Sunday, March 10, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Organizations that orbit the Obama administration-- including the International Socialist Organization, which has published a handful of articles about the case -- have likewise avoided uttering the name of Manning’s oppressor: the Democratic administration of Barack Obama. The most recent report in the Socialist Worker, the ISO’s publication, was a reprint of a February 22 Belfast Telegraph op-ed which made no mention of Obama.

--  Naomi Spencer, "The Obama administration's persecution of Bradley Manning" (WSWS).

Truest statement of the week II

Barack Obama’s mission has always been to destroy the left wing of the Democrats in order to consummate a grand bargain – a melding – of the corporatists in both major parties. He entered national politics as a newly-minted member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which dispensed corporate campaign money to business-friendly candidates and incumbents. Ten years later, President Obama has succeeded beyond our worst fears. Black politics is in utter ruin, and the collapse of the Democratic Party’s left wing is all but complete. Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama, who has waged war on so-called entitlement programs since the polls closed in 2008. 

-- Glen Ford, "The Sequestration Tango: Obama and GOP Dance Through the Graveyard of the New Deal" (Black Agenda Report).

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.

And what did we come up with?

Naomi Spencer.
Glen Ford.

Let's hope not, let's really hope not.

Ava and C.I. covered the BBC Arabic and Guardian newspaper documentary at my (Jim) request.  They did a great job.  Many people won't see it in the US and this allows those who wouldn't bother to stream it to have a good overview.
To get them to cover the documentary, I had to promise that we would work in somewhere that The Client List starts showing new episodes tonight.  So we ended up doing a TV roundtable.
I really wanted attention to the news out of Iraq.  How do we get that?  Dona said Ava and C.I. could cover a TV series.  I asked them what would bring in the most eyeballs and they said they could offer 'the treatment' to Chicago Fire -- they haven't done 'the treatment' in some time.  For Dick Wolf, they brought it out of storage.
A short feature.
Dona was clear that a TESR test kitchen piece would help but we didn't have time.  Ty and I had been writing Justin last week so we used this.
Senator Murrary's office issued this press release.
Repost from The Common Ills.
Repost from Workers World. 
Senator Murray's office issued this press release.

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


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

Editorial: Today we're all Michael Kinsley?

Those of us against the Iraq War from the start tend to remember a sense of foreboding even before it started, a rush to war that our protests would not prevent, that logic and reason would not prevent.  So when the Downing Street Memo was exposed by The Times of London, May 1, 2005, there was less a sense of jaw-dropping-shock and more a sense of I-knew-it!

The Downing Street Memo was huge news, documenting Tony Blair's rush to illegal war .  And, in England, it was generally treated as big news.  (One UK outlet which refused to cover the Downing Street Memo was The Guardian newspaper.)  In America, not really.

With the exception of  the editorial board of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, no one in the US corporate media appeared to be aware of it for the longest time.

In America?

In America, the Downing Street Memo was initially and largely ignored.

There were exceptions.  We certainly covered it here in this community.  Probably more than any other person or outlet, David Swanson covered it.  But in terms of the press, there were columnists like Molly Ivins and Helen Thomas and reporters like Walter Pincus (Washington Post).  Warren P. Stroble and John Walcott (Knight Ridder Newspapers) summarized the memo, "A highly classified British memo, leaked in the midst of Britain's just-concluded election campaign, indicates that President Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy."

While the memo should have been taken seriously, some refused to grasp it.

Today, we're all Michael Kinsley.

No, we haven't been caught nude, outside a hotel room, banging on the door to be let back in.

But we apparently are a nation that chooses to ignore news the way Kinsley did only to then turn catty when he was forced to cover the Downing Street Memo.

Last week, BBC Arabic and The Guardian newspaper teamed up for a documentary (here) and a series of reports (such as here) explaining how the US government sought to put death squads on the streets of Iraq and how, by doing so, they betrayed the Iraqi people and set off a cycle of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence that has yet to end.

Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith (The Guardian) reported:

The allegations made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.
Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes as Petraeus's "eyes and ears out on the ground" in Iraq.

Sounds like news, doesn't it?

But it's really impossible to find.  Shaun Waterman (Washington Times) reported that the Pentagon is examining allegations of abuse.  But that's really it for US Big Media coverage of the revelations.  Little Media?   Saturday, Jeff Keyes (FiredogLake) wrote about it.  Not a lot of others.

Surely, the film critics of World Can't Wait made this their big story last week, right?


In fact, Debra Sweet and company couldn't even write one word about it.

Here's a little tip for the chronically stupid: If Bradley Manning is a hero, he's a hero for what he did.  The Guardian and BBC report is a result of what Bradley leaked.  If you want the world to stand with him, you need to explain what he did and the impact it has had.

Debra Sweet and company are among the many who've had years to find a way to call out counter-insurgency but have refused to do so.

Do your part to tell people about the death squads, about the way the US went after the Iraqi people (the thing that so outraged Bradley) and, in doing so, you'll be able to tell yourself, "Today, they're all Michael Kinsley.  But not me, never me."


Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bully Boy Breaks It Down" from June 12, 2005.

TV: The War Crimes Documentary

Over footage of tombstones, a hooded Iraqi prisoner, and other suffering, we hear US President Barack Obama speaking in that start-stop manner he's become infamous for, "It's harder to end a war than begin one.  Everything that American troops have done in Iraq -- all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -- all of it has led to this moment of success."  Right at the start, you know James Steele: America's Mystery Man In Iraq  is a documentary about exposing the lies.


The documentary is a joint-production by BBC Arabic and The Guardian newspaper (the newspaper has filed several reports on the investigation -- most prominent of the filings would be the report by Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith).  It's created an international stir with coverage from Al-Akhbar, The Iraq TimesThe Voice of Russia, Press TV, Prensa Latina, Gulf News, The Hindu, HurriyetDeutsche Presse-Agentur among others.

One place where there's been little interest in the documentary or the revelations it contains?  The United States. 

That's especially surprising when you consider that Friday found Shaun Waterman (Washington Times) noting that the Pentagon has launched an examination into the allegations.   That may have been the only newspaper coverage the documentary or the revelations has received. 

