Sunday, May 26, 2013

Truest statement of the week

But if the speech is remembered for anything years hence it will be as the moment when the president declared 'The war on terrorism is dead! long live the open-ended game of whack-a-mole against diffuse networks!'  Yes, that's right. Obama has rhetorically put to bed the frankly silly GWOT terminology -- while obliquely calling for years of low-grade conflict.

-- Dan Murphy, "Obama rhetorically ends 'the war on terror'" (Christian Science Monitor).

Truest statement of the week II

Similarly, Obama tried to detach himself from his own Justice Department’s grabbing of the phone records of more than 100 AP reporters and the claim by the Justice Department that Fox News’s James Rosen was a “co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds governments accountable,” Obama said.
Then fire Eric Holder, for God’s sake.

-- Matthew Rothschild, "Obama Gets Slippery on Killing U.S. Citizens" (The Progressive).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  And look how early we got done.  Can you believe it?  Everything up by 7:00 am PST (10:00 EST).

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?

Dan Murphy gets his first truest.
Matthew Rothschild also gets a truest.
Ava and C.I. take a look at Washington Week and discover it's even worse than when they last checked in, nearly four years ago.

Dona moderates a roundtable on Congressional hearings.

The montage at the top was created by Kat, Betty, Betty's kids and others and supposed to have been used last weekend.  We're using it this week and we'll use it for this feature.

Make sure you didn't miss it.

Some of us were asking those questions months ago.

Repost from Workers World.

A press release from Senator Patty Murray's office.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them.

We also steal from them.  We're including Ann and Cedric here.  New parents, they took the weekend off.  But the House Sitter feature was planned for last weekend and they'd been part of the push for going with that movie.

So that's what we got.  See you next week.


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

Editorial: For those who bother to look

May's almost over but not there yet.  And through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 665 violent deaths so far this month.


Last month was the most violent month since June 2008 according to the United Nations.  This month isn't looking any better.

For those that bother to look.

And isn't that the real lesson of Iraq these days?  How few people bother to look?


That's Falluja two days ago.  Since December 21st, protests have been ongoing in Iraq.  That's over five months.  Do you really see media coverage from the western press that reflects that?

austin beecroft mutlaq

That refusal to look certainly helps the US military out, right?  May 15th, CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd Austin was in Baghdad visiting.  Visiting about what?

About US forces and Iraq.  About the Strategic Framework Agreement and also about the Memorandum of Understanding signed last December.

There's a great deal going on.  There are just very few paying attention.

TV: Forget Thinking, What Were They Drinking?

Last week was a busy political week with scandals and speeches so we thought it was a good time to check in Washington Week (PBS) and see what they would tell us really, really mattered.

V-necks are in!  Even if they give you a back hump.  That's what Gwen Ifill immediately telegraphed -- that and that the economy still hasn't recovered.  Remember, you can have what she wore by stopping off at any flea market or driving near the border we in California share with Mexico.  We saw the embroidering at the top but wished Gwen had stood up and done a twirl so we could tell if she matched it with a pink ribbon around the waist?

Remember, Gwen, the key Spanish phrase you will need is, "Tu vestido y cuanto cuesta?"


The gold, azure and pink embroidering made us wish that she had brought along a large sombrero and slapped it on top of Dan or Doyle.  Dan Balz (Washington Post) and Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) were panelists as were AP's Charles Babington and National Journal's Fawn Johnson.

Remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.  So doing nothing is not an option.  So doing nothing's not an option.

Right at the top of the show, Gwen plays that remark by US President Barack Obama, before she even pitches to the gang.  And you're left thinking, "Okay, this may be good.  They may actually get to something."

Because that's statement's insane.

Their death toll is higher than our death toll so we're not doing anything wrong?

That is the 'logic' Barack was handing down in his big speech last Thursday.

Doyle grabbed the topic of the speech and ran with it.

Which seemed like a good thing.

Until he started speaking.

Doyle McManus:  Gwen, it did change a couple of things which is unusual because we often cynically look at a speech and say well this is only words and it's not going to change a thing.  In this case, there are some concrete -- Let me start with the concrete ones.  First, President Obama changed the rules for the targeted killings, for The Drone War.  Until now, it was a pretty broad rule:  A suspected terrorist who was a threat to American interests.  Now it's a tighter rule.  It's a continuing and imminent threat to Americans.  So that doesn't cover somebody who might, for example, be a threat to the government of Yemen which had been the case before.  The President said that there has to be a near certainty that there won't be civilian casualties.  That's a tighter rule than we've had before.  

He changed the rules, Doyle insisted.  See, Doyle told us, before you had to be "a suspected terrorist who was a threat to American interests" and now you had to be "a continuing and imminent threat to Americans." No, we're not seeing a "concrete" and "tighter rule" either.

We're also not seeing the reality that four Americans were killed by drones in Barack's Drone War.  Doyle avoided that topic completely.  He also avoided the issue of civilians killed, children killed, he avoided pretty much everything leading us to wonder just how hard he hit the sangria before the program started?

Gwen, clearly had a glass or two as was evident by her struggle to speak, "I was -- I was -- I was mostly curious about the timing of it.  Why we're having -- telling this speech?  Is it a nagging problem?  Is this a problem that we don't know about, that the world is looking at us?"

We would have remained shocked by Gwen's stupidity were it not for the fact that Doyle managed to top her, referring to "cumulative loose ends" -- whatever that was supposed to mean -- and insisting "but a lot of it comes from the fact that President Obama started out as civil libertarian --"

No, a lot of it comes from legal and a lot of it comes from protests.

