Sunday, April 19, 2015

Truest statement of the week

And how about Stewart’s misdirection in finally dealing with the lies of another friend, suspended NBC anchor Brian Williams? Stewart’s strategy there was to rip the press for allegedly being more tenacious in covering the Williams scandal than it was in covering the government manipulation of public opinion that led up to the invasion of Iraq.
OK, so because most of the press, led by the New York Times, did an awful job in covering the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction, does that mean we can never cover anything else aggressively again?
I’m serious, do you know what an intellectual contortion it took for Stewart to find a way that he could comment on the Williams story and hammer the press harder than his friend?
I hope the press will not intimidated by anyone in its Clinton coverage.

-- David Zurawik, "Press must not let Jon Stewart back it off intense Hillary Clinton coverage" (Baltimore Sun).

Truest statement of the week II

I came. I saw. He died.” Said Clinton, deliberately mimicking Julius Caesar, then laughing hysterically over Ghadafy being sodomized with a knife,  then  tortured and beaten  to death. Clinton is a Psychopath.
Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA

Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor of international law.  He's also the author of many books including, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.

Truest statement of the week III

The 48 percent of Americans that express an affinity with the Democratic Party have not yet chosen Clinton. There has been no primary election in any state. But, that does not matter because the selection process that counts occurs in the boardrooms and mansions and private clubs and getaways of the rich.

-- Glen Ford, "The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion 'People’s' Candidate" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Well we made it on a Sunday.

First, 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.

What did we come up with?

One for David Z of The Baltimore Sun.
And another for Francis A. Boyle.
And another for Glen Ford.
The silence on what happened to Ned Parker is deafening and alarming.  More troubling are the attempts by The Huffington Post to excuse it away and mock Parker.
Ava and C.I. did another masterpiece. A lot of you enjoyed their recent straightforward TV pieces (such as "TV: The failures of The Flash" and "TV: Netflix gears up to explode the limits of the ...").  But last week's report "TV: The rise of Netflix, the fall of Hulu" was huge and it seemed like everyone read it.  This week they had promised to grab The Messengers (promised a CW friend).  They watched and said they'd be lucky to have five paragraphs but Raed Jarrar had been on Cindy Sheehan's podcast and they could mix that in.  I (Jim) asked them about The CW's season so far which led them to reveal the latest on the ratings challenged Jane The Virgin and I told them they had to include that.  And they did.  So you've got one of those epic pieces that sort of becomes a collage or a tapestry.  
This is appalling.
Hulu e-mailed very unhappy over Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The rise of Netflix, the fall of Hulu" and this is my response.
Covering a Thursday DC event.
What we listened to.
Repost from Great Britain's Socialist Worker.
Repost of press statement from two US senators.

IAVA repost.

And that's what we have.


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

Editorial: The shameful and the praise worthy

Oh, Arianna Huffington.

You never looked more like the hilarious and pointed spoof Tracey Ullman does of you then last week when you posted an attack on journalist Ned Parker who had to leave Iraq due to threats.

We found it interesting that Huffington Post -- which relies so heavily on comments to its articles -- closed down any comments to the attack as soon as it was posted.

Blogs and kisses, dahling, blogs and kisses.

In the real world, Ned Parker was attacked for doing what a journalist is supposed to do.

He discussed that Thursday morning  on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is audio, text and transcript) with host Steve Inskeep:

Steve Inskeep: What happened that instead began to make this a story about you?

Ned Parker: Well our team, on the day that Tikrit was liberated, they called me during the day and said, "We've witnessed an execution by federal police of a detainee in the street."  And it was a mob mentality.  And they could only stay a few moments because it was such a crazed scene I think our people feared for their own safety.  So when they came home that evening, we had a huge debate about do we report this, is this too sensationalist?  It's one incident.  But when we looked at the whole picture, we also saw a body being dragged by a group of Shi'ite paramilitaries.  We had   photos of this which we published  And there had been looting and arson of areas that surround Tikrit.  So we felt that we had to report what happened there, that if we didn't, we wouldn't be meeting our obligation to report fairly and impartially about the critical issue right now: What happens when security forces enter an area that has been under Islamic State control, that is Sunni and then has predominately Shia security paramilitary forces enter.

Steve Inskeep: This is the most basic job of a war correspondent: Go look at a war and report exactly what you see.

Ned Parker: Mm-hmm.  Right.  And this was a test case for the government.  The Iraqi government and the US government have spoken about the importance of post-conflict stabilization operations in Iraq.

Steve Inskeep: What happened after you published the story?

Ned Parker: It was picked up everywhere.  I think it was seen because of what our correspondents witnessed -- this execution which was horrific -- where they watched two federal policemen basically trying to saw off the head of a suspected Islamic State fighter to cheers from federal police, our story became really the example of what went wrong in Tikrit.  And it was published on April 3rd.  The night of April 5th on Facebook, on a site associated with Shi'ite paramilitary groups and political forces, a picture of myself went up calling for Iraqis to expell me. It quickly received over 100 shares and comments including, "Better to kill him than to expel him."

Steve Inskeep:  Did it blow over?

