Saturday, March 18, 2023

What is Cheynne Jackson's chest

That's the answer to "What's the only reason to watch Call Me Kat?"

This week's episode featured Cheyenne's Max near the end on the phone with Kat.  She was singing karaoke at a club with a new friend.  He was at home in bed -- shirtless.  It was the best moment of the show.

Cheynne is a hugely attractive male.  And it was nice to hear him sing -- at the end.  

But the show has more problems each episode.  

Does no one pay attention to the storylines?

This week?  Sheila was paying hundreds to a plumber to avoid Randi and Carter so they wouldn't know their apartment was fixed but would instead stay on as Sheila's houseguests.

Why does that matter?

Last week, I wrote:

Sheila needed a job this episode.  Kat hired her even though Max rightly objected.  It did not work out and I blame Kat.  She should have had a talk with her mother before hiring her.

She got angry with the disrespect Sheila brought to the job.  That's a conversation before you hired your mother who insults you every time she's around.  

Sheila's story, by the way, makes no sense.  She's in assisted living and her accountant tells her she needs to cut back on expenses and should give up her country club membership.  She won't.  She wants to get a job instead.

So now, one episode later, strapped-for-cash Sheila can pay hundreds of dollars to a plumber?

It makes no sense and it's insulting to the audience. 

My husband and I both work and we've got two kids.  I don't see how it's funny to use someone's struggling with money one week and then having them toss around a large cash bribe one episode later.

That's not the worst of it.  Max is working with a new artist.  Kat befriends the artist.  The episode ends with the artist, a woman, kissing Kat.  

If you didn't see it coming, you weren't paying attention.

I don't know what we're supposed to do with this.

We know Kat's not leaving Max for a woman.  We know Kat's not leaving Max for a man.  I'm not sure why they made it a woman.  Are they trying to shock or titillate?

Forgive for me being suspicious when, a week ago, Mayim had a transphobe on her podcast and they didn't address the transphobia.  

Mayim's supposed to be an LGBTQ+ ally.  Well people said that of Tina Fey as well.

But as I remember 30 ROCK, Tracy Morgan made homophobic remarks in real life, Tina defended him and responded by writing Cheynne Jackson out of the show.  Cheyenne was the only out gay member of the cast.  As people noted this, Tina would quickly bring him back for one quick episode.  

I don't support homophobia, transphobia, you name it.

And I'm questioning this storyline -- it's a two-parter -- where a lesbian shows up, conceals that she's a lesbian to everyone and is attracted to Kat.  She knows Kat is living with Max but she kisses Kat anyway -- even though she herself is working with Max?

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, March 17, 2023.  A major hearing in the Senate this week and not seeing any coverage of it -- one discussing wasted money and harm to veterans.  We also go over a just-published piece of nonsense on the Iraq War by an Iraq War cheerleader.

Let's start with EHRM.  That's the Electronic Health Record Modernization.  It's been supposed to happen since back in the day when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  It's still not happened.  Our focus on this issue is veterans.  The point of the EHRM with regards to veterans is to ensure that they have the healthcare that they need and to ensure that, if they are disabled or challenged, their disability ratings is correct.  

They start as service members with one record.  Then, when they are out of the service, they are veterans.  Paper records have been a nightmare.  They're asked, as veterans, to document something that happened while they were in the service.  And, no, it does not automatically transfer over.  The EHRM, for veterans, was supposed to create a record that would start when they enlisted and that would follow them in the service and when they became veterans after.

Disability ratings especially are impacted.  Veterans are left fighting with the VA over their disability rating because the proof is not there or the VA won't recognize it or -- None of this should be happening.  They were promised care and they need to get the care they were promised.  If they were injured while serving, that's even a deeper debt that the government owes them.  

US House Rep Matthew Rosendale Sr. took a break from taking photos with US-Nazi Greyson Arnold and White supremacist Ryan Sanchez to introduce HR 608 on January 27th.  The bill, which has been referred to subcommittee, would "Terminate the Electronic Health Record Modernization Program of the Dept of Veteran Affairs."  

In a press release at the end of January, his office noted:

“The Oracle Cerner electronic health record program is deeply flawed – causing issues for medical staff and posing significant patient safety risks,” said Rep. Rosendale. “We cannot continue to further implement this inadequate system at the expense of billions of dollars in government funding. We must hold the VA to the high standard of care promised to our veterans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented the Oracle Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at five of 171 medical centers since 2018, expending roughly $5 billion. Last year, an independent life cycle cost estimate found that the cost to implement the system had more than doubled, from $16.1 billion over ten years to between $33.6 and $38.9 billion over 13 years. Additionally, VA acknowledges that the new system has created unacceptable levels of productivity losses, patient safety risks, and staff burnout at these five small and medium-sized facilities.

