Monday, March 20, 2023

Truest statement of the week

The United States is not only the worst-performing among the industrialized nations, in terms of maternal mortality, the difference is not even close. Women giving birth in the US are four times more likely to die than in Germany, France or Britain, and 10 times more likely to die than in the Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries. They are twice as likely to die as in China. According to the World Health Organization, these disparities predate the COVID pandemic: Maternal-mortality rates in the US rose 78 percent between 2000 and 2020, while dropping in most other countries.

-- Patrick Martin, "US maternal mortality rate soars: An example of capitalist barbarism" (WSWS).





Truest statement of the week II

The Iraq War super-charged the militarized spending that was already surging after 9/11, which totaled over $21 trillion as of 2021. The National Priorities Project calculates that just a fraction of that sum could have totally decarbonized the U.S. power grid, created millions of good jobs, wiped out all student debt, and all but ended child poverty in this country — with plenty left over.

Imagine what our world would look like today if we’d made those choices. Instead it was war, torture, mass surveillance, and other scandals that filled the space in our imagination where those dreams might have gone. Our gloomy present era of polarization and alternative facts feels like a direct result of this malaise.

-- Peter Certo, "What Did the Iraq War Really Cost?" (COUNTERPUNCH).






A note to our readers

Hey --

Monday night. 

Let's 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, Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
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?  

Patrick Martin gets another truest. 

Peter Certo gets a truest.

We didn't have an editorial.  We were putting this DEMOCRACY NOW! video in the roundtable -- after where Wally notes it -- and then Dona said let's just note Amy Goodman's covered Iraq well and give some positive feedback that way.  So we are doing that.

Ava and C.I. take on the fakery.

We roundtable.  

We are upping book coverage in the community.  Ava and C.I. speak with Rebecca about the book she read.

And they speak with Stan about the book he read.

Our ongoing count of famous passings.

A list of books reviewed in the community so far this year.

Ajamu Baraka gets it -- no surprise there.

Rebecca's book review.

C.I. reporting on a Senate hearing.

Will Lehman's statement on the UAW elections.

Stan's book review.

C.I. reporting on a House Committee hearing.

Matt Taibbi's opening statement to the House Committee.


What we listened to while working on this edition.

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



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

Blood and Treasure: Documenting the Costs of Iraq War from Civilian Casualties to Trillions Spent


Media: They lie

Truth?  Maybe it's just the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, an illegal war built on lies, but we're not seeing truth anywhere these days -- just lies and more lies.




DISNEY+ has a 'documentary' series about . . . something. 

What, we're not exactly sure.

It's called MPOWER but it honestly remains us of an insane commercial for Jared's Jewelers.  You may have seen it.  A young Latino couple is shown.  The woman starts talking about the man she married and she's smiling, jump cut, she's now in tears and and talking about being in the hospital, jump cut, she's back to happy.  Are they selling wedding rings or drugs for mood swings?


It makes no sense.


Nor did it make a damn bit of sense to see some woman editor in MPOWER start blathering on about how her father died seven years ago and how that ties in with Scarlet Witch.


MPOWER -- no, we don't know what the title is supposed to mean either -- plays out like four really bad episodes of LIFETIME INTIMATE PORTRAIT.  A bizarre group of women appear for each of the four episodes -- they're actors, editors, writers and always one middle-aged White woman with clown like hair as a result of a really bad coloring.  


One group tries to justify WANDAVISION.  We warned you about that show way back when.  Critics were praising it to the roof -- it was so this and so that.  It was garbage -- female hatred.  That a bunch of women were behind it didn't make it any better.  We rightly compared it to 'the rest cure' that Charlotte Gilman Perkins critiqued in THE YELLOW WALLPAPER.  


Along comes last year's latest Doctor Strange film and suddenly people want to notice sexism.  


WANDAVISION was all about how women can't handle power.  


It's a sexist trope that's been around forever.


TV?  Lindsay Wagner  provided one of the 70s best portrayals of a woman in an action series.  But it didn't start out that way.  No, when Jamie Sommers was just supposed to be a two-part episode character on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, having bionics killed her.  To appease Steve, after her parachuting accident, the government gave her bionic parts.  But then she died because her body rejected them.  That was a sexist message of how women couldn't handle power. Lindsay was too talented and Jamie too popular.  She was brought back the following season.  And she was spun off on THE BIONIC WOMAN.   Comics?  Jean Grey.  Couldn't handle the power.  It's the saga that's been the basis of not jus tthe original X-MEN films also the failed attempt at a reboot.  


WANDAVISION took a powerful action hero and made her a joke -- confined her to a sitcom.

The only thing more stupid than that -- and even more stupid then some idiots celebrating the decision -- is hearing from the women behind that garbage.  In MPOWER, they explain that the episodes are the five stage of grief.  Even with careful editing and prepared remarks, the idiots on camera can't sell that lie -- they stumble and fumble around.  They also try lying that the first episode is like the 50s, you know, back when THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was popular.

You mean the show that debuted in the sixties?  Because it did.  In 1961.  As did the other "fifties" show according to MPOWER -- BEWITCHED.

How stupid do you have to be to work for MARVEL-DISNEY?

Pretty damn stupid as another episode proves -- the one about CAPTAIN MARVEL.  You get a hair dresser explaining that for Brie Larson's film, she looked back to the 90s, you know, Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett. Joan Jett's faux punk look was established with the dawn of the 1980s.  The DISNEY+ 'documentary' shows Stevie Nicks from the seventies -- with hair like no one had in CAPTAIN MARVEL.  The closest thing to Stevie's hair in that movie would be her airwave perm of the early eighties. 

Time and again, these women stare straight into the camera with confidence and declare one lie after another.  It's as though they've just left the Bush administration.  

Women deserve to be celebrated -- even fictional ones like Scarlet Witch -- but it requires honesty.  Maybe the makers cared so damn little about women that pesky things like facts just didn't matter to them?

In that regard, they're a lot like some of the big sexists on YOUTUBE these days.

Can REVOLUTIONARY BLACKOUT NETWORK tell us what Jimmy Dore's crotch smells like?

We don't really care, but we'd like to hear them expound upon something they know about and that might be the only topic they could speak to with any expertise these days.

Last week, they brought Jimmy on again to ensure that everyone understood they were ass kissers.  We weren't aware anyone was still debating that point.

Jimmy quickly launched into singing his own praises -- as he loves to do.  And he wanted you to know about "they" and "them" -- unnamed entities that were against him and that were trying to humble Jon Stewart and Samantha Bee.  In fact, these entities were "shunning" Stewart and Bee.

Okay, Jon Stewart got the bum rush a few years back from Stephen Colbert when Jon suggested that the COVID 19 virus could have been from a lab in China.  And that's a possibility that seems even more likely today.  How is the fact that what he said over two years ago now being taken more seriously evidence that he's being shunned?

Equally insane, he wanted the world to know that Samantha Bee was trying to prove she was a feminist -- had to, insisted Jimmy.  Why?  Because, he explained, Samantha used the c-word.

Samantha's gone and used the c-word again?

No, it's the same thing we addressed in 2018.