On legal, most Americans don't know it but it's not just that The Drone War is pissing people in Yemen and Pakistan off, it's also that, this month The Drone War was ruled illegal.  Alice K. Ross (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) reported earlier this month, that a Pakistan Peshawar High Court had ruled that these Drone Strikes were "criminal offences," a "war crime," a "blatant violation of basic human rights" and that the judge called for the United Nations Security Council to step in.

So right there you have a problem.  If a Pakistan court is ruling The Drone War illegal, you have a problem.

Doyle went on to make an effort to try to mind read Barack.  He was willing to go that far, he just wasn't willing to note the growing and mounting protests in this country against The Drone War.

If you ask us, Joan Wile's protest last month did more than anything to kick start a movement.  Other protests followed.  And the tone and tenor of the discussion in this country changed.  It became more and more obvious that Americans were not going to continue to be silent.

But this growing movement got ignored by Doyle as he tossed aside facts to instead do his bar trick of mind-reading-the-president.  Next time, he should stick to coin tricks.

Then it was Dan Balz's turn to join Gwen in an apparently drunken stupor, as he wanted to know of Guantanamo, "What has prompted him to come back to this?"

Step away from the punch bowl, Gwen, you've clearly added more than enough wine and brandy to the sangria.

Doyle offered, "It is partly that it has stuck in his craw but of course there's that hunger strike at Guantanamo --"

Oh, yeah, of course there is that.

Of course, noting that it had lasted over 100 days or why it was taking place or any details would have apparently spoiled the party buzz.

He remarked on "how successful" the hunger strike has been -- but without details or context, was anybody really supposed to have followed that?

At eight minutes in, we noted that not one of the five had touched the water glasses. Clearly, they had hit the sangria hard.

Which is how the existing revelations of the Justice Department targeting the Associated Press by secretly seizing two months of phone records from 2012 and last week's revelation of  the Justice Department targeting Fox News reporter James Rosen and labeling him, in court documents, a criminal co-conspirator, got brushed aside in one of the worst summaries we've ever heard.

When it was floated that now an investigation would get to the bottom of the issue, Gwen cracked, "Except that he [Barack] also empowered his attorney general to investigate himself which is not always -- is not always going to work very well."

No, it doesn't usually work out well.

We were surprised by how Charlie Babington didn't rush to grab this story -- he is with the Associated Press.  If you think he was disappointing on the show, check out the Webcast Extra and grasp how uninformed he is on the topic.  AP lets him go on a program right now, during this scandal, without briefing him on the topic?

As we shook our heads, we just hoped he'd done tequila shooters before the broadcast.  Someone deserved to have fun.

Clearly, Gwen agreed with us as she introduced another (superficial) topic, "The official in charge of the mess took the Fifth and then was placed on administrative leave --"  The mess?  Like the name of the official, it was never explained or provided.

Dan Balz would bring up Lois name a few minutes later.  But no one knew, even when he brought her up, who she was.

Is she the one "in charge of the mess"?  We don't know.

We know she is the one who took the Fifth Amendment.  We know her job placed her over the tax exemptions.  We know that the IRS targeted groups and that Lerner knew of it as early as May 2010.  We know that Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller (he was finally relieved at the middle of last week -- or that's what we're being told now, two weeks ago, we were led to believe he was already gone) knew about the targeting.  We know that he lied to Congress.  We know that so did IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman (IRS Commissioner until the start of last November). In 2012, Shulman testified that it was "absolutely not true" that the IRS was targeting political groups.  But this was a lie.

It was established as a lie last week in the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing Wednesday.  We covered it in "Iraq snapshot" and "Sir, I gave you the wrong information (Ava)" while Wally reported on it  "Time for a special prosecutor (Wally)" and Kat in "It was like Steel Magnolias at one point during the hearing." Shulman attempted to lie repeatedly.  US House Rep. Stephen Lynch was among the Committee members refusing to allow him to get away with lying.

Shulman and Miller both outrank Lois Lerner in chain of command.  So is she the one "in charge of the mess"?  Gwen knows.  But a lot of people think they know something when they're in their cups.

We were amazed at how many words were used on this topic and others when contrasted with how little was actually said.  We also wondered how anyone who taken a week off from the news could have followed the discussion since names were rarely used -- unless it was to tell a joke ("When's the last time anyone cheered [Senator] Patrick Leahy?") -- and details were assumed and never delivered.

Twenty minutes in, with less than three minutes before the discussion ended, Charles Babington suddenly rushed to throw out a burst of words as though he were trying to distract everyone to avoid picking up the check.  Meanwhile Fawn Johnson was treated not like a panelist seated at the table but like a server who'd forgotten to bring Gwen's extra order of guacamole on the side.

With only one female guest on the show, you might have thought Johnson would get to speak.  She really didn't.  And we were left to wonder, if that's how Gwen treats the wait staff, how miserly is she when it comes to tipping?

For really big laughs, watch the Webcast Extra for when Fawn Johnson advances a thought and Gwen immediately dismisses her in a tone of you-really-shouldn't-be-speaking.

Leahy got cheered, right?

For what?

For immigration reform.  But what the Senate actually voted on and what it would do?  These really weren't concerns to the panel.  They were so disinterested we kept expecting a long shot to reveal that they were actually texting in the midst of the so-called discussion.

