Monday, April 27, 2015

CBS brings back Stalker tonight

Stalker returns to CBS tonight

Tonight on CBS, the return of Stalker.

The one and only Maggie Q, the first Asian-American female to carry an hour long show (the classic Nikita) stars alongside Dylan McDermott -- who you know and love as Bobby on The Practice, from American Horror Story's first season and a go-for-broke funny guest appearance on Will & Grace (among many other credits but Dylan committed to his guest spot, he didn't wink at the audience, and he was a hilarious guest star as a result).

This is Mike's favorite show of the 2014 fall through 2015 spring season.

And in these remaining episodes as the season wraps up, you also get Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino.

The show made a mistake, a big one, when it debuted.

It was gross that Dylan was stalking someone.

The show runner thought it would come off "edgy."

It didn't.

But in the time since, we've learned it's his son and he and his ex are working through whatever for the good of the child.

So the 'ick' factor is gone.

If you sampled the show earlier and didn't like it or if the reviews put you off (it was a huge mistake not to reveal upfront why Dylan was watching that boy), hopefully, you'll give it another try tonight and the next two Mondays.

Maggie Q is historic for what she did.  Ava and I noted in 2013:

In the US versions, Nikita's been blonde.  In all three previous versions, Nikita's been White.  Maggie Q is bi-racial.  With a White father and a Vietnamese mother, she's Asian-American.  And carrying her own show.
August 27, 1951, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong aired its first episode.  That DuMont Network program featured Asian-American actress and star Anna May Wong.  Wong had found fame in silent films, then moved on to talkies before pursuing the stage and overseas films. At the age of 46, she began starring in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong which was the first TV series in the US to star an Asian-American woman.  And her character?  A spy.
Much is rightly made of African-American Kerry Washington being the star of ABC's one hour drama Scandal.  Similar attention should focus on Maggie Q's accomplishment.
Q's carried the series for three years.  She's played a vengeful and untrusting Nikita who wanted to bring down Division who managed to transform into a team leader in the second season and to someone with an ever increasing sense of right and wrong in the third season.  She's handled each evolution with skill and careful shading, forever finding new dimensions in Nikita -- the trained assassin who fights her way back to humanity.

If we say we want diversity on TV (and we should want it, it makes for more interesting stories if every character isn't exactly the same in looks, background, ethnicity, race, etc.), we need to be willing to support those programs that offer it.

Doesn't mean you have to love Stalker.

But you should at least give it a chance.

And, yes, Maggie Q, playing a completely different character, is yet again spellbinding.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015




From October 28, 2012, that's "Campaigning."  C.I. wrote:

Barack explains,  "Some say when I should have been talking Benghazi, I was talking Big Bird; that when I should have been working on the economy, I was working on my golf game; that I should have passed a budget but focused instead on my vacations.  Good feedback.  I hear you. And I'll take a look at all of those things if you give me four more years."   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

There was no reason to give Barack four more years.

It's a damn shame Russ Feingold didn't challenge him in 2012.

The country would have been so much better off.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Saturday, April 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State continues to claim victories, the US Veterans Affairs Dept will not be able to meet their pledge to end veterans homelessness by the end of 2015 -- a detail ignored this week even when it was obvious in an open Congressional hearing, and much more.

Today Al Jazeera reports:

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have taken partial control of a water dam and the military barracks guarding it in western Anbar province, security sources and witnesses said.
The armed group launched an offensive on the dam late on Friday with explosive-laden vehicles, and engaged in gun battles with Iraqi soldiers that continued through to Saturday.

In addition, Reuters notes, "Three suicide car bombs exploded at a border crossing between Iraq and Jordan on Saturday, killing four soldiers, a witness and an Iraqi border police source said, in an attack claimed shortly afterwards by Islamic State."  In addition, Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) add, "Residents of Fallujah said that Islamic State militants paraded an officer and three soldiers allegedly captured in the fighting through the streets in a pickup truck on Saturday. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals."


Doesn't seem like all of Barack's claims that the Islamic State is on the run are panning out.  Seems like a very small group of fighters continue to rule in Iraq.

Why might that be?

Possibly due to all the broken promises of Haider al-Abadi and all his failures.

Since August, he's had lot of words.  But in all those months he's been prime minister of Iraq, he's done nothing to improve the lives of Sunnis or even to stop the targeting of them.

That was eight months ago.

And nothing.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 44 violent deaths on Friday.

Next Friday will be May.

And that means June's staring down at Barack Obama.

It was last June when Barack declared the only way to end the political crises in Iraq was a political solution.

Barack's bombed Iraq, gotten other countries to join in the bombing, sent US troops into Iraq and got other countries to send troops into Iraq.

But while he's focused relentlessly on that?

He's ignored working towards a political solution.

People may ignore it right now.

When the one year anniversary of his statement comes and there is still no solution in Iraq, he might find the press to be a lot less generous to his failures.

Barack's also failed on veterans.

If you care about veterans issues, you care about a myriad of issues.  Valid and important issues that have to compete with other issues -- including with non-veteran issues as well as with veterans issues.  In the Senate, Senator Patty Murray's long been a leader on this issue.  The House hasn't had a leader on this since US House Rep John Hall left Congress in January 2011.

There's been no member of the House -- male or female -- who could be counted on to consistently put focus on and demand attention to the issues of women veterans.

That's reality and anyone who attends House VA hearings should be willing to be honest about that.

That statement is not meant as an attack on any member of the House.

If you want an attack, here's one: Ranking Member Corinne Brown should try bringing up real issues and not what she sees on basic cable TV between the hours of one and three in the morning.

Other than Brown, most members who focus on veterans issues are focusing on serious ones.  Many focus on issues that have effected them or their families.

And many important issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress and homelessness are issues that effect male and female veterans.

But there are issues that effect women veterans and only veterans who are women.

Such as?


Those are doctors in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology.  Not only do they deal with those issues but they can also be a woman's PCP -- primary care physician.  (Like any man can, a woman can also choose a general practitioner or a family medicine doctor to be their PCP but they also have the option of skipping those generalists and going with an ob-gyn as a PCP.)

"What is your estimate as to the number [of ob-gyns] that are needed now and in the future compared to the number that are available?" Senator Richard Blumenthal asked this week.

He was asking a basic and important question.

But the Veterans Health Administration's Chief Consultant on Women's Health Services, Dr. Patricia Hayes, had no answer.

Make no mistake, she had a lot of words.  She attempted to say nothing in a huge amount of words -- apparently to run out the time clock.

Senator Richard Blumenthal wasn't having it and cut her off.

Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal:  Here's what I would suggest and I don't mean to interrupt you but for planning and management within the VA with regard to this specific speciality,  to be regarded as effective and competent, I would think that you could give us numbers of doctors in this speciality that are available now to meet the need, what the unmet need would require in additional numbers, and what it will be in the future?  Because you can't really tell if you're meeting the need unless you have that estimate of numbers.

There was no excuse for her non-answer.

There was no excuse for not being able to provide a hard answer, an actual figure.

She attended Tuesday's hearing knowing the sole topic was women's health.

And yet the most basic question for women's health, the practice solely devoted to women's health -- obstetrics and gynecology -- was a topic she hadn't considered.

Women veterans have been lucky to have Senator Patty Murray as a champion.  Murray treated their issues seriously before she became Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and she's considered to treat these issues seriously (she continues to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee but she has gone on to leadership on other committees).

I think Senator Bernie Sanders, who replaced Murray as Chair, was a hideous leader of the Committee.

