Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Comics -- Celibacy in the City

The above is from Isaiah's "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Celibacy in the City (Series Finale)'." It's actually the ending of the strip. Call it my You Tube moment. I really did enjoy this one and I also enjoyed the original back in 2005. I had just started up this site back then and I don't think it noted it -- I was mainly trying to get something up and not bore everyone. So let me talk about it now.

Harriet Miers, the unmarried Harriet Miers, was nominated for the Supreme Court. Like Dick Cheney in 1999, she was actually tasked with finding someone for Bully Boy to go with, and like Dick Cheney who decided he was the best, Miers appeared to decide she was the best as well. She had no real experience. There was the Texas Lotto scandal and other things as well. She was anti-choice though they tried to mask that, and sadly several women's groups were fooled in real time, she was completely unqualified. I remember the news of how, suddenly, she was the longtime romantic girlfriend of a man who was at least in his 50s, went to her church, like her had never married, and was a choir director.

I have nothing against people who are not married. Probably would have been smarter on my point to avoid marriage at one point in my life. However, I don't attend an extreme church that believes you procreate, procreate, procreate. I'm sorry, but when two 50+ year-old people who believe in marriage for straight people never marry, who are supposed to be highly religious, are suddenly a couple, my first question is always, "Who's the gay one? Or is both of them?"

Neither may have been gay. Certainly not all higly religious, elderly bachelor choir diretors are gay. I can't think of any, but law of averages, there has to be at least one. But . . .

So we knew she was anti-choice, knew she was beyond pro-business, and if she was in the closet herself, that likely meant a set back for gays and lesbians who had only recently had a real victory with Lawrence v. Texas. (Closeted individuals, of that age, tend to overcompensate to stay in the closet. That's my professional opinion based upon behaviors I've observed. They are the most difficult to provide assistance to because every question, every remark has to be filtered through their lens of "How will this make me look" -- I'm speaking of a verbal response in a therapy session.) It's also true that as Bully Boy's personal council, we were putting someone on the bench who would more than likely rule for the administration on issues like illegal wiretaps, Guantanamo and more.

So I wasn't for Harriet Miers. Condi Rice was another high profile single woman. I didn't doubt that Condi Rice was straight (though I could be wrong) but I kept thinking that if she was in another administration, she could do something more than cook meals at night with Gwen Ifell of The NewsHour. She could have the kind of social life that a Henry Kissinger had in an earlier administration, if nothing else. (Might as well live it up while you're committing the war crimes because there's always a chance that after you're out of power, you'll be behind bars.) But in that administration? Not a chance of having a personal life when you were their high profile person of color. Which is why, as Maureen Dowd documented years ago, Condi Rice referring to Bully Boy as her husband (she stopped herself with "my hus-"), didn't send me thinking, "She's having an affair with him!" (Though she could be.) It just made me think that this was a woman who wanted work and a social life and was chafing under what was being imposed upon her. It was also true that John Kerry noting the obvious in a debate (and John Edwards had noted it in a debate immediately prior), that Mary Cheney was gay, led to fake outrage from Dick and Lynne Cheney over how dare someone say publicly that their out of the closet, openly gay daughter was gay . . . when Bully Boy was campaining on a ban to same-sex marriage.

So there you had three single, adult women in DC, tied to an adminstration that kept selling how Christian it supposedly was, selling no-sex before marriage with their laughable AIDS 'policy,' selling hatred of gays and lesbians, and much more.

So Isaiah took these three women and did the converse of Sex in the City, entitled Celibate in the City. Instead of designer shoes, low rent Harriet Miers (Harri) was addicted to Payless Shoes. Condi treated excercise workouts as though they were sex (sublimation) and no one asked and no one told about Mary. (In the original, Harri notes with awe that there are rumors Mary's never even kissed a man and it's like she's married to God.) The three meet up each night at Denny's (those with longer memories will remember Denny's racial problems in the 90s -- to put it mildly -- which made that a hilarious choice for the location) and 'dish' about things like a coup against Hugo Chavez, how wonderful GOP pin-up Patricia Heaton is and the latest track suit in the Karen Hughes collection.

It was hilarious. 2007 has brought changes. Mary's pregnant. I assume since Bully Boy talked to People magazine about it, the Cheneys won't scream and hiss if we note that it's a baby she's having with her partner. Since they've made it public, you might think the press would be allowed to ask the sort of questions that they did with Melissa Etheridge and other lesbian couples who had children -- such as who's the donor? But no. Also apparently off limits is any real discussion of it although Mary Cheney was hawking her personal life and the really bad book she wrote about it mere months ago. Suddenly, we're supposed to respect her privacy. (A bit hard to do when someone's tried to cash in on their name with a book.) Harriet Miers? She had to withdraw her name. (That may be Harriet Myers. I don't care.) Alito got the vacany she was once nominated for. So she announced recently she was leaving the administration and DC to return to Texas.

