Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dracula, second season or not?

So can NBC figure out what the hell they're doing with Dracula?

It got better ratings in the same timeslot than that awful Hanibal and Hanibal's being renewed.

I know In These Times kids themselves that the snuff s**t that is Hannibal is worth airing.

It's not.

It hurts as a society.

I'm not screaming for censorship but after two low rated seasons, that should have been it.

There is no fantasy of a vampire here.

There is only giggling and cheering for a serial killer.

It is a sick f**k show for sick f**ks.

I love Dracula and I can't believe it looks like NBC is going to kill it off.

I write about Elementary now and it's fine, it's going to be back.

The Tomorrow People?

No.  The CW took the axe to it this week.

But plans to bring back The 100.

On the plus side, they also made the decision to bring back Beauty & The Beast.

I didn't write about them but I also watched Believe and Crisis.  NBC took the axe to them.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, May 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri tries to storm Falluja and fails, a US general is supposed to visit Iraq next week to talk about US forces and weapons, there's a call for the Iraqi elections to be declared fraudulent, and much more.

December 2011 saw the drawdown in Iraq.  The Pentagon used the term and only that term.  The media ran with "withdrawal."  All US troops never left.  Some were transitioned to Kuwait -- where thousands remain.  Some stayed in the country.  Ted Koppell was reporting on this -- for NBC News and NPR -- in December 2011 but it was apparently too much for most to handle.

While thousands remained inside Iraq -- those who would be 'trainers' on weapons purchases, CIA, FBI, Special-Ops, etc -- there's been movement on bringing more in -- in fact more have come but that's been too much for a whorish 'progressive' community to handle, cope with or even recognize.

Let's drop back to yesterday's snapshot for the following:

Gordon Lubold has long covered the Iraq War -- including for the Christian Science Monitor.  He has a post with disturbing news at Foreign Policy -- on the discussions of sending (more) US troops into Iraq:

But the nature of the fight the Maliki government confronts in western Iraq is such that officials say Baghdad is looking not only for better reconnaissance and surveillance capability, but also for more robust, lethal platforms. Iraq has been unwilling to accept American military personnel in the country in any operational form, but the willingness to revisit that policy appears now to be shifting. A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy declined to comment on the issue of allowing American military personnel into the country to conduct drone operations, but acknowledged that the U.S. and Iraq share a "common enemy" in al Qaeda.
"Iraq's view is that all available tools must be utilized to defeat this threat, and we welcome America's help in enhancing the capabilities we are able to bring to bear," the spokesman said.  

You need to put that with other news because Lubold isn't smart enough to.  There's the fact that all US troops never left Iraq.  There's the fact that Barack sent a brigade of Special-Ops in during the fall of 2012. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "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 General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."  And let's include the news from the April 25th snapshot:

Mark Hosenball, Warren Strobel, Phil Stewart, Ned Parker, Jason Szep and Ross Colvin (Reuters) report, "The United States is quietly expanding the number of intelligence officers in Iraq and holding urgent meetings in Washington and Baghdad to find ways to counter growing violence by Islamic militants, U.S. government sources said."  It was 1961 when US President John F. Kennedy sent 1364 "advisors" into Vietnam.  The next year, the number was just short of 10,000.  In 1963, the number hit 15,500.  You remember how this ends, right?

If we're all up to speed, at today's State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki, the issue of Iraq came up.

QUESTION: Talking about the drones, Foreign Policy has reported today that Iraqi Government is actively seeking armed drones from the U.S. to combat al-Qaida in Anbar, and it would welcome American military drone operators back in the country to target those militants. Are you in discussions with the Iraqi about having American troops going back to Iraq with the drones?

MS. PSAKI: We are – we have seen, of course, this report. It does not reflect discussions we are having with the Government of Iraq. We are not in discussion with the Iraqi Government about the use of armed, unmanned aerial systems, nor are we considering such options. So it sounds like they need some better sources on that one.

QUESTION: Are you ready to discuss this option in case the Government of Iraq asked for?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not in discussion with it, so I’m not going to – about it, and I’m not going to predict or answer a hypothetical.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. discussing the return of any troops to Iraq to help with its ongoing security challenges?

MS. PSAKI: You’re familiar with the steps we’ve taken. That’s what we’re continuing to implement. As you know, we remain deeply concerned about the increased levels of violence in Iraq and the situation in Anbar. Our assistance has not been limited to the security sphere; we’ve worked on a consistent basis to develop a holistic approach and – with a focus on recruiting local tribal fighters, insuring resources are reaching areas that need them.
We also acknowledge that Iraq will not succeed unless its security forces are well supplied, trained, and equipped. And as you know in here, because we’ve talked about it a bit, we’ve also provided additional assistance, including the delivery of 300 Hellfire missiles, thousands of rounds of tank ammunition, helicopter-fired rockets, machine guns, grenades, flares, sniper rifles, M-16s and M-4 rifles. We also delivered additional Bell IA-407 helicopters late last year, and 10 ScanEagle surveillance platforms. So obviously, our assistance is expansive. I don’t have anything else to predict for you about the future, but that’s not something we’re considering, no.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. expedited the delivery of F-16 to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: We have talked about that a little bit in here in the past. I don’t think I have any additional specific update for you today.

Who's doing this talking?  One person is said to be gearing up for talks.  Dar Addustour reports that US Gen Lloyd Austin is expected to visit Iraq next week and meet with Nouri to discuss weapons and US forces.

The article also notes Stuart Jones.  The White House has yet to announce US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft is going to become the new Ambassador to Egypt.  That has been reported and Laura Rozen was the first on it (weeks ago) and it's pretty much a given.  Stuart Jones is who Barack would like to replace Beecroft with.

Some in the Iraqi press are confused on this and I don't mean that as a slam.  There are many process issues I get wrong on Iraq and people kindly call and e-mail to let me know that.  US President Barack Obama may name Stuart Jones as the nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq.  That doesn't mean Jones becomes it.  Just as Nouri can only nominate people to serve in his Cabinet and requires Parliament to actually make someone a Cabinet Minister, Barack requires the US Senate's support.  They did not give it -- and would not -- to Brett McGurk which is why Barack had to find a different nominee (Beecroft).  All Iraq News offers a bio of Stuart Jones here.

