Friday, March 26, 2010

Laura Lying Flanders

Friday and the topic tonight is Laura Lying Flanders.

There's no one uglier than Laura the self-loathing lesbian who's apparently back in the closet. Laura has a need to hide a lot of things. She can never stop lying. All through 2004 and election night and the day after, she said on air that she was supporting John Kerry. But, in 2008, we learned she didn't vote for him. Despite doing the overnight Air America 2004 coverage and telling people that they would get through it together and they were all disappointed.

She always lies. She can't help herself. If she's telling you what happened, she's got to lie to make it 'better.' You can't trust her.

She proves that today at CounterPunch
-- and that's my last link to that piece of trash outlet ever.

Whora Flanders (who 'joked' about Hillary's "cackle" even after Chris Matthews had stopped) writes:

So, the New York Times finally ran a correction. But after six weeks of "considering" the errors in its own reporting, the Times’ correction of its misleading ACORN story, came way, way, WAY to late.

The correction ran the same day that the anti-poverty group ACORN called it quits, after a year under attack -- and a day after the paper's public editor wrote that yes indeed, the paper has "mistakenly reinforced falsehoods" from right wing activists against the group.

The Dirty Whore notes the 'costumes' and then launches into other things. Here are the next three paragraphs included under fair use and as a warning to the general public:

When right-wing journo-hucksters released videos appearing to show ACORN workers offering advice to people posing as a pimp and a prostitute, the Times fell for an editing trick. The videos gave the impression that two hucksters were dressed in outlandish costumes when they visited ACORN offices. They weren't.

Video transcripts also contradicted what the video makers claimed, namely that ACORN staffers appeared to endorse talk of using underage girls as prostitutes. The Times also fell for that. In fact, the transcript reveals that ACORN staffers believed they were discussing a plan to protect two girls.

Responding to a complaint from the media critics at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Hoyt said Sunday that the paper's editors were "considering issuing a correction."

What did the Times issue a correction on? From the above (and the rest of the article), they issued a huge number of corrections. But Laura's lying. Laura Flanders is always lying. She's a whore, just like her uncles and the rest of her crazy ass family. Here is the entire correction from the New York Times:

Several articles since September about the troubles of the community organizing group Acorn referred incorrectly or imprecisely to one aspect of videotaped encounters between Acorn workers and two conservative activists that contributed to the group’s problems.

In the encounters, the activists posed as a prostitute and a pimp and discussed prostitution with the workers. But while footage shot away from the offices shows one activist, James O’Keefe, in a flamboyant pimp costume, there is no indication that he was wearing the costume while talking to the Acorn workers.

The errors occurred in articles on Sept. 16 and Sept. 19, 2009, and on Jan. 31 of this year. Because of an editing error, the mistake was repeated in an article in some copies on Saturday. (Go to Article)

Get it? They only retracted that James O'Keefe was wearing a pimp costume. All the other stuff Lying Laura's going on about? More lies from her trashy ass mouth. We don't need her on the left. She's lying and people are going to believe her. She hurts the cause. She either learns to tell the truth or she goes over to the right-wing where her trashy ass belongs anyway.

Laura lies. She can't stop lying. Even her claim that the paper said the two didn't wear costumes is a lie. They only say O'Keefe didn't wear a pimp costume.

Laura also claims that Clark Hoyt (public editor of NYT) finally got honest but he's saying what the correction says: Only that the pimp costume was not worn. From Hoyt's article:

Acorn’s supporters appear to hope that the whole story will fall apart over the issue of what O’Keefe wore: if that was wrong, everything else must be wrong. The record does not support them. If O’Keefe did not dress as a pimp, he clearly presented himself as one: a fellow trying to set up a woman — sometimes along with under-age girls — in a house where they would work as prostitutes. In Washington, he said the prostitution was to finance his future in politics. A worker for Acorn Housing, an allied group, warned him to stay away from the brothel lest someone “get wind that you got a house and that your girlfriend is over there running a house of women of the night. You will not have a career.”

FAIR said that in Brooklyn, O’Keefe and Giles seemed to be telling Acorn staffers that “they are attempting to buy a house to protect child prostitutes from an abusive pimp.” That’s right, but FAIR left out the part about their clear intention to operate a brothel, which the Acorn workers seemed to take in stride, with one warning: “Don’t get caught, ’cause it is against the law.”

The videos were heavily edited. The sequence of some conversations was changed. Some workers seemed concerned for Giles, one advising her to get legal help. In two cities, Acorn workers called the police. But the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context. Harshbarger’s report to Acorn found no “pattern of illegal conduct” by its employees. But, he told me: “They said what they said. There’s no way to make this look good.”

"FAIR left out the part . . ." Don't you love that. We know FAIR as the liar supreme. Ava and C.I. deconstructed that trashy group in 2008. They lie all the damn time. They once had ethics but they whored that out too. Now they're almost as big a whore as Laura Flanders.

This doesn't help the left and anyone who applauds Laura Flanders is as much a liar as she is.
It's time we took back the left from these liars. It's time those of us with ethics, those who didn't whore themselves out, make it clear that Laura Flanders and her ilk are nothing but the faux left. We can win it because we have truth on our side.

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

Friday, March 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Ayad Allawi is thought to be a winner, Little Nouri refuses to go peacefully, bombings slam Iraq resulting in multiple deaths, Cindy Sheehan closes Peace Camp until the summer, Courage to Resist sends out a plea for help and assistance on behalf of Marc Hall and more.
March 7th was the official day of voting in Iraq (early voting began days before with security forces voting on Thursday) and 95% of the results of an unofficial (not yet certified) count has been released. Today, a 100% count is supposed to be released. Muhanad Mohammed, Khalid al-Ansary, Jim Loney and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report Nouri's 'supporters' are still insisting upon a recount today "hours before officials were due to release the final vote tallies." Katarina Kratovac (AP) reports a laughable move by Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani -- he's insisting that the count not be released, he's insisting it will cause violence. I'm sorry, Jawad, weren't you just insisting Wednesday that "the elections proved the terrorists' days are numbered"? (Yes, he was.) Oh, how quickly things change in Iraq. On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today, Diane was joined by Daniel Dombey (Financial Times of London), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers).
Diane Rehm: And what about the Iraq election results? What's the latest there, Daniel?
Daniel Dombey: Well we're still waiting for the final results but it's a very interesting story because you have two men who both want to be prime minister who can't stand each other, who have very different profiles, who have both served in that office and virtually neck and neck -- neck and neck. And this is actually a very, very important contest between Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister. Maliki feels very strongly that he's the man who saved Iraq -- that he took on the security problems in Basra and Sadr City and so on. And he has strong Shia support. Allawi has reinvented himself as a more secular kind of figure and gets on much better with the Iraqi neighbors particularly Syria and Saudi Arabia and so on. There's concern some people voiced if Maliki made it it would be seen as a real blow by the Sunni Arabs who would respond accordingly and be bad for relations. On the other hand, Maliki says he has a record of success. So there's an awful lot to pay for and there's always the possibility that someone from outside as happened someone else can come from outside as happened when Maliki who was previously someone you'd never heard of. But it's a very important issue all the more so for the fact that it doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Nancy A. Youssef: I think the other thing is that there's real angst in the streets of Iraq about what happens when these elections -- when the results come out -- which are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. local time in Iraq tonight, which is in the middle of the morning for us in the United States. There's a real angst about how the transition to power will happen and whether it will lead to more violence given that Maliki and Jalal Talabani called for a recount, called the elections fraudulent, whether the elections will be seen as legitimate. And also because these elections really galvanized and re-empowered Moqutad al-Sadr and his bloc. Of all of the -- As we talk about the jostling between Allwai and al-Maliki, Sadr comes out pretty strong in this. He will have more seats than any other member. And that fundamentally changes the dynamic as well. So it's a very interesting time. It will be months before we have this government seated which is a dangerous place for Iraq to be in given the precarious security situation -- all while the United States plans to rpaidly drawdown it's forces from 96,000 today to about 50,000 at the end of August.

