Monday, November 24, 2014

The awful Constantine

That is  Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Let's Be Whats!" -- his latest comic which went up last night.

In the world of comics, "Constantine" sucks.

The TV show that is.

The comic was wonderful.

But the show sucks so the news that there will only be 13 episodes is good news.

I think the show was in trouble the minute they cast the lead.

I think giving him highlights and hair tips was insantiy.

They didn't appear to understand why people like the comic.

It has just been a disaster.

It's so bad, it makes the nonsense of "The Flash" seem minor by comparison.

Why is it so difficult for TV shows and movies to capture the spirit of a comic book?

Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, November 24, 2104.  Chaos and violence continue,  Chuck Hagel is out as Secretary of Defense, Nouri al-Maliki continues to attempt to sew unrest in Iraq by attacking a deal between Baghdad and Erbil and by going to Shi'ite strongholds and saying Sunnis in Mosul's government plotted to take down the city, a former Sunni MP  faces execution,  Senators Patty Murray and Johnny Isakson call out efforts by the government to steal retirement benefits from veterans, and much more.

Chuck Hagel is now the departing Secretary of Defense. His rumored resignation is now official and AP notes that the resignation "comes as the president's national security team has been battered by crises including the rise of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria and Russia's provocations in Ukraine."

This afternoon at the White House, US President Barack Obama and Hagel announced the Secretary of Defense's resignation.  We'll skip Barack's repeated use of "Chuck" and instead note Hagel's words:

Mr. President, thank you -– thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which I have always valued and will continue to value. And to my not old, but my longtime, dear friend Vice President Biden, who I have always admired and respected, and both the President and I have learned an awful lot from the Vice President over the years -– thank you. And I want to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is here, Bob Work, and the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey, who also is here. I want to thank them for being here this morning.
I also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the Defense Department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world; and for the honor I’ve had to serve with each of you and the privilege it’s been in every way.
And I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon. Without their support and wise counsel over the last couple of years our many accomplishments, and the President noted some, I have been part of that -– but it’s a team. It’s all these tremendous men and women, as you know Mr. President, that make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder of them and what we have accomplished over the almost two years that I’ve had the honor of serving in this position.
And as the President noted I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense. It’s been the greatest privilege of my life; the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important, to serve -- to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time. We have prepared ourselves, as the President has noted, our allies and Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world.
And we’ve launched important reforms that the President noted -- reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in decades to come. I believe we have set not only this department –- the Department of Defense -– but the nation on the stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have done this job.
As our country prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I want to –- you, Mr. President, and you, Vice President Biden, -– acknowledge what you have done and how grateful I am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again.
I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly; and their families, what they do for our country, so unselfishly. And as I have said –- and as the President noted –- I will stay on this job and work just as hard as I have over the last couple of years, every day, every moment, until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on Capitol Hill -- my gratitude to them for their support of me, but more importantly their support of our troops and their families and their continued commitment to our National Security.
I also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as Secretary of Defense. Their involvement with me and their partnership with me -- in so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interests as you have noted, Mr. President –- are so critically important and to them, I am grateful I will be forever grateful.
And finally I’d like to thank my family. My wife Lilibet, who you have mentioned, Mr. President, who was with me this morning as she has been with me throughout so many years, and during so many tremendous experiences. And this experience and opportunity and privilege to serve as Secretary of Defense has been one of those; and to my daughter Allyn and my son Ziller.

Mr. President, again, thank you. To you and to all of our team everywhere, as we know Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it is a team effort. And that’s part of the fun of it, to help build teams and to work together to make things happen for the good of the country and make a better world. For all of that I am immensely grateful. And to all of you, your families, happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much.

The repeated use of "Chuck" in Barack's remarks were most likely an effort to make shoving Hagel out of a moving car seem far kinder than it was.

Selena Hill (Latin Post) notes:

[. . .] inside sources say that the former Nebraska senator was forced out by the president, CNN reports. According to officials, the White House lost confidence in Hagel's ability to effectively lead in the Pentagon. Plus, the former Republican senator faced pressure as criticism of the president's national security team on a series of global issues mounted, including the threat of the Islamic State.

NBC News correspondent and MSNBC talk show host Andrea Mitchell Tweeted the following:
  • Truth is brought in to manage troop draw down from 2 wars now U.S. is extending combat role in Afghanistan and "advising" in Iraq

  • MONTAGNE: Well, get down to why Hagel is resigning right at this moment?

    LIASSON: Well, the president had conversations with Hagel in October about the final quarter of his presidency, and he essentially asked Hagel to step down. I think the biggest reason was that the mission has changed. When Chuck Hagel came in, his focus was on drawing down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, shrinking the Pentagon, dealing with the sequester budget cuts. But now the world has changed. We're recommitting troops to Iraq to fight ISIS. In Afghanistan, we're going to be leaving some more troops behind. And the White House decided they needed a strategic thinker. And they've really struggled to stay one step ahead of all of these crises - Ebola, Ukraine, even conflicts in Asia. And I think the thinking was that they needed somebody else to run the Defense Department, more of a strategic thinker, in the remaining months of the president's term.

    MONTAGNE: And beyond that, were there problems with Hagel?