For example, when it broke that the veterans were being denied treatment, put on a secret wait list to hide this treatment, the official figures fudged, that veterans were getting sicker as they waited and that some died as a result -- when that emerged and was the dominant story in the news cycle, Bernie not only went on with his previously planned hearing on holistic (alternative) medicine but he stated at the start that he didn't want anyone to ask about this scandal because that was for another time.

Yes, Bernie, acupuncture is far more important than people dying.

That was sarcasm.

Bernie was a failure.

He refused to demand accountability from then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.  Shinseki suffered one disgrace and one scandal after another until even US President Barack Obama could see Shinseki had to go.  But up to that point, Bernie was still defending him.  (In the House, idiot Corinne was defending him the same way.)  Bernie repeatedly placed Eric Shinseki's comfort over that of veterans.

He was a failure.

Senator Johnny Isakson is now the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Already, he's done a better job than Bernie.

Tuesday's hearing was entitled "Fulfilling The Promise To Women Veterans."

Isakson just became Chair in January.

Do you know how many hearings Bernie's Committee held?

Counting reports from VSOs (Veterans Service Organizations), the answer is 35.

And how many of those hearings focuses solely on women?


Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  As a patient at the VA, I have received some of the best care, from some of the best doctors, however that experience is tempered by the fact that I have also received some of the worst care not only by doctors and care providers but by the system itself. For years I complained to my doctors at the VA of numerous symptoms that were summarily dismissed; I was told I was too young to have any issues, I was told the basic blood work came back normal, and the ultimate betrayal, I was told I was not really being honest. These symptoms worsened and worsened, until finally I was forced to pursue medical advice out of the VA on my own. Once my bloodwork and MRIs proved positive for Cushing’s disease and the brain tumor that caused it, the VA started to take me seriously, it’s hard to argue when you’re staring at an MRI with a big white mass in the middle of someone’s head. But the years of suffering both physically, mentally and emotionally that I had to endure in order to get someone to listen is not something I would wish on anyone, and something that should not be happening to any veteran. The road to recovery for Cushing’s patients is not easy, there are countless tests and months of observation and then the inevitable brain surgery. There are the frequent visits to Endocrinology, neurology, the ENT, the list is long. But what complicates this, is that at the VA you may never see the same doctor twice. So not only do you have to repeat your story to every specialist under the sun, you have to repeat it to a revolving door of white coats who are hearing it for the first time. Or even worse, the specialist you may need to see may have left and it may be months before a new one is found and you can get an appointment. I know this because I have lived it. While I was stationed in NYC, I had to travel to three separate VA facilities in three separate boroughs because no one facility had all the specialists I needed. For allergy treatment alone I had to travel from Brooklyn to the Bronx, sit through what could easily be over an hour in traffic and $30 in tolls, for a fifteen minute appointment. Coordination of care is essential in any system that aims to treat the whole person, and at the VA the system is counterproductive to enabling this process. Prior to my brain surgery, which the VA only did on the second Tuesday of every month, my surgery date was cancelled three separate times. So three separate times I prepped, I had family come down and take off work as I could not be left alone for the first few days of recovery, and three separate times I was told another case was more important or that they could not get all the required doctors in the same room together, or that the doctors did not have a chance to review my case yet. They would have cancelled the fourth date also had I and my family not called the patient advocate and voiced our complaints. After brain surgery there were other nightmares. The was the MRI in which the attendant, rushing because I was the last patient before she could leave for the day, did not remove the metal nodes from my body, and too weak to squeeze the panic button, because my arm was sewn to a stabilizer in order to keep the pic line in, I could do nothing but weep silently while the metal burned welts into my skin. There was the resident doctor who had not researched my disease before mourning rounds and not knowing the main symptom of Cushing’s is weight gain said he could not tell if I was presenting because I was so heavy. It’s hard to have faith in a system when you have read more on your condition then the doctors who are supposed to be treating you. Navigating the VA can be daunting, and even more so as a female veteran. The women's clinic is often well segregated from the rest of the facility. Often times you have to traverse to the basement of the hospital next to the lab to find it, and once you get there it is obvious that it is an afterthought. Perception is part of the issue. For women veterans to feel like they belong, they need to know that their care is just as important as their male counterparts. They need to trust their care providers and they need to know that their care is a priority.

Mouradjian shared her experience (which didn't end with that excerpt) to the Committee -- a Committee tha under Bernie Sanders' leadership couldn't be bothered with women's issues.

In four months of leadership, Isakson has already done more than Bernie did in two years.

So applause for that to Isakson.

And applause to Senator Richard Blumenthal who is Ranking Member on the Committee and who has emerged as another senator who, like Patty Murray, can focus on women veterans as he demonstrated in hearing already this year.

As Blumenthal observed in his opening remarks, "There are too many homeless women veterans.  There are too many women veterans in need of medical care" -- his brief opening remarks.  He entered his full opening (written statement) into the record but noted he'd rather hear from the witnesses than hear himself speak.

There were two panels and Hayes was part of the first panel.  She was accompanied by Dr. Susan McCutcheon and Royse Cloud.  The second panel was Nevada Women Veterans Advisory Committee's Dr. Anne Davis, Disabled American Veterans' Joy J. Ilem and and army veteran Christina Mouradjian.

If you're new to our coverage of VA hearings, we're generally more interested in the second panel where witnesses are honest.  The first panel is always government flunkies who seem to get promotions and raises based upon how well they refuse to answer to Congress or even how well they flat out lie to Congress -- Allison Hickey, we mean you.

While we have little desire to embrace (or endure) the Allison Hickeys of the world, we do embrace truth tellers.  While the first panel struggled to answer direct questions or provide even basic figures, the second panel was composed of three women prepared to address topics and explore possible solutions.

For perspective, we'll include this from Disabled American Veterans Joy J. Ilem opening statement:

As a service-disabled veteran, I know first-hand the challenges women face during military service and when they return home. I, like many women who served, did not understand on leaving military service the benefits and services to which I was entitled, despite the fact that I suffered an injury during my service as an Army medic while stationed at the Army 67th evacuation hospital in Wurzburg, Germany. It was not until nearly a decade after I had discharged from the military that a fellow veteran contacted me and told me about DAV. He urged me to file a VA disability claim and seek VA treatment. I resisted for months and remember asking him, "are you sure I can use the VA health care system?" I didn't think of myself as a veteran, and knew next to nothing about filing a disability claim or for which benefits I might be eligible. Today, many women who have served still do not readily self-identity as veterans. The good news is a concerted effort is being made to change this trend and ensure that women veterans are recognized for their military service and gain information about their earned benefits. The number of women serving in the military, their roles, and their exposure to combat has dramatically changed during our war years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Likewise, over the past decade we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of women seeking health care and other benefits from VA with expectations that this trend will continue. According to VA, the number of women veterans using Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services increased by 80 percent between fiscal year (FY) 2003 and FY 2012.  Currently, over 635,000 women veterans
Along with this significantly increased demand, VA experienced a shifting age demographic and inclusion of younger women veterans enrolling in VA health care, which required significant changes in both policies and clinical practice. According to VA, the number of women veteran patients under 35 years of age has increased by 120 percent between FY 2003 and FY 2013.
New providers with expertise in women’s health were needed; clinical space in many locations was insufficient to meet rising demand; and privacy and safety concerns were prevalent. VA providers suddenly needed to be knowledgeable about reproductive health services, conducting breast and gynecological examinations and becoming aware of the possibility of pregnancy when treating younger women of child-bearing age to ensure medications and recommended treatments did not pose a risk of birth defects. Many VA providers were not seeing enough women patients to be proficient in women’s health, necessitating VA to institute a mini-residency program to help clinicians refresh their knowledge and skills. All prenatal and obstetric care is referred to private providers, and mammography services are provided by non-VA providers for about 75 percent of enrolled patients through VA’s fee basis medical care program, complicating coordination of care for women veterans.
Other trends in this population that impact health policy and planning became evident as well. According to VA, more than half (57 percent) of women veterans under VA care are service disabled, some of whom are very young. These women will be eligible for lifelong VA care for their service-connected conditions. Women veterans were also presenting with unique post-deployment health care and mental health needs. More than half (57 percent) of the women who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (OEF/OIF/OND) have sought VA care following military service and have targeted health care needs, including chronic musculoskeletal pain; mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and substance-use disorders (SUD); genitourinary system, endocrine and metabolic disorders; and respiratory conditions. Given the greater exposure of service women to combat, the specific medical profile of this group, and women who have sustained traumatic war-related injuries, it became clear there was a need for adjustments to not only primary care services but specialized care, transition services including supportive counseling, and psychological services.