Diane Rehm: Paul Richter.
Paul Richter: The comeback of Ayad Allawi is an interesting story. He was prime minister of Iraq early in the American occupation. He left office with seemingly very little public support. A secular Shia, kind of a "strongman," and known to have past ties with the CIA. Now he's possibly back. Intresting personal story.
Nancy A. Youssef: You know the interesting thing is, from the Iraqi persepctive, Allawi is seen as an American puppet and Maliki is seen as the Iranian one. And so it's an interesting dynamic about who is going to emerge and what that means. And what Sadr really represents is the Iraqi movement, in a way. And so those are the three sorts of powers that are vying for their place in the post-America Iraq, if you will.
That was this morning. Results were announced during a lengthy presentation and Ayad Allawi's secular party, National Dialogue Front, has won the most seats in the Parliament. Michael Hastings (True/Slant) offers, "Four big questions that come to mind: Does Maliki, who is calling for a recount, hand over power? Can Allawi find the 72 seats needed to get him to the 163 seats required to form a government? How does Iran–which has close ties to the other large Shiite list–feel about Allawi? Ie, will Tehran give the okay to the Shiite list to join forces with Allawi against Maliki? Finally, how does this impact the security situation, or, how much violence will we see during the government formation process?" Hannah Allam (McClatchy's Miami Herald) notes that 91 of the 325 seats went to Allawi's political party with 89 going to State of Law, Nouri's slate. Anne Barker (Australia's ABC) calls it "an unexpected upset" while BBC News calls it "a surprise result" -- and it certainly is surprising to NPR and Quil Lawrence as well as anyone who depended on NPR's reporting from Iraq to enlighten them. Possibly next time there's an election, before Quil Lawrence and Steve Inskeep declare a winner, they might try waiting until some votes have been counted? Sunday March 7th was the election. Monday March 8th, while pretending to 'report,' Quil Lawrence and Steve Inskeep called the election for Nouri al-Maliki -- despite the fact that no vote tallies had been released. They would continue to make this call daily during the first week even though they were going by less than half of Iraq's provinces and those counts were less than 50% of each province. But they gas bagged and they gas bagged. They didn't report, they didn't enlighten. They were wrong. WRONG. It's not the press' job to call the election. And what Quil and Steve did was not reporting. It was gas bagging and not the sort of thing NPR needs to engage in during what is supposed to be a news report. Rod Nordland and Timothy Williams (New York Times) report that drama queen Nouri took to "national television" to proclaim, "No way we will accept these results." The United Nations' Secretary-General's Special Representative to Iraq, Ad Melkert, hailed the elections as "an historic achievement" and called on everyone "to assume responsibility to lead Iraq to the next stage of democracy, stability and prosperity for all. Whether winning or losing, participation in the elections has been a collective victory." Again, Nouri's reponse on Iraqi TV was, "No way we will accept these results." On behalf of the US State Dept, Philip J. Crowley (Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs) issued the following statement:
Today, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued the provisional results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections held on March 7. We congratulate the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government, candidates and coalitions, and IHEC for carrying out a successful election. In support of the election's integrity, IHEC has investigated and adjudicated a number of complaints. International observers and the more than 200,000 domestic observers expressed their confidence in the overall integrity of the election and have found that there is no evidence of widespread or serious fraud. We note the critical role played by the United Nations in supporting this historic election.
We urge all political entities to pursue any complaints or appeals through established legal mechanisms and processes. Following IHEC's release of the results, political entities may file appeals that will be heard by the Electoral Judicial Panel. When these have been resolved, Iraq's Federal Supreme Court will certify the results. Iraq will then move to seating a new Council of Representatives, choosing a President, and forming a new government.
These important steps likely will take months. We call upon all candidates and all parties to accept the results, respect the will of the Iraqi people, and work together cooperatively to form a new government in a timely manner. In this connection, it will be important for all sides to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and intimidation. It also is important that the Iraqi government continue to provide security and other essential services for its citizens during this period leading to the formation of a government.
The United States will continue to work closely with all Iraqi leaders to build a long-term, multi-dimensional relationship between our two nations.
The results still have to be certified by the country's Superme Court but, as Andrew England (Financial Times of London) points out, "The results mark a remarkable turnaround for Mr Allawi, who served as prime minister in 2004 in the wake of the US-led war to oust Saddam Hussein, and a blow to Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister." The New York Times offers a photo essay including two photos of Nouri's fan club -- one protesting today before the results were announced, the other of them protesting tonight after the results were known -- both photos by Joao Silva. Of Little Nouri's fan club, Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reports, "More worryingly, his supporters have openly threatened there would be a return to sectarian violence if Mr Allawi were declared the winner." Alice Fordham (Times of London) reports Little Nouri "responded angrily to the news, which was widely seen as a damaging blow to his crediblity and leadership." And what's the real scoops in the news cycle, Fordham notes, "Sources in Nassariya and Basra told The Times that protests there were orchestrated by State of Law, which rallied supporters and instructed government employees to attend." Just like when the banned candidates from Allawi's parties were unbanned and Nouri got his thugs out in the street to use violence to intimidate in order to change the results. Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) goes over the numbers and the uncertainties:
It's far from certain that Allawi will get al-Maliki's job. State of Law and other blocs have already indicated they will contest the results and demand recounts. Even if the results announced today hold up to scrutiny, there's a chance al-Maliki will be able to pull together a coalition to form the new government and retain the Prime Ministership. Meanwhile, the main Shi'ite bloc, the National Iraqi Alliance, won 70 seats; the main Kurdish alliance got 43. A simple majority of 163 seats is needed to govern.
Allawi also took to the airwaves, as celebratory gunfire resounded through parts of east Baghdad. In a triumphant speech he said: "Iraqiya [his party] has started a dialogue with other parties already and we will not refuse anyone."
He confirmed he would be his cross-sectarian list's candidate for the prime minister's office, his second tilt at the top job, but a position that Maliki's State of Law list and the conservative Shia Islamic Iraq National Alliance had vowed to block him from taking.
Chulov also quotes Haidar Dakhle of Dora stating, "This is a big step for the future of Iraq. Allawi is the best candidate because Maliki had started to resemble a dictator." Also at the Guardian, Ranj Alaaldin counsels against counting anyone out and notes that the battle for the next prime minister may be a lengthy one. In terms of the results themselves -- which were only on seats in the new Parliament -- Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) provides the walk through, "According to the Iraqi electoral process, candidates have a three-day period to lodge complaints. After that, the Supreme Court ratifies the results." Clicking here takes you to a Wall St. Journal video (The News Hub) half of which is Coker discussing the news.
Simon Constable: Meg, I want to ask you, are the losing sides accepting the results? Because I know there's been a lot of challenges about whether the elections were fair or not.
Margaret Coker: Right. Prime Minister Maliki has already had a press conference this evening straight after the election results were announced. He said he is not going to accept the results. And he's going to challenge them through the legal process that-that goes on for the next three or four days whereby the electoral commission will hear new complaints against the process. So Nouri al-Maliki is not a happy man tonight. On the other hand, Ayad Allawi, the challenger, has called for a grand coalition, an alliance to build a stable, new government and he says he's willing to take all comers who want to join a government with him.
Simon Constable: Meg, stay with us, I want to bring in Adam Horvath. Adam, the context of this is pretty important because an alliance has to form because no one party has a majority, right? This is -- what do they call this?
Adam Horvath: A hung Parliament is a possiblity out of it. Right now you have each one of these main contenders has about a third of the seats so they need to build a coalition as Meg said. And the coalition powers in Iraq, some of them are very divided from each other. Uh, no one is a perfect partner for anyone else, you might say. So a lot of kingmaking and a lot of rangling is going to start that could last awhile.
Reuters coverage includes speaking to multiple analysts for their take on the results and we'll note IHS Global Insight's Gala Riani:
"Allawi has achieved what Maliki had hoped and aimed to do. The mission he had was to run a coalition on a non-sectarian platform and secure an election victory on that platform. "Iraqiya (Allawi's bloc) has fared much better across the board than State of Law has, much better in the southern provinces than State of Law did in the north. It puts Allawi in a better place to secure better credibility across the county. "What Allawi has achieved is hugely significant. It's a massive blow to Maliki, to his credibility and to the type of platform he has tried to run."
Reuters offers five facts about Allawi and five about al-Maliki. Stephen Farrell (New York Times) offers the reactions of 8 Iraqi citizens and we'll note Amal al-Jalili (a teacher in Mosul), "This election is the justice which was absent from Iraq for 36 years. It is the right of the people, and it is what brought us real, nationalist, people who defended the country and took it away from sectarianism, and those who pursue sectarianism. The best outcome is to change Prime Minister Maliki." NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams covered the results this evening:
Brian Williams: Richard, you were saying earlier in the newsroom today, people rooting for the US-side of the equation would be dancing in the streets of Baghdad at this result. What did you mean by that?
Richard Engel: This was an incredibly significant day, perhaps the most important one in the last several years in Iraq. Ayad Allawi won these elections. Now he is a Shi'ite, he's secular and he's pro-American and he's very anti-Iran. The current government in Iraq right now is a religious state that leans toward Iran. So if Ayad Allawi can hold on to this position, that he gained today, he still has to form a government and face off challenges by the current prime minister, then we could see a major change in direction in Iraq.