    LIASSON: Well, Chuck Hagel did occasionally seem not be on the same page as the White House. He famously said that ISIS was beyond anything we'd seen before. He was kind of out in front on that. He clashed with the national security advisor, Susan Rice, on Syria. And he never really made it into that very small insular inner circle at the White House.
    For all the lies and pretense, this was not a happy exit.  Early this morning, Helene Cooper of the New York Times attempted to spin pretty because she's honestly that useless.  She always has been and she always will be.   In 2006, Ava and I dubbed her the Bobble Head Pundit and nothing in all the years since has demonstrated that she has the skill or ability to actually report. 
    Helene had the story but she couldn't do a thing with it because she's never had the skill for context.
    After her embarrassing 'report' broke this morning, other outlets -- including the Associated Press -- brought the skill and context Helene was incapable of.  And the editorial board of the Contra Costa Times probably had the least stomach for spin of anyone working the story:

    The White House announced that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had submitted his resignation after he and President Obama "both determined that it was time for new leadership at the Pentagon."
    Time for new leadership? Really? Hagel's tenure is still being measured in months rather than years (18, to be exact), he has barely had time to locate all the elevators in the Pentagon. Yet it is somehow time for new leadership? This announcement is Washingtonspeak for "the guy we picked isn't working out." 
    TVNZ One News specifically notes,"Mr Hagel has had his own frustrations with the White House. In recent weeks, he sent a letter to national security adviser Susan Rice in which he said Mr Obama needed to articulate a clearer view of the administration's approach to dealing with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The letter is said to have angered White House officials."
    Aliyah Frumin (MSNBC) notes some Congressional reaction:

    “This announcement shows when you don’t have a strategy, it’s hard to come up w/a team to help you implement a strategy,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri on Twitter. GOP Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland tweeted, “Pres Obama’s national security policy is failing & world is in turmoil. It will take more than changing the Sec of Defense to fix it.” Similarly, House Speaker John Boehner thanked Hagel for his service but added, “New #SecDef isn’t enough…” And in an expanded statement, Boehner said Hagel’s replacement must accompany a “larger re-thinking” of the America’s military strategy, suggesting GOP lawmakers will take a tough-as-nails approach during the next confirmation process.

    Hagel has agreed to hang on until his successor can be confirmed.  That person will be number four.  He or she will follow Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.  Four.

    Since January 2009, Barack has required 4 US Ambassadors to Iraq as well: Chris Hill, James Jeffrey, Robert Steven Beecroft and Stuart Jones.   Four.

    When the US could have provided stability, it provided a non-stop state of flux.

    Mark Thompson (Time magazine) speaks with a wide range of observers and insiders.

    Retired Army general Jack Keane, who advocated for the surge in Iraq, says the White House has meddled with Pentagon prerogatives as the ISIS threat has grown over the past year, including videotaped beheadings of five Westerners, three of them American. “The policy is wrong and Hagel was pushing back on it,” Keane says, confirming what some Pentagon officials say privately.
    Defense officials say White House meetings on dealing with ISIS often ended without a decision, which would be made later by Obama, aided by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhodes. “That’s very frustrating for a secretary of defense,” Keane adds, “who feels on the outside when it comes to issues that are in their domain.”

    Rice has long been a target inside the administration, even as she garnered sympathy as a Congressional scapegoat in the post-Benghazi hullaballoo. “The problems reach much higher than the secretary of defense,” a second Obama national-security aide said.

    Medea Benjamin (at offers:

    The talk about resetting President Obama’s security team is misplaced; we should be focusing instead on resetting his bellicose policies. Secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation should be a time for the nation to step back and reexamine its violent approach to extremism, which has led to an expansion of terrorist groups, and inflated military spending. Let’s put more emphasis on the State Department and political solutions instead of continuing failed wars and starting new ones. We owe it to the youth of our nation who have never lived without war.

    Saturday, we did a mini-scorecard on new Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi which included this:

    In fairness, Haider al-Abadi can point to one bit of success.  AFP reports, "The Iraqi government transferred $500 million to the autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday as part of a deal aimed at ending long-running oil and budget disputes, the finance minister said."  Press TV explains:

    Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.
    He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.

    "This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.

    That isn't minor.  For over a year now, the Kurds have been denied their part of the federal budget.  Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister and forever thug, attempted to use the federal budget to blackmail the Kurds.

    So resolving this isn't minor.

    What's that smell?

    Oh, thug and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged from the sewer he thrives in.  Rudaw reports Nouri belched up a critique of the deal:

     Iraq’s vice president and former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has criticized a recent oil and budget agreement between Baghdad and Erbil, saying the deal “is merely a show of compassion.”

    Rudaw notes Nouri is also using his TV channel, Afaq TV, to attack the deal.

    Thug Nouri spent last week publicly meeting with various Shi'ite militias.

    Why he's being allowed to sew dissent is beyond me.  He needs to be kicked out of the prime minister's house because he's no longer prime minister and some of the laws he insisted upon should probably be applied to him and his actions -- if they are, he'll be behind bars.

    He's very fortunate that Haider al-Abadi seems to have more respect for freedoms -- including freedom of speech -- than Nouri himself did or does.

  • Free press is the hallmark of a free society. We have a collective responsibiity to preserve freedom in Iraq

  • Maybe justice will come to Nouri in the form of a bullet?  Live by the sword and all of that.