We'll note this exchange from the second panel.

Chair Johnny Isakson: You said you were not an isolated case and you referred to many other women that had similar experiences -- obviously not with Cushing's but with other complications.  Would you elaborate on that for just a moment?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian: That is correct.  I know myself and several of my friends in the service have had a hard time just either accessing care or getting doctors to listen to the particular issues that are unique to them.  Particularly with mental health issues, there is often times lack of a response to women.  So just, one of the big issues is getting a female provider.  I know that a lot of the female veterans that I have served with do not necessarily feel comfortable telling their story to a male who might not be able to sympathize with what they've gone through as a woman in general.  The physical issues aside, some of the very delicate that we face as women, we're just not comfortable sharing those with a male.  So one of the biggest hurdles is just being able to get access to a provider, feeling comfortable enough to get the help they need. 

Chair Johnny Isakson:  Well that actually is the point I was going to lead up to.  One of the things we are looking at in the Veterans Choice Bill, we had two issues -- one was the forty mile rule which we have dealt with but the other was the care -- nearest the care of the veteran's needs.  And in your particular case, you had a very specialized need.  Cushing's is not a -- it is a very rare condition, is that not correct?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  It is very rare.

Chair Johnny Isakson:  And obviously the VA wasn't prepared initially either to diagnose or to recognize it.  Is that correct?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  That is correct. 

Chair Johnny Isakson:  But you had enough symptoms to know that something was wrong and that you needed care.  Is that correct?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  Yes.

Chair Johnny Isakson:  Did you ever consider going for a second opinion outside of the VA or were you limited and not able to do that on your own?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  No, I'm fortunate enough that my mother is in the medical field so I did have an advocate in my corner who had enough background to guide me so I had personal resources in my life that could verify that the treatment I was getting at the VA was actually -- after I was diagnosed -- sufficient to deal with it.  

Chair Johnny Isakson:  But without the advocate you may never have gotten that care.  Is that correct?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian:  Absolutely.

Chair Johnny Isakson:  Well that is my point and I know the VA folks are staying for the rest of the hearing -- and I appreciate you'll staying.  This is a -- there's a message in this story to us. Obviously, there are things we can do to make sure that you go from lack of diagnosis or misdiagnosis to appropriate diagnosis and that there's an ombudsperson to help you along the way.  You were fortunate enough to have a mother to help you do that but a lot of our women veterans don't and I think it's important that we recognize that there ought to be some way for communication or ombudsmanship to be available to the veteran who thinks they need the service and the care.  Ms. Ilem?

Joy Ilem: I would just like to follow up.  I think that's a great idea.  I think with the cultural transformation that Secretary McDonald's trying to implement throughout the system there needs to be a specific line for women veterans to take on this role.  I know VA has lost some of their lead women veteran program managers throughout the system.  I mean, they've been critical over the years.  When I have a problem, when a woman veteran calls, and I call the women veteran health service, they're right on it.  They want to know.  They want to help.  But they have to have the staff out there of somebody leading that understands these particular issues. 

From the second panel, we'll note this as well.

Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal: And I just want to clarify that you actually had to seek help outside the VA simply to get a diagnosis of a problem that was bothering you for some time.  Is that correct?

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian: That is correct. I went to a doctor that I knew back home and described the symptoms to him and he did some blood work and it really only took one test so it was pretty immediate after the blood work was ordered.

Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal:   So if I were your mom or your parent or if you were one of my two sons who have served in our military -- one in the Marine Corps Reserve, the other in the Navy -- my opinion would be -- and I'd be angry about it -- that the VA failed you. 

Retired US Army CPT Christina L. Mouradjian: My mother was very irate, yes.

Someone pick Corinne Brown off the floor.  Don't worry about that mass next to her, it's not a tarantula, just one of her cheap wigs that fell off when she fainted as Ranking Member Blumenthal stated "the VA failed you."

Yes, she made similar remarks on the House Veterans Committee . . . when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  Since Barack Obama was sworn in as US President, she's used Committee hearings to defend the VA and attack veterans.  Every scandal, Corinne would insist (informed by her 'research' of watching basic cable in the hours prior to dawn) was the fault of the veteran and not the VA.

Let's move to the first panel.

Chair Johnny Isakson: Dr. McClutcheon, given your medical expertise and your title, I'm going to direct this question to you: What perecentage of the mental health issues that you think women have are directly related to military sexual trauma? Or to what extent is that a problem?

Dr. Susan McCutcheon:  Well, uh, certainly in your opening statements you mentioned military sexual trauma and when we look at this year's results we find that it's closer to 25% of the women who utilize the VA healthcare system have experienced military sexual trauma.  Military sexual trauma is not itself a military diagnosis and the most common mental health diagnosis associated with military sexual trauma is PTSD, second by depression.  So certainly with the numbers of 25% it's a significant issue for many of our women.  The majority of care -- those that do screen positive -- 76% of those women end up receiving either physical health or mental health treatment -- who've been screened positive -- and a smaller amount do just mental health treathment.  So you do see, actually there is a small percent of those individuals -- women who've experienced military sexual trauma -- also have physical healthcare needs.  So at 25%, to get to your point, yes, it's a significant number.

Chair Johnny Isakson:  I know that this would be -- probably be a DoD question more than a Veterans Administration question, but I have toured a number of  warrior transition units where the war fighters come home, they're getting ready to sever from DoD and they go through a battery of questionaires that they do -- generally, by computer -- where they ask whether or not they've ever been traumatized, have they ever had nightmares, you know, all kinds of things that could lead towards mental health.  What specific -- or do you know if the DoD does anything specific to try to early identify women who may have had military sexual trauma before they leave the military to go into VA?

Dr. Susan McCutcheon: Well, sir, you're correct.  I can't speak to what goes on in DoD but certainly in transitioning, we make sure that that is an item and in the separation health exam, there's also an item on MST.  And you probably know that at every VA medical center, we screen every veteran who comes to us for experiences in military sexual trauma.  And it's just two simple questions -- one that addresses sexual assault and the other that addresses sexual harassment.  And if by answering yes to either one of those questions that veteran is entitled to free health care: mental health care, physical health care and pharmaceuticals.  So there's no need to have proof that this experience happened to them.

Chair Johnny Isakson:  Dr. Hayes, I was at Fort Hood about six months ago and the warrior transition unit there, talking to some members of the 3rd ID who were female members who were in the transition unit and asked them what was the single biggest problem that they thought they faced medically versus a man and almost to the person they said that it was musculoskeletal recovery after coming back from combat.  Is that true?