Let's drop back to September 24, 2008 when Senator Daniel Akaka was Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and introduced that day's hearing by noting:

Good morning, aloha, and welcome to all of you to today's hearing on the state of health information sharing between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense. This is historic. I will tell you that Veterans Affairs and also the Department of Defense have been talking to each other, have been working together, and here is another area that we are getting to where we are working together. And so, this is why I said historic. Even in the waning days of this Congressional session, we must continue to strive to improve care for servicemembers and veterans. An essential ingredient to reaching that goal is the sharing of personal health care information between the two Departments. The merits of Electronic Health Records are well documented. While VA is considered to be a leader in using Electronic Health Records, much work remains before the two Departments can achieve the ultimate goal--the goal of sharing medical information in real time. Until this goal is reached, military and VA medical practitioners simply will not have access to the most accurate personal medical information on their patients. Technology is not necessarily the problem. The technology exists, as we will see today. Indeed, the Electronic Health Record systems of the two Departments are each remarkable in their own right. The biggest challenge is the development of common standards so the two systems can talk to each other easily and in real time. DOD and VA have been working toward achieving interoperable systems for over a decade at a rate that can charitably be described as glacially slow. Only recently has there been significant progress. It appears that, for the first time, there is the needed commitment for full data sharing of electronic medical information; and the results of that commitment are visible. I encourage the Departments to continue to work together in order to extend the progress we have already observed. When VA and DOD finally have the ability to fully exchange medical information in real time, the best interests of servicemembers and veterans will be served.

Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on EHRM -- another hearing.   We're still waiting on the data bases of VA and DoD to be able to speak to one another.  Let's revisit some of the ways we ended up here.

Key moments took place in the history of this long process back when Eric Shinseki was the Secretary of the VA.  Congress was -- as usual -- asking what the delay was.  No real delay, Shinseki insisted.  Let's drop back to the snapshot for May 30, 2014 which noted that the inept Eric Shinseki was resigning as VA Secretary:

Shinseki, at the start of his tenure as VA Secretary, was tasked with determining whether or not his computer system would change -- one had to.  DoD and VA were supposed to offer a seamless transition for those going from service member to veteran.  How?  They'd do it with electronic records.  But the two systems couldn't communicate -- this was all determined before Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term as President of the United States.  So one of the two would have to change.

Shinseki chose not to.  He also sat on this issue that Congress poured billions of dollars into.  He's been Secretary of the VA since 2009.  This was supposed to have been handled immediately.  Robert Gates told him to do what he wanted and the Pentagon would adapt.  Then Leon Panetta became Secretary of Defense.  He told Shinseki that whatever Gates had already approved was fine.  And still nothing.  Then Chuck Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense.

Something finally happens.

Hagel's not shedding any tears today over Shinseki's departure. Not after Shinseki tried to blame him to Congress.

April 11, 2013, Shinseki appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee which was irritated by the budget request coming to them late and not coming to them in full because, as they pointed out, what the administration submitted did not include all the costs -- even if you set aside issues of discretionary spending, the VA 'budget' request was a joke.  Ranking Member Mike Michaud noted the money that was being poured into the VA -- others did as well but he's the one who asked for a status on the electronic health record.  And this is where Shinseki chose to lie.  There was no progress, he admitted, but that was because Chuck Hagel hadn't added any input.

What the hell was that?  It's so high school cafeteria.  Did he think it wouldn't get back to Hagel that the House Veterans Affairs Committee was vocal about the fact that there was no progress on this issue despite the funds provided for it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013?

It had nothing to do with Chuck Hagel.  Good for Hagel that he wasn't going to stay under the bus.  He complained to Barack who had a sit-down with Hagel and Shinseki to ensure that a decision was made and there was no 'confusion' about the status.

If you're not getting what a little bitch move Shinseki pulled before Congress, grasp that Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense on February 26, 2013.  Not two months later, Shisenski was blaming a multi-year delay to starting the program on Hagel.


Things like that happened over and over while Shinseki was VA Secretary.  And the press looked the other way over and over.  There was the veteran who felt he was at the end of his rope and called the suicide hotline only to be ratted out by Shinseki's son-in-law.  It was one thing after another -- including the scandal with veterans not getting their fall tuition checks on time -- some had to wait until the following January.  

Eric Shinseki took over the VA in January 2009.  When he did, he was immediately informed that one of the signature pieces of legislation, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was in trouble.  While it was due to be implemented in the fall of 2009, Shinseki was told in January of 2009, the VA couldn't handle it, checks were not going to be going out.  That's when you inform Congress there's a problem.  He didn't.  He hired an outside contractor to examine the system and the results were the same: When the program was rolled out in the fall, many veterans would suffer because the system was inadequate.

Did Shinseki inform Congress then?


He stayed silent.  And nothing was said as fall rolled around.  Then a few problems emerged, a few veterans weren't getting their checks.  These semester checks would cover tuition, rents, etc.  And a few were having problems.  The VA immediately blamed the veterans and the educational institutions.  Their mouthpiece on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Corinne Brown, announced she'd been watching MSNBC at three in the morning and it was time for these institutions to get their act together.

It wasn't the colleges.

And as a few veterans turned to many, finally in October, Eric Shinseki revealed that he'd always known there was a problem.  He revealed that October 14, 2009 when he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The press didn't care to report that revelation.  Even those reporters who were present ignored it.  For months after that, veterans continued to suffer.  Some families had to postpone Christmas because all the money was being used to cover bills as a result of their still waiting on checks they should have received in August and September.

There was the deliberate mis-classifying of veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress -- wrongly classified to 'save money' as Senator Patty Murray discovered with regards to Madigan Army Medical Center.

Finally, the scandal on wait times forced Shinseki to resign in disgrace but find any outlet that adds up all the scandals and provides that reality.

You can even read the CRAPAPEDIA entry on Shinseki and be left with the impression that Shinseki did a wonderful job -- that no one was calling for his head on a platter when members of both Houses of Congress were calling for him to resign, when VSOs were calling for him to resign.  And he was forced to resign and he he resigned in disgrace.  Senators like Al Franken and John McCain were calling for him to step down or be fired,  then-US House Rep Tammy Duckworth was telling the press that it was time for him to go.  The American Legion called for Shinseki to resign. In real time, Senator Patty Murray noted, "There are serious problems at the VA that won't be solved simply by replacing the Secretary, but I am hopeful that this leadership change will spark structural, cultural, and personnel changes, from the top of the organization to the bottom, to make sure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve."