    Nouri is a criminal, a War Criminal.  Let's drop back to the December 30, 2013 snapshot:

    Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.

    He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square.  Then came Friday.  From that day's snapshot:

    Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today.  He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down.  He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition.  Sedition?  Nouri as William Bligh?  I can see it.  Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview.  Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.  

    We still can't get to today yet.

    That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.

    They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP.  MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested.  But there's more.  Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.

    By now, we all know the drill.

    What is al-Alwani?

    Yes, he's Sunni.

    And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.

    If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.

    Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."

    The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.

    Today,  All Iraq News reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death.  He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes.  His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.

    This will have huge implications.

    For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State.  Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.

    This is the wrong time to be  executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.

    Salam Faraq and Ammar Karim (AFP) report:

    Sheikh Omar al-Alwani, a leader of the Albu Alwan, said that any decision about Alwani should be put on hold and that the verdict could harm the fight against IS.
    "All the Albu Alwan tribe is standing against (IS) on the side of the government," but "half of the Albu Alwan fighters will withdraw if they actually executed Alwani in these circumstances," the sheikh said, adding that even the former MP's guards were fighting against IS.

    He said the government should wait until the fighting is over and IS defeated, then "take any decision it considers appropriate."

    Back to Nouri.  NINA reports al-Abadia has dismissed Adman al-Asadi as Senior Under Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior.  al-Asadi is a Nouri cohort/crony. Nouri needs to be kicked out of the government himself that.  Throughout the weekend, he spoke in various parts of south Iraq and issued crackpot 'explanations' for the fall of Mosul that blamed the local government.  Nouri stated the local government allowed Mosul to fall in an attempt to destroy Iraq.  These baseless charges need to be called out and as Nouri continues to attempt to sew unrest in Iraq, his own post as vice president (he's one of three vice presidents) needs to be rethought.

    Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Johnny Isakson is a member of the Senate Finance Committee and also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Senator Murray's office issued the following today:

    For Immediate Release                                                      CONTACT: Murray (202) 224-2834
    Monday, November 24, 2014                                                                                  Isakson (202) 224-7777
    Murray, Isakson Lead Bipartisan Letter Pressing Army Secretary on “Grave Concern” Over Retirement Benefits
    In letter to Army Secretary McHugh, Senators call for immediate reversal of policy forcing officers to retire at highest enlisted rank
    Current policy results in significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers and are being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB). This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.   
    “These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives… We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.”
    Under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank.  During the “Grow the Army” effort the Army dramatically increased the number of officers commissioned via its Officer Candidate School (OCS).  The Army expanded to a post 9-11 peak of 570,000 soldiers in 2010 and is currently executing an aggressive end strength reduction designed to shrink the Army to 450,000 soldiers.  Many of those OCS graduates are now being forced to retire through the E-SERB process as the Army shrinks.  Officers with more than 18 years active service are screened by E-SERB and those selected will be forced to retire on the first day of the month following the month they reach 20 years of service. These former non-commissioned officers stepped up and volunteered for OCS at a time the Army badly needed officers and served honorably for between 6 and 7 years.  Now, many are being retired at enlisted ranks they have not held in years.  This is particularly disturbing because had they ignored the Army’s call for officers most would have been promoted at least once more and been eligible to retire at a higher enlisted rank.
    Senators Murray and Isakson were joined in sending the letter by: Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
    Read a one-page summary of the issue here.
    The full text of the letter is as follows:
    November 19, 2014
    The Honorable John McHugh
    Secretary of the Army
    101 Army Pentagon
    Washington, DC 20301-0101
    Dear Secretary McHugh:
    We write to express our grave concern over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of Army captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers.   These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank.  This will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, approximately $1,000 per month or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.  This is simply unacceptable. 
    These former non-commissioned officers have been placed in this untenable position as a result of the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB).  Officers selected by the boards are forced to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service. Unfortunately, under current law a soldier must serve at least 8 years of active service as a commissioned officer in order to retire as a commissioned officer.  Soldiers who serve 20 years total, but less than 8 years as commissioned officers are retired at their highest enlisted rank.  While this requirement makes sense in the case of soldiers who choose to retire, are passed over for multiple promotions, or are forced to retire due to misconduct, none of those cases applies to the soldiers in question.  On the contrary, Army Human Resources Command has explicitly acknowledged that E-SERB will separate fully qualified officers “who have rendered quality service to the nation.”  To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives.
    Rather than forcing these officers to retire as soon as they reach 20 years of service, the Army could modify its E-SERB policy to delay the mandatory retirement date of affected soldiers until the first month after they become eligible to retire as commissioned officers.  For many of the affected soldiers this would extend their time in service by only a few months.  We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation. 
    Patty Murray                                                              
    United States Senator                                                 
    Johnny Isakson
    United States Senator
    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834

    morning edition

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Mike Nichols body of work and fascination with the male body

    Mike Nichols has passed away this week.

    A few thought I was not going to comment.

    I am.  I just didn't know what to do.

    I can talk about the art but the reality is the bi-sexual or homosexual gaze he used throughout his career greatly influenced the work for the good.

    No one appears to want to acknowledge that.


    Mike Nichols was at his best when he had a man in the cast to play with onscreen.

