Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Iraq, Israel and Hill & Bill

Betty wrote "Iraq (it's not 'calm') and thoughts on independent media" (at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude where she's guest blogging for Rebecca) and you will be doing yourself a strong favor if you make time to read that. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and, strangely, we both had the topic of the Clintons today (I have Hillary, he has Bill).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continues but the media's more interested in seeing if al-Maliki will give Bully Boy class and if Bully Boy will give al-Maliki . . .
Reuters reports a bomb ("car driven") in Mosul left eleven wounded, "rocket-propelled grenades" fired "on the main road between Kirkuk and Baghdad" at "two fuel trucks" killed two drivers -- a third was kidnapped; a roadside bomb in Mosul wounded three Iraqi soldiers; and, in Baghdad, a road side bomb took the life of one police officer and left three wounded. AFP reports three bombs going off in Baghdad "killing two civilians and a policeman wnd wounding many bystanders." Allowing for the police officer in Baghdad noted by AFP and Reuters to be the same person, that leaves five dead.
Reuters reports a shooting death in Ishaqi which took the life of a police officer, a drive-by that killed a police officer in Baghdad, four wounded in Daquq ("working for a private Iraqi company which deals with the U.S. military") and two dead ("gunned down inside their car") in Baghdad. The "inside their car" noted by Reuters appears to be "a family of Shiite civilians" who had been threatened and were attempting to flee but were killed with another family members wounded (AFP).
Reuters reports six corpses were discovered in Baghdad, seven in Suwayra ("shot dead . . . blindfolded), and two near Falluja ("gunshot wounds").
That's all the media has to spare for events in Iraq as the rush is to DC to note the new romantic comedy When Bully Met Puppet . . .
Here's the set up. An obnoxious, paunchy post-middle-age male decides to invade Iraq. He and his flunkies make a lot of false claims and assertions that are generally known to be false in real time. For example,
Michael Ratner, Jennie Green and Barbara Olshanksy will write in 2002: "Despite the pervasive use of the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction' in many of the Bush Administration's speeches discussing Saddam Hussein throughout 2002, there is no evidence of a developed nuclear weapon program in Iraq. Indeed, all reliable, detailed evidence from independent experts reveals that the current weapons capacity in Iraq is small -- smaller and far less advanced than that of other counries around the world that are actively threatening peace in their respective regions" (Against War With Iraq). But out of some desire to let the lifelong loser make yet another stab at 'success' in some form, in any forum, the mainstream media largely either stays silent or cheerleads.
The spoiled playboy gets his hobby (and many die). He toys with and discards Ibrahim al-Jaafari (the cad!) and along comes Nouri al-Maliki. Cue love theme on the soundtrack. Puppet is Bully Boy's favorite kind of Iraqi -- one that's spent over two decades out of the country.
Now after long distance exchanges and one brief (shining) moment, they're face to face and the question for the audience is: "Are their sparks?"
Don't expect sparks to fly but expect the Puppet to get a lesson in who pulls the strings.
The BBC offers this recap: "When the two leaders met in Baghdad last month . . . The mood then was unusually positive, reports the BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington -- but this latest meeting comes on the back of a failed security operation in Baghdad." The AFP reminds: "Baghdad's descent into chaos has claimed more victims as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Washington under pressure to restore order and pave the way for the departure of US forces. As gunshots and bomb blasts echoed around the capital, the Iraqi leader went into talks with US President George W. Bush knowing that both the Americans and his own supporters are disappointed with his handling of the situation."
A meeting of two leaders? Sounds more like a performance review.