With all that in mind, let's turn to this week's hearing.  Senator Jon Tester is the Chair of the Senate Committee and Senator Jerry Moran is the Ranking Member.  The Committee held from the VA's action director over the EHRM Integration Office Neil C. Evans (who was accompanied by Dr Shereef Elnahal, Kurt DelBene and Michael Parrish), the Government Accountability Office's Caro Harris and Oracle Global Industries Vice President Mike Sicilia.

Sicilia spent his time talking up Oracle Global Industries, "As a result of our initial efforts since June 2022, system performance has improved, with the most severe type of outages down 67 percent. Oracle delivered ahead of schedule critical enhancements for VA’s pharmacy system and implemented fixes to address scheduling and numerous other issues. We have brought on additional capability to improve training. Much additional work is in-process currently."  Are you impressed?  Me neither.  And the fact that Oracle took over the contracted company back in June doesn't really matter to me.  When are they going to complete the project?

He testified that an integrated, electronic record -- traveling from DoD to VA -- would allow for "better health outcomes," "improved medical treatment," "increased access to care" and "less administrative burden."  Yes, it would.  And we've known all of that for years now, decades.  This is not news nor is it a new discovery.

As Jon Tester declared in his opening statement, "We need to know exactly where the hell we're at, where we're going, what it's going to cost, and when we can look for a timely delivery of a thing that we've been talking about here for 20 years."  His frustration was understandable and only increased during the hearing.  He asked the VA's Michael Parrish about the contract with Oracle -- the new one (the previous contract was for five years and is due to expire May 16th) -- that they are negotiating currently and whether it would "be more favorable to the American taxpayer?"  Parrish replied, "That's absolutely the plan."

The plan.

It's really a yes or no.  But Parrish couldn't deliver that and Tester had to be the one talking about "the bottom line."  "How much money are we going to have to spend to make sure this program works and that veterans get the healthcare that they've earned?"  Ranking Member Moran would note during his questioning, "I think my question is worthy of a yes or no answer" in response to the evasion he was being given by the VA witnesses

Oracle wasn't any more forthcoming.  Senator Sherrod Brown, "I just don't see the benefit from your system.  Veterans are frustrated by delays in their care.  The contract is coming up for renewal in May of this year, without significant changes to the terms of any new contract, why should we support it?  What benefits are you providing?"

Good questions, no solid answers.

This impacts veterans and their families and, as Senator Kevin Cramer noted, "Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women leave US military service and return to life as civilians -- a process known as the military to civilian transition."  That's a lot of people and that's a lot of family members of the veteran.

A lot of people are being impacted and it's a negative impact.  Senator Patty Murray spoke of a constituent who did not get their cancer diagnosis in a timely manner as a result of this.  Let's note that section of the hearing.

Senator Patty Murray: We are almost five years into the CHR contract and, from the very start, before the original Cerner contract was even agreed to by the Trump administration, I have been raising concerns from my constituents in Spokane and in Walla Walla and I believe that I have been very patient and reasonable in pressing the VA and Oracle Cerner to get this system to work the way it should.  Now I have heard from providers who are now burnt out trying to navigate this broken interface on top of what has already been an incredible trying time for healthcare workers.  And I have heard directly from my constituents who have received a late cancer diagnosis just because of the flaws in the system and everything in between.  None of this is okay.  And something that concerns me deeply is that we have not heard a lot about how those voices -- that on the ground perspective -- will be taken into account when we determine the future of this program. VA is now in the decision making process about whether to renew this contract.  This is a key moment   So, Dr. Elnahal, I need to know who is representing the front line experience from eastern Washington who's been using this system and how exactly is the patient and provider experience represented in that decision making.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal:  I think it's a really important question, Senator, and we focus squarely on that in this spring effort in collaboration with the program.  We built a governance structure that takes the views of end users into consideration in the first instance.  The most important input we have is the input we have from front line clinicians like Dr Evans who are telling us about the problems that need to be fixed, that need the veteran care.  That cascades up into different levels of governance, our clinical counsels that ultimately make decisions on the changes we need to be able to meet --

Senator Patty Murray: So it isn't the users who have been facing these challenges over and over again?

Dr. Shereef Elnahal: Yes, our governance now includes users from the five sites where it exists and leaders who are advising on what changes need to be made based on their input.

Senator Patty Murray: Okay, I'd like to see that chart.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal:  Absolutely, Senator.

Senator Patty Murray:  Mr. Sicilia, Mann-Grandstaff  has been dealing with serious and even life threatening issues for over two years now -- since the roll out of the HR -- and many of the IG reports have further confirmed what I have been hearing on the ground over and over.  There are problems in the system with suicide flags, with unknown cues, pharmacy issues.  And I know that Oracle has begun working on some of those fixes but we are still talking about the same problems two years later and that is just so unacceptable.  The stakes are really -- they couldn't be any higher.  So just tell me, why is it taking so long to update this system when we've been telling you the problems and, you know, from the ground up two years ago and we're still getting 'Well we're going to have a fix for this.'

