Sunday, October 13, 2013

Truest statement of the week

The privileges of the One Percent cannot coexist with due process of law for the 99 Percent; therefore, due process must become whatever the president says it is. And, when the imprisonment of two-and-a-half million people is not enough to calm the fears of the rich, then preventive detention by the military must become the order of the day. Ultimately, the regime sees no choice but to call out its uniformed legions to lock up the most volatile sectors of the 99 percent, while its spies make lists of the human networks that will supply the next wave of detainees. Or, the president may prefer that they compile “Kill Lists” for his perusal.

Naturally, the people’s legal “first responders” like Lynne Stewart must be kept under lock and key at times like this. We are glad for the privilege of sharing Lynne’s birthday with her, even under such circumstances. Among all of her other accomplishments and good works, we congratulate Lynne for having outlived the rule of law in the U.S. However, the Lords of Capital may one day wish they had preserved the Constitution as they found it. Because, if Lynn Stewart cannot be allowed to be zealous in defense of her clients, then who will stand for the rich when the people’s wrath cannot be contained?

-- Glen Ford, "Lynne Stewart: The People's 'First Responder'" (Black Agenda Report).

Truest statement of the week II

At some point, Congress will have to vote, at which time the text would be made public. “So why,” they ask, “keep it a secret?” And their answer, which bears on Obama’s enlargement of Executive Power, as well as his deviousness (no disrespect intended!), is this: “Because Mr. Obama wants the agreement to be given fast-track treatment on Capitol Hill. Under this extraordinary and rarely used procedure, he could sign the agreement before Congress voted on it. And Congress’s post-facto vote would be under rules limiting debate, banning all amendments and forcing a quick vote.” Even Mayor Daley in his heyday would have blushed at such ramrod tactics. Wallach and Beachy close: “Whatever one thinks about ‘free trade,’ the secrecy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership process represents a huge assault on the principles and practice of democratic governance. That is untenable in the age of transparency, especially coming from an administration that is otherwise so quick to trumpet its commitment to open government.” But why be surprised? When I speak of Obama’s incubatory tyranny I have examples like this in mind, in and of themselves not definitive, yet that they can happen puts us on notice of the need to correlate the cases, examine the underlying interrelatedness, and, above all, recognize even a single one—be it assassination, surveillance, or deregulation–would not be possible without summoning the full political-institutional structure of society to bring it forward.

-- Norman Pollack, "The Militarization of Liberalism" (CounterPunch).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Glen Ford's having another strong year.
We believe this is Norman Pollack's second truest.
This was done quickly.  We were tired.  It probably shows.  We had a non-Iraq editorial planned but out Iraq piece fell apart -- yes, we did do Iraq writing today worse than this.

Ava and C.I.'s latest piece is amazing.  And, yes, they did threaten to walk when I (Jim) put "treason" into an editorial a few years ago.  For the record, they asked that it be taken out of the headline and I said, "Why?"  I wanted an explanation.  Dona told me, "Take it out, just take it out right now."  I said I'd consider taking it out after I heard the argument.  Meanwhile Ava and C.I. are freaking out because it's up at the site.  That's when they say, "Take it out right now or we walk and we don't come back."  So I took it out.  And after, they explained to me what they explain in the article.  I see their point.  This is a great piece and they got to weigh in on We Are Men.  They were wanting to go after that show last week but I asked them to weigh in on Spader instead.  And?  That TV piece has over 800,000 views.  I was right about where the interest lie.

Dona sits down with Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. to discuss hearings the four attended last week.  A reader e-mailed Thursday to remind Dona there had not been a Congress piece in a while.

Ann raised this issue.  She noted we used to do this last year and the year before.  With fall shows airing, could we do it now?  Yes.

We do read the e-mails --

We plan to do more on Caprice later this year.

Adam Kokesh.

Workers World repost.

Lynne Stewart needs to be set free and set free now.

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


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

Editorial: Nouri is the cause of the violence

AP reports bombings throughout Iraq today have left at least 42 people dead.  And before today, Iraq Body Count put the death toll for the month as 422.

The violence just goes on and on.

If you have to ask "Why?" then you aren't paying attention.

The answer to "Why?" was and remains chief thug and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

 I see Ba'athists


Last week, the Iraqi government executed 42 more people and, in doing so, exceeded the number of executions in Iraq for all of 2012.  This led the Executive Director of Death Penalty Information Center Richard Dieter to point out to The Voice of Russia, "Putting out displays of people hanging, even Saddam Hussein, when he was executed, I think it just kind of sparks the other side, whoever that may be, to use violence in order to get their victory. I don’t think it really helps to use the death penalty as a political tool to try to calm things down."

 No, it doesn't.