As it finally and thankfully ended, you pictured them all sliding out of their chairs onto the floor for a long, drunken siesta and you hopefully grasped that you learned nothing in that wasted half-hour.  Gwen has finally reached the very tip of superficially and PBS allows her to remain balanced precariously there.  Maybe some day, they'll round table over that.

Report on Congress


Dona:  We are back this Sunday morning with another "Report on Congress."   Last week, there were two reported on Congressional hearings.  On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform  hearing a historic, once-in-a-lifetime hearing.  This was reported on in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," Ava's"Sir, I gave you the wrong information (Ava)," Wally's "Time for a special prosecutor (Wally)" and Kat's
"It was like Steel Magnolias at one point during the hearing."  It was also spoofed in Cedric's "Future employment opportunities for Lois Lerner" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR LOIS LERNER!"  But I want to deal with another hearing first.  Actually, I want to deal with a complaint.  A reader named Phyllis e-mailed to complain that there was a VA hearing on Wednesday and you did not cover it.  She says that you appear "to only want to go where the press and the glamor is."  She notes she is "very unhappy."   I'm tossing to C.I.

C.I.: I'll assume she's never attended a Congressional hearing or she wouldn't accuse it of being glamorous.  The other hearing that was covered, was a VA hearing.  I covered it "Iraq snapshot" and that was Tuesday's House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee hearing on pending legislation.  No offense to anyone but these hearings -- on pending legislation -- are usually the least covered by the press, they are not considered remotely glamorous.  I was there, it was covered.  The Wednesday hearing that Phyllis is referring to was the House Committee of Veterans Affairs -- again.  It started at the same time as the House Oversight and Government Reform.  Originally my plan was to catch the first of the Oversight hearing but a friend at the VA hearing texted me the place was packed.  I think I made the right choice.  I've seen VBA's Allison Hickey spin and lie enough times.

Dona: And Oversight was a historic hearing.  Wally, since you both reported on it and -- with Cedric -- spoofed it, how about you explain the historical aspect.

Wally: Pleading the Fifth before Congress.  Does anyone do it?  During the McCarthy era, private citizens called before the Congress and asked if they were a Communist would plead the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination.  No one was concerned with Communism at this hearing.  More recently, baseball star Roger Clemens was asked about doping and he pleaded the Fifth.  Baseball's Mark McGwire, eight years ago, also pleaded the Fifth when asked by Congress about steroids.  As far as I know, Monica Goodling was the only government official to appear before the US Congress and plead the Fifth in what was not a criminal investigation.  Goodling was a Bully Boy Bush appointee.  But there are many differences here.  First off, she wasn't under a subpoena to appear. And she just announced she wouldn't be showing.  Second, she was already on administrative leave.  Third, she and the Justice Department parted ways.  Fourth, after that happened the House offered her immunity, issued a subpoena and she appeared before it. Lois Lerner pleaded the Fifth on Wednesday.  She went in as an IRS official.  She was not on leave then.  The day after, she was placed on administrative leave.  She came before Congress.  She read a lengthy statement and she pleaded the Fifth.

Dona: Which raises issues right there.

Kat: Let me jump in.  One of the issues is how do we cover it?  That's the issue I wanted to address.  If you plead the Fifth, you say nothing.  To me, and we discussed this after the hearing before any of us reported on it, Lois wanted it both ways.  She wanted to get a statement on the record that would be reported -- video footage of her speaking on the news -- proclaiming her innocence and yet she didn't want to answer questions.  I stated that I felt we didn't report one word she said because that wasn't fair.  You plead the Fifth and stay silent or you talk.  You can't have it both ways and I didn't want my site being used to help Lois spread her propaganda.

Dona: This was an in depth discussion?

Kat: Yes, it was.

Ava: And during that, C.I. pointed out the other obvious problem, the one you were going to raise, Dona.  That problem is: Did she really plead the Fifth?  You can't make a statement and plead the Fifth.  At least people don't think you can and you haven't been able to so far.  The House is looking into that now. But, yes, IRS official Lois Lerner coming before Congress and announcing she was pleading the Fifth was a historic moment.

Dona: She was only one of four witnesses appearing before the House Committee.  Another was the Treasury Department's Inspector General J. Russell George.  Wally, in a previous "Report on Congress," you spoke about how he was nervous at the start of the hearing with IRS acting commissioner Steve Miller because he was seated right next to Miller.  That doesn't usually happen, you noted, where the IG witness and the person he or she is judging are on the same panel and seated side-by-side.  What about this hearing and George?

Wally: It was not the love-fest he'd had before.  There were serious questions about why he had not kept Congress informed.  Those came from everyone -- including Committee Chair Darrell Issa and Committee member Eleanor Holmes Norton.  Congress is supposed to be read in,they're supposed to be kept in the loop.  He felt that they only learned the outcome when the IG completed the report.  That's not what the law says and, as was pointed out to him, when they asked for this investigation, they made it clear they wanted to be updated regularly.

Dona: And they weren't?

Wally: No.  And e-mails were read and displayed with various excuses that Congress was given for a year while they tried to get answers about the investigation.  At one point, in August of last year, Congress was sent an e-mail that insisted that the sender -- I'm assuming George -- meant to get back to them sooner but it was a busy time what with finals.  Final exams.  College classes delayed an inspector general's investigation.  And the Congress kept e-mailing asking for updates.  They were repeatedly promised them.  So the failure to give them and to say last week that you didn't know you could, you thought that wasn't allowed by the law, that excuse really doesn't wash.

Dona: Wally, best guess.  Why didn't people get informed?