Dearbhla Molloy, Narrator:  It's ten years since America invaded Iraq, ten years and over 120,000 dead, among them over 4,400 American soldiers.  This documentary tells one of the great untold stories of the Iraq War, how the US administration funded a deadly, sectarian, para-military force to fight those threatening the American military presence.  It was a decision that helped fuel a sectarian civil war that ripped Iraq apart.  At it's height, 3 years later, 3,000 bodies a month were showing up on the streets of Iraq.

The US policy, the special explains, was to set up Special Police Commandos, a counter-insurgency force.  These were actually  death squads made up of Shi'ite militias.   Leaving out the death squad aspect, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is shown bragging to the US Congress about this move.  His boss, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is seen publicly denying the existence of the death squads.

It was a ridiculous denial because Rumsfeld was receiving updates from James Steele.


Dearbhla Molloy:  This is also the story of the man the Pentagon sent in to organize and train those para-military squads. He's a veteran of America's so-called dirty wars stretching back to Vietnam and El Salvador. This man was so important to the Pentagon that the then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saw fit to forward his personal memos to the President and the Vice President. 

Rumsfeld's contact with Steele makes the denial ridiculous.

The timing of the denial is ridiculous for other reasons as well.

For example, not noted in the documentary but, December 3, 2005, the editorial board of The Washington Post  called out that denial, "[. . ] Mr. Rumsfeld now pretends not even to know about the government death squads. [. . .] This despite the facts that U.S. troops uncovered the clandestine prison and that officials from the Army, FBI, Justice Department and U.S. Embassy are participating in an investigation."

When the US media refused to cover The Downing Street Memo in May 2005, the attitude was that the memo might itself be new but that its premise had been explored before.  Eight years later, the US media may think they can make that assertion again.

New York Times Sunday Magazine journalist Peter Maass: I was staying at the base in Samarra, an American base.  And I overheard soldiers, American soldiers at this base, talking about having watched prisoners be kind of strung up like animals after a hunt over a bar, having watched prisoners be actually tortured.

Peter Maass wrote an article on the Salvador option being implemented in Iraq for the May 1, 2005 issue of the Sunday New York Times Magazine.  It is a long article that has a surprising number of typos when you grasp that the magazine has enough employees to make corrections.

The other big surprise, reading it after watching Maass in the special is that Maas' key contribution may in fact be when he talks about how close Steele and General David Petraeus are.  That's not in his article.  There's a lot in his article, but that's not in it.

Furthermore, Maass' article isn't a report.  It's a lengthy column, written in first person.  It's also one that takes a measure of delight at counter-insurgency and abuse.  Maybe those who slam and attack films shouldn't write pieces where they take delight in seeing Iraqi prisoners on TV 'confessing' to assorted crimes?

He so loves the program, Maass, that he really can't address the fact that everyone featured in it was tortured except for the mentally ill -- and, yes, the mentally ill were part of that popular program and they would say whatever they were asked to say (without being tortured).

But torture is what has taken place.

Prisoner 1: We would be blindfolded and handcuffed behind our backs.  Then they would beat us with shovels and pipes.  We'd be tied to a spit or we'd be hung from the ceiling by our hands and our shoulders would be dislocated.

Prisoner 2: They electrocuted me.  They hung me from the ceiling.  They were pulling at my ears with pliers, stamping on my head, asking me about my wife, saying they would bring her here.

In archival footage used in the special, Petraeus babbles on about "the brotherhood" among the commandos (the torturers).  His admiration for them is clearly intense.  Since Col. James Coffman reported directly to Petraeus and since Coffman worked side-by-side partnering with James Steele,  Petraeus knew exactly what was going on.

Jerry Burke (Chief Policy Adviser to the Ministry of the Interior, 2003-2004):  He had to have known.  These things were discussed openly -- whether it was at staff meetings or before or after staff meetings in general conversation.  Pretty much the whole world in Iraq knew that the Police Commandos were the Badr Brigade.  And he must have known about the death squad activities.  Again, it was common knowledge across Baghdad.

The documents Bradley Manning released to WikiLeaks makes clear that soldiers were reporting up the chain what they were seeing.

Dearbhla Molloy:  The top US military knew from soldiers' daily logs that torture was going on inside detention centers.  They even issued a new, official military order in June 2004.  It was called FRAGO 242.  It directed US troops to note, but not investigate, torture of Iraqis by Iraqis -- unless ordered to take action by headquarters.

When members of the Oregon National Guard stumbled upon a detention center, they tried to protect the tortured but, Captain Jarrell Southall explained, the person in charge of the detention center made a call to someone at US military headquarters, "right after he made that phone call,  the order came that we were to stand down."  They were to leave and leave the tortured prisoners with their torturers.  Even worse, Southall explains that when they got back to the military base, "The commander called us all in there and told us that what we saw didn't happen and to forget about it."

If the documentary has a short coming, it's probably in failing to explore the CIA ties to what was going on.  Steele is CIA-connected and Petraeus ended up Director of the CIA for something other than military knowledge. In fact, the CIA is all over the British documentary but never explored. There's Ahmed Chalabi who's mentioned in a fleeting sentence. There's the memo Steele writes and Rumsfeld forwards which contains the name of a CIA informant who spent time in California before moving back to Iraq.

Another problem may be that people don't have the information needed to grasp these are not past incidents.

Dearbhla Molloy:  One man who survived Samarra and Nissar Square says that the police commandos lied about the fate of some of his fellow detainees.

Prisoner 3: They started releasing some of the detainees. They were claiming that these detainees were returned to their families.  They were killing them and dumping their bodies on the streets of Baghdad.

It's disturbing that detainees were 'released' to be killed to keep the torture secret.  It's disturbing that this may still be happening.

 Since December 21st, protests have been going on in Iraq.  With regards to prisons and detention centers, there are still charges of torture.  Women and girls are said to be tortured and raped.  Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, tried to end the protests last month by doing a heavily cover 'release' of prisoners.  But thing is, the women released?

They never made it home.  As the 'releases' have continued, the provinces have asked for a list of names.  Guess what? Nouri's committee has refused to release a list of names of those released.

Is anyone being released?