And Nouri al-Maliki using violence against a people will not lower the rate of violence either.

National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Residents of Garmah area east of Fallujah, urged the central government to intervene to end the siege imposed on them by the army since more than a week ago.
Citizens of the area stated to NINA : "The army imposed on Garmah siege since more than a week ago and infringing citizens and arresting dozens of them for no reason.
They also accused the army as unable to provide security in those areas, demanding the central government to withdraw its military forces and assigned the task to the local police to maintain security.

 Does that sound like Nouri's spreading peace and love?


Nouri is the problem.

Remember that as he gears up to meet with US President Barack Obama later this month.

Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists."

TV: Ugly Little Liars

It really was a toss up as to what was the worst sitcom of the fall season -- Michael J. Fox's idiotic sitcom which is not set in the 70s but just feels that way or CBS' ridiculous We Are Men.  Was there a man in the cast?


Maybe Christopher Nicholas Smith.  Maybe.  Kal Penn was never firm but he went beyond soft, beyond Pillsbury Doughboy to become what exactly?  He's not just overstuffed for his frame, he looks like he's in his fifties (and he hasn't even reached his forties).  The cast also included Tony Shalhoub who reached all he could reach on broadcast TV in the supporting role of Antonio Scarpacci on Wings -- a sitcom which finally came alive in its fourth season, had a triumphant fifth season and then tanked but remained on air for three more seasons in an apparent effort to make Caroline in the City appear gritty, hilarious and of the moment by contrast.  From there Shalhoub took his stale act to basic cable -- a place many the camera refuses to love will eventually turn to -- and, with the help of The Water Cooler Set, perpetuated the fraud that he was a great actor.  People, he's not even a bad actor.  He can't build a character, he can't shape a performance.  He made that even more clear in We Are Men.

And then there's Jerry.

Eating disorders are not attractive.  Jerry O'Connell was the fat kid in Stand By Me.  He got applause early in his young life (Sliders) as America noticed the fat kid had slimmed down.  Can Jerry act?  He so rarely tries.  He instead goes for the easy (and comforting) applause of, "The fat kid in Stand By Me is so skinny!"  Jerry's been doing shirtless scenes for about two decades longer than he should have and that sadly includes on We Are Men.  Jerry's saggy boobs were featured so often they were practically the Lenny and Squiggy of the sitcom.  No muscle definition.  In places, you can see bones.  Jerry has an eating disorder.  It's not attractive.

Neither was the crazy of last week. 

First, applause for Thom Hartmann.  We were on the phone with a friend at MSNBC.  We'd been discussing the crazy all week with the friend who called to say, "Thom Hartmann right now!  He just called [Speaker of the House of Representatives John] Boehner a 'killer'!"  We had just left Congress having spent Thursday at a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee hearing and then a few hours visiting members of Congress and were en route to a campus where we'd be speaking.  To say we were a little tired and scattered was putting it mildly.  "What channel!" we screamed in unison looking for the show on satellite radio when we were told to go to terrestrial radio, 1480 AM.

We got there and right as the program was returning from commercials.  Hartmann admitted he'd called Boehner a "killer" in the previous segment and stated that was incendiary ("over the top" and "inflammatory")  and going too far.  While "killer" would have gotten him included in this piece, it wasn't the worst thing we saw the media serve up.  But we do want to note that he took accountability and attempted to steer the conversation back to reality.  We applaud him for that and wish others possessed a similar self-measure.

To be clear, we're not clutch-the-pearls type.  We believe in open discussions and in heated discussions.  Tone really isn't a big concern to us.  Had Thom not retracted "killer" and been the only one to make an over-the-top remark last week, we would have looked the other way (in part because Thom Hartmann doesn't usually go in for melodrama).

But supposed public affairs programming last week became little potboilers, it was as though daytime soaps had staged a comeback and everyone was vying to be Secret Storm.  What had passions so on display?

The worthless ObamaCare.  Reality, it's not our fight.  You want to offer single payer, universal health care like many other 'advanced' countries have?  We'll fight for that.  We'll add it to the topics we speak about on the road.  We'll write about it.  We'll demand it.

But ObamaCare is not Medicare for all.  ObamaCare imprisons citizens and the country to the insurance companies -- the same big business that has driven up the costs of health care.  Barbra Streisand may still be able to hit a few notes but, as they say, the elevator no longer goes up to the top.  She could be found last week defending (in her mind) ObamaCare by explaining it was just what then-Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney had done with RomneyCare.

Yes, Babs, it is.  And that wasn't a good thing.  Our own local radio station (Pacifica's KPFA) spent weeks calling out RomneyCare in real time, bringing on guests like nurses for universal health care who explained that forcing people to buy medical insurance is not universal health care but it is yet another hand out to big business.  Though Barbra is not a natural blond (especially at her age today), lately she has become a natural idiot.