Dr. Patricia Hayes: Absolutely, sir.  We find that for both men and women, that musculoskeletal injuries are the number one reason that they seek health care either from VA or while they're still in the transition.  I think that when we think about the roles that women serve today, it's quite natural that they would have the same kind of injuries from jumping off of a truck or from carrying heavy packs and that chronic pain and musculoskeletal issues are number one.

Okay, stop.

I'm confused.

Hayes is the Veterans Health Administration's Chief Consultant on Women's Health Services,

So why is the idiot so uninformed?

I was in grad school.

I know exactly what she's doing.

She doesn't have an answer as to women veterans so she tries to pretend she can answer by bringing in male veterans.

The hearing was about women veterans.

Time and again, Hayes had no specifics on women veterans, was unable to speak to their issues.

And yet she's billed as the Veterans Health Administration's Chief Consultant on Women's Health Services?

She's clearly unqualified for the job.

And on job qualifications, what were they?

As we reported Sunday at Third in "No wonder the military has so many problems with health care," this month the US Air Force posted a job opening, they need a Public Health Officer.

And you can be a successful candidate if you meet one of the three qualifications.

A Master of Science in Public Health?

Yeah, that's a needed qualification for a Public Health Officer.

Or a Master of Public Health?

Again, needed.

But a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine?

No offense to pet doctors.

They're needed.

They do great work.

But since when is the best qualified person to treat human beings a veterinarian?

It really makes you wonder about all the health qualifications various officials in the US government met -- and how low those qualifications actually were.

Back to the hearing:

Senator Joe Manchin: The VA's committed to ending veteran homelessness by 2015, we've all talked about that.  While the nation wide veterans homeless rate has dropped by 33% since 2010, we still have nearly 50,000 veterans without a home.  Of that number, 13,000 are women. There rate of homelessness is twice as high as men's and, worse than that, they are -- most of them dependent children are with them.  45% suffer from mental health issues.  70% are effected by substance abuse.  And 40% report sexual assault in the military.  How do you -- or how do we -- best attack the problem and do you believe you will achieve the VA's goal of ending homelessness for these women and their children?  Have you been able to identify -- were you able to really get a handle on this -- so elusive for so long?  So if you can give me where you might be on that issue.

Dr. Patricia Hayes:  Thank you very much.  Sir, the issues for the homelessness of women are intense and they're multi-factorial as you just pointed out.  We want our women veterans to be successful and we certainly want to have in place the programs that we need to meet each of those types of needs, so depending upon where she comes into our system -- in terms of whether it's needing counseling, whether it's poverty and she needs a job, whether it's, uhm, additional just basic housing for her and her child -- our homelessness programs are set up -- particularly, the ones that are seeing the most use by women are the supportive services for veterans and their families which is about 15% of their services go to women and children are high vast program that's about 14%.  And that's in contrast to the fact that 7% of VA users are women.  So you see about double that proportion are being seen in our homeless program.

No, they're not.

I really don't like liars.

First off, she continued to babble on, we're cutting her off there.

As with her response to Ranking Member Blumenthal, she refused to answer the question.

He was asking her about how many ob-gyns the VA had.

A basic question and one that even an idiot showing up to testify to a Committee on the topic of women's health should have known would be asked.

Senator Manchin was bringing up the VA's promise that homelessness would be ended by 2015. I remember that promise when it was first made and it was "by 2015."  Now it's apparently been extended to the end of 2015.

Regardless of the extension, Hayes didn't answer the question.

She and the VA have about 8 months to achieve their (now extended) promise.

Is it going to happen?

And, again, she was lying.

She knew she was lying.

She combined two figures -- women and children.

While many women veterans -- not all -- seeking VA help have children it's also true that the programs she cited included men (solo or part of a couple) with children whose children benefit from those programs.

She lied.

She used an inflated figure to make it appear the VA was helping more homeless women veterans than they actually were.

"How," Dr. Anne Davis asked while offering testimony on the second panel, "can we eliminate homelssness if we are not properly identifying our women veterans?"


There are 15,000 -- as Senator Manchin pointed out.  Even if Hayes' ridiculous numbers were correct, to not even be at 20% in the year that veterans homelessness will supposedly be ended?  That's the answer she wouldn't provide, they're not going to end homelessness.  They've failed to reach out to women's veterans and they won't address that or even acknowledge it.

They're not going to fulfill their promise.

Read on ...

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Cowardly Debater

the cowardly debater


From October 21, 2012, that's "The Cowardly Debater."

C.I. noted: 
 Barack shouts, "47%! Ha! Saved it until I was running off stage!"    Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

Barack's not the first to do that, by the way.

Not the first to wait until near the end of the debate to bring up something and rush off.

And I hate it when anyone does it.

You want to bring something up in a debate, do it.

And then debate it, explore it.

But that cowardly nonsense?

I don't ever applaud that.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 16, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Marie Harf remembers Iraq exists (briefly remembers), Haider al-Abadi spins in DC, he gets guffaws as he jokes about the threats against journalist Ned Parker, and much more.

We'll start with the State Dept press briefing today where Marie Harf finally decided to talk about Iraq this week.  This is her exchange with Al Quds Daily's Said Arikat.

QUESTION: Can we go to the visit of the Iraqi --

MS HARF: We can.

QUESTION: -- prime minister (inaudible) to Washington. He spoke today and he refuted the claims that – the press claims that there was a difference or a point of difference between the United States and Iraq on the delivery of weapons, that that was not an issue of contention between the two.

MS HARF: (Inaudible) delivery weapons to Iraq?

QUESTION: Right. So --

MS HARF: Correct. Yes. Which I’ve been saying for weeks from this podium, yet I’m glad he was on the same page.

QUESTION: So should we expect – I mean, there are all kinds of reports suggesting that the F-16s will be delivered perhaps this summer. Is that – would you confirm that?

MS HARF: I’m happy to check on the latest there, Said. I don’t have that in front of me.

QUESTION: Okay. He also talked about offensive – I mean, heavy weapons you called it – for two divisions that he’s awaiting. Is it safe to assume that these weapons will be delivered --

MS HARF: Let me check.

QUESTION: -- as they gear up to sort of liberate Ramadi?

MS HARF: Let me check on that. I know there’s a lot of moving pieces with our weapons deliveries here, so let me check.

QUESTION: Okay. Also he talked about a lot of issues, but one of the issues he addressed was the bombardment of Yemen.

MS HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: He disagreed with it completely yesterday. Today he was less --

MS HARF: Yeah. I think it’s – yeah.

QUESTION: -- less abrasive today. But yesterday he was quite clear, in fact, prompted the Saudi ambassador to hold his own press to say that you do support the bombing that is going on. Do you or do you not support the Saudi bombing, the Saudi-led bombing that is going on in Yemen?

MS HARF: Well, the U.S. is clearly supporting the Saudi-led coalition that’s responding to the Houthi aggression in Yemen. But on Prime Minister Abadi’s comments, I think the message he was conveying – and I won’t try to speak for him, but I think the message he was conveying – and this is certainly the message --

QUESTION: But you will.

MS HARF: I said I’m going to see what I think he was conveying. What the message President Obama was conveying was that this shouldn’t escalate into a broader conflict, that ultimately the conflict can only be settled through a political negotiation involving all parties. I think that’s the crux of what Prime Minister Abadi was saying, particularly because he’s seen his country go through such violence and strife, and he really knows firsthand how damaging that can be to a country. So I think those sort of topline messages were the same. And I know the prime minister spoke about this today as well. We are firmly supportive of the current GCC-led operations to defend Saudi Arabia’s southern border, to push back on the Houthi aggression. And when it comes to the joint fight against ISIL, that’s really a separate issue. I think some people were trying to conflate the two. It’s really just a separate issue from the discussions about what’s happening in Yemen.

