Sunday, December 27, 2015

Truest statement of the week

Boosters for the Obama administration claim that his Affordable Care Act is a legacy that qualifies Obama for permanent residence in the pantheon of progressive domestic policy presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Black Agenda Report takes the opposite position: that, in 2009, newly-elected President Obama set the cause of universal health care back many years with his surprise endorsement of a Republican health insurance plan, hatched in the bowels of the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s and championed by GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996 and Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney shortly thereafter. Obama’s bill was written by the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, and brutally imposed on the Left wing of the Democratic Party, whose members were threatened with loss of party campaign support if they resisted.
Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the last holdout for the so-called Public Option, a scaled down alternative to Obama’s corporate-based scheme that finally disappeared altogether – as did Rep. Kucinich’s seat in Congress, which was redistricted out from under him.

The White House justified its abandonment of Single Payer health care, claiming compromise was necessary in order to get Republican votes. But the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, and Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote.

-- Glen Ford, "Single Payer Health Care Still More Popular Than Obamacare" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

Truest statement of the week II

Truth is, the nonprofit model is anti-democratic, top-down and ideally suited to what Adolph Reed calls the broker type of leader, the unaccountable spokesperson purporting to be the mouthpiece of some united mass constituency with no real power over its alleged leader. Energetic and charismatic leaders of nonprofit organizations often sustain impressive mobilizations, at least over a short time, but they inevitably fall short on educating their members out of dependence on self-selected or funder-selected leaders (if they define members at all) and on expanding the base of their leadership. Nonprofit formations can make impressive use of Facebook and social media too, but these are mobilizing tools allowing you to communicate with other activists, those who already agree with you, not organizing tools one can use to identify potential leaders and win over audiences who don't already agree.
Dependence on the nonprofit model is all that Democratic party honchos desire from the left. They just need an election day mobilization. But if the vision of our movement extends to taking power, we have to train a broad base of people to wield power over their own organizations, and to contend for power over their lives, their economies, their communities with those who have that power now.

-- Bruce Dixon, "2016's New Years Revolution… Time To Lose Some Old Habits, Gain Some New Ones" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

A note to our readers

Hey --

A Sunday?

We're shocked too.

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

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

And what did we come up with?

Glen Ford gets another one.
As does Bruce Dixon.
Barack supports Turkey's 'right' to invade Iraq.
Ava and C.I. reflect on the state of broadcast TV and the general refusal of it to explore the issue of poverty.
Cynthia McKinney.  We don't support a military draft but we would support a draft Cynthia to run for president campaign.

Once upon a time, these type of rumors just swirled around Poppy Bush.
Amy Goodman sold her ass for a piece of gold and now represents the 1%.
No song better represented where the world stands today than The Ballet's "I Hate The War."
The loser for 2016.

What we listened to while writing.
IAVA press release. 
Senator Tammy Baldwin press release. 
David DeGraw repost.

UK Socialist Worker repost.

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


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

Editorial: The sell-out to Turkey

Erdogan says 's troops to remain in (AFP pic)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Embedded image permalink

In the fifty-first state of the United States -- Iraq, the war never ends.

And the Iraqi people never have a say in their own country.

Which is why despite protests by citizens and despite officials -- including Iraq's US-installed prime minister Haider al-Abadi -- insisting Turkish troops have to leave Iraq, the White House does and says nothing.

But when called on the hypocrisy, as they were December 10th, they go into full-bitch mode:

Gayane Chichakyan is the RT journalist who dared to ask a question.

It was a basic question and John Kirby turned into a full on bitch.

As shameful as he was, equally shameful was REUTERS whose 'reporter' rushed in to change the subject and rescue the State Dept.

Let's jump in to where Chickakryan attempts to get answers to her questions.

QUESTION: I have one more question on Turkey, please.

MR KIRBY: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Well, you were saying that it’s up to Turkey and Iraq to figure out the situation with the uninvited Turkish troops. But the U.S. does take upon itself to invite forces from other countries into Iraq and in Syria. Ash Carter was telling Congress yesterday that he personally reached out to 40 countries asking them to commit special ops for the fight and other support. The Iraqi parliament is concerned that their country is becoming this ground where different countries do what they want. The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee is calling for the review or cancelation of the U.S. security agreement with Iraq. What does the U.S. do to address their concerns?

MR KIRBY: Address whose concerns?

QUESTION: The Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee that is now calling to review or cancel the agreement with the U.S.

MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen those reports, ma’am. We continue to work with the Iraqi Government. The troops that Secretary Carter referred to, that decision was done in full coordination and cooperation with the Iraqi Government. If you’re trying to suggest that somehow U.S. military assistance against ISIL is untoward or being done without full coordination with the Iraq Government, it’s just a completely baseless charge. And I don’t think it’s worth having any more discussions about it.

QUESTION: But you’re saying – are you saying that you’re not aware of the Iraqi parliament’s – this Security and Defense Committee’s initiative that they want to --

MR KIRBY: I haven’t seen that, no. I haven’t seen that.