Ned Parker: No.  It only got worse.  I-I did go out and try to have meetings with some people, different prominent Iraqis, about it.  And then on Wednesday night [April 8th]  the channel of Asaib al-Haq -- which is a prominent Shi'ite political party and paramilitary group, my face is the backdrop as the anchor talks and he actually waives also a print out of my face and talks about how I should be expelled from the country and then proceeds to read a letter from an Iraqi living in the United States who also again calls for me to be expelled and describes Reuters as trampling on the dignity of Iraq and Shi'ite paramilitary groups and after that there's no way I could have stayed in the country -- both for myself and for my staff.  My presence was polarizing the situation.  So I left the next day.

The attack Arianna published on the weekend was first tried out Thursday by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi when he spoke at a DC event.

While Arianna disgraced herself, we've yet again come to applaud Steve Inskeep and we also applaud Liz Sly of the Washington Post.

  • . After what happened to can you guarantee journalists won't be harassed/threatened by govt allies?

  • And we applaud Sam Dagher who's covered Iraq for The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal and The Christian Science Monitor.

  • We applaud United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and The Committee to Protect Journalists for speaking out.

    We note Barack Obama said nothing publicly -- and this despite meeting with Haider al-Abadi last week.  

    TV: When Messengers Disappoint

    Friday, The Messengers debuted on The CW.  To dub it "disappointing" is to be kind -- very, very kind.  "Disappointing" doesn't begin to describe Cindy Sheehan and her Soapbox of late.


    As this season winds down, it's worth noting what we said this time last year (April 13, 2014):

    The CW really had its best year and should be thinking of how to thank the viewers and expand next season. Beauty & the Beast fans are loyal -- even the switch to another night didn't result in mass defections.  Hart of Dixie is another show that shouldn't get the axe.  It's (a) the only real 'adult' show on the network and (b) able to be plugged in anywhere on the schedule and get solid ratings.

    Hart of Dixie did get another season -- it was its final season.

    Because of low ratings?

    That is what many attempted to insist.

    But even when dropped onto Friday nights (a night notorious for low ratings), Hart of Dixie held its own and matched (or bettered) the ratings of Jane The Virgin.

    Jane The Virgin is a bomb.

    No CW series received more publicity this fall, winter or spring.

    And yet the show still can't break out a rating and generally loses a significant number of viewers from its Monday night lead-in (The Originals).

    The fate of Beauty & the Beast is different.

    It's now becoming what we've long recommended The CW and others do: a summer program of original episodes.

    Season three debuts May 21st and runs through August 13th.

    If its ratings hold steady as a summer series, season four (which has already been announced) will follow the same pattern

    If that happens, we may see a sea of change in TV programming.

    For ten years, we've been here covering the media.

    While The Water Cooler Set has focused on lies and whoring -- announcing the death of the sitcom, for example -- we've focused on real issues.

    For example, we have repeatedly insisted that the networks needed to offer summer programming.

    We've noted that the basic cable programs tend to air during the summer and that the pattern of summer TV offering only repeats is part of the ongoing destruction of viewing habits.

    We've made our case repeatedly and often by going historical.

    The Water Cooler Set can't tell you about it -- mainly because no one Tweeted it -- but we've long noted that the networks used to feel the need for summer programming.  The Sonny & Cher Show, as we've noted was summer programming -- as was the mini-series it led into on the wives of Henry the VIII.

    By the 80s, networks were moving away from original summer programming but it still existed.

    For example, before Delta Burke and Dixie Carter starred in Designing Women, they were starring in 1982's three-episode summer sitcom Filthy Rich.

    And, in the 90s, Fox infamously (and correctly) knew they could turn 90210 into a bigger hit by airing new episodes in the summer.  So season one ended on May 9, 1991 and season two started on July 11, 1991.

    Again, if this were all over Twitter, the 'journalists' who 'cover' TV for The Washington Post and other outlets would know about this.  However, knowing about this doesn't mean they'd stop trying to play kool kids.

    As we've hectored and annoyed, CBS has had two hits for summer TV (and one break even) -- Extant, Under The Dome and the now cancelled Unforgettable.  CBS is hoping to score another hit with Zoo.  ABC has their summer hits Mistresses (this season without Alyssa Milano) and Rookie Blue.  NBC has no real scripted success to point to (Undateable is unwatchable -- and no longer a summer series) but hopes the 13-episode Aquarius, debuting May 28th, will put them on the boards. Fox will toss out two sitcoms in July.

    Last season, The CW took the axe to Star-Crossed and The Tomorrow People and brought back The 100 which stars The CW's very own Maria Bello -- which is not a compliment.  Bello can be 'color' on a show, she just can't be a lead.  As a lead, she repells viewers.

    The Hundred concluded is second season last month and did so with 1.4 million less viewers than it had when it debuted in season one.

    This should have been the season for The CW but its only real bright spot has been iZombie which regularly and repeatedly outperforms Jane The Virgin in the ratings.

    Jane The Virgin is a huge problem for The CW.

    Other show runners whose series air on The CW are furious with the non-stop push of Jane The Virgin at the expense of their own shows -- their own shows which actually bring in viewers and do so with very little publicity.