Samantha wasn't shunned for it in real time and isn't shunned for it all these years later.

Last week, Samantha was a guest on THE VIEW.  It apparently traumatized Jimmy Dore because that's what he was talking about.  And going on about how Samantha was acting and pretending to be a feminist, according to the blowhard.  No, Jimmy, she is a feminist.  

He kept yammering away about how she supposedly won't deal with real issues.  All she could talk about, he huffed, was how there wasn't a woman hosting a late night program.  

Jimmy Dore:  Now she's super focused on championing women because she got in trouble for saying the c-word  Now she was saying, "Oh, I'd love to see, you know, a late night host as a female.  It's such a tragedy that it isn't' -- See, that's what they're focused on. They're not focused on: Wouldn't it be great if women had healthcare?  [sputtering and stammering] Wouldn't it be great if women had access to education without going bankrupt?  Wouldn't it be great if they had childcare and day care and precare and kindercare and all that s**t?  Wouldn't it be great for women? No, it would be great if a woman became -- got a f**king executive position on a television show.  That's all they think!

We should note that Jimmy did the segment with RBN hosts Nick and CJ who nodded along -- like stupid idiots -- with everything he said.

Excuse us, with every lie he told.


It was a seven minute and fifty-six second segment.  They carried over a hot topic to the start of the segment.  Then they discussed YOU'RE FAVORITE WOMAN, Samantha Bee's national comedy tour.  How this was inspired by the DOBBS decision and she spoke of the way women were responding to it, how women were under attack.  They then discussed efforts in Virginia for the police to have records of women's menstrual cycle data. They discussed Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law and the state of sex education in this country and shaming in terms of sexuality.  


At six minutes and thirty seconds in to this seven minute and fifty-six second segment, Sunny Hostin brings up that Samantha was "the first woman to host a late night satire show.  And it lasted seven seasons, it won two Emmys along the way.  And now that it's no longer on the air, we checked, we're left with just two women in late night.  We've got Amber Ruffin and we've got ZiWe."

Joy Behar notes that Joan Rivers was the first and, at seven minutes and forty-five seconds, ends the discussion of late night and winds the segment down.  

One minute and ten seconds is how long the discussion of women on late night takes place.

With those facts now know, let's go back and review Jimmy Dore's lies -- lies Nick and CJ co-signed to by nodding and grinning along while Jimmy lied.


Now she's super focused on championing women

Did he never watch her show?  She's been super focused on women throughout hosting her own program.  In fact, she even called out Joe Biden's sniffing of women and girls back during the primaries.


because she got in trouble for saying the c-word  


 What trouble?  It didn't impact the size of her audience.  She did have to apologize . . . five years ago. 



Now she was saying, "Oh, I'd love to see, you know, a late night host as a female.  It's such a tragedy that it isn't' -- 


She never said that.  Jimmy is a liar.  A two-bit whore who makes up lies and CJ and Nick are happy to nod along.


Not only was it not said, it was also pointed out that Amber Ruffin and Ziwe are two women on late night currently.

Jimmy lies that there are no women on late night when he's lying about what Samantha said.



See, that's what they're focused on. 


Not even two minutes in a seven minute segment and you're claiming "that's what they're focused on"?


They're not focused on: Wouldn't it be great if women had healthcare?  [sputtering and stammering] Wouldn't it be great if women had access to education without going bankrupt?  Wouldn't it be great if they had childcare and day care and precare and kindercare and all that s**t?  Wouldn't it be great for women? 


They dealt with the issues, that they, the women at the table wanted to address.  It wasn't the issues, Jimmy, that you, as a woman, wanted to speak about?  Oh, how sad for you.  How very sad.  They talked about healthcare, they talked about sex education, they shared stories about telling their children about sex, they addressed Don't Say Gay and other efforts to curb our freedoms.


And what's with "childcare and day care and precare and kindercare"?  It's all childcare, you stupid idiot.  Trying to pretend like you're a friend to women.  Please.


No, it would be great if a woman became -- got a f**king executive position on a television show.  That's all they think!


No, it's all you think about.  You lied.  Less than two minutes in a nearly eight minute segment -- four second shy of eight minutes.

He lied and Nick and CJ lied with him by nodding their heads and grinning like Stepen Fetchit fools but that apparently is all that the so-called REVOLUTIONARY BLACKOUT NETWORK can do because they're too busy lapping at their White master Jimmy Dore's balls.  We're not the only ones noting how embarrassing RBN's constant worship of Jimmy Dore is, THE VANGUARD has called it out as well.

Here's the segment Jimmy lied about.

When you can't get your own facts right, Jimmy Dore, you're only persuading the ignorant.  Is that why you keep going on REVOLUTIONARY BLACKOUT NETWORK -- because you've found someone even less informed than you are?



Jim: Roundtable time again. .  Remember our e-mail address is and  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report;  Wally of The Daily Jot;  Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.




Jim (Con't): Okay. Let's start with an e-mail. Ty?

Ty: Corbin e-mails wanting to know why anyone hasn't called out Alice Walker for being a TERF?

Rebecca: Is she? I didn't know.

Betty: I know nothing.

Jim: Anybody? C.I.?

C.I.: She wrote something on her website. I didn't take it to be TERF but I didn't read the whole thing. I jumped in mid-point, I think. [No, turns out I read it all -- click here to read for yourself.]  "She defended JK Rowling!!!!!" She defended a writer's right to say something. Alice isn't pro-censorship -- remember THE COLOR PURPLE has been banned multiple times and in multiple places. She shared her opinion that -- this is going back a bit. I saw her express concern that those not yet adult might be better off waiting for surgery if they want to transition. That's not my belief. But that is a belief that I understand. Some were bothered, recently, when I stated that if one of my children were underage (they are not) and wanted to have that surgery I would say first we go into therapy. Not because they're crazy or insane but because this is a big decision and I would want explored. if my child still wanted it, I'd support it 100% and not "Let's wait until you're 18, okay?" If they wanted it right now, absolutely, if we'd done therapy, absolutely. Alice is a WIF -- Writer Inclusionary Feminist. If you don't know Alice, maybe you don't get that. THE COLOR PURPLE has been banned in many places. Alice doesn't support censorship. She supports other authors being able to speak. Some people seem to be reading more into it than what Alice wrote and where she stands. She was very clear that she supports any 18 or older transitioning if that's who they are. I didn't see anything that was anti-trans. Maybe I missed it. If so, by all means let us know. If Alice is a TERF, I will call her out. So, please, let me know.

Jim: I don't think anyone had even heard that allegation. Okay, now we were asked about Matt Taibbi and why we didn't even highlight what C.I. wrote at THE COMMON ILLS last week if we didn't want to write our own thing? Our plan was to do that. But the plans fell through and the whole edition is nothing but Ava and C.I.'s "" which, for the record did deal with Taibbi's Congressional testimony. We will reprint C.I.'s Iraq snapshot report this edition on the hearing and we'll also reproduce Taibbi's opening statement to the Committee. Now Raul e-mails asking, "Is the pandemic over? What do you'll think?"