    Give him a group of colorless plastic soldiers and he's lost.

    That's obvious from critical so-sos and outright disasters like "Charlie Wilson's War," "Catch-22," "Biloxi Blues," "Regarding Henry" and others.

    Let's talk about his successes.

    "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" established him as a film director.  It is a classic.  He largely just stayed out of Elizabeth Taylor's way (she won a second Academy Award for her amazing performance).  He did ensure that George Segal was presented as a major slice of beefcake.  Has any actor's crotch appeared in so many scenes outside of a porn?

    His follow up film is a minor classic.  In it, Dustin Hoffman is the Ken doll Mike plays with.  He takes Dustin Hoffman, not a handsome guy, and sexualizes him to turn him into a film star with "The Graduate."  Anne Bancroft brings her own sizzle which is a good thing since Mike's not interested in her -- check the blocking on her scenes.  Katherine Ross is left stranded, lacking the talent to carve out a role on her own and not catching the director's interest at all.

    "Catch 22" has what a friend calls "the Jew problem."  When Mike Nichols worked with Jews, he had no passion for them.  Dustin was the exception and "The Graduate" turns Dustin into a Gentile in order to sexualize him.  With "Catch 22," he's got Alan Arkin, Richard Benjamin, Martin Balsam, Charles Grodin, Art Garfunkel, etc and he's not interested in any of them which is how a film that should have been a comedy antic high just sort of peters out.

    "Carnal Knowledge" succeeds because he ignores Art and plays with Jack Nicholson.  I am not suggesting that Mike Nichols had sex with any of the men he was so clearly sexually fascinated with.  I bet he didn't, in fact.  But he did like playing with them in front of the camera, making them sexy.  By contrast, he makes Rita Moreno come off frightening -- especially the hornier her character is supposed to be.  And Ann-Margret overcomes his complete disinterest in her character to give an amazing performance.

    I don't know if I'd call the film a classic.  It's only accomplishment that stands is that Nichols took new star Jack Nicholson (he'd already had the hit "Easy Rider") and turned him into a sexual power on screen.

    "The Day of the Dolphin" is a classic.  It's also a complete exception to Nichols' films.  This has a larger concern and is not really about the personal relationships.  The film flopped but it's one of his first-rate films and hopefully will be viewed as such in retrospect.

    "The Fortune" follows and it bombs as well.  It should also be reconsidered.  This is a hilarious film that really f-ed with expectations (as did Elaine May's "Ishtar" many years later).  Stockard Channing is delightful in a performance that fails to capture Mike's attention because he's focused on Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson.  He continues to develop Jack's sexual performance/presentation (the work Jack will do in "The Witches of Eastwick" owes a great deal to this film and Mike's work) and he also messes with Warren Beatty's onscreen image, adding a new layer to his sexual image, teasing out a new sexual persona.  If the film had been a hit, Warren probably would have explored this further.  But this is a classic film.

    "Gilda Live" is filming Gilda Radner's play/revue which Mike Nichols also directed.  I think this can qualify as a classic concert film.

    1983's "Silkwood" is his first film since 1971's "Carnal Knowledge" to be a hit at the box office.  This film stars Meryl Streep in an amazing performance with strong support from Cher (who should have won the Academy Award -- she lost to Linda Hunt) and mainly it features a shirtless Kurt Russell.  Up until his butt scene with Sylvester Stallone, Russell's body had never been presented as lovingly.  A box office success and a critical success, this one qualifies as one of his classics.

    1986's "Heartburn" does not.  Jack Nicholson's back only after Mandy Patikin is fired.  Why?  It's 1986 and the work Barbra Streisand did in "Yentl" to make Mandy come off sexy is long gone.  And we've already noted Nichols' lack of interest in Jewish men.  Jack and Meryl try but the script's a mess and a disappointment.  They can't pull it off and when two of film's finest actors can't pull it off . . .   The film is remembered for Carly Simon's amazing "Coming Around Again.'

    1988 finds him flopping again with "Biloxi Blues." Yes, a comedy that fails to make $50 million in North America is a flop when it's got a name male star (Matthew Broadrick) who was paid several million just to make the film. 

    It might have been over for Nichols who went 8 years (from "The Fortune" to "Silkwood") before Hollywood hired him to direct a film.

    But he directed "Working Girl." 

    As with Gilda Radner, he found Melanie Griffith interesting and she gave an engaged and skilled performance (and was nominated for an Academy Award).  This isn't just a classic of Nichols, it's one of his two best films.  There are great performances in this film: Griffith, Joan Cusack, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford.

    And . . . Alec Baldwin.  Mike's toy for the film.  How many ways can he show Alec shirtless and in briefs?

    Along with Griffith, Sigourney, Joan and Carly Simon were also nominated for Academy Awards.  Only Carly won -- for her theme song "Let The River Run."

    "Postcards from the Edge" followed and didn't do as well at the box office, though it was a hit.  (A comedy starring women in the 80s that made it to $40 million can be considered a hit.  The studios spent less money on those films, promoted them less, etc.)  Shirley MacLaine and Meryl do a great job with Carrie Fisher's screenplay and Mike's toy in the film is Dennis Quaid who is caught in stages of undress.