    There's also the issue of season two.

    When a heavily promoted show like this gets a second season, it becomes the equivalent of a summer tent pole film.  Meaning?  By the rules of TV, Jane The Virgin needs to open a night.

    Now it can't.

    Without a lead in the ratings collapse even further.

    And that's just ticking off show runners even more.

    They're getting no publicity -- other than commercials on The CW -- while Jane The Virgin is marketed as if it was a hit.

    There's also pressure for Jane to lose the baby.

    You know the one she's carrying due to accidental artificial insemination?

    The CW commissioned polling to figure out why people weren't watching this heavily promoted show and the response was it's "too icky."

    People don't like that she's a pregnant virgin -- some feel it's mocking Mother Mary of the Christian faith, others feel it's reducing women to wombs -- and they have no intention of watching for that reason.

    The CW is trying to prod the ones in charge of the show to have Jane miscarry.  They argue that those who watch the show do so for the love between Jane and Rafael and that a miscarriage could up the drama on that as Jane felt guilty (Rafael's cancer means the fertilized embryo she's carrying is the only biological child he will ever have).  Usually, when a network tells producers that their basic concept has an "ick factor" that runs off viewers, the producers are immediately concerned.

    But Jane The Virgin has too many chiefs and when producers and executive producers -- a majority of them -- appear to agree with The CW, the next day the number turns into a minority.

    But if Jane doesn't miscarry, if she delivers a baby and the ratings do not improve, The CW is making plans to replace it during the second season -- during, not after.

    Would an Emmy win for the lead actress change that?

    No one in their right mind thinks the weak performance of Gina Rodriguez is worthy of an Emmy.  (The Golden Globs are a joke.  Remember they gave Pia Zadora a Golden Globe for the film Butterfly.)  Rodriguez smiles a lot, whimpers on que, etc.  In other words, she poses.  She just hasn't nailed down a performance.

    When you have front runners in the Best Actress in a Comedy like Tracee Ellis Ross, the notion that Rodriguez starring in a non-comedy (it's a dramady -- a hybrid) could win for walking through a lead role is considered laughable.

    Laughable is The Messengers.

    The point of the show?

    Lucifer hits the eart in a ball of fire and fury which sets off waves that leave various people with wings and gifts.

    Sometimes the message can bury everything.

    What's the message of Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox?

    A plus for the radio show/podcast, the production has improved and the squeal so many heard last year is gone.

    The bad news?

    It's determined to be a pointless show.

    This month, Cindy did a broadcast on Iraq.

    Or something.

    She said to her guest, Raed Jarrar, "You were refused entry on an airplane for wearing a t-shirt."

    Yes, that is the most important topic in the whole wide world.

    "But I'm sure many of my listeners will remember it," Cindy insisted.

    The T-shirt said "WE WILL NOT BE SILENT."  It said that in Arabic, it said that in English.

    And it's supposed to be the great tragedy of western civilization.

    Reality, it was a provocative and controversial fashion choice for airplane travel.

    Most Americans cannot read Arabic.  So they see a phrase they cannot read and then "WE WILL NOT BE SILENT"?

    They could easily mistake Raed Jarrer -- after 9-11 -- for a terrorist.

    He could be at risk of harm on a flight wearing that t-shirt.

    Others could be at risk for his wearing that t-shirt.

    Too much was made of that incident being "discrimination!"

    Idiots -- yes, we mean the Center for Constitutional Rights -- wanted to insist that there was no danger, there was no this, etc.

    But Raed wasn't prevented from boarding.

    He was provided with another t-shirt and asked to put it over his own shirt.

    (Which he did and then whined like a little cry baby after.  Whined and got a six-figure settlement eventually.)

    Cindy can't offer that but then she wasn't even listening to Raed's story.

    He was in the midst of telling it when she cut in -- whole point for her bringing up his story -- with, "I got arrested for wearing a t-shirt at the State of the Union Address in 2006."

    Well when you have nothing to point to with pride these days, we guess you go back to a t-shirt incident in 2006.

    The whole point for Cindy remembering Iraq suddenly was conveyed when she trashed Bill Clinton (as worse than Bully Boy Bush on Iraq) and declared/cackled, "And now his wife is probably going to run for president!"

    Yes, Cindy, you hate Hillary Clinton.

    We know.

    We remember how you threw your support behind Barack Obama in 2008.

    You deny it today but we remember it.

    Your hatred for Hillary was so intense that you helped put the man you have dubbed in some of your writings the  "Obomber" into the White House.

    If you're honest Cindy -- are you capable of that anymore -- you know that if Hillary had won in 2008, the peace movement would not have folded camp but instead would have increased their activism.

    So not only did you help put Barack in office but you did your part to kill the peace movement.

    Cindy officially sat out the 2008 primaries.

    Unofficially, she commented throughout by leaving comments on Common Dreams articles where she was embraced by many of the goons who had run her off after she broke with the Democratic Party.

    They were so thrilled to have Cindy back in the fold and sharing their love for Barack.

    Raed has his own problems.