Trina: No. Sorry if that upsets someone. COVID cases continue. It's not over. Not trying to depress anyone, just being honest. And Joe Biden pretending that it is? Harmful in so many ways. You've got people who think it is and that's bad. You've got people who will have to start paying towards student loans again because he's declared it over. You've got people who are going to lose SNAP benefits because it is supposedly over. No. It should not have been declared over. The CDC's weekly total of new cases was just 149,995. No, it's not over. I wish it were but it's not.

Cedric: A large number of our church members over 60 just got it in the last two weeks.

Ann: That's true.

Kat: To build on Trina's point about Joe's messaging and statements leaving people thinking it's over and that being bad -- absolutely. There are people with low resistance that might need to still mask up but are not doing so because the president declared the pandemic over. I wouldn't have made it like Congress' 2002 Authorization For Military Force on Iraq -- letting it run on forever -- but I would've kept the emergency powers for a bit longer. Maybe another year.

Jim: On the 20th anniversary, Congress wants credit for yet again talking about ending those powers.

Jess; They do. For talking. Not for doing. For talking.

Dona: It's rolling towards a vote in the Senate. Maybe. No rush after all, let's just pretend that it's normal -- apparently.

Betty: What I really hate is that some are pointing to brave Barbara Lee. There's nothing brave about her. She refused to hold Barack accountable for the Iraq War or the Afghanistan War. She's a fake and a phony. Now, as she wants to be in the Senate, she's preening and posing for the press. Hey, Fake and Shake, we aren't that stupid.

Jim: Kat, table your comment I know you're about to make for just a moment. Iraq, anyone else on Iraq before I hand the floor to Kat?

Wally: Yeah, I'll jump in. I'm sick of the press and the liars in the press. We still have US troops on the ground in Iraq -- one just died in Iraq back in December. The war is not over and people need to stop pretending that it is. It is now the US' longest, ongoing war. Treat it as such.

Ruth: I --

Wally: Sorry, Ruth, give me one more moment, please. I could list 30 people and outlets who perpetuate that lie. I will instead give credit to Amy Goodman for her DEMOCRACY NOW! report that noted that reality.

Ruth: Good points. I just cannot believe that we are still sending troops to Iraq. I am appalled. It took years and years for opposition to the Vietnam War to read the level that opposition to the Iraq War was in 2006 but it still goes on. It is impossible and we have been lied to and distracted. By the government and by so-called leaders.

Marcia: I'll build on what C.I. was saying in last week's the gina & krista round-robin, how can anyone claim that the war was a success? The government is corrupt and has been over and over. The Iraqi people live in misery. They need jobs, they need a government that represents them. Protesters get hunted by security forces. This is not a stable government nor a representative one. And then you've got the toxic burnpits that the US left there and the other environmental pollution that's caused all these birth defects. Women's rights have been destroyed. How is it a success? By no measure is it a success.

Dona: It's so depressing. I want to name a few people who walked away and who whored and whatever else, people I will never, ever trust again. The list would include: Norman Solomon, Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamen, Christian Parenti -- who, by the way, looks fatter and fatter when he wears a turtle neck on THE KATIE HALPER SHOW, Alice Walker, -- in fact, just put down anyone who campaigned for Barack Obama because they made a point to do nothing for Iraq -- that's Laura Flanders especially -- because when Barack refused to bring all US troops home, they didn't want to call out their precious baby boy. They're disgusting.

Elaine: I saw people sell out many times in my life before but never the way they sold out in 2008. And let's be clear that the Democrats never expected to retake both houses of Congress in 2006. When that happened and they had the power to end the war, they chose not to because they wanted to use opposition to the Iraq War to also gain the White House. Put Nancy Pelosi on that list Dona just gave. And don't forget how she humiliated John Conyers or that he was right, Bully Boy Bush needed to be impeached.

Cedric: Amen.

Dallas: Can I speak for a second?

Jim: Sure. Dallas helps us on every edition. Always has. I'm surprised because you don't usually want to speak.

Dallas: Don't want to now but I do want to point out that it was the end of 2005 or 2006 when C.I. noted that she was tired and ready to stop participating online but would go on for a bit more because she knew the Iraq War wasn't going to end in the next few years. And we were kind of shocked, all of us? 'What do you mean? Our numbers are getting bigger and bigger! Of course, the war's about to end.' I was wrong, we were all wrong.

Jim: A very good point. I was wrong too. C.I. was right. Rebecca, did you think she was right when she said that?

Rebecca: When she immediately said it, no. And then I thought, how long I have I known her? When she speaks like that, she's right. So within a minute of her declaration, I was in agreement. But prior to that, I did think that the war would be ended.

Jim: Kat, I'm not forgetting you. Give me a second more. Why does this war continue to drag on?

Stan: I'd say there are a number of reasons. First, we're fossil fuel dependent and Iraq is oil rich. Second, they lowered fatalities -- US fatalities -- and so that took some of the interest away.

Cedric: Jumping in for one second, Stan. Tom Hayden was right about that, by the way. He got pissy about something Wally and I wrote and Wally told him, when he complained to take it up with both of us. After that, we exchanged several e-mails and Tom stressed that if they could manage the fatalities, get them lower, then many Americans would lose interest. He was right about that so I wanted to give him credit. I could list many things he was wrong about but tossing back to Stan.

Stan: Third, US news is 'cheap' and near non-existent. As C.I.'s pointed out, the only withdrawal was after the November 2008 elections when US news outlets rushed to withdraw. ABC farmed out coverage to BBC NEWS, for example. So you've got an economic motive to stay, you've got fatalities decreased on the US side and you've got a news media that can't be bothered with actual reporting and instead sits in front of cameras jaw boning and repeating what the government said while calling that 'reporting.'

Isaiah: I would add the defocusing on groups supposedly against the Iraq War. There's United For Peace and Justice which closed shop the day after Barack was elected president and called that a victory.

Mike: It was not. He continued the war. He thought he could make it better -- hubris -- and more effective. He wasn't anti-war, he wasn't even anti-the Iraq War. He was all about plunder and colonialism and some people grasped that from the start.

Isaiah: Exactly. And then there was CodeStink. Not only did they attack John Edwards and Hillary Clinton to clear the field for Barack, they also dropped one Iraq action after another. Can someone please explain to me how you get thousands to agree to go without food as protest and then you call off your Iraq action -- remember they were going to go meet with Iraqi politicians and present a plan?? -- because you need to rush off to take up Palestine -- the cause that everyone else is already working on at that moment.

Mike: That was so disgusting. It was disgusting in real time. But Isaiah just brought up an important point that I don't think we've made before. We've talked about how CodeStink was a hitchicker on the highway of causes. But, yeah, they were supposed to be presenting some sort of plan. They called that off and they never, ever returned to it. What a failure on their part. I'm freshly disgusted by them all over again.

Ava: And who would have thought that was possible? Could they get more craven. Jodi Evans, the head of the organization, dispatched them to go after John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, to heckle them at campaign stops -- they called it 'birddogging' -- but they never did that to Barack. And, of course, after the election was over, we'd all find out that Jodi was also a big bundler for Barack's campaign. A detail they should have disclosed but they never tell the truth. She pledged to raise $50,000 for Barack. That should have been disclosed every time CodeStink got press for calling out John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. It was deceptive not to do so. I have no respect for CodeStink and find it hilarious that these days they try to pretend that they are feminist when they started out with men and women and now bury that reality. They're so fake. And Susan 'Medea' Benjamin does need to retire. If she did, CodeStink might actually be able progress and hold people accountable.