KPFA is as guilty as many others on the left in whoring for ObamaCare these days.

But we don't whore.

If you don't get what a lonely position that can be, you missed the fact that MSNBC -- in all last week's hours spent yacking about ObamaCare -- couldn't bring on Physicians for a National Health Program's Dr. Quentin Young.  Russell Mokhiber (CounterPunch) did manage to note and quote Young last week:

Had I been in Congress, I would have unequivocally voted against Obamacare. It's a bad bill. Whether it's worse than what we have now could be argued. We rather think because of its ability to enshrine and solidify the corporate domination of the health system, it's worse than what we have now. But whether it is somewhat better or a lot worse is immaterial. The health system isn't working in this country --  fiscally, medically, socially, morally.
[. . .]
I don't have any sympathy for the idea that the president had to compromise because his opposition was strong.  Winning is not always winning the election. Winning is making a huge fight and then taking the fight to the people -- re-electing people who are supporting your program and defeating those who aren't.

If there was something to fight for, we'd be in there fighting.  But this isn't a plan that helps people.  So the only ones fighting for it are the whores from the Cult of St. Barack who, in less than four years, will be calling out this program and pretending they didn't waste their time -- ignoring serious issues -- to propagandize for a bad policy and a bad program.

And, as Kate Randall (World Socialist Web Site) pointed out earlier this month, the con game "will leave a staggering 31 million people without coverage by 2023."

Maybe those realities are why the whores have to go so over the top?  And when crazy gallups across the airwaves the animal droppings always lead back to MSNBC.

A woman billed as an "MSNBC political analyst" declared of the government shutdown, "But this is beyond a hostage situation.  They have shot a hostage." That's what Joy Reid declared on Lawrence O'Donnell's Tuesday night program.  To be clear, no one billed as a "political analyst" -- even on MSNBC should sounds like one by making those remarks.

Does Joy Reid know anything about hostages?  Has she been shot at as a hostage?

Why in the world would you use such melodramatic and charged language?

Maybe because, in civil discourse, you'd be unable to score any points?

She reminded us a little of the man who wants to use rape as a metaphor -- and it's almost always a man.  He never understands how insulting or uninformed he comes off.  Often, he'll even make some ridiculous statement like, 'And we were raped of our innocence.'  There's no point in trying to explain to him how wrong that sentence is, he will never grasp it.  And that's Joy Reid.

MSNBC airs Republican turncoat Ed Schultz's program which is not broadcast from a child's playhouse -- Big Ed's mighty girth just makes all the surrounding features appear tiny and doll-like.  Last week, he bellowed, ". . . they[Republicans] will shut down the government and they will not pay the bills to get their way.  The word is treason, the treasonous John Boehner."

Confession.  "Treason" appeared at this website.  Briefly.  We'd done an editorial awhile back -- our memories are vague on the details because this was not a happy moment -- and were all pleased with it (or pleased enough to publish it).  Then it was time to gather for "A note to our readers" which Jim writes.  And then we see the editorial has "treason" in the headline. 

We rarely write the headlines. 

Jim usually does (even on our TV pieces, Jim writes the headlines).

That headline resulted in a huge eruption and our threatening to walk.  It's the only time we ever have threatened to walk.  Many weeks, we say we're sick of writing and want a relaxing Sunday.  But we don't say, "We're quitting!"

We did then.  We said change the headline right now or we walk.

In fairness to Jim, what the editorial described, the behavior?  Calling that "treason" wasn't an unreasonable leap. 

But "treason" carries with it a punishment of death. 

That makes the charge very serious and not one to be bandied about.

We had not written an editorial charging anyone with treason.  Due to the nature of that crime, if that had been the goal of an editorial, we would have skipped it. 

We don't care about tone.  Tina Brown, for example, called John Boehner's Rand Paul's "bitch" this week.  We don't think it was one of her finer moments (glass houses and all) but we didn't feel it was the end of the world or even a moment we needed to call out.

When you accuse someone of treason?

That's one of the most serious charges you can make in this country.  You do not make it lightly.

We happen to believe Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were railroaded.  We happen to believe that when terms like "treason" are lightly bandied about, it shapes and shades what follows.  We do not believe "treason" is ever to be used lightly.

We're all for free speech (unlike the awful Nick Robinson).  We're not calling for MSNBC to fire Ed Schultz or Joy Reid.  We are, however, saying that people who want serious discussions of issues just got two more reasons not to waste their time on MSNBC.  (To be clear, we don't watch MSNBC.  We may to review Alec Baldwin's new program.  The incidents discussed here were raised by a friend with MSNBC -- a friend who is a Cult of St. Barack-er but who does realize MSNBC has gone way too far.)