Kitabat reports the proposed nomination comes a dangerous time for Iraq, when people speak of civil war as a real possibility in Iraq's near future and reminds that in their last meeting (November 1, 2013), Barack told Nouri al-Maliki that Iraq needed the participation of all the blocs in the decision-making process and that the attempts to marginalize the Sunnis and the Kurds needed to cease.

Wednesday, April 30th, Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections. "For the first time, the Iraqis utilized an electronic voting system," Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily in a NCUSAR podcast.

He also bragged, "There was not a single security incident in Baghdad."  Why would there be?  Not only were the usual checkpoints maintained, additionals ones were added in Baghdad.  Traffic was banned.  Stores were forced to close.  Baghdad was a ghost town.

That there were no security incidents there?

Why are you bragging?

And why are you boasting of Baghdad?

Baghdad isn't Iraq.  It's just where the failed leaders hide out.

Across Iraq on election day?  Let's go Iraq Body Count:

Wednesday 30 April: 22 killed

Khanaqin: 3 killed by suicide bomber at polling station.
Baiji: 5 by suicide bombers.
Dibis: 4 by IEDs.
Falluja: 2 by shelling.
Muqdadiya: 3 by IED.
Udheim: 2 by IED.
Ramadi: 3 by mortars. 

Is Lukman the Ambassador of Baghdad or is he supposed to represent the country of Iraq?

If it's Iraq, he damn well should have -- but didn't -- note what happened throughout the country.

But, hey, he's a puppet from thug Nouri's party so it's not like we can expect anything but propaganda from him.

Ahead of the elections, Ayad Allawi Tweeted the following:

It's 10 days since the elections and people continue to wait for the results.  The Financial Times of London's correspondent Borzou Daragahi Tweeted the following this week:

election commission says 20% of ballots counted so far; at this rate, two weeks before fully counted 

Supposedly, the Independent High Electoral Commission will announce results May 25th (though they've noted the vast amount of complaints regarding irregularities and alleged violations could push the announcement back).  We're not interested in covering leaks or alleged leaks on vote totals.  The leaks of 2010?  They were false.  There's no reason to believe that the leaks four years later aren't false as well.

For those who just can't seem to let these illusions go, we'll note Ned Parker's Tweet from earlier this week (Ned Parker is now with Reuters):

  • False is also supposed to be rumors that Nouri al-Maliki has made a secret visit to Tehran to plead with Iranian officials for them to back him for a third term as Iraq's prime minister.  Trend News Agency quotes Iran's Deputy Foriegn Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stating, "Mr. Maliki . . . is the highest-ranking official in Iraq.  His visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran have always been official and public.  No confidential visit has been made to Tehran by Mr. Maliki and any [future] visit will take place within official and legal framework."

    Kitabat reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met with US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft today in Baghdad and complained about what is being seen as fraudlent ballot boxes.  The two are said to have discussed the large number of reported violations and that some voting centers did not open their doors.  (On the latter, there have been reports that voting centers in Sunni majority districts turned away all voters for over half the day -- often with the orders coming from Nouri's military -- and when this was reported to the IHEC, the centers that were supposed to open in the morning managed to open by mid-day. al-Nujaifi has been among those making that complaint publicly so it is likely that he would bring that issue up to Beecroft in a face-to-face.)  Struan Stevenson is the President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq and he writes at The Hill about the elections:

    Now Ayad Allawi, leader of al Iraqiya, has said that 2 million ballot papers are missing, raising deep suspicions that major electoral fraud has taken place. News that all Iraqi police and army personnel were issued with two ballot papers each, one in their camps and the other sent to their homes, has compounded fears that the election was rigged.
    [. . .]
    The UN, US and EU should intervene and declare that this was not a free and fair election. They must not stand back and wash their hands of this affair. The people of Iraq have suffered enough. They need a democratic election that will provide them with a government that can restore freedom, democracy, justice, human rights and women's rights to Iraq. Four more years of corrupt dictatorship by Maliki will be in no-one's interest.

    May 2nd, Kurdish News Network carried accounts of fraud in the voting in northern Iraq.  We'll note journalist Muhammed A. Ahmed and elections observer Chya Khdir's comments:

    “I was attacked by a group of PUK supporters who were in a public uniform and stood in front of Gojar School polling station in Ranya. I had the official IHEC badge and was officially allowed to cover the voting process for Iraq Oil Report, a leading foreign organization that provides business, political and security news and analysis on Iraq‌." Muhammed A. Ahmed, a freelance journalist who covered the elections for Iraq Oil Report.
    “I took my camera out to take a picture of the school when I heard someone say, "take him; he is recording." Around 30 to 40 people came to me and violently grabbed my camera. One of them had a knife. Many of them were recognized PUK intelligence members and Peshmarga. Asaysh intervened. However, instead of detaining these people who were unlawfully stood there to threaten people, Asaysh detained me and deleted my photos.” Ahmed charged. 
    “We were taking food and drink to the staff and observers but the PUK forces hit my head with a revolver,” a Gorran‌'s observer who is badly wounded told KNNC correspondent on the scene. 
    “We as the observers of the political entities having been allowed officially by the IHEC, took food and drink to the staff and workers, but the PUK forces wearing casual clothes harassed and attacked us” Chya Khdir, observer of the election, told KNNC. 

    Iraq Times reports MP Hussein Sharifi, with the Sadr bloc, declared again today that the Sadr position is no on a third term as prime minister for Nouri al-Maliki.  State of Law is Nouri's coalition.  Iraq Times reports State of Law MP Ihsan al-Awadi insisted today that State of Law will not allow Speaker of Parliament al-Nujaifi to hold any position in the next government.