Marcia: Instead, it's just a group used to get attention for Medea.

Jim: Okay, now I'm going to Kat who I know wants to talk about Barbara Lee.

Kat: Yes. She's a fake ass. But even if you can't see that, can you not grasp that we don't need her 76 year old ass in the US Senate. Dianne Feinstein should have retired long ago but has refused to do so. Barbara Boxer -- who was a much better senator than Dianne -- retired from the Senate at 77. But we're supposed to elect 76 year old Barbara Lee, who would be 77 whens he's sworn in, to an 8 year term? No, she's too damn old.

Jim: And on that note, we're going to wrap up. As always this is a rush transcript. Thank you to Ava and C.I. for taking notes -- and typing this up, I'm sure.

Books (Rebecca, Ava and C.I.)



Last week, Rebecca's "the world according to joan" went up and we're talking to her about the book THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JOAN by Joan Collins.  So Rebecca, the Joan Collins book.  It's a collection of essays, correct?

Rebecca: Right.  She's written them for various publications on a variety of topics such as fashion, eating, dieting, shopping, etc.  

She comes off a little older, judging by your review.

Rebecca: She's going to be 91 this May so, yes, she's hit that 'in my day' position.  It still makes for enjoyable reading.

Anything you found that was wrong factually?

Rebecca: You've read it, haven't you?  That's why you're asking.  Okay, yes, she talks about being in a store in NYC and this rude American who wants to be waited on even though the clerk has been helping Joan and is now adding up her purchases.  Joan quotes several of his rude remarks.  At one point she has the rude American say for the clerk to "ring up" the manager and, no, I doubt that's what he said.  We Americans don't say "ring up."  We might say "call" or "get," but we don't tell someone in a store to "ring up" the manager.

You enjoyed the book.

Rebecca: I did.  But, again, she has reached that age where younger people are just not doing it right -- not at airports, not at stores, not anywhere.  And I am so fearful that I'll be there shortly with that "in my day" attitude.  But she carries it off.  I did find her comments about the way some younger actresses dress to be interesting since she did not dress up in the sixties as she herself admits in some chapters.

Biggest plus of the book?

Rebecca: Her writing style.  It's like she's sitting across the table with you and talking to you while you have a good lunch.  

You stayed with KINDLE UNLIMITED on AMAZON.  Anything to share on that?

Rebecca: If a new book I'm interested in is coming out and I know about it, I'll buy it.  Otherwise, I'm just going through KINDLE UNLIMITED -- through various genres that interest me -- and finding something to read.  I read about three or four books a month that way and I'm never at a loss for something to read.  My daughter and my husband use it as well so it's a good service to have and we plan on keeping it.


Books (Stan, Ava and C.I.)



Two weekends ago, Stan's "SCREAM VI and THE BOYS" went up with the second half dealing with Ron and Clint Howard's memoir THE BOYS. So you enjoyed the book?

Stan: I did. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Clint will tell his story and then Ron will tell his story.

You noted Loretta Swit of M*A*S*H?

Stan: Right. Ron doesn't have an unkind word to say about anyone. And some people are not very nice. But she's one of the ones he puts on blast. Really, the only one. Which makes you wonder how bad she is?

Pretty bad. She's more than earned her reputation and it's why she doesn't work. And M*A*S*H was a set with a lot of huge egos. She carried her ego over to films and no one was putting up with it. She gave okay performances. If she'd been able to really deliver, she might have had a film career. But she didn't and that's why her career collapsed. No one wanted to work with her. Whatever Ron wrote, he was being kind, I'm sure.

Stan: I came away impressed with Ron and Clint's father. He could have been a star father and just ripped them off. Instead, he made sure that they were protected nad he taught them life lessons and taught them acting as well.

You talk about Jim Nabors.

Stan: Right. Their father teaches them about the world as they grow up. Jim Nabors played Gomer Pyle on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW which was Ron's first big acting hit. He liked Jim but was confused when some of the crew, when Jim wasn't around, called him a "homo." He went to his dad to ask about that. His dad just explained that some men like women and some men, like Jim, are attracted to men. He didn't place any shame on it, just spoke to Ron in a way Ron could understand. That really stood out to me at a time when you've got nut jobs pimping nonsense like "Don't Say Gay" in schools.

So Ron was a star on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and then, in the 80s, HAPPY DAYS. Anything there stand out?

Stan: Yeah. Everyone knows Fonie was the break out character. Ron played Richie who was the lead and the straight man like Dick Van Dyke was on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. But Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, was a break out audience favorite. And ABC wanted to then retitle the show to FONZIE'S HAPPY DAYS. Ron objected because that's not the show he signed up for. And then, early on, they all got Christmas gifts from ABC -- wallets. Even Marion Ross -- who played Mrs. Cunningham, Riche's mother, even she got a wallet. But Henry Winkler? ABC gave him a new VCR at a time when VRS were brand news and cost a lot of money. So that was frustration -- with ABC, not with Winkler. And it's good that happened. He wanted to direct. He was going to UCLA and studying film directing but had to drop out when the demands on HAPPY DAYS got to be too much. If things had been perfect, he might have stayed. But instead, he started directing and proving himself as a director. He wanted ABC to let him direct as part of his renewing his contract but they were idiots and said no. So he didn't renew his contract -- to their surprise -- and left the show. I am glad he left for another reason. I did watch HAPPY DAYS and I did not like Lori Beth. She wasn't given anything to do and was like one of the wives on MY THREE SONS. I think that would have been even more awkward if he'd stayed with the show. Richie was a leader on the show. Yeah, he turned to Fonzie but he was a leader and he could say no to Fonize if he needed to. And to have him with an appendage who did nothing episode after episode would have really destroyed why we liked Richie. The show did not have good writing for women.

So he goes on and he directs hits like SPLASH and A BEAUTIFUL MIND?

Stan: Right. He ends up an Academy Award winning director.

And one of Harvey Weinstein's targets.

Stan: Yeah, I thought about that while I was reading it. Havery Weinstein tried to destroy Ron's films -- you've said, C.I., turning the Academy Awards into a "blood sport." Well, Ron still go the Academy Award and he's got a career and can walk freely. Harvey's going to rot in prison.

Everybody pretty much knows Ron -- as a director or as an actor. You wrote about Clint's acting career and made some interesting points.

Stan: Okay, yeah. After they were child actors, Ron and Clinton continued acting in the 70s. Clint didn't get lot of long running roles on TV and he often had supporting parts in films. But we all know him, we recognize his face. And that's because he's been in basically everything. Look at his TV guest spots, for example, and there's at least one show even someone who barely watched TV will know. And he didn't get to end up with leading roles in films like AMERICAN GRAFFITI or THE MUSIC MAN or THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER like his brother Ron, but he made a ton of films and some are classics and some are cult classics -- like ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. He has been a working actor and then some. I guess most of us, given the chance, would say we wanted to be the leading man. But Clint carved out an incredible career in these supporting parts. I was really impressed by that.



Previous book discussions this year:



2023 Passings

Lisa Presley -- Elaine noted her passing.

Christine McVie -- Kat covered her passing.


Adam Rich -- Marcia noted his passing.


Jeff Beck -- Kat noted his passing.


Lance Kerwin -- Rebecca noted his passing.

Barrett Strong -- Ruth noted his passing.


Lisa Loring -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Burt Bacharach -- Rebecca noted his passing.


Raquel Welch -- Elaine noted her passing.


Stella Stevens  -- Rebecca noted her passing.


Richard Belzer -- Ruth noted his passing.  


Pat Schroeder -- Kat noted her passing.


Lance Reddick -- Mike notes his passing.  










"Mafia Wives (Susan Williams' WHITE MALICE)" -- C.I. reviews this book.


 "The Sewing Circle" -- Marcia reads Axel Madsen's THE SEWING CIRCLE.


 "Ellen Sander's The Lifestyle That Classic Rock Unleashed" -- Trina reviews this book.

"Phyllis Diller 1917 – 2012: News, Quotes, Interview" -- Ann reviews this book.

"Call Her Heroic (Ava and C.I.)" -- Ava and C.I. review this book.

"Boze Hadleigh's Hollywood Gays" -- Marcia reviews this book.


"Robert Sellers wrote a book of garbage" -- Kat reviews HOLLYWOOD HELLRAISERS.   



"SCREAM VI and THE BOYS" -- Stan reviews Ron and Clint Howard's THE BOYS.



"the world according to joan" -- Rebecca reviews this book.




Tweet of the week



Repost of Rebecca's book review:

the world according to joan

aging is inevitable.  we all age.  we stop when we die.  that could be before we're even a year old, that could be 98 years after we're born, anywhere in between.

'the world according to joan' is a collection of essays written by joan collins that was published in 2011.

i've noted joan here many times.  she's a great actress and even better at living.  she's always grabbing the best moments that she can from life.  as an actress, she's been in good projects and bad ones - the so-bad-it's-a-classic 'empire of the ants' is an example of the latter.  joan's on an island with giant ants and telling every 1 'the ants are our friends.'

she starts making films in 1951.  in the 50s, she works with some of the greats - including bette davis ('the virgin queen'), gloria grahame ('the good die young'), howard hawks ('land of the pharaohs'), ann miller ('the opposite sex'), jayne mansfield ('the wayward bus'), richard burton ('sea wife'), harry belafonte and dorothy dandridge ('island in the sun'), gregory peck ('the bravados'), paul newman and tuesday weld ('rally round the flags boys!' and farley granger (in her own personal classic 'the girl in the red velvet swing').  and that's just her 1st decade.

she went on to work with every 1 in films pretty much: farrah fawcett, robert mitchum, art carney, anthony newly (1 of her ex-husbands), franco nero, darren mcgavin, kenneth branagh, sue lloyd, peter cushing, christopher lee, donald pleasence, terry-thomas, bob hope, bing crosby, edward g. robinson ...

as recently as 2017, she's got 'the times of their lives' which is a wonderful road movie.   

and that's just film.  some of joan's most iconic work has been on t.v.  obviously, 'dynasty' which took her to a whole other level playing alexis on 1 of the most watched shows of the 80s - most watched not just here in the u.s. but also around the world.

in addition, she took on adam west as the siren on 'batman.'  she did important episodes of 'roseanne,' 'star trek,' 'the man from uncle,' 'will & grace,' 'the nanny,' 'happily divorced,' 'american horror story' and many more.  she's done some of the biggest t.v. movies -- including 'the cartier affair' which is a wonderful comedy with telly savalas and david hasselhoff and 'paper dolls' (the film that later became a t.v. show),  'these old broads' with elizabeth taylor and shirley maclaine, the mini-series 'sins' (with a great carly simon theme song) ..

 she's done theater, of course.  but she's also written novels.  her sister jackie was a novelist and 2 of joan's biggest money making films were based on jackie's novels - 'the stud' and 'the bitch.'  in 1988, she had her 1st novel published.  she'd already been writing memoirs.

which brings us to this book.  it's a collection of columns she's written for various publications such as 'hapers bazar,' 'the times of london,' 'the daily mail,' etc.

the columns are full of life and the book makes for a fun read. 

joan will be 90 in may.

i started by noting aging for a reason.

it's a lively book.  but there are contradictions. some of joan's advice and commentary on fashion fly in the face of what she herself wore in the 60s.  and part of that is growing and maturing and our tastes changing over time.  and part of that is looking backward and thinking no 1s life today could be as wonderful as back in the day.

she's bothered by screen time of today's children, for example.  she's far from the only 1 with that concern today.  but i know that every generation was concerned about something children at the time were doing.  'kids today' - i wonder what point i hit that phase?

i hope no time soon.

that's not an attack on joan or her book.  it's a lively read and she's got a lot of great advice in there. and some wonderful stories.  

in fact, it plays out like a conversation she's having with you.  so make a point to check it out.

i have amazon's kindle unlimited.  if you do as well, you can read this book for free.

let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'

Friday, March 17, 2023.  A major hearing in the Senate this week and not seeing any coverage of it -- one discussing wasted money and harm to veterans.  We also go over a just-published piece of nonsense on the Iraq War by an Iraq War cheerleader.

Let's start with EHRM.  That's the Electronic Health Record Modernization.  It's been supposed to happen since back in the day when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  It's still not happened.  Our focus on this issue is veterans.  The point of the EHRM with regards to veterans is to ensure that they have the healthcare that they need and to ensure that, if they are disabled or challenged, their disability ratings is correct.  

They start as service members with one record.  Then, when they are out of the service, they are veterans.  Paper records have been a nightmare.  They're asked, as veterans, to document something that happened while they were in the service.  And, no, it does not automatically transfer over.  The EHRM, for veterans, was supposed to create a record that would start when they enlisted and that would follow them in the service and when they became veterans after.

Disability ratings especially are impacted.  Veterans are left fighting with the VA over their disability rating because the proof is not there or the VA won't recognize it or -- None of this should be happening.  They were promised care and they need to get the care they were promised.  If they were injured while serving, that's even a deeper debt that the government owes them.  

US House Rep Matthew Rosendale Sr. took a break from taking photos with US-Nazi Greyson Arnold and White supremacist Ryan Sanchez to introduce HR 608 on January 27th.  The bill, which has been referred to subcommittee, would "Terminate the Electronic Health Record Modernization Program of the Dept of Veteran Affairs."  

In a press release at the end of January, his office noted:

“The Oracle Cerner electronic health record program is deeply flawed – causing issues for medical staff and posing significant patient safety risks,” said Rep. Rosendale. “We cannot continue to further implement this inadequate system at the expense of billions of dollars in government funding. We must hold the VA to the high standard of care promised to our veterans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented the Oracle Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at five of 171 medical centers since 2018, expending roughly $5 billion. Last year, an independent life cycle cost estimate found that the cost to implement the system had more than doubled, from $16.1 billion over ten years to between $33.6 and $38.9 billion over 13 years. Additionally, VA acknowledges that the new system has created unacceptable levels of productivity losses, patient safety risks, and staff burnout at these five small and medium-sized facilities.

Let's drop back to September 24, 2008 when Senator Daniel Akaka was Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and introduced that day's hearing by noting:

Good morning, aloha, and welcome to all of you to today's hearing on the state of health information sharing between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense. This is historic. I will tell you that Veterans Affairs and also the Department of Defense have been talking to each other, have been working together, and here is another area that we are getting to where we are working together. And so, this is why I said historic. Even in the waning days of this Congressional session, we must continue to strive to improve care for servicemembers and veterans. An essential ingredient to reaching that goal is the sharing of personal health care information between the two Departments. The merits of Electronic Health Records are well documented. While VA is considered to be a leader in using Electronic Health Records, much work remains before the two Departments can achieve the ultimate goal--the goal of sharing medical information in real time. Until this goal is reached, military and VA medical practitioners simply will not have access to the most accurate personal medical information on their patients. Technology is not necessarily the problem. The technology exists, as we will see today. Indeed, the Electronic Health Record systems of the two Departments are each remarkable in their own right. The biggest challenge is the development of common standards so the two systems can talk to each other easily and in real time. DOD and VA have been working toward achieving interoperable systems for over a decade at a rate that can charitably be described as glacially slow. Only recently has there been significant progress. It appears that, for the first time, there is the needed commitment for full data sharing of electronic medical information; and the results of that commitment are visible. I encourage the Departments to continue to work together in order to extend the progress we have already observed. When VA and DOD finally have the ability to fully exchange medical information in real time, the best interests of servicemembers and veterans will be served.

Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on EHRM -- another hearing.   We're still waiting on the data bases of VA and DoD to be able to speak to one another.  Let's revisit some of the ways we ended up here.

Key moments took place in the history of this long process back when Eric Shinseki was the Secretary of the VA.  Congress was -- as usual -- asking what the delay was.  No real delay, Shinseki insisted.  Let's drop back to the snapshot for May 30, 2014 which noted that the inept Eric Shinseki was resigning as VA Secretary:

Shinseki, at the start of his tenure as VA Secretary, was tasked with determining whether or not his computer system would change -- one had to.  DoD and VA were supposed to offer a seamless transition for those going from service member to veteran.  How?  They'd do it with electronic records.  But the two systems couldn't communicate -- this was all determined before Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term as President of the United States.  So one of the two would have to change.

Shinseki chose not to.  He also sat on this issue that Congress poured billions of dollars into.  He's been Secretary of the VA since 2009.  This was supposed to have been handled immediately.  Robert Gates told him to do what he wanted and the Pentagon would adapt.  Then Leon Panetta became Secretary of Defense.  He told Shinseki that whatever Gates had already approved was fine.  And still nothing.  Then Chuck Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense.

Something finally happens.

Hagel's not shedding any tears today over Shinseki's departure. Not after Shinseki tried to blame him to Congress.

April 11, 2013, Shinseki appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee which was irritated by the budget request coming to them late and not coming to them in full because, as they pointed out, what the administration submitted did not include all the costs -- even if you set aside issues of discretionary spending, the VA 'budget' request was a joke.  Ranking Member Mike Michaud noted the money that was being poured into the VA -- others did as well but he's the one who asked for a status on the electronic health record.  And this is where Shinseki chose to lie.  There was no progress, he admitted, but that was because Chuck Hagel hadn't added any input.

What the hell was that?  It's so high school cafeteria.  Did he think it wouldn't get back to Hagel that the House Veterans Affairs Committee was vocal about the fact that there was no progress on this issue despite the funds provided for it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013?

It had nothing to do with Chuck Hagel.  Good for Hagel that he wasn't going to stay under the bus.  He complained to Barack who had a sit-down with Hagel and Shinseki to ensure that a decision was made and there was no 'confusion' about the status.

If you're not getting what a little bitch move Shinseki pulled before Congress, grasp that Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense on February 26, 2013.  Not two months later, Shisenski was blaming a multi-year delay to starting the program on Hagel.


Things like that happened over and over while Shinseki was VA Secretary.  And the press looked the other way over and over.  There was the veteran who felt he was at the end of his rope and called the suicide hotline only to be ratted out by Shinseki's son-in-law.  It was one thing after another -- including the scandal with veterans not getting their fall tuition checks on time -- some had to wait until the following January.  

Eric Shinseki took over the VA in January 2009.  When he did, he was immediately informed that one of the signature pieces of legislation, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was in trouble.  While it was due to be implemented in the fall of 2009, Shinseki was told in January of 2009, the VA couldn't handle it, checks were not going to be going out.  That's when you inform Congress there's a problem.  He didn't.  He hired an outside contractor to examine the system and the results were the same: When the program was rolled out in the fall, many veterans would suffer because the system was inadequate.

Did Shinseki inform Congress then?


He stayed silent.  And nothing was said as fall rolled around.  Then a few problems emerged, a few veterans weren't getting their checks.  These semester checks would cover tuition, rents, etc.  And a few were having problems.  The VA immediately blamed the veterans and the educational institutions.  Their mouthpiece on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Corinne Brown, announced she'd been watching MSNBC at three in the morning and it was time for these institutions to get their act together.

It wasn't the colleges.

And as a few veterans turned to many, finally in October, Eric Shinseki revealed that he'd always known there was a problem.  He revealed that October 14, 2009 when he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The press didn't care to report that revelation.  Even those reporters who were present ignored it.  For months after that, veterans continued to suffer.  Some families had to postpone Christmas because all the money was being used to cover bills as a result of their still waiting on checks they should have received in August and September.

There was the deliberate mis-classifying of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress -- wrongly classified to 'save money' as Senator Patty Murray discovered with regards to Madigan Army Medical Center.

Finally, the scandal on wait times forced Shinseki to resign in disgrace but find any outlet that adds up all the scandals and provides that reality.

You can even read the CRAPAPEDIA entry on Shinseki and be left with the impression that Shinseki did a wonderful job -- that no one was calling for his head on a platter when members of both Houses of Congress were calling for him to resign, when VSOs were calling for him to resign.  And he was forced to resign and he he resigned in disgrace.  Senators like Al Franken and John McCain were calling for him to step down or be fired,  then-US House Rep Tammy Duckworth was telling the press that it was time for him to go.  The American Legion called for Shinseki to resign. In real time, Senator Patty Murray noted, "There are serious problems at the VA that won't be solved simply by replacing the Secretary, but I am hopeful that this leadership change will spark structural, cultural, and personnel changes, from the top of the organization to the bottom, to make sure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve."

With all that in mind, let's turn to this week's hearing.  Senator Jon Tester is the Chair of the Senate Committee and Senator Jerry Moran is the Ranking Member.  The Committee held from the VA's action director over the EHRM Integration Office Neil C. Evans (who was accompanied by Dr Shereef Elnahal, Kurt DelBene and Michael Parrish), the Government Accountability Office's Caro Harris and Oracle Global Industries Vice President Mike Sicilia.