    For example, as Iraq was sinking into despair to the point that no one thought it could get worse, in December 2013, he went on Democracy Now! to talk about everything but the abuses of Nouri al-Maliki and the ongoing protests against Nouri which has lasted over a year.

    Sadly for Raed, events bitch slapped him as mere days after his appearance, Nouri was tearing down protest camps and the White House would realize they might have to repudiate thug Nouri al-Maliki (which Barack finally did last June).

    Even now, Raed can't talk about that.

    "We have to remember," he insisted to Cindy, "why this violence started to be able to get solutions for it."

    Yes, we do have to remember.

    We have to remember that putting thugs in power is never good.

    We have to remember that overturning an election -- as Barack did in 2010 to give loser Nouri a second term as prime minister -- is never good.

    We have to remember that silence as a thug goes after the people he is supposed to serve is never good.

     In one of the faux brave moments Cindy is now infamous for, she discussed the fake ass events in DC last month -- put on by The World Can't Wait, among others.

    Speaking of the panel she was on, she voiced disgust with another panelist (whom she refused to name) who argued, "It's too late to undue what the United States had done in that region.  Now we have to have a limited bombing campaign against ISIS because they're the bad guys and, hopefully, not too many civilians will be killed."

    This was supposed to be a peace event.

    It wasn't.

    It was the usual rally around Barack crap.

    And Cindy is right to be outraged by it.

    And we'll half-applaud her for calling it out.

    But we'd fully applaud her if she'd had the guts to name the panelist.

    If she disagrees with what was stated at a public event -- one supposedly promoting peace -- she owes it to her listeners to tell them the name of the person on the 'peace' panel justifying the bombing of a country.

    Raed had his own problems.  Including his hatred of other elements of society.  To her comments, he responded, "Mm-hmm.  Well unfortunately that has been the narrative all along -- that 'we hate violence and we hate dropping bombs but we just have to do it this week because otherwise some baby will get killed or some woman will get oppressed or some group of gays and lesbians will lose their rights."

    He is such an asshole.

    He's a liar but he's an asshole.

    He would go on to note "feminists and women's groups" that were on board for the war on Afghanistan (we hope he meant Afghanistan -- despite repeated lies, the feminist movement did not support the war on Iraq).

    Feminists in this country -- including Robin Morgan, Mavis Leno and others -- had been advocating for the US not to do business with Afghanistan under Bill Clinton.  They were successful there.  The reason they opposed it was not because women were being "oppressed."

    Women were being terrorized and when Raed gets the giggles over "oppressed," we're reminded what a shameful person he is.

    Afghanistan women were denied basic rights, yes.  They were also targeted and terrorized.

    To belittle that is to show you're an ass.

    Now he didn't belittle the Yazids.

    You may remember they were trapped on a mountain in 2014.

    We favored aid being dropped to them.

    That's all we favored.

    If they can't fight the Islamic State themselves?

    Maybe they better just stay up on Mt. Sinjar.

    They were rescued by the Kurds.

    And days later the Yazidi leaders were verbally attacking the Kurds (and have continued to do so).

    The Yazidis make a lot of problems for themselves.

    The fact that they are seen as worshiping Satan/Lucifer allowed Nouri to target them and get away with it.  It's also why no Iraqi forces were rushed to liberate the Yazidis by Nouri or by his successor Haider al-Abadi.

    They did align themselves with American neocons after Barack started bombing but that association has proved problematic.  The necons -- most of whom are not Christian -- thought they could whip up support among American evangelicals -- support for sending more US troops into Iraq.

    But that pesky Lucifer issue?

    The one the neocons overlooked?

    Evangelical leaders haven't.

    And while some have been happy to argue for the need to provide aid to the group, none have been willing to argue US troops need to be sent on behalf of this non-Christian group.

    Raed failed to note the suffering of Iraqi Christians -- a population that far outnumbers the Yazidis.

    But then anyone who thinks its okay to terrorize women, isn't going to be too concerned with most issues.

    A number of high profile feminists were brought into the Bully Boy Bush White House over the issue of Afghanistan.

    Of those, a smaller number signed up for war on Afghanistan.

    Some of whom did so were stupid and believed the rhetoric.

    Some  signed up because they believed the rhetoric would help women worldwide.

    Some signed up because they felt their presence could ensure that Afghan women would not be forgotten once the war started.

    We didn't support the war on Afghanistan.  We aren't the only feminists who refused to enlist.

    But above is why some did.

    We think they were wrong.

    We don't know that they're worthy of Raed's disdain and arrogance.

    Again, this was Afghanistan.

    It was not about Iraq.

    And two years later, with the Iraq War, feminists had seen that the Bully Boy Bush administration would talk a good game on women's security but wouldn't actually do anything to ensure it.

    So it's a distortion, a flat out lie.

    So is Raed's claim that the US has ever gone to war over the rights of gays and lesbians.

    Some people are just morons, some people are just liars and Raed appears to be both.

    His homophobia makes him an embarrassment.

    His lies make him a danger.

    On the left, those of us who are against war, need to make arguments against it.

    But these need to be arguments, not lies.