Mike Sicilia: Uhm, thank you for the question, Senator.  To my knowledge, the unknown queue issue has  been addressed.  I committed to this-this panel in July that we would deliver a fir -- a fix on this by August 1, 2022.  We did that. It is deployed now.  On average, there is one order a day that shows up per site in the unknown queue.  I think the last time we spoke here, we were up to about 1500 a week of orders in the unknown queue.  So, uhm, if that is still a problem, uhm, that is in fact news to me and I'm happy to come back to you in writing if the are repetition -- additional -- problems but I have not heard those.  In terms of pharmacy, uh, the last time we spoke the-the estimate was that it would take three years to address the pharmacy's issues.  My response to that was that when that kind of estimate was given the real answer is nobody knows.  So the first thing we did after that hearing in July, was broke that down in the smaller -- smaller subsets.  We delivered in, uhm, February those -- the top three fixes for pharmacy.  The fourth fix -- number four on the priority list in April to the VA as, uhm, Dr Evans just mentioned.  We have heard some positive feedback from sites about the those-those-those pharmacy fixes.  As far as behavioral -- behavioral health, uhm, flags -- behavioral health flags are now, uh, in the system and are -- will continue to be added to all modules of the system, uh, on schedule in-in April.  As well, the opioid advisory tool that has been deployed has flagged over 1600 just at the five sites that are live -- has flagged over 1600 potential opioid prescriptions that would have been made, uh, to patients that perhaps should not have received, uh, opioids.  So I think a lot of the issues that have been reported, uh, have been addressed.  I'm disappointed to hear that that news has not made it to you and that, uh, certainly we will make sure that we will respond in writing with --

Senator Patty Murray:  I would like to see that in writing.  Mr. Chairman, before I finish my time, I just want to say as Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and a long time member of this Committee, I take my oversight responsibility pretty darn serious.  And despite how much funding has been provided, this system is by no means living up to our promise to care for our veterans.  The continued patient safety risks are totally unacceptable.  So I want to be candid here because, at the end of the day, what I care about is getting this right for our veterans.  And I do not believe that more money is what is going to solve this problem.  And I'm not sure it makes sense, Mr. Chairman, to continue to fully fund the budget request for this system until I can see that this system is working and not putting our veterans in harms way.  That responsibility is on both the VA and Oracle Cerner -- and both entities need to step up.

This weekend, the Iraq War hits the 20 year mark.  US troops are still in Iraq.  

20 years and has anything been learned?

THE NATION magazine, let's look there.  They've just published a piece on Iraq an hour ago.  So we should applaud, right?  It's the 20th anniversary and they finally remember Iraq.  And since they're as full of crap as corporate media, they don't go with someone who was right for the column, they farm it out to a writer who cheered the Iraq War on.  He was at THE NEW REPUBLIC at the time.  And THE NEW REPUBLIC nearly went under as the American left walked away from them because they pimped the Iraq War.  

It's Spencer Ackerman, if you were wondering.  And there's some worth praising in the article.  To his credit, Spencer is aware of some events that took place in Iraq after 2008.  Don't expect him to admit he was wrong for cheerleading the Iraq War  -- in fact, you won't even find the admission that he cheered on the Iraq War.  He's whining in the article about how lessons haven't been learned, how people have amnesia (he's also pimping the proxy-war on Russia) and yet he's the one forgetting to take accountability.  

What's worse, and most people won't catch this, is he's still lying.

In 2008, he lied and whored non-stop to get Barack Obama the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

If you're talking about Iraq and how US troops remain in Iraq, you might need to cover Barack -- unless, of course, you can pin it all on Joe Biden which is what Spencer does.

In 2011, a fractious Iraqi parliament declined to extend legal protections to the remaining US forces, prompting Obama to recall the troops. Many in US national security circles decried the withdrawal as a failure of Obama’s diplomacy rather than as a verdict on the viability of a US presence from Iraqi leaders willing to work with Washington. When the Islamic State conquered Mosul in 2014, the blame in Washington went to the withdrawal, not the war that created ISIS’s parent entity, Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The horrors of ISIS preempted any discussion of how the original US aggression, compounded by the routine brutalities of occupation, generated enemies worse than its initial ones. US policy-makers considered the central error to be not the invasion but the departure. The efficacy of the Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish-led ground forces in dislodging ISIS reinforced a preference for proxy war—a perennial imperial strategy—over large-scale US combat. That preference is perhaps the dominant lesson of Iraq drawn by the US foreign policy establishment.

By 2021, President Joe Biden, who had been one of the most important Democratic validators of the invasion, had secured a residual force without a clearly defined mission. Roughly 2,500 US troops are deployed in Iraq, with 900 more in Syria. Ostensibly, they’re a backstop against an ISIS resurgence, but in practice, they’re targets for Iranian proxies. Biden, his Republican critics, and the security institutions all regard this as more responsible than ending an imperial misadventure. Doing so ensures they can persist in a delusion central to their hegemonic project: that the world is a grenade and America the pin.

 That's just garbage.  There are people who are not old enough to remember that period and that period was also poorly covered by the media.

Let's deal with the 'withdrawal.'  It was not a withdrawal, it was a drawdown.  The US Defense Dept called it a "drawdown" because that's what it was.  Ted Koppel established this in the immediate weeks before the drawdown on both NPR and NBC.  