QUESTION: Okay. What – the situation where the U.S. invites forces --

MR KIRBY: I’m going to give you just one more, honestly, and then that’s it. Okay?


MR KIRBY: Go ahead.

QUESTION: The situation where the U.S. invites forces to Iraq and the U.S. is leading this coalition, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with the Turkish troops. Let – you have to figure it out between yourselves. Should it be of no concern to Iraq?

MR KIRBY: Should what be of no concern? I love these questions that are 10 minutes long then I’m supposed to get the grain of it out of there. Should what be of no concern?

QUESTION: The fact that when something – you have this cooperation, you have this agreement, but when something goes wrong, the U.S. says it’s none of our business, like with what’s happening with the Turkish troops.

MR KIRBY: Oh, come on. Again, another ridiculous question. When have we ever said it’s none of our business?

QUESTION: You are saying that about the Turkish troops.

MR KIRBY: What I’m – no. No, I’m not. I’m saying that – I’ll say it again, okay? We want this to be worked out bilaterally between Turkey and Iraq. And the way you’re trying to twist all of this around to make it look like we’re doing something nefarious or that we’re – we’ve got some sort of inappropriate relationships here, I mean, it’s just so silly. And I can’t believe --

QUESTION: Well, am I really twisting it? You – have you --

MR KIRBY: I can’t believe, honestly, that you aren’t embarrassed to ask these questions. You have to be looking at these questions and almost laughing to yourself, don’t you? I mean, they’re absolutely crazy.


MR KIRBY: So we are working very closely with the Abadi government, right. We are working inside a coalition of 65 nations – 65 nations that have signed up to go after ISIL in Iraq and in Syria – let me finish. You’ve had your moment. Sixty-five nations. And what we have said from the very beginning – I said it when I was at the Pentagon in uniform – is that we want any action against ISIL inside Iraq, specifically, to be done with full cooperation and coordination with the Iraqi Government and with their sovereign permission. That hasn’t changed one whit. Now there’s this dispute between Turkey and Iraq over the presence of a small number of troops, okay?

QUESTION: Should --

MR KIRBY: And we – I’ve said – I said it over the last several days and I’ll say it again: Nothing’s changed about our position about the sovereign nature of Iraq and the fact that troops operating against ISIL inside Iraq needs to be done with the Iraqi Government’s permission. And we’ve stated that publicly, we’ve stated that privately, to every member of the coalition. Nothing’s changed about that.


MR KIRBY: And we want Turkey and Iraq to work this out, and they are. You are trying to find a way to make this some big divisive issue, and even the Turks and the Iraqis know that it’s not and they’re working their way through it. So let’s let them work their way through it and let the rest of everybody keep focusing on ISIL, which is what we should do, and which, by the way, the Russians aren’t doing.

QUESTION: If I may – if I may – if I may --

QUESTION: Is it – I’m sorry, should I not – should I not ask --

QUESTION: If I may – if I may --

QUESTION: Should I not be asking what the U.S. assessment of Turkey’s actions is?

MR KIRBY: You – ma’am – I’m going take this one, Arshad, then I’m going to come to you. You can – you can --

QUESTION: Should I not be asking that question? Exactly which question should I be embarrassed about, sir?

MR KIRBY: You can ask me whatever you want. I’m just stunned that you’re not embarrassed by some of the questions you ask. And I notice that --

QUESTION: Exactly which question?

MR KIRBY: I notice that RT very rarely asks any tough questions of their own government. So you can ask whatever you want. That’s the beauty of this setting, right, here at the State Department. You can come in here and ask me whatever you want, and you can be as – just as challenging as you want to be and accusatory in your questions – some of those today, absolutely ridiculous. You can do that here in the United States, but I don’t see you --

QUESTION: Which question was ridiculous, sir?

MR KIRBY: I don’t see you asking those same questions of your own government about ISIL in Syria.

QUESTION: Which of my questions was ridiculous?

MR KIRBY: And I would love to see those questions get asked.


QUESTION: I’d like to switch to just saying one quick word about Barry Schweid.

All this time later, US President Barack Obama still can't support Iraq's legal right to evict foreign troops.

Thursday, a body weighed in with a ruling.  SPUTNIK reported, "Turkey must withdraw immediately all its troops from Iraq without any preconditions, a statement unanimously adopted by members of the Arab League said Thursday."  AFP noted:

The Turkish deployment "is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security," they said in an Arab League statement after meeting at the pan-Arab bloc's Cairo headquarters.
Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli read out the statement at a press conference, in which he added that the Turkish troops "increased tumult in the region."

And still silence from the White House and Barack.

Like the US Congress, the White House appears to be a servant to Turkey.  (Money buys a lot of service.)

Barack's servitude explains one of his broken promises.  Last April, Jake Tapper (CNN) reported:

This week is the 100th anniversary of what many historians acknowledge as the Armenian genocide -- the Turkish massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians
And it's also the seventh year in a row President Barack Obama has broken his promise to use the word "genocide" to describe the atrocity.
    It's a moral position taken by Pope Francis, actor George Clooney and even by the Kardashians.
    On the 2008 campaign trail, Obama promised to use the word "genocide" to describe the 1915 massacre by Turks of Armenians -- a pledge he made when seeking Armenian-American votes.
    Back then, he held up his willingness to call it a "genocide" as an example of why he was the kind of truth-telling candidate the nation needed.