These are not informed discussions or even political discourse.  Saying, of a government shutdown, that a hostage has been shot is gross stupidity at best.  Screaming charges of treason is the sort of demagoguery best left to Joe McCarthy.

And sitcoms are probably best left to people who can be funny.

We're not sure Jerry O'Connell can.

Not after 2007's Car Poolers, not after 2008's Do Not Disturb and especially not after We Are Men.  Jerry's  failed as a sitcom lead on ABC, Fox and CBS.  No doubt NBC is now calling.

If they are, hopefully, they're smarter than CBS.  Jerry O'Connell ran around on the show with his shirt open or off and his ratty, long hair in disarray.  His character was a 'ladies' man' -- and this wasn't played for laughs.

The scrawny chest which screams of eating disorder does not set pulses racing.  The ratty hair would have been out-of-date on a man 20 years younger (O'Connell hits 40 in four months). 

In that cast, only Christopher Nicholas Smith could have attracted any significant number of women. 

Demonstrating the stupidity of both CBS and Rob Greenberg (producer and creator of We Are Men), Smith was cast as fumbling and fearful Gil to O'Connell's strutting stud Stuart.  Not since Warren Beatty was cast as the nerd and Dustin Hoffman the stud in Ishtar have the roles been more laughable -- but Beatty, Hoffman and director Elaine May played their casting for laughs.  Gteenberg and CBS expected you to take them seriously.

O'Connell has the limited capacity to play juvenile leads -- the Sal Mineo type roles, for example.  He stupidly never attempted to learn his craft.  And it shows.  Most of all what shows is his age.  We're reminded of the sixth season of Will &  Grace, the episode Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally wrote specifically.  In "A Gay/December Romance," Hal Linden guest stars as an older man attracted to Will (Eric McCormack) who, when rejected, points out the obvious, "Face it, you're getting to be a little long in the tooth for a boy toy."

So is Jerry O'Connell.  And if there's anything sadder than a 'comedic actor' who brays like a frat boy, it's one who is 20 years too old to play a frat boy.

Watching the nonsense NBC is putting Michael J. Fox through is hard to stomach.  Even more so was watching Jerry O'Connell.  If last week proved anything, it was that TV is no place for self-respect.

Congress and Veterans


Dona: Last Wednesday, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing with regards to the shutdown and Thursday the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing.  The first hearing was reported on by C.I. in Wednesday's  "Iraq snapshot," the Subcommittee hearing was reported on in C.I.'s Friday "Iraq snapshot,"  Thursday "Iraq snapshot," Ava's  "The VA killed Heather McDonald's husband (Ava)," Wally's  "VA bullied doctors into prescribing narcotics," and Kat's "The fake apology from Dr. Jesse"  I'll go ahead and note the four were supposed to attend the October 9th Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing and I blocked out the time for that -- I do the weekly schedule for them -- but that hearing was cancelled at the last minute.   They haven't held a real hearing since July.  I don't count field hearings as real ones or the annual VSO presentation as a real hearing, sorry.  The federal government may have shut down on October 1st but you could argue the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee did on August 1st.  FYI, this is a rush transcript.  You were all at Wednesday's hearing.  Only C.I. reported on it.  Kat didn't even mention it in her post that night.  Some e-mails came in asking about that.  Wednesday had already been planned as a theme post night. Kat, what stood out to you about Wednesday's House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing?

Kat: Two things.  I'll grab one.  The president of the United States publicly lied. September 30th, he declared in a televised broadcast to the nation, "Veterans who’ve sacrificed for their country will find their support centers unstaffed."  That was a lie.  Refer to C.I.'s report.   But a president goes on TV and tries to scare people with a lie and the media doesn't cover that?

Dona: The media doesn't cover a great deal.  Ava, you noted that in your report on Thursday's Subcomittee hearing.

Ava: Right.  After the snapshot went up, I was looking for a way to write about the hearing.  I knew Wally was grabbing the second panel and Kat the third.  I didn't want to just repeat what C.I. had already reported -- she did a great job reporting on widows Heather McDonald and Kimberly Stowe Green testifying about how the VA and its overmedication.  So I'm looking at the MSM reporting and everyone -- including Nextgov -- is writing some mythical tale.  Two widows went and testified about their husband's death and the VA was happy and encouraged the women to continue to speak out.  It was a happy ending imposed by the press but it didn't reflect reality.  And, until Wally reported on the VA doctors being ordered to overmedicate, it was as if that didn't happen either.  The reports were such garbage.  After we did our reporting, the next day, MSM reporting got stronger. 