Wally: In e-mail after e-mail, it was noted that deadlines were being missed.  One of the most obvious deadlines was the start of October.  Had this IG report come out in October, it could have influenced the election.  The IRS was out of control.  And the IRS knew that and had known it since May of 2010.  So I think people who feel that the report was stonewalled and proper importance was not placed on it are correct.  And I think from there the argument can be made that it was intentional and it was to keep the report buried until after the election.

Dona: Kat, you know Ava and C.I. aren't going to guess.  Can I get you too?

Kat: Sure, even though I should have learned my lesson from last time I ventured a guess.  What Wally's talking about, that possibility it is a strong one.  Not only was the report buried but Congress was lied to.  The IRS knew in May of 2010 about this problem.  And yet they came before Congress and lied about it.  Why?  I don't think it's a stretch to argue that they lied due to the election.

Dona: Doug Shulman was at the hearing.  He was the IRS Commissioner until Miller became Acting.  A big deal was made out of him being a Bush appointee.

Kat: Yeah, as if that would put the blame on Barack.  However, all the reporters were saying, after the hearing, they were saying that he had a record of contributing to Democrats and that his last donation was to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.  But in the hearing, when asked about his contributions, he refused to answer.  He said it was a long time ago and didn't take place while he was a Commissioner and that he couldn't remember.  Now look, of everyone involved in this little roundtable right now, I have the worst memory.  I'm known for that.  But I can remember donating to Kerry's campaign in 2004.  It wasn't even a decade ago.

Dona: Ava, Kat's talking about how Shulman couldn't answer a basic question.  You reported on some of that.  Tell us about that.

Ava: Okay, US House Rep. Stephen Lynch was attempting to get a straight and simple answer from Douglas Shulman.  He had told the Congress a year ago that there was "absolutely no targeting."  And there was.  Lynch wanted to know why Shulman had lied.  And Shulman ate up the time.  At one point, he floated the idea that it wasn't targeting because it wasn't just conservative groups being targeted.  And Lynch was on that wanting to know who else was targeted.  No one.  Shulman was saying he might not have known that it was just conservatives at the time, that a year ago, to the best of his recollection, he might have thought other groups were being targeted.

Dona: And then there's his most ridiculous reason that no one was targeted.

Ava: Right.  His attitude today is that no one was targeted.  That he was truthful then and no one's targeted today.  Why?  You don't have to apply for that status.  You can wait until filing taxes and just check that status. So these people having trouble with the status, they should have just ignored it.  I'm looking at your face and I think you want to speak.

Dona: I do. Thank you.  I was so outraged when I read that in your report.  So let's put me and a reader in a  501 (c) (4) group called Lays Lovers -- we believe in Lays potato chips and getting the word and educating the public on them.  And we apply for our status and are asked to provide a list of our donors and are asked what material we can provide and are asked who speaks before our group and do we pray and what is our prayer?  After those kind of questions even if we know that we can ignore the application and just file we already know there's going to be serious problems when we file our taxes because trying to get the application has been impossible.  And that's if we know.  I had no idea until your report that a group could operate and just file their taxes -- no application necessary.

Ava: Right.  I don't think most people do.  But what you're risking is that you'll have done all this work and then have your tax exemption denied.  And who wants to do that to begin with.  Shulman was a liar.

Wally: I will add that Lynch deserves applause for noting that if answers can't be supplied -- and they weren't -- it's time for a special prosecutor to be appointed.  I agree with that completely.

Dona: Amen.  Okay, I left C.I. out of that conversation because she was the only one at the VA hearing on Tuesday.  I know that because I'm the one who does C.I.'s schedule.  I juggle where she's going to speak with what hearings she's going to attend.

C.I.: And Dona does a great job and I never know where I'm going until I check her schedule.  I didn't even know it was Memorial Day tomorrow until after I woke up Friday morning and was looking at Dona's schedule to see what time I left Monday.  I don't.  Yea!

Dona: Kat didn't want to go to Tuesday's hearing.  She wasn't the only one who felt that way but was the most expressive.

Kat: I said my butt is going to be sore Wednesday.  I don't need Tuesday.  And Wednesday's hearing lasted forever.   But it's also true that pending legislation can be covered by just C.I.  It's not like there's usually a great deal of things there.  Although when they do scientific presentations, I do like that.

Dona: So, C.I., what did they do?

C.I.: I wished others had been there because one thing they did was talk about two possible bills.  Nothing was in writing.  I don't think I've been to hearing where they've done that.  Pending legislation has always, at past hearings, meant there was a bill.  I thought.  One of the pending -- nothing written -- bills is one of the most important.  This has to do with accountability. The VA continues to miss deadlines imposed by Congress.  Nothing's happening there.  You miss the deadline, you get a slap on the wrist in terms of Congress says some things to you in a session.  That's it.  There are no consequences.  So this is a proposal, how to give Congress teeth with regards to VA's failures.  Veterans attending the hearing that I spoke to after the hearing -- I'm referring to veterans who observed, not the ones with VSOs who offered testimony -- thought this was the most important thing that Congress could do.  Five of them brought up all by themselves from me asking them, "If only one thing discussed today happened, what would you want it to be?"  They all said for Congress to find ways to penalize the VA when they blow off deadlines.  There is so much frustration among veterans over this -- you heard from the VSOs too but I'm talking about among veterans who showed up to observe the hearing.