    But now he's just one more US politician serving the needs of the Turkish government.

    And Iraq remains an occupied US colony and not an independent country.

    TV: 2015 Fakery and genuine

    Fakery and genuine moments, 2015 offered both.

    Too often it was fakery.

    This dualism was on display in the last few days just as it was throughout the year.


    NBC re-aired DOLLY PARTON'S COAT OF MANY COLORS on Christmas.  This after the original broadcast this month already set records, becoming the highest rated TV movie since 2012.  The story was already a winner, a basis for Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors" -- a classic since it first charted in 1970.

    And Parton produced the film with care and Ricky Schroder was a stand out as her father but if his strong performance got little water cooler traction, that's probably because the entire cast was a revelation including Jennifer Nettles as Dolly's mother.

    But what made the telefilm work so well was the script by Pamela K. Long which didn't try to pretty up moments, allowed  Alyvia Alyn Lind (playing the young Dolly) to express anger, resentment and more -- at her parents, at God, you name it.

    ('You haven't commented on Lind!' Our policy is not to comment positively or negatively on child actors.)

    In a condescending review at VARIETY, Brian Lowery offered his usual attack on women -- something VARIETY has long allowed him to do and one of the reasons that VARIETY is beaten these days in coverage and columns by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and DEADLINE.

    No, Dolly's film was not like a Hallmark movie.  It was messy and it was real.

    In its own way, it stands alongside Jane Fonda's THE DOLLMAKER and Ann-Margaret's WHO WILL LOVE MY CHILDREN? -- two other rare telefilms that acknowledged poverty in the United States.

    And just as the corporate press ignores Senator Bernie Sanders' comments on poverty and the working class -- except to insist with disdain that there's no money in the national budget to address American poverty -- uppity little assholes like Brian Lowery sneer at any fictional representation poverty manages to have on the small screen.

    Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and he appeared on NBC's MEET THE PRESS today and squared off against Hillary Clinton's devoted fan Andrea Mitchell.

    Think that's harsh?  Listening to her whine repeatedly to guests about Hillary and Hillary's chances was bad enough.  But why the need to show SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE clips . . . of Larry David sending up Bernie?

    There were none mocking Hillary.  This despite Kate McKinnon becoming a household name largely as a result of her SNL parody of Hillary.

    Worst of all?  'Journalist' Andrea commenting, "Which is Bernie Sanders and which is Larry David?  I can't get them straight."

    Saving Hillary meant also doing a segment on how Hillary was right and Donald Trump was wrong about Russia, Putin, a no-fly zone over Syria -- and having both guests be . . . former members of the Obama administration former members and forever lackeys.

    When Andrea did (briefly) remember she was supposed to be a journalist, she noted former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel telling FOREIGN POLICY this month that the White House tried to destroy him and that Barack destroyed his credibility in 2013 when he refused to stand up when Syria crossed the red-line that Barack had drawn.

    Did, Andrea asked, Barack destroy his credibility?

    Wendy Sherman (involved in that 2013 decision) refused to answer.  She talked, she yacked, she steered the conversation away from Hagel's observation.  She refused to answer.

    And 'journalist' Andrea let her get away with it.

    Worse was when Bernie appeared for a segment.

    Andrea puffed up her chest and used her self-important tone to hector him about how, since the Islamic State attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, his polling had fallen as evidenced by CNN, "While these [jobs, the economy, poverty] are really important issues, what recent polling shows is that Americans, since Paris, since San Bernardino, are more concerned about terrorism, the threat of terrorism, than they are about the economy."

    Bernie corrected her.

    That was the spin on the CNN poll, not the reality.  Bernie schooled her on the reality -- a double digit increase in support for him since the first debate according to the CNN poll:

    Senator Bernie Sanders:  While these are really important issues, what recent polling shows is that Americans, since Paris, since San Bernardino, are more concerned about terrorism, the threat of terrorism, than they are about the economy.

    Andrea just brushed it aside.

    Her whoring for Hillary is appalling.

    We say that because a friend who's covering Hillary's campaign continues to tell us everything she's seen about how Andrea hectors other women, tries to influence the coverage, makes gender appeals, etc. instead of merely covering the events.  Our friend jokes that if she write a book about the campaign, she'll zoom in on Andrea and call it BITCH ON THE BUS -- giving a send up to Timothy Crouse's 1973 campaign classic.

    (Regardless of what she might title it, we are urging her to write it.  This book could be as important to political reporting as Nora Ephron's essay "Miami" was.)

    Let's drop back to that 'foreign policy' segment.

    The laughable Wendy Sherman and Mike McFaul  were supposed to be discussing foreign policy -- the Islamic State specifically.  Wendy's a war hawk.  So is Mike

    Mike went on about how the US government was addressing the Islamic State, the thousands of bombs dropped -- on Iraq and Syria -- and the billions spent on these bombings.