Dona: Right and, in the hearing itself, the reporters' reactions?

Ava:  They were clearly uncomfortable.  It was if emotion frightened them -- it didn't puzzle them like it might a Vulcan on Star Trek, it just made them uncomfortable.

Dona: Then let's note some of that because the answer is not to ignore reality.  Ricky Green's widow is Kimberly Stowe Green.  Here's some of her testimony:

My husband Ricky Green died as a result of the VA's skyrocketing use of prescription pain killers.   On behalf of my husband, my self and our two grieving sons, I want to ask this Committee to do all that it can to prevent other veterans from dying in the same manner that my husband died. My husband died on October 29, 2011 -- at the age of forty-three -- four days after lower back surgery.  The Arkansas State Crime Lab and it's medical examiner performed an autopsy and determined that the cause of death was mixed drug intoxification complicating recent lumbar spine surgery.  My husband died because of the prescription pain and sleeping medications that the VA and its doctors prescribed for him and dispensed to him out of the VA pharmacy.  In treating Ricky's service-connected back pain, the VA doctors wrote prescriptions for the following drugs.

Dona (Con't): And this is Scott McDonald's widow Heather McDonald:

For 15 years, he served honorably in the uniform of his country and was proud to serve as a UH-60 Blackhawk mechanic and Crew Chief for MEDEVAC Unit.  Bosnia, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan are only a few of the war-torn countries he dedicated his life to changing.  In his career, he experienced heartache, unimaginable violence, death and the overall devastating effects of war.  He saw many of his fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice -- narrowly escaping many times himself.  He loved his country and what the American flag stands for.  He was a brothers in arms to thousands of fellow soldiers and a truly remarkable man that never met a stranger.  Scott had larger than life expectations for his children.  And because of his commitment and honor, in January of 2011, we married.  On April 30, 2011, Scott's career with the army came full circle and he hung his uniform up for good. He began seeking the treatment from the VA for back pain and mental illness.  The Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio immediately started prescribing medications beginning with ibuprofen, nurofen, meloxicam and graduating to vicodin, klonopin, celexa, Zoloft, valium and Percocet.  This is where the rollercoaster began.  My husband was taking up to 15 pills a day within the first six months of treatment.  Every time Scott came home from an appointment, he had different medications, different dosages, different directions on how to take them.  And progressively over the course of a year and a half of starting his treatment, the medications had changed so many times by adding and changing that Scott became changing.  We researched many of the drugs that he was prescribed online and saw the dangerous interactions that they cause.  Yet my husband was conditioned to follow orders.  And he did so.  On September 12th of 2012, Scott attended another of his scheduled appointments.  This was when they added Percocet.  This was a much different medication than he was used to taking and which they prescribed him not to exceed 3,000 milligrams of ibu -- acetaminophen, I'm sorry.  Again, my husband followed orders.  Approximately zero-one-hundred hours on the 13th of September, I arrived home from my job.  I found Scott disoriented and very lethargic.  I woke him and asked him if he was okay?  He told me he was fine and that he just took what the doctors told him to take. At approximately zero-seven-thirty, I found my husband cold and unresponsive.  At 35-years-old, this father of two was gone.  I ask  myself why everyday.  And when I ask the VA why more tests weren't performed to make sure he was healthy enough, they responded by saying: "It is not routine to evaluate our soldiers' pain medication distribution."  A simple "I am in pain" constitutes a narcotic and a "This isn't working" constitutes a change in medication.  I was sickened and disturbed by their response and I decided at that point no one else should die.  I have no doubt that if the proper tests were being performed on our men and women, I would not be here today -- because my husband would be.  I have no doubt that for thousands of the soldiers that have fallen after coming home from war would be here today.  [Wiping tears] I'm sorry.  As the silent soldiers and spouses of our military members. we almost expect the possibility that they won't come home from war.  But we cannot accept that they fight there for their country and after the battle is over they come home and die.

Dona: On that testimony alone, I believe, the press should have demanded Eric Shinseki's resignation as VA Secretary and President Barack Obama should have announced a shake up at the VA and given the American people his promise that he would ensure these issues were immediately addressed.   The second panel, Wally?

Wally: Yeah, you had three doctors.  Two of whom testified about how the pressure was for doctors to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe.  C.I. said, in her first report on the hearing, it was as though the VA motto was  "Addiction gets them home."

Dona: True.  You really went with that, C.I.  Why?