In the gina & krista round-robin last week, two of the questions Gina and Krista got were whether or not there would be an update? So, since it was wanted, Isaiah did a "series finale."
By the way, Harriet really did go to Denny's. Days after Isaiah's first comic went up, the press started carrying accounts about that. I thought that was a case of life imitating art.

It wrapped up Sunday (I use a piece of it above) and I did enjoy the way it ended. I e-mailed Isaiah about it and he said he thought that, unlike a show about real friendship, they three should end up estranged and not liking each other. That is how it ends and I think that's perfect.

"Another War the Voters Hoped to End" (Roger Morris, CounterPunch):
There are no good options in Iraq, the President admitted between his lines. But that is not because Syria and Iran are hostile, or because Washington is not talking to them (one has to wonder what the demonstrably inept diplomats of this regime could be trusted to say to them). Nor because 21,000 or 40,000 more U.S. troops cannot meet even the Pentagon's optimistic ratios to "clear and hold." No, the war was lost before it began, in the simple ancient equation of power. In the overthrow of Ba'athist rule, its replacement by an armed, vengeful Shia majority (vengeance the U.S. fed by its covert installation and support of Saddam’s tyranny), all amid a politically ignorant, plundering and inevitably blundering occupation, the nightmare of Iraq and the chaos following a U.S. withdrawal have been as predictable as anything in world politics. Depending, that is, on one's universe.
It hardly matters whether Mr. Bush's speech is to salvage some "victory," or is mere cover for defeat and retreat. There in the library the President had to admit Iraq will bleed on, and America with it. Unspoken, an attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S. hovered like a leering ghost over the "way forward." And the tortured universe of Palestine, the bondage of America to Israel's tragedy, waits beyond as it has for sixty years.
Anthropologists may attribute this persistent folly of policy, these universes, not simply to ignorance or our irremediable bipartisan provincialism, but to a deeper failure of sensibility, warriors afraid to leap beyond their worlds, where empathy must war with distaste and fear. There will surely be more awkward White House speeches. Having been there, I can tell you that the occupants do not really read the books in the library, and we do not do well with lost wars, at home or abroad. We will not soon bridge those universes so comfortably, fiercely, fearfully separate.

Now you won't read the above in the New York Times, or, for that matter, probably not in The Nation. So if you liked it, remember it's CounterPunch. I had an e-mail last week from someone noting that their subscriptions were "high." That may be true for some (I believe it's less than forty dollars but I buy it issue by issue -- I'm not big on subscriptions, I love my trips to bookstores) and if that's true for you but you enjoy CounterPunch, you can e-mail things to friends and you can give the website your traffic. That's it for me tonight. I started late and I'm tired.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 16, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the United Nations issues a report that seems to go unread (or maybe the news industry has decided, yet again, to ignore Iraqi women?) , US war resister Agustin Aguayo has been charged by the US military, Bully Boy explains to 60 Minutes that the ten words last week were meaningless, the US military announces the death of four US soldiers, and the New York Times is going to have actually report on the chaos and violence in tomorrow's paper because with over 100 dead in Baghdad alone today even the desperate to sell the war Timid can't look the other way.
Starting with war resistance within the military, US war resister Agustin Aguayo, a medic with the US army, gave his reasons for refusing to redeploy to Iraq for a second tour in a statement to the US Court of Appeals in DC which was preparing to hear his appeal to be designated a conscientious objector:

With or without non-combatant status I will not deploy to Iraq. I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the reason for refusing to deploy. But that is incorrect. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to do guard-duty, although I chose to carry only an unloaded gun. While there as a non-combatant, I was still required to patch-up, treat, and help countless soldiers for "sick-call" in order to facilitate their prompt return to combatant duties. While there as a non-combatant, I was asked to drive soldiers around on patrols, patrols which could have been deadly to Americans and Iraqis alike. I regret involvement in those activities, because ultimately I was contributing to the war mission and enabling others to do what I oppose. By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for "sick-call" as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do. Although I myself did not pull the trigger, I now realize that what I did as a non-combatant nonetheless supported and enabled these missions. I cannot carry that burden on my conscience. When you know better you do better.

Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Aguayo has argued that his Last Friday, Kevin Dougherty (Stars & Stripes) reported that the US military has charged Aguayo with desertion and missing movement and that conviction on both charges "could receive a maximum prison term of seven years". The charge of desertion is interesting in that (a) Aguayo turned himself in, (b) he was gone less than 30 days, and (c) the US Court of Appeals was set to hear his case. Also of interest is that, though no date's been set for the trial/court-martial, the military's decided to announce charges when his claim for c.o. status still awaits a ruling from the US Court of Appeals.
Turning to other war resistance news, Iraq Veterans Against the War started Camp Resistance to show their support for Ehren Watada who faces a court-martial February 5, 2007. damon reports that they intend to stay "outside the gates of Fort Lewis and on the streets across the nation" in order "to make an impression large enough to influence the outcome of the trial". What do they need? They need:

financial support for getting IVAW members here at Fort Lewis, particularly on the day of the trial. Also, we envision Camp Resistance FOBs (Forward Operating Base) starting all over the country; in front of recruiter's offices, military bases, etcetera. When we got kicked out of our campsite, we came to the realization that Camp Resistance is not a physical place, but a place within our hearts and minds. If your heart is filled with resistance to this illegal war and Love for LT, you can start a daily vigil in your local area or join us here at Fort Lewis.

They also need attention -- make sure your friends know and start demanding that media, big and small (also known as Useless & Useless) cover Camp Resistance.
Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Kyle Snyder, Ivan Brobeck, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Joshua Key, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Meanwhile Bully Boy does his War Dance In The Pants and claims, that as "The Destroyer," this dance is tyrant's choice. Appearing Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes (pre-taped, Bully Boy doesn't do live well), Bully Boy again attempted to pump his ten word teeny, tiny, little culpa into a thing of significance. Scott Pelley asked Bully Boy about the ten words -- the 'mistakes were made' shrug that the press thought was just AMAZING all last week. ["Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."] It wasn't. And for the fools who didn't grasp it in real time, Bully Boy demonstrated in Sunday night's broadcast.

PELLEY: You mention mistakes having been made in your speech. What mistakes are you talking about?
BUSH: You know, we've been through this before. Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.
PELLEY: The troop levels . . .
BUSH: Could have been a mistake.
PELLEY: Could have been a mistake?
BUSH: Yeah. [General] John Abizaid, one of the planners, said in front of Congress, you know, he thought we might have needed more troops. My focus is on how to succeed. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that's the job of the commander-in-chief, and, two, I don't want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we've asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me 'cause it's my decisions.

A scapegoat is someone wrongly blamed. Before anyone points to the obvious (Bully Boy has had a highly abusive relationship with the English language), let's note that you don't go to the well on the Bible as often as the Bully Boy has publicly without being expected to know the story Aaron. Bully Boy knows full well what a scapegoat is and, Sunday on 60 Minutes, he was revealing the obvious, his ten words were sop tossed out and not heartfelt. But thank you, US press, for wasting nearly a week promoting it as ground-breaking news. It's not as though anything better couldn't have been covered in that time, is it?
In the same 60 Minutes interview, Bully Boy rejected the notion that he might "owe the Iraqi people an apology" for not doing "a better job in providing security after the invasion" with "Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant."
Shh, don't wake the tyrant. In the real world the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has released a report and, yes, it declares that 34,452 Iraqis died in 2006 with 36,685 wounded. The report also states that: "Armed operations by MNF-I continued to restrict the enjoyment of human rights and to cause severe suffering to the local population" -- MNF being the US led 'coalition'.
The tyrant thinks he 'liberated' does he? The UN report also covers the realities for Iraqi women -- new realities, post-invasion realities, brought to them by Bully Boy Inc. That includes vanishing rights, women's rights are disappearing and they "are reportedly living with heightened levels of threats to their lives and physical integrity, and forced to conform to strict, abritrarily imposed morality codes" which allows them new 'role' -- unclaimed corpse. Women are kidnapped and abused, sexually and then murdered, their corpses don't get buried by the families because to note that is your daughter, your sister, etc. would be to risk family shame. Those women who have been 'liberated' to mass sexual assault and abuse but aren't murdered? Well they have the option of 'honour killings' which, the UN report tells us, led to, in the first months of 2006, 239 women attempting to kill themselves -- burning yourself to death may be among the most popular 'roles' for Iraqi women in the public sphere. Thanks, Tyrant Bush.
Turning to today's violence which claimed over 100 lives in the capital alone.
CNN reports a coordinated attack on the Mustansiriya University involving two bombs (bomb vest and car bomb) with one "at the back entrance of the school" and the other at the "main gate under a pedestrian bridge where students and employees get public transit." Claudia Parsons and Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) note that at least 65 are dead and "many of them young women students". CNN notes that the count rose to 70 dead and at least 169 were wounded.
Also in Baghdad, Reuters notes a roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb claimed the lives of at least 15 and left at least 70 wounded in an attack "near a Sunni mosque"; another roadside bomb claimed four lives and left ten more wounded in an attack on a police patrol, while a "bomb inside a car" left six dead and at least 11 wounded in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.
Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports five mortars left 10 people wounded in west Baghdad and notes that bomb that exploded inside a car in the Sadr City section of Baghdad "exploded inside a KIA minibus".
Reuters notes a person shot dead in Hawija and three were shot down in Mosul. CNN reports that "gunmen on motorcycles opend fire on a maketplace in the Mehdi Army-controlled Bunouk area of eastern Baghdad and killed 12 civilians. Seven others were wounded."
The BBC reports that 25 corpses were discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes that two corpses were discovered in Diwaniya.
Not covered in the above is the fact that the slaughter of Haifa Street (a residential street -- or residential before the slaughter began) continues. Nancy A. Youssef and Zaineb Obeid (McClatchy Newspapers) report: "Eight days after a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive began to take control of the Haifa Street area in central Baghdad, residents said they had no water and no electricity and that people seeking food had been shot at random. They said they could see American soldiers nearby, but that the Americans were making no effort to intervene."
In addition, Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "according to a medical source from karbala health directorate, the directorate yesterday received 80 anonymous bodies from Baghdad morgue with the help of sadr office. those bodies were found 3 months ago in Baghdad and were not be able to be recognized by their families. usually after 3 month of the bodies being at Baghdad morgue if nobody claim them are sent to karbala grave yard to be buried but now the period have been lessen to one month only. this grave yard in karbala is called the anonymous grave yard. also today 85 anonymous bodies were received from Baghdad morgue to be buried at karbala anonymous grave yard."
Meanwhile the US military announces: "Four Task Force Lightning Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division were killed Monday as a result of an improvised explosive device while conducting operations in Ninewa province, Iraq."
Addressing the escalation, Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) observes that the escalation is Bully Boy's plan and the US, not Iraqis, are in charge:

Initial reports from the US powers running the war explain that the first neighborhoods to be attacked will be primarily Sunni in makeup. Once these neighborhoods are pacified--gunships attack, soldiers come in, the men rounded up and the areas locked down and fenced in, the remaining residents will be issued identification cards which will most likely include retina scans and will be limited in their travels outside of the region assigned to them by the US command. The plan then apparently calls for a similar effort in the Shia areas of Baghdad, including the area known as Sadr City. This is when the Green Zone regime of al-Maliki will be challenged. Will he give in to US demands and support the almost certainly bloody raids into this part of the city? Will he accept the US plan to turn the Shia regions of Baghdad into the equivalent of the Vietnam war's strategic hamlets? Since it is quite unlikely that Muqtada al-Sadr or his followers will, if al-Maliki were to do so, he would most certainly lose the support of this important bloc of Iraqis. If he opposes US attacks and lockdowns of Shia areas of the city, then he would most likely lose his job.
The scenarios outlined above do enough to prove that it is Washington that really runs the war in Iraq. The major difference between the situation before Mr. Bush's speech and now is that the post-speech plan strips away even the pretense that the Iraqi Green Zone government is in control. What this means on the ground is that the US command will no longer even pretend to ask the Green Zone government for permission to conduct its activities. This change was graphically illustrated almost immediately after Mr. Bush's speech when US troops raided the Iranian diplomatic mission in Irbil and hijacked six Iranian consular officials. No Iraqis even knew about this raid until after the fact. In fact, the Kurdish military units guarding the region almost killed some US troops trying to enter the region because they were unaware of their intentions. We will surely see more examples like this in the coming weeks and months.

Turning to financial news, Sunday, Stephen Foley (Independent of London) reported the GOP donor Bearing Point was having problems which included "falling more than a year behind in reporting its own financial results, prompting legal actions from its creditors and shareholders". Who is Bearing Point? A company that the US administration has been very happy to give contracts (and tax dollars) to for their work on Iraq ("on" being key). On Sunday's The KPFA Evening News, Antonia Juhasz (author of The BU$H Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time) noted that among the contracts Bearing Point currently has one for privatizing Iraq and one of their own employees sitting on Iraq's Oil Ministry. Juhasz explained:

Bearing Point has played the role on the ground in Iraq as the company tasked with the job of making sure that Iraqi's new oil law is passed. So essentially there's been a Bearing Point employee who's had no other job but to make sure that Iraq passes an oil law that supports the Bush administration's agenda for Iraq which is to get Iraq's oil as privatized as possible and into US corporate hands. And that has been Bearing Point's job and it seems that BP has done that job quite well. Bearing Point has essentially been the workhorse on the ground and also the constant threat the constant presence of the Bush administration on the ground in Iraq, doing nothing but focusing on getting this law completed and potentially passed in Iraq. [. . .] The Bechtels and the Halliburtons and the oil companises, Chevron, Exxon , Connoco, and Marathon. Those companies have all been beneficiaries of policies that Bearing Point helped develop and Bearing Point was developing policies that simply, again, serviced the Bush administration's interests. It's definitely just a tool of the administration whereas the other companises definitely had their own agendas that the administration in some ways was a tool servicing their interests like, in particular, the oil companies.