    Of Barack's current Iraq 'plan,' Raed declared, "I don't know why people actually think we can bomb a country into moderation and eliminate extremism by dropping more explosives."

    But that's not what Barack's doing.

    We don't support his 'plan.'

    We also don't distort it.

    His plan is not that bombs dropped in Iraq will eliminate the Islamic State.

    His plan is that bombs dropped in Iraq will send the Islamic State fleeing from some areas, will kill them in others, and this is part of a battle 'plan' that will allow the Iraqi troops to secure an area.

    This is Bully Boy Bush's "surge" but with bombs instead of US troops.

    The "surge" was a military success and a political failure.

    Additional troops were sent in to secure Iraq and this was supposed to provide the space for the government to move forward on political issues.

    The US military achieved their assigned task.

    But that was step one.  Step two was never achieved.

    Similarly today, Barack has noted that the only solution is a political solution and sending US troops into Iraq and providing bombings is supposed to create the space for that political solution.

    The bombings started in August.

    All these months later, $2 billion US tax dollars later, there is no political solution or even a rush towards one.

    And the summer is approaching.

    The summer heat will see the Iraqi Parliament go on a lengthy vacation as they do every year.

    So the failure to work towards a political solution is all the more appalling.

    Raed, to his credit, did call out Barack early in the program in a single sentence.

    It wasn't a topic Cindy wished to pursue.

    And Barack's name was avoided for the rest of the program.

    "People fall for it," Raed insisted of the lie that bombing was an answer to peace.

    But he forgot to note that people only fall for lies when the media fails to its job.

    The media is more than ABC News.

    It includes The Nation, it includes The Progressive, it includes Pacifica Radio, it includes websites.

    And it took all of that calling out the lies of the Iraq War in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for the American public to become informed of what was really taking place.

    In 2014, this site and all community sites loudly rejected a bombing campaign or US troops being sent in to save the Yazidis.

    Where was everyone else?

    Oh, was ridiculing the Yazidis which just makes you look callous and push people away from your position.


    Everyone was silent.

    Has The Progressive done even one article or commentary about Iraq in the last 12 months?

    That the media builds consent is not a new revelation.

    If Raed's troubled by American reaction, he might take the time to call out the so-called 'left' media and their silence on Iraq.

    Cindy Sheehan insisted, "I just want to get people who live in this country to understand these situations."

    Then why doesn't she talk about them?

    She's need to stop kidding herself that she covered Iraq in that broadcast.

    Her program addressed nothing that has happened in Iraq since 2008.

    But what's worse is her gross stupidity.

    Cindy and Raed were railing against the United States government.

    This despite Raed becoming an American citizen.

    They were railing about it and seemed to forget that the United Kingdom also declared war on Iraq as did Australia.

    They seemed to think abuses took place in the US only.

    We'd recommend that they watch the 2014 mini-series The Code -- about torture and secrecy.

    It's not set in the United States.

    It's set in Australia.

    As appalling as their limited understanding of imperialism was, we were equally shocked that Socialist Cindy Sheehan is in fact in servitude of class status.  Listening to her ooh and awe over Iraqi women at the top of the social strata and using them to define 'equality' was highly embarrassing.

    Apparently -- Iraqi women who have lost much due to the illegal war -- only matter if they are doctors or engineers.

    That's a funny way to build a coalition of international support.

    Cindy pretended she wanted to talk about what was going on in Iraq.

    But she didn't want to talk about Barack.

    Analyst Raed did bring up Barack once.  He also distorted Barack's so-called 'plan.'

    Nothing they said addressed any issue that led to over a year of protests in Iraq (from December 2012 through January 2014).

    It was a waste of time.

    And that's Friday on The CW as well when The Messengers kicked off with a pilot that attempted to be The Event, X-Files, Supernatural, Smallville, Terminator II, Dogma and Dawson Creek all rolled into one -- while basically robbing the opening scene of iZombie.  (CW's message to American women -- do not have a finacee -- but if you do, don't talk about him -- especially not as you leave a hospital.)

    Maybe there's hope for The Messenger?  It could improve over time.  We're less optimistic on Cindy.  She's been a public activist since 2005 and she's now glorifying social elites in other countries and gabbing on about t-shirts and other nonsense in a show allegedly focusing on Iraq.

    No wonder the military has so many problems with health care

    The US military brass must thank the heavens for the VA every day.

    The VA's never ending screw ups and scandals take up a lot of attention.

    Allowing military medical scandals to fly under the radar by comparison.

    The next time you hear of substandard care received by those serving in the military, we hope you'll wonder about the qualifications?

    The Air Force, for example, is seeking a Public Health Officer.

    They've posted the job at Indeed.

    Public health should be a very important position for the Air Force with the need to focus on preventative care among other things.

    The Air Force notes:

     It may seem like a small task to some, but keeping every Airman in peak health is key to the Air Force’s ability to defend the nation. As an Air Force Public Health Officer, your mission will be to prevent, reduce and control the incidence of communicable diseases and occupational illnesses among Air Force personnel at home and abroad while working in garrison or deployed. You’ll work with an elite medical team in state-of-the-art facilities, elevating your career to the next level.