C.I.: It was appalling.  In 2013, there's no excuse for playing like you don't know your actions are creating addicts.  That's what the VA's so-called 'treatment' is doing.  It's outrageous.  It's like what MGM did with Judy Garland and others in the days gone by.  How can a doctor working in the US in 2013 prescribe addictive drugs over and over -- cocktails of them -- there's no excuse for this.  And when veterans complain or ask that their dosage be reduced, the VA ignores them.  Either this is a text book case of malpractice or there is an unpublicized 'health' plan at the VA insisting that veterans be turned into drug addicts.

Dona: Kat, I'm coming back to you for the second thing regarding the shutdown hearing.  Are you thinking Shinseki?

Kat: That's exactly what I was thinking.  Eric Shineski s the Secretary of the VA and he was given the chance to step up in the Wednesday hearing and fight for veterans but he refused.  He refused to insist that House bills already passed for the VA be passed by the Senate.  He refused to.  He toed the administration line.  Good lackey, bad spokesperson or advocate for veterans.

Ava: There doesn't appear to be any oversight at the VA.  Eric Shinseki's been a failure for four years now and he needs to be replaced.

Dona: C.I., you would agree?

C.I.: Absolutely.  The VA is out of control.  It is a medical failure what's taken place with prescriptions.  And Shinseki's got nothing to say and, worse, no plan in place to address it?  The most simple plan in the world is for the VA to enforce the same regulations for doctors that are in place for the civilian world -- start pulling licenses and bringing charges against doctors.  His inability to do that probably goes to this actually being VA official policy and practice.  Regardless, he needs to step down.  Will he?  Probably not but that is what should happen.

Dona:  Wally?

Wally:  I agree.  It was policy.  One doctor, Dr. Pamela Gray, spoke about trying to go through channels to expose the overprescribing orders.  She did not go public.  She did not go to the press.  She tried to work within VA channels and they got rid of her on trumped up charges to stop the ongoing scandal.  This is a reflection on Shinseki.  If he is not 100% corrupt then he is at least 80% incompetent and stupid.  He needs to go.

Dona: Ava, I'm giving you the last word.

Ava: Okay.  Well he needs to go -- we all agree Shinseki needs to go.  As C.I. said, that's probably not going to happen.  But America needs to be aware that the VA is not helping veterans right now.  They are overmedicating them and doing so in the civilian world would result in people being tossed in prisons -- doctors and administrators.  It's disgusting that Shinseki provides no order or oversight.  He will be remembered as one of the worst VA Secretaries.

Dona: Alright, on that opinion we'll conclude.  Again, rush transcript.


The week in funny

Catherine:  Excuse me, I overheard you two asking people if they want a cat and I'd really love one.

Caroline:  Really?  Well we have your cat.

Max:  Oh now, woah, not so fast.  I've got a couple of questions first.  Do you smoke?

Cartherine:  Yes.

Max:  Drink?

Catherine:  Yes.

Max:  Prescription drugs?

Catherine:  Yes.

Max: Forget the cat, will you take me home?
-- Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) find themselves with a stray cat which Catherine (Crista Flanagan) wants to adopt (2 Broke Girls, CBS Mondays).

Smiling, serious, kissing and Charlie's Angels.  Classic photo booth big four.
-- Mindy (Mindy Kaling) going through mementos of her failed relationship with Casey (The Mindy Project, Fox Tuesdays).

Marty: This is a treadmill.

Dick Butkus:  Oooooh.

Marty:  Now this is the best way to get your heart rate up.

Dick Butkus:  To do that, I usually just watch Hoda and Kathie Lee get hammered on The Today Show.

Marty: Yeah, I hear you.
-- alien Dick Butkis (Ian Patrick) tries to I Love Lucy (trick) Marty into getting into shape (The Neighbors, ABC Fridays).

Oooh! I had a bra like this once! Got me into concerts, got me into clubs, got me in the back of a limo with Fernando who I thought was a banker.  Turned out to be the limo driver.  Third time I've fallen for that.
-- Liz (Megan Hilty) takes Sean's 14-year-old daughter bra hunting (Sean Saves The World, NBC Thursdays)

Max:  No, Kitty is not going to a shelter.

Caroline:  Why?  Lots of cats get adopted and end up in beautiful homes.

Max: Look I didn't want to say this but [covering cat's ears] she's not pretty enough.

Caroline:  What are you talking about?

Max: [Covering cat's ears] She's not pretty enough.

Caroline:  Come on, she doesn't have classic good looks but she's adorkable.

Max:  We cannot take her to a shelter, [covering cat's ears] she'll die there.  And yeah everyone says they want them with a nice personality but they really just want a  hot sexy young kitten who still gets excited about balls in her face.
-- Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) have a stray cat issue (2 Broke Girls, CBS Mondays).

What do you mean I don't fulfill the delivery minimum?  [Crying] I used to.
-- Mindy (Mindy Kaling) attempting to place a food order while dealing with her break up with Casey (The Mindy Project, Fox Tuesdays).