    Then he invoked the White House buzzword "multi-pronged approach."

    He insisted that one was needed.

    And here he deserves a bit of credit.

    We've foolishly believed that this multi-pronged approach would include diplomacy.

    After all, in June, 2014, Barack declared publicly that only a political solution could end the crises in Iraq.

    And yet the administration has ignored the politics and diplomacy repeatedly.

    We're not the only ones who've been appalled by that.

    US House Rep Loretta Sanchez stressed DIME in a December 1st House Armed Services Committee hearing:

    US House Rep Loretta Sanchez:  You said that we are arming the Kurds.  The last time I spoke to [KRG President Mahmoud] Barzani, he suggested that they needed heavier duty weapons versus light arms.  And so my question -- my first question -- would be what are we arming them with?  I mean, is this really for the battlefield that they find?  Secondly,  I'd like you to address this whole issue with respect to the Iraqi army and the inability for us to get integrated -- or for Iraq's government to get it integrated.  I remember back in the -- under the Constitution and the whole issue of, for example, having a vote on the Kurd area being an independent entity, for example.  That was something that I continued to ask our military leaders at the time who were overseeing Iraq and the reality was they kept saying, 'That's the hardest part, that's the hardest part, we're going to get to it.'  And we never got to it before we were gone.  Now we see the fruits of that in that we are still not able to have a military that -- or police force -- that's very integrated.  So what do we do about that?   Uhm, so we've been taking back territory in Iraq and one of the issues that we had is it always takes additional -- I mean, we need to leave troops there or we need to leave somebody there in order to hold onto it. Otherwise, we end up losing that territory.  So what is our strategy to do that?  And the recruitment effort.  I would like -- and I'm sure that it would be not within the public realm, but I would love to get briefed on the cyber issues and how we're countering the recruitment with respect to ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call them. these days, from a global perspective.  But in particular are we doing anything that you can talk about in this setting with respect to the recruiting effort in the region itself?  And lastly, DIME -- Diplomacy, Intelligence, Military, Economic.  You know, it's not just military that we need here.  So, Secretary, if you could speak a little to what are some of the other efforts we're doing to counter-act what is really something we need to eliminate which is ISIS.  Thank you.

    Secretary Ash Carter: Uh-uh, Congresswoman Sanchez, I'll touch two of the points and ask-ask the Chairman especially with respect -- with-with respect to arming the Kurds -- if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman -- and-and-and generally the Iraqi security forces.  Uhm, you talk about DIME?  Absolutely, it is essential that we recognize even though we -- uhh-uhh, I believe this is absolutely true -- are the center of the campaign because there must be a military defeat of ISIL.

    Lip service from Ash Carter can mislead.

    Thankfully, Mike McFaul cleared it up today.

    Mike McFaul:  The solution is a multi-pronged long-term strategy, as Wendy just alluded to. And it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be a slogan. I do think the administration has undersold its policy, as the president hinted at a couple weeks ago. I just want to remind your viewers, when I hear candidates say, "The United States is doing nothing to fight ISIS," there have actually been 9,000 attacks against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. We've spent over $5 billion already in that theater alone.  But nobody believes that there's going to be a victory over ISIS through an air campaign. And that's why we need to have the multi-pronged strategy, including our Muslim allies.

    The multi-pronged strategy that's needed?

    "We need Muslim soldiers" on the ground.

    He insisted, "Because at the end of the day it's going to be Muslim soldiers in Iraq and in Syria that are going to ultimately defeat ISIS. It won't be the United States alone."

    Soldiers from other countries in the region.

    That's the 'multi-pronged' 'strategy.'

    This administration's drowning in a shallow, wading pool of non-ideas.

    But don't expect Andrea to ever point that out, not when she's busy electing Hillary.

    And then there's Bernie.

    And then there's that uncompromising, enterprising, anything but tranqulizing, Right on Bernie!!!!

    (Nod to Donny Hathaway's theme to MAUDE.)

    Yes, and then there's Bernie.

    Bernie wanted to talk poverty.

    With millionaire journalist Andrea Mitchell.

    With the millionaire journalist married to millionaire Alan Greenspan -- the former Chair of the Federal Reserve.

    If Bernie knew what he was doing, when Andrea tried to brush the subject off with her 'these are important subjects, but . . .,' he would have responded with, "No, these are important subjects to the millions of Americans who do not have your wealth, Andrea."

    He would have put her on the spot and she would have had to have acknowledged poverty or come off like the out of touch elite that she truly is.

    As she continued to harp on the Islamic State -- better she harp on that than the 'data breach' which, for the record, she also brought up (no one cares about that story) -- Bernie missed his golden opportunity.

    Where he succeeds is when he paints himself as the defender of the basic American.

    We don't think he's 'weak' on defense.

    But we do think he argues it poorly.

    He's calling for, among other things, Saudis to step up in the fight against the Islamic State.

    Andrea's only question there was what made him think he could make that happen?

    He really should have responded, "If I didn't think I could do it, I wouldn't be running."

    Instead, he let her set the terms of the debate.