Brian Williams: Dancing in the street with those cement blast walls in the background, kind of a reminder that it's still a dangerous state.
Prior to the announcing of results, CNN reports, Khalis was slammed with two bombing -- one car bombing, one roadside bombing, resulting in the deaths of at least 32 people and sixty-eight more injured. DPA reports the death toll has climbed to 42.
Wednesday, US House Rep John Hall chaired a Subcommittee hearing (House Veterans Affairs' Subcommittee on Disability) and we'll note this from his opening remarks:
I just want to say, I welcome you here in what has been a profoundly historic and important week for the nation and for our veterans. Over the last seven days the Full Committee convened a successful Claims Summit which brought many of you and other dozens of top veterans stakeholders together and from the Summit came a lot of very useful information which we welcome and look forward to working with the VA and all the veterans groups to try to turn into action to solve the problems that we're facing. In a rare Sunday session, Congress passed and the President signed the sweeping health care reform package and I'm pleased that [VA] Secretary Eric Schinseki as well as the Chairman of the full VA Committee (US House Rep Bob Filner] and the full Armed Services Committee [US House Rep Ike Skelton] have signed a letter and sent it to the VSOs stating unequivacly that Tri-Care and VA care will not be effected by the health care legislation. We also passed this week the End Veteran Homeless Act of 2010 to provide funding to help Secretary Schinseki's goal of ending homelessness for America's warriors. The Help Heroes Keep Their Homes Act , the COLA -- cost of living increase for veterans, the National Guard Employment Protection Act.
Those are his verbal remarks. He submitted a written opening statement for the record but we've gone by what he actually said and included it to note that the House VA Committee does work -- and works very hard -- all the time. That's a lot to do in a seven-day period. That was Wednesday and earlier that day, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing. Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Committee and Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member. Chair Akaka noted the homeless rate among veterans continues to alarm. In 2008, Akaka explained, there were 131,000 homeless US veterans (VA estimate) and this month, the VA stated that the number of homeless veterans stood at 107,000 in 2009. Ranking Member Burr noted that from that 107,000 veternas, 1,589 are in North Carolina and he called out the delays in Congress being supplied with requested information.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: [. . .] Unfortunately, I've been disappointed about the Administration's collaboration with us so far. Last October, the Committee held a hearing on comprehensive homeless legislation, S. 1547, but received no official views from VA on the bill. In the absence of any views, the Committee marked up the legislation in January with expectation that VA would be providing us with a greater understanding of how it fits in with the Secretary's plan. Five months and multiple inquiries -- and we received the views last night, giving my staff no opportunity to do a thorough analysis of the information. Of course, this is not the first time VA waits until the 11th hour to provide responses to inquiries they have had for months. This is also not the first time I have had to raise this problem. And I will continue to do it. I don't understand the delay. Why does it take VA five months to provide Congress with the crucial information we need to do the best job we can for our veterans?
That's all we have room for on Congress. In peace news, Cindy Sheehan (Peace of the Action) explores the pluses and minuses of Peace Camp which has closed ("not for long") and includes praise for the many college students who took part:
By the way, not only was our demand to meet with President Obama not granted -- three of our Camp OUT NOW volunteers (including myself) have been given stay away orders from the White House.
We tried to get into the Senate Appropriation's Committee meeting today at the Capitol and we were followed and harassed the entire time and in the transparent age of Obama, the hearing was closed to us citizens, anyway. I was able to watch the rerun on C-SPAN 3 and I can tell you all one thing, these wars are planned to continue indefinitely. I am not okay with that.
To take advantage of the energy and enthusiasm of our young people, we are planning on returning in June to set up Camp and start our actions again.
So we will be keeping the spirit of the Camp alive until the students get out of school and, hopefully, we can make a go of it in the summer.
More information and essays on the importance of peace can be found at Cindy's Soapbox (including links to her radio program). We've covered Marc Hall many times. He's the service member 'guilty' of 'rapping.' Courage to Resist has sent out the following on the latest development in the military persecution of Hall:
Donate to help defend Marc - 146 people have given $5,408. Because the Army kidnapped Marc to Kuwait for trial, we will need to raise at least $10,000 to provide a civilian defense lawyer. Critical expert witnesses to could be another $5,000, in addition to the $4,600 already spent.

Courage to Resist. March 25, 2010

US Army Specialist Marc A. Hall sits in a military brig at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, facing an imminent court martial for challenging the US military's Stop-Loss policy in a song — his pre-trial hearing was held last week on March 17. Yet it was not the hip-hop song he wrote criticizing the Stop-Loss policy that landed him in trouble. What put the 34-year-old New York City native in the brig were his persistent assertions of inadequate mental health care that culminated in a Dec. 7 complaint to the Army Investigator General. Just five days later Hall was charged with violating "good order and discipline" at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and was shipped out of the country.

Hall's court martial is likely to occur late April or early May.

The jailing occurred a full five months after Hall wrote a rap song protesting the Stop-Loss order that halted his discharge after he served his country for 14 months of combat in Iraq. Hall was charged with 11 counts of "communicating threats" related to the song and has since been charged with violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct. All the alleged violations occurred between last July and December, yet not one warranted warning, counseling, or non-judicial punishment at the time.

On Feb. 20 Hall wrote, "A charge that was not a threat before, but all of a sudden became a threat now. I communicated a need for mental evaluation -- not a threat."As if that were not enough the military took the nearly unprecedented step of moving Hall overseas for court martial, instead of putting him on trial in Georgia where the alleged threats occurred. On Feb. 26 Hall was put on plane to Iraq and transferred to Kuwait for pre-trial confinement. This put him out of reach of his civilian legal defense team, friends, and family. It will also make it extremely hard for defense witnesses to appear at trial on his behalf.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a
"lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases,
gas burns
cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply -- parts
of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth.
But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking",
raises concerns about health and environmental risks.

On March 26 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW talks with filmmaker
Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the
surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film -- inspired
when the gas company came to his hometown -- alleges chronic illness,
animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory

Drilling down to the truth about natural gas. Next on NOW.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Alexis Simendinger (National Journal). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. They're beefing up their online presence and that includes highlighting archived shows (this week it's a 15th anniversary broadcast from February 26, 1992) and Gwen's weekly column which, this week, is entitled "Translating History." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Bernadine Healy, Melinda Henneberger and Eleanor Holmes Norton on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's a discussion on immigration. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

The Case Against Nada Prouty
Former FBI and CIA terrorism fighter Nada Prouty was herself accused of aiding terrorism, but in her first interview, she denies she was anything other than a patriot. Scott Pelley investigates her case. | Watch Video

The Russian Is Coming
Mikhail Prokhorov, perhaps Russia's richest man, discusses his planned purchase of the N.J. Nets basketball team, his vast wealth and the surprisingly unusual way he made most of his money in his first American television interview. Steve Kroft reports. | Watch Video

The Sharkman
Anderson Cooper dives unprotected with great white sharks and the South African who's spent more time up close with the ocean's most feared predator than anyone else. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, March 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) byNaftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Susan Page (USA Today) and Christopher Rowland (Boston Globe). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Daniel Dombey (Financial Times of London), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) and Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hillary and other things

Thursday. Almost the weekend. Thankfully. :D It's Women's History Month so before anything else, I want to note something by Hillary Clinton.

Secretary's Remarks: Remarks at the 30th Anniversary of the Women's History Project

Secretary's Remarks: Remarks at the 30th Anniversary of the Women's History Project
Thu, 25 Mar 2010 13:47:35 -0500

Remarks at the 30th Anniversary of the Women's History Project

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
March 25, 2010

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Wow. This is about as good as it gets – (laughter) – to be here on the day to celebrate Women’s History Month with our Speaker and with so many friends. (Applause.) And I mean, it is a special blessing and I am so grateful to look around and see so many of you with whom I have worked and done so many important tasks and taken on so many difficult issues on behalf of our country. I am delighted to be here to be able to thank Nancy Pelosi for her leadership, to thank her for her courage – (applause) – and to see all those who made it possible, from, of course, Steny Hoyer and so many of you who have been in the trenches. I was so thrilled when that vote finally closed. (Laughter.)

I don’t know, Nancy, I mean, I kept thinking, oh, Lord – (laughter) – what might happen next. And I know what a challenge this was. I have the scars to prove it – (laughter) – and they’re fading fast now that I know I will have universal quality affordable health care. (Applause.)

But this bill, which will finally see its last action in the House after coming over from the Senate this afternoon, this bill means so much to our country, but it is particularly important to women. Women who have for too long borne the burden of our broken system, who have taken care of so many others as the caretakers and had to interact on so many different levels with our healthcare system. And we all could be here all night talking about those whom we know, those whom we love, maybe ourselves, and all of the challenges. I will never forget being in Cleveland, Ohio at the Babies and Children Hospital there and talking to a father who had two children with cystic fibrosis, another healthy child. He could not get insurance for his two sick children. And he told me he went from place to place. He was a successful man. He offered whatever it would take. And finally one of the insurance company reps just looked at him and said, “You just don’t understand. We do not insure burning houses.”

There are millions of stories like that, which now because of this Congress will be stories of the past, not our future. So thank you all so much. (Applause.)

And it such an honor to serve with Hilda Solis and Lisa Jackson and the other women – (applause) – in the Obama Administration who are pushing the envelope every single day, and to look here and see so many of my former colleagues. The Speaker mentioned Charlie Rangel. (Applause.) I would not have run for the Senate without Charlie’s gentle nudging – (laughter) – and I’m forever grateful. And of course, Chairman Reyes and Chairman Levin and so many of the people that I work with on a daily and weekly basis. And here we are in Statuary Hall to celebrate Women’s History Month, and I had no idea I had Lynn Woolsey to thank for that. (Laughter.) And I am so glad – (applause) – publicly to thank you both. (Applause.)

I am so privileged, as the Speaker said, to travel around the world on behalf of our country, on behalf of President Obama, on behalf of all of you. And I have traveled a lot of miles in the last 15 months, and I have had the great privilege of speaking with world leaders about everything from nuclear nonproliferation to Iran, to China, to the Middle East, to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our Western Hemisphere and every place in between. But I always raise, wherever I go, the rights of women. (Applause.) Because I believe that women’s rights, roles, and responsibilities, is the last piece of unfinished business that we must confront together.

Nick Kristof said about two weeks ago something that has really stuck with me. He said, “You know, in the 19th century, the great moral struggle was the struggle against slavery. In the 20th century, the great moral struggle was the struggle against totalitarianism, and in the 21st century, the great moral struggle is to finish according women and girls everywhere – (applause) – the same opportunities and rights that their men and boys in their societies have. (Applause.)

There are so many brave and courageous women whose names we will never know. As Lynn read out some of the names of women in our history, including our Speaker, we could think of others that come to mind. But there are so many millions throughout our history and millions more in the world today whose accomplishments are unheralded. Just look at how few women we have here in Statuary Hall or throughout the Capitol. Slowly but surely, we are writing women back into history, as the National Women’s History Project says.

And I was very proud last year when Sojourner Truth took her rightful place here in the Capitol. (Applause.) My friend Sheila Jackson Lee and I labored on that for years. And I could have told everybody in the Capitol, you’re going to say yes to Sheila sooner or later. (Laughter.) But we fought for that statue and we had the help of so many of you because the history of this country cannot be told without including the ongoing narrative of American women working, organizing, educating, inspiring, galvanizing, and leading all of us to push for a fuller expression of our rights. And I am here very grateful for this moment and thankful to share it with all of you.

But I’m thinking about the women around the world whose voices need to be amplified by ours. Think about Aung San Suu Kyi standing up for democracy (applause) – years and years of house arrest that have never broken her spirit, dented her courage, or in any way stripped her of the grace that she conveys under the most difficult of circumstances. Or think about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leading Liberia – (applause) – into the future after years of civil war. I am so touched and moved when I see women leading in their societies, but I’m equally touched and moved when I meet those who are breaking ground, who are truly pioneers.

Earlier this month, I met a woman from Afghanistan who has joined her provincial council. She’s pushing for educational opportunities for girls. She’s working to recognize the rights of the mentally disabled. I met another who’s leading an effort to recruit thousands of women into the Afghan National Police Force to better protect women and girls. These are profiles in courage. They may never be included in a book. But they get so much encouragement by knowing that we know their stories, by sharing them with each other. Women in Iraq turned out not only to vote in record numbers but even ran for office, refusing to submit to fear and intimidation. (Applause.)

There are women who, tonight, will go out continuing to rescue girls from brothels in Cambodia, to heal women injured in childbirth in Ethiopia, or to find them as they’ve been abandoned in the forest in Eastern Congo after being brutally assaulted, and bringing them to safety. There will be women who are cleaning up and giving comfort in the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. The list goes on and on. And they won’t be enshrined in bronze or marble in a magnificent hall like this, but they are the authors of a new chapter in the march toward human equality and progress.

So as this Women’s History Month draws to a close, let us redouble our efforts to make sure that all the women and girls in our own country have a chance to live up to their own God-given potential. And then let’s make sure that we keep reaching out to more girls and women around the world. So this is not just a celebration of Nancy or me; this is a celebration of all the women and girls who may not ever get called Speaker or Secretary of State, but who in their own ways are making it possible for generations to come after them to seize and hold their rightful place.

I am thrilled to be representing our country at this time in our history, where we’re really on the cusp of being able to relate to and work with countries in a different way, to convey to them that open hand that President Obama spoke about in his inaugural, if they will unclench their fist. And the greatest beneficiaries of this kind of positive engagement will be girls and women because they are still too often the unfed, the uneducated, the uncared for.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at a magazine, and I thought at first it said “Genocide.” And then I looked more closely and it said, “Gendercide.” Because there are so many girls who never get to their first birthday, and who are still not valued, who don’t have that special support of a family that loves them and thinks that they’re pretty special. And so we have not only the opportunity to pass laws, as you’ve done on healthcare, and to speak out – as so many of you, as I look around here, know you do every single day – to tackle problems, like Kilda does, of unfair working conditions; or as Lisa does, about pollution and climate change that literally sucks the breath out of children, but also to make sure we are connected literally around the globe in a great network of support and caring and commitment.

So thank you for what you did here in this House, the People’s House, to make healthcare finally a reality (applause) – to deliver on that promise. (Applause.)

And thank you for the support that you are giving us in our efforts to really make a new world, a world filled with possibility, potential, and opportunity, where equality is taken for granted. That is our mission, and let’s go out and make some history again.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

I, of course, disagree with her about ObamaCare but I'll leave it in because it's part of the total speech. I think it really hits its stride around the part where she brings up Sheila Jackson-Lee.

Okay,CBS News reports (by Brian Montopoli) that right-winger David Frum lost his post at the right-wing American Enterpise Institute. How come? They didn't like what he said.

And that's the way it is. Not a tragedy. He's a columnist and if Thomas Friedman writes from a point of view that's not NYC, the New York Times may decide to fire him.

So I don't see it as a loss or unfair. I do wonder why Frum -- a Canadian -- is so up in the US politics. Why you in our business? Get you some business of your own! :D

Hey, did Barack get to work on the economy yet?

Obama Promotes Health Bill In Iowa
Los Angeles Times - ‎2 hours ago‎
With his healthcare overhaul now enshrined in law, President Barack Obama warned Republicans today that any attempt to repeal the measure would backfire and that Americans will quickly see that the new package of medical benefits they receive will not ...
In Iowa, Obama Calls Health Bill 'Pro-Business' New York Times
In Victory, Health Debate Still Rankles Wall Street Journal
ABC News - Washington Post - USA Today - CBS News
all 1,653 news articles »

Guess not.

Well there's always 2011, right? Maybe he needs some (more) downtime.

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the counting of votes in Iraq continues, Bob Gates wants to talk, Congress hears about veterans' bills, and more.

Starting with Iraqi elections,
The Economist states, 'With the count almost complete, it is impossible to say who will head the next Iraqi government. The electoral alliance with the most seats will have first shot at forming one -- but with no guarantee of success. The likelist contenders are the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and Iyad Allawi, one of his predecessors. But a compromise candidate could yet slip throught middl, as has happened before." On yesterday's Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton spoke with Michael Hastings about the elections:

Michael Hastings: I think Maliki's people -- you know, Maliki's party is the Dawa Party was essentially in exile for thirty until the US brought them back into power and they -- and once you have power, you want to hold onto it. And that's what this is about. This is about Maliki trying to hold onto power and using whatever sort of brinkmanship -- in this case, calling for a recount -- whatever tactic he's going to use to hold onto power. So will it result in violence? I think it's hard to say. What -- what we're seeing -- and this is sort of the argument I've been making -- is that Iraq is sort of slipping back to its more familiar authoritarianism and sort of this experiment into democracy that the Americans tried to enact over there is essentially failing and when Maliki, you know, whoever this new government is, the question is: If they're not willing to give up power when there's 90,000 Americans there and heavy American pressure on them, what's the chances of four years from now, of the next government willing to give up power peacefully? But I think these parties have shown a willingness to play chicken with the security of Iraq so they will continue to make these threats, they will continue to go as close to the edge as possible and are willing to accept a pretty high level of violence to maintain power.

Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) writes a piece exploring where things stand and he also notes the use of threats and violence:

The moment of truth for Iraq will come if Allawi edges out al Maliki, or if the latter wins a narrow victory but cannot assemble a governing coalition due to the considerable animosity he has generated among his political rivals. Will he peacefully accept the rotation of power? Iraqis and outside analysts have watched nervously over the last few years as the prime minister centralised power within his office. His warning, pointedly issued as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, that an "illegitimate" electoral result could result in violence further frayed nerves – leading one Saudi newspaper to describe him as "Iraq's Ahmadinejad".
Iraq therefore faces a double-edged test after the elections. If al Maliki triumphs in a narrow election and assembles a coalition that largely reproduces the outgoing government, many Iraqis may feel that the election was a sham, and that democracy is not capable of producing true change. If al Maliki loses, he may not surrender power without a fight -- and many of his backers may reject the prospect of being ruled by Allawi, who drew so heavily on Sunni votes.
Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) adds:

In a more politically mature nation--say, one whose polity was not destroyed by US invasion, subsequent insurgency and then several years of horrendous civil war -- the politicians who lead those blocs could form a coalition. But in Iraq a peaceful outcome is not at all certain. The Kurds and the INA have powerful paramilitary forces, and Maliki has shown he is prepared to use the security forces to do his bidding. And Sunnis, many of whom supported the 2003-07 insurgency, could rebel again. Even if the worst is avoided in the immediate future, Iraqi politics is a Rubik's cube of which it's hard to imagine a stable, ruling alliance forming the necessary majority in the National Assembly.

Dreyfuss also rejects Colin Powell's Pottery Barn analogy and that's so long ago that some may not know the story (and some may have forgotten). War Hawk Colin -- so
embarrassed by his Blot -- said of the Iraq War that the US would end up owning Iraq because it would be like the Pottery Barn rule: You broke it, you bought it.

Lizz Winstead (formerly of Air America's Unfiltered) long ago provided the walk through that's so obviously been forgotten: Pottery Barn has no such rule. (Maybe Rachel Maddow could stop making nice with War Hawk Powell's friends and remind her audience -- her tiny audience -- of what her former radio co-host long ago explained?) There is no rule of "You broke it, you bought it" at Pottery Barn. As with most things out of the mouth of Collie Powell it is oh so distantly related to the actual truth.

Having dealt with the factual, let's take a moment to deal with something else that gets a pass and no one ever calls out. Iraq is not Pottery Barn. How the hell dare Colin Powell imply that another country is Pottery Barn for the US. It's a damning revelation that everyone's avoided for 7 years now but it's Colin admitting -- use your brains -- that the Iraq War was all about foreigners getting their hands on Iraq's assets. Why else compare a country to a store where all items are on display and have price tags? Iraq was already OWNED BY THE IRAQIS.

Back to the elections, as
Chaka Khan once asked, "Who's it gonna be this time/ Who's gonna be the next in line" ("Who's It Gonna Be" written by Gary Goetzman and Mike Picirillo, appears on Chaka's Destiny album). What's known today? A lot more than was known the day after the election when no results were known but that didn't stop Steve Inskeep and Quil Lawrence from gas bagging, did it? And their gas bagger? Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Red-faced embarrassment may explain why NPR -- despite Ron Elving's on air bragging -- hasn't filed from Iraq in nine days now. So we'll return to the discussion between Horton and Hastings and notice how Hastings is not afraid to say when something is not known.

Scott Horton: Basically Allawi or Maliki -- either one of them -- is going to have to align with Moqtada al-Sadr in order to become prime minister, is that right?

Michael Hastings: I think -- I think that's right. I mean, literally, this is not a dodge of the question, but you ask the most knowledgable experts on what's going to happen in terms of the Iraqi government formation process over the next few months --

Scott Horton: Right. That's what I'm doing right now. [Both laugh.]

Michael Hastings: Yeah. And I'm telling you no one -- no one -- really has a clue. And I say that not to dodge the question but because -- just look what happened last time. Last time how did Maliki get his job? Maliki got his job after six months of protracted negotiations. He was not even -- this guy was not even on the political map but he became this compromise candidate who no one had heard of before. Now this time around, uh, from my reporting, I've talked to Allawi's people, they have said that their most likely, they've already started to reach out to Sadirsts. So you could see that as a powerful alliance -- the Sadirsts joining with Allawi and possibly Hakim's people also supporting Allawi but you never know if they're going to. The question is Allawi acceptable because he has this sort of Ba'athist baggage? Will he be an acceptable pick for prime minister? Maliki has been politically isolated. He's alienated a lot of his friends, he really doesn't have too many friends left which is why I think he's so adament about a recount and trying to make the case that he, you know, he's the legitimate leader of the country so no matter what the results are, he's going to stay in power. So I think -- but then you have the Kurds come in. You know, who are they going to support? They don't like Maliki right now and they could probably live with Allawi. So-so really there are all sorts of combinations. We might -- the next prime minister could be someone we've never heard of. That's a possiblity.

Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) sees the (unofficial) results thus far as indicative of "a deeply fragmented Iraq in which sectarian interests remain paramount." She also reports that the Minister of the Interior called for the vote tally not to be released tomorrow; however, the electoral "commission refused to postpone the results." To rule, one of the two parties (presuming they maintain their positions in the official count) must form a power-sharing relationship with other political parties. That requires trades and meet ups. Qassim Khidhir Hamad (Niqash) reports:In just ten days, Eyad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya alliance, twice visited the Kurdistan Region and met the region's president, Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, also a Kurd.Kurdish officials described the meetings as 'consultative'. they say no decision has yet been made over which side to ally with in the formation of the new government."Kurds have two conditions for its post-election coalition partner. First, the partner should have faith in article 140 of the constitution relating to the disputed areas and second, Kurds should be the main partner in the next government."

Many political parties and slates competed for votes in Iraq's March 7th election and among them was the Ahrar Party which issued the following today:

Ahrar challenges validity of election results
In a letter to world leaders including Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, Ayad Jamal Aldin formally contested the conduct of the Independent High Electoral Commission and called for a recount in the votes under the supervision of Supreme Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice, United Nations and the Arab League representatives.
Read an excerpt of the letter below, and the full text
Dear Sir,
As a political party we have a duty to ensure that the recent electoral vote within Iraq represents the people of Iraq's true opinions and their votes are counted accurately.
Currently, we do not believe this has happened and on behalf of my party, and all the people of Iraq, I want to formally challenge the recent election results.
The Electoral Commission has demonstrated a lack of independence throughout the election process epitomised by their decision to reduce the official campaigning time to just three weeks. For other candidates this represents an unacceptable interference from the Institute of Justice and Accountability.
In addition to this, a number of Iraqi political parties, including Ahrar Party, were subjected to malicious and violent acts of hostility by entities who are in power and other religious political parties who took advantage of their position in government and religious authorities and worship places.
The most concerning from my party's point of view are the witness statements of the voters who declared that on the 7th March, after they closed all the ballots, the results of each station were shown on the wall of each centre. At this point the total votes for AHRAR was 690,000 however now the Election Commission is declaring that Ahrar achieved only 44,995 votes. This is deeply concerning.
For further information, contact:
Ahrar Media BureauTel: +964 (0)790 157 4478 / +964 (0)790 157 4479 / +964 (0)771 275 2942
About Ayad Jamal Aldin:
Ayad Jamal Aldin is a cleric, best known for his consistent campaigning for a new, secular Iraq. He first rose to prominence at the Nasiriyah conference in March 2003, shortly before the fall of Saddam, where he called for a state free of religion, the turban and other theological symbols. In 2005, he was elected as one of the 25 MPs on the Iraqi National List, but withdrew in 2009 after becoming disenchanted with Iyad Allawi's overtures to Iran. He wants complete independence from Iranian interference in Iraq. He now leads the Ahrar party for the 2010 election to the Council of Representatives, to clean up corruption and create a strong, secure and liberated Iraq for the future.

Violence continues in Iraq.

Reuters notes a Tuz Khurmato roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left five people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured a police officer and a child, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 "commander in a government-backed local militia" and left "two of his follwers" injured, a Kirkuk grenade attack which injured two police officer, a Ramadi bombing which injured three police officers and, dropping back to yesterday, a suicide bombing in Hit in which the bomer took his own life as well as the lives of 3 additional people and three more were injured.


Reuters notes 2 women shot dead in a Baghdad home invasion.

Turning to the United States where US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates held a press conference today at the Pentagon and a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing. We'll start with actual news. This morning, US House Rep Michael Michaud called to order the Subcommittee On Health so that they could review pending bills. The first panel was made up of members of Congress including the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Bob Filner.

Us House Rep Bob Filner: Mr. Chairman, we thank you for your leadership on this Subcomittee and for your fine working relationship with [Ranking Member] Mr. [Henry] Brown. I appreciate the leadership that both of you have given and I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say we appreciate the opportunity to talk about our legislation before you, so thank you for that. The bill that I am speaking on,
HR 949, would improve the collective bargaining rights and procedures for reviews of adverse actions of certain VA employees. This bill is all about ensuring equity amongst the health care professionals employed by VA so that providers such as doctors, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, optomerists and podiatrists who are hired under the so-called "pure title 38" system have the same rights -- the same rights as their fellow VA health care professionals who are hired under different hiring systems. Without this bill, the "pure title 38" providers do not have the right to challenge errors in pay computations and lack other key bargaining rights enjoyed by their colleagues at the VA. To address this problem, HR 949 would clarify that these "pure title 38" providers have equal rights -- equal rights -- to collective bargaining. This means that they would be able to challenge personnel actions through such methods as grievances, arbitrations and labor-management negotiations. This bill would also require the VA to review the adverse presonnel action and issue a final decision, no later than 60 days after the employee appeals the adverse personnel action. Finally the bill would subject the VA's final decision on employee appealed adverse personnel action to judicial review in the appropriate US District Court or the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. I know that the VA has concerns , I know that they are in discussions with stakeholders and I am looking forward to working with all of them as we move forward on this piece of legislation.

These hearings allow Congressional members to present their bills to the subcommittee or committee and allow the VA to provide testimony and any others that the Congress might chose to hear from. US House Rep Steve Scalise is a representative from Louisiana and he is sponosring
HR 1075 which would address continuation of medical care should a disaster close a VA hospital -- as happened with the New Orleands VA Medical Center as a result of Hurricane Katrina. US House Rep Leonard L. Boswell is sponsoring HR 3926. Boswell took a moment to recognize his legislative director Alexis Taylor who is an Iraq War veteran and he explained discovery the need for this bill when Taylor "went back to Iowa for a five-year post-deployment reunion with her unit and others and one of the women at the reunion had returned home from serving her country and was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy at age 25. Through the course of the night, the service members at the reunion were able to piece together, talk to one another, about six women they were deployed with who had come back from their deployment in Iraq with breast cancer -- all between the ages of 25 to 35 years old. Also, there were another half dozen women who returned with new lumps in their breasts that needed additional tests such as mammograms, ultrasounds and/or biopsies. With 70 women deployed in a battallion of about 700, this incidence rate in young women seemed high and alarming as Alexis brought this to my attention." His bill calls for a study on breast cancer within the service and within veterans to determine whether the rate is higher among the military and whether breast cancer might be a service connected disability? Boswell noted that he personally believes it is. He also explained how, during Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange and suffers many health issues as a result and feels that the Congress needs to be on top of this issue now and not waiting as was the case with recognition of the effects of Agent Orange. "If we could do something about it," he declared, "and we don't, shame on us."

US House Rep Virginia Brown-Waite is sponsoring
HR 84 which is concerned with the lengthy wait involved in seeing a doctor and calls for timely appointments and eliminating delays.

US House Rep Virginia Brown-Waite: In September 2007, the VA Office of the Inspector General found that the Veterans Health Administration's method of calculating waiting times of new patients understates the real waiting times. In this report, the Inspector General made five recommendations to reduce these wait times. To date, four of these five recommendations remain unresolved. When I first was elected to Congress, I inquired about wait times from my local VA community, out-based clincis and hospitals. The numbers the VA gave me both for VISN 8 and nationwide quite honestly did not match the stories that I was hearing from my veterans. I challenged them on it and I told them that I was going to be in their offices watching and waiting and talking to individuals. What was happening was, they were making the appointments within 30 days but then, around the 20th day, they'd call and change the appointment to a later date so it would be maybe 40, maybe 50 days.

US House Rep Gabrielle Giffords is sponsoring
HR 2698 and 2699 which are both concerned with treatment for PTSD. The first would provide a scholarship to train VA workers and allow veterans to access PTSD health care at the VAs even if -- especially if -- the PTSD is newly emerging/manifesting. The first bill would put more and better trained workers in the VA and allow the veterans greater access to treatment. The second bill would create pilot pograms that would provide treatment but also track feedback from the veterans and their families in order to devise better treatments. US House Rep Ann Kirkpatrick is from Arizona and "my district is home to 11 tribal communities spread out across an area larger than 26 states and yet it is served by only one VA medical center." HR 4006 is one of the bills she is sponsoring.

If at all possible, we'll cover -- even if it's only one tiny section -- something from the subcommittee hearing US House Rep John Hall chaired yesterday. It went on too late to make it into yesterday's snapshot and there's not room for it today.

Moving to Sec Gates' Pentagon briefing today where he declared:

In February, I established a high-level working group to review the issues associated with implementing a repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law and to develop recommendations for implementation should the law change. At the same time, I directed the department to conduct a review of how the militiary implements the current policy, and, within 45 days, present to me recommended changes that would enforce the existing law in a fairer and more appropriate manner. Today I have approved a series of changes to the implementation of the current statute. They were developed with the full participation of the department's senior civilian and military leadership and the changes are unanimously supported by [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Chairman [Mike] Mullen, Vice Chairman [James] Cartwright and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Department's General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel have also concluded that these changes are consisten with the existent Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. These changes reflect some of the insights we have gained over 17 years of implementing the current law -- including the need for consistency, oversight and clear standards. The changes are as follows. [1] We will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to initiate a fact-finding inquiry or separation proceeding regarding homosexual conduct to a general or flag officer in the service member's chain of command. [2] We will raise the level of the person who is authorized to conduct a fact-finding inquiry to the level of lieutenant colonel, navy commander or above. [3] We will raise the level of the officer who is authorized to begin an inquiry or separation proceeding by, for example, specifying that information provided by third parties should be given under oath and by discouraging the use of overheard statements and hearsay. [4] We will revise what constitutes a "reliable person," upon whose word an inquiry could be initiated with special scrutiny on third parties who may be motivated to harm the service member. Finally, certain categories of confidential information will no longer be used in support of discharges including [a] information provided to lawyers, clergy and psychotherapists, [b] information provided to a medical professional in furtherance of medical treatment or a public-health official in the course of a public-health inquiry, [c] information provided in the course of seeking professional assistance for domestic or physical abuse and [d] information obtained in the course of security-clearing investigations in accordance with existing DoD policies. The services will have 30 days to conform their regulations to these changes. Meanwhile these modifications will take effect immediately and will apply to all open and future cases. In effect this means that all separations from this point forward will take place under the revised regulation. I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice -- above all, by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved. Of course only Congress can repeal the current Don't Ask, Don't Tell statute. It remains the law and we are obligated to enforce it. At the same time, these changes will allow us to execute the law in a fairer and more appropriate manner. The work of the DoD working group chaired by Mr. Johnson and Gen Carter Ham continues. As i told the Congress in February, I am determined that we in the Dept carry out the president's directive on Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a professional and thorough way. I look forward to the continued progress of the working group as they undertake their important task in weeks and months ahead.