In the last weeks, there's been a new trend in Iraq.  Corpses.  Corpses on the streets.  Now there's never been a week when corpses weren't dumped on the streets of Iraq.  But it had dropped to one or two from time to time.  Now it's much more than that.  And another difference is that, as with the period of the ethnic cleansing/civil war, women are turning up each week among the corpses.

That's one way what's reported in the documentary applies to Iraq today.

Another way is that the US government continues to support the puppet government despite all its abuses.  Billions of taxpayer dollars still go into propping up Nouri and keeping him in control.  Referring to the death squad era, Peter Maass says in the documentary, "The clear priority at that time in Iraq was to not have this incredibly shaky provisional government defeated by the insurgency.  That was priority number one -- to which every other priority democracy, human rights, etc. was subordinate."  Sounds a lot like the priority today, the same priority that led the Obama administration to ignore the 2010 election turnout and instead insist that second place Nouri get a second term.   That was more important than the voters, the vote, the country's Constitution or the democratic process.  In other words, very little has changed from the 'past' the documentary covers.

TV Roundtable

Jim: It's roundtable time.  As many of you have noted in e-mails, we're long overdue. Our e-mail address is Participating our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. You are reading a rush transcript.  And the topic is TV.  First, the illustration.


Ava: The Client List starts season two tonight on Lifetime.

Jim: Ava and C.I. cover TV here and their plan was to cover that show this week.  I asked them to grab a documentary instead.  Since they're not noting The Client List in a review, I said we'd use it for the illustration and promised we'd get the edition up before the show aired.

Ava: The series stars Jennifer Love Hewitt.  She's a mother of two kids whose husband walks out as they're facing foreclosure on their home.  She takes a job as a massage therapist but the big paying clients want more than a massage.  The show started life as a highly rated 2010 TV movie. Last April, season one of the show began airing.  Along with Jennifer Love Hewitt as Riley, the casst includes Cybill Shepherd as Riley's mother Lynette, Loretta Devine as the owner of the massage parlor Georgia, Colin Egglesfield as Riley's brother-in-law Evan, Brian Hallisay as the runaway husband Kyle, Rebecca Field as Riley's best friend Lacey and Greg Grunberg as Lacey's husband Dale.  Season two starts tonight.

Jim: I think it's an entertaining show but I'm going to play devil's advocate here.  This is a show glorifying prostitution.

C.I.: I don't know that it glorifies prostitution.  Lacey's speech to Riley in season one was pretty clear and you've got Jolene who refuses to provide anything other than a massage.  I know it's confusing with dumb asses these days who mistake portrayals for endorsements, but I don't know that it's glorifying prostitution.  Prostitution exists.  Sex workers exist.  Some women -- and some men -- are employed as such.  I don't know that a value judgment needs to be made on the show.

Jim: What about a message?

C.I.: See we're supposed to love pot so we never worry about the message of Weeds -- Mary-Louise Parker's great Showtime series.  Why are we supposed to be worried about the message of The Client List?  Do people wrongly think it airs as a Saturday morning cartoon?  It airs on Lifetime -- a cable channel whose audience is largely adult women.

Jim: But as feminists, can you endorse the show?

Ava:  We enjoy the show.  Do we endorse it?  Yes, it's well made, it pulls the audience in and it's providing actors with some wonderful opportunities.  Weeds really is the perfect comparison.  In that show, the mother has to move pot to provide for her family.  Riley's got two kids to support and a home she's about to lose.  Repeatedly, she's praised for her strength.  And she is very strong.  Would I choose to be a sex-worker?  Not my first choice, no.  But my life doesn't have to be up there on screen for me to enjoy it.  There's a comedy aspect to the show.  You can argue there's fantasy aspect to the show -- as there was with Weeds -- in that it's showing a very up and positive sex worker experience.  But it's well written and it's well acted.  The women aren't doormats and the women aren't stereotypes.  Lacey is a rounded woman, that just makes her sexy.  She's all the more appealing to her husband.  I praise the show for that.  In a TV world of stick figures, I praise them for having a sexy, fun loving character who is not thin.  Along with body type, there's the fact that Lynette, Riley's mother, is an important part of the show.  Cybill's not comic relief the way Lily Tomlin is on Reba's new show.  Cybill's got an active life on the show.  She's a grandmother, she works a job outside the home, she most recently fell for Brian Kerwin.  It's presenting various women.  Is Lorette Devine a little too sweet to be a madam?  For some people, she may be.  I think she's hilarious and touching in the role.

C.I.:  I'd point out that Love is a producer of the show.  Season one was ten episodes.  That matters because of what I'm about to talk about.  Ava's talking about the great show in front of the camera and how inclusive it is.  That's happening behind the camera too and Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lifetime deserve real credit for that.  Six of the ten episodes were written by women.  Four of the ten episodes were directed by women.  By contrast, it took Weeds three seasons to come up with four women directors -- three seasons and 33 episodes.  Modern Family was on episode 65 when it finally had it's fourth episode directed by a woman.  So give Jennifer and Lifetime and everyone involved real credit for those numbers.  Also, disclosure, as noted before Ava and I both know Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Jim: Okay, let's move over to Betty.  666 Park Avenue is dead.

Betty: Correct.  Usually, it's Stan that ends up blogging about the show or shows that end up axed.

Marcia: Or me!

Betty: Or Marcia.  I don't think the show got a fair shot.  I think it had problems but it was getting better and it was worth watching.

Jim: You can go back in time and change one thing on the show, what do you change?

Betty: The lead.  I'm not trying to pick on her but it's supposed to be a fragile character.  The actress, , may have only been five foot-two, I don't know, but she looked tall on camera, Rachael Taylor.  I would have gone with someone smaller.  The character needed to be seen as fragile.  Taylor isn't.  By the time we're supposed to be worried that she's cracking up, the question on most viewers minds was probably why she wasn't kicking demon butt considered her athletic body.   Taylor was good in the role but I would have cast the part with someone who you physically feared for.

Jim: Now you blog about Whitney.  You, Ann and Marcia are the Whitney bloggers.

Ann: That started because of Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple."  The show was being savaged and we three decided to watch the show and give it a chance.  We did and agreed it was as funny as Ava and C.I. said.  You had all these men and male-identifying women writers calling for the show to be killed.  We didn't think we could save it but we thought we could use our voices to offer a different take and some support.