Dona: And that doesn't surprise me, that they'd feel that way, because just doing this feature over the last months -- has been years yet? -- has left me frustrated with the repeated failures of the VA to serve the veterans in the manner that they promised Congress that they would.  Could you talk about the mental health evaluations?  You reported on that as well.

C.I.: Sure.  That's another area that VA's failing.  US House Rep. Dennis Ross is proposing  HR 241 Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act.  Why is he proposing it?  Because The VA promised that they would provide mental health evaluations for all veterans needing them within 14 days of a veteran contacting the VA to schedule a consultation.  So Dona, you're a veteran, and you call the VA May 1st and say, "Hey I need to schedule a consultation to get a mental evaluation."  You may go further and note Post-Traumatic Stress or something else.  But you explain what you need.  By May 15th, you're supposed to have had that initial evaluation.  The VA has told Congress that this goal has been met.  They have a 95% success rate on meeting this goal.  But there's what the VA tells Congress and what's actually going on.  So what's actually going on?  In the most recent VA Inspector General report on this topic?  The VA isn't meeting this goal 95% of the time.  They're not even making it 70% or even 50%.  49% is their success rate with this goal.  In addition, 184,000 veterans, in 2012, had to wait over 50 days for that initial evaluation.  As Dennis Ross pointed out, this wasn't for treatment, this was just for the initial evaluation.  So let me go back, Dona, you're the the veteran and you call the VA May 1st to schedule a mental evaluation.  You might not be seen until July.  What message does that send and if you are struggling with a mental issue how the hell does that over 50 day wait help you?

Dona: And that is why there needs to be teeth for the US Congress.  VA keeps lying.  Elaine had a great post on this on Friday, "Why does Shinseki still have a job?"  More and more that it is the question to be asking.  Alright this is  a rush transcript.  Our new e-mail address is

Film Classics of the 20th Century

One of our regular features is going to be a look back at great films from the last century.  As Betty noted earlier this month about film:

Film is visceral.
It's hollering for Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett in "Set It Off" or for Angelina Jolie in "Wanted."  It's screaming when someone steps out from the shadows, it's knowing that Tony and Maria belong together ("West Side Story") and that Angie Dickinson should not get on that elevator ("Dressed To Kill"), it's rooting for Gale Sondergaard to kill Bette Davis ("The Letter"), it's the moment in "Terminator 2" when Linda Hamilton fixes the doctor with the look.

movie montage

Gwen:  I slept with Boomer Bower?

Newton:  Yes, but it's not -- it's not like you were being promiscuous.  He's your old boyfriend and you bumped into him one day and you got to reminiscing and it just happened.  Except now, you don't know where we stand.

Gwen:  You gave me an old boyfriend?  And you named him 'Boomer'? 

Newton:  I'm a little new at this, okay?  But that's the beauty of it.  That's why you left our apartment in Boston -- to come up here and decide between me and Boomer.

Gwen:  I can't believe you told her that.

Newton:  Well I can't believe you can't believe it.  You've told a few whoppers yourself, you know.

Gwen:  I told nice ones.

And she did.  Gwen (Goldie Hawn) told nice and lively lies.  Newton (Steve Martin)?  As Gwen tells him later in the movie,  "The problem is if I might say is that you stink at lying and every time you try it, you get us in trouble."

In 1992's House Sitter, Newton Davis is an architect who designs a home to share with the love of his life Becky (Dana Delany) who has absolutely no interest in him.  It's a grand gesture that backfires creating problems for him and tension between him and his parents.


In Boston, a depressed Newton meets Gwen on a rainy night he ends up spending with her.  He tells her about his love for Becky and the house he built and how it just sits there now, empty, mocking him.  The next morning, she finds the sketch of the house he did on a napkin.


Arriving by bus in the tiny town, Gwen makes herself at home and is soon introducing herself as Mrs. Gwen Davis . . . to George Davis (Donald Moffat) -- Newton's father.

George and Edna (Julie Harris) embrace their new daughter-in-law especially when Gwen's done spinning a Newton they haven't seen.


Those are the nice lies.

And things are going great.


Until Newton shows up.  As Gwen points out, "Boy, for awhile there it was a really great marriage.  Well it was -- until you came into it."

Newton's ready to kick her out and correct the record except suddenly Becky's interested in him.


And he decides they can both get something out of this, Gwen can get a place to live and he can't get Becky.  They just have to stage the end of their marriage in such a way that Becky wants him.


Along the way, Gwen charms Newton's boss, setting him up for the big promotion Becky thinks he's already gotten.  Of course, that did mean creating a father who was in WWII and served with Newton's boss but . . .

Chinese take out, punched out Hungarians, clothes that excite, soon even Gwen's buying into it.

Gwen:  I want this marriage to work.

Newton:  What marriage?


To get the promotion, they stage a belated wedding reception and invite Newton's boss so he can see the house Newton designed and hopefully be blown away thereby getting the promotion.  To pull it off, they grab two people off the street to pose at Gwen's parents.


At the reception, with everything building, Becky makes rude comments about Gwen at the reception, Gwen stages a dramatic break up.  Newton is thrilled.

And then as Gwen leaves for him to be with Becky, Newton suddenly realizes he had already found everything he needed.

This is director Frank Oz's masterpiece.  The rhythm, the set ups, it's all amazing and the way the camera circles to indicate the lies that wrap and wrap and wrap around Gwen and Newton is wonderful.  Mark Stein's script (from a story by Stein and Brian Grazer) is in the tradition of Preston Sturges.  And each role is perfectly cast including Roy Cooper as Newton's boss.

