Sunday, May 19, 2013

Truest statement of the week

 The government has failed to address any of the major grievances of the Sunni — and even some Shia — communities. Those include ongoing exclusion from the political process, with regular delays in elections; no real reforms in the punitive, wildly overbroad “De-Baathification” and antiterrorism laws; increasingly centralized power in the hands of the prime minister; and brutal policing, with mass arrests, unfair trials and endemic torture in Iraqi prisons. But since early 2012, Sunnis have challenged the status quo with persistent, overwhelmingly peaceful protests, despite violent incursions by the state authorities.
It is in this environment that Maliki’s SWAT security forces, along with army and federal police, carried out an armed attack on one of the longest-running protest camps, in the Sunni village of Hawija. A parliamentary committee’s preliminary findings were that 44 people were killed and 104 injured, with the government saying 3 police officers were killed. Remarkably, the attack came after several days of negotiations with the protesters, whom the government accused of harboring militants who had killed a soldier, and taking weapons from a nearby checkpoint.        

-- Human Rights Watch's Sarah Leah Whitson "How Baghdad Fuels Iraq's Sectarian Fire" (New York Times).

Truest statement of the week II

Absolutely. And it's important to realize here that the First Amendment and the freedom of the press that it protects is not protecting the press. It's protecting the public. It's protecting our ability and our right to know what the government is doing in our name. And that's all the more important when it comes to national security cases like this where the government has vast authority to make secret its activities. And this particular subpoena is so chilling because of two reasons. First, it's extremely broad. It covered 20 phone lines in offices where more than 100 reporters work. And then in addition to that and perhaps more troubling, the Department of Justice elected to delay notifying the Associated Press that it had issued the subpoena for these telephone records. What that means is the Associated Press was robbed of the ability to go to court to challenge the subpoena. 

-- the ACLU's Gabe Rottman on the first hour of Thursday's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday.  And look how early we got done.  Can you believe it?  Everything up by 7:00 am PST (10:00 EST).

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

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

And what did we come up with?

The spying on AP.
This is a media edition.  That's our theme.  And, sadly, we started out with a different theme.  And spent many hours on it.  We changed the theme late Sunday.  Usually, Ava, C.I., Kat, Wally, Jess and Dona are here in California for these editions.  This weekend they were in DC (along with Marcia and Ruth). That might be part of the reason we were less than focused.  

Ava and C.I. wrote this early Sunday as part of another theme edition.  And then we trashed the theme but it still works here because of their critique of The Water Cooler Set and its embrace of sexism.  Here they take on how sexists took control of the female driven Body of Proof and turned it into Doll Face.  This is a really strong piece.
The last piece finished for the edition.  Next week, we hope to offer a new visual that took about four hours to create -- on posterboard.  But we changed our theme and were no longer able to use it.  On our other theme, Report on Congress wasn't going to take place.  So that ended up being very last minute.

It really is a disgrace and it should be called out.
Where to shine the spotlight?  There were many choices but the vote was to note the disintegration of Amy Goodman and her awful show that once so many of us trusted.
Media Matters defends the government -- this time they defend it for attacking the press.
I (Jim) wrote this as we waited for the Congress piece to be done.  Ava and C.I. pointed out that Wally and Cedric and Ruth should ideally be featured in a piece that noted other media lapses and failures of the week. But there was no time.  As I waited, I did this quickie piece that noted three.

Assault in the military.
Some stand up to Barack's Drone War.
Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


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

Editorial: The US press has got to start paying attention to Iraq

Since most Americans don't read Arabic and don't follow the Iraqi press outlets, the news that CENTCOM Commander Gen Lloyd Austin visited Iraq last week and, with a delegation which includes US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft, met with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq could have completely escaped their attention were it not for a Wednesday post at The Common Ills asking "Why is Gen Lloyd Austin in Iraq today?"

Although Alsumaria reported on it, it was apparently a hush-hush visit.

By day's end, DoD, CENTCOM and the US Embassy in Baghdad had all remained silent about the visit -- on their home pages, on their Facebook pages and on their Twitter feeds.

The visit, they wanted the American people to believe, just did not happen.

It really is something the lengths the administration will go to in order to deceive the American public.  It really is something how the US press will rush to assist the White House with that goal.

What was being discussed in the meet-up?  Iraq's security and the best way the US military could 'help.'  The Strategic Framework Agreement, first signed in 2008, and the Memorandum of Understanding allowing US forces back into Iraq were the topics.


Oh, yeah, the MoU.

Another thing the press 'forgot' to report on.  Readers of The Common Ills are aware of that because TCI actually covered it -- and did so repeatedly.  Such as in the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

Other than TCI?  Well the press wasn't interested in it back in December and hasn't been since; however, US Congressional Research Service report from last month, Kenneth Katzman's "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights," does discuss it.

Where is the MSM?  CNN, The New York Times, et al?

Where is the beggar media of Amy Goodman and Danny Schechter and the rest of the lazy bums who hang out on street corners begging for your money so they don't have to go out and get a real job?

They're all silent.

In silent service to the government?

TV: How To Kill A Show With A Retool

Body of Proof was an audience pleaser when it debuted in March 2011.  Season two found some stumbles but the audience was along for the ride.  So last February and March, ABC was shocked by the record low ratings for the returning series.


Some people -- who we'll assume are on the ABC payroll -- keep writing that, with episode 6, the third season rebounded.  No, it didn't.  Episode six was a season high but what followed was up and down ratings.  If Body of Proof were a guest star on a hospital drama, Chandra Wilson would be talking about the need to stabilize the patient.

It's not a guest star on a hospital drama but what it is remains open to question.