    "Regarding Henry" was a flop.  Critically, the meepie (male weepies) was lame and dead on arrival while commercially  box office champ Harrison Ford was left with a film that wasn't even able to break $50 million.  His film before, "Presumed Innocent," had made $86 million in North America and the film after "Regarding Henry," 1992's "Patriot Game," made $83 million.

    1994 found him rebounding with a film that made $63 million in North America -- a big hit for an adult film.  That was "Wolf" which found him reteaming with Jack Nicholson and adding Michelle Phillips to the mix.  Jack Nicholson should have been the male lead in all of Mike's films, he's the only leading male that consistently interested the director.  In this romantic update, Michelle succeeds in love with Jack by not trying to remake the man she loves but by exploring his quirks with him.

    He followed that with his biggest success "The Birdcage."  The comedy, screenplay by Elaine May (his former improv partner, they were a comedy team -- hugely successful in the fifties and the early years of the JFK administration), stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a couple who son Dan Futterman is marrying into a conservative family and doesn't want to be the son of a same-sex couple.  Calista Flockhart is charming in the film.  Gene Hackman and Dianne Weist are left on their own -- good for Hackman but it means Dianne does the same performance she always does.

    Mike Nichols is most fascinated with Luca Tommassini -- and Luca's crotch.  (He plays Nathan Lane's dancing partner with the fondness for chewing gum -- "It helps me think," he insists.)

    I can't judge "Primary Colors" because I've never made it through that movie.  It was a hit.  I love John Travolta and Emma Thompson but I just can't get into that movie (it's based on Joe Klein's book about the Clintons).  

    That was his last hit.

    "What Planet Are You From?" was a bomb and it's not going to be re-appraised.  This is a hideous comedy.

    "Closer" rebounded commercially.  I find the film to be a failure. It should have been so much better.  Natalie Portman and Clive Owen won Academy Awards for the film (supporting category).  The only sequence that actually works in the film, the only one Mike Nichols is fully vested in, is when Natalie Portman's doing a strip.  But he's not interested in Natalie.  His focus is on a fully clothed Clive getting a hard on.  The film also stars Jude Law's pubic bush.

    Then came the bomb "Charlie Wilson's War."  Unlike "Closer," "Charlie Wilson's War" had a huge press rollout.  "Closer" had the average 'we want to be number one opening week at the box office' press rollout.  But "Charlie Wilson's War" was treated as historic and important.  And it starred Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks.  Pre "Larry Crowne" this was thought to be an outstanding pairing.

    The film was a flop, not even making $70 million despite tons of Academy Award nominations -- which gave it a second life -- it did not win any awards.

    Not only is it a flop and a boring movie, it was a sign that Mike Nichols needed to stop directing.

    The film's only historic importance is explaining 9-11 but that was taken out because Tom Hanks threw a hissy fit.

    So that his career.

    He could come alive if he had a man to show off, especially if he could undress him.

    Two of his films are undisputed classics: "The Birdcage" and "Working Girl."

    "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" also qualifies as a classic and I'd also include "Wolf."

    I think "The Fortune" and "Day of The Dolphin" deserve re-evaluations and appraisals.

    "Silkwood" and "Postcards From The Edge" and "Gilda Live" are minor classics.

    So four classics, two films I think should be reclassified as classics and three minor classics.

    That's not a bad filmography to have.

    Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Saturday, November 22, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Haider al-Abadi's 'leadership' continues to be questionable, the Veterans Affairs Dept continues to do an awful job -- in public -- as they demonstrated before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and much more.

    Iraq has a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi -- or rather their prime minister has a new name.  Otherwise, things are pretty much the same in Iraq.

  • Human Rights Watch issued an alert Friday which includes:

    An attack on November 19, 2014, targeting Erbil’s governorate building killed at least 10 civilians and wounded dozens more. Attacks the same day in Baghdad killed or wounded 18 civilians. In early October, at the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and especially holy for Shia worshippers, five car bomb attacks in Karbala killed at least 15 people and injured another 48. Since then, other bombings have killed dozens more in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and elsewhere.
    “Bombings across Iraq are killing and maiming civilians in attacks so frequent they barely make the local news,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “But a government response that too often includes arbitrary arrests and summary executions will only fuel the cycle of abuses.”
    Iraq’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should redouble efforts to protect all civilians – Sunni and Shia, Arab and Kurd, and other minorities – in their fight against the militant group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks. Iraqi authorities have frequently responded to ISIS attacks with human rights abuses against Sunni civilians, including arbitrary arrests and detentions. In July, Human Rights Watch documented government-backed militias’ summary execution of dozens of Sunni civilians in areas where they are battling ISIS.

    Does that sound like a new Iraq?

    No.  And Robert A. Manning (National Interest) observes:

    The strategy, as announced, had a coherent logic to it. But it required some large leaps of faith. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee last week, “One of our assumptions is that the government of Iraq will be inclusive. One of the assumptions is that the Iraqi security forces will be will to take back al-Anbar province…If those assumptions are rendered invalid, I will have to adjust my recommendations.”
    The strategy assumed that once Maliki was removed as Iraqi prime minister, a new leader would form a more inclusive government, one that Sunnis would not reject. Bombing would buy time until Iraqis could be trained to fight ISIS—boots on the ground that would complement our air war.

