Saturday, August 02, 2014

I Hate The War

We cover hearings here.  If I attend an Iraq hearing or a veterans affairs hearing, there's a good chance it will be covered here.

Ideally, it will be covered at length.

But it usually gets covered (others, such as a recent one on autism, get covered by me in the community newsletters).

An e-mailer identifying as a "concerned emailer" wants me to know that I have been promoting the Republican party in my snapshot coverage of hearings.

I've done this, it turns out, by quoting them.

Apparently, you cover a hearing by ignoring the people you don't like.

Spencer Ackerman did that.

It was cute.  He wasn't at the 2008 hearing, I was, he wasn't.  But he was working for something -- was he even at Wired at that point? -- and he pimped Barack hard.  It was an Iraq hearing and if you wanted to cover it in terms of Barack you really should have noted princess couldn't keep his ass in the hearing  -- witnesses were then US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and then Gen David Petraeus.  And princess couldn't stick to the time limit.

He asked for a minute more and proceeded to take seven.  (We noted all of this in real time.)

To ensure princess got special treatment, the Committee Chair made excuses for Barack.  Senator Bill Nelson waived the princess ahead.

But Spencer didn't cover that.

He just pretended Barack was brave and asked important questions.

He wasn't.

He didn't.

And there was a bit of bravery in the hearing.

It came from Hillary Clinton.

She was still vying for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

So Spencer, who supported the chosen one Barack, didn't cover her.

He erased her.

He lied and claimed the feed went out.

Now I was there.  I wasn't watching it on CSpan the way Spencer did.

But I did ask if the feed went out and was told it didn't.

Also, this isn't the House, this was the Senate.

In the House, five minutes is the time each Rep is limited to in a round of questioning.

I guess CNN could lose the feed for five minutes.  It didn't, but it could.

In the Senate, a senator can use up to 15 minutes each round of questioning.

All these years later, does Spencer really want to stand by his claim that the feed went out for Hillary's turn at questioning?  For a whole 15 minutes?

I cover based on what I find to be important.

That may be new information.  That may be an interesting line of questioning.  That may be an important personal story a witness shares (especially during a veterans affairs committee when a veteran or a spouse or parent of a veteran is testifying).

I am not now and never again will be interested in covering a certain bad wig addicted Congress woman from Florida whose last name is Brown.

She has nothing of value to say, she has no ethics and I'm tired of putting her words into some form of English.  A member of Congress should not repeatedly struggle with the concept of subject and verb agreement -- nor should they create their own words daily because they forgot to learn how to pronounce words.
I do try to include women -- non-foolish ones -- in the snapshots and think we do a better job of that than the MSM.

We tend to include more Republican women than Democratic women if we're covering the House Veterans Affairs Committee but, again, I don't care for Corinne Brown who believes she's on the Committee to cover for the White House, not to help veterans.  If her statements insulting veterans -- during any of the scandals since 2009 -- were all compiled and distributed in her district, she would not win re-election.

When a Republican woman cried during a House VA hearing, we included that.  I thought that was a 'reportable' moment and real news.  I made sure to include that I've teared up and flat out cried at some VA hearings and I did that because I wanted to be clear the point wasn't, "She's crying!"  The point was that a member of Congress offered some heart felt words on a topic that clearly hit home with her (as she made clear sharing what her own father had gone through).

When, in 2008, a Republican male Rep stormed out of a House VA hearing -- and slammed the door behind him! -- after calling a witness a liar (the witness was a journalist), I debated whether or not to include that.

It was news.

But whereas the heart felt identification a member had was news, a tantrum really wasn't and tantrums tend to get a lot of attention -- a lot of attention.

A very important hearing in 2011, Senate hearing, was reduced to John McCain attacked Leon Panetta. There was so much to that hearing and the media ignored it to run with that trivia.

McCain gets covered often.

That's mainly because he gets distorted very often.  I'm not a McCain fan.  I don't like John.  (I do like Cindy, as I've noted before, I know her via charity work and I like Cindy McCain.)

But I can hold McCain accountable for what he's actually done.  I don't have to invent lies about the man to hold him accountable or call him out.  He's been distorted and lied about and I'm not part of the pack, I'm not part of the circle jerk.

I ripped him to shreds over a hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  I feel he deserved it.

But even there, we used his own words to bury him.

During that period, we were also regularly covering Senator Roland Burris.  I'm very proud of that (and we supported Burris when he was named to fill the seat, US House Rep Bobby Rush was among those defending Burris and I've known Bobby for decades so we were on board with Burris from the start).  When Burris' time in the Senate is evaluated by history, I think he'll come off very well.  He acted as a strong advocate for veterans and for service members and he tolerated no bigotry.

And his refusal of bigotry was done in a classy manner. I don't possess that grace.  Someone starts spouting homophobia, I'm going to lash out at them.  Burris was able to correct them in a manner that was much mature than anything I'm capable of.

And let's be really clear that Burris suffered real racism.

I don't mean in his life but as a person who achieved when there were so many roadblocks, he had to deal with racism constantly.

But I'm talking about as a Senator in the year 2009, he had to deal with racism.  And a lot of it was from the left.

I think Burris handled his brief time in the Senate with grace and I always knew something of value would be offered from him during any hearing he was part of.

Burris was a personal favorite and that may have been obvious in the coverage he got here.  That said, I love Bill Nelson, the Sanchez sisters (Linda and Loretta), Susan Davis and Maxine Waters (among others) and they don't get half the coverage they should.  But they're also not under attack the way Burris was.

Other than that, a medical doctor who serves in the Congress and speaks, in a hearing, to medical issues will get noted because they offer an expertise and an honesty that, for example, VA officials with medical degrees do not share.  If a member of Congress shares a story about a constituent, we will try to include that as frequently as possible.  It's good to know a member of Congress listened, it's even better to know that, weeks later, they still remember the encounter.

Sometimes we'll note a joke if one's told.  But it has to be appropriate and it's often surprising how inappropriate jokes can be in Congress.  I'm not implying dirty jokes or foul words.  I'm saying that there are times when, due to the nature of the topic being discussed, you really shouldn't be trying to get a giggle.

I try to avoid the most obvious point of any hearing's first 15 to 20 minutes.


If reporters -- beyond AP and military reporters -- are present, they tend to vanish after the opening statement's and the Chair's first questions.  So they run with that.  I try to avoid that as an emphasis and grab from elsewhere in the hearing.

I will ask myself -- before finishing a snapshot or before saying it's okay to post it -- did I forget a woman who did something worth noting in the hearing?

But I'm not really worried about party i.d. and don't generally offer it in the snapshots.

There are three rising stars in the GOP and we noted them at key moments here.  They're rising stars because of those key moments, where they basically turned a hearing upside down (in a good way).  And if Democrats were offering key moments like that, we'd gladly be noting them.  In fact, I think Beto O'Roarke had a strong year in Congress this year and we noted him a few times.  But he was the exception in a lot of ways.

For example, I'm embarrassed for Gerry Connolly.  He used to have a very strong ethical foundation.  He presented himself that way in hearing after hearing.  Then came the Democrats taking back the White House and it appears Gerry was just pretending, just grandstanding.

I miss the Gerry who cared about ethics and wasn't playing partisan games.  It is shocking to watch Gerry, of all people, suddenly defend things that cannot be defended.

And with that, sometimes I note it in the coverage, sometimes I don't.

It just depends on what else there is to cover.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

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