Best of all, the chemistry between Goldie and Steve really works making you wish they'd team up for another romantic comedy.  (The Out of Towners was not a romantic comedy and Goldie's barely in the film.)  The two have magic together.

Gwen explains at one point why she did it, why she moved in to begin with, "I just wanted to see what it would be like to live in the picture."  It's a sweet moment but the sweetness is never laid on thick and it never interferes with the belly laughs.  One of the best American comedies in the second half of the 20th century.

The press briefing that got away . . .


That great beginning has seen the final inning.

Or so it seemed Thursday at the US State Department press briefing.

All hell did not break loose but it was surely the liveliest interaction for the department in some time.

Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell handled the briefing (or tried to).  The first participants were Fox News' Whitney Ksiazek and Associated Press' Matthew Lee.  This month has seen revelations that the US Justice Department secretly obtained two months worth of AP phone records.  That's not the only time that Justice has targeted the press.  This month also saw the revelation that the department obtained the phone records and e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen and that, in court papers, they labeled Rosen a criminal "co-conspirator."  With that in mind . . .

 Whitney Ksiazek: And then on a separate topic, was former Secretary Clinton consulted with the tracking of my colleague James Rosen’s building – State Department building swipe? And were any other employees interviewed in connection with the North Korea reporting that James Rosen did?

Patrick Ventrell: My understanding, this is a law enforcement matter. I really refer you to the Department of Justice for all details on that. In terms of our cooperation with the Department of Justice or the FBI on matters, that would be handled through Diplomatic Security channels and law enforcement channels. That’s how that’s done.

Matthew Lee:  So you – in principle, DS doesn’t have a problem turning over badge records to --

Patrick Ventrell: Again, I’m not aware of the specific cooperation on this case, but --

Matthew Lee:  Well, they got the records of his entry and egress, so you guys obviously handed – I mean, they didn’t make them up, I hope.

Patrick Ventrell:   Well, I can’t --
Matthew Lee:  So you guys obviously gave them to them.

Patrick Ventrell: I can’t comment on any details of this particular case, but when we have --
Matthew Lee: Well, I’m not talking about this particular case. Just in general, I mean, are you, like, running around, giving out the details of our comings and goings from this building?

Patrick Ventrell: Issues of cooperation on law enforcement matters between Diplomatic Security and the FBI are handled in law enforcement channels. I don’t have anything further on it.

Matthew Lee: Wait. Well, so you mean you’re not – do you just give the information out if people ask for it? Or do they need a court order or something?

Patrick Ventrell:  Matt, I’m not sure of the legal circumstances on that kind of information sharing.

Matthew Lee: Well, can you check?

Patrick Ventrell: Sure.

Matthew Lee: It would be --

Patrick Ventrell: I’m happy to check on --

Matthew Lee: If DOJ comes to you and says we want the entry and exit records from people, persons X, Y, and Z, do you just give them to them? Or do they have to --

Patrick Ventrell: My understanding is there’s a legal process that’s followed, but I’d have to check with the lawyers.

Matthew Lee:  Well, can you find out what the – what it is --

Patrick Ventrell: I’d be happy to check.

Matthew Lee: -- from your end, whether they need a subpoena or whether they need something like that.

Later in the press briefing it seemed another topic might be raised when questions came from  Asia Today and India Globe's Raghubir Goyal.

Raghubir Goyal: New subject?

Patrick Ventrell: Yeah.

Raghubir Goyal: Question, Patrick, on the freedom of the press, globally.

Patrick Ventrell: You ask very broad questions, Goyal. (Laughter.)

Raghubir Goyal: Just simple question on the freedom of the press.

Patrick Ventrell: We support the freedom of the press. (Laughter.)

Raghubir Goyal: And the question is --

Matthew Lee: Do you?

Patrick Ventrell: We do.

Matthew Lee: Do you really?

Patrick Ventrell: We do, Matt.

Matthew Lee: Are you speaking for the entire Administration, or just this building?

Patrick Ventrell: We support the freedom of the press. We support it globally. We support it here at home.

Matthew Lee: That’s the position of this building. Is it the position of the entire Administration?

Patrick Ventrell: It is.

Raghubir Goyal: Just to mark the international freedom of the press, and recently Freedom House, they placed another 84 names of the journalists who were killed in 25 countries, but – these are only official from the Freedom House – but hundreds of journalists are beaten, jailed, or killed in many countries – more than 25 countries. My question is here: When Secretary meets with world leaders here or abroad, does he talk ever other than human rights but on the freedom of the press in these countries?

Patrick Ventrell: Indeed, he constantly and consistently raises these issues with foreign leaders around the world and here when he meets with them. And I think you heard over the two weeks during our freedom of the press activities, many of the cases that we called out, the high priority that we place on this, and our deep concern for the well-being of journalists who face violence and repression for the work that they do around the world. So that’s something we’re deeply committed to.

Raghubir Goyal: -- especially in China or Saudi Arabia and --

Patrick Ventrell: It includes all those countries.

Raghubir Goyal: Thank you, sir.

Matthew Lee: Is it just violence and repression? Or is it also government intimidation or – that you’re opposed to?

Patrick Ventrell: That as well. All of that.

Matthew Lee: So in other words, the State Department opposes the Administration – the rest of the Justice Department’s investigations into --

Patrick Ventrell: Well, again, I think you’re trying to conflate two issues here.

Matthew Lee: No, no. I’m asking about freedom of the press. That was what the question was.

