
Curtis Coy: Senator, we're always concerned with any of our veterans who are getting payments late.  We process educational claims in four different sites across the country.  Uh, right now for original claims, uh, Mr. Worley can-can correct me on the, uh, exact number perhaps but on original claims, we're looking at, uh, processing times of 30 to 35 days for supplemental claims, anywhere from 10 to 15 days --
Ranking Member Richard Burr:  So is the VA official who talked to this Marine and told the Marine that they were six to eight weeks behind processing payments, was that bogus?
Curtis Coy: No, sir.  I don't think it's bogus at all.  There are some that take longer than others.  Uh, what I gave you was an average time, not the range of times.  We've had ranges much higher than that, as you might imagine.  We, uh, track these, uh, claims on a daily basis and so, uh, we take all of those kinds of issues --
Ranking Member Richard Burr: What do -- what do the Marines do, Mr. Coy? The school's working with them.  They're keeping them in.  He may be in school but he might be evicted from his place on a beneft that he -- that he's earned.  He deserves.  What are we -- what are we going to do?  I don't think -- And if I thought I was talking about an isolated case, I wouldn't  press this.  I don't think I am.
Robert Worely II: Ranking Member Burr, I would only say that when these -- when these come to our attention, uh, we find out what happened and we correct them as quickly as possible.  
Ranking Member Richard Burr: I'll make sure when you leave you've got this news article.

No war on Syria (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

‘No war on Syria’

Published Jun 13, 2012 8:50 PM

Los Angeles, June 9.

People of Syrian and Arabic origin from the Los Angeles area led the first demonstration in the U.S. to warn and protest against U.S. intervention in Syria.
Hundreds of people gathered June 9 at the Westwood Federal Building in Los Angeles to demand “Hands off Palestine and Syria,” “No U.S. war on Arab lands” and “Money for jobs, not war on Syria.” Many signs were held by people from the Syrian community who support the Syrian government.
While there may have been different evaluations of the Syrian government and the peaceful opposition forces in Syria, the main focus of the demonstration was loud and clear: People from the Syrian community, the international community and Arab Americans are overwhelmingly against any U.S. intervention in Syria, as are U.S.-based progressives.
Many people held signs reading, “No more Libyas,” referring to the brutal U.S.-coordinated NATO bombing and war against that country. The protest was organized by the Arab Americans for Syria and the International Action Center. The Union of Progressive Iranians also participated in the protest along with anti-war activists.
Counterdemonstrators, the overwhelming majority for U.S. intervention in Syria, held the French colonial version of the Syrian flag and images of the U.S. as a red, white and blue eagle under the slogan “Free Syria,” and one man even flew a large Saudi flag. A few times during the rally, counterdemonstrators drove by and spit on protesters.
In spite of the sometimes violent tone of the counterdemonstrators, anti-interventionist and anti-imperialist activists were able to drown out their voices with speeches focusing on stopping U.S. war, exposing U.S.-sponsored terrorism in Houla, and messages of solidarity from progressive Iranians who spoke of the danger of the U.S., the U.N. and NATO against their country. Much attention was also given to the reading of a statement from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark exposing past war crimes by the U.S. and NATO.
The protest lasted until 9 p.m., with a silent candlelight vigil dedicated to all the children who’ve died from terrorism in Syria. All at the protest agreed that the U.S. and its allies in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region were responsible for sponsoring much of this terrorism.
Everyone agreed — from Syrians to non-Syrian Arab people, to anti-war and pro-Palestine activists — that the worst thing for Syria and its sovereignty would be U.S. intervention. That would threaten the ability of the Syrian people to shape Syria in the manner they desire.


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" -- most requested highlight of the week.

"Iraq snapshot,"  "Camp Lejeune" and  "Iraq snapshot"  -- C.I. and Kat report on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.

 Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Journalism Club," Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Trusted Driver" and "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Ambassador to Swingtown" -- Isaiah offered not one, not two but three comics last week.

"The world grows weary of Barry O" and "THIS JUST IN! THE WORLD WANTS HIM TO GO AWAY!" -- Stevie Nicks may have sung it best in "After The Glitter Fades."


"For the sake of Iraqi women, McGurk should step aside," "McGurk needs to withdraw his name,"
"Brett McGurk needs to withdraw his name," "Sexpot in the Kitchen,"  "Diana West is wrong,""Gina Chon and her half-truths and outright lies," "5 men, 2 women," "gina chon, do you swallow when interviewing?," "how brett mcgurk continues to remain the nominee," "Gina Chon The Opportunist,"
"Books" -- Marcia gears up for summer.

"Absence of Malice" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"1 man, 3 women" -- Ann weighs in on a director.

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