As for the failed agreement,  Nouri wanted more troops in Iraq, not the number Barack was offering.  And that's why some criticize him in terms of 'deal making.'  I know this from Leon Panetta who I've known for years (and who was Secretary of Defense at the time).  I know this from public hearings on Iraq -- ones Spencer never covered.  And a public hearing that the corporate press and the panhandle press (just repeating the corporate press because heaven forbid they themselves attend a Congressional hearing) turned into "John McCain was mean to Leon Panetta!"  The hearing was on Iraq.  Democrats were being very clear about the number of US troops that would still be in Iraq (and the thousands being shifted to Kuwait).  But, looking back, it really does seem that the corporate press was trying to distract the American people from the realities of the hearing with their report of "John went bitchy!"

ADDED for those e-mailing the public account that no such hearing ever took place:  It was an important hearing, on the future of the US in Iraq.  It mattered, what was discussed mattered.  Senator Kay Hagan, for example, made important points (to the witnesses Leon Panetta and Gen Martin Ddmpsey), about how the 'withdrawal' was a drawdown and how some of the US troops 'leaving' Iraq were going to Kuwait and would continue to cross the border back and forth.  There was so much worth noting in that hearing.  In fact, we covered it -- community wide -- in the following:  the November 15, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," November 17, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)," Kat's "Who wanted what?" and THIRD's "Gen Dempsey talks '10 enduring' US bases in Iraq."    That's all covering one hearing because it was that important.

We have to note Spencer earlier in the article:

Bush’s escalation, the 2007–8 troop surge, never produced the promised political reconciliation among Iraqis. Instead, it entrenched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who persecuted the disempowered Iraqi Sunnis. 

I do not have time for all that is wrong with those two sentences (the first one, for example, fails to note that a military will never be responsible for "political reconciliation" because the US military isn't trained for that).  But Nouri became entrenched, did he?

Who made Nouri entrenched?  

Barack Obama.

But Spencer is never going to tell the truth about that.

In 2010, Iraqis went to the polls and voted.  And eight months and several days later, Nouri gets a second term as prime minister.

So Iraqis backed him, right?


The prime minister should have been Ayad Allawi.  That was the choice.  Iraqiya was a brand new political coalition and it surprised many (not all of us) by winning.  

It certainly surprised NPR and their whore who went on the air before the votes were even counted, less than 48 hours before the polls closed, to announce Nouri had won a second term.  No.

The people didn't support Nouri and State of Law.  It was a huge upset.  

They went with Iraqiya.  This is not a minor detail.  Iraq might be better off right now if Barack had done the right thing.

But instead of doing the right thing, when Nouri refused to step down for months and months and months, Barack had the US negotiate The Erbil Agreement (Joe was the chief supervisor of it).  It was a contract with the major political parties.   They signed on to give Nouri a second term (as the US wanted) in exchange for other things.  Iraqiya was supposed to get a newly created security post with independence (it never happened) and the Kurds would get the referendum that was supposed to take place in Nouri's first term but never did -- to this day it hasn't taken place.

The US refused to support the Iraqi people.  The Erbil Agreement overturned the votes and gave Nouri the second term.  Barack called Ayad Allawi personally to get him back in Parliament and swore that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government and would be enforced.

No.  It wouldn't.

Nouri used it to get the second term and then refused to honor it.  And that was the end of that.

The Iraqi people were left with someone they had tried to vote out of office.  The Iraqi politicians -- and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- tried to make Nouri follow it by threatening to remove him from office.  Joe Biden pressured Jalal Talabani to end that (Jalal did).  And Nouri gets worse and worse and that's what give rise to ISIS.  It's Nouri's persecution of the Sunnis.  

You want to talk honestly about Iraq, talk about telling people that this is a new Iraq and their vote matters and then overturning their votes with a legal contract.  Talk about telling them that they have a democracy (one that they didn't ask for) and then stripping them of their votes.  

Iraqiya was inclusive.  That's why people supported it.  It was Shi'ite and Sunni, men and women.  It was inclusive.  It was about a national identity, not sects.  

I can't predict the future but that does seem much more promising for Iraq -- for any country -- than a second term by Nouri who we already knew had brought back the secret prisons and torture chambers, who was disappearing Sunnis.  

What lesson was learned from the Iraq War?  The media learned that they could lie and get away with it.  So they continue to lie today and publish an Iraq War cheerleader.

The following sites updated:


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Raging Williamson -- Marianne is bi-polar

Not a member of the Cult of Marianne.  Sorry.  And I'm not surprised by this POLITICO report:

The best-selling author Marianne Williamson has built a career preaching love and forgiveness. It is the cornerstone of her second Democratic campaign for president which she launched on March 4.

But those who have worked with Williamson as she has moved into the political realm say her public persona is at odds with her private behavior.

Interviews with 12 people who worked for Williamson during her 2020 presidential campaign paint a picture of a boss who can be verbally and emotionally abusive.

Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of anger. They said Williamson could be cruel and demeaning to her staff and that her behavior went far beyond the typical stress of a grueling presidential cycle.

“It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” said a former staffer, who, like most people that spoke with POLITICO, was granted anonymity because of their concern about being sued for breaking non-disclosure agreements. “It was traumatic. And the experience, in the end, was terrifying.”

Williamson would throw her phone at staffers, according to three of those former staffers. Her outbursts could be so loud that two former aides recounted at least four occasions when hotel staff knocked on her door to check on the situation. In one instance, Williamson got so angry about the logistics of a campaign trip to South Carolina that she felt was poorly planned that she pounded a car door until her hand started to swell, according to four former staffers. Ultimately, she had to go to an urgent care facility, they said. All 12 former staffers interviewed recalled instances where Williamson would scream at people until they started to cry.