Bonnie:  Why are you being such a bitch?

Violet:  I'm just being honest.

Bonnie:  Good I'll be honest too. You're being a bitch.  And I use that word instead of the word I want to use because you're my granddaughter and I love you.

Violet:  What? So I'm supposed to make a big deal just because she's going out with some random guy?

Bonnie:  Excuse me young lady but your mother going out with some random guy is the only reason you exist.
-- Allison Janney (Bonnie) and Sadie Calvano (Violet) discuss niceties on CBS' Mom (airs Mondays).

Sue, it's just a job.  You don't have to like what you do.  It's like cleaning people's teeth or parenting.
-- Frankie (Patricia Heaton) attempts to help Sue adjust to her first job (The Middle, ABC Wednesdays).

Uhm, I've prepared a report highlighting our success with tech companies.  Uh, oh.  No, that's my Pretty Little Liars fantasy fiction.  I make them all fat and ugly.
-- Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) attends a business meeting (Super Fun Night, Wednesdays ABC).

Lorna: When Ellie's mother moved to New York, I thought, 'Finally.  This is it.  I will be the main woman in Ellie's life.'  Not this one.

Liz:  Hey, this one has a name.

Lorna:  And this one has a title: Grandmother -- a word that already has the word "mother" in it.

Liz:  You know what else has the word "mother" in it?

Sean:  Alright, you guys come on.
-- Sean (Sean Hayes) saves the moment as his mother Lorna (Linda Lavin)  and his best friend Liz (Megan Hilty) argue on Sean Saves The World (NBC, Thursdays).

From The TESR Test Kitchen

butterfinger cookies

Reader Stacia e-mailed to ask if we'd heard of or tried Bud's Best Cookies' Candy 'n Cookies Made with Nestle Butterfinger Candy Pieces?

No, we hadn't and it took a lot of searching to find them.  (Try dollar stores and drug stores.)

When you do find them?

Grab a couple of boxes.

They're a dollar a piece for a box with six ounces.

Once you open the foil inside the box, they're gone.

They're like Lays potato chip in that you will not eat just one.  You will work your way quickly through the box.

If you like Butterfinger candy bars, you'll love the cookies -- the bits of Butterfinger in them taste like the candy bar. 

Between the great taste and the low price, we'd rate this a winning purchase.  But remember, buy more than one box, they will go quickly.

Caprice DVD

We love Caprice.  Ann and Stan have both written about the Doris Day film.

You can find the DVD online.  It lists for $19.99 with Amazon offering a sale price of $15.90.

But maybe you're like us?  Happy to order music or film online if you can start streaming immediately but tending to put off ordering anything that has to be delivered.

So when reader KeShawn e-mailed to tell us he found Caprice on DVD at Dollar General for a great price, we hit the dollar stores.

Sure enough, we found it.


And check out that price: $3.95.


The 1967 comedy-thriller is directed by Frank Tashlin .  Doris Day plays a spy and Richard Harris is her romantic lead.  Tashlin's first film was the Bob Hope classic The Lemon Drop Kid.  Other hits he directed include the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis film Hollywood or Bust and Artists and Models, Jayne Mansfield's The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? , Jerry Lewis' Who's Minding The Store and Cinderfella and Doris Day's earlier hit The Glass Bottom Boat.


In the month when conventional wisdom (the press) states the economy is so bad that Wal-Mart is faltering as a result with former customers now streaming into dollar stores, it might be a good time to check out the dollar stores in your area to see what you find.

Video of the week

Political prisoner Adam Kokesh is unbroken.

He's using his imprisonment to get the word out on jury nullification. 

HRW condems Syrian 'rebels' (WW)

Repost from Workers World:

HRW condemns Syrian opposition’s war crimes

By on October 11, 2013

In a reversal of its usual role, Human Rights Watch on Oct. 11 released a report and a news article summarizing the report that exposed and condemned commando groups fighting against the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.

The HRW’s board is heavily biased toward investment bankers and analysts. Most of its international reports have been directed at governments that are out of favor with U.S. or Western imperialism. In this case, however, the HRW is exposing the role of groups that have been fed and armed by the U.S. and its NATO and Gulf monarchy allies.

WW has already written about the many war crimes committed by the anti-Assad forces and their imperialist backers in Syria. This is just one of them, as told by the HRW:

“Armed opposition groups in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and seized over 200 as hostages during a military offensive that began in rural Latakia governorate on Aug. 4, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today [Oct. 11]. At least 67 of the victims were executed or unlawfully killed in the operation around pro-government Alawite villages.