We'll touch on a little bit of that throughout the snapshot.

But let's stay on questions and answers.  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.

    Ned Parker appeared on today's Morning Edition (NPR -- link is audio, text and transcript) and here he's discussing, with host Steve Inskeep,  the Reuters report and what followed.

    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 minutes 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 Shiite 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 predominantly Shia security and paramilitary forces enter?

    INSKEEP: This is the most basic job of a war correspondent; go look at a war and report exactly what you see.

    PARKER: Right. And this was a test case for the government. The Iraqi government and the U.S. government have spoken about the importance of post-conflict stabilization operations in Iraq.

    INSKEEP: What happened after you published this story?

    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 3. The night of April 5, on Facebook on a site associated with Shiite paramilitary groups and political forces, a picture of myself went up calling for Iraqis to expel me. It quickly received over 100 shares and comments, including better to kill him than expel him.

    INSKEEP: Did it blow over?

    PARKER: No, it only got worse. I did go out and try to have meetings with some people, different prominent Iraqis, about it. And then on Wednesday night on the channel of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, which is a prominent Shiite political party and paramilitary group, my face is the backdrop as the anchor talks, and he actually waves also a printout 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 expel and describes Reuters as trampling upon the dignity of Iraq and Shiite paramilitary groups. And after that, there's no way I could've stayed in the country both for myself and for my staff. My presence was polarizing the situation, so I left the next day.

    [. . .]

    PARKER: Prime Minister Abadi last Thursday, the day after the broadcast against Reuters and myself, he gave a speech in public where he spoke in very broad strokes against a journalist who had been in Tikrit and had reported on the execution and the lootings and arson and implied perhaps some of the journalists who had been there had even been there deliberately to smear the government and the Shiite paramilitary forces on...

    INSKEEP: This is the same prime minister who was installed with the support of the United States recently and who's visiting Washington?

    PARKER: Right, and on the eve of his visit, a statement was issued by the prime minister's office in English talking about the need to protect and respect journalism in Iraq, including Reuters, and the statement referred to the incident involving myself and Reuters. But that statement was only put out in English and until now, it has not come out in Arabic.

    INSKEEP: So he's sympathetic to you in English and something else in Arabic entirely.

    PARKER: We're still waiting for the statement to come out in Arabic. It hasn't yet.

    Ned got the date wrong on Haider's remarks -- more than understandable, he had a large number of other issues on his mind.

    He believes the speech was made April 9th.

    No, it was made on the 8th.

    From Sunday:

    Thursday's snapshot noted Haider al-Abadi's attack on the press -- in a speech the press covered, one he gave in Falluja, but somehow all the outlets covering the speech failed to cover Haider's attack on the press.
    His office published the attack April 8th -- in Arabic.  It never made it up to the English side of the site.  It's still not up there now.
    Realizing thugs lie, we've posted the press release here.

    We noted part of the speech on April 8th.  We waited on the attack on the press until the next day because I wanted to have that -- the English version -- because too many people e-mail insisting, "This doesn't say that."  When I link to Arabic articles, people who can't read Arabic flood the public e-mail account with claims that the linked to article doesn't say this or that.

    So I thought we'd wait a day (this is all noted here on Thursday) to see if the press release was translated to English and posted on the prime minister's site -- as almost every other one is.

    They've not published it.

    Even now.

    They don't want English readers to know just how disgusting and vile Haider is.

    Haider fanned the flames.

    What's going on is a deception and outright lie.

    Haider's office publishes some weak ass statement on Ned Parker April 11th -- but in English only.  So Haider can look -- to the English speaking world -- like a defender.

    Haider's office publishes an attack on the press on April 8th -- but only in Arabic -- to fan flames in Iraq and to ensure that the English speaking world remains unaware of his attack.

    His remarks insisting his wife was more important than speaking to Ned Parker?

    He's allowed to play the  fool in part because the White House has refused to speak on the topic as has the State Dept.  Neither will defend freedom of the press on camera, in public.

    They're craven and shameful.

    So Haider thinks he can make jokes.

    But this isn't funny and it's actually becoming an international incident.

    The silence from the White House and the State Dept should be remembered when various members of the media who went to work for the administration try to go back to the media and act like they have ethical ground to stand on.  They have none.

    And let's deal with the nonsense of "I dropped all lawsuits against the press" -- there shouldn't have been any.  These were lawsuits Nouri brought.

    And that was months and months ago.

    In the words of Janet Jackson, "What have you done for me lately?"

    Not a thing to help.

    He has announced -- this month -- that there will be a huge reduction in the number of Iraqi outlets because he's pulling funding from many of them.

    That's the sort of thing the western press has refused to report on.

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 313 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    Lastly,  Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following today:

    YC Vets Unite at City Hall to Demand Action from Mayor de Blasio
    81% of NYC post-9/11 vets surveyed say the mayor is failing veterans

    NEW YORK (April 16, 2015) – At 3:00 P.M. today, members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will stand with fellow veterans and the city’s top veteran leaders from across multiple organizations and generations to urge Mayor de Blasio to show real support for New York City veterans. With 22 veterans dying from suicide every day nationally and the VA still reeling after an epic crisis, the city’s veteran leaders will call on the mayor to stand up and show his dedication to our returning heroes.

    At a unity event on the steps of City Hall, the veterans groups will note that during the mayor’s 15 months in office, the administration has shown no real results, failed to meet with them a single time, failed to increase the budget for veterans, and failed to even put forward a clear plan to meet the needs of the city’s 230,000 veterans.

    Combat veteran leaders scheduled to attend are made up of current and former members of the mayor’s own Veterans Advisory Board and include Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and Founder, Kristen Rouse, leader of the NYC Veterans Alliance, Lee Covino, the Borough Hall veterans and military affairs adviser, Terry Holliday, NYC Veterans Commissioner for the first year of the de Blasio Administration, Joe Bello, NY Metro Vets, Tireak Tulluck, IAVA Leadership Fellow, and members from Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion and others.

    “The veterans of New York are strong civic and community leaders. They served at Normandy, in Vietnam, at Ground Zero and in Baghdad. They are true heroes and our city’s very best. Many of them are joining us on the steps of City Hall today. Yet, these voices have been entirely ignored by our mayor,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We’ve been patient. But enough is enough. It’s been 15 months since the mayor took office and our veterans have seen absolutely nothing to show that he cares about our community and our families. He addressed horse-carriages on ‘day one,’ but veterans have yet to get so much as a single meeting. He seems to have time for everyone in the city except us. The mayor must respond today and show us that he cares with an actionable plan and real resources. Talk is cheap and we need results. It’s time for the greatest city in the world to get serious about supporting the greatest warriors in the world. IAVA presented clear recommendations to the mayor’s representatives more than six months ago on urgent issues ranging from suicide to unemployment. And we are still awaiting a response or even a meeting. One of those recommendations is to create a new Department of Veterans Affairs in the city, which would be a huge step forward in ensuring that our veterans are properly supported. In a city budget of over $60 billion, only a pathetic $600,000 is dedicated to veterans. But the mayor has failed to address this urgent call for resources. Instead, he’s opposed increases to our pensions and ignored requests to meet from his own Veterans Advisory Board. As a community, we want to work together with the mayor and city council to make New York the best city in the country for veterans. But we’ve waited long enough. The time is now. With Memorial Day just over a month away, the mayor must meet with us and deliver real help.”