Sicilia spent his time talking up Oracle Global Industries, "As a result of our initial efforts since June 2022, system performance has improved, with the most severe type of outages down 67 percent. Oracle delivered ahead of schedule critical enhancements for VA’s pharmacy system and implemented fixes to address scheduling and numerous other issues. We have brought on additional capability to improve training. Much additional work is in-process currently."  Are you impressed?  Me neither.  And the fact that Oracle took over the contracted company back in June doesn't really matter to me.  When are they going to complete the project?

He testified that an integrated, electronic record -- traveling from DoD to VA -- would allow for "better health outcomes," "improved medical treatment," "increased access to care" and "less administrative burden."  Yes, it would.  And we've known all of that for years now, decades.  This is not news nor is it a new discovery.

As Jon Tester declared in his opening statement, "We need to know exactly where the hell we're at, where we're going, what it's going to cost, and when we can look for a timely delivery of a thing that we've been talking about here for 20 years."  His frustration was understandable and only increased during the hearing.  He asked the VA's Michael Parrish about the contract with Oracle -- the new one (the previous contract was for five years and is due to expire May 16th) -- that they are negotiating currently and whether it would "be more favorable to the American taxpayer?"  Parrish replied, "That's absolutely the plan."

The plan.

It's really a yes or no.  But Parrish couldn't deliver that and Tester had to be the one talking about "the bottom line."  "How much money are we going to have to spend to make sure this program works and that veterans get the healthcare that they've earned?"  Ranking Member Moran would note during his questioning, "I think my question is worthy of a yes or no answer" in response to the evasion he was being given by the VA witnesses

Oracle wasn't any more forthcoming.  Senator Sherrod Brown, "I just don't see the benefit from your system.  Veterans are frustrated by delays in their care.  The contract is coming up for renewal in May of this year, without significant changes to the terms of any new contract, why should we support it?  What benefits are you providing?"

Good questions, no solid answers.

This impacts veterans and their families and, as Senator Kevin Cramer noted, "Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women leave US military service and return to life as civilians -- a process known as the military to civilian transition."  That's a lot of people and that's a lot of family members of the veteran.

A lot of people are being impacted and it's a negative impact.  Senator Patty Murray spoke of a constituent who did not get their cancer diagnosis in a timely manner as a result of this.  Let's note that section of the hearing.

Senator Patty Murray: We are almost five years into the CHR contract and, from the very start, before the original Cerner contract was even agreed to by the Trump administration, I have been raising concerns from my constituents in Spokane and in Walla Walla and I believe that I have been very patient and reasonable in pressing the VA and Oracle Cerner to get this system to work the way it should.  Now I have heard from providers who are now burnt out trying to navigate this broken interface on top of what has already been an incredible trying time for healthcare workers.  And I have heard directly from my constituents who have received a late cancer diagnosis just because of the flaws in the system and everything in between.  None of this is okay.  And something that concerns me deeply is that we have not heard a lot about how those voices -- that on the ground perspective -- will be taken into account when we determine the future of this program. VA is now in the decision making process about whether to renew this contract.  This is a key moment   So, Dr. Elnahal, I need to know who is representing the front line experience from eastern Washington who's been using this system and how exactly is the patient and provider experience represented in that decision making.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal:  I think it's a really important question, Senator, and we focus squarely on that in this spring effort in collaboration with the program.  We built a governance structure that takes the views of end users into consideration in the first instance.  The most important input we have is the input we have from front line clinicians like Dr Evans who are telling us about the problems that need to be fixed, that need the veteran care.  That cascades up into different levels of governance, our clinical counsels that ultimately make decisions on the changes we need to be able to meet --

Senator Patty Murray: So it isn't the users who have been facing these challenges over and over again?

Dr. Shereef Elnahal: Yes, our governance now includes users from the five sites where it exists and leaders who are advising on what changes need to be made based on their input.

Senator Patty Murray: Okay, I'd like to see that chart.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal:  Absolutely, Senator.

Senator Patty Murray:  Mr. Sicilia, Mann-Grandstaff  has been dealing with serious and even life threatening issues for over two years now -- since the roll out of the HR -- and many of the IG reports have further confirmed what I have been hearing on the ground over and over.  There are problems in the system with suicide flags, with unknown cues, pharmacy issues.  And I know that Oracle has begun working on some of those fixes but we are still talking about the same problems two years later and that is just so unacceptable.  The stakes are really -- they couldn't be any higher.  So just tell me, why is it taking so long to update this system when we've been telling you the problems and, you know, from the ground up two years ago and we're still getting 'Well we're going to have a fix for this.'

Mike Sicilia: Uhm, thank you for the question, Senator.  To my knowledge, the unknown queue issue has  been addressed.  I committed to this-this panel in July that we would deliver a fir -- a fix on this by August 1, 2022.  We did that. It is deployed now.  On average, there is one order a day that shows up per site in the unknown queue.  I think the last time we spoke here, we were up to about 1500 a week of orders in the unknown queue.  So, uhm, if that is still a problem, uhm, that is in fact news to me and I'm happy to come back to you in writing if the are repetition -- additional -- problems but I have not heard those.  In terms of pharmacy, uh, the last time we spoke the-the estimate was that it would take three years to address the pharmacy's issues.  My response to that was that when that kind of estimate was given the real answer is nobody knows.  So the first thing we did after that hearing in July, was broke that down in the smaller -- smaller subsets.  We delivered in, uhm, February those -- the top three fixes for pharmacy.  The fourth fix -- number four on the priority list in April to the VA as, uhm, Dr Evans just mentioned.  We have heard some positive feedback from sites about the those-those-those pharmacy fixes.  As far as behavioral -- behavioral health, uhm, flags -- behavioral health flags are now, uh, in the system and are -- will continue to be added to all modules of the system, uh, on schedule in-in April.  As well, the opioid advisory tool that has been deployed has flagged over 1600 just at the five sites that are live -- has flagged over 1600 potential opioid prescriptions that would have been made, uh, to patients that perhaps should not have received, uh, opioids.  So I think a lot of the issues that have been reported, uh, have been addressed.  I'm disappointed to hear that that news has not made it to you and that, uh, certainly we will make sure that we will respond in writing with --

Senator Patty Murray:  I would like to see that in writing.  Mr. Chairman, before I finish my time, I just want to say as Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and a long time member of this Committee, I take my oversight responsibility pretty darn serious.  And despite how much funding has been provided, this system is by no means living up to our promise to care for our veterans.  The continued patient safety risks are totally unacceptable.  So I want to be candid here because, at the end of the day, what I care about is getting this right for our veterans.  And I do not believe that more money is what is going to solve this problem.  And I'm not sure it makes sense, Mr. Chairman, to continue to fully fund the budget request for this system until I can see that this system is working and not putting our veterans in harms way.  That responsibility is on both the VA and Oracle Cerner -- and both entities need to step up.

This weekend, the Iraq War hits the 20 year mark.  US troops are still in Iraq.  

20 years and has anything been learned?