    Oh, so it's "key to the Air Force's ability to defend the nation," in fact. And you'll "work with an elite medical team in state-of-the-art facilities."

    Sounds good so far.

    But then there's this:

    "Must have obtained a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM/VMD)"?

    This position is "key to the Air Force's ability to defend the nation" and they're willing to take an animal vet.for the position?

    Public Health Officer for people and they're willing to take an animal vet for the position?

    The Air Force -- the US government -- needs to explain that.

    And quickly.

    Jim's World: Hulu, puh-leeze


    Last week, Ava and C.I. offered "TV: The rise of Netflix, the fall of Hulu" which led to a huge number of e-mails.

    I'll start by noting some of Hulu's response.

    A) Ava and C.I. insist that streaming is down at Hulu Plus.  Hulu insists that is not the case and adds, "Those numbers are supposed to be private and should have not have been passed on.  Someone from Hulu clearly passed those figures on and we would like to know who?"

    Wait a minute.

    Hulu is saying the figures are wrong but insisting that the figures could only have come from someone at Hulu?

    For the record, the figures were passed on from Hulu to Ava and C.I.

    But, in the future, when insisting that the figures are wrong, Hulu shouldn't also acknowledge that they had to have come from Hulu -- which is acknowledging that the figures are in fact accurate.

    B) This was a broadside attack on Hulu Plus which is still "in its infancy."


    I had to look this one up.

    For humans, infancy is said to end with walking (when one becomes a toddler).

    This year, Hulu Plus turns five-years-old.

    That's a long infancy.

    C) Hulu insists Hulu Plus members get commercials because commercials keep the cost down.

    The cost for what?

    What content is Hulu actually producing?

    That was the point of Ava and C.I.'s report.  Netflix is working with all these creative types and Hulu's got nothing.

    The issue for readers was exactly that.

    Rachel M e-mailed to say that she was a huge fan of Salem and kept waiting for Hulu Plus to start offering the second season but, three episodes in, she realized it was just another show Hulu was no longer going to provide.

    Carl complains about Justified which he got hooked on due to Hulu.  "But where they used to provide an episode a week or so after it aired, they now offer me nothing.  Oh, I can click on a key and unlock it by entering my cable provider number but I don't have cable.  I subscribed to Hulu Plus to get away from cable."

    Mary plans to cancel her Hulu Plus at the end of her current cycle "because it's a fraud.  It tells me I can watch Justified and all these other programs.  But I can't because I don't subscribe to satellite or cable.  Hulu Plus is just a rip-off."

    "Rip off" was used to describe Hulu Plus in 271 other e-mails.  They were called "con artists" or a "con game" in 70 other e-mails.  But every e-mail (over 2,400) expressed their disgust with Hulu Plus.

    Seems to me that instead of whining that Ava and C.I. let the cat out of the bag on the downtrend in streaming Hulu, Hulu should be more focused on figuring out how to keep the subscribers that they still have left.

    The Haider Al-Abadi Report


    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited DC last week.  One of his public events was delivering a speech to  the Center for Strategic and International Studies and then briefly taking a few questions.  C.I. attended the event and reported on it in Thursday's snapshot.

    We're reposting that report because (a) it matters and (b) very few bothered to cover it.

    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was at an event this morning.  The forum was hosted by The Center For Strategic and International Studies.  Haider opened by reading a speech (which we'll note sections of) that lasted approximately 15 minutes and was most noted for the fact that he delivered it in English.  Unlike Iraq's former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki, he did not speak through an interpreter or utilize one.  (Nouri can speak English.)

    He and an Al Jazeera commentator would engage in Arabic when they wanted to trash the White House.  Such brave little cowards.  (I'm all for trashing anyone but do it openly, don't hide behind a foreign language.)  When the Al Jazeera commentator was asked to translate the question to English (as he was told he'd have to before he asked it), he insisted he'd ask his next question in English.

    When told that wasn't good enough, the commentator then grew petulant and reduced his lengthy question to a simplistic sentence or two.

    Haider responded to it in Arabic.

    He was also unwilling to translate it and tried to avoid doing so.

    At one point, he insisted he was not being paid to translate.

    Well, I guess it's true, a whore expects to be paid for everything, right?

    Huffy, Haider finally offered a very loose (and brief) translation of his remarks.

    Haider also left the prepared text of his speech from time to time, such as near the end when he raised the issue of Saudi Arabia (and walked back some of his statements from the previous day -- "more concilitory" is how the New York Times' Michael R. Gordon termed the new remarks during his question to Haider at today's event).

    His speech was filled with distortions.

    Things got worse when the speech was set aside.

    Responding to the first question asked by CSIS' Jon Alterman, Haider stated, "What we are facing in Iraq is a polarization of society caused by this terrorism and, of course, failure of governance, not only in Iraq but in the entire region."

    That was problematic for a number of reasons.

    First of all, the reply is ahistoric.  It attempts to set a mid-point as an instigating or creation point.  The Islamic State is the terrorism that Haider's referring to.

    The Islamic State did not cause "polarization of society" in Iraq.

    The Islamic State took root in Iraq, gained support and a foothold in the country, due to the government (led by Nouri) targeting Sunnis.