Dana Delany put a lot of bad miles behind her (Exit to Eden, Desperate Housewives) with her strong performance as medical examiner Dr. Megan Hunt.  Jeri Ryan played her boss Kat, Geoffrey Arend and Windell Middlebrooks played Megan's peers Ethan and Curtis, Nicholas Bishop played Megan's partner Peter and the cast was rounded out by Sonja Sohn and John Carroll Lynch as police officers Bud and Samantha.  The show was about how the body 'talks.'  Using science, Megan's able to determine how the victim died.

It was a brainy show, clever enough to succeed at featuring a less than sympathetic lead.  Megan Hunt is always the smartest person in the room and never learned (or wanted to) how to be modest about it.  As medical examiner's go, it was Quincy in a nasty mood all the time.

Season two saw ups and downs and downright desperation at the end.

In one of the cheapest and tackiest stunts of that season, Body of Proof played into fear with a two-parter about a biological weapon attacking Philadelphia.

ABC wrongly thought they had an answer for the show.  Spooks and getting Megan out of science and into following criminal leads.  The second part was huge ratings wise, so it must be the way to go, right?


Stupidity runs through the networks as surely as it does through the Water Cooler Set.  Slate breathlessly panted, "The creative team concluded that those final episodes of Season 2 succeeded because the scientists' brilliant deductions were supplemented with fights and ticking time bombs, and because beloved characters were placed in mortal danger.  Enter Evan Katz, who spent seven seasons on 24, as a writer and executive producer."

Those three episodes didn't succeed.  The first of the two-parter was pretty much a failure (especially considering how heavily the network advertised it and Luke Perry's guest-starring role).  The second-part of that story did deliver the highest ratings for the entire season.  But the audience dropped the following week and the audience was low with part one.  So what was really at work?

The second part of the two-parter got good ratings because CBS' Unforgettable wasn't on.  It skipped April 3, 2012.  When it did air new episodes, it regularly destroyed the ratings for Body Of Proof.  While 10.51 million viewers was a season two high for Body of Proof,  18 of Unforgettable's 22 episodes pulled in more viewers.

That stunt didn't pull in viewers.  Viewers drifted over from CBS because Unforgettable wasn't on that night. [Unforgettable kicks off its second season July 28th.]

But the Water Cooler and ABC ignored facts to feed their own vanity.  This was how, they insisted, Body of Proof becomes a huge hit.

As a result of their 'expertise,' what debuted February 19, 2013 played more like Doll Face and a lot less like Body of Proof.

Doll Face, we quickly learned, was a kid sister of Police Woman.  She didn't have the strength Angie Dickinson invested into Pepper but didn't she look cute teetering around crime scenes in too high heels and carrying her hands as though her nails were still wet from a fresh coat of polish?

To be sure that you didn't miss how cute she was supposed to be, police officers at the crime scene would turn to watch her walk.  A Jayne Mansfeld film entrance had more modesty.  Sometimes, cops didn't just stare and study the 'hot piece,' sometimes they commented on it too.

Dana would make a bitchy remark, toss her hair and saunter off, ass swinging for the camera.

Unlike Body of Proof, Doll Face was more concerned with Megan's body than with her mind.

So they let her get into a lot of scrapes.  She was suddenly Sally MacMillan (Susan Saint James)  trying to solve Mac's case and desperately in need of Mac saving her.

Mac wasn't Bud and Sam.  They ditched those characters.  They couldn't afford to because, as Stan pointed out repeatedly each week, the show is set in Philadelphia which is 44% African-American . . . except on Body of Proof episodes.  With Samantha gone, the show had one less African-American cast member.  And  season three found Windell Middlebrook' Curtis reduced to a day player with a few lines when he was lucky.

Audiences who like looking at attractive men had Nicholas Bishop in seasons one and two.  Season three, they instead had Mark Valley forced off on them.

Is it too rude to point out that audiences have repeatedly said "no, thank you" when offered Mark Valley before?

His failed attempts at wooing audiences as a leading man include Keen Eddie, Harry's Law and Human Target.

Is it too rude to point out that, at the age of 48, Mark Valley's a little too old to be playing a character named "Tommy"?

Tommy was Megan's old flame and one of the many men on season three to vouch for how gorgeous and desirable Megan is.  Tommy's partner Adam (British actor Eyles Gabel) also got to vouch for how hot Megan was.   In addition to those two and the cast of police extras that were little more than panting dogs with their tongues hanging out, you had Marisa Ramirez as Officer Riley Dunn.  Marissa's attractive, very attractive.  You'd notice that if you watched her play Detective Maria Baez on CBS' Blue Bloods (where she's a regular cast member).  You wouldn't know it from Body of Proof.  While Megan's hair was forever loving arranged, you rarely saw Riley Dunn's hair and usually she was wearing a police costume that made her look hefty.

Yeah, it appeared that to make Megan the hottest thing on too-high heels, others were forced to dress down.  Take Jeri Ryan.  Jeri's gorgeous.  So there wasn't much that they could do in season three to hide that.  Instead, they just reduced her scenes and put her in some ugly clothes (which she still looked great in).

Jeri's Kate really wasn't needed since Doll Face Megan was not doing autopsies but instead chasing down bad guys.  Doll Face was forever being victimized and waiting to be rescued.  Audiences also had to endure the brainy and smart Megan facing the fact that she was wrong.  That was a plot for not just one episode of season three but two. Allowing Tommy to caution Megan, steer her away from being a smarty.

See Doll Face can't be too smart, might run off the boys.  Smart girls don't always get the hot guy.

And men who worked on 24 never learned to respect women, especially not smart  women.