Marianne Williamson?  We like her.  But if you're going to order people to "Grow up!" and get behind Marianne for president, we're required in our role here to tell the truth.  And it goes like this: She's a snake oil con woman who needs everyone to do what she says or she bows out or shuts down a facility.  She can't work with others, she's never been able to.  She's also never held elected office of any form and has nothing to offer but celebrity.  We kind of thought we were all done with celebrity after seeing its natural outcome in 2016.   In addition, she is a joke to the mainstream press and they get away with making her a joke because that's also how the public sees her.

There's going to be a lot more to come, by the way.  That happens when, a year ahead of an election, a devout group starts pimping a candidate and demanding everyone support her.  

Krystal and Kyle should thank themselves for what they've unleashed.  

At the end of the day, though, the main thing is Marianne is just not qualified.  Celebrity alone?  Not a qualification. 

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, March 15, 2023.  The 20th anniversary of the Iraq War looms -- we're told maybe US troops can leave in . . . five years, John Stauber continues his lurch to the right and his embrace of hate, and much more.

The U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq 20 years ago in Operation Iraqi Freedom. President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer twice accidentally referred to it as Operation Iraqi Liberation, which was definitely not its official name and would have generated an unfortunate acronym.

The men and women who launched this catastrophic, criminal war have paid no price over the past two decades. On the contrary, they’ve been showered with promotions and cash. There are two ways to look at this.

One is that their job was to make the right decisions for America (politicians) and to tell the truth (journalists). This would mean that since then, the system has malfunctioned over and over again, accidentally promoting people who are blatantly incompetent failures.

Another way to look at it is that their job was to start a war that would extend the U.S. empire and be extremely profitable for the U.S. defense establishment and oil industry, with no regard for what’s best for America or telling the truth. This would mean that they were extremely competent, and the system has not been making hundreds of terrible mistakes, but rather has done exactly the right thing by promoting them.

As we get closer to the 20th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, more publications note (remember) Iraq.  Julian Borger (GUARDIAN) writes:

There are still US soldiers on counter-terrorist missions in Iraq and Syria. The Authorisation to Use Military Force that Congress first granted to the Bush administration in the run-up to the 2003 invasion has yet to be repealed by the Senate, and has been cited by the Obama and Trump administrations in justifying operations in the region.

Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who exposed security lapses leading to the 9/11 attacks, wrote an open letter to the FBI director in March 2003, warning of a “flood of terrorism” resulting from the Iraq invasion. She says now that two decades on, nobody has been held accountable for the fatal mistakes.

“I think the real danger is that their propaganda was very successful, and people like Bush and Cheney have now been rehabilitated,” Rowley said. “Even the liberals have embraced Bush and Cheney.”

The terrible mistakes made leading to and during the Iraq war forced no resignations and neither George W Bush nor his vice-president, Dick Cheney – nor any other senior official who made the case the war and then oversaw a disastrous occupation – have ever been held to account by any form of commission or tribunal.

Terrible mistakes?  Try outright lies.  Peter Van Buren exposed some of the lies in his book WE MEANT WELL.  At RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT, he writes:

The Iraq reconstruction failed to account for the lessons of Vietnam (the CORDS program in particular.) The Afghan reconstruction failed to account for the lessons of Iraq. We now sit and wait to see the coming Ukraine reconstruction fail to remember any of it at all.

“It is obvious that American business can become the locomotive that will once again push forward global economic growth,” President Zelensky said, boasting that BlackRock, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs “have already become part of our Ukrainian way.” The New York Times calls Ukraine “the world’s largest construction site,” and predicts projects there in the multi-billions, as high in some estimates as $750 billion. 

It will be, says the Times, a “gold rush: the reconstruction of Ukraine once the war is over. Already the staggering rebuilding task is evident. Hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and factories have been obliterated along with critical energy facilities and miles of roads, rail tracks and seaports. The profound human tragedy is unavoidably also a huge economic opportunity.”

We did worse than nothing. Iraq before our invasion(s) was a more or less stable place, good enough that Saddam was even an ally of sorts during the Iraq-Iran War. By the time we were finished, Iraq was looking closer to a corrupt client state of Iran. Where once most literate Americans knew the name of the Iraqi prime minister — a regular White House guest — now, unless he’s changed his name to Zelensky, nobody cares anymore. And that’s what the sign on the door leading out of Iraq (and perhaps into Ukraine) reads: tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars later, no one cares, if they even remember.

Unlike the bulk of people weighing in, Peter's tying in then and now and his knowledge of Iraq doesn't stop in 2008.  The November 2008 election of Barack Obama lead 'activists' like United for Peace and Justice to close shop  -- their very own "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" moment -- and media outlets to withdraw -- ABC announced at the end of 2008, for example, that they would be using BBC NEWS reports to cover Iraq instead of their own correspondents.  

The media withdrew from Iraq.  All this time later, US troops remain in Iraq. 

At COUNTERPUNCH, Kathy Kelly notes:

Twenty years ago, in Baghdad, I shared quarters with Iraqis and internationals in a small hotel, the Al-Fanar, which had been home base for numerous Voices in the Wilderness delegations acting in open defiance of the economic sanctions against Iraq. U.S. government officials charged us as criminals for delivering medicines to Iraqi hospitals. In response, we told them we understood the penalties they threatened us with (twelve years in prison and a $1 million fine), but we couldn’t be governed by unjust laws primarily punishing children. And we invited government officials to join us. Instead, we were steadily joined by other peace groups longing to prevent a looming war.