    If Haider can't be honest about that, he's never going to accomplish anything.

    The second biggest problem with the response is that Jon Alterman's actual question was: "I want to give you an opportunity to be critical about what Iran's doing in the Middle East.  What are they doing that they shouldn't be doing?"

    And Haider took a pass -- instead noted that Iran shared in the battle against the Islamic State.

    He sidestepped the issue with generic and bland statements such as, "It's not my role to criticize Gulf States, Saudi Arabia . . ."

    Alterman attempted to follow up on the Iranian issue and Haider offered generic platitudes such as, "We welcome the Iranian help and support for us."

    Haider relationship to the truth can best be described as "elusive."

    At one point, he did not that "there must be a political solution.  In all honesty, I haven't seen any movement on that."

    And, yes, it is true that US President Barack Obama has been declaring -- since last June -- that the only answer to Iraq's crises is a political solution.

    But when Haider declared today that "there must be a political solution.  In all honesty, I haven't seen any movement on that"?

    He was talking about Syria.

    He was as full of it as the institution hosting him.  They included one Twitter question -- and that from a 'personality' -- in the proceedings -- this after spending over 24 hours begging for questions.

  • What's the future of Iraq? Tweet your questions NOW for Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi's address tomorrow, using 

  • The Center For Strategic & International Studies gave the impression that they wanted questions for Haider al-Abadi and yet they really just wanted to waste people's time.

    Prime Minister @HaiderAlAbadi will answer audience questions, including yours sent via  to @CSIS 

    The questions that insisted CSIS and Haider ignore them?

    The bulk were about the violence including that carried out by militias and Iraqi forces, this was followed by the lack of work being done on a political solution (with many noting US President Barack Obama declared this the only answer for Iraq back in June), many were about the threats against journalism and journalists in Iraq (with an emphasis on Ned Parker), many were also about the status of Iraqi women (with a number asking who the highest ranking woman was in Haider's office and how many women served in his Cabinet), etc.  I was told that CSIS was hoping for questions more along the lines of, "What do you miss most about Baghdad?" and impressions on DC.

    In other words, meaningless questions with inoffensive answers from Haider.

    FYI, I agreed not to slam Jon Alterman -- and I could, I could really do so -- in exchange for finding out what the Twitter users were asking about -- the questions CSIS compiled from Twitter but never used.

    While ignoring hard hitting questions from Twitter, they couldn't ignore the journalists present and, after Iran, the most asked of topic was Ned Parker.

    Barbara Slavin: And also, one of our colleagues, Ned Parker, recently has left because of threats against Reuters for reporting what happened in Tikrit.  Will you issue a statement in Arabic protecting journalists for reporting what goes on in Iraq.  Thank you.

    Haider al-Abadi: As with Mr. Parker, Ned Parker, I've known him for many years.  I heard this story while he was still in Baghdad.  My natural fact, a spokesman for my office has given me a message and he told me Ned Parker feels threatened and asked what sort of threats he had received? We want more information so that I can take action about these people who have threatened him.  I haven't received anything on that, to be honest with you. I asked for protection of his office -- to increase protection of his office -- and we did.  But all of the sudden, I'd heard he left. I know he sent a message he wants to meet me in Washington but unfortunately my program is, uh -- I didn't even have time to talk to my wife yesterday. [Begins chuckling.]  So I don't think I would talk to Ned instead of my wife.

    And a statement in Arabic?

    "I-I think my office issued a statement. In English?  Okay, we translate."

    What followed was an embarrassing and shameful round of laughter.

    This isn't a laughing matter.

    When the guffaws finally died down, the next question returned to the topic but with less 'jolly' and 'funnin'.'

    Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: [. . .] But piggy backing on the last question about Ned Parker, I was just wondering if you could briefly comment as to your take on the current state of press freedom within Iraq?  And also, in terms of going and taking action in response to Parker's being chased out of the country, what steps are you planning -- or are there any steps planned to institute protections for international press covering your country?  During your address, you said, and I quote, "A free society needs a free press."  And so I was just wondering if that would extend to foreign press as well?

    Haider al-Abadi: Well I think if you look at the Iraqi press first, I think they're free to criticize.  I think that number one   institution which is being criticized in Iraq is the government.  We don't even reply to them.  We don't do anything. I drop charges against all-all media.  But I ask the media to have their own self-discipline.  That's important.  The media shouldn't be free to accuse others falsely.  They should respect freedom of others.  Freedom of speech is there but -- We need facts. But I refuse so far -- and I hope I continue on that -- you never know what office does.  Office usually corrupts people, right?  But I hope it doesn't corrupt me.  We keep on respecting the freedom of the press, we keep on protecting it.  As to the foreign press, as far as I know, there's no limitation on them, no restrictions.  They're free even to go to our --within our military unit.  I think we went to that extent to allow free reporting from the fronts.  I remember when the US army was there in 2003 [that's when Haider returned to Iraq after decades of exile in England], they had embedded journalists and they were restricted to what they were reporting.  I very much respect that.  I hope I can have that power to do that but unfortunately I cannot do it now.  It's so free, the situation in Iraq.  Now I'm not sure if Mr. Parker, why he has left.  To be honest with you, I didn't have the story from him.  He wrote something to me.  I cannot see why he left.  Was he really threatened?  Or he felt he was threatened?  I know some -- some Facebook thing and social media has mentioned him in a bad way but the-the thing I've seen -- in actual fact, they were condemning the government in the first place, not him.  They were condemning me as the prime minister to do something about it -- rather than him.  I know some of these, they want to use these things to just criticize the government in the same way when they accuse the coalition of dropping help to Da'ash or accuse the coalition of killing Iraqis falsely.  In actual fact, what they're trying to do -- trying to criticize the government for its policies. They don't want the government to seek the help of the coalition -- international coalition or to work with the US.  But to -- I think me, as prime minister, the safety of the Iraqi people, the interests of the Iraqi people is number one [. . .]