    IAVA, which represents more than 10,000 members from the New York City-area, provided the administration recommendations in October 2014. Those recommendations can be found here. IAVA has also testified three times before the city council. The October 2014 testimony by IAVA’s Jason Hansman can be found here.

    The veterans leaders also urged the city council and Speaker Mark-Viverito to immediately pass critical legislation introduced by Councilman Eric Ulrich, Chair of the Committee on Veterans, and created in consultation with IAVA, which would create a Department of Veterans Affairs for New York City. This legislation has so far been opposed by the de Blasio Administration.

    From taking nearly nine months to appoint a Veterans Affairs commissioner to advocating for a veto of a veteran pension bill at the state level, the mayor has shown a consistent lack of commitment on veterans issues. In the case of the pension bill, the mayor directly advocated against veterans interests. He also fought against the expansion of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs (MOVA), despite city council efforts to expand its budget and create a new department. With an absurdly small budget and no real power, MOVA is ridiculously ill equipped to handle the current and rapidly growing needs of the veterans community.

    IAVA also released the results of its recent poll of NYC members on the mayor’s handling of veterans issues:

    - Only four percent of veterans surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the mayor was improving the lives of veterans and servicemembers.
    - Only five percent agreed or strongly agreed that the mayor is listening to veterans and servicemembers.

    Leading veterans and veterans organizations stood with IAVA in calling for action from the major. A sample of their statements is below:

    “The service of our NYC veterans embraces major conflicts in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places that don’t flash on the everyday radar of most Americans. While the satisfaction of service to the United States is reward alone, many veterans need assistance with housing, education, medical benefits and availability of treatment beyond those provided by the Veterans’ Administration. There must be a clear and consistent veterans policy developed in dialogue and partnership with veteran organizations that have been in the service mode for decades. As a concerned veteran, I don’t see that effort coming from city hall,” said Terrance Holliday, former Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for NYC.

    “The city council has stepped up to hold hearings and take initial steps toward making city government more responsive toward veterans. Mayor de Blasio needs to follow suit by showing that he cares enough to understand the needs of those of us who have served our country, especially those who are still struggling to find their way home and contribute as citizens of this great city. His record thus far shows only tone-deaf disregard. There is much to be done at the city government level to serve veterans. For all the federal and state programs for veterans, the rubber meets the road here at the city level where veterans live, work, and interact on a daily basis with city agencies and services. Veterans issues shouldn’t be partisan or unfavorable to any mayoral administration, and we realize that the administration of a city as large, complex, and amazing as NYC is a formidable task. Yet the delays, inaction, under-resourcing, and blatant exclusion of veterans under Mayor de Blasio’s administration has been exceedingly disappointing. We simply must show up and speak out on this to show NYC government that veterans matter,” said Kristen Rouse, Director, NYC Veterans Alliance.

    “If national security remains a top priority, then so must our troops whom willingly serve beneath the flag. And if our elected officials are willing to send young men and women into harm’s ways, then they must be able to take care of them when they come home,” said Ryan Graham, Queens VFW Commander.

    “The NYC Officers Club stands united with our fellow veterans organizations in NYC in encouraging the mayor and the rest of the city to continue to make veterans issues and initiatives a major priority and support those who have served and those who continue to serve,” said Joel Knippel, President, NYC Military Officers Club.

    “During his 2013 campaign, Mayor de Blasio stated: ‘Veterans issues are personal to me – and they will be an important part of my administration.’ However, 16 months in, his message towards veterans and family members has been long on thanks but short on substance. Besides not engaging with or reaching out to the community, veterans have witnessed a number of policies and decisions from his administration that are both perplexing and frustrating. Mayor de Blasio has often talked about his father serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, losing a leg in Okinawa and the struggles he faced when he returned home. This gives the Mayor a unique insight into the difficulties veterans face on an everyday basis. So it’s extremely disappointing that with the United States still at war, with veterans still returning home, as well as those already here, and with many coming to New York City for economic opportunities, that in the ‘tale of two cities’ Mayor de Blasio appears to be leaving us behind. We believe he must and can do better,” said Joe Bello Founder, NY MetroVets.

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA has repeatedly received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.


    Read on ...

    Sunday, April 5, 2015

    Smack Talking Wuss

    smack talking wuss


    From October 11, 2012, that's  "Smack Talking Wuss."   

    C.I. noted:

    Barack takes the stage at Cafe Bitch-ay to declare, "I want to talk about Wall Street.  He's talking about Sesame Street."  A heckler hollers, "Then why don't you talk Wall Street now?"  Barack comes back with, "Big Bird!" Leading another heckler to wonder, "Why is it you can talk now that Romney's not in the room?"   Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.

    Usually, I drew Barack like Joan Rivers.

    Above, I drew him like Jerry Seinfeld in the opening of the sitcom Seinfeld.

    I needed to mix things up a bit.

    And if you're looking for a more current take on him, my "The Deal" just went up a little while ago at The Common Ills.

    Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Saturday, April 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, looting and burning homes takes place in Tikrit, what the no-thanks for US air support in Iraq probably means, Judith Miller does not repent nor recant, and much more.

    Oh, Judith.

    What is there to say?

    If there's anything worse than becoming a joke, it has to be turning yourself into a parody.

    Judith Miller's published a 'thought piece' for those who've never thought and for those who've always been spoon fed their thoughts.

    What really is the point of her piece on the Iraq War and "stubborn myths"?

    For those late to the story, the Iraq War was built upon lies.

    The Bully Boy Bush Administration and the bulk of Congress -- and the bulk of Congress -- sold an illegal war to the world.  To do that, they needed to silence dissent and they needed to saturate the public with their message.  A compliant and pathetic media -- which we still have in the US -- desperate to be 'cool kids' with whomever is in power -- ibid -- rushed to see who could be the most helpful.

    Some lied.

    Some were attack dogs whose purpose was to smear anyone who spoke out.  The Dallas Morning News, for example, ran a little pipeline operation where they attacked anyone in the arts who spoke out.  It was known in real time.  It's only become more infamous as one of the key participants has become a raging alcoholic (karma?) and can't stop talking -- at the new paper the boozer now works for -- about what they did back then at the Dallas Morning News.

    Along with the attack dogs, you had the court stenographers.  There were two kinds here -- the liars and the idiots.

    Judith Miller was an idiot.

    Got a whopper no one will believe?  Feed it to Judy, she'll swallow it! She'll swallow anything!

    And she did.


    She wrote one bad report after another.

    None of them should have been published.

    Jill Abramson tried to position herself as having opposed Miller.  She tried to do that after Miller's reporting was in shreds -- reality left reporter Judith Miller dead from a thousand paper cuts.

    But in real time Abramson didn't try to stop Miller's bad reporting from being published.  Jill can lie all she wants -- and she is a liar -- but the reality is she also had the power to assign other reporters and to have them do real reporting.  Jill didn't do that either.

    There were whispers (untrue) that Miller was getting things in print because she'd had an affair -- in the long ago past.  That was a lie.  Miller got stuff in the paper because the paper wanted her star turns.  She didn't sleep her way to publication.

    And the paper -- Jill and all the people in charge -- are as responsible for Miller's reporting as is Judith Miller.  They could have fact checked it, they could have assigned other reporters, they had any number of options to address any problems.

    But they looked the other way.

    And in fairness to the New York Times, they weren't the only paper doing so.  And the broadcast and cable talk shows and alleged news programs rushed to do the same.

    Today, Barack Obama can say anything -- true or false -- and the press treats it as gospel.

    That's not a new development.

    Fox and others are up in arms about how Barack gets away with this and that.

    But they didn't give a damn when it was Bully Boy Bush getting the same press treatment.

    The problem is the press.