Getting far less attention is
the reconciliation meetings going on Cairo with (AP): "Some 30 delegates representing Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller minorities are participating in the discussions sponsored by the Cario-based Arab League."
In peace news,
the Latin American News Agency reported Friday: "Costa Rican filmmaker Daniel Ross . . . won the prize of the screenplay contest called by the Program for the Promotion of Production and TV Coverage of the Ibero American Documentary (DOCTV-IB)." Ross will now have $100,000 for the budget of his film, Dear Camilo, which "will portray the story of [Camilo] Mejias, from the perspective of two Costa Rican friends, former classmates he meets after 10 years." On the subject of activist and war resister Camilo Mejia, he is not 24 years-old. Those who've noted coverage of an accident in Florida involving a 24 year-old Camilo Mejia and wondered, it's not the same Camilo Mejia (the activist Mejia was born in 1976).
After serving in Iraq, Mejia returned to the US and went AWOL, surfacing in March of 2004 at a news conference held at the Sherborn Peace Abbey
Alison O'Leary Murray (Boston Globe) reports that Sherborn Peace Abbey, "founded in 1988," is in need of funding. Along with being the setting for Meija's news conference, the abbey also "was involved in a protest by a group calling itself the Peace Chain 18, who chained themselves togeter at Natick's Army Labs to protest military intervention in Iraq."
Writing for The Huffington Post,
Michael Brune notes that he and others with the Rainforest Action Network "are joining Code Pink and thousands of others around the world who are fasting to end the war in Iraq and to bring our troops home now." Brune writes: "Each day we wake up, rush to work, get together with friends, get caught in traffic, get caught in office politics, get caught in emails . . . and each day so many time zones away, another family is terrorized at gunpoint, another young soldier is killed, a home is destroyed, a child is killed while her sister is raped. And if you live in America, it's being done in your name."
YubaNet notes: "hunger strikers who started fasting against the war on July 4 will set up 'Camp Al-Maliki' across from the Iraqi Embassy to await response to a letter sent by the group to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki." Today is DAY 22 of the Troops Home Fast action -- at least 4,350 people from around the world are participating. The fast is ongoing and people wishing to grab a one-day fast to show their support can do so at any point. If you missed the July 4th start, you haven't missed out on the protest. Information can be found online at CODEPINK. Finally, in Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues with "Soldier Two" (Kovco's platoon sergeant by most accounts) testifying. Malcom Brown (Sydney Morning Herald) reports that Soldier Two testified that he "had heard the commotion in Private Kovco's room on the night of April 21 and found the private's room-mates, Soldiers 17 and 19, kneeling beside the body. He saw the nine-millimetre pistol on the floor and shifted it aside with his hands in case someone accidentally discharged it." Ben Doherty (The Age) reports that "Kovco's platoon sergeant did not want to look again" at Kovco's body. This is presented as the reason why the body of Bosnian Juso Sinanovic ended up arriving in Melbourne and not the body of Jake Kovco. Soldier Two is quoted saying: "I was devastated and am still upset by the mix-up." Australia's ABC notes that Soldier Two was flown in from Baghdad to testify and that he "said he was not given detailed instructions of his role as escort, and was not told that he had sole responsibility for identifying the body during the repatriation process." Doherty notes that Soldier Two's DNA was tested and "neither Soldier 2 nor three military police officers involved in the initial investigation" match the DNA found on the gun ("its slide, handgrip and trigger"). Doherty concludes with: "The two soldiers who were in barracks room eight with Private Kovco when he died will be DNA-tested when they arrive back in Australia later this week."
Note that this is the inquiry's stated goal/action today and that another turnaround wouldn't be surprising at this point considering its past history.