Patrick Ventrell: And we do – and we support freedom of the press. I think you’ve heard the President – I think you’ve heard the White House talk about this extensively.

Matthew Lee: Right. So you – and you think that violence and repression against journalism – journalists is wrong, as you do harassment or intimidation by government agencies.

Patrick Ventrell: All of the above.

Matthew Lee: So you do not regard what the Justice Department has been doing as harassment or intimidation.

Patrick Ventrell: Again, I can’t comment on a specific law enforcement investigation.

Matthew Lee: I’m not asking about a specific case. In general, would the State Department oppose or support harassment, intimidation, or prosecution of journalists for publishing information?

Patrick Ventrell: We oppose that, in terms of them – is this around the world --

Matthew Lee: Okay. So the State Department then opposes the Justice Department’s prosecution.

Patrick Ventrell: Again, you’re trying to get me to conflate two issues.

Now they wonder?


Today Mark Sappenfield and The Christian Science Monitor want to wonder, "How can Chuck Hagel fix military sexual assault epidemic?"

Today they wonder?


Where were they back in January?

From January 4th's "And people are pushing for Chuck Hagel?":

I'm not sure what they think a Secretary of Defense does. (The Foreign Policy in Focus pieces were written by two different people. We're being kind and not naming them.) The Secretary of Defense does not have sleep overs with the Israeli prime minister. The Secretary of Defense does not engage in heavy petting with the Israeli defense minister. 
When you hear about rates of suicide in the military?  That's something that the Secretary is supposed to address.  The same with assault and rape in the ranks.

It was an issue this community could and did raise.  Isaiah even did a comic.

curse of chuckie

"There are serious crises in today's military including the rate of suicide and the rate of assault and rape.  Look for me to ignore all of that."

Let's hope Hagel's up for it.

He's now Secretary of Defense.

The press avoided the issues back then.

To the press, 'issues' were everything but what the Secretary of Defense actually does.

Next time, maybe they can leave aside the spin and the partisan bickering and address the actual issues a nominee needs to be able to address?

We hope Hagel's up to it.  We really do.  But we were asking that question before he was confirmed.  It's a shame the press can't say the same.

Malcolm X lives (Monica Moorehead, WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Malcolm X lives

By on May 23, 2013 » Add the first comment.
MalcolmXThe great Black leader, Malcolm X —also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz — was born on May 19, 1925. His birth name was Malcolm Little.

As a child, he experienced the horrors of racism growing up in Lansing, Mich., where his father, Earl Little, was lynched when Malcolm was six years old. When Malcolm told one of his teachers that he wanted to be a lawyer, she discouraged him from pursuing this career because he was Black.

When he went to prison in the early 1950s for petty crimes, Malcolm’s political outlook blossomed as he met and joined the Nation of Islam, the largest mass Black organization in the U.S.

As his political reputation as a nationalist leader grew while imprisoned, Malcolm drew the attention and ire of the FBI’s counterintelligence program, known as Cointelpro. This repressive program — created by then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and sanctioned by every branch of the U.S. government — targeted any mass movements inside the U.S. that sought self-determination and national liberation from racist repression. The FBI’s tactics included demonizing through disinformation, frame-ups leading to incarceration and killings of political leaders of movements led by the oppressed.

Malcolm X’s advocacy for the right to armed self-defense against state repression influenced mass organizations such as the Black Panther Party, the Deacons for Self-Defense, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement and many others. These groups eventually were targeted by Cointelpro, along with countless heroic leaders like Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Assata Shakur, Fred Hampton, Safiya Bukhari, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier.

Malcolm X’s political consciousness broadened from revolutionary Black Nationalism at home to anti-capitalist internationalism based on his travels abroad, especially to Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He once stated, “The same man that was colonizing our people in Kenya was colonizing our people in Congo. The same one in the Congo was colonizing our people in South Africa, and in Southern Rhodesia, and in Burma and in India, and in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan. They realized all over the world where the dark man was being oppressed, he was being oppressed by the white man; where the dark man was being exploited, he was being exploited by the white man.” (Malcolm X Speaks, 1965)

A week before his assassination, he stated, “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of Black against White, or as a purely American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.”

After leaving the NOI, Malcolm X initiated the short-lived Organization of Afro-American Unity in 1964 to help promote Pan-Africanism and broaden solidarity between Black people at home and globally. He was assassinated while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom auditorium on Feb. 21, 1965. It is widely known that the U.S. government was behind the assassination.

As the late Panther leader Fred Hampton — who was assassinated by Chicago police on Dec. 4, 1969 — once stated, “You can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.” These prophetic words certainly apply to Malcolm X, whose inspiring words and legacy will live on.

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

KC-46A Tanker Program

In this still struggling economy, a new government program can be the difference between a lot of jobs or none at all.  With that in mind, Senators Patty Murry and Maria Cantwell joined with House Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers to express their disappointment over the decision not to make Washington the base for a new tanker program.

For Immediate Release
MAY 22, 2013

Murray: (202) 224-2834
Cantwell: (202) 224-8277
McMorris Rodgers: (509) 353-2374

Murray, Cantwell, McMorris Rodgers Disappointed By Air Force Decision on KC-46A Tanker Program

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) expressed their disappointment with the Air Force’s decision to base the KC-46A tanker program at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, despite the strong bid from Fairchild Air Force Base in Eastern Washington.

“Today’s decision by the Air Force is extremely disappointing, and seems to ignore the obvious advantages Fairchild has to support the military’s regional and global priorities and major flight programs like the KC-46A,” said Senator Murray.  “While pressing the top levels of the Pentagon for answers on today’s decisions, I will continue to work with the full delegation for future investments in Fairchild, including new tankers in the next rounds of basing decisions.”