    But so far, Iraq’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has done little to change Sunnis’ perceptions of Baghdad. Appointing the head of the Badr Shia militia to the powerful post of minister of the interior hasn’t helped. Will Baghdad fully allow the fostering of Sunni national guard forces? A recent shake-up in Iraq’s defense ministry and senior military leadership may be a step in that direction. But it will be at least six to eight months before it is possible to judge whether Sunnis have any confidence in the new government.

    In fairness, Haider al-Abadi can point to one bit of success.  AFP reports, "The Iraqi government transferred $500 million to the autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday as part of a deal aimed at ending long-running oil and budget disputes, the finance minister said."  Press TV explains:

    Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.
    He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.

    "This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.

    That isn't minor.  For over a year now, the Kurds have been denied their part of the federal budget.  Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister and forever thug, attempted to use the federal budget to blackmail the Kurds.

    So resolving this isn't minor.

    But it's also true that the only resolution Haider al-Abadi can claim thus far also involves oil.  Stick a pin in that, we'll come back to it.

    I would argue you could even give him credit for a meet-up/photo-op this week.  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports that  Haider met in Baghdad with Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the two held a joint-press conference at which Haider declared, "There is an agreement on information exchange and security cooperation (with Turkey), and moreover, the Turkish prime minister has offered military cooperation in fighting against the terror of Daash (IS' Arabic acronym), which is not only a threat against Iraq but also against Turkey and the whole region,,"

    That's news.

    And not because Xuequan reports, "Turkey will train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq, local Hurriyet Daily News reported on Friday.  Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government have been in cooperation for a training program in northern Iraq for a month, according to the daily report."  That's an arrangement between the Turkish government and the Kurdish government and the two have been getting along amazingly well for several years now.

    The same cannot be said of the Turkish government and the central government out of Baghdad.

    And the only person to blame for that is Nouri al-Maliki.

    He repeatedly called the government of Turkey (which shares a border with Iraq) terrorists.  He insulted them non-stop and did so in a public fashion.  Nouri also attacked the governments of Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia -- pretty much every government in the region except for the government of Iran.

    So Haider can get some credit for that as well.

    But what else can he get credit for?

    The UN News Centre reports:

    In an interview with UN Radio, Nickolay Mladenov, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), said that there is “general agreement,” not just in the UN but in Iraq as well, that the security element of dealing with ISIL is one part of the solution, but is not the comprehensive solution to the problems facing the country.
    “What also needs to happen is a political process, and a political process that allows for the various communities of Iraq to come back together,” Mr. Mladenov stressed.
    “The last decade has seen a lot of violence that has been driven by divisive politics, that [in turn] has been driven by the communities looking more inwardly rather than working together, and it is time now to address that,” he added.

    The political solution.

    Remember when Barack used to note that.

    Before he got sucked into military fantasies?

    It was only months ago that Barack was insisting a political solution was the only answer.

    But he and his administration pour all their time into military issues -- building a bombing coalition, finding a country or countries stupid enough to put 'boots on the ground,' etc.

    Whatever happened to the political solution?

    Back in August, Mike Whitney (CounterPunch) felt Barack was lying when he spoke of a political solution:

    So how does Obama’s bombing of ISIS jihadis outside of Ebril (N Iraq) fit with his earlier comments that he wouldn’t help defend Iraq unless their was movement on the political front? (In other words, until Maliki was removed from office.)
    He sure changed his tune fast, didn’t he? But, why?
    Oil, that’s why.   Let’s put it this way: There are 10 reasons why Obama bombed ISIS positions outside of Ebril. They are:
    1–Exxon Mobil
    3–Aspect Energy
    4–Marathon Oil Corporation
    5–Hillwood International Energy
    6–Hunt Oil
    7–Prime Oil
    8–Murphy Oil
    9–Hess Corporation
    10–HKN Energy
    So what’s the message here? What is Obama telegraphing to ISIS about US policy?

    It’s simple. “You can kill as many Arabs and Christians as you want, but if you lay a finger on even one oil well, we’ll nuke you into oblivion.”

    More and more, it appears Mike Whitney made the correct call.

    And remember that the Kurdish oil issue -- noted earlier -- is an oil issue.

    Earlier this week, David Ignatius (Washington Post) observed, "U.S. officials believe that Sunni support has been galvanized by the removal of polarizing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite. That’s true, but fighting the jihadists will be a long uphill road."

    Regardless of whether or not that would work -- at this point or months ago, the fact remains that this 'plan' has been on the table for months and nothing's happening on it.

    Al-Monitor and other outlets can -- and have -- reported on that failure.

    It's only in the US that news consumers are 'sheltered' from the truth.

    Well alright
    You gave it all up for a dream
    Fate proved unkind
    To lock the door and leave no key
    -- "Shelter," written by Maria McKee and Steven Van Zandt, first appears on Lone Justice's Shelter

    The US government won't help on a political solution but they'll gladly keep bombing.  US CENTCOM bragged yesterday:

    U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted 23 airstrikes in Iraq using fighter, attack, bomber and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
    Six airstrikes near Bayji destroyed three ISIL buildings, a bunker, two ISIL transport vehicles, five ISIL tactical units, an ISIL checkpoint and damaged another ISIL building. Near Sinjar, four airstrikes destroyed two ISIL barracks, an ISIL bunker and storage facility, an ISIL guard post, at least eight ISIL armored vehicles and a truck in a vehicle storage yard, as well as two tactical ISIL units. West of Kirkuk, three airstrikes destroyed five bunkers, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL tactical unit. Near al Asad, four airstrikes destroyed four ISIL vehicles, an ISIL building, and struck three ISIL tactical units. Near Mosul, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL guard post, an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL tactical units. Near Ramadi, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL tactical unit, while also damaging an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL-occupied building. Finally, in Tal Afar, an airstrike damaged an ISIL-occupied airfield.
    All aircraft returned to base safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

     The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations.