Iraq. I think the snapshot covers it all and When Bully Met Puppet is hilarious. "Ass" is the word in the first sentence that's left out, by the way. Sunny asked me about that at work. "He gives her class, she gives him ass." It's been applied to many onscreen teams (such as Hepburn & Tracy).

"Clinton puts focus on the middle class" (Jeff Zeleny, Chicago Tribune):
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has gone to great lengths to create a distinctive political footprint, but she declared Monday that ideas championed by the Clinton White House offer the best chance for Democrats to win back their majority."To paraphrase the historic 1992 campaign," said Clinton (D-N.Y.) with a wry smile, "It's the American Dream, stupid."

Oh, isn't she funny? No, she's not. Humor's never been something she could pull off in a group setting. She can rouse, she can inspire, but chuckles have never greeted her speeches. It's a sign of how out of touch both she and her campaign are that they didn't grasp that.

So she's speaking of the "It's the economy, stupid" -- a slogan from 1992. The real message there is that she's just sold out the last bits of what she once believed in. There was a struggle in the 1992 campaign, within the campaign, and Hillary's just tossed her lot in with the bean counters. "It's the economy, stupid" sold well to Wall St. It didn't inspire voters. Inspiration came from the other camp in the campaign and Hillary was their most vocal spokesperson back then. Now? Just another hack willing to say anything.

In a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group that propelled her husband to the presidency on his own riff of "It's the economy, stupid," she unveiled a 20-page "American Dream Initiative."The familiar set of policies, which Clinton said should become a signature brand for Democrats, is aimed at improving the lives of the middle class."This agenda is all about restoring the American Dream, but there is nothing dreamlike about it," Clinton said. "Democrats stand ready to lead again. Now all we have to do is win elections."

Democrats stand ready to lead again? Why "again"? Well one reason is that her husband disgusted America. Now no one I was friends with thought Bill Clinton committed a crime or needed to be put through the nonsense that the House did. But we also didn't think, "He's a hero! He cheated! He's a hero!" What you have is a very flawed person (at best). Why he's now being held up as something to cheer goes a long way to explaining why the DLC and the DNC can't inspire voters after a six-year, steady assualt from Bully Boy and the GOP.

Now let's not forget that Hillary's recently made clear how little lives in the Middle East matter to her -- unless, of course, they're Jewish. That's why she could cheerlead the illegal war on Iraq. That's why she cheers what's going on now with Israel's armed aggression. She's a War Hawk. She wants blood. She wants vengance. For what? Who knows?

Personally, I tend not to trust a woman who responds to cheating the way she did. I have friends who bury it. That's their business. I have friends who explode. I know no one who drew a wall of "Don't ask me" around the issue and then started padding out her book with bits of gossip. That was tacky.

Want to say it's off limits? Then keep it off limits. It's just tacky. It reminds you of how tacky they could both be. I wasn't for Bill Clinton in the 1992 primaries. When he got the nomination, I could live with it because Hillary stood for something. (Or seemed to.) Those days are long gone. She just really grates on my nerves these days. I obviously disagree with her on the war but it's so much more. Her ridiculous efforts regarding flag burning, her shameful attempts to turn back the clock on reproductive rights . . . In 1992, she was able to inspire. It seemed like she stood for something. These days it's like every thought, every position is calculated. I hear her speak and just shudder. Russ Feingold, John Edwards, Barbara Boxer, none of those people frighten me as a president. Hillary does. Hillary scares the hell out of me because she has no bedrock. There's no way of figuring out what stand she might take because it changes each year. (She's even changing her hairstyle again -- or missed an appointment for a trim.)

Possibly, she's been too much in the public eye? Possibly over fourteen years, anyone would seem inconsistent? I don't know. I just know that the Hillary of 1992 inspired me and the Hillary of today frightens the hell out of me. Arianna Huffington has a good piece on Bill Clinton's support for Joe Lieberman, "Bill Clinton Endorses Joe Lieberman -- a HuffPost Preview! (Updated)." The mainstream media is up in arms over a 'puring' going on. It's funny that they don't worry about that with regards to Republicans. Excuse me, but isn't Christy Todd Whitman supposed to be involved in a battle for her party? That's not coming from outside the party structure, that's from within. But NBC and others are up in arms that Joe Lieberman may be "purged." Joe Lieberman is a lousy senator.

Bill Clinton should stayed the hell out of us. This is up to Conn. voters. Or are they now carpet bagging over to Conn.? I don't see Bill Clinton as a sexual predator. I do see him as someone who's sexually dysfunctional. That doesn't just go away. Hopefully, he's addressed the issue in a therapuetic setting. But he's not the great voice he (or the bean counters) think he is. He's not wonderful, he's not spotless and he's not inspiring.