In late January 2003, I still hoped war could be averted. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s report was imminent. If it declared that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction (WMD), U.S. allies might drop out of the attack plans, in spite of the massive military buildup we were witnessing on nightly television. Then came Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003, United Nations briefing, when he insisted that Iraq did indeed possess WMD. His presentation was eventually proven to be fraudulent on every count, but it tragically gave the United States enough credibility to proceed at full throttle with its “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign.

Beginning in mid-March 2003, the ghastly aerial attacks pounded Iraq day and night. In our hotel, parents and grandparents prayed to survive ear-splitting blasts and sickening thuds. A lively, engaging nine-year-old girl completely lost control over her bladder. Toddlers devised games to mimic the sounds of bombs and pretended to use small flashlights as guns.

Our team visited hospital wards where maimed children moaned as they recovered from surgeries. I remember sitting on a bench outside of an emergency room. Next to me, a woman convulsed in sobs asking, “How will I tell him? What will I say?” She needed to tell her nephew, who was undergoing emergency surgery, that he had not only lost both his arms but also that she was now his only surviving relative. A U.S. bomb had hit Ali Abbas’s family as they shared a lunch outside their home. A surgeon later reported that he had already told Ali that they had amputated both of his arms. “But,” Ali had asked him, “will I always be this way?

I returned to the Al-Fanar Hotel that evening feeling overwhelmed by anger and shame. Alone in my room, I pounded my pillow, tearfully murmuring, “Will we always be this way?”

Throughout the Forever Wars of the past two decades, U.S. elites in the military-industrial-Congressional-media complex have manifested an insatiable appetite for war. They seldom heed the wreckage they have left behind after “ending” a war of choice.

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is a fairly new think-tank (2019).  It was started by Andrew Bacevich and has recieved funding from the Koch brothers and George Soros.  Where we're concerned is the proposal on Iraq that they've published -- written by Steven Simon and Adam Weinstein:

 Withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq within five years (except Marine Security Guards for the protection of the Embassy and OSC–I personnel under the U.S. Mission), recognizing that temporary combined training exercises, military delegations, and combined planning efforts using TDY personnel would be useful and should continue if both countries wish.

Five years.  

It's 2023 and we're talking five years.

"We want troops out of Iraq!  And we want it now!"

Was that Jane Fonda at the big January 2007 rally in DC against the Iraq War?


It wasn't an activist.

It was Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008 at his rallies and that was also used in the 2008 campaign ads.  

Did we want that, Barack?  

If you're part of the 'we' then clearly not.

He used the Iraq War to get into the White House.

He did a drawdown in 2011.  Then he began increasing US forces in Iraq secretly the following year -- at the end of September 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.        

That was buried in a report on Syria, Jill Abramson would not allow the important news in a report of its own -- with a proper headline.  

You'll read lies this week by idiots who'll tell you US troops left Iraq at the end of 2011 and didn't return until 2014.  A lie.  Most of them are just ignorant of reality but some are aware that they're lying.  

US troops remain in Iraq all these years later -- most recent death was in December -- and what a 'statecraft' institute is proposing is that we can get US troops out (minus those guarding the embassy) in five years.

Fie years. 

Twenty-five years after the illegal war started.  

When Barack was lying on the campaign trail -- and he was lying, as Samantha Power infamously told BBC -- he knew no one would accept five years but that's where we are now.

Cher's political takes?  Not a fan.  I know Cher and I like her but she -- like too many other celebrities -- think they know something when they do not.  They don't understand that the media that lies about them also lies about other things.  It always amazes me when someone can't grasp something so obvious.

The media is not our friend.  It will destroy us given the chance.  The most honest -- in color film -- about the media ever made was probably 1986's ROCKABYE starring Valerie Bertinelli who ends up being used by a reporter after her child is kidnapped.  (In the days of black & white films, they tended to be more honest about the ruthless nature of the press.  Since then, ROCKABYE is the rare exception.)  Their goal is not to be your friend, their goal is to get a story.  And that story will be pumped and massaged at the expense of the truth.  

Homophobia exists to this day because of the media.  'Educated' people, 'well' informed by the media in previous decades were taught homophobia.  That is the reality.  

And that's what the media does: teaches people what to think.  You're the consumer trying to get facts but what you're given is rarely factual and more often it's got a long range plan behind it.

The war on Russia was obvious when Barack was president.  You can find, at this site, especially after Ed Snowden was in Russia, the point that The Cold War was being restarted.  By the same token, throughout the ongoing Iraq War, there have been attempts to sell war on Iran.  More recently, there's been a strong push to sell war on China.  I do believe WSWS has painted themselves into a corner on the origins of the COVID 19 virus.  I understand how that happened, their desire to avert US war with China.  But they've left themselves no wiggle room and should it be linked to that infamous lab, they're going to be publicly embarrassed.  (I'm not saying the lab and COVID are linked -- I don't know.  And I'm never afraid to say I don't know.)

The government feeds the media -- sometimes the truth, sometimes a lie -- editors and producers want their reporters 'well connected' and are more worried about angering a powerful government official than informing the public.  

News consumers need to stop being so willing to be fed. 

So I'm bringing this up because I have called Cher out before -- and will again, I'm sure -- but I'm factual when I do. 

John Stauber left the world of factual long, long ago.

Is the failed writer projecting?

He can't stop promoting his (co-written) book from two decades ago which I'll assume is because he's done nothing of value since.  