Not a single episode had aired but, in June of last year, Evan Katz was already proclaiming to people that Body of Proof was no longer Dana Delaney's show.  Mark Valley was her "male co-lead."  Katz and the other producers --all men -- just knew that what audiences wanted to see was Megan cowed.  Katz publicly laughed that Megan "can't run over this guy" about Mark Valley's Tommy.  Or as executive producer Matthew Gross put it about Tommy, "We wanted to create a character that would stand up to her."

Katz referred to it as "a reboot."

So Doll Face was all about the smart -- but not smart enough not to get into hair brained scrapes -- Megan forever needing Tommy to rescue her.  And Tommy might have sex with other women but, as part of the 'taming' of Megan, her sex life was over.  No more boyfriends. And she can't even have sex with Tommy.  In the midst of her second virginity, she does once consider having sex in season three -- only to have a plane fall out of the sky.

Is that not a message from on high?

Doll Face was all about weakness, victim identity and how much Dana Delany could swing her ass back and forth in one episode.

In all the years Evan Katz was with 24, we doubt he ever felt the need to find a female "co-lead" for Kiefer Sutherland.  Nor did he ever feel the need to find an actress that Jack Bauer 'couldn't run over.' Kiefer was never required to sling his ass back and forth while delicately walking around, hands in the air.

But somehow -- sexism -- Katz thought this is what Body of Proof's loyal viewers wanted from the show and from Dr. Megan Hunt.

Now that the experiment is rightly seen as a massive failure, the Water Cooler Set that was all over these changes, gushing about them, thrilled with them, that same Water Cooler Set wants to pretend like they weren't.

But they were because sexism is at the root of so much of media 'discussions.  It's why the cowing of women, the true focus of the fall and spring season, was never an issue among the many -- mainly male -- TV 'critics.'  We tackled the topic throughout the fall leading into our December 30th piece "TV: The New Conformity."

In that one, we noted how Whitney had lost her job and was now dependent upon her 'husband' for money (and eager to solve problems by providing sex), we noted how Reagan and Ava both lost their jobs on Up All Night and Reagan turned into a stay-at-home mom, we noted how Jess lost her teaching job on New Girl  . . .

The Water Cooler Set told you in the fall of 2011 that the story was women can do everything and men are victims.  But we never saw any super-strong women.  We saw women doing what women do every day.  Apparently, on TV that's shocking.  And women not waiting around an empty home all day for the kids and the husband to come home, was somehow threatening to the suits.  So the following fall was all about stripping women of their jobs and their strength.

Body of Proof bombed in season three because the audience didn't want a cowed Megan Hunt.

They loved that she was smart, they loved that she was an adult, they loved that she had lovers.

And this point was made when the highest episode of the season was the one that revolved not around Doll Face but around Kate.  Jeri Ryan's character went to a party where she encountered guest star Ivan Sergei.  The two immediately clicked and immediately had sex.

Then a young woman turns up dead.  Jeri brings Ivan in to help them translate the dead woman's note.  Then it turns out Ivan might be the killer.  Kate's really the only one who can get the evidence so she does.  At the end, Ivan's not the killer and he and Kate hope to see each other again.

There was no eternal damnation for the one night stand.  Life did not end because Kate had sex.  Most important on that Jeri Ryan starring episode?  The second half hour.  Body of Proof in season three was all about losing the audience and not just the ones who stopped watching but the ones who would quit watching during the episodes, in the middle of the episode, the number of people watching would be much lower.

But on the Kate episode?  People weren't turning the show off, they watched all the way through.

Because a smart, gutsy and, yes, sexual woman didn't frighten them off.  In fact, their admiration for that was why they watched Body of Proof in the first place.

ABC's trying to shop around the show to cable and the Water Cooler Set is back to pimping.  One of the idiots is claiming that the show has a built in 12 million viewers.  Did he not see the ratings for season three (which concludes **Tuesday May 28th**)?  The reality is that there's probably not more than five million viewers -- if that -- if the show goes to cable.  If it could get on Fox or The CW, it could pull it in an audience like it does on ABC.  For The CW, it could give them an older skewing show that would allow them to have a hit along the lines of 7th Heaven and Fox could really use the show on Friday nights where it's having no luck.  But if the show does continue, it most likely will be on cable.  The only real question is whether it will return as the classic Body of Proof or be the second season of Doll Face?


Ava and C.I. note, article corrected to note the show concludes May 28th not, as we wrongly stated, May 21st.  Our apologies for our error.  That was our mistake.

Report on Congress


Dona:  Lucky VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.  Another week where we report on Congress and he's not the focus. We're covering two big hearings from last week with C.I., Ava, Wally, Kat and Marcia who attended the hearings.  We've also got Ruth with us to finish up some business from last week's "Report on Congress."  Friday saw a heavily covered hearing  -- often wrongly covered -- as the House Ways and Means Committee heard from the Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller.  C.I. reported on it in "Iraq snapshot," "IRS: 'Not corrupt, just incompetent'," Ava in "Guacamole and the IRS (Ava)," Wally in "Big lie revealed at House Ways and Means hearing," Kat in "The other Steve Miller appears before Congress," and Marcia in "No accountability for the IRS scandal,"  Kat, can I get the basics from you?

Kat: Sure.  This is a House Committee where the Chair is Dave Camp and the Ranking Member is Sander Levin.  They had two witnesses appearing before them, Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and the Treasury Department's Inspector General over the IRS J. Russell George.  And one observation I'll make on the basic structure of the hearing?  We're used to attending the Veterans Affairs Committee hearings in the House and Senate or the Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs Committees or the Armed Services Committees.  When they have a government official and and an inspector general both testifying -- Well, first, they usually have a team of officials and a team of IG staff -- they have two panels.  First, the official and his or her team testifies as one panel, then the second panel is the IG and his or her staff.  That did not happen Friday.  Instead, you had the IG sitting right beside the official whose department was caught in the scandal.