    And maybe a wiser Judith Miller could have addressed that.

    Instead, what she mainly accomplishes with her latest writing is proving this site right.

    We noted she wasn't a liar.

    We noted she was a bad reporter who believed anything she was told.

    Her 'thought' piece only backs that up.

    A book is to follow, but the piece says everything that needs to be said.

    Did you know that Bully Boy Bush was a victim?  He was misled and misinformed?

    This is exactly why Judith Miller is a lousy reporter.

    She could make that claim about herself.

    Some might believe it, some might not.

    But she has the capabilities to make that claim about herself.

    She can't see inside Bully Boy Bush's brain or his alleged soul.

    She writes as if she can or as if she's done this groundbreaking investigative reporting that documented this for her.

    Yet again, it's just Judith's demons running free.

    Miller was supposed to be a reporter.

    Not a columnist, a reporter.

    That means trafficking in the facts, not in opinion.

    But the facts didn't interest her.

    She always 'massaged' them and let claims -- presented as fact -- overtake her alleged reporting.

    This was true when she was the poster girl of the left writing for The Progressive.

    She carried it with her to the New York Times.

    She didn't carry any real journalistic skills with her and never felt the need to practice the core journalistic principle of skepticism.

    The essay/column/piece was supposed to demonstrate that Judith Miller is a reporter and it only demonstrated that she remains a fool.

    We've been very fair to Judith Miller here.

    I defended her right to refuse to testify.  We opposed her being put behind bars for refusing to divulge a source.

    We have repeatedly noted that Judith Miller wasn't the worst of her peers.

    For example, the Amy Goodman's of the world  rushed forward to say no one died for Jayson Blair's lies.

    Jayson Blair, like Miller, is a former 'reporter' for the New York Times.

    What Jayson Blair did was far worse than what Judith Miller did.

    Jayson Blair knowingly lied in reports he filed.

    Knowingly and intentionally, he lied.

    There is no defense for that.

    Were he a columnist, we could argue whether he was spinning or not -- and were he a columnist, I wouldn't even engage in that conversation because I'd expect a columnist to spin for any number of reasons -- including being entertaining.

    But he was a reporter and his pieces were filed as reports.

    And he lied.

    Repeatedly and consistently, he lied.

    If Miller had lied, we still would have defended her right to refuse to name a source.

    But Miller didn't lie.

    She was stupid.  She was foolish.  She was desperate for applause that her 'star turns' in print had prepped her for.

    She wasn't a liar.

    Her latest writing makes it clear that she's not a liar.

    It also makes clear that she's not a reporter.

    And it makes clear that she's one of the stupidest people to walk the face of the earth currently.

    People can make mistakes.

    People can be stupid (I'm stupid all the time).

    People can do all of that and even not learn from it.

    That will never make them worse than a reporter who knowingly and intentionally lies.

    And you have to wonder what it says about the Amy Goodmans, alleged reporters, that they would make a case for a reporter like Blair who knowingly lied in his reporting?

    Miller didn't lie.

    She was stupid and foolish.

    And clearly didn't learn a thing from her experience.

    If she had, she'd stick to what she knew.  If she speculated, she'd label it speculation.

    Instead, 'all knowing' Judy is back to insisting she sees reality.

    She saw WMDs in Iraq -- she presented it as reality.

    That was then.

    Today, she sees into the heart of Bully Boy Bush and knows exactly what he was told and what he believed.

    Reporting is realizing that you don't know everything.

    Judith should go into creative writing so that she can molest her creative muse for as long as she so desires.

    I'd really hoped that Judith Miller would emerge from this entire debacle with some form of wisdom.  That would be something worth sharing.  She could explain to other reporters and future reporters how a journalist needs to be skeptical and how a reporter needs to self-check repeatedly to ensure that she or he is not being sold a bill of goods.

    There are so many lessons she could have learned and could have imparted.

    Instead, she's still insisting that whatever happened is something that happened because of somebody else.

    Now I'm all for let's not dogpile Judith Miller.

    I've said here repeatedly that Miller wrote reports -- bad reports -- but she was not the one waiving them into print, she was not the one booking herself on Oprah and Meet The Press, etc., and on and on.

    Miller was one bad reporter in a pool lousy with bad reporters.  And, to her credit, she was one of the dumb ones as opposed to the group of reporters who knowingly lied.

    So  I don't pin all the problems of the press with regards to the Iraq War on her.

    And I'm also aware that she became the scapegoat because she was a woman.

    If you doubt that, note the 'left' attacks on Maureen Dowd led by the losers at Media Matters and sexist Bob Somerby.

    Maureen is to be attacked?

    I'm struggling to think of any national columnist who called out the Iraq War more than Maureen.

    That doesn't make her above criticism.

    But her gender does mean she gets attacked constantly and her attackers don't even give her credit for what she did do.

    As he rushed to defend Susan Rice, Bob Somerby had the nerve to suggest that Maureen had never written of Condi Rice.

    We called that lie out the day he wrote it.

    Maureen did more than anyone -- way more than weak-ass Paul Krugman.  (And if that's news to you, pick up a copy of Dowd's Bushworld: Enter At Your Own Risk.)

    But she gets no credit for it.  And some of her worst attackers or men who blogged in support of the Iraq War.  Yes, Ezra, we mean you.  Yes, Matthew, we mean you.

    Judith Miller was part of a large pack of bad reporters but she's the only one who went down and that did have a great deal to do with gender.

    (The sexism was also evident in the reaction to her arrogance -- some would label it 'confidence' -- which angered so many of her critics -- "I was proved right" -- while her frequent co-writers Micheal Gordon's arrogance was taken in stride and considered normal -- his arrogance when it was on display in an interview with Amy Goodman -- and Goodman crumbled under that arrogance.)

    It would have been something if Juidth Miller had arrived at an awakening -- or gained even a tiny bit of insight.

    Instead, she's the explanation of why the same stupid things -- like war -- happen over and over again:  So many of us refuse to learn from mistakes.

    Or as Shirley Bassey once sang with Propellerheads, "it's all just a little bit of history repeating."

    And Iraq repeats.

    Tuesday, Iraq's Prime Minister offered a Tweet.

    PM Al-Abadi announces the liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone
    207 retweets145 favorites

    Of course, Tikrit wasn't liberated.

    So Wednesday, the Iraqi government again announced that Tikrit had been liberated:

    "Here we come to you, Anbar! Here we come to you, Nineveh, and we say it with full resolution, confidence, and persistence."
    That's Iraq's Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obeidi as quoted by the AP.
    And yes, he does sound a bit like Howard Dean.
    AP notes he dubbed today in Tikrit a "magnificent victory."
    They're far too kind to note that yesterday was also dubbed a victory.
    BBC News does note that, claims aside, "Troops are still fighting to clear the last remaining IS holdout in the city, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was filmed raising an Iraqi flag there."

    And from Thursday's snapshot:

    AFP reports what took place yesterday in Tikrit:

    Pro-government militiamen were seen looting shops in the centre of the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after its recapture from the Islamic State jihadist group in a month-long battle.

    The militiamen took items including clothing, shampoo and shaving cream from two shops in central Tikrit before driving away.

    Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about the militia looting and offered a photo:

    : تكرار حالات السلب والنهب التي تنتهجها القوات الحكومية والميليشيات التابعة لها عند دخولها مناطق النزاع.
    47 retweets18 favorites

    Friday, AP reported that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Friday morning that the government "will begin arresting and prosecuting anyone who loots abandoned properties in the newly-recaptured city of Tikrit."  We noted it was a pass, that the law -- the existing law -- apparently does not take effect until 48 hours after liberation.