The announcement offers damn little to cheer but it does indicate the pressure the administration is finally start to recognize and feel.
Last week, Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Piertrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence to protest Barack Obama's refusal to keep his campaign promise and repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After entering not guilty pleas last Friday, the two left the court and Choi made a statement.

Lt Dan Choi: There are other people who are oppressed that have the chains on them in their hearts. There were many times when people would say when you go and get arrested, it's difficult because your hands are restrained and the movement is a little bit stymied or halted on the physical level. But it is my hope that the larger movement, even with the chains on it, will do nothing but grow to the point where it cannot be controlled by anything but that freeing and that dignified expression of getting arrested for what you know is absolutely morally right. There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me and I thought of all the other people that were still trapped, that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts and we might have been caged up physically but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation or with a cocktail party or with tokens that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get his dignity back, being chained up and being arrested, that's how you get your dignity conferred back on you. So I think that my actions, my call, is to every leader -- not just gay leaders, I'm talking any leader who believes in America, that the promises of America can be manifest. We're going to do it again. And we're going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest and we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people, we will not go away .

Who stood with them? (Backstory, US House Rep Barney Frank revealed the administration was not pushing to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's what led to the White House fence action.) Who stood with them?

The Center for Constitutional Rights used to brag in their BAD ASS BUSH YEARS that they didn't whine, they got active. So did CCR publicly stand with Dan Choi? Hell no. Hell _____ no. You can't stand from a kneelling position, someone tell CCR. What about our radical friends at the National Lawyers Guild? Did they issue a release supporting Choi? Nope. Like their noted alumni John Conyers, they talk a good game when things are easy. It was real easy for John Conyers to talk impeachment when the Democrats weren't in power. They get into power and John asks, "How far does my leash go, Nancy?" And Pelosi snaps her fingers and he drops to the floor and rolls over so she can scratch his belly. And as pathetic as John is (has karma hit the home life?), even more pathetic was how stupid he thought Americans were. We can and will, he would insist, impeach Bush after he's out of office. There's nothing to stop us, he would maintain, from impeaching Bush after he's out of office. John Conyers. What a sad, sad way to go out of public life. And will the defense be (the rumor is the current criminal charges may spread beyond the spouse) be: "I'm just a senile old man married to a young woman and I don't know what the hell she was doing, your Honor"? Fun times. Like Conyers, NLG couldn't speak out because speaking out required holding the White House accountable. You can't stand while you're on your back, boys and girls. The joke that is Amnesty International USA? That's funny. Friends with Amnesty in other countries ask what's up with our Amnesty? What's up? They're the 'independent' and 'non-partisan' organization that turned their website over to glorify the deity that thought they saw in Barack Obama. Like many a false god, he let them down -- hence the loss of their cute little graphic about Barry O and his 100 days. Amnesty, you'll never be able to speak with something rammed down you throat -- you know what I'm saying. So did anyone speak up for Dan Choi? Yeah, acutally, one organization stood with him publicly. (LGBT organizations have stood with him -- though not the cowardly HRC -- but I'm not talking about that. On the left, we either stand with each other or we allow them to turn us against one another. Dan Choi and others are fighting for basic dignity and our humanity as a nation. Everyone should have been on board.) So
the only one to get on board was . . . NOW.

The National Organization for Women joins Lieutenant Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo and equal rights advocates around the country in demanding President Obama act immediately to suspend the military's discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which prevents LGBT service members from serving openly. Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo were arrested March 19 after chaining themselves to the fence of the White House in protest of the policy, under which Choi faces discharge and Pietrangelo was discharged. The policy has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,500 service members since its inception in 1994. An estimated 66,000 LGBT people currently serve in the military
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy has a disproportionate impact on women in the military, according to the Service Women's Action Network. Sexual harassment of military women often takes the form of lesbian baiting; and in 2008, 34 percent of service members discharged were women, although women make up only 15 percent of military personnel.
"The Department of Defense doesn't need to study this issue any longer," NOW President Terry O'Neill said. "Extensive research has already been done. Equality and justice are on the line. Instead of wasting time on another study, NOW calls on President Obama to immediately suspend Don't, Ask Don't Tell, Congress to repeal the policy and the DOD to focus on implementing the discontinuation without further delay."
"Delaying implementation until December 2010 is unnecessary," O'Neill continued. "Every day that this unjust policy continues is another day of discrimination that leads to the military's loss of valuable service members and the needless disruption of their careers and lives."
"Leadership from NOW joined Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo on Friday for their arraignments after the two men spent the night in a cell filled with cockroaches -- all for peacefully demonstrating for the repeal of this extremely unjust and unnecessary policy," O'Neill said. "NOW commends all LGBT service members for their contributions to this country and demands the immediate repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

NOW stood with Dan. CCR? They just soiled their diapers and cried like the little babies they've now become. If you missed that earlier ad, from their Bad Ass Bush Years,
click here because Mike posted it at his site back in 2006 when CCR actually was worth praise.
Good for NOW and good for their president. Terry's standing up when everyone else is crumpling or playing silent. And, since it is the month for it, let's note the obvious: Of course it would take a woman to lead. Of course. Praise for Terry.

Cedric and Wally noted, Barry O's trying to sell ObamaCare in Iowa -- apparently the economy can continue to wait. Community posts last night covered a theme so be sure to check out Elaine's " What Have They Done To The Rain?," Mike's "What's my age again?," Marcia's "Erotic City," Ruth's "Venus," Rebecca's "american pie," Betty's "Silly," Ann's "Silly," Trina's "You Keep Me Hangin' On," Stan's "Wishes" and Kat's "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)." The theme involved music and, online, you can stream Joanne Newsom's March 23rd concert at NPR. Kat reviewed Newsom's new album (Have One On Me) last month. In May of 2006, Kat praised Josh Ritter's The Animal Years. Tomorrow at noon EST, Josh Ritter performs live on NPR's World Cafe.

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a "lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply -- parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth. But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking", raises concerns about health and environmental risks. On March 26 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film -- inspired when the gas company came to his hometown -- alleges chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory missteps. Drilling down to the truth about natural gas. Next on NOW.

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