THE NATION magazine, let's look there.  They've just published a piece on Iraq an hour ago.  So we should applaud, right?  It's the 20th anniversary and they finally remember Iraq.  And since they're as full of crap as corporate media, they don't go with someone who was right for the column, they farm it out to a writer who cheered the Iraq War on.  He was at THE NEW REPUBLIC at the time.  And THE NEW REPUBLIC nearly went under as the American left walked away from them because they pimped the Iraq War.  

It's Spencer Ackerman, if you were wondering.  And there's some worth praising in the article.  To his credit, Spencer is aware of some events that took place in Iraq after 2008.  Don't expect him to admit he was wrong for cheerleading the Iraq War  -- in fact, you won't even find the admission that he cheered on the Iraq War.  He's whining in the article about how lessons haven't been learned, how people have amnesia (he's also pimping the proxy-war on Russia) and yet he's the one forgetting to take accountability.  

What's worse, and most people won't catch this, is he's still lying.

In 2008, he lied and whored non-stop to get Barack Obama the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

If you're talking about Iraq and how US troops remain in Iraq, you might need to cover Barack -- unless, of course, you can pin it all on Joe Biden which is what Spencer does.

In 2011, a fractious Iraqi parliament declined to extend legal protections to the remaining US forces, prompting Obama to recall the troops. Many in US national security circles decried the withdrawal as a failure of Obama’s diplomacy rather than as a verdict on the viability of a US presence from Iraqi leaders willing to work with Washington. When the Islamic State conquered Mosul in 2014, the blame in Washington went to the withdrawal, not the war that created ISIS’s parent entity, Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The horrors of ISIS preempted any discussion of how the original US aggression, compounded by the routine brutalities of occupation, generated enemies worse than its initial ones. US policy-makers considered the central error to be not the invasion but the departure. The efficacy of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish-led ground forces in dislodging ISIS reinforced a preference for proxy war—a perennial imperial strategy—over large-scale US combat. That preference is perhaps the dominant lesson of Iraq drawn by the US foreign policy establishment.

By 2021, President Joe Biden, who had been one of the most important Democratic validators of the invasion, had secured a residual force without a clearly defined mission. Roughly 2,500 US troops are deployed in Iraq, with 900 more in Syria. Ostensibly, they’re a backstop against an ISIS resurgence, but in practice, they’re targets for Iranian proxies. Biden, his Republican critics, and the security institutions all regard this as more responsible than ending an imperial misadventure. Doing so ensures they can persist in a delusion central to their hegemonic project: that the world is a grenade and America the pin.

 That's just garbage.  There are people who are not old enough to remember that period and that period was also poorly covered by the media.

Let's deal with the 'withdrawal.'  It was not a withdrawal, it was a drawdown.  The US Defense Dept called it a "drawdown" because that's what it was.  Ted Koppel established this in the immediate weeks before the drawdown on both NPR and NBC.  

As for the failed agreement,  Nouri wanted more troops in Iraq, not the number Barack was offering.  And that's why some criticize him in terms of 'deal making.'  I know this from Leon Panetta who I've known for years (and who was Secretary of Defense at the time).  I know this from public hearings on Iraq -- ones Spencer never covered.  And a public hearing that the corporate press and the panhandle press (just repeating the corporate press because heaven forbid they themselves attend a Congressional hearing) turned into "John McCain was mean to Leon Panetta!"  The hearing was on Iraq.  Democrats were being very clear about the number of US troops that would still be in Iraq (and the thousands being shifted to Kuwait).  But, looking back, it really does seem that the corporate press was trying to distract the American people from the realities of the hearing with their report of "John went bitchy!"

ADDED for those e-mailing the public account that no such hearing ever took place:  It was an important hearing, on the future of the US in Iraq.  It mattered, what was discussed mattered.  Senator Kay Hagan, for example, made important points (to the witnesses Leon Panetta and Gen Martin Ddmpsey), about how the 'withdrawal' was a drawdown and how some of the US troops 'leaving' Iraq were going to Kuwait and would continue to cross the border back and forth.  There was so much worth noting in that hearing.  In fact, we covered it -- community wide -- in the following:  the November 15, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," November 17, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)," Kat's "Who wanted what?" and THIRD's "Gen Dempsey talks '10 enduring' US bases in Iraq."    That's all covering one hearing because it was that important.

We have to note Spencer earlier in the article:

Bush’s escalation, the 2007–8 troop surge, never produced the promised political reconciliation among Iraqis. Instead, it entrenched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who persecuted the disempowered Iraqi Sunnis. 

I do not have time for all that is wrong with those two sentences (the first one, for example, fails to note that a military will never be responsible for "political reconciliation" because the US military isn't trained for that).  But Nouri became entrenched, did he?

Who made Nouri entrenched?  

Barack Obama.

But Spencer is never going to tell the truth about that.

In 2010, Iraqis went to the polls and voted.  And eight months and several days later, Nouri gets a second term as prime minister.

So Iraqis backed him, right?


The prime minister should have been Ayad Allawi.  That was the choice.  Iraqiya was a brand new political coalition and it surprised many (not all of us) by winning.  

It certainly surprised NPR and their whore who went on the air before the votes were even counted, less than 48 hours before the polls closed, to announce Nouri had won a second term.  No.

The people didn't support Nouri and State of Law.  It was a huge upset.  

They went with Iraqiya.  This is not a minor detail.  Iraq might be better off right now if Barack had done the right thing.

But instead of doing the right thing, when Nouri refused to step down for months and months and months, Barack had the US negotiate The Erbil Agreement (Joe was the chief supervisor of it).  It was a contract with the major political parties.   They signed on to give Nouri a second term (as the US wanted) in exchange for other things.  Iraqiya was supposed to get a newly created security post with independence (it never happened) and the Kurds would get the referendum that was supposed to take place in Nouri's first term but never did -- to this day it hasn't taken place.

The US refused to support the Iraqi people.  The Erbil Agreement overturned the votes and gave Nouri the second term.  Barack called Ayad Allawi personally to get him back in Parliament and swore that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government and would be enforced.

No.  It wouldn't.

Nouri used it to get the second term and then refused to honor it.  And that was the end of that.

The Iraqi people were left with someone they had tried to vote out of office.  The Iraqi politicians -- and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- tried to make Nouri follow it by threatening to remove him from office.  Joe Biden pressured Jalal Talabani to end that (Jalal did).  And Nouri gets worse and worse and that's what give rise to ISIS.  It's Nouri's persecution of the Sunnis.  

You want to talk honestly about Iraq, talk about telling people that this is a new Iraq and their vote matters and then overturning their votes with a legal contract.  Talk about telling them that they have a democracy (one that they didn't ask for) and then stripping them of their votes.  

Iraqiya was inclusive.  That's why people supported it.  It was Shi'ite and Sunni, men and women.  It was inclusive.  It was about a national identity, not sects.  

I can't predict the future but that does seem much more promising for Iraq -- for any country -- than a second term by Nouri who we already knew had brought back the secret prisons and torture chambers, who was disappearing Sunnis.  

What lesson was learned from the Iraq War?  The media learned that they could lie and get away with it.  So they continue to lie today and publish an Iraq War cheerleader.

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