"The Secretary of the Air Force stated today that Fairchild will be a strong contender for future tanker basing decisions,” said Senator Cantwell. “While today’s preliminary tanker decision is disappointing, I will work with the Washington delegation and local leaders to bring new tankers to Fairchild and ensure it remains a vital asset for our nation's tanker program. With Fairchild's 50-year history as a vital resource in the U.S. tanker refueling program, Spokane remains a strong choice for locating future refueling tankers.”

“This is not a loss. The Air Force has plans to procure 179 KC-46A refueling tankers. It is important to remember that this is only the first installment of 36 tankers. While it was our hope that Fairchild would be the preferred base to host the next-generation refueling tankers, today’s announcement continues to bolster Fairchild’s vibrant mission. In the next few years, the Air Force will continue to base KC-46A refueling tankers at additional installations,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “Moving forward, Fairchild will compete very well and is in an excellent position to receive them. “For over a decade, our community has worked together to let the Air Force know we would welcome the tankers at Fairchild. Today’s decision demonstrates that our hard work was appreciated by the Air Force. I want to thank our community leaders – civilian and military; public sector and private sector; and by officials in both parties – for their commitment and teamwork. We have a lot to be proud of, and our efforts for Fairchild will continue.” 

In December 2011, May 2012, and most recently in April 2013, Murray, Cantwell, and McMorris Rodgers led Washington state delegation letters to U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, highlighting the unique benefits that Fairchild offers the Air Force and the KC-46A tanker program, specifically.  Fairchild, which is ideally situated to support the Department of Defense’s broad-based focus on the Asia-Pacific region, is already home to the Active Duty 92nd Air Refueling Wing and the Washington Air National Guard's 141st Air Refueling Wing, which both fly the KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, and has continually modernized its facilities through more than $400 million in military construction investments.

The Washington state delegation strongly advocated for Fairchild’s bid for the tanker program and has helped direct significant federal investments to the base. Those investments have included:

·         $11 million to fund a new Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Force Support Complex
·         $4.15 million for a Refueling Vehicle Maintenance Facility
·         Funding for a redesigned hangar, energy efficient improvements, mission support complex, resistance training facility, and Armed Forces Reserve Center
·         Funding for a new 14,000 foot runway, a new, state-of-the-art fitness center, and a new wing command headquarters to better integrate active-duty Airmen and Air National Guardsmen


Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office


 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.  Yes, we're including Ann and Cedric even though they were only with us in spirit.  (Ann and Cedric are new parents as of Friday and we congratulate them!) 

"Fact-Free Jon Stewart, King of Dumb Comedy" -- most requested highlight of the week by readers of this site.

"Iraq snapshot," "Sir, I gave you the wrong information (Ava)," "Time for a special prosecutor (Wally),"
"It was like Steel Magnolias at one point during the hearing," "Future employment opportunities for Lois Lerner" and "THIS JUST IN! A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR LOIS LERNER!," and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat report on the House Oversight hearing and then Cedric and Wally spoof the hearing and C.I. reports on the House Veterans Affairs Subcomittee hearing.

"Jane Mayer's War on Adjectives" and "Jay Rosen distorts the truth"-- Betty and Ann offer some hard hitting media criticism.

"Dimitri at CNN Viewer Communications" -- Ann wonders about CNN's policies regarding speech.

"New documentary" "Film to see," and "a documentary and the thinning of support" -- Rebecca, Bettty and Trina on a new documentary. 

"Thunderball" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Revolution (trust issues episode)," "The TV season was all about glorifying sexism" and "The Client List"-- Marcia, Betty and Ruth cover TV.

"Jay Carney shares a recipe" and "THIS JUST IN! IN THE KITCHEN WITH JAY CARNEY!" -- Cedric and Wally step into the kitchen with Carney.
"Iraqi oil" -- C.I. fills in for Ann.

"the impotency of jeffrey st. clair" and "noam chomsky and his lack of ethics" -- more hard hitting media critiques from Rebecca.

"Why did I write about Little Missy?" -- Ruth tries to respond to an e-mail.  Please read.  And grasp that when you e-mail someone about 'something you wrote' you need to (a) provide a link, (b) a date or (c) a title.  Ruth's got nearly 1500 pieces at her site alone.  How the hell is she supposed to know what someone is writing about?

"Jack A. Smith doesn't know Jack" -- Amen, Kat.

"The insane new policy from the Scouts" -- Marcia calls out the Boy Scouts new policy.

"The problem is Macaray not Bill Maher" -- Stan notes that, no, Bill Maher is not 'great' when it comes to race or women's rights.

"Colgate Ready" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one.

"Why does Shinseki still have a job?" -- A basic question from Elaine.

"How not to inform about Benghazi" and "The Drone War still" -- Mike on a writer who speaks to him -- including Mike offering him a suggestion -- don't insult people you're trying to reach.

"The pregnancy blues" -- Ann shares a little as labor looms (she gave birth Friday).

"Hawija" -- Stan writes about the massacre.

"War on the Press and Lizz Winstead" -- Elaine weighs in on two topics.

"Frank James will not be bound by media ethics" -- Betty looks at NPR.

"Summer Salsa in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a refreshing recipe and also explains that Watertown is not in Boston, it's six miles from Boston and it's its own town so please stop saying that events in Watertown took place in Boston.

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