    The last thing Iraq needs more of is bombings.

    Since the start of this year, the Iraqi government has illegally bombed the residential areas of Falluja.  Bombing civilians as a form of retribution is known as "collective punishment" and is legally recognized -- both by the US government and the international community -- as a War Crime.

    On September 13th, Iraq's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi called out these actions and promised the bombing would now cease.

    It didn't even cease for twenty-four hours.  The Iraqi military continues to bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.

    Iraqi Spring MC issued the following early Friday:

    : اطفال تتراوح اعمارهم بين 6 الى 12 سنة هم ضحايا قصف الجيش الحكومي للفلوجة.
    0 replies6 retweets2 favorites

    The video features the dead children of Falluja and a soundtrack of wailing family members mourning the deaths.

    And the news never ends on how the children of Iraq are repeatedly attacked.


    And this was

                               Retweeted 414 times

    Shia Gangs support by goverment burend yeastrday innocent civilians from sunnis
    0 replies 414 retweets 1 favorite

    Yes, gangs supported by Haider al-Bahdi's government terrorize the children of Iraq.

    And kidnap and kill them.  We'll note this Tweet.

  • That's the side Barack Obama's chosen and his refusal to have his administration work towards a political solution ensures that's the only side that gets heard.

    The Veterans Affairs Department keeps getting heard.

    Maybe it shouldn't?

    If you don't know what you're doing, maybe you should just say, "I'm sorry, I'm wasting taxpayer dollars because I'm too stupid to do the job I was hired to do."

    Wednesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on veterans suicide and VA officials appeared.  Let's stress this was not a pop quiz, the senators did not invite the VA and then spring a different topic on them.  But has the VA ever been more unprepared for a hearing?

    Senator Bernie Sanders is  the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member.   The first panel was the VA's Dr. Harold Kudler (Chief Consultant for Mental Health Service), Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention) and Dr. Dean Krahn (Deputy Director in the Office of Mental Health Operations).

    Wednesday we noted an exchange that's we're including again.

    Senator Patty Murray: I wanted to ask you, we are seeing the suicide rate of middle-aged veterans who use the VA decrease -- you mentioned that.  But [the suicide rate for] female veterans who use the VA has increased by 31%.  What is happening?

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yeah, thank you so much for asking that, Senator. We are as concerned as you are and trying to better understand that, why that is.  Why the rates of -- rates of suicide among women are increasing as well as that youngest male population.  One thing that I just also want to say is that we also know that veterans use firearms more than non-veterans during -- when they are feeling suicidal.  And we know that women veterans are using firearms at an increased rate than non -- than non-women veterans.  And we know that, uhm, firearms in fact -- If you use a firearm when you're suicidal, there's a 90% chance that you will die.  If you use prescriptions, medications, which is what most women non-veterans tend to use, there's a 3 to 4% chance that you will die because there's that opportunity to reach them before they die --

    Senator Patty Murray:  I --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson (Con't): -- and so -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

    Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that response but I think we also have to look at if the VA is meeting women's specific needs --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Absolutely.

    Senator Patty Murray (Con't):  -- and why are they increasing dramatically?  Are the programs not effective? Are they not feeling that they should ask about it?  Is it something else?  This is really concerning to me and it's something I'll be following very closely as well. 

    When did the VA official answer Senator Murray's question?


    And I want to focus on Thompson for a moment.

    You're on the taxpayer dollar, in public, act accordingly.  Thompson needed chewing gum to complete her performance, chewing gum she could smack as she declared "Yeah" and "Yep" throughout the hearing.  You're an official with the VA testifying before Congress, you learn to say "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir."

    I never cease to be appalled by government officials who show such disrespect to the people's representatives.

    But a basic question about the increased rate of suicide among women veterans led to a lot of babbles from Thompson but no answer and not even a babble that could provide a statistic.

    Thursday's snapshot noted the lengthy exchange Senator Richard Blumenthal had with the officials.  Did he get an answer?


    We don't have space for the full exchange (see Thursday's snapshot for that) but notice how the VA can't provide any answers at all but can and will try to steer the conversation away from the real issues.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  I don't have the actual -- I believe it's up to 70 -- uh -- and this is, uh, over time.  The rates -- uh . . . I'd have to find the exact number.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  I think that is a -- I think that is the elephant in the room.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:   Is . . what's . . .

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  The elephant in this room.   That younger group.  You're giving us middle aged veterans 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  No --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services .