“The 105-page report, ‘You Can Still See Their Blood: Execution Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside,’ presents evidence that the civilians were killed on Aug. 4, the first day of the operation. Two opposition groups that took part in the offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, are still holding the hostages, the vast majority women and children. The findings strongly suggest that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said.

“‘These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,’ said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. ‘This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages.’

“To provide victims a measure of justice, the U.N. Security Council should immediately refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said.”

Whether or not HRW’s report reflects a shift in tactics by the imperialists toward Syria, whose government forces have successfully pushed back the armed opposition forces in recent months, it does expose some of the crimes the “rebels” have already committed.

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

Political prisoner Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner in the United States.  An attorney stripped of her license and thrown in prison for the 'crime' of issuing a press release.  Last week, she wrote the following:

It is certainly sobering to be celebrating the start of my 74 year mired down in this prison. It is even more so when there is my life line that must be considered. Nonetheless, I remain my ebullient self and face my fight and my future with optimism. Part of the reason for this is the wonderful mail I receive daily from people all over the U.S. and the world. From Tasmania to Tel Aviv (!?) people write and tell me of the role I play and have played in their lives. It is overwhelming sometimes.

Today, I have asked you all to rally once again on my behalf. (Little did we know they would close down the federal government last week. A conspiracy to keep me here? smile). By coming out and making another statement on my behalf, I think you are taking a stand for everyone behind bars. They can lock us down but they cannot lock us away from the people, who are now coming to have a different sense of the futility and cruelty of the prison system, and who will take action if called upon. I am happy to be the poster girl, oops, woman for this. I know it will never be a some time thing for me and that when I am in the world again (and I WILL BE IN THE WORLD AGAIN !) this struggle is one that I must continue. I hope we all give a heartfelt wish for health and release for Herman Wallace, a valiant warrior, our brother comrade, who is dying in Angola, after 40 years of solitary. [Herman Wallace died a free man shortly after his release.]

Hoping that it is a glorious day wherever you are hearing this--my mom always remarked that the Sunday I was born was perfect weather. I guess I am waxing nostalgic but blow out the candles and have a bite of the birthday cake and know that I am indebted to all of you and to our movement for the fabulous and courageous support you have shown me over these years. We go on to victory for one elder woman (me) but also to express our outrage at this heartless system.

Lynne Stewart,
Prisoner # 53504-054

Visit the Justice for Lynne Stewart website: for birthday messages from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Fr. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, Ed Asner, Dick Gregory, Medea Benjamin and Code Pink, Richard Falk, Chris Hedges, Zachary Sklar, Ralph Schoenman and many more people around the world.


 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.

"Iraq: The Wild West in the Middle East" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site according to Ty.
"Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "The VA killed Heather McDonald's husband (Ava)," "VA bullied doctors into prescribing narcotics," "The fake apology from Dr. Jesse" and "Iraq snapshot" -- C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat report on the House Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing and then C.I. reports on a full House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "He Only Talks to Some" -- no preconditions for Iran.

"Old Acquaintance," "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?," "The Letter," "beyond the forest," "Dark Victory," "All About Eve," "Jezebel," "Dead Ringer," "Now, Voyager," "The Little Foxes" and "Working It For BP (Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte)" -- favorite Bette Davis movie theme post.

"THIS JUST IN! THE NPR CASTING COUCH!" and "Ron Elving's posing nude for his calendar" and  "Barry o gets exposed again" and "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O WILL GLADLY FLASH HIS MANBOOBS!" -- frightening images all.

"Black Eyed Peas in the Kitchen" -- needing to save money?  Trina's got some answers for you.
"What is the White woman fascination with Kristof?," "Racist puritan Nicholas Kristof praised by Ms. magazine" and  "They finally found Gloria Steinem's successor!" -- Ann, Kat and Elaine on the embarrassing Ms. magazine blog.
"scandal (what happened to huck - and jake)," "Revolution tanks (andwhy)," "The Mindy Project," "Arrow," "revenge (the good stuff)," "The soft racism working against Kerry Washington," "revenge (what went wrong)" and "The Good Wife and The Bad Dianne" -- Rebecca, Marcia, Ann and Stan cover TV.

"Mia Farrow's brother is a child molester" -- now you know why Mia went all trashy in Vanity Fair.  To distract from the fact that her brother is going to prison for molesting two ten-year-old boys.

"Star Trek: The Search for Kirk's Daddy Issues" -- Stan goes to the movies and then some!

"Greg Gilman is a joke" -- Betty explains why.
"Corey Hart preps for farewell concert" -- Kat notes an 80s music star's plan to end live performing.

"Homophobia" -- Marcia on a region behind the rest of the world.

"On War Whores (Celeb Division)" -- Mike calls out the well known who knows so little.
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