Dona: Alright, thank you, Kat. Wally, the IG is J. Russell George.  How did he conduct himself and how did he handle what Kat's describing, testifying at the same time?

Wally: Well, we're in the audience, so we're behind them.  We largely see the back of their heads -- although Miller, when he was trying to be really sarcastic would sometimes turn to a profile.  The format appeared to throw George early on.  I wouldn't call him intimidated but he answered just what was asked and did so briefly.  As the hearing progressed, he became much more vocal usually saying "If I may add" or asking if he could drop back to something earlier that Miller had answered or 'answered' in an incomplete manner. I thought he conducted himself very well, especially when you consider the nastiness that Miller brought to the hearing.

Dona: Was this aimed at just one side, this nastiness?

Wally: No, he was insulting to Democrats and Republicans.  If I could, I know we're in a hurry, but he was insulting in his remarks but he was also insulting in how he presented himself and was to men and to women but especially to women.  Kat?

Kat: Good point.  While Wally was speaking, Dona asked a question and Wally answered it.  Pretend Dona's Congress and Wally's Steve Miller.  While Dona asked her question, Wally would have had to have grunted, mm-hmmed, "That is true," etc-ed.  That's what Miller did when he especially disliked a member of Congress and he was the rudest to US House Rep Allyson Schwartz.

Dona: Alright and you covered Schwartz, Kat, so people can see an excerpt at your site.  Marcia, you caught him doing that to a male in your post.  Do you agree that he was more prone to do this to a woman?

Marcia: I don't know if he was more prone but he was louder and more likely to bark it if the member of Congress questioning him was a woman.  I thought it was the audience at first.  Like Wally said, we're just seeing the backs of their heads.

Dona: This was your first time reporting on a Congressional hearing last week.

Marcia: Right so this was the second one I did.  And it was nothing like the one on Wednesday.  I had to whisper to C.I. to ask if it was Miller making those responses?  I was starting to think -- I'm not joking -- that there was a heckler present.  It was that loud and that disruptive.

Dona: Alright and we are moving quickly.  It was a very, very long writing edition and pieces are going up.  So if you have a point to make, jump in because I'm moving very fast.  C.I., you reported on it in the snapshot but earlier, while the hearing was taking place, you found Miller to be very arrogant and wrote about that as it was taking place.  So what Wally, Kat and Marcia are discussing was apparent.  They all said to go to you for the big news of the hearing.  On Wednesday -- and see that day's snapshot, we don't have time to include it in full here -- US President Barack Obama spoke briefly to the press and gave a 558 word statement about the IRS scandal -- where various groups were targeted.  He stated that the IRS's target was "inexcusable," that "Americans are right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it," that "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS."  He stated Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had taken "the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS."  Why was that news on Friday?

C.I.: Because Steve Miller is still the Acting Commissioner.  The scandal erupted last Friday with a 'confession' from the IRS' Lois Lerner and we now know that she could have given that confession in May of 2011 if not earlier.  But they weren't confessing because they knew.  They were confessing because the Inspector General was about to release a report.  That damning report helped the IRS scandal stay in the news all last week.  In an attempt to quell the controversy, Barack made the announcement you're talking about and people interpreted it as, "Miller's off the job."  Because that's what it sounds like.  If you demand a resignation and accept it, then that person is gone.  But on Friday, we found out otherwise.

Dona: Let me quote from the reporting you did in the snapshot on this, I'm going to grab one exchange.

US House Rep Tom Reed:  As you sit here today, you were not fired from your job.  And I can tell you, in my private experience, you would have been fired on the spot.  And all you were allowed to do is resign and retire?  And now you come here and try to say I did the honorable thing by falling on my sword' when nothing bad is going to happen to you.  You're going to get your full benefits.  You're going to get everything that's associated with your retirement as an IRS employee.

Steve Miller: [Laughing] Nohting bad is happening to me, Congressman?

US House Rep Tom Reed:  Financially.  You're allowed to retire.  That's the level of accountability in Washington, DC now. You're still acting [Commissioner].  You came here on the taxpayer dollar today. You're getting a paycheck for being here today.  Correct?  Correct?

Steve Miller:  [Pause]  Correct.

Dona (Con't): Okay, Ava, what else did we learn?

Ava: How about that he didn't take it seriously?  He was rude, he laughed, you name it.  He's walking with full benefits and pension.  He's still in the position, there's been no accountability at all.

Dona: Okay, as we wrap up on Miller, there were a few other things in that hearing which we learned.

Ava: Political groups were targeted, mainly conservatives.  Churches were targeted -- churches were even asked to provide what was said in prayers, if you can believe that.  We're supposed to have this strong wall between Church and State.  Volunteer organizations were targeted -- a volunteer organization, described as non-political and over 60 years old was among those targeted. Donor lists were asked for.  Not only were they asked for, the IRS then supplied them to the press which was a violation.

Dona: Alright.  C.I.'s pointing to Wally. We're all in DC, by the way, doing this roundtable, so we're all face to face for a change.  Wally?

Wally: Just to close out, Miller refused to acknowledge the severity of what took place.  As the Inspector General's report notes, this was targeting.  Miller refused to use that term, said he disagreed.  Minimized what took place over and over, insisted it wasn't criminal and claimed it was addressed.  What happened, how was it addressed?  One person got an oral warning and one person got reassigned.  And here's the kicker.  During the hearing, Miller declared that the person who got an oral warning might have been the wrong person.  That's how incompetent and lax his leadership is.

Dona: Alright, thank you, Wally.  Ruth, last week, we were discussing  the House Oversight Committee hearing on Benghazi.  C.I. reported on it in the  May 8th "Iraq snapshot," and the May 10th snapshotAva reported on it with the  "Crazies on the Committee (Ava)," Kat with "If today were a movie . . .,"  Wally with "Biggest Coward at today's Committee hearing" and Ruth with "An order to stand down."  Ava and C.I. called out McClatchy Newspapers' Jonathan S. Landy in "Media: The Destruction of McClatchy will be broadcast not printed (It all hits the fan)" and "Media: The destruction of McClatchy will be broadcast not printed (Iraq)" and you pointed out in our discussion, let me quote you: "I heard the NPR conversation or what ever you want to call it that Jonathan S. Landay participated in.  He was an uninformed idiot.  My only surprise was that Ava and C.I. did not pick him apart on how he lied about what the media was reporting in terms of the e-mails."  Ava explained that they didn't have time and also that they couldn't take his voice anymore.  A transcript was finally posted of the second hour of the program and I'm reading from it, this Landay, "There were no major new revelations at all. To sustain what we've been told is this cover up of malfeasants and mishandling of what went on. And a cover up that was intended to cover up the culpability of the president and his top people in the midst of the president's reelection campaign. Again, nothing really new came out of those hearings at all."  Yes, there were and we noted that last week.  We're short on time -- that's Jim calling to complain that we're not done -- my phone that's ringing.  Ruth, quickly, the problem with Landay?

Ruth: Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesperson, demanded -- as documented in the e-mails -- that the talking points be changed because she did not want the Congress and the American people knowing the failures of the State Department.  Mr. Landay sums that up briefly, "a senior official in the State Department, Victoria Nuland was definitely trying to protect her bosses, her superiors from Congressional criticism about inadequate security at the consulate."  He then goes on to blather at length about how "the most important point" is something else.  No.  A cover up is a cover up.  Ms. Nuland was part of a cover up and if Mr. Landay cannot grasp that, he is a pathetic reporter.  He minimized her actions, rushed over it briefly and then insisted everyone needed to focus instead on a non-existent demonstration which is a longer conversation, sorry.

Dona: Okay.  We've dealt now with Friday's hearing and picked up Benghazi from last week.  Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee.  C.I., Ava, Wally, Kat and Marcia were present at the hearing and reported on it in  "Iraq snapshot," "Eric Holder's childish tantrum," "Biggest embarrassment at House Judiciary hearing," "Competency tests for Congress? (Wally)," "Outstanding participant in the House Judiciary hearing?," and "The shameful Eric Holder."  Wally, this one's more complicated, I know. But can you please set us up?

Wally: Sure.  Monday, the IRS scandal intensified with new details.  In addition, the news surfaced that the Justice Department had secretly grabbed -- without negotiation or prior notice -- two months of phone records from the Associated Press.  The two scandals, along with the Benghazi scandal, were swirling in the press.  Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee where the Committee Chair is Bob Goodlatte and the Ranking Member is John Conyers.  Both gentlemen called out the seizure of the AP records.  Eric Holder was the only witness.

Dona: Thank you, Wally.  Marcia, it was your first time reporting on a Congressional hearing.  Your thoughts?

Marcia: As I noted in my report, people can check my archives, I was happy Holder became Attorney General.  And then I never gave it much thought.  He's someone I've either ignored or only written positively about.  So imagine my shock when he came in there insulting and rude.

Dona: C.I. noted that in Holder's response to the very first question, his first remark was to slam the Republicans.

Marcia: Exactly.  But I think she got at it better the next morning when she wrote the piece comparing it to when Haley on Modern Family had her little fit and acted like her getting arrested was no big deal and not her fault.  That's how Holder was acting and it was appalling.

Dona: Thank you.  Kat?

Kat:  Let me do the IRS.  First, I want to quickly note this exchange.

US House Rep David Scott: On the Internal Revenue situation, I think we can all agree that the published reports which suggest that IRS agents were denying people their proper consideration based on politics, that's the allegation.  I assume you haven't completed your investigation but I think there's bi-partisan agreement that you shouldn't be able to do that.  Now you've publicly said that you're having a criminal investigation.  There are obviously criminal laws against denial of Civil Rights under 1983.  There's also a specific IRS code that's says, "Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States who with the intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title files to perform any of the duties of his office or employment" -- and then goes on to show that's -- if you violate that -- that's a five year felony. Are there any gaps in the criminal code that would make it difficult for you to pursue criminal sanctions if you find that IRS agents were denying benefits under the Internal Revenue Code based on politics?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  That actually is a good question and I'm not sure what the answer is.  I think the provisions that you have noted are the ones that we are looking at.  There are Civil Rights provisions, IRS provisions,  potentially The Hatch Act.  And I think we're going to have to get into the investigation before I can answer that question more intelligently.  But to the extent that there are enforcement gaps that we find, we will let this Committee know and hopefully work with this Committee to make sure that what happened and was outrageous -- as I've said -- and if we have to bring criminal actions so that that kind of action that kind of activity doesn't happen again.

US House Rep David Scott:  I understand that certain individuals in the IRS have apologized.  Does an apology immunize you from criminal prosecution?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  Uh, no.

Kat (Con't):  Let me be among the voices noting that when Congress was raising questions about this last year, Holder should have started an investigation because what was being alleged was criminal.  He was completely irresponsible.  In his actions as well as before the Committee.

Dona: Alright.  Ava?

Ava: I'm dropping back.  To Friday's hearing.  Congress was asking questions about the IRS last year.  Steve Miller testified that when he appeared before them in July, for example, yes, he knew about the scandal and knew the IG was investigating it.  But he didn't tell them about it.  Why?  He insists he answered their questions.  No.  They were asking about targeting and he had information and refused to disclose it.  He lied.  And that the liar remains on the job is shocking.  Regarding Holder.  I think he lied too.  I think he knows a lot more than he said, my opinion.  Based on the fact that he claims he can't talk but then he does.  I'll toss to C.I., I know we're in a hurry.

C.I.: Okay. Disclosure, I know and like Eric Holder.  What Ava's talking about is that Holder rescused himself from the AP investigation.  The AP printed a story about terrorism.  Someone leaked details to the AP.  One potential suspect is Eric Holder.  For that reason, he recused himself from the investigation.  What Ava's talking about is that he will talk about -- on NPR for example, but in the hearing as well -- about the letter the AP was sent or some other detail and then he'll be asked a question about the letter or some detail and he'll immediately clam up and claim he can't speak, he recused himself and he's not following it.  You can't waiver on that.  You're either recused -- and completely out of it -- or you're not.

Dona: His biggest failure?

C.I.: At the hearing?  Being rude and defensive.  As AG?  Appointing someone to be over the AP scandal when, as he admitted in his testimony, he had no idea whether that person was also questioned about being a leak.

Dona: Okay, thank you so much.  We're running late but at least unlike USA Today -- see Cedric and Wally's "Psychics are running USA Today!" and "THIS JUST IN! USA TODAY EMPLOYS PSYCHICS!" -- we didn't 'report' on the hearings before they started.  This is  a rush transcript.  Our new e-mail address is

The Sad, Sad, Sad CJR

Monday, May 15th, news broke that the US Justice Department had seized hundreds of phone records of the Associated Press for the month of April and May 2012.  AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt issued a statement noting:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) presents itself as a watchdog and brags, "Columbia Journalism Review's mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under theauspices of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, CJR monitors and supports the press as it works across all platforms, and also tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business."  So you know it was all over the story of the government secretly seizing AP's records.


The news broke on Monday.  By the end of the day Tuesday, despite posting several times that day, CJR had still had not commented on it.

Following two days of heavy criticism,  late Wednesday, CJR finally 'weighed in' with a post by Susan McGregor which never expressed outrage or solidarity.  This sudden and new detachment has of course not been evident at CJR previously -- certainly not in the years of advocacy Trudy Lieberman's done on behalf of ObamaCare.

And that was all the watchdog wrote on the matter.

No doubt speaking for many, Tom T. left a comment Friday at McGregor's post stating, "It's amazing that in the face of an unprecedented broad federal subpoena for journalists' phone records, CJR has absolutely nothing to say except this weak sauce.  It's clear where its priorities lie."


From "2012: The Year of Avoidance:"

ambassador to swingtown

Brett McGurk (above in Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Ambassador to Swingtown") was nominated by Barack Obama to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.    In the June 5th snapshot, we became the first to write about the e-mails between McGurk and his current wife Gina Chon when the two were married to other people and he was in Baghdad working for the US government while she was in Baghdad as a reporter for the Wall St. Journal.  Betty summed up the issues involved:

She was supposed to be a reporter for the "Wall St. Journal." They sent her to Baghdad to cover the Iraq War. It was 2008 and she was married but she had to get off, she really had to get off. So she hooked up with U.S. official Brett McGurk and began f___ing. He was her source. 
 She let him read her reports and make changes before she submitted them. She managed to keep that a secret. Even after she got back to the U.S. Even after she divorced her husband and hooked up with McGurk who was no longer a government employee. 
 Last week, her nasty e-mails became public. 
 The paper learned what a liar she was. That is when her "half-truths and outright lies" were exposed. That's when the paper told her she could announce she was leaving or they'd fire her.

That's pretty damn clear cut.  You don't sleep with your source.  You don't sleep with a government official over issues you're supposedly writing about.  You don't share your copy with a government official before publication.  These aren't new 'rules,' these are the basic of journalism ethics.

Had Chon and McGurk been exposed in 2008, Chon would have been dragged through the mud because when Bush was in the White House, FAIR, Democracy Now!, CJR, The Nation and others loved to grandstand on ethics.  They have none themselves, of course, which is why they avoided calling Chon out once Brett became a Barack nominee.

CJR tried to ignore this story.  But they set themselves up so they had to weigh in:

A concerned CJR reader, Martha, commented that we were ignoring a more important racy email story. A Wall Street Journal reporter resigned on Tuesday after a flirty email exchanges with a US official --a source at the time, now her husband --were made available on the Internet. Sigh. 

Erika Fry's writing that, FYI.  And the "concerned CJR reader, Martha" is our own Martha who, among other things, covers books each year with Shirley -- see most recently "2012 in Books (Martha & Shirley)."  Sigh,  Fry, you got caught.

But look at how  Fry tries to reason her way out of it:

Gina Chon, the Journal reporter, made an obvious ethical lapse in 2008 when she entered into a relationship Brett McGurk, a US official in Iraq, the country she was covering and failed to disclose it. She made another, arguably bigger one when she showed him her stories before they were published.
It was dumb, dumb, dumb for Chon and especially McGurk (at .gov) to send so many emails with so many cringeworthy references to ‘blue balls’ from their work accounts—the equivalent of sending booty calls out on company letterhead.
But that was in 2008, and they’re married now. It’s really something that, because of McGurk’s pending ambassadorship, the inappropriate BlackBerry exchanges that got their courtship started back in 2008 are public and professionally catastrophic for Chon and McGurk today. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has said that Chon’s relationship did not affect her reporting. How much about this does the public really need to know?

Fry really is good at the smut beat, isn't she?  She'll insist Martha wrote about 'racy' e-mails.  No, Martha's comments were about journalistic standards.

That's a topic apparently beyond the smut brain of sex-crazed Erika Fry who ignores the ethics to play up the sex ("blue balls," "booty calls," etc.).

At the end, Erika Fry wants you to know it doesn't matter because they got married.

It matters to journalism.  Nobody was reading Gina Chon's 'reporting' because she was f**king Brett McGurk.  In fact, that wasn't disclosed  (not even to her editor) when she was in Iraq.  They were reading it because it was supposed to be reporting.

But it turns out that the reporter had an undisclosed affair with a government official.  Had the affair been known in 2008, Gina Chon would have been reassigned.

That is a clear conflict of interest.

It's also a topic beyond the grasp of Fry.

Fry's far from the only one who's disgraced CJR in recent times.

For example, read Rhonda Roland Shearer's exhaustive expose "CJR Reporter Lying, Exploiting a Source? What's happening at Columbia Journalism Review?" from last December.

All we could say was, "Wow."

They print a story with one falsehood after another, destroy a woman and refuse to run corrections even though other media covering it -- based on their dishonest reporter -- will run corrections.  Their reporter lied to other reporters -- lied on the record.  Yet Brent Cunningham isn't bothered by that or anything else.

Columbia Journalism Review isn't about journalism.

It's about whoring, it's about lying.  And, as Rhonda Roland Shearer makes clear, it's about hurting people.

Democracy Now: The Whore and Piss Report

Ten years ago, the biggest public complaint about Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! came from those who questioned the government's 9-11 narrative.  From Bluetoohers to so-called Truthers, it was remarked that at her public events (where she sells her copy and paste, clip-job 'books') that Goody would pretend to be fascinated (of course, she wanted people to buy her book) but would never allow the subject to be raised on the show except to ambush David Ray Griffin.

It wasn't smart business because 9-11 is a researchers movement.  And you never want to piss off anyone good at research -- they will find where the bodies are buried and they dubbed her the Left Gatekeeper.  "

So, before 2005, the first serious criticism of Amy Goodman's talk show came from the 9-11 researchers (such as this one). It broke the damn and the criticism began piling up.  Auga Bogado's "Hustling the Left," for example called out Goodman and other so-called lefties who were in bed with Larry Flynt and publishing in Hustler's -- Goody was also fawning over the pedophila-marketer on her show.  While Noam Chomsky has repeatedly spoken of the issue and drawn a firm line between the magazine and himself (such as in this video),  Amy Goodman's never apologized for her lengthy career as a 'columnist' for the magazine. Since then, it's just piled up.  In 2008, she was caught knowingly booking a political campaign worker but refused to note that the 'independent analyst' was connected to a campaign or even supporting any candidate in the Democratic Party primary.  That was the year she got in bed with A Problem From Hell Samantha Power and started pimping for Power to be Secretary of State in Feburary 2008 on WBAI while she was supposed to be bringing in pledge money.  She's been accused of using the execution of Troy Anthony Davis: "What you saw was spectacle.  Amy Goodman used his death like CNN used Desert Storm."

More recently, Gilad Atzmon has joined the growing chorus calling out her revisionary tactics when it comes to covering Israel and the occupied territories. She's also seen as a liar or a dupe with regards to Barack Obama.  The Rancid Honeytrap accused her of being in "outright compliance with tyranny."  Her refusal to book Cynthia McKinney as a guest to discuss Libya (the former member of Congress made a trip there right before the US military began bombing) and her desire to sell war on Libya earned her even more criticism: Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report), Finian Cunningham (Global Research), Scott Creighton (The Coto Report),

She's been called out for egging on war with Syria and in January of last year, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) called out the show for lying about the huge turnout for a Harlem protest, "But Democracy Now!, whose politics has undergone a palpable turn to the right during Obama's time in office, told its audience that only 100 people protested, when in reality, the MoveON section of the demonstration alone approached that number.  In this sense, Democracy Now! is worse than the police at reporting demonstrations it doesn't support."  She's become infamous for giving rape apologist Naomi Wolfe airtime and, more recently, Chris Hedges.  And she probably wishes that the biggest criticism of her today was where she gets her funding.

But as her credibility vanishes, several truisms emerge about Goody and her program.

1) Wars are what Republicans wage.

2) Minimizing rape is wrong . . . when Republicans do it.

3) Sexism bothers Goodman . . . if it comes from the right-wing.

4) Homophobia is wrong . . . except when expressed by Bernice King,  Evo Morales or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

5) Hate crimes happen only in the 'great unwashed areas' (every part of the United States south of Brooklyn) unless the hate crime is perpetrated by the NYPD.

That's what she offers on her one-sided program.

CBS News reports that last night, Harlem resident was murdered  by an armed assailant who verbally attacked the man (and the man's companion) for being gay.  CBS News notes the New York Post counts this as "at least the 22nd anti-gay attack in the city so far this year"  But you didn't hear about that or the other NYC hate crimes against gays this month -- which CBS details -- from Goodman.

Shame of the Week

Media Matters set itself up as the brave Jack stalking the Giant.  But that was just for a Republican Giant.  When a Democrat came into the White House, Media Matters' Jack no longer wanted to climb the beanstalk.

The tax-exempt arm of the Democratic Party reached a new low last week as it published "The DOJ's AP Investigation" Tuesday -- a set of talking points which sought to excuse the US Justice Department's unprecdented seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.

Jason Linkins (Huffington Post) reported on the outrageous actions by Media Matters and noted that Chair David Brock was insisting this was not Media Matters, it was "Message Matters" -- which is part of Media Matters -- as it states on the website.

It was a laughable distinction and one that even Brock ditched the next day, "We would not say it the way we said it by itself, if we had it to do over again.  People did not understand what we were trying to do and why we were trying to do it."

From the title character of Jack and the Beanstalk to the title character of Laura Nyro's "Flim Flam Man," what a shameful fall for Media Matters.

About that MSM Congressional hearing 'reporting' (Jim)

Dona's finishing up a roundtable with the gang about Congressional hearings they reported on last week.  As Ruth noted in "Ed O'Keefe makes a mistake, Steve Miller has not been fired," you really need to question some of the media's reporting on Congressional hearings.  But no one drove that home better last week than Cedric and Wally with their joint-post "Psychics are running USA Today!" and "THIS JUST IN! USA TODAY EMPLOYS PSYCHICS!" about USA Today reporting on what was taking place in a hearing that had not yet started.

Check it out, USA Today filed on the Friday, May 17ths hearing at 11:40 pm Thursday May 16th.

How does that happen?  Most 'reporting' on hearings are usually just reporters pulling from the written remarks the witnesses submit for the record and the written opening statements by the Chair and the Ranking Member.  When they are in attendance, most of the press leaves during the first round of questioning, usually after the Chair and Ranking Member ask their first questions.

In addition, to give some credit, C.I. and Ava often point out that they often attend hearings where the only press outlet present is the Associated Press.

Senator Murray on the need for the "Combating Military Sexual Assault (MISA)" bill

Senator Patty Murray

As we noted last week, Senator Patty Murray (above), the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, and Senator Kelly Ayotte are sponsoring a bill "Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act of 2013." Senator Murray's spoke on the Senate floor about the bill (you can stream that here).  As more people (all men so far) in charge of the military's assault and harassment prevention programs get arrested for violating them, Senators Murray and Ayotte's bill becomes all the more important.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office

Tuesday, May 14, 2013                                                                                      202-224-2834

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement in response to reports that a sexual assault prevention officer at Fort Hood has been charged with sexual misconduct:

"This is sickening. Twice now, in a matter of as many weeks, we've seen the very people charged with protecting victims of sexual assault being charged as perpetrators. It's an astonishing reminder that the Pentagon has both a major problem on its hands and a tremendous amount of work to do to assure victims - who already only report a small fraction of sexual assaults - that they are changing the culture around these heinous crimes. Secretary Hagel needs to act swiftly to reexamine sexual assault services across the Department to ensure that these disturbing betrayals of trust are ended. Its also time for Congress to move on legislation like the bipartisan bill that Senator Ayotte and I introduced last week that gives victims the protections they deserve to seek justice and that gives the Pentagon tools to deal with this growing crisis."


RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

Drone base picketed (Ellie Dorritie, WW)

Drone base picketed

By on May 19, 2013 » Add the first comment.

Niagara Falls, N.Y. — Activists rallied at the gate of Niagara Falls Air Base on Mothers’ Day, May 12, to oppose plans to operate Predator and Reaper drones from the base. About 50 people from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, including No Drones Niagara and the Western New York Peace Center, braved strong winds and snow to declare their resistance to the U.S. military policy that terrorizes, murders and maims civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Speakers included many who had recently been arrested in Syracuse at the Hancock Air Base Reaper drone facility. They also read Julia Ward Howe’s 1870 “Mothers’ Day Proclamation,” a passionate demand for disarmament and peace, and a very long list of the children killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan and Yemen.

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


 This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Iraq snapshot," "IRS: 'Not corrupt, just incompetent'," "Guacamole and the IRS (Ava)," "Big lie revealed at House Ways and Means hearing," "The other Steve Miller appears before Congress,"  "No accountability for the IRS scandal," "Iraq snapshot," "Eric Holder's childish tantrum," "Biggest embarrassment at House Judiciary hearing," "Competency tests for Congress? (Wally)," "Outstanding participant in the House Judiciary hearing?," and "The shameful Eric Holder" -- C.I.,  Ava, Wally. Marcia and Kat report on Congressional hearings.

"Erik Wemple is a stooge" -- Indeed.

"Did he read the job description?" and "THIS JUST IN! ERIC HOLDER'S IS CONFUSED!" -- Cedric and Wally have questions for Holder.

"scandal season finale,""thoughts on season 2's revenge,"  "Body of Proof," "Nikita season finale," "Arrow 'Sacrifice'," "revenge: trust pt.2," "Revolution," "revenge part 1.," "The Client List" and "Smash: Ellis' Revenge" -- Rebecca, Stan, Mike, Marcia, Ruth and Elaine cover TV.

"Chris Hedges Defends Rape," "Chris Hedges Defends Rape," "Chris Hedges Defends Rape," and "Chris Hedges Defends Rape" -- Ann, Betty, Dona, Elaine and Ruth do a group post.

"Barack is Nixon"  -- Trina explains.

"He's so genteel he's practically a Tory" -- Betty on a film 'critic.'

"Comments" -- Ann's been all over the net in the last week.

"Sexist pig David Cronin" -- Do people like David Cronin even think before they write?

"Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice" -- Stan goes to the movies.

"Full Frontal" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"CounterPunch's attacks on Angelina Jolie" -- Elaine calls out the attack on Jolie.

"Psychics are running USA Today!" and "THIS JUST IN! USA TODAY EMPLOYS PSYCHICS!" -- Cedric and Wally call out 'early' reporting.

"Old Crusty Lips sure loves to lie" -- Betty on Barack.

"So many scandals" -- Ann on the swirl.

"The IRS as an instrument of intimidation" -- Trina on bullying.

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