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  We do -- I mean, we certainly do acknowledge that that rate is increasing and so what-what are we doing about this?  We need to provide and we are providing very, very specific outreach to those youngest veterans that --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  Well we're talking about more than just outreach with all due respect.  We're talking about -- and this is the really critical point here -- we're talking about a group here that uses your services.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Absolutely.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  We've reached out to them.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  They're in your doors, they're using your services -- 

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson: Yep.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  And they're committing suicide at a higher rate.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.  So we're -- Yes.  We're trying to understand why is this?  We are -- We are at a loss as much -- as much as a lot of people are.  We --

    Senator Richard Blumenthal: This is -- with all of the publicity surrounding wait time, people dying -- are they dying because of the wait time, are they not?  People are dying at a higher rate --

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yes.

    Senator Richard Blumenthal:  -- who use your services.

    Yep. Yeah. Yep.

    Again, you're being paid to do a job by the taxpayers.  When you're public, you conduct yourself with some dignity.  "Yep" and "Yeah" aren't appropriate responses to members of Congress when you're a government official.  (Non-government officials, We The People, can speak however they want.  They're individual citizens, not people paid by the taxpayers.  The Congress is supposed to be working for We The People.)

    With the above in mind, let's now go to Senator Boozman from the hearing.

    Senator John Boozman:  Thank you and following up on Senator Blumenthal, what is the average age of the veteran that decides to take their life?

    Long pause. VA officials shuffle through paper.

    Senator John Boozman:  In the VA?  What's the average age of veterans who are taking their lives?

    Dr.  Caitlin Thompson: Who die by suicide?  Uh, well we -- I don't know the average age.  But we do know that 70% of veterans who die by suicide are 50-years-old and older.

    VA officials all begin shaking their heads in the affirmative.

    Senator John Boozman:  Older?  Good.

    Dr. Caitlin Thompson:  Yeah.

    Senator John Boozman:  So --

    Dr Dean Krahn:  And that's by far the largest group of veterans.  That's why we focused on it.

    No, it's not.

    No one is as stupid as Krahn wants them to be.

    The VA officials focus on that figure because the more damning figure -- the elephant in the room, Senator Blumenthal called it -- is that young veterans using the VA services are committing suicides at higher numbers.

    The message, which the VA would rather bury, is that things are so bad at the VA that young veterans -- trying to readjust to civilian life -- reaching out to the VA for a lifeline are more at risk of suicide than young veterans who avoid the VA.

    Nothing says failure more than that.

    This is a national disgrace and it needs to be addressed immediately, not swept under the rug.

    It won't be addressed in the House if Corrine Brown becomes Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  She'll find a way to blame veterans, no doubt, as she always does.

    Let's finish out by dropping back into the hearing and we'll focus gain on Senator Boozman.

    Senator John Boozman:  I'm a little concerned or a little confused about the wait times.  You know, you said that it's mandated that it's a day.  If a family practitioner sees a patient and in the course of that examination he's concerned that perhaps this individual is having problems and he writes down on the chart, you know, "Needs a consult," how long does that take?

    Dr. Harold Kudler: Actually, at over 90% of facilities and at over 90% of CBOCs, there will be a co-located collaborative mental health person in the -- in the building and they should be able to walk that person over to the office and see him and --

    Senator John Boozman:  Well they should be able to.  Where does the 30 days come in?  What's that?

    Dr. Harold Kudler:  That is a prospective, that's like if you make an appointment by phone -- say calling by phone, say, "When's the next appointment?" It's that' far out.  But if you come in --

    Senator John Boozman:  They walk the person over, they see you and they say, "Well you need to come back," then it's 30 days?

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  And-and that's a very important point, Senator, because what often happens is --

    Senator John Boozman:  That's, you know, it's checking a box.  But it's really not seeing a patient.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  We -- Our-our standard is that they will beseen that day but that doesn't get shown, that's not reflected in that longer wait time, that's to get the next official appointment.  Quite frankly, they'll often be seen in other ways or in other clinics earlier.  They will be seen that day by a mental health professional.  If they need that help.  And anyone can refer them.  And they can self-refer there.

    Senator John Boozman:  But if they need follow up appointments, it's probably 33 days?

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  Yes.  I think that's right.

    Senator John Boozman:  So it's -- they're actually not starting treatment for an extended period of time.

    Dr. Dean Krahn:  They don't get an official mental health appointment but they may be seen in other ways.  And unfortunately our system doesn't yet capture all the ways we do it.  For instance, we might have them come back to the emergency room and that will not be recorded as a mental health appointment, none the less, they may have that mental health appointment -- or a phone call which may not be registered as a mental health appointment, but yet.

    Did you see the song and dance?

    Did you catch the repeated attempts to distract and defocus?

    Boozman didn't let them slide off the hook.

    That's what veterans need right now from the Congress.  They need the Patty Murrays, the Richard Blumenthals, the John Boozmans, etc.  They need members of Congress willing to hold the VA accountable.

    Corrine Brown proved she could . . . when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  Since Barack moved in, Brown's refused to hold the VA accountable, felt the need to praise them -- even when the topic of a hearing was the latest VA scandal, gone out of her way to blame veterans for VA problems and much worse.

    She's not fit to serve as Ranking Member.  Veterans groups have rejected her for a reason.

    The current Congress is failing veterans.  You wouldn't think they could fail them even more but you wouldn't think an incompetent like Corrine Brown would be on the verge of becoming Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee either.

    the washington post
    david ignatius