    Mohammed Sabah (Al Mada) reports that the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim met today with cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr and how they state that the prime minister is not shielded from the rule of law and that they oppose Nouri being given a third term.  They dismiss Nouri's claims of forming a government and note that no one bloc or party is expected to have won enough seats in the Parliament to form a government on its own so Iraq will need a power-sharing government and the prime minister will be selected by Shi'ites, by Sunnis and by Kurds.  Mushreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) explains that "the movements of Sadr and Hakim have been clearly trying, since the provincial elections in 2013, to find a balance among the Shiite forces’ alliance to face Maliki’s rise that is happening at their expense in the Shiite street."  And Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) adds, "Both the Sadrist Movement and the ISCI were highly critical of the prime minister during his second term in office, particularly over his security record. They are now trying to block the coalition endorsing his premiership."

    Dar Addustour columnist As Sheikh notes today his belief that beyond this discussion and others, the need is for Iraq to build and become a nation of citizens.

    Imran Khan (Al Jazeera) offers today:

    By 2006 the SCIRI had morphed into ISCI and then Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim died ‎of cancer in 2009. Ammar al-Hakim took on the leadership of ISCI and a new chapter was born. Hakim the younger had seen the influence of the party wane and sought to reverse that trend. He reached out to all political players and began to change the image of ISCI and build alliances with other religious Shia groups, including traditional rivals like the Sadrists led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
    In many ways Hakim has the perfect credentials. He has a religious law background and studied in seminaries in Iran where he became a Sayyid or cleric. It's a powerful title which gives him religious authority. He's also from a well-known family. Generations of Hakims have been involved in politics and religion.
    Hakim also has an almost mythical status among his supporters. ‎One Iraqi I asked, Mahmoud, who lives in Baghdad, said: "Hakim is a man who commands respect. He isn't a dirty politician, he is a man of God and he shows us the right path for Iraq. He is our bridge, our guiding light."
    Hakim's style of leadership is also winning him support in the international arena. One Western diplomatic source said: "Hakim is inclusive. He reached out to the youth, to women and that's impressed us. He isn't just talk."
    Others agree. I asked one European diplomat what her embassy thought of Hakim. "We love him" was her reply. Clearly it was meant as a light-hearted comment but in all seriousness it's very difficult to find open critics of Hakim who aren't political rivals or driven by sectarian rage.
    Hakim is a smart operator and under his leadership he has rebuilt ISCI into a very influential and powerful organisation. Before last month's elections he launched the citizen coalition with a simple and clear message that Iraq needs reform, both country-wide and throughout government. Many politicians flocked to his call and his bloc is very powerful. So then, why is this young, charismatic and well respected ‎man not the leader of Iraq?

    Nouri al-Maliki's four months of killing civilians in Falluja in what is collective punishment (a legally defined War Crime) gets far less attention.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes the assault today increased as Nouri attempts to 'retake' Falluja (when was Nouri ever in charge of Falluja?).  Tawfeeq notes, "About 700,000 people live in Falluja, a Sunni city in Anbar province west of Baghdad. More than 300 people, most of whom are civilians, have been killed in Falluja since the beginning of the year."  NINA notes the military's shelling of residential neighborhoods today left 7 civilians dead and thirteen more injured.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) speaks to Falluja General Hospital's Dr. Ahmed Chami who states 310 civilians have been killed and 1322 injured in the last months from the military shelling residential neighborhoods.

    Friday began with news of an assault.  Press TV reported, "Iraqi army and tribal fighters have launched an operation to retake militant-held areas in the city of Fallujah in Anbar province."  JC Finley (UPI) puts it this way, "Iraq's Ministry of Defense announced Friday that a full-scale military operation is underway in the embattled Sunni city of Fallujah."  How'd that turn out for Nouri?

  • Nouri always gets excited when he can wound or kill a Sunni child.

    So maybe the day's a success for that?

    Maybe.  But even Nouri may have a difficult time clutching to that alone.

    World Tribune reports, "The sources said ISIL led tribal forces in expelling the last bastion of Iraq Army troops and pro-government militias from the city, located in the Anbar province." Kitabat notes it was a failed military operation.

    Another failure for Nouri.  His list of failures continues to grow.  He began his assault on Anbar Province December 30th.  He kept avoiding Falluja.  His forces would surround it.  But actually entering it?

    Nouri was a coward.  But a smart coward because he couldn't win by storming the city.  As Kitabat notes, he tried to storm it today.  Nouri pretended for weeks and weeks that he was seeking other means.  He wasn't.  But he was too chicken to call for the attack until today.  And he was too chicken to go to Falluja.  Remember when he attacked Basra in 2008?  He went there. He said, as commander in chief, it was his duty to be there.

    But it's not his duty to be in Falluja for this attack?

    Well it's different.

    See, in 2008, he went to Basra with US forces to protect him.  That's not a possibility right now for Falluja (though maybe he and Gen Lloyd Austin can work out something with regards to that).

    In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 4 Yezidis were shot dead in Karanah Village, an al-Qayyarah roadside bombing left 3 police members dead and two more injured, a Tammooz roadside bombing left three police members injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing and armed attack left 3 police members dead and one police officer injured, and Joint Operations Command announced they killed 2 suspects.

    Iraq War veteran Matt Maupin who was captured April 9, 2004. In a briefs roundup, March 30th, 2008, in a briefs round up of various news, the Washington Post noted:

    The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 says the military has informed him that his son's remains were found in Iraq.
    Keith Maupin said that an Army general told him Sunday that DNA was used to identify the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, who went by "Matt."
    Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy was ambushed west of Baghdad. Arabic television network al-Jazeera aired a videotape a week later showing Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

    Today, Amanda Lee Myers (AP) reports that a trial date has been set in Iraq for next Tuesday for an Iraqi whom Lt Col Alayne Conway states has "confessed to killing Maupin."  An unnamed Iraqi judge states the confession took place in 2009 and led to a conviction and sentence of death; however, the conviction's set aside or reversed as a result of some paperwork issue resulting in the need for a new trial.

    Central Illinois' 31 News (link is video and text) reports Matt's father Keith Maupin "is traveling to the Pentagon on Monday to learn more about the confession." Jessica Jerreat (Daily Mail) adds this will involve Keith Maupin speaking "to the [Iraqi] judge through a translator."

    Lastly, I like Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor.  That means when you're in hot water, we don't look the other way.  I like Sandy Berger and called him out over his stuffing classified documents into his pants to smuggle them out of a secure room.  Hilda has stepped down as Secretary of Labor and is now running to be elected a Los Angeles County supervisor.  She's also the subject of a criminal investigation.  Paul Pringle and Abby Sewell (Los Angeles Times) report:

    A letter sent last year to Solis by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that investigates allegations of administrative violations of fundraising rules by federal officials, said it began an inquiry after receiving a complaint that Solis had solicited a donation from a Labor Department employee. According to the letter, the complaint alleged that in March 2012, Solis "left a voicemail message on a subordinate employee's government-issued Blackberry in which you asked the employee to contribute toward and assist with organizing others to attend a fundraiser for the President's reelection campaign."
    Solis has declined to comment on the investigation, but a spokesman reiterated Friday that she believes she has done nothing wrong.

    I hope Solis did nothing wrong.

    mushreq abbas

    Friday, May 09, 2014


    Elementary airs Thursdays on CBS.

    This was a much better episode than last week.  It had little for Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) but at least she wasn't damsel in distress.

    Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) was told he had to help MI6 with a case because they had saved Joan. 

    He also learned his brother was British intelligence.

    A case they were working on found a dead man (whose arms were removed after he was dead) connected.  The dead man's ex-wife came to Holmes and Watson to explain her ex-husband had been tailing Holmes for MI6.


    Only Joan seemed curious.

    Holmes may have been distracted by Watson's announcement that she'd decided to move out of the brownstone.

    And later in the episode, Joan returned to the topic with the woman and the issue of Sherlock's brother.  Sherlock took a case that raised 'terrorism' issues and his brother returned to British intel to protect Sherlock.

    Holmes then went to visit the brother . . . and sleep with him.

    While Sherlock was looking at cold cases.

    Sherlock burst in insisting his brother had to leave.

    He's surprised by Joan in bed with his brother but the point is British intel is trying to frame his brother for a murder.

    And that was the end of the episode.

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

    Thursday, May 8, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Newsweek (via Janine di Giovanni) becomes the first US outlet to note the ongoing killing of civilians in Falluja by the Iraqi military (under Nouri's orders), more US troops going into Iraq?, we take on the sexist nonsense about Hillary (Monica's latest garbage) and we take on wanna-be-a-boy Heather Digby Parton and her lousy (and sexist) writing, and much more.

    Starting in the US where this morning the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a brief business meeting.  The Committee Chair is US House Rep Jeff Miller, US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member.

    Committee Chair Jeff Miller:  I would like to take care of one item of business this morning.  My hearing a motion for the issuance of a subpoena to the Dept of Veterans Affairs to produce e-mails and other written correspondence related to the investigation of the Phoenix VA Medical Center.  It's unfortunate that we have to come to this decision but we did not do this without some substantial justification.  The last few weeks have been a model of VA stonewalling which precipitated the need for this subpoena.  First on April 24th, our staff was briefed and informed of an alternate wait list and how that list was subsequently destroyed.  We made follow up phone calls to VA OCLA [Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs] beginning on the 28th asking for additional information about the list.  However, we didn't get a response back on the 28th.  So we called back on the 29th and got no response on the 29th.  So we called again on April 30th and spoke directly to Assistant Secretary Joan Mooney but still got no response. Look, this failure to provide information led to my first letter stating that the Committee would pursue a subpoena if we were not provided with the information this Committee had requested.  Yesterday, May 7th, I received a response from VA that does not -- does not -- fully answer the very simple questions that I asked.  Therefore, the time for requests for this matter is over.  Today, we'll vote to issue a subpoena.  It's a historic vote.  This Committee has voted once before to issue a subpoena the first time ever in the history and we worked with VA and actually we did not deliver that subpoena but we got the information that we were asking for.  But I trust the VA will have the good sense to not further delay and ignore the request that this Committee has made. The subpoena will cover e-mails and written correspondence sent since the 9th of April, 2014 at 8:45 a.m. to or from Secretary Eric Shinseki, Dr. Robert Petzel Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Thomas Lynch Assistant Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations and Management, Mr. Will Gunn General Counsel, or any other representative of the Office of General Counsel, Ms. Joan Mooney Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Dr. Ron Maurer Director Congressional Liaison Service, and Mr. Aakash Bhatt Congressional Relations Officer or Mr. Michael Huff Congressional Relations Officer. The scope of this subpoena will encompass all e-mails and other written correspondence where these parties discuss the destruction of an alternate wait list regardless of which name it was given and which form in which it was kept.  Pursuant to Rule 11 Clause 2M1B of the House of Representatives in Rule G Clause 3 of this Committee, we have a motion before us that's at the desk and I will ask that the clerk will read the motion.

    Clerk: Ranking Member Michaux moves that the Committee authorize the issuance of the subpoena to Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the US Dept of Veterans Affairs for the Dept of Veterans Affairs to produce all e-mails and correspondence sent between April 9, 2014 9:45 a.m. and May 8, 2014 6:00 p.m. which address in whole or in part the destruction or disapearance of an interum wait list with regard to the Carl T. Hagen Medical Affairs VA Center located in Phoenix, Arizona in which Secretary Shinseki, Dr. Robert Petzel Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Thomas Lynch Assistant Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations and Management, Mr. Will Gunn General Counsel, or any other representative of the Office of General Counsel, Ms. Joan Mooney Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Dr. Ron Maurer Director Congressional Liaison Service, and Mr. Aakash Bhatt Congressional Relations Officer or Mr. Michael Huff Congressional Relations Officer -- or parties to or referenced within -- e-mails and written correspondence

    Chair Jeff Miller:  Members, you've heard the motion.  Do I hear a second?  Motion's been moved and properly seconded.  I will open the floor for the Ranking Member to make a statement and would ask that if any other members have a statement that they be very brief because everybody has a very, very tight schedule this morning.  I understand.  The Ranking Member is recognized.

    Ranking Member Mike Michaud: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I think we all can agree that quality, safe, accessible health care has always been a priority of this Committee and I believe that has not changed today.  We have over the past years asked the VA for information that has not been forthcoming.  Frustrations remain high among Committee members. The Chairman sent a letter on May 1, 2014 requesting the answers to two questions. The response we received yesterday from VA was, in my view, insufficient.  The subpoena we will authorize today is limited in scope and it  narrowly is constructed in order not to interfere or impede the ongoing IG [Inspector General] investigation.  At the end of the day, we all are waiting for the results of the investigation to be provided to us so that we can be in a position to take action.  We need to fix the problems not only in Phoenix but across the VA system.  I was pleased to hear that the Veterans Administration will complete a nation wide access review to ensure that employees have a full understanding of VA policy and that they will conduct a national face-to-face audit at all the clinics and every VA medical center.  And I understand that Ms. [Ann] Kirkpatrick, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation recently sent a letter calling for VA to undertake a similar action in light of the numerous problems throughout the system.  So I want to thank you very much, Ms. Kirkpatrick.  So with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time. 

    Chair Jeff Miller:  Thank you, Mr. Michaud, for your cooperation.  I would ask is there any other member that would like to make a statement?  Very well.  All those in favor of the motion to issue the subpoena will say I.

    All Present:  I.

    Chair Jeff Miller:  All those opposed will say "No." [Silence.]  The motion carries.  And I am now going to sign the subpoena for the production of e-mails and written correspondence and hereby direct its issuance forthwith.  This concludes our business meeting for today. This meeting is adjourned. 

    This is a major move.  The vote was unanimous on the motion.  There was a hearing today, an important one, that followed the above.  We may cover that tomorrow.

    However, I promised we would address the issue of the US Ambassador to Iraq when it became verifiable.

    Dropping back to the April 23rd snapshot:

    On the topic of Stephen Beecroft, Laura Rozen (Backchannel) reports the word is Beecroft will be nominated to be the US Ambassador to Egypt shortly.
    That would be a deeply stupid move.  So it's probably going to happen.  If it does, we'll go into how stupid it is.  Until then, we'll just note the rumor.

    It's now reported everywhere.

    So let's turn to Iraq and the war on women -- the real war, not the faux war, on women.

    It's now official, Robert Stephen Beecroft is nominated to be the US Ambassador to Egypt.

    The problem with that?

    He's the US Ambassador to Iraq currently.

    Iraq needs stability and unity and you can't approach it with chaos.  If you approach it with chaos you amplify the ongoing chaos.

    When Barack Obama was sworn in as US President, he asked the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to remain in the position while he found someone to nominate.

    Crocker did.

    Barack wasted that opportunity by nominating Chris Hill who was all wrong for the post, whose employment file made clear his problems would make him unfit for the post, whose confirmation hearing was a non-stop embarrassment.

    As everyone knows, Hill was manic and tended to crater in the afternoons.  A full day's work was beyond him.  He also had a problem with taste.  For example, the Halloween Party he attended while Ambassador?  Going with a woman -- not his wife -- dressed as Jacqueline Kennedy -- with fake blood -- on the day JFK was shot?  Not tasteful, to put it mildly.  But him dressing as a Secret Service agent to accompany her?

    Chris Hill was trash.

    Instead of focusing on Iraq, he tended to explode about what a sewer he thought Iraq actually was -- tended to explode in the presence of Iraqis working with the US Embassy in Baghdad.

    Way to create an impression, Chris.

    He also was more concerned about press coverage -- specifically he had penis envy over the press coverage Gen Ray Odierno received.  Odierno was a press favorite (still is) and that's because he played it straight.  He was unassuming (especially a relief to the press after David Petraeus) and he was focused on the mission.  He made for good copy.

    Chris wanted to be a media star so he whined about Odierno's press to the White House repeatedly until the White House asked Ray to please stop speaking to the press because it upset Chris so much.

    All this focus on everything but his job led Chris to be a lousy ambassador.

    It was Ray Odierno, not Chris Hill, who wondered at the start of 2010, what happens if Nouri al-Maliki doesn't win the election?  What happens if he doesn't win and he refuses to step down?

    That's exactly what happened.  Take Odierno to the races with you and let him pick the horse.

    But it would be a legitimate concern even if it hadn't ended up coming true.  It was worth considering.

    But Chris Hill wouldn't and Chris Hill dismissed it and Chris Hill cut Odierno out of the loop.  After the March 2010 elections, Odierno would speak with then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who would then bring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into the conversation and the two of them (Gates and Clinton) would go to Barack and tell him he needed to listen to Odierno.

    Once he did, Barack realized Chris Hill had to go.

    Chris was a huge mistake.  He was Barack's choice.  I don't care for Barack's leadership.  But anyone can make a mistake and, to his credit, Barack was willing to move quickly on this.

    Which is how James Jeffrey became the next US Ambassador to Iraq.


    Briefly he was the US Ambassador.

    Barack's next ambassador to Iraq was Robert Stephen Beecroft.

    All of this happened in his first term.

    Three different ambassadors for one country.

    That goes to incompetence.

    That's before you consider that the country is Iraq which has gotten worse and worse in terms of security, in terms of politics, in terms of the treatment of women, in every term you can measure.

    From January 2009 to January 2013 -- Barack's first term, Iraq had three different US ambassadors.

    In his second term, he's already changing ambassadors again.

    Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler (Reuters) report on Beecroft being nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Egypt and Stuart Jones being nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Iraq.


    When he was nominated to be the Ambassador to Jordan, the White House issued this (April 14, 2011):

    Stuart E. Jones, Nominee for Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Department of State
    Stuart E. Jones is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Prior to this post, Mr. Jones served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Mr. Jones has held numerous positions both domestically and abroad since joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1987.   In Washington, Mr. Jones served as Director for Iraq at the National Security Council, Deputy Director for European Regional Military Affairs, Desk Officer for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Executive Assistant to the U.S. Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. Overseas assignments have included: Governorate Coordinator in Al Anbar Iraq; Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara; Principal Officer at Consulate Adana; Legal Advisor and Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador; and Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota. Mr. Jones received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Colby Itkowitz (Washington Post) reports on the nominee here.  Not only is it wrong to yet again destabilize the US mission in Iraq by nominating again another person, let's note it's yet again a man.

    As I noted in 2009, Ava and I made the case to members of Barack's transition team for a woman to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.  We noted it would symbolic importance.  We noted that even without the symbolic importance, there were many women qualified for this post.

    Now Canada has a woman in Iraq.  And she's doing and has done a solid job.

    But the US?

    I don't need to hear Barack's idiotic remarks about wages and I don't need to hear how men will be the saviors who will stop rape.

    I especially don't need yet another man sent to Iraq as ambassador.

    And let's remember it's not just Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Robert Stephen Beecroft and now Stuart Jones.  Barack also nominated Brett McGurk.  That nomination went down in flames.

    Five men.

    Barack has nominated five men to be Ambassador to Iraq and not one woman.

    That's a war on women.

    When women can't get nominated?

    Don't pretend to give a f**k about women.

    Five times, the best person, in Barack's judgment, has been a man.

    What does a woman have to do to get nominated?

    Apparently be a big donor or be born a Kennedy.

    But the women who've actually worked in the diplomatic corps?

    They don't stand a damn chance.

    Maybe Barack needs to ask Mitt Romney if Romney can send over those "binders full of women" to the White House because clearly Barack struggles with finding women who are worthy of positions.

    Things were not great for women in Iraq when Ava and I pitched to the transition team.

    Things are even worse today.

    For example, April 16th on KPFA's Voices of the Middle East and North Africa, the very controversial bill which passed Iraq's Cabinet of Ministers and that chief thug and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki  has forwarded to the Parliament was discussed. 

    Shahram Aghamir: Last month the Iraqi Cabinet approved a new personal status legislation called the Ja'fari law which is named after the sixth Shi'ite Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq who established a school of jurisprudence in Medina in the 8th century.  This legislation has created an uproar among Iraqi women's rights and the civil rights community.  If approved, the Ja'fari law will abolish the current Personal Status Law 188 which is considered one of the most progressive in the Arab world.  The new law will roll back the rights of women in marriage, divorce and child custody as well as inheritance.  It will lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 9 and boys to 15.  Who has initially proposed the law and what are the implications of this law for Iraqi women?  Malihe spoke with Iraqi women's rights activist Basma al-Khateeb who volunteers with Iraq's 1st Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women Shadow Report Coalition as an expert and a trainer.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Actually, the Minister of Justice by the end of October declared that they have a committee -- expert committee -- and they have finished drafting the Ja'fari law.  It consists of 256 articles and he's going to present it to the Cabinet by the next session.  He says that they've been working on for the past two years.

    Malihe Razazan:  Back in 2004, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim who died in 2009, he was in exile in Iran for 20 years before the invasion, and after the occupation of Iraq, he worked very closely with the Americans.  His party worked to pass Decision 137 issue by interim governing council to abolish the Personal Status Law Number 188 which was passed  in 1959 --

    Basma al-Kahteeb:  That was actually the first thing that he -- that he issued, this Resolution 137 -- as if Iraq had no problems.  This was the only rule that he came up with.  And we had demonstrations and we managed to defeat that.  They withdrew it.

    Malihe Razazan:   Yeah, because there was a huge backlash against it.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  But this is historical.  His father, Muhsin al-Hakim, back in 1959, when the civil Personal Status Law was issued, the religious institutes led by Muhsin al-Hakim back then, his father, refused this Personal Status Law because it will take all the authority from the cleric.

    Malihe Razazan:  In matters regarding women's divorce, child custody, inheritance it will be left to civil courts.

    Basma al-Khateeb:  Yes.  And this is how our judicial system and lawyers and colleges and scholars all -- I mean, we're talking about sixty years that all our institutions -- judicial, court, everything -- is built on it.  This -- going back just to abolish all of this -- this law --the formal law, the Personal Status Law that's still active now. It doesn't go to clerics, only the judge rules.  This current law puts another council that is in control of judges of courts.  It just turns everything into chaos.  Every lawyer has to study all these religious and cleric institution and legal issues.  It doesn't mean that we have one court.  It means that we have more than 20 courts because each Ayatollah is different in examination with the other.  Havilah?  Even though they're Sh'itie, they're different from the Sadr group, they're different from Sistani interpretation which means multi courts.

    At a time when Iraqi women are suffering, the US could make a difference with something as basic and symbolic as nominating a woman to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.  There are 15 women who exceed the qualifications needed to hold this post, 15 women in the diplomatic corps.  We identified them in 2009.  We also noted seven other women who have since left the diplomatic corps.  Strange that we can find women worthy of the post but Barack can't.

    Stuart Jones is his fifth nominee for the post -- all five have been men.

    Save your b.s. about 'war on women' because your administration lacks clean hands in that war.

    Gordon Lubold has long covered the Iraq War -- including for the Christian Science Monitor.  He has a post with disturbing news at Foreign Policy -- on the discussions of sending (more) US troops into Iraq:

    But the nature of the fight the Maliki government confronts in western Iraq is such that officials say Baghdad is looking not only for better reconnaissance and surveillance capability, but also for more robust, lethal platforms. Iraq has been unwilling to accept American military personnel in the country in any operational form, but the willingness to revisit that policy appears now to be shifting. A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy declined to comment on the issue of allowing American military personnel into the country to conduct drone operations, but acknowledged that the U.S. and Iraq share a "common enemy" in al Qaeda.
    "Iraq's view is that all available tools must be utilized to defeat this threat, and we welcome America's help in enhancing the capabilities we are able to bring to bear," the spokesman said.  

    You need to put that with other news because Lubold isn't smart enough to.  There's the fact that all US troops never left Iraq.  There's the fact that Barack sent a brigade of Special-Ops in during the fall of 2012. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, "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 General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."  And let's include the news from the April 25th snapshot:

    Mark Hosenball, Warren Strobel, Phil Stewart, Ned Parker, Jason Szep and Ross Colvin (Reuters) report, "The United States is quietly expanding the number of intelligence officers in Iraq and holding urgent meetings in Washington and Baghdad to find ways to counter growing violence by Islamic militants, U.S. government sources said."  It was 1961 when US President John F. Kennedy sent 1364 "advisors" into Vietnam.  The next year, the number was just short of 10,000.  In 1963, the number hit 15,500.  You remember how this ends, right?

    Nouri's continued War Crimes.

    When will the world demand he stop practicing collective punishment?

    Who knows.  But in big news, the US media finally finds the story.  Janine di Giovanni and Newsweek become the first to cover the ongoing killing of civilians via collective punishment.  From di Giovanni's article:

    “First it was hospitals, then densely populated civilian areas,” says Erin Evers from Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Baghdad. “Now it’s neighborhoods where people are just trying to live.”
    The tragedy in Fallujah was barely noticed in the run-up to the Iraqi parliamentary elections, which took place on April 30, the first national elections since U.S. troops pulled out of the country in 2011. No one much paid attention because violence has become a trademark in this campaign.
    Since January, when the Shia-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began a campaign of retaliation against the Sunni-backed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām, it is estimated that 4,000 have been killed, or roughly 1,000 a month. Researchers on the ground say 20 to 30 percent of the dead are children. Meanwhile, government forces have killed 348, according to Iraq Body Count.

    Good for Newsweek.  Maybe others will pay attention to it now.

    Because it continues every day.  Nouri  continues to bomb the residential areas of Falluja. NINA reports that 13 civilians ("including a woman, three children") were killed and twenty-one more injured.

    In the April 16th "Iraq snapshot," we went over the attacks each day up to that point and how many people were killed.  Today, Felicity Arbuthnot does something similar but including May.

    Turning to literary news,  Ahmed Saadawi was born in Baghdad in 1973 and he's a poet, a novelist, a screenwriter and a documentary filmmaker.  UNAMI issued congratulations to him today:

    Baghdad, 8 May 2014 – The Special Representative of the United Nations for Iraq (SRSG), Nickolay Mladenov, today sent a message of congratulations to Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi on the occasion of his winning the prestigious International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which is sponsored by the Booker Prize Foundation in London.  Saadawi won the prize for his book Frankenstein in Baghdad.

    In a message to Saadawi, Mr. Mladenov said, “I salute you and congratulate you and the entire literary community in Iraq on this very important achievement.  This reflects the creativity of the Iraqi mind throughout history and particularly at these very difficult times that Iraq is going through”.
    “I hope that this achievement will be a catalyst to all Iraqi intellectuals to continue with their creative work to enrich the literary culture of this country”, the Envoy added. 

    In news of bitchery, Digby -- who's always provided us with so many unintentional laughs over the years -- has written another idiotic attack at Salon.

    Let's deal with Digby's stupidity first and then we'll get to her stupidity and her sexism and her bitchery.  She's in a tizzy that Lara Logan stated the following:

    When I look at what’s happening in Libya, there’s a big song and dance about whether this was a terrorist attack or a protest. And you just want to scream, for God’s sake, are you kidding me? The last time we were attacked like this was the USS Cole which was a prelude to 9/11. And you’re sending in the FBI to investigate? I hope to God that you are sending in your best clandestine warriors to exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil, its ambassadors will not be murdered and the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.

    Lara was right.

    That's basic.  She wasn't calling for mercenaries and only an idiot -- like Heather Digby Parton -- would think that.  It was a terrorist attack.

    Lara, in those quoted remarks, advocated for Special-Ops.

    Barack's decision to do nothing -- that is where things stand now one year and eight months later -- puts diplomatic staff at risk because the message an attack will result in no retaliation.

    The White House knows who carried out the attack.  The White House could take this on legally or militarily.  I favor legally.  Lara favors (in her remarks) the military option.  Neither has been taken and it does send a message to the world community.  It is not a positive message to send and Digby's too much of an idiot to know that -- also too much of a partisan whore.  To 'prove' Lara wrong, Digby links to . . a man.

    Digby links to a man.

    I believe that's a mantra, isn't it?

    It's certainly a never ending pattern and how the token queen bee got included in the boys circle jerk even after it slipped out that she wasn't the man that she pretended to be for so many years.

    Unlike Digby, we support women.  As Elaine pointed out this week, "You either promote women artists or you don't."  We do.  Digby doesn't.

    Heather Parton has always refused to support women.  She attacks Lara Logan today while praising Dan Rather.

    There is nothing to praise in Dan Rather.  His career was an ongoing disgrace and he took the CBS Evening News right into the toilet ratings wise and content wise -- and that's not just my opinion or the opinion of many, it was the opinion of Walter Cronkite as well.  He disgraced himself on air with his little tantrum, to note only one example.  None of that's praise worthy and that's not even the tip of the iceberg.

    But Heather needs a man to prop up, to stand behind, to hold hands with at the urinal.

    Heather Parton (Digby) embarrasses herself all the time with crap like this.  She lacks the ability to actually analyze, she lacks facts, she lacks context and, if it happened before 2003, she lacks history.

    She tries to compare Lara Logan to Judith Miller.  Why?

    Because faux men like Digby always attack women and glorify men.  That's why she's such a disgusting piece of trash.

    There is no comparison between Judith Miller and Lara Logan.

    Here's Digby stupidy and sexism:

    The point is that in similar fashion to Judith Miller, who also famously attached herself to the national security state apparatus and helped them spread lies, Logan’s biases led her to be similarly uncritical of the military's often unsparing disdain toward politicians --  something that's been true of the military since time began.
    No, Lara didn't attach herself to the powers-that-be.  If so, she wouldn't be questioning Benghazi.

    She would instead be whoring -- like Heather Parton is doing -- for an administration.

    It's cute the way little Digby jerks her faux penis and tries to spew on Lara.

    New York magazine -- no surprise -- churned out yet another sexist article -- this time on Lara Logan.  And the Democratic Whores -- as opposed those of us on the left with actual ethics (we can be identified by calling out The Drone War, for example, and its commander Barack Obama) -- needed a vagina to amplify the attack on Lara.  So they got Heather Parton because an ugly woman who posed as a man is a natural to attack any one of beauty.

    Lara's looks help.  That's never been a surprise.  It also has nothing to do with gender.

    Why did NBC News hire Kier Simmons?

    Because, to women and men who are attracted to men, his male beauty can get the pulses racing.  That's why NBC is attempting to work him into any broadcast they can.  (And why "Kier Simmons shirtless" is one of the most popular Google searches.)  Like Lara, Kier has actual news chops.  But it would be lying to pretend that Kier's beauty or Lara's beauty didn't result in air time, didn't result in viewer response and didn't allow them an easier time pushing through stories.

    Despite the sexism of the New York magazine article, Lara had to push and push and ask for help from colleagues to get certain stories on the air.  Digby's strap-on must have kept slipping off and required Digby to use both hands to secure it or she could have found that fact online.  She could have started, for example, going to Danny Schechter's New Dissector posts when Lara was in Iraq.

    Lara's not Judith Miller.

    Judith Miller ran interference for a White House.  That's what Digby does now.  So the person who is like Judith Miller is not Lara Logan, it's Digby.

    And, by the way Heather Parton, Judy started out on the left too.

    She was published by The Progressive early in her career.  It was always a shoddy career just like the career of Heather Parton -- there was no independence and there was no ethical standard.  Just whoring and spinning.

    We're not linking to her garbage at Salon and we're not linking to New York magazine's sexist and unethical article.  Unethical?

    See that's the thing about sexist pigs like Digby, as they rush to amplify an article which allows some of Lara's colleagues to slam her -- to anonymously slam her.  I guess I missed the moment when it became ethical in journalism to base all your article on anonymous slams.  Oh, I didn't miss that.  It's still not allowed.

    But sexist pigs -- and that includes Heather Parton  -- will always embrace anything that can let them rage.

    They'll even fool themselves that Lara's situation is similar to Dan Rather's.

    The 60 Minutes segment was not pushed by Lara.  It was pushed by CBS, it was synergy.  The reason Lara's not been fired yet is because she wasn't publishing a book.  Publishing a book -- a non-fiction one -- is supposed to mean the book is vetted by the publisher.  In other words, the problems in the report go to the publisher.  Heather's not interested in making that argument because it would require to defend a woman.  She's more interested in linking to men, in name checking James Wolcott, etc.



    She's a deeply stupid woman.

    Any smart woman knows James is a sexist pig and they didn't need his crazed rantings on Patti Smith to make that call.  He's got a long, long history but facts aren't Heather's strong suit.  James made a 'funny' and Heather's too dumb to make her own, so she pulls his 'funny' out of mothballs and tries to shoe-horn Lara Logan into it.  Yeah, that is the sign of a really bad writer.  No style, no analysis and lousy on facts.  Enjoy Salon while you can, Heather because women who can't write don't end up with writing careers.

    I ignored the sexist New York magazine article.  I'm weighing in now so let me weigh in on one other sexist issue.

    What Hillary Clinton though about Monica Lewinsky is not a feminist issue.

    Yes, women should stop solely blaming other women when a man cheats on them.  Yes, Bill Clinton is responsible for his actions.  But so is Monica.  And her ridiculous piece for Vanity Fair -- no link to that trash -- where she claims to take accountability for her actions is revealed to be as fake as everything else about Monica Lewinsky.  You can't take accountability and then whine about what Hillary wrote about you in a private letter to a friend.

    That I even have to defend Hillary goes to how sexist this nonsense is.

    For those who didn't live through the press induced hysteria, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton had sexual relations.  By the rules of hetero sex at that time, this wasn't all the way -- Monica blew Bill, his penis never entered her vagina.  By the rules at that time, there was no reaching 'home base.'  Bill Clinton was President of the United States at the time.  Hillary was First Lady and Monica was so 'classy' that she kept a dress and refused to clean it just because the man she loved juked on it.

    Monica was not a smart woman -- and she was a woman.  She wasn't a girl, she wasn't a teenager.  She was a full blown adult.  (And Andy Richter hilariously skewered her in a skit on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.)

    At the time, as evidenced by a letter Hillary wrote to a friend that has recently emerged, Hillary blamed herself and she blamed Monica.

    Guess what?

    Hillary -- any woman -- is allowed to grapple and stumble -- especially privately -- as they deal with some shocking moment.  Her husband cheating on her and the entire nation looking at Hillary to see if she would crumble was a moment no one should have to live through.

    Hillary dealt with it.  I'll speak out of school and note -- what I don't think's a secret but if it is, oh well -- Hillary did blame Bill.  She buried it deep and it finally exploded. They got into a very loud argument -- her being loud, Bill taking it because he was guilty of cheating.  They didn't have the argument in the White House.  They had it on vacation.  As she told the story, she was overcome with -- and shaking from -- rage. Perfectly understandable.

    And they talked it out and they agreed to work on their relationship.  I like Rosie O'Donnell but I was really embarrassed for Rosie in the early '00s when she slammed Hillary for staying with Bill.

    A relationship is never perfect -- not from the inside.  Hillary and Bill worked very hard on their marriage -- yes, Bill who cheated worked as well.  I'm not voting for Hillary if she runs.  I wish I could.  But I can't.  But I also won't stay silent while people attack her unfairly.

    Decades ago, her husband cheated on her.  She and he dealt with it.  It shouldn't be an issue for the press today.  And there's something really sad about Monica Lewinsky and how she pops up every few years.  I'm not calling it a GOP 'plot.'  It's all Monica.

    She had a sexual relationship with a married man -- she knew he was married.  So for her to insult Hillary in any way?  Monica is cheap and tacky.  She always was and, all these years later, she still is.  Next time she's taking accountability for her actions?  She might ask herself why she's still trading on this long ago affair to get media attention?

    Monica is famous for sperm.

    That's her entire entry into the history books.  If that was the sum of my accomplishments, I'd work really hard on keeping a low profile or work really hard on finding a way to give my life meaning.

    Monica Lewisnky is 40-years-old.  It's past time America let her know how tired they were of her.

    Just because Linda Tripp once hung on Monica's every word doesn't mean the country has to -- especially all these years later.

    Like her black beret, Monica is passe and needs to go away.

    warren p. strobel

    the new york times