    Today, Lydia Willgress (Daily Mail) notes, "Shia paramilitary fighters looting and setting fire to buildings in Tikrit are 'out of control', an official said.  Ahmed al-Karim, head of the Salahuddin provincial council, said the fighters had burnt 'hundreds of houses' in the last two days."  And Middle East Monitor reports:

    Earlier, the Iraqi governor of Saladin left his own province in disgust over the looting spree being carried out allegedly by the Shia militia.
    Ahmed Abdel-Jabbar al-Karim, chief of Saladin's provincial council, told the Anadolu Agency late Friday that he along with Governor Raed al-Jabouri left the province in protest against al-Hashid al-Shaabi's alleged looting and burning spree in Tikrit.
    Al-Karim had also blamed the central Iraqi government of not doing enough to stop the militia's illegal actions. "Governor Raed al-Jabouri told Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi about the violations and left the province when no stopped the militia from robbing and burning shops in Tikrit," he said.

    According to al-Karim, the Shia militia also clashed with him and al-Jabouri when they tried to stop their rampage in central Tikrit. The militia men allegedly used abusive words, laced with sectarian references, with the senior Iraqi officials, which then quickly turned into a physical clash that left several body guards injured.

    Hopefully, for the militia thugs, those clashes took place in the 48 hours when Haider al-Abadi was suspending the rule of law.

    Let's be really clear that saying 'Starting now the law applies' is embarrassing.

    Everyone who took part should be punished.

    Deutshce Welle quotes Ahmed al-Kraim ("head of Tirkit's governing council") stating, "Houses and shops were burnt after they stole everything. Our city was burnt in front of our eyes."  Ned Parker, Michael Williams and Reuters correspondents in Tikrit report more specifically:

    Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents. 
    The incident is now under investigation, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

    Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant, Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi'ite paramilitary fighters – the government's partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

    No doubt Barack's special envoy John Allen will term the above "excesses."

    As he did to Congress last week.

    Iraqi Shia militia are reportedly withdrawn from Tikrit after (predictable) looting & violence
    107 retweets 41 favorites

    And, yes, it was predictable.

    More to the point, Kenneth Roth repeatedly warned against it.  Noted how it had happened previously.

    He wasn't the only one warning ahead of time.  Sunday, Maria Fantappie and Peter Harling's "If Shi'ite militias beat Islamic State in Tikrit, Iraq will still lose" (Reuters) observed:

    The military campaign is thus exacerbating the sense of powerlessness, disenfranchisement and humiliation among Sunni Arabs that gave rise to Islamic State.
    The growing tendency in Baghdad and the south to equate Shi’ite militias with the national army, to declare oneself a patriot while expressing gratitude to Iran for its intervention, and to subsume national symbols under Shi’ite ones — with black, yellow and green flags referring to Hussein ibn Ali ibn Abi Taleb, Shiism’s third Imam, increasingly crowding out the Iraqi flag — is reshaping Iraqis’ national identity in ways that will vastly complicate well-intentioned efforts to advance inclusive politics and governance.
    The overwhelmingly Shiite ground forces battling ISIS in Sunni Tikrit have become increasingly powerful as the government army has disintegrated. The militias have a brutal record of sectarian bloodletting, including burning and bulldozing thousands of homes and other buildings in dozens of Sunni villages after American airstrikes drove ISIS out of the town of Amerli in northeastern Iraq last summer. If that happened in Tikrit, the United States would be blamed for helping to trigger yet another cycle of horrific sectarian violence.

    There were others as well.

    Yet that it happened in Tikrit is being portrayed as 'surprising.'

    So much about the 'liberation' of Tikrit is seen as 'surprising.'

    Including the way 'success' is credited.

    A few hundred Islamic fighters managed to thwart and hold off a little over 30,000 security forces (soldiers and militias) who, for three weeks, were led by the combined military strategy genius of Baghdad and Tehran.

    The forces suffered huge losses.

    So much so, that the operation was put on 'pause' because the forces were reluctant to move forward.

    And though a Shi'ite militia leader (and Iraq's Minister of Transportation) -- as well as an Iranian designated by the US government as a terrorist -- mocked the idea of US air support, in the end Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went begging to the United States for that air support.

    And only once that was received did the bogged down operation begin moving.

    But that reality is not being portrayed in Iraq.  Rod Nordland and Falih Hassan (New York Times) reported:

    But to hear some of the Iraqi forces here tell it, the Americans deserve little or no credit. And many of the Shiite militiamen involved in the fight say the international coalition’s air campaign actually impeded their victory — even though beforehand they had spent weeks in a stalemate with militants holed up in Tikrit. Some even accuse the United States of fighting on the side of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
    Still, most of the militiamen now pouring into this city in the Sunni heartland along the Tigris River were not even in the real battle over the past week, and the only shots they fired were into the air on Thursday — which they did with abandon.

    The ingratitude, as we noted earlier this week, is telling.

    As is the spinning that being bogged down was part of the plan all along.

    No, it wasn't.

    They announced the mission would take a few days.

    It took weeks.

    They announced they'd reach the center of the city in the first five days.

    They didn't reach it until after the US started dropping bombs.

    The ingratitude is telling.

    From Tuesday's snapshot:

    Loveday Morris (Washington Post) notes, "Militia leaders refused to admit Tuesday that they were still working under American air cover. One coalition strike occurred overnight as the pro-government forces advanced, according to Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the coalition operation."
    They weren't the only ones failing to note the air strikes.
    In his public remarks, Haider al-Abadi thanked the Iraqi security forces as well as the militias.
    He pointedly did not think the US pilots -- this despite his begging for this help and assistance.

    So the forces don't acknowledge the US assistance and the prime minister doesn't acknowledge it and it all seems so familiar because it is.

    We covered the November 30, 2011 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  

    The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. 

    Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  

    Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  

    She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.

    Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister? (That would be Nouri al-Maliki.  He was Prime Minister and he refused to nominate anyone to the post of Deputy Minister so that he could control himself.  Adnan al-Asadi was never confirmed by the Parliament because he was never nominated.  He was a puppet.)

    And Brooke Darby either lied or was lied to.

    Because the Iraqis refused the training.

    See the e June 29, 2012 snapshot  for what happened to the US building to train the Iraqis in.  Spoiler alert: it was given away.

    So in 2011, there were signs that the Iraqis didn't want US help on training.

    Those signs weren't heeded.

    Today there are signs of the same.

    They're not being heeded.

    In addition to underscoring how the Barack Obama administration refuses to learn -- they're so Judith Miller -- it underscores something else.


    Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  

    The State Dept took over the US operation in Iraq on October 1, 2011.  The start of the fiscal year.

    They were given millions and millions of US taxpayer dollars for their mission in Iraq.

    And yet Hillary refused to provide specifics to Congress.

    Kind of like her e-mails, she deemed them 'private.'

    And that might have been forgiven if the mission were a success.

    But it wasn't a success, was it?

    The program wasted money and went on longer than it should have -- no one was showing up for training -- and when Tim Arango and the New York Times reported on that, the State Dept insisted Arango had it wrong (he was correct).

    She wants to be president.

    She wanted to be when she was Secretary of State.

    Yet preparing for a planned run did not make her treat the US taxpayer -- or the taxpayers' money -- with any great care or oversight.

    And the end result was that the State Dept mission in Iraq was a failure.

    And a huge one as the ongoing violence demonstrates.

    Yet some people want to claim her tenure as Secretary of State gives her foreign policy experience?

    Yesterday, Margaret Griffis ( counted 27 violent deaths across Iraq.


    Read on ...
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