    He answer included, "We have to destroy ISIS. But I will not stop fighting for working families and the middle class, will not stop taking on a billionaire class whose greed, in many ways, is destroying our economy. "

    That's an answer.

    A weak one.

    The really strong answer is: Billions have been poured into Iraq -- billions of US tax dollars -- and billions continue to be poured into Iraq.

    There will be no economic progress domestically until the United States stop spending billions overseas on war.

    That's a message US voters could relate to -- as they watch their bridges crumble, as they see the 'universal' healthcare become a universal nightmare (good plans trashed, bad plans offered on the public exchange, fines rising), as they watch the bulk of their tax dollars continue to fund war, war and more war.

    Bernie fumbled in other ways -- his comment about Jane Sanders and his response to Donald Trump were both poorly worded -- we understood what he meant but he made his points poorly.

    And we could focus on that or on the hideous teeth of Andrea's other guest Debbie Wasserman Schultz's hideous teeth -- doesn't Congress have a dental plan?

    But if we did that, we wouldn't be MEET THE PRESS, we'd be THIS WEEK.

    As bad as MEET THE PRESS was today, Andrea can take comfort in the fact that it wasn't ABC's THIS WEEK where Jonathan Karl handled hosting duties.

    He apparently did his entire prep while standing at the urinal before the show.

    That would certainly explain why viewers felt pissed on.

    Karl presided over the "powerhouse roundtable" -- a rather weak assembly of a neocon, a corporatist rightest, a corporatist leftist and a corporate journalist.

    This dweeb trust was used to comment on events of the week?

    No, of course not.

    They were too busy offering their predictions of who would win Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

    Then they were galloping off to November 2016's general election.

    This served no one.

    This was utter crap.

    A complete waste of time.

    Andrea didn't go deep into any issue but she did cover issues.

    ABC was more concerned with broadcasting political coverage via The Psychic Network.

    More and more, the fakery wins out on network television.  That's the real lesson of 2016.  The subtext, of course, is that when reality does make a rare appearance -- Dolly's telefilm or Bernie talking about poverty -- it's a revelation which speaks to many.

    Candidate 2016 desperately needs


    Unlike Jill Stein, Cynthia McKinney spoke out against the war on Libya.

    And did so in real time.

    Unlike Jill Stein, Cynthia McKinney regularly calls out war and empire.

    Unlike Jill Stein, Cynthia McKinney is willing to pay a price for truth telling.

    The Democratic Party twice conspired to redistrict her out of Congress.

    The 2008 Green Party presidential nominee ran a campaign on issues.

    Unlike 2012's candidate -- Jill Stein -- who made a fool of herself and rushed to defend Barack Obama from Mitt Romney's attacks.

    White privilege seems to why Jill Stein believes she has the party's nomination sewn up.

    But the candidate 2016 desperately needs?

    Cynthia McKinney.

    Tweet everyone's talking about

  • Bill Clinton and the pedophile: the scandal that could destroy Hillary’s presidential ambitions

  • 2015 Media Whore of the Year

    As we noted in 2013, Amy Goodman once only had to worry about criticism from The 9/11 Truth Movement.

    And while they did pioneering work, many other voices have joined the chorus.

    Her use of CIA contract labor Juan Cole as a respected guest, her promotion of the war on Libya, her one-sided 'reporting' on Syria (pro-war propaganda) and her never ending slavish devotion to corporatist Barack Obama go a long, long way towards explaining how the one-time Queen of 'Independent' Media has become the Whore of Babel and Gas Baggery.

    As she continues to fleece the Pacifica Radio Foundation out of millions, this 1% is seen as a whore no different than your basic corporate media whore -- and that's because there is no difference.

    With a Democrat in the White House, Amy Goodman's entire purpose became serving the government.

    Michael Ratner was a close runner-up for the title.

    But the leader of the Center for Constitutional Rights momentarily breaks his senility on LAW AND DISORDER RADIO to (briefly) rail against Barack Obama for The Drone War, the war on whistle-blowers and assorted other crimes.

    He quickly forgets these problems and rushes back to cheer Barack on, but those moments of rational and ethical thought are far more than anything Goody Whore ever offers.

    The year wound down with her hypocritically whining that the corporate media was unfair and favoring Hillary Clinton with coverage while ignoring Bernie Sanders -- an argument that might have carried some weight were it not for her ignoring Martin O'Malley to devote one segment after another to Bernie Sanders.

    Fan clubbing, it's all the Goody Whore can offer these days.

    2015's Song of the Year

    Though it came out in July of 2006, The Ballet's "I Hate The War" stands as the song of 2015.

    Nine years after the song was released -- and with the never-ending Iraq War still going -- verses like the following ring especially true:

    What I'm trying to say is
    It's time 
    To get in the way
    It's crazy 
    That this thing is still going on
    I can't believe
    This thing's still going on 
    And it goes
    Na na na na na na 
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na 
    I hate the war
    Na na na na na na
    I hate the war

    -- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

    From the TESR Test Kitchen

    Last August, we covered Lays Potato Chips' attempts to come up with new flavors.