    He continued to babble on and avoid the question.

    This edition's playlist


    1) Carly Simon's The Bedroom Tapes.

    2) Carly Simon's Have You Seen Me Lately?

    3) Carly Simon's This Kind Of Love.

    4) Carly Simon's  No Secrets.

    5) Carly Simon's Never Been Gone.

    6) Carly Simon's Anticipation.

    7) Carly Simon's Hello Big Man.

    8) Carly Simon's My Romance

    9) Carly Simon's Greatest Hits Live.

    10) Carly Simon's Into White

    Billie Holiday cover albums forecast a new storm

    This is a repost from UK Socialist Worker:

    Billie Holiday cover albums forecast a new storm

    Billie Holiday
    Billie Holiday (Pic: Flickr)

    How can the modern day jazz artist hope to celebrate the centenary of the legendary Billie Holiday by covering her songbook?
    There’s certainly no value in just trying to replicate her unique vocal inflections or sense of timing, because she will always be better than you.
    Jose James and Cassandra Wilson know this and in very different ways have tried to capture Holiday’s spirit instead.
    Her style was marked by an ability to combine fragility with enormous power and presence that were an act of defiance.
    James’s approach is sparse and rests heavily on his precise vocals.
    Using only a four piece band, he extends syllables to twist the meaning of well-known song lines. On Loverman we get Holiday’s pain writ large, but we definitely know those longings are not hers alone.
    James’s brilliance is in the way he phrases each particular line.
    Wilson heads in the other direction completely.
    The songs are richly filled with orchestration, slide guitars, accordions and sometimes veer into darkness. Perhaps unsurprising, given the album is produced by Nick Launay of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
    Sometimes Coming Forth sounds like it has been recorded today, but in the kind of bar that Holiday might have played in during the 1950s.
    At other points Wilson’s voice feels like part of a modern soundscape.
    In either case, there’s no way this is simple pastiche.
    James and Wilson each cover the anti-lynching song Strange Fruit in ways that honour its history but which remake it for today.
    Both versions remain harrowing in their own right—and both tell us that there’s a storm coming in the US.
    Yesterday I had the blues
    Jose James
    Blue Note Records
    Coming forth by Day
    Cassandra Wilson
    Sony Records
    Out now

    Isakson, Blumenthal Call for Investigation of Outrageous Construction Costs at Colorado VA Hospital Demand answers on project now $1 billion over budget

    Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Richard Blumenthal is the Ranking Member of the Committee.  Their offices issued this joint-statement on Friday:

    FRIDAY APRIL 17, 2015
    Contact: Amanda Maddox (Isakson), 202-224-7777
    Josh Zembik (Blumenthal), 202-224-6452

    Isakson, Blumenthal Call for Investigation of Outrageous Construction Costs at Colorado VA Hospital

    Demand answers on project now $1 billion over budget 

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, respectively, this week wrote to the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs requesting they commence an independent investigation into the Denver VA Hospital and its cost overruns and delays. The letter asks that the Inspector General’s office examine the entire construction process, from identifying facility design elements to contract and project management to project cost and schedule development.
    On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the VA announced that the latest cost estimates for the medical center project, developed in consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers, had reached $1.73 billion, more than $1 billion over the project’s original budget.
    The senators also released the following statement after VA officials proposed using money from a one-time $5 billion fund to pay for the remaining costs of the Denver VA Hospital. Those funds were originally approved by Congress to address the issue of unacceptable patient wait-times in order to improve access to patient care within the  VA by increasing clinician staffing and improving medical facilities.
    “It is disappointing to learn that the VA is proposing to use funds from the Veterans’ Choice Act to pay for cost overruns at the Denver replacement medical center – construction cost overruns that were predominately caused by gross mismanagement and a lack of accountability within the VA. We are also very disappointed that it has taken this long for the VA to address this issue and by the VA’s lack of communication with the committee on this proposal. It is difficult for us to assess the merits of any proposal without being provided critical details, an analysis of alternatives, and necessary supplemental information.”
    To address the VA’s mismanagement of this project, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will visit the construction site and hold an oversight hearing on Friday, April 24, 2015, in Aurora, Colorado.
    The full text of the letter can be downloaded as a PDF here.
    The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

    Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.
    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
    Poll1 { display:none; }