I defended him during the impeachment. I'd do that again today. But let's not be stupid and pretend it wasn't embarrassing and that, right-wing attacks or not, it wasn't stupidity on his part that got us into that. Monica Lewinsky kept a dress with sperm on it. He was involved with a woman who would keep a dress with sperm on it, preserve it. That's just tacky and it does say something about him. It's not impeachable, it's not a crime. It's also not the actions of someone the party needs to now turn to. Are we that desperate?

Had Bill Clinton been president during 9/11, he would have helped the nation heal. That's in his character. He has strong points. But his actions while president limit the role he can be effective in today. He needs to be above it all, above the bickering and the fighting. When he endorses someone who most see as a person who stabbed him in the back, he doesn't look above it all. He looks "craven." He looks "calculating." It brings back every bad memory.

He's not acting like a "statesman," he's acting like a huckster and everytime he does that, he reminds some of us of how irritating he could be.

"Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes" (Jonathan Cook, Common Dreams):
This week I had the pleasure to appear on American radio, on the Laura Ingraham show, pitted against David Horowitz, a "Semite supremacist" who most recently made his name under the banner of Campus Watch, leading McCarthyite witch-hunts against American professors who have the impertinence to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Arabs have minds and feelings like the rest of us.
It was a revealing experience, at least for a British journalist rarely exposed to the depths of ignorance and prejudice in the United States on Middle East matters -- well, apart from the regular wackos who fill my email inbox. But five minutes of listening to Horowitz speak, and the sympathy with which his arguments were greeted by Laura ("The Professors -- your book's a great read, David"), left me a lot more frightened about the world's future.
Horowitz's response to every question, every development in the Middle East, whether it concerns Lebanon, the Palestinians, Syria, or Iran, is the same: "They want to drive the Jews into the sea." It's as simple as that. Not even a superficial attempt at analysis; just the message that the Arab world is trying to finish off the genocide started by Europe. And if Laura is any yardstick, a lot of Americans buy that stuff.
Horowitz is keen to bang the square peg of the Lebanon story into the round hole of his claims that the "Jews" are facing an imminent genocide in the Middle East. And to help him, he and the massed ranks of US apologists for Israel -- regulars, I suspect, of shows like Laura's -- are promoting at least four myths regarding Hezbollah's current rockets strikes on Israel. Unless they are challenged at every turn, the danger is that they will win the ground war against common sense in the US
The first myth is that Israel was forced to pound Lebanon with its military hardware because Hezbollah began "raining down" rockets on the Galilee. Anyone with a short memory can probably recall that was not the first justification we were offered: that had to do with the two soldiers captured by Hezbollah on a border post on July 12.
But presumably Horowitz and his friends realized that 400 Lebanese dead and counting in little more than a week was hard to sell as a "proportionate" response. In any case Hezbollah kept telling the world how keen it was to return the soldiers in a prisoner swap.
Hundreds of dead in Lebanon, at least 1,000 severely injured and more than half a million refugees -- all because Israel is not ready to sit down at the negotiating table. Even Horowitz could not "advocate for Israel" on that one.
So the chronology of war has been reorganized: now we are being told that Israel was forced to attack Lebanon to defend itself from the barrage of Hezbollah rockets falling on Israeli civilians. The international community is buying the argument hook, line, and sinker. "Israel has the right to defend itself," says every politician who can find a microphone to talk into.

Dahr Jamail has an important article that you can read by clicking here. It's appalling what Israel is being allowed to get away with. (Hillary, of course, provides them cover.) This is an example of what I mean about being frightened of her as president. Bill Clinton offered a crappy peace plan. But he came off like someone who grasped that something other than rhetoric was needed. Hillary's all posture these days and we've seen no indication that she can step beyond that and bring forth any of the qualities, the admirable ones, that Bill Clinton had.