    Well they've found another 'winner.'

    Southern Biscuits and Gravy flavored Lays.


    This idea came via Hailey Green.

    We're not saying Hailey shouldn't have had the idea.

    We are saying that Lays shouldn't have pursued it.

    One bite of the chips and you'll see why.

    It's not really a taste that calls to mind biscuits and gravy.

    All the 'flavor' really does is make the chips seem less crips.

    All in all, it's been a very poor year for Lays.

    In fact, they're our pick for loser product of 2015.

    This edition's playlist


    1) Carly Simon's SONGS FROM THE TREES.

    2) Janet Jackson's UNBREAKABLE.



    5) Tracy Chapman's GREATEST HITS.


    7) Fleetwood Mac's TUSK. 

    8) The Doors' MORRISON HOTEL.

    9)  The Doors' LA WOMAN.

    10)  Aretha Franklin's SPARKLE.

    Veteran suicide and 9/11 first responders legislation book-end year of action for IAVA

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued the following:

    Veteran suicide and 9/11 first responders legislation book-end year of action for IAVA

    Gretchen Andersen
    Press Secretary
    Tel: 212-982-9699

    NEW YORK (December 30, 2015) — As 2015 comes to a close, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, celebrates a year of historic victories and impact at the local and national level. In 2015, IAVA’s signature Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) surpassed 5,800 veterans and families served since the one-on-one support program was established in 2012. IAVA also continued to be the leading policy advocate for veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, passing the federal Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act and local legislation creating a permanent Department of Veteran Services in New York City, and concluding with the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

    “This year has been a landmark year filled with tremendous successes on many of the most difficult issues facing veterans today. From veteran suicide and mental health to women veterans and VA reform, IAVA did not flinch when tackling the hardest issues,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. “We may not be the largest organization in terms of revenue, but what we are is the most determined, focused and skilled organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families. The result of our efforts was real action and tangible change in moving the needle on these pressing concerns and, along the way, highlighting the strength and potential of America’s new greatest generation.”

    Major victories for IAVA in 2015 include:
    • A year long campaign to make veteran suicide and mental health care top priorities for Congress, the president and America, culminating in a White House bill signing of the Clay Hunt SAV Act in February. The act, named for Marine veteran Clay Hunt who died by suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28, aims to reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care.
    • Unveiling the The Wait We Carry 2.0 website in March at TED2015. This data visualization tool captures the experiences of veterans using VA health care and those who have submitted disability claims for combat-related injuries.
    • In the fall, IAVA joined College Factual to re-launch the website, an innovative, free online calculation tool designed to help veterans determine their best, most affordable education options. To date, more than one million veterans have utilized IAVA’s GI Bill calculator to make informed decisions about their education goals.
    • IAVA’s 2015 Policy Agenda was delivered to members of Congress and the president in October, providing an 11-point comprehensive blueprint for how all branches of government, the private sector, nonprofits and communities can support veterans. As the 2016 presidential race got underway, IAVA used the agenda to push all candidates to provide concrete plans for supporting veterans and their families.
    • During Veterans Week, post-9/11 veterans, families and supporters of IAVA participated in a record 145 “VetTogethers” across the nation. In New York City, more than 800 IAVA members marched in the New York City Veterans Day parade. IAVA’s Ninth Annual Heroes Gala capped of a historic Veterans Week with special guest Stephen Colbert and host Willie Geist.
    • For nearly two years New York City-area IAVA members and peer organizations battled with Mayor de Blasio to take action to support the city’s 230,000 veterans and their families. On December 10, IAVA celebrated the long-sought victory to establish a city Department of Veteran Services in New York City.
    • Finally, on December 18, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act permanently extended the World Trade Center Health Program and re-authorized the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in the final act of Congress for the year. The reauthorization of the act will impact many veterans who were called to serve in the aftermath of 9/11 and later went to war in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The legislation was pushed through in part thanks to the more than 4,100 letters sent to Congress by IAVA members and supporters.

    Throughout the year, IAVA also:

    • Hosted more than 660 “VetTogethers” across the country, reaching over 7,000 veterans and their families. 
    • The #GoSilent campaign allowed for a shared, nationwide experience on Memorial Day. An unprecedented 9,182 individuals pledged to simultaneously participate in a one minute of silence across the nation. The campaign went viral, and mirrored the growth of IAVA’s social media presence. During the year, Facebook “likes” increased by 23,314, Twitter by 7,042 new followers and Instagram gained 4,592 new followers.
    • In December, IAVA received a Force for Change grant from, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce. These funds will be used to help build a 21st century virtual veterans hall supported through the expansion of IAVA’s innovative “myIAVA” platform.
    • IAVA was the only veteran service organization to be selected as a My LA2050 Grants Challenge recipient. These funds will provide at least 180 of LA’s 320,000 veterans and their families with support as they transition to civilian life through referrals to critical resources and support systems.
    • IAVA welcomed 16 dynamic individuals to the Board of Directors: Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales at Discovery Communications; Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS); Adam Clampitt, President, The District Communications Group; Steve Costalas, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Vencore, Inc.; Eli Elefant, CEO, PBC USA Investments; Scott Feldmayer, partner at Barbaricum; Kenneth Fisher, senior partner of Fisher Brothers; Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, former U.S. Representative; Norman Lear, producer, writer, activist and philanthropist; Ryan Manion Borek, President of the Travis Manion Foundation; Jeff Marshall, director of west coast community operations at Uber; Jose Rene “J.R.” Martinez, author, actor and veteran; Bruce E. Mosler, Chairman of Global Brokerage of Cushman & Wakefield Inc.; General (Ret) David H. Petraeus, Member, Chairman, KKR Global Institute; Wayne Smith, veterans advocate; and Dan Streetman, Sr. Vice President, Strategic Sales & Operations at BMC Software.

    In the year ahead, IAVA will continue to fight for veterans through targeted action. In January, IAVA will turn to members of Congress to take bipartisan action to support the 280,000 women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan by removing barriers to care and benefits at the VA and reforming the culture of the military to accept women fully in their ranks.

    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.

    Bipartisan Omnibus Big Win for Wisconsin Veterans

    Tammy Baldwin

    Senator Tammy Baldwin (above) is a US Senator from Wisconsin.  Her office issued the following last week:

    For Immediate Release
    Tuesday, December 22, 2015
       (202) 224 – 6225

    Bipartisan Omnibus Big Win for Wisconsin Veterans
    As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Baldwin secured several bipartisan provisions for Wisconsin veterans and their families
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement after President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, which included several provisions Senator Baldwin championed on behalf of Wisconsin veterans and their families:
    “I was proud to usher in this legislation which rolls back devastating budget cuts to veterans and includes many reforms that I have fought for and support. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I fought to include provisions in this legislation that would improve transparency of VA Office of Inspector General reports, strengthen protections for whistleblowers, and provide stronger oversight of the VA’s prescribing practices. These are significant reforms that take a serious step in the right direction to ensure we address underlying challenges at the VA.”
    Earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed an updated version of Senator Baldwin’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, a bill aimed at providing safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said Senator Baldwin’s bill would be viewed as one of the “great accomplishments” of the committee.
    As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin championed the following provisions in the new law:
    Opioid Drug Abuse Prevention Funding
    Senator Baldwin is a strong supporter of increased funding for opioid and prescription drug abuse prevention, treatment and research programs. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin led a call to strengthen federal investments to combat the growing prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic in America, including support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Prevention for States program. As a result of Senator Baldwin’s advocacy, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 includes robust funding for opioid abuse prevention efforts at the CDC and the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including $70 million for CDC’s prescription drug abuse overdose prevention and monitoring activities. This investment allows CDC to strengthen and expand its prevention program to all 50 states and to continue to develop safe opioid prescribing guidelines.
    VA Inspector General Transparency Improvements
    Senator Baldwin, along with Appropriations Subcommittee on MilCon/VA Chairman Mark Kirk (R-IL), authored a provision regarding increasing transparency at the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG).  Based on an amendment Senator Baldwin included in S.579, the Inspector General Empowerment Act, the joint Baldwin-Kirk amendment would amend current law to ensure that when the VA OIG completes a report, it is promptly shared with the VA Secretary, Congress, and the public. This bill language would help address failures of transparency and agency oversight by requiring recommendations made by the VA OIG during investigations, audits or other reports to be sent directly to the VA Secretary. In addition, these recommendations would be available to the public and submitted directly to relevant Congressional oversight committees. Lastly, if the Inspector General initiated an investigation based on information provided by an individual, the recommendations would also be shared with that individual.
    Drug Diversion at Veterans Health Administration Facilities
    As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin successfully worked to include language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 that urges the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to maintain open communication with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and treat investigations of drug diversion in VHA facilities as a priority. DEA shall report to the Committee within 90 days after the enactment of this act on its drug diversion investigations involving VHA facilities and to report on the status of investigations on a quarterly basis thereafter.
    The initial report shall include: the number of ongoing DEA drug diversion investigations into VHA facilities, the number of DEA drug diversion investigations into VHA facilities concluded in the prior year, an analysis of trends in DEA and VHA drug diversion investigations over the past 10 years, the number of investigations that resulted in indictments, a review of factors that may be leading to drug diversion including VHA prescription drug prescribing practices, and recommendations or best practices to prevent drug diversion from VHA facilities.
    Whistleblower Enhancement for VA Medical Professionals
    Closes an existing legal loophole that harms VA medical professionals who have experienced whistleblower retaliation in the form of a negative personnel evaluation. Currently, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) cannot investigate these types of retaliation because VA medical professional personnel evaluations are governed by Title 38; while OSC’s relevant investigatory power is limited to personnel evaluations governed by Title 5. Senator Baldwin’s provision would address this inconsistency in the law by including personnel reviews governed by Title 38 within the scope of potential retaliatory personnel actions that OSC can investigate.
    Update of Joint VA and DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines
    To help address the prescription drug abuse and overdose epidemic, Senator Baldwin included a provision requiring the VA, working with DoD, to update the joint VA-DoD Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) for the Management of Opioid Therapy (OT) for Chronic Pain, which has not been updated since 2010. In addition, to ensure prescribers have the most up-to-date science, VA will be required to adopt the safe opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic, non-cancer pain in outpatient settings currently being developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    Expanded Access to Opioid Receptor Antagonists
    Opioid receptor antagonists, such as naloxone, are drugs that reverse the effects of opioids, including respiratory depression, and, in certain cases, can prevent death. Indeed, the VA’s year-old Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) program, which dispenses take-home naloxone kit prescriptions to at-risk veterans, has been credited with saving 33 lives by reversing opioid overdoses. Senator Baldwin included a provision to expand this program, ensuring every VA medical facility is equipped with opioid receptor antagonists, as well as to improve provider and pharmacist education on overdose prevention strategies.
    Joint Executive Council Working Group on Opioids and Pain Management
    Senator Baldwin authored a provision to create a new joint VA-DoD working group to focus on patient pain management and opioid therapy.  This working group would be established within the DoD-VA Joint Executive Council—an existing forum for senior leadership at both Departments to develop policies and programs to address overlapping priorities—and would cover, at minimum, opioid prescribing practices, acute and chronic pain management, complementary and integrated health, and the concurrent use of opioids and prescription drugs for mental health issues, including benzodiazepines. The working group would help combat the VA’s continued overreliance on opioids for pain management; limit instances of VA providers prescribing opioids for mental health treatment, which is non-compliant with joint VA-DoD Clinical Practice Guidelines; and improve patient care during the DoD-VA transition.
    Enhancing VHA Opioid Safety Efforts
    VA has had some success improving the safe use of opioids to treat pain, including through the Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) and the use of the Opioid Therapy Risk Report tool.  However, capability gaps exist in these initiatives, and more needs to be done. To help reduce rates of opioid addiction and fatal overdose, it is critical that real-time data is available at the individual prescriber and pharmacist level as well as the pharmacy management level to prevent inappropriate prescribing before it occurs.
    Senator Baldwin included a provision that directs the VA to develop and deploy mechanisms for including real-time patient information on existing opioid prescriptions within VHA as well as patient controlled substances prescription information in the state prescription drug monitoring programs.  The mechanisms must also alert a provider or pharmacist in real-time that an opioid or benzodiazepine prescription would be inappropriate and protect against “double-prescribing” when an in-patient continues to receive take-home opioid prescriptions despite being treated with opioids at a VA facility.  The provision further directs VA to submit information on controlled substances prescriptions to state prescription drug monitoring programs.
    GAO Audit of VA Opioid Therapy
    According to the CDC, in 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, which is enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. This drastic increase has also been seen in local VA facilities, including the Tomah VAMC in Wisconsin. To strengthen oversight of VA opioid prescribing practices, Senator Baldwin included a provision directing the Government Accountability Office, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to report to Congress on the effectiveness of the VA Opioid Safety Initiative and overall opioid prescribing practices throughout the VA system. This report shall include recommendations on improvements to the Opioid Safety Initiative, deaths involving veterans prescribed opioids, overall opioid  prescription rates and indications at all VA facilities, including facilities and prescribers that are among the top ten percent in the nation regarding the percent of their patient population receiving opioids and the average dose per patient. In addition, the report shall note the use of benzodiazepines and opioid concomitantly and their prescription rates and indications along with facilities and prescribers that are among the top ten percent in the nation regarding the percent of their patient population receiving opioids and the average dose per patient.
    VISN Pain Management Boards and Complementary and Integrative Health
    To further help reduce the inappropriate use of opioids and improve treatment for chronic pain such as through the use of complementary and integrative health, Senator Baldwin included a provision that encourages the VA to establish a pain management board within each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) comprised of health care professionals and—to give veterans a greater role in their care—veteran patients and/or family members of a veteran patient. The pain management boards would serve as a resource for the region’s facilities, patients, and family members; provide best practices recommendations for pain management to the VA facilities within its region, including patient, family member and medical perspectives; provide an annual report to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about pain management practices within its region, which would then be sent to Congress.
    GAO Report High Risk List
    In 2015 GAO placed VHA on its annual High Risk List, identifying VHA programs as high-risk due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. Accordingly, Senator Baldwin included language to require the VA Secretary to issue to Congress quarterly progress reports on Department action to address GAO findings and recommendations.
    Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH)
    The bill includes a provision authored by Senator Baldwin requiring the AFRH to report on actions taken to implement recommendations made by the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) in a July 2014 report. 
    View an online version of this release here.


    Republicans and Democrats, Debate This! How To Stop Terrorism and Improve Economy (David DeGraw)

    David DeGraw questions the drum beat:

    Are you ready for Clinton Vs. Trump?

    Hey, Republicans and Democrats, Debate This! Here’s How We Can Stop Terrorism and Improve The Economy

    Here we are… racking up debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck in propaganda-induced panic and fear, while political candidates like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are serving up our future to the war profiteers. +Read More

    Let me know your thoughts,

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