Jim: That was season one.  Season two did not please, did it, Marcia?

Marcia: No.  And Betty was saying that before we started blogging it.  Finally, Betty reached her blogging point and said she was calling the show out.

Betty: No one was telling me, "Betty, don't!"  I just didn't want to.

Jim: What was so awful?  Ann, go first?

Ann: Losing Neil was a big deal.  There were six characters.  One was gone and that wasn't planned.  When he realized he was gay, they could have written him off.  Instead it was, we still love you, you're our friend.  But then season two opens and I guess they don't love him anymore.

Marcia: Because he's gone.

Ann: Because he's gone.  And that effected things but that wasn't the only problem.

Marcia: There was the fight.  Each episode was a fight between Alex and Whitney.  They would argue and get mad and then make up.  It was like a special episode of Mad About You.  Only more boring.  And more predicatable.  And with all the emphasis on Whitney and Alex, it really didn't leave time for Roxanne, Lily and Mark to have storylines -- let alone new character RJ.

Ann: It really did get old, every week, a new fight.

Betty: And who wants to watch that.  Season one ended with Alex and Whitney unable to get married due to one problem after another.  This season started with them deciding to call themselves married.  I didn't like that.  I didn't like Whitney suddenly becoming her version of a home maker.  I didn't like the fact that she had no money and no job -- season one she had a job -- and was dependent upon Alex for money.  I didn't like that she solved fights with sexual favors.

Marcia: What Betty's describing?  That's not season one.  We fell in love with a great show in season one.  Season two started off bad and got worse.  When did it finally get better?  Episode five.  Suddenly, Lily got a subplot and they brought back Alex's ex-fiancee which made for funny.

Ann: Prior to that, it was as though the same fight played out for four episodes in a row.

Jim: But the show's found its footing again?

Betty: Oh, yeah, it's a joy to watch once again.

Jim: Mike, you covered Fringe, which just ended, and you still cover Nikita.  How's Nikita doing and why no new show?

Mike: Nikita's actually becoming must-see.  Alex just got kidnapped by Amanda and it will be interesting to see what happens there.  I think Amanda's going to try to turn Alex against Nikita.  Michael's stopped moping.  A lot's going on.

Jim: I was Nikita, disclosure, and Mike and I talk about it a lot.  I need to give Mike credit because after the first episode of this season aired, Mike was convinced that Division wasn't gone -- the agency that Nikita and company work for -- and that Ryan was going to become the new Percy or the new Amanda -- bad guys.  I didn't see it.  Ryan was too nice of a guy.  But as this season has progressed, we've seen he will do anything to 'save' Division.  So, Mike, you were right.

Mike: Thank you.  I keep getting asked when I'm going to pick a replacement for Fringe.  So far, nothing stands out.  I don't want a show I have to blog about on Monday because I'm tired on Monday nights.  I'm still looking.  The CW's new show Cults is interesting.

Jim: Ruth, you used to blog about The New Adventures of Old Christine and that got cancelled --

Ruth: Betty and I both blogged about that show.

Jim: Right.  And then you blogged about Cougar Town and ABC pulled it.  Now it's on TBS and you're not blogging about TV.

Ruth: I watch.  I just do not see the point in blogging.  Every time I find a show I love, it gets yanked.  If I were blogging about TV right now, it would be about how The Following, last week, embraced torture.  Kevin Bacon attacked a bullet wound with his finger to try to force a man to reveal where the serial killer was.  I wonder if Mr. Bacon will be savaged by our new media critics at the Center for Constitutional Rights?  Somehow I doubt it.

Jim: Trina, you also don't TV blog.

Trina:  I watch TV but it's usually news and specials.  I'm not a TV snob.  I'm just -- I don't know.  I guess when you have eight kids -- and a husband -- what's being watched in the home is always someone else's choice.  So I really haven't followed TV shows seriously since the start of my marriage.  I'll watch TV.  My granddaughter and I will watch Angelina Ballarina or something similar on PBS.  Or I'll watch something that somebody's watching in the living room just to plop down on the sofa and zone out.  But I really don't have any brand loyalty.

Jim: Alright.  Elaine, you weren't a TV blogger but you became one with Smash.

Elaine: Right.

Jim: Season two just started airing, any thoughts?

Elaine: I've shared at my sight that it was a mistake to get rid of Ellis.  He kept the show going.  I was one of the people who complained about Ellis.  But then I started noticing how he made things happen.  With him gone, there's no one that you love to hate.  They need to use Anjelica Huston more.  They also need to grasp that Debra Messing is the star more than anyone else on the show.  Her character is the heart of the show.

Jim: And Karen and Ivy.

Elaine: Season one was about the two women battling for the same lead in the musical Bombshell.  Season two started out as if that was going to repeat.  Honestly, no one wants to see season one played out all over again.  Either show us something different or cease production.

Jim: Ty was a fan of Smash in season one.

Ty: And they lost me.  The show became too stupid.  I also don't like the fact that the show's only African-American character in season one got the kiss off at the start of season two.  I find season two to be insulting on so many levels including the whole Jimmy The Great Teen Composer.  They go off with Jimmy and it's like --

Elaine: Mikey Rooney and Judy Garland putting on a show.

Ty: Exactly!  Like Elaine said, there needs to be more of Eileen, Anjelica's character.  Derek bores me, Tom annoys me and I feel like I'm watching the same season being reshot all over again but with less energy.

Jim: Alright.  Wally and Cedric, you don't cover TV.  Do you guys have a show or shows you follow?

Cedric: I watch Whitney every episode because Ann does, so we've got it on and watch it together.  I watch sitcoms.  I prefer the ones with studio audiences because the single-camera ones are rarely as clever as they think.

Wally: Exactly.  And whatever point they think they just made or just scored demands applause not a laugh.  The worst sitcom of this season was not the one with the monkey -- Animal Practice, it was The New Normal.  So unfunny.  Animal Practice had some dumb laughs in it.  Like the Thanksgiving episode.  The New Normal is just too precious for this world.  I can't stand the show and before it started airing, even after the first episode, it was the show I was planning to watch.  The only single camera show I really enjoy is --

Cedric: The Mindy Project.

Wally: Yeah.  After that, it's Raising Hope when it's about the family.  Not so much when its about a bunch of dorks -- at work or wherever.

Jim: Alright, Rebecca, you've got the nightime soaps.

Rebecca: Right.  I'm covering Revenge and Scandal.

Jim: Which is the better show and how did you start with them?

Rebecca: C.I. told me to watch Revenge before it started.  She swore I would love it.  There's a post somewhere at my site where I do a Revenge marathon in the middle of its first season and I love the show.  So when C.I. urged me to watch Scandal, I should have just watched.  But I waited and waited and finally she gifted me with the boxed DVD set.  And then I was hooked.  Last season, Revenge was the best show.  This seaons it's Scandal.  Scandal's become this amazing show that constantly surprises.  Revenge has lost its way.  Emily's taken a back seat to Aidan and he's gotten on my last damn nerve.  We barely see Emily or Victoria.

Jim:  Isaiah, how about you?

Isaiah: I'm going to pick one that will have some groaning -- some readers.  The Simpsons.  It's become fashionable to trash the show as it's continued.  But they still offer actual stories.  Seth MacFarlane's shows offer movie spoofs, etc. I miss King of the Hill and I'm glad The Simpsons is still with us.  I also really like Bob's Burgers.

Mike: I do too.

Jess: Yeah, more than anything, the kids on Bob's Burgers make that show for me.  Tina, Gene and Louise are the funniest kids on animated TV these days.

Jim: Yea! Jess spoke.  He had said he probably wouldn't.  But he did.  Okay, let's go to Stan.  Stan, you like your superhero shows and they always get the axe.  You blog now about The Good Wife and Arrow.

Stan: Arrow somehow managed to be the superhero show that survived.  I'm glad because I really like the genre and also becaue it's a really good show.  I think it may be the best hour long show on prime time that's come along this season.  The Good Wife?  I started on that in season one.  And I've stayed with it.  I do think Alicia needs to leave the law firm.  It kind of cheapens the character for her not to react to the fact that she's not really wanted as a partner but it just being used to stop the associates revolt.  Arrow airs on The CW and, quick plug, this week is a new episode and it features Huntress returning to be sure to catch it if you're a fan of Huntress.

Jim: Alicia on The Good Wife should end up with Will or Peter?

Stan: I would have said Will through season two.  But he's so much less than honest.  Does he love her or just want her?  I don't know.  But Peter, who's not a good guy, does love Alicia.  So I would say Peter.

Jim: Alright and Dona's giving me the sign to wrap it up.  This is a rush transcript.

TV: Chicago Burn

Chicago, where the men strut and the women watch?


That would appear to be the motto of NBC's Chicago Fire where the actors pose instead of brood  because brooding might cause premature wrinkles around the lips and eyebrows.

Episode 12 of NBC's Wednesday night show remains the one impossible to get over.  Not since Will went home with Grace on college Christmas break has there been such an awkward sex scene.  But this is trumped, at the start of episode 12, with what's supposed to be post-coital, as Dawson (Monica Raymund) wakes up alone in bed.  Wandering through her place, she finally finds Mills (Charlie Barnett)  in the kitchen nervously darting about having just finished a veggie and egg scramble for her and pouring her a cup of coffee as he explains that no one needs to know what just happened.

Yeah, can't have the boys in the firehouse locker room talking -- you know how catty and vicious those bitches can be.

Every episode seems unbelievable.  Just when you think you're getting a handle on the show, for example, three of the main characters decide they want to own a bar -- and do!  Or maybe it's the firefighter tracking down his ex and finding out she's a stripper and feeling like the firefighter wants to . . . be a stripper himself. Or maybe it's the grown man who gets (and wanted) his mother released on parole to his custody.  Not a lot of grown men want to live with Mommy.  Especially when Mommy killed Daddy and she'll only hint at why.  Along the way, there's drunk driving, a three- month coma, and a dog in need of rescue.

The latest TV production from the Dick Wolf is all about muscular firefighters  who fondle themselves a lot while speaking and at least pretend they'd like to touch women -- including the paramedics that they work with --  when they're not splitting their time between putting out fires and what appears to be practicing for the next calendar shoot.

The male pin ups -- Jesse Spencer (Matthew), Taylor Kinney (Kelly), Barnett and Eamonn Walker (Chief Boden) -- attempt to saunter but it all comes off like a shimmy -- especially when you're working with all that Taylor Kinney's parents gave him -- and you're left wondering exactly what the Dick Wolf thought he was making a show about this time?

Judy Garland used to sing:

I got the surprise, the surprise of my life
I had to stop and stare
I saw a man dancing with his own wife
And you will never guess where

Yes, that was and is surprising.  Chicago is, after all, the Birth of the Down Low.

And, if nothing else, the series gets that across.

The ladies?  They're window dressing left to repeatedly play confused, never quite sure why such  hunky men haven't settled down.  At this late date, when The New Normal can just put it out there, there's something terribly retro about a soap whose men tend to prefer the company of men but can't seem to vocalize that need.

There's also something sad about it and about the fact that, on this show, women can't be firefighters.  Apparently, Dick Wolf doesn't think they're able to wrap their hands around a big hose, not the way he pictures the men doing at any rate.

Photo of the Week

hot air

After flirting with fracking, nuclear plants and other harmful to the environment energy sources, President Barack Obama decides to get behind wind turbines and visits a plant with both of his teleprompters to demonstrate that, as he talks on and on, he provides enough energy to light up Beijing.

Help! My Ramen doesn't cook right!

Reader Justin thought his Ramen days were behind him.  He finished college two years ago, with a degree and got a great job in the business sector . . . only to get laid off last month.

Now he's back to Ramen and looking for a new job.


However, it's not the Ramen he remembers from college.

"It's soggy," he writes, "I remember a crunch."

The Ramen noodles haven't changed, Justin, you have.

A few back-and-forth e-mails established that.

First up, in college, he made them in the microwave.  Today?  He was trying to boil them on the stove.

The key to crunchy -- but cooked -- Ramen noodles is that they are never all the way submerged.  Your best bet is a 16 ounce, rectangle container.  You put one -- or two -- bags of Ramen noodles in that and fill with water.  Notice how the block of noodles floats?  That's okay.

You pop it into the microwave for six minutes.

You now drain.  If you add butter or a butter substitute, add it now.  Then add the spice from the spice packet.

And that's the noodles quick and fast -- the way you probably cooked it while rushing through college.

Good luck with the noodles and especially good luck with Thursday's job interview, Justin.

Senator Murray on Fairness and Equality

senator patty murray

Senator Patty Murray (above)  is now the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and her office issued the following last week.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Contact: Murray Press Office

Murray Calls on Shinseki to Expedite Waivers for Same-Sex Burials in National Cemeteries

After VA grants first-ever waiver for Oregon couple, Murray leads letter urging basic "fairness and equity" for all same-sex veterans and their spouses

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led a letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki calling for an expedited waiver process granting same-sex veterans and their spouses burial rights in national cemeteries. Currently, only members of the opposite-sex are buried next to their veteran spouse in national cemeteries.

“For the LGBT members of our nation’s armed forces, and for those of us who support them, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was only the first step on the road towards equality,” said Senator Murray. “Our country now must work to ensure each of our heroes receives the same quality care and services once they leave the military – and this includes a dignified burial for them, and their spouses. I was glad to see Secretary Shinseki honor the request of Lieutenant Colonel Campbell on behalf of her wife Nancy and am hopeful he will not only seriously consider similar requests in the future, but implement an expedited process so no veteran will have to face uncertainty when mourning the loss of their spouse.” 

Senator Murray was joined by 15 Senators in sending the letter, which read in part:

“We strongly believe in equality under the law for all Americans, particularly for our veterans, who continually put themselves in harm’s way for our country. It is unacceptable that, after selflessly serving their nation, these men and women who have given so much would not be allowed to be buried next to the person they love in our national cemeteries…Offering burial rights in national cemeteries to same sex spouses of our nation’s veterans is not only a matter of fairness and equity, it is simply the right thing to do.”

On January 29, 2013, Secretary Shinseki granted a waiver, the first of its kind, for the burial of civilian Nancy Lynchild in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Her spouse, retired Lieutenant Colonel Linda Campbell, led the months long efforts to make the waiver a reality

Senator Murray was joined by the following Senators in sending this letter to Secretary Shinseki: Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
The full text of the letter follows:

March 5, 2013
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

We are writing to commend you for granting a waiver to Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Linda Campbell, so that her spouse, Ms. Nancy Lynchild, can be laid to rest alongside her in Willamette National Cemetery. We strongly believe in equality under the law for all Americans, particularly for our veterans, who continually put themselves in harm’s way for our country. It is unacceptable that, after selflessly serving their nation, these men and women who have given so much would not be allowed to be buried next to the person they love in our national cemeteries.
We expect that you will continue to grant similar waivers moving forward. Making this important change is a matter of basic fairness and equity. We have applauded the President for his decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court, and we welcomed the Department of Defense’s recent announcement that they will extend additional benefits to LGBT service members and their families. We also commend you, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, for working to ensure that the Department is a welcoming place for LGBT veterans and their families, and for your continued commitment to achieving equity and fairness for all of our nation’s veterans.

Although the Obama Administration has taken important steps towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans and their families, such as recognizing the validity and dignity of committed same sex couples and working to end discrimination in federal benefits on the basis of sexual orientation, there is still much more work to be done. Numerous federal benefits remain restricted by DOMA, including specific benefits that could soften the tragic blow of the loss of a loved one.

While we work to repeal DOMA in Congress, it is our hope that the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to examine its policies and implement changes that further advance equality for all Americans. We ask that such changes include implementing an expedited waiver process, so that a veteran mourning the loss of her same-sex spouse need not also worry whether her spouse can be buried alongside her in a national cemetery. Offering burial rights in national cemeteries to same sex spouses of our nation’s veterans is not only a matter of fairness and equity, it is simply the right thing to do.

Thank you for granting spousal burial benefits to Lt Col Campbell, and for your continued commitment to our nation’s veterans. We look forward to your response on this important matter.

Senator Patty Murray
Senator Jeff Merkley
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Mark Udall
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Senator Mark Warner
Senator Mark Begich
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Al Franken
Senator Chris Coons
Senator Brian Schatz
Senator Mazie Hirono
Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

US War Crimes get British attention but in the US?

Repost from The Common Ills.

US War Crimes get British attention but in the US?

Press TV notes this morning, "Sectarian commando units, operating under direct supervision of American Special Forces veterans, who were involved in the so-called US counter-insurgency efforts against opponents of some of the most brutal Washington-backed dictatorships in Central America, 'conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war,' The Guardian reports Thursday."

That's huge news.  It's especially huge news for Iraq, for England and for the United States.  BBC and the Guardian are among the many British outlets covering the story.  What about in the US?

"Imagine going as fast as you go down a mountain and then imagine an avalanche coming after you."

Bradley Manning explaining what it was like to learn of War Crimes and expose them?

Nope more, garbage from CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.  A 'report' from Anderson Cooper who hangs with a surfer.  Wow, that's going to help democracy.  Don't we all feel more informed?

Where was the news of the War Crimes?  TV watchers may not know what we're talking about.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, there was a major news report Wednesday.  Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith (Guardian) reported:

The allegations made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.
Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes as Petraeus's "eyes and ears out on the ground" in Iraq.

In what world is that not news?

How about in what country?  The answer to that question is:   The United States.

Let's flip channels.

"The giant storm has hit the east, the winds are howling, cars skidding down the road, trees are tumbling and we are there," boasted Diane Sawyer on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer apparently unaware that she has nothing to brag about.

You are there?  Where should you be, Diane?

Richard Nixon's skirt still struggles with news and with ethics.

Maybe desire confuses her?  "Get ready to fall in love with Princess Leila all over again," she purred.

Good to know that Diane had her priorities down pat.

Fortunately, there's the Big Three and not the Big Two, right?  So we still had one more chance of coverage on the network news.

"Tonight it takes on a new personality," began Brian Williams.

At last.  The new personality of the war, the new take on the actions and on the legalities and --

Oh, wait.  Brian finished, "thanks to an LED art project."  I live in the Bay Area, Brian, and even I don't give a damn about the makeover to Bay Bridge.  It's the plain cousin to the Golden Gate Bridge for a reason.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams was the last of the three and it ignored the report as well.

What did you get?  Princess Leia to return in Star Wars films? You learned about George Wallace's daughter.  That was news you really needed, right?

You got garbage passed off as news.

But this is the US and that means we still have PBS, blessed PBS!

"Its original mission was to serve a diverse range of perspectives and communities," the Anneberg School's Larry  Gross told Robert Strauss (Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2, 1999).

Exactly.  Living up to its mission statement would mean that PBS covered the news yesterday.  But, reality, PBS has never lived up to its mission statement and doesn't even care about it these days.

Hasn't for years.  As Larry Gross explained back in 1999,   "It has its problems, not the least of which is lack of funding, but it has chosen instead to become a kind of elite-oriented commercial network. It has not become the sort of public affairs and diverse palate of community perspectives outlet that was envisaged. That is what is not really covered in cable and what has become marginalized in the media in general."

And goodness didn't PBS and The NewsHour demonstrate that laast night.

Diane Sawyer's so confusing.  She does propaganda night and day and wants to pretend she's a reporter.  Just like she wants to pretend she's in a 'normal' marriage.  Diane lied and knowingly lied about Howard Dean.  She did the hit piece on Dean.  The 'scream.'  And Diane knew the piece was a lie.  A Howard Dean supporter who is one of Diane's best friends called her out -- I am friends with this artist as well (I am not, however, friends with Diane) -- really called her to the carpet.  That's the only reason Diane did her 'correction' -- after she'd destroyed Howard Dean's shot at the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

It had nothing to do with media criticism, her 'correction.'  It had everything to do with a woman screaming over the phone to her, reading her the riot act about how dishonest Diane Sawyer had been.  That's the only reason the correction happened.  (The woman may come forward with that story.  I knew about it in real time and we discussed it again recently because of a new project the artist is working on.)

I'm not Diane's friend.  I'm not civil to the beard anymore, not since 2003.  She's always been a fake and a fraud but for the sake of mutual friends I put up with her.

March 10, 2003, in England, the Dixie Chicks gave a concert.  Natalie Maines noted onstage, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

You knew the plan was to bury the Dixie Chicks as soon as you learned Diane was interviewing them.

"Just fifteen words, but they were fifteen words."  That's what Diane declared and then began raking the Chicks over the coals for those 15 words.

You know, I'm remembering 16 words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Bully Boy Bush's State of the Union lie.

And Diane never got all upset about that.

She never asked Bully Boy Bush or anyone in the administration, "So what prompted this?
Why did you say it?"  But she put that question to Natalie Maines.

She asked her things like, "Do you feel awful about using that word about the President of the United States?"

And, explaining why her own journalism has been cowardly and servile to the government, Diane pondered, "Are you afraid they're going to boo you?"

Diane Sawyer is and always will be a joke.  She's a joke in her personal life and she's a joke in her professional life.

After the laughter dies down, she and her peers on all three commercial networks and on PBS are useless.  Completely useless to the citizens of this country.  They fail to impart any story of real importance.  They fluff throughout their broadcast and they dumb down the country day after day.

US War Crimes were news yesterday in England (still are today) but you wouldn't know that if you watched American broadcast television.  But at least Anderson Cooper go to hang with a surfer, right?

International Women's Alliance (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

International Women’s Alliance: Fight capitalism, imperialism

By on March 8, 2013 » Add the first comment.
iwa_0314The International Women’s Alliance is a global alliance of grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to moving forward the liberation of women. For more information, go to  Read the entire Feb. 25 statement at
The International Women’s Alliance calls on women all over the globe to advance their ongoing struggles against imperialist globalization and the crisis of capitalism by mobilizing with militant actions on March 8, 2013, to commemorate International Working Women’s Day.
Since the economic collapse in 2008, the impact of the crisis on women all over the world has intensified. The capitalist system continues to unfold crisis measures to shore up the profits of the ruling classes, banks and corporations and maintain their global domination. These measures rely on the increased superexploitation of women in low-wage and precarious industries, devaluation of women’s labor, the robbing of the land and livelihood of peasant and Indigenous women, and escalating military intervention, repression and aggression.
As the profits of the 1% are increased and bonus checks are doubled in years of glaring crisis, women of the 99% are reeling under the weight of the crisis and saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Imperialist war and plunder have weighed heavily on women in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions and are increasing inside the imperialist centers of Europe and North America.
In Tunisia and Egypt, women have taken to the streets and are participating massively in uprisings against new imperialist-backed regimes that have betrayed promises of the Arab Spring. Palestinian women are integral to the resistance movement against U.S.-backed Israeli occupation and genocide.
Indigenous women of Canada have been leading a countrywide protest called Idle No More to halt renewed attempts by government to rob them of ancestral land rights and pave the way for the extractive industries.
Women in Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico are confronting the same brutal corporations to protect their land, water and communities at tremendous cost to their safety. The rise of land grabbing and mass layoffs in Indonesia, because of the imperialist crisis, has forced Indonesian women to flock to developed countries to migrate and work as low-wage workers.
Therefore, women from Indonesia, Pakistan and India, to the Philippines and Brazil, demand genuine agrarian reform and an end to land monopoly and the rule of agribusiness.
The demand for low-wage labor in the Global North draws swelling numbers of women who are forced to migrate in search of work, and are swept up in labor trafficking and modern-day slavery. While government budgets for basic needs in health care, housing, education and social services are slashed, migrants and immigrants are scapegoated as a burden to the receiving countries and racism is fanned. Crackdowns and criminalization of migrants and deportation of refugees are rampant.
Nevertheless, immigrant and migrant women, women of color, are organizing in their workplaces, neighborhoods and communities to demand the right to decent lives. The recent strike of school bus drivers and matrons in New York, supported by community-based groups led by Latinas, exemplifies women’s ability to mobilize for their rights, the rights of their children and the rights of working people at large.
Black women workers, especially in the public-sector unions in the U.S., continue to be at the forefront of fighting back against reactionary right-to-starve, “right-to-work” laws that weaken and destroy collective bargaining.
As women rise up, the repression and violence against them rises. Recently, we have seen the three Kurdish women activists in Paris brutally gunned down with apparent impunity. Egyptian women in Tahrir Square, the famous site of the uprising two years ago, have been attacked, raped and beaten by armed goons to stop them from participating in protests. Similarly in India, the indigenous Dalit women fighting against land grabs are being hunted and imprisoned. In the Philippines, women of the National Democratic Front who were engaged in peace talks with the government have been in prison for years.
Women across the globe have risen to bring awareness of the different forms of violence against women, which is rooted in patriarchal values and maintained by the capitalist system, which thrives on discrimination and oppression of women and other marginalized populations. Women are demanding that all forms of violence against women must STOP!
During their March 8 actions, we invite women’s organizations to wear purple armbands or wristbands to show solidarity across actions globally.
End imperialist wars of aggression and intervention!
Genuine land/agrarian reform now!
Jobs paying union wages or livable income, health care, housing, education, food now!
No to racist immigration policies, police brutality and mass incarceration!
End deportations!
Stop forced migration and human trafficking!
Stop modern-day slavery and violence against women!
Free all political prisoners in developing and developed countries!
End political repression and human rights violations!

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Murray on the Behavioral Health Diagnoses

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Her office issued the following last week:

Friday, March 08, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office

Senator Murray’s Statement on Army Review of Behavioral Health Diagnoses and Treatment Since 2001

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray issued the following statement on the Army Task Force on Behavioral Health’s Corrective Action Plan that was released after the Task Force did a comprehensive, Army-wide study on mental health diagnoses going back to 2001. The report found significant problems associated with the Army’s efforts to diagnose, evaluate and therefore properly treat soldiers with behavioral health conditions including PTSD. The study’s findings come at a time when the suicide rate among active duty service members is outpacing combat deaths.

Senator Murray asked the Army to initiate the review after hundreds of servicemembers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in her home state had their PTSD and other behavioral health diagnoses overturned by a team of forensic psychiatrists only to have those diagnoses restored after their stories surfaced and Murray asked for their cases to be reviewed. The episode allowed Senator Murray to continue to push the Army and the Pentagon on the lack of any uniform approach to properly diagnosing and treating behavioral health conditions in the military.

“I am pleased that the Army completed this review and has vowed to make fixes over the next year, though I am disappointed it has taken more than a decade of war to get to this point. Many of the 24 findings and 47 recommendations in this report are not new. Creating a universal electronic health record, providing better rural health access, and standardizing the way diagnoses are made for instance have been lingering problems for far too long. Our servicemembers and their families deserve better.

“The sheer number of changes this report recommends is indicative of the size and scope of the problem. This report lays out shortcomings in diagnosing, identifying, and providing standardized care for PTSD and a wide range of behavioral health issues. It also focuses on the painfully long delays that have plagued a joint disability system that many servicemembers and their families have given up on. And, according to those who led this review and are tasked with implementing these changes, this isn’t an issue of not having the resources to make changes. Instead, it is simply a matter of problems that have been allowed to persist while far too many soldiers fell through the cracks. That is unacceptable.

“I’ve made clear to Army Secretary McHugh that I want the most aggressive solutions to these problems, not just what checks a box so they can say they fixed the problem. If we continue to simply react to these problems as they arise we’ll never succeed in fully enacting the systematic changes that are necessary. The only way to truly make headway on reversing the troubling trends we have seen, including the fact that suicide deaths continue to outpace combat deaths, is to change the culture associated with identifying and treating behavioral health conditions.
“This report came about because servicemembers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state were left to fend for themselves in a system that was broken and penalized them for having PTSD. At JBLM, hundreds of servicemembers saw their PTSD diagnoses reversed or changed, and it became abundantly clear that the DoD had no uniform system for diagnosing or treating these invisible wounds. My commitment to those servicemembers and their families at JBLM continues to be that I’ll do everything possible to ensure that military families like theirs never have to go through what they did in Washington state or elsewhere. And that is exactly why I pushed for this study and why I will continue to push Secretary Hagel and Secretary McHugh to make the changes needed to properly diagnose and treat all servicemembers.

“I believe that the Army wants to do the right thing by the soldiers who have sacrificed so much for us, and that the corrective action they are taking now is not solely the result of political pressure. Though there are places where the action plan could go further, I believe this plan is a good starting point to make real changes for our soldiers. I intend to get regular updates on the progress the Army makes in implementing the solutions in this study and will hold them to their word on completing these recommendations in a timely fashion.”


Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct
Twitter: @mmcalvanah


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.

"For a speech writer, he's rather prosaic" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

 Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Keystone Barack" -- Isaiah takes on the fracking love of Barack.

"Iraq snapshot" and "Joint-hearings on veterans affairs" -- C.I. and Kat cover Congressional hearings on veterans.

"Iraq snapshot," "2 protesters shot dead in Mosul by Nouri's forces," "Confronting counter-insurgency with silence?," "Iraq snapshot," "US War Crimes get British attention but in the US?,"
"The War Crimes Bradley opposed" and "Iraq snapshot" -- counter-insurgency coverage last week from C.I.

"Pasta with broccoli in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a quick and easy pasta recipe.

"Whitney (Mark, RJ and Alex)," "Joy Behar will leave The View,"  "Whitney," "tina fey can go f**k herself," "at 41, amy poehler needs to act her age,"  "Whitney," "Nikita: Reunion," "Body of Proof," "Deception," "Smash" and "The Good Wife" -- Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Marcia, Mike, Stan and Elaine cover TV.

"Barack's Drone War," "Waffle Drone" and  "THIS JUST IN! HE JUST WANTS TO EAT HIS WAFFLES!,"  "Rand Paul stands up,"  "THIS JUST IN! THE KILLER KING!" and "Who crowned him?"-- Mike, Cedric and Wally cover The Drone War.

"Brett McGurk spits in Iraqi women's faces,"  "Nouri kills protesters," "What the US government did in Iraq,"  "Look at how the New York Times lies still about Iraq" and "Patriarch Sako" -- Ruth, Marcia, Stan, Elaine and Trine cover Iraq.

"Valerie Harper" -- Ruth on the sad news about Valerie Harper.

"Mars" and "Curiosity's brain" -- Betty covers Mars.

"Carl Levin not to seek re-election"

"Oz" and "Oz"-- Kat and Stan go to the movies.

"'Feminist' Naomi Wolf speaks" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

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