Cher doesn't do drugs, ''sweetie.'' Drugs clearly damaged your brain, John, but Cher doesn't do drugs.

I know that because I know her, yes.  

But it's equally true that that's never been a secret.  Sonny & Cher fell out of popularity in part because their anti-drug stance in the late sixties put them out of step with the youth who had celebrated them.  While starring in her own variety series in the 70s, she went to a party and was able to help save the lives of a few people because, unlike them, she didn't take the drugs being offered. This was a big story covered even by her own network CBS.  In addition, there's the whole Gregg Allman coupling and her statements there.  

Cher loves to tell the story about Mike Nichols coming backstage during the Broadway run of COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN and offering her the tole in SILKWOOD and stating he was wrong (he'd turned her down for the female lead in THE FORTUNE years before.  She likes to say that it was like being on acid and then adding that she's never dropped acid.

I get it, John, I do.  Your pathetic life got you run off from the body you created.  You became such pariah that even Ruth Conniff was able to get laughs at your expense.  Your career ended long ago and, honestly, even when it was active, it didn't amount to anything.

Of course, you'd want to trash Cher, a singer who's had hit singles in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s.  Of course you'd want to trash Cher whose career includes starring in TV variety shows.  Cher who is a successful actress who's been on Broadway and who's won an Academy Award. 

What have you done in your professional life, John?

That's right, nothing much.  Nothing much at all.

And the reason for that is clear in your Tweet.  You don't care about facts, you just Tweet whatever you think will get you attention.  You're a smug little bitch whose Tweet doesn't hide the fact that you've accomplished nothing with your pathetic life and that you have to resort to lying to even attempt wit -- attempt but, of course, fail.

So sad -- sad and pathetic with your transphobia and, as Ruth pointed out last night, your efforts to elect Ron DeSantis president of the United States.   Five Tweets praising him, why don't you just come out as the right-winger you are?  And we need to note that "Don't say gay" Ron is your guy.  You have no foundation.  Your beliefs change from one moment to the next.  

Cher's Tweet's embarrassing.  And it's embarrassing because she doesn't have the background to Tweet about what she's Tweeting.  It's also embarrassing because she's worked herself up so much because there are so many idiots in our industry.  They're misled because they don't have the education background behind them.

But you do, John, so what's your excuse for promoting a hate merchant like Ron?

You know Keith Olbermann was a star on MSNBC and often said things that I agreed with.  But I didn't write him about him here, I didn't advance him because he's disgusting.  He was always disgusting.  He was always a sexist and abusive.

You are so far from where you once were.  I'll take Cher who cares a great deal but make mistakes based upon the propaganda from the 'news' media over someone like you any day.

You've chosen your side and you need to remain there now.  It's sad for you because I was one of the few people defending you over the last years.  You know you're a joke in independent media and you know how people in that media hate you -- it's why you're not invited on any programs.  I'm done defending you.  DOBBS changed everything.  We know who are friends are and we know who the trash is.  You've decided to stand with trash: Registered sex offender and convicted pedophile Scott Ritter, transphobe con artist Glenn Greenwald, etc, etc.  

Those are your people now.

And here's QUEER NEWS TONIGHT reporting on the crowd John Stauber hangs with now.

A new report published last week by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism found that an “all-time high” number of “white supremacist propaganda” incidents occurred in the United States in 2022, eclipsing the previous year’s record total of 4,876 by nearly 2,000.

“Our data shows,” the ADL wrote, “a 38 percent increase in incidents from the previous year, with a total of 6,751 … the highest number of white supremacist propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.”

In addition to an increase in white supremacist incidents, the ADL recorded a more than doubling of “antisemitic propaganda” incidents, rising from 352 in 2021 to 852 in 2022. These included banner drops on roadways, in-person demonstrations, leafleting neighborhoods and projecting images on buildings and stadiums.

The ADL found that propaganda efforts were undertaken in every US state except Hawaii, with the most active states being Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Utah, Florida, Connecticut and Georgia. These propaganda efforts were organized by “at least 50 different white supremacist groups” according to the ADL, however, “three of them—Patriot Front, Goyim Defense League (GDL) and White Lives Matter (WLM)—were responsible for 93 percent of the activity.”

White supremacist “events” such as demonstrations at state capitols, parades and local businesses, organized by WLM, GDL, Patriot Front, the Proud Boys and others increased by 55 percent last year, from 108 in 2021 to 167 in 2022.

The only area where ADL recorded a decrease in fascist activity was on school campuses, where the ADL found 219 incidents of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, a slight 6 percent decrease from 2021. Fascist propaganda, overwhelmingly distributed by Patriot Front (74 percent of all incidents), was discovered on campuses in 39 different states, led by Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.

This is the second report released by the ADL in the last month that has documented an historic rise in far-right agitation and violence in the US.

Last month, the ADL reported that every single “extremist” mass killing in 2022 was linked to far-right ideology. Notably, the ADL did not mention that every mass killing linked to in their report was directly inspired by Republican Party politicians and their sycophants in right-wing media. This is also the case in the March report, which likewise does not mention Trump or the role of the Republican Party in cultivating these right-wing and openly fascist elements.

While the Republicans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, have advanced some 420 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation so far in 2023, violent Republican rhetoric is translating into threats of real-world fascist terrorist violence.

This is the world of hate that John Stauber, Glenneth Greenwald and so many others have decided to help create.  

Two days from now, there's an action in DC.

The following sites updated: