Sunday, July 28, 2013

Truest statement of the week

Although Tour de Peace was wonderfully hosted in a couple of dozen of communities across this nation with crowds ranging from 10 to 200, I was dismayed to find that there is very little anti-war sentiment out there besides the anti-drone work—which is important, but not comprehensive. By focusing on drones we forget about manned aircraft and there has been very little opposition to the US and its putrid allies arming and training the "rebels" in Syria. The violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan continues and the use of drones is just one part of the imperial project of world domination. 

--  Cindy Sheehan, "Hide Errbody [sic]" Tour de Peace wrap-up" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

In Detroit, even the thin gruel of democracy that America advertises to the world, has ceased to exist. Not one of its 700,000 residents retains the political rights of citizens, those rights having been usurped by the agents of Wall Street: Governor Rick Snyder and bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr, the Lone Ranger and Tonto who were the sole authorities empowered to file bankruptcy for the city. Their mission is to render the judgment of capital that Detroit is too poor, in its present demographic composition, for participation in the democratic order, and must be forcibly reconstituted, beginning with a divvying up of its assets. At the end of this process, a “new” Detroit is supposed to emerge, which will have divested itself of enough Black and poor people to allow the reinstatement of some form of electoral franchise.

-- Glen Ford, "Detroit: The Bell Tolls for All of Us" (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.

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

We'll see you next week.


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

Editorial: Another Iraq tipping point?

The first tipping point on Iraq was in the summer of 2005 when the public significantly turned against the Iraq War -- significantly and decisively.  We noted it in real time and we noted it again in the summer of 2006:

Long before the press recognized it, the country turned against the war. Some calcified opinion makers (well, they fancy themselves as that), have recently written that country has turned against the war. If they checked the actually polling, they'd find that turning happened some time ago. (We called it the tripping point and made that call in the summer of 2005.) Those types ride their desks really well, they just don't get out among the people. The running of the beltway bulls never really effects (or reflects) the people but it does throw down the gauntlet to the politicians.

It appears another Iraq tipping point is emerging.  This one is the tipping point involving despot Nouri al-Maliki.

Not Quite There

[Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There."]

This weekend, the editorial board of The Washington Post pointed out:

But Iraq’s troubles are also due to the narrowly sectarian and quasi-authoritarian policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who prosecuted Sunni leaders in his own government and sent troops to attack a Sunni protest encampment.
[. . .]
The Obama administration has for too long offered nearly unqualified support to Mr. Maliki. 

Amnesty International has long noted Nouri's (at best) inability to provide basic human rights,  "Journalists and human rights activists have been harassed, beaten, detained and even killed. While Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has promised to protect their rights, including their freedom of speech, few killings have been investigated and a culture of impunity prevails."  Following the April 23rd massacre in Hawija, Human Rights Watch's Sarah Lee Whitson observed,  "The Maliki government’s repeated failure to bring anyone to justice has fueled the violence and failed the families of those killed."

Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006 only after the Bush White House nixed the Iraqi Parliament's choice (they wanted Ibrahim al-Jaafari to have a second term) and instead demanded Bully Boy Bush's choice Nouri al-Maliki.  He was ineffective and delivered neither safety nor public services.  Which is why the 2010 parliamentary elections saw Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  That should have meant -- per the Iraqi Constitution -- that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi was the new prime minister.  But the Obama White House backed Nouri.  Barack backed him over the Iraqi Constitution, over the will of the voters, over the concept of democracy.  So the US government staged a work-around on the Constitution, they brokered The Erbil Agreement which gave second place Nouri a second term as prime minister.

Nouri has repeatedly been caught running secret prisons in Iraq where people were tortured.

That didn't bother Barack.

As The Washington Post begins observing what human rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have long been noting, maybe there's finally a tipping point on administration support for Nouri?

Maybe not.  From Friday's State Department press briefing:

QUESTION: Can you confirm, or have you seen the reports that Iran has expressed the desire for direct talks with the U.S. regarding its nuclear program? And if so, what kind of role will Iraq play in that, if any?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen reports. Of course, Iraq is a partner of the United States, and we’re in regular conversations with Iraqi officials about a full range of issues of mutual interest, including Iran. As we’ve said many times, we’re open to direct talks with Iran in order to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. And we work through, as you all know, the P-5+1 and Under Secretary Sherman just had a meeting, I believe a couple of weeks ago, with her counterparts. But it is – the ball is in Iran’s court to take the necessary steps to abide by their international obligations. And that has not changed.

QUESTION: Do you know --
QUESTION: What about --
QUESTION: Do you know if Prime Minister Maliki has offered himself up, or offered his services as an intermediary?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that for you.

Nouri needs to go.  Is the White House going to yet again make the Iraqi people suffer for some backdoor dealings?  It is possible especially when you consider how little the administration has done for human rights in Iraq -- or elsewhere.

TV: Appreciation

Gratitude, some TV networks execs would argue, is in short supply these days.

We'd argue the deficiency on gratitude comes from the suits themselves.


Take CBS which always manages to screw up something.

Under The Dome is a so-so show.  It's actually a creative disappointment thus far.  But pairing Steven King and Stephen Spielberg raised enough interest that over 13 million people watched the first episode.  A smart network would build on that.  To be clear, 13 million would be amazing numbers these days for a broadcast show during the fall season.  For one airing this summer, it verges on once-in-a-lifetime.

It could be CBS' Lost with a little sprucing up.  It could be.

But it won't.

CBS issued a cry like the sirens and people responded only to find themselves crashed and crushed against the rocks.  That's what tends to happen whenever CBS stands a shot at improving their demographics.

How did the network destroy Under The Dome?

They don't understand the 21st century at CBS.  They're Luddites convinced that people must watch TV on TV only.  That's why they have the least traffic of any of the big four (CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox).  In fact, there are weeks when The CW has more traffic to entertainment programming that CBS does.

Most of the programs the tired network airs are not going to be streamed, CBS refuses to stream.  With Under The Dome, they streamed the first two episodes and then quickly switched to "clips."

When ABC had the mega-hit Lost, they were able to air it each week on TV and also stream it online.  It never harmed the show's ratings.  But CBS is convinced that if they offered online streaming, they'd lose viewers.  All they've lost is credibility.

They have their rating hit but they also have a growing online chorus carping about the show because the network stopped streaming it.  What does this mean?  It means it's a mutt like Two and a Half Men.  It may deliver ratings but it lacks cachet.  The critics aren't talking about it.

Granted, the critics talk about a lot of crap.  Lena Dunham is untalented and unattractive and the fact that only one million people bother to follow her crappy HBO show (Girls) makes her the equivalent of a YouTube fad two years after.  The critics have a ton of problems.

But its pedigree meant that Under The Dome could have gotten major weekly 'water cooler talk' (so-called critics gushing in print and online).  CBS ensured that won't happen.  Under The Dome is popular but it is not "cool" or "trendy" and that's due to CBS' actions.

We're all responsible for what we do.

We called out the Whiteness of Orange Is The New Black July 14th.  We were a minority opinion.  We're fine with that.  We're not part of an echo chamber.  And our readers were appreciative.  Ty said the biggest complaint coming in on that piece was about  The Washington Post hailing Orange Is The New Black as the best TV prison show ever.  Yeah, that is way too much for a show that features the Queen of Bland as the lead.  But readers also wanted to note that July 18th saw Yasmin Nair calling out the Whiteness of the show in "White Chick Behind Bars: Netflix's Orange is the New Black gets an 'A' on queer issues, a 'C' on race and an 'F' on class" (In These Times) and they wanted to note this observation by Matthew Wollin (Pop Matters), "Most troubling, the premise insulates Chapman within an enclave of whiteness, relegating darker inmates to the status of comic relief and, of course, instructional occasions, at least for the first few episodes. While Burset (Laverne Cox) and Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) are initially charismatic and compelling, it’s soon clear that they’re in place to guide Chapman -- and us -- though her distressingly self-centered awakening."

Readers were also appreciative when we called out The Water Cooler Set's nonsense regarding Arrested Development. (TWCS claimed subplots weren't possible because the shows couldn't be shot weekly, we pointed out -- and used My Three Sons as the best example -- that filming a sitcom allowed you to shoot in any order and you didn't have the constraints that TWCS was insisting existed).  They rushed in e-mails citing this Jason Bateman Rolling Stone interview where Bateman makes just that point about the shooting schedule.

We're grateful for our readers and thrilled that, whether you agree with us or not, you're here each week willing to explore what TV might mean.  Ty cites the avalanche of e-mails for last week's "Media: The wall-to-wall so-called 'discussion'."  Trish, Bailey and Claudio Moreno, you should really consider taking your conversations online.  Ty showed us your e-mails and we encourage you strongly to start websites.  Blogger/Blogspot is a free web hosting platform. Just hit the "home" button or the "page up" button and the top right hand corner has the link for "Create Blog" and it's really easy.  We encourage those three to share their writing.  We encourage that of all of readers.

You show up each week not because we're going to tell you what you want to hear or what everyone else is saying, you show up to consider and determine.  We appreciate that and we encourage you to take it online because the answer is always more voices speaking their truth, not less voices or, even worse, a chorus of voices singing from the same hymnal.  And if you do start a site, be sure to e-mail about a piece you've written so that we can give you a link here (the e-mail address is and if you're writing about our writing -- Ava and C.I. -- you can also shoot it over to to give Ty a break).


We're happy to note things that apply here.  For example, in the dog days of summer, a feature like "TV on the Web" might be appreciated.  USA Today offers this feature.  And some may find it helpful.

We don't particularly for various reasons.  First of all, it's really not television on the web.  It's trailers and YouTube videos.  Second of all, it's highly sexist.

"Top Picks," for example, is nine screen snaps of videos -- only one of which features a woman.  Some may argue that they were dependent upon what was 'put out' recently.  When you're including Johnny Carson videos, there's nothing 'recent' about your offerings.  Jerry Lewis apparently picked the "Comedy" section -- that's the only explanation for nine offerings with no acknowledgment of women.  Women fair a little better in "Drama" where clips featuring Anna Paquin and Julia Stiles allow and in "Animated" with  two of the nine screensnaps of videos emphasized featuring women.  "Entertainment" again features the Vevo screensnap of a woman (and eight clips of men).  "Family" features only one woman (Amy Poehler doling out advice).  In "Tech," Kris Jenner is the sole female screen snap.

We were asked by a USA Today friend if we could promote this feature.  We've provided a link.  But we can't really 'promote' it because we don't agree with it.  We don't agree that it's acceptable for USA Today to promote "TV on the Web" (or whatever they want to call it) in their sexist manner. In what world would these ratios be acceptable because they aren't.

And let's talk 'tech' so we can be at least as savy as Kris Jenner,  USA Today's website is a nightmare.

We're using the latest edition of Windows -- that's Windows 8.  In another version, USA Today's site might work just fine.  In Windows 8, nearly any time you try to do something, you're taken to another USA Today page.  You have to use the "back" button to get back to "TV on the Web" page.  It's a hassle.

So is finding solid viewing choices in the summer.  NBC's Crossing Lines is not a great series but it's not a bomb either and Donald Sutherland's made some surprising twists and turns in the role of Michael Dorn -- enough to keep each episode fresh.   ABC's Motive has been more successful and pairing it with veteran summer series Rookie Blue has allowed ABC to have a strong Thursday night line up this summer.  But with Under The Dome imploding, the show to note has been ABC's Mistresses.

The Monday night melodrama (Stan and Ruth cover each Monday night episode in their Tuesday posts) has inspired discussions online and offline.  With everyone wanting Savi (Alyssa Milano) to open up that envelope (revealing whether she's pregnant by her husband or by her one night stand), this Monday night episode should be a high rated one (last hour of prime time on ABC).  And Milano, Rochelle Aytes, Yunjin Kim and Jes Macallan have established an easy and believable chemistry that some casts need a full season to arrive at (and still others never reach that point).  The ratings for the series demonstrate a second season is in order and that ABC was smart to go with the show that had started-and-stopped several times in the last years before ending up at the network.

As the press releases (from ABC) regularly note, Mistresses is on stronger footing nearly every week and, last week, beat CBS' Under The Dome in its number of women viewers.  (If that surprises you, you haven't been reading Marcia -- start here and here.)   Mistresses has talent in front of and behind the cameras but ABC isn't forking out the huge dollars that a King-Spielberg production requires. An NBC exec bemoaned to us last week that NBC hadn't thought to air Deception (their attempt at Scandal) this summer where it might have stood out more and offered a comparison.  Under The Dome, he said, was the film Clear and Present Danger while Mistresses was the film Speed.  How so?

In 1994, Clear and Present Danger ended up the number 7 film for the year with domestic ticket sales of $122 million while Speed ended up number 8 with domestic ticket sales of $121 million.  He'd rather have been  Fox with Speed than Paramount with Clear and Present Danger, he explained, because Speed made more money -- when you factored in production budget and print and advertising costs, Speed was the money maker and Clear and Present Danger the bloated corpse.

We see his point.  And we'll note that he agrees the mini-series is a format that should be staging a comeback and that NBC will be offering one on Hillary Clinton (starring Diane Lane in the lead role) as well as getting the religious mini-series A.D. (they beat out the History Channel).  We're glad about that.

TV is dying, we hear from time to time.  And there's always a scapegoat offered.  But what's rarely noted is the reality that TV dies when it over-copies.  When everyone wanted to be Law & Order or CSI, TV was in trouble because one-note television is never going to be able to reach a large enough audience to justify its costs.  (Something the soaps should have grasped when they all began aping Passions.)  TV needs variety.  That means sitcoms (remember when we had to regularly take on the false claim that sitcoms were dead and over?).  It means TV movies, it means a mini-series, it means summer offerings, it means a variety show, you name it.

TV always seems exciting when its breaking with the pack.

White House Says Every 8 years Barack speaks about the economy

The White House either had a moment of brutal honesty or else they didn't realize how damning their visual message was.  The economy began tanking in the second term of Bully Boy Bush and it officially tanked in 2008 allowing Barack Obama to win the 2008 election.

In the time since, Barack's done damn little for the economy.

The White House appears to agree with that assessment either intentionally or unintentionally as evidence by this screen snap from the official website last week. (For coverage of the speech, see Trina's  "Barack's worst speech ever" and  Elaine's "The same speech delivered yet again.")

econ wh

In case you're thinking we misread that -- it appears to suggest that if you want to hear Barack speak seriously about the economy, you have to drop back to 2005 -- we wondered about that as well.  So this morning we checked and found this at the White House website under (we're not making this up) "Recent Economy Videos:"

econ wh 2

There's the 2005 speech from when he was a US senator and then "Eight Years Later" he spoke about it again.

Report on Congress


Dona:  We are back with another "Report on Congress."  We have a great deal to catch up on.  Let's start with the week of  July 15th when a variety of reports went up on two hearings:  C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and Ruth's "'Fired' State Department staff still drawing paychecks" went up and reported on the Senate Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight which is Chaired by Senator Claire McCaskill and the witnesses were the Defense Department's Richard Ginman, the State Department's Patrick Kennedy and US AID's Aman Djahanbani.  I know this will be a very short answer, C.I., but what was the conclusion from the hearing?

C.I.:  Short answer: Oversight is hard and not being provided currently.

Dona: That's what I got from the snapshot.  Ruth, you covered it in terms of Benghazi.  What was the news there?

Ruth:  The US mission in Benghazi was attacked September 11, 2012 leading to many Americans being wounded and four being killed:  Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, US Ambassador Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  The answers are still murky as to what happened and how it happened.  At the time of the attack, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  Today, John Kerry holds that position.  While Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State, she insisted that there was accountability.  We were led to believe that attack had resulted in some accountability and that Eric Boswell, Scott Bultrowicz, Charlene Lamb and Raymond Maxwell had been fired.  In the hearing, Ranking Member on the Subcommittee, Senator Ron Johnson, asked about their status?  They remain on administrative leave -- paid administrative leave.  There has been no accountability.

Dona: The answers are still murky, you note.  Ruth, your best guess on the attack?

Ruth: We are less than six weeks away from the anniversary of the attack so I will go ahead and guess.  My best guess is that the CIA was running arms from Libya to the so-called rebels in Syria and that the attack was blowback for that.  I think the State Department failed to provide proper security and that the administration failed in multiple ways including the refusal to publicly address the terrorist attack. When Ronald Reagan secretly armed the contras it was considered a crime -- and not just as a result of the Boland Amendment.  I think the White House intentionally lied about the incident for a number of reasons.  That would be my best guess.

Dona: Alright, thank you for that, Ruth.   The same week saw the House Judiciary Committee hold a hearing on the spying on the American people.  The first panel was DoJ's James Cole, the National Security Agency's John C. Inglis, Office of Director of National Intelligence's Robert S. Litt and the FBI's Stephanie Douglas.  The second panel was Steptoe & Johnson, LLP's Stewart Baker, the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer and CNSS' Kate Martin.  And the community reporting on it is C.I.'s  "Iraq snapshot,"  Ava's  "Officials disrespect House Judiciary Committeem,"  C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," Kat's "FISA rulings,"  Wally's "Proof that we should be thanking Ed Snowden (Wally)" and  C.I.'s  "House Judiciary Committee hearing."  Wally, what's the proof? That we should be thanking Ed Snowden?

Wally: The fact that a hearing on the issue was even held.  You won't hear it in the Senate, more than likely, but you did get it in the House.   Which is also where you got the vote last week on the Amash - Conyers Amednment. It would have put a stop to the meta data spying on all Americans that whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  The vote was 205 for the amendment and 217 against.  That vote wouldn't have happened without Snowden either.  And the Conyers on that amendment is US House Rep. John Conyers who is the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee.  Amash is US House Rep. Justin Amash.

Dona: This was important, this hearing.  We'll come back to the amendment.  But the hearing is important.  C.I. how did the coverage go?

C.I.: The left outlets ignored the hearing.  That's the ones that are anti-Ed Snowden like MSNBC and The Nation and In These Times and, sadly, even the ones who are pro-Ed Snowden like The Progressive.  This was a major hearing.  And it was pretty much ignored by the left press.  If they'd focused on it, the mainstream press might have upped their coverage.  Instead, the MSM treated it as a fleeting moment with most ignoring it.

Dona:  Wally mentioned an important vote.  Ruth, do you want to comment on that vote?

Ruth: Sure.  Cynthia McKinney was a proud defender of American's civil liberties.  Were she in the House, she would have been a vote to end spying. Because she was a strong voice for liberty, Ms. McKinney was run out of Congress by her own party not once but twice.  Her seat today is held by Hank Johnson who voted for the spying to continue.  Nancy Pelosi is the former Speaker of the House.  She used her power -- misused  it to keep Ms. McKinney from getting her seniority restored when Cynthia returned to Congress.  Ms. Pelosi voted to continue the spying.  US House Representative Corinne Brown was strongly against spying on the American people but only when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  So Ms. Brown voted last week to continue the spying.  Other Democrats betraying were Sheila Jackson Lee, Marcy Kaptur, Jan Schakowsky, Susan Davis, Tammy Duckworth,  Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Gregory Meeks.

Dona: Thank you, Ruth.  12 members of the House did not vote and of the ones voting to end spying, 111 Democrats voted to end it and 94 Republicans voted to end it.  Ava, you noted the disrespect the government witnesses on the first panel showed the Committtee.

Ava: Correct.  At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, the witnesses on the first panel treated the Committee members as though they were nothing and certainly not elected officials who could hold the government accountable.  C.I. includes an exchange, for example, in one of her reports.  John Conyers is not just the Ranking Member of the Committee.  He is a member of Congress who has served in the House since winning his first election in 1964.  So Conyers is asking a question of Stephanie Douglas and she replies.  And then John Inglis tries to seize control of the hearing -- he wasn't pleased with Douglas' answer -- and he starts chatting with no one calling on him or recognizing him.  And he tries to railroad his way through a response even when Conyers tells him that's not necessary.  At which point, Chair Bob Goodlatte  offers Conyers another minute if he wants it and Conyers makes it very clear that he does not want or need another minute, that Douglas has answered his question and that he had not inquired of Inglis. That was a dramatic example; however, it was not the only example.

Dona: Right, he, Conyers, ended his comments with, "I'm satisfied exactly with what I've gotten from the witness I asked the question to."  July 11th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the hearing on the nominations of Douglas Edward Lute, Daniel Brooks Baer and Victoria Nuland.  The Nuland nomination being controversial because she was the State Department spokesperson during the attack on Benghazi and she insisted that the talking points released to Congress and the public be changed because she did not want to face uncomfortable questions at the podium from journalists.  She also did not want to face questions from Congress.  This is her e-mail:

I just had a convo with [deleted] and now I understand that these are being prepared to give to Members of Congress to use with the media. 
On that basis, I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not mking because we don't want to prejudice the investigation.
In the same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren't doing that ourselves until we have investigation results... and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?  Concerned.

Dona (Con't):  C.I. covered the hearing in "Iraq snapshot" and Ruth covered it in "Nuland and Benghazi" and "Victoria Nuland indirectly confirms CIA arming 'rebels' out of Benghazi."  Ruth, the big takeaway?

Ruth: That the CIA was arming the rebels.  In the hearing, Senator Rand Paul asked her specifically about that.  Her answer?  She would not answer.  She stated that she would if they went into a closed hearing.  She apparently did not realize what her answer was confirming.  So now we know.

Dona: Thank you.  Now we're going back to June 26th House Oversight Committee hearing that was covered by C.I. in  "Iraq snapshot," Ava in "Elijah Cummings -- bald face embarrassment," Wally in "Managing the IRS' real estate portfolio? (Wally)" and Kat in  "Was the witness able to understand."  Wally, what was the most significant moment of the hearing?

Wally: Okay, that probably took place at the start of the hearing.   IRS official Gregory Roseman invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying.  He became the second IRS official since the end of May to invoke the Fifth Amendment.  Earlier, Lois Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment.  That hearing where she invoked the Fifth was covered in C.I.'s  "Iraq snapshot," Ava's"Sir, I gave you the wrong information (Ava)," my "Time for a special prosecutor (Wally)," Kat's "It was like Steel Magnolias at one point during the hearing" your "Report on Congress" and Cedric and I spoofed it in the joint-posts "Future employment opportunities for Lois Lerner" and  "THIS JUST IN! A WHOLE NEW WORLD FOR LOIS LERNER!
Unlike Lerner, Roseman didn't offer statements before invoking the Fifth.

Dona: Which is a no-no.

Wally: Right.  If you invoke the Fifth, that is what you say.  You don't, as Lerner did, offer a lengthy statement about how wonderful you are.

Dona:  Kat,  when someone invokes the Fifth, there is -- right or wrong -- the notion that they are hiding something.  You take the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination.  Your thoughts on that?

Kat: I would say, yes, the two officials are guilty.  If they weren't guilty, they wouldn't be invoking the Fifth.  Some are wrongly trying to compare it to the height of McCarthyism when people might invoke the Fifth in reply to the question of whether or not they were a member of the Communist Party.  The thing is, that was about people's lives.  This isn't.  What they are being asked about is their official duties at the IRS.  What did they do in their jobs.  That you have to invoke the Fifth for that would indicate guilt.

Dona: Kat, you also offered coverage of that hearing and it's infamous for US House Rep. Tammy Duckworth dressing down, humiliating, shaming, take your pick, contractor Braulio Castillo for apparently equating a football injury to sacrifice for the country.  Your thoughts on that?

Kat: I wasn't amused.  It became a media moment.  I'm not sure it was.  I really do not believe that Castillo understood what Duckworth was asking and saying during a large portion of the questioning.  That was my approach to the piece.  He seemed genuinely and repeatedly confused.  I'm not calling out Duckworth for the exchange but I do think the media should have done some follow up and shouldn't have edited the footage in the way they did which made it appear to move quicker and seamlessly when, in fact, it wasn't like that at all, not from my seat in the hearing.

Dona: Alright, thank you.  I'm going to stop here.  I'd talked to C.I. ahead of time and she said don't worry about her needing to speak.  We wanted to cover -- quickly -- a series of hearings.  Hopefully, we did just that. This is a rush transcript.

Barack deals with all the important issues!

trouble with tribbles2

The economy is still in the toilet, people still need jobs but, rest assured Americans, Barack is on the job!

Last week at Whiteman Air Force Base, MO, the president batted away a rouge Tribble with his bare hands.

The Tribble, thought to have traveled to the United States on Orbitz flight from North Korea, was purring but Barack was having none of it.  He knows how quickly the Tribbles reproduce and how they have decimated the food supply in North Korea.

"He is a hero!" insisted professional groupie Melissa Harris-Lacewell-Perry while shopping at a sexual gadgets store where she was "buying another of what I like to call my Barack Joy Sticks."

Many other equally insane people agreed with the groupie.

And the United States was saved from the Tribble menace, at least for now.

Music video of Summer 2013

That's Steve Grand.  "All American Boy" (which can be downloaded at Grand's website).  TCI community member Melanie e-mailed Kat who noted it at her site and cross-posted to The Common Ills July 8th.  Our fiction edition prevented us from noting it that weekend.  You can catch video of Steve Grand on Good Morning America and video from CNN.  You can catch him live August 17th in San Diego at IndieFest.

Adam Kokesh's Course on Libertarianism 101

After The Young Turks distort Libertarianism, Iraq War veteran, activst and talk show host Adam Kokesh explains that "voluntary" and "volunteer" are not the same thing.

Murray presses to help the Catastrophically Wounded Veterans

Patty Murray

Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She continues to work on veterans issues (and continues to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee) and her office released the following last week:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, July 24, 2013                                                                                    (202) 224-2834

Murray Bill to Help Catastrophically Wounded Veterans Start a Family Clears Major Hurdle

Murray calls for quick action on bill to end the VA’s ban on In Vitro Fertilization which has prevented thousands of veterans with traumatic brain injury and serious spinal cord or reproductive organ injuries from accessing fertility care
Last Congress Murray’s bill passed the Senate unanimously only to be stalled in the House of Representatives

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that ends the ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF) services at VA in order to help severely wounded veterans start families was cleared through the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Senator Murray’s bill, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2013, also builds upon previous law to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families.

Late last year, Senator Murray was able to pass the bill through the U.S. Senate after delivering an impassioned speech on the Senate floor describing the challenges veterans and their families face in accessing IVF. Unfortunately, the bill failed to move in the House of Representatives in time to make its way to the President’s desk after Republican leaders there expressed opposition. Working with advocates and military families, like Staff Sergeant Matt Keil and his wife Tracy, Sen. Murray is pushing for the Senate to once again immediately take up and pass this legislation.

“There is absolutely no reason that this bill should not move quickly to the President’s desk,” said 
 Senator Murray. “It was passed unanimously in the Senate, and the House has a responsibility to our most seriously wounded veterans and their spouses to act. This is about giving veterans who have sacrificed everything, every option we have to help them fulfill the simple dream of starting a family. It says that we are not turning our back on the catastrophic reproductive wounds that have become a signature of these wars. It says to all those brave men and women that didn’t ask questions when they were put in harm’s way that we won’t let politics get in the way of our commitment to you. We owe them nothing less.”

Last year, the New York Times ran an editorial emphasizing the importance of providing these services saying:

“In more than a decade of combat overseas, the military and V.A. have continually had to adjust to the challenges of new traumas with new treatments, as with the epidemic of brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Adapting the V.A. health system to better meet reproductive-health needs should be part of that response. It is one compassionate way to fulfill the country’s duty to wounded veterans.”

Department of Defense (DOD) data show that between 2003 and 2012 nearly 2000 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma. The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries. In fact, these data show a clear increase in injuries of this nature in recent years.

Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive. However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses. This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and urinary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA. DOD currently provides access to IVF services under the Tricare program and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers. Senator Murray’s bill would provide veterans with the same access.

Murray’s bill also will give VA permanent authority to offer child care programs at hospitals and Vet Centers for veterans seeking care, and improve outreach to women veterans.

Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Bradley Manning is not the 'enemy' (John Catalinotto, WW)

Repost from Workers World:

Who is the ‘enemy’ that Manning ‘aided’?

By on July 25, 2013 » Add the first comment.

B. Manning
B. Manning

While the corporate media covered every word, gesture and animated cartoon promoting the defense of Trayvon Martin’s killer, it paid little attention to whistleblower Pfc. B. Manning’s defense. They did report that military trial judge, Col. Denise Lind, ruled July 18 that Manning could face “aiding the enemy” charges.
This decision means Manning could face, atop a possible 154 years in prison for other charges, a “life without parole” sentence, should he be convicted of “aiding the enemy.”

Regarding whistleblowers in general, it means that those wanting to expose the government’s crimes could face the death penalty.

To illustrate the weaknesses of the judge’s decision, we summarize comments made by two legal experts.
The first is former chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo, retired Col. Morris Davis, interviewed on Democracy Now! on July 19. Davis said that the government is pressing the “aiding the enemy” charge “to make examples of people like Manning to deter folks in the future. And I think it’s a case of overcharging.”
Davis said that “Manning has pled guilty to the offenses that represent his misconduct” but trying to add on the charge that “he had the intent or will to aid al-Qaida is, in my view, absurd.” Davis also clarified that Manning would not face the death penalty because that only can be applied to a jury trial, and his is a trial by judge.

The other legal expert is Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, speaking to The Real News Network.

Ratner said that following the government’s rebuttal will be “summations by both Bradley Manning’s lawyer as well as the government lawyers. The judge will then make a decision … they will go right into the sentencing phase” in which mitigating evidence can be entered if he is found guilty of some charges.
That the “aiding the enemy” charge was allowed doesn’t necessarily mean he “will be found guilty” of this charge. “That she even upheld this charge is so completely outrageous,” said Ratner. (July 19)
The government claims Manning indirectly aided Osama bin Laden, the “enemy.” What Manning really did was expose the crimes of the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan to the people of the world. The people of the world are the real “enemies” of U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon, and Manning is the exemplary soldier who brought them the truth. Free B. Manning!

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Greens Stand Against Detroit Bankruptcy Filing

This is from the Green Party of Michigan:

Green Party of Michigan

**  News Release  **
**  ------------  **
    July 23, 2013

For More Information, Contact:

Fred Vitale, Detroit Green Party
    (313) 580-4905

John Anthony La Pietra, GPMI Media Committee
    (269) 781-9478

Greens Stand Against Detroit Bankruptcy Filing

Call for “Social Movement” to Support
People Ahead of Banks, Corporations

    Green Party members and leaders meeting in Ferndale Saturday
denounced the filing of Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings by City of
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

    “The debt owed to bankers and bondholders is small compared to the
financial damage the same bankers inflicted on Detroit and Detroiters in
the financial crisis,” said Derek Grigsby, chair of the Green Party of
Michigan.  “Redlining, predatory loans, and other racist banking
practices have cost Detroit hundreds of billions of dollars. The auto
corporations took millions in tax abatements -- and instead of providing
jobs, they closed factories.  If you add it all up, the banks and
corporations owe us.”

    “Kevyn Orr was selected by Governor Rick Snyder,” observed Lloyd
Clarke, retired GM worker and member of UAW Local 688.  “Orr's planned
attacks on city workers' pensions and workers' wages in bankruptcy court
as a representative of Governor Snyder should be a warning to all
workers in southeast Michigan.

    “Snyder supported ‘right to work’ legislation in Michigan to
undermine unions.  Orr’s bankruptcy plans follow the same anti-union

    Fred Vitale of the Detroit Greens pointed out, “The bankruptcy plan
of Orr and Snyder is to pay bankers billions by selling Detroit assets,
deprive some neighborhoods of services and gentrify others, and take
pensions away from fellow residents, city retirees.  There is an
alternative.  We need a social movement to cancel the debt to the bankers.

    “There are many organizations and individuals active and opposed to
Emergency Managers in Detroit, including the Green Party.  We urge
everyone to expand and deepen our collaboration, engage our fellow
citizens, and take the struggle to the streets.  We must put pressure on
the federal court to resolve the bankruptcy in favor of the residents
and workers.  Not one penny more to the banks.”

    For more information see the Michigan _Citizen_’s many articles on
the Emergency Manager and bankruptcy:

and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) releases which document the
banks’ predatory relationship to Detroit:

    For more information about the Green Party of Michigan, its values,
and its candidates, visit:

For GPMI's latest news, “like” the Green Party of Michigan USA Facebook
page and follow the party Twitter feed @MIGreenParty.

#    #    #

created/distributed using donated labor

Green Party of Michigan
PO Box 504
Warren, MI  48090-0504

    GPMI was formed in 1987 to address environmental
issues in Michigan politics.  Greens are organized
in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Each
state Green Party sets its own goals and creates its
own structure, but US Greens agree on Ten Key Values:

    Ecological Wisdom
    Grassroots Democracy
    Social Justice
    Community Economics
    Respect for Diversity
    Personal/Global Responsibility
    Future Focus/Sustainability

For the latest news,
“like” the Green Party of Michigan USA Facebook page --
and follow us at Twitter:  @MIGreenParty.


 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.

"In These Times sinks even lower" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Birthday Reminder" -- Isaiah on Barack's comments.

"Garlic Shrimp Linguine in the Kitchen," "Detroit" and "The scamming of Detroit" -- Trina covers Detroit.

"Brad," "Brad's defense makes closing arguments," "Bradley Manning," "Bradley Manning" and "The desperation in the continued persecution of Bradley Manning" -- Betty, Marcia, Mike and C.I. cover Bradley Manning.

"Jay Z's latest release" -- Kat offers a look at a new music release. 

"Under The Dome (CBS fails again)," "Mistresses" and "Mistresses" -- Marcia, Stan and Marcia cover TV.

"Helen Thomas," "the revisionary 'love' for helen thomas"  and "Why Helen Thomas' peers killed her in 2010" -- Elaine and Rebecca on Helen Thomas.

"Once upon a time . . ." and "THIS JUST IN! ANGST!" -- Cedric and Wally cover the fairy tale.

"David Brooks and other embarrassments" -- Ann on the media.

"the spying," "Snowden," "Snowden granted temporary asylum," "spying and the state dept gets ready to screw over the palestinians," "The fate of the nation," "The Zombi Nazis of the Cult of St. Barack," "The embarrassing Matthew Rotschild," "Sad and disgusting Nancy Pelosi,"  "On Snowden and meanings," "They should be putting up statues for Ed"and "The trash that voted to continue illegal spying" -- some of the illegal spying pieces in the community.

"Benghazi" and "General Carter Ham and Benghazi" -- Ruth continues her Benghazi coverage. 

"Barack's worst speech ever" and  "The same speech delivered yet again" -- Elaine and Trina on the bad speech.

"The IRS scandals" -- Mike covers the scandals.

"The Wolverine" and "The Wolverine and movies" -- Stan on movies.

"Fall On Your Swords For Prince Barry," -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Everything is more interesting than Barry!" and "THIS JUST IN! THE BOREDOM SETS IN!" -- Barack bores even himself.

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