Monday, February 11, 2008

The closet

I'm delinking from someone tonight. I'm delinking for a number of reasons. One reason is ___ made promises they didn't keep. Ava explained that to me when I told her about reason number two. She said, "Elaine, go for it because ____ said, 'I'm linking to The Common Ills. Do you know how many weeks ago that was?" Ava knows because she replied to ____. C.I. never wrote ____. Ava heard from _____ a few times. Asking for attention on something. No attention given and Ava explained why at length. Ava suggested ____ start a website of their own. _____ did and wanted to trade links. Ava knows C.I. doesn't trade but also knew C.I. would link to ___. C.I. did. C.I. also linked to piece that ____ wrote. In the snapshot, so we all ended up linking.

Here's reason number two. After ___ got what ____ wanted, Ava was blown off. Ava found it rude. That's not surprising. ______ e-mailed Rebecca after blowing off Ava (Rebecca didn't know, none of us did) and asks for advice on blogging. _____ has just started so Rebecca offers a primer of basics. Rebecca showed me the e-mail on Sunday in her sent folder. She was afraid she had said something to hurt ____'s feelings because despite offering all these basic how-tos (weeks ago), ____ never wrote back. Not even to say "thanks" and nothing else. I found that strange.

I read Rebecca's e-mail slowly. It was a very nice e-mail. Rebecca was being encouraging. She was asked how to get attention online? She provided several examples of things to do. She was asked about Google searches. Rebecca explained how that works. Now because ____ may have weak eyes (____ e-mails in LARGE TYPE which Ava said ____ did when e-mailing the public account of The Common Ills as well), Rebecca made her reply very big. It's 55K. It's probably only 25K in normal size. But Rebecca wrote a 25K reply. On a Saturday! The only day we really have off in this community.

____ never wrote back. ____ never e-mailed "thanks" even. Just as with Ava. Rebecca had a p.s. which is what she was afraid was possibly offensive. In it, Rebecca writes that she just noticed ____ writes in large type and so in case that's necessary, Rebecca explains she's enlarged her own font.

That wasn't offensive. Rebecca wrote nothing offensive.

Rebecca slaved away on at least a 25K e-mail. _____ never bothered to reply. Now ____ is a Hillary hater. ____ is also deluded about Obama. ____'s not really a Democrat for Bambi. _____'s not really an 'independent' for Bambi. Blog posts tossing around the term "vanguard" usually come from Communists or Socialists. I have no problem with either and flirted with socialism especially in college. To this day, in local races, I will vote for a socialist candidate. I have a very high opinion of them. But I don't present as one because I'm not. I'm a Democrat.

A friend saw that, a friend from college. She was reading blogs and she'd read mine over the weekend. So when she came back Monday, there was nothing news. She started using my links (she also reads Rebecca and C.I.'s sites on the weekend) wondering what sort of things I linked to because, as she explained, "We all know C.I. is the strongest in terms of defending anyone and we all know C.I. has the biggest heart and gets used constantly." That is true and not meant as an insult to C.I. (whom I love). If someone insulted me, C.I. would rip them apart. If someone insulted C.I., C.I. wouldn't give it a second thought. That's partly because C.I. just doesn't care. The attitude is, "You don't like me? I won't lose any sleep." So the friend didn't want to go through C.I.'s links assuming (to a degree rightly) that C.I. would be charitable to some who did not deserve it. She figured I'd only link to things I supported. (That would be 100% true if I ever had time just to work my blog roll.) She came across ____.

She left a message at work stating it wasn't an emergency. Since I often have only a few minutes between patients, I generally deal with personal calls on lunch. So Sunny and I are eating lunch and have the computer streaming NPR while I'm returning the call. My friend tells me about visiting ____'s site and asks, "How long are we going to let these people pass as 'independent'?" What people? The Communists for Bambi. Yes, I know about them. They've spread rumors for months now that Bambi's really a Socialist or a Communist. As Mike's grandfather says, "No Socialist would spread that rumor." But a closeted Communist would, my friend pointed out on the phone when I repeated that. That's what ____ is. ____ is older than both of us. But she's very political -- my friend -- in NYC and she knows ____. Not 'friends with.' Not close. "She's using terms like 'vanguard,'" my friend explained, "to promote Bambi, she's using that he's 'in the vanguard.'"

We were discussing that and how sick we were of closeted types. Especially elderly ones who have nothing to lose for being honest. I explained what happened with Rebecca and my friend said, "That *****!" That's due to the fact that Rebecca is the sweet one. When we all roomed together in college, Rebecca was the sweet one, not C.I., not me. That wasn't a slap at us, but Rebecca started college before she was 18. She was very innocent and she was (and remains) very sweet.

My friend on the phone said delinking wasn't good enough. She said I needed to note that I'm not interested in helping people stay in the closet. I'm not. I have known many wonderful Communists in my life. After 1970, I've known no wonderful Closeted Communists. I have no problem with Communists or Communism. Many of the guys, the majority, that I slept with in college were Communists (although some later went extremely to the right).

But I never liked trickery or deceit. I never took a liking to closet cases -- regardless of what they were in the closet on.

So I am delinking tonight as planned. But I am also noting that I'm not here to advance your hidden agenda. If someone will be so kind as to e-mail me ( as to which is the Communist daily (I believe it's Workers World but I could be wrong), I'll gladly put it on my links. In fact, I'll do so tonight. (If that's a socialist paper, let me know the Communist one and I will add it this week.) But that's because they're not ashamed or embarrassed.

By the time your over 60, if you're ashamed or embarrassed about who you are, you have a real problem. You've had too many years to get comfortable with who you are. I do grasp how it works, I know that scene. They're "out" to a select few. That's not really out. (I'm not planning to out ___.) There's nothing wrong or evil about communism. It's a political theory. It has as much right to compete in the marketplace of ideas as anything else. Credit to young people who don't hide it. It wasn't hidden in my day either. But we were post-Red Scare. ____ being older, ____ probably did live through the Red Scare. That was decades ago.

I have no interest in closeted types. My friend reminded me of how awful they were during Vietnam, the older generation of closeted ones. They were awful. They ripped apart the communists who were young (my age at the time) as superficial and the ones who were their own age but out of the closet for a multitude of other reasons. They were damaging. In Naomi Wolf's The End of America, she talks about how people who speak out about the abuses of the Bully Boy need to do a self-inventory, find out if there's anything that could embarrass them potentially and take action to be sure it doesn't. (By informing loved ones of it.)

That is important. I thought so at the time thinking of the way the White House has so frequently attacked people who have tried to tell the truth. But on the phone this afternoon, I thought about how much damage the closet types have done.

If we move the issue to gay or lesbian, it may be more apparent. Maybe not because things have changed. But I've known many people casually who ripped apart gays and lesbians. It was never a surprise to learn that they were also gay or lesbian. When you're in the closet, you go out of your way to appear not like whatever you're hiding. Please note, this isn't a comment on young adults who are gay or lesbian. As I've noted before, I am all for honesty but if someone came to me and said "My parents wouldn't approve and they're paying for college," my advice would be, "Get through college and then tell them." Those younger than college age would get similar advice. Too many children (I'm defining that as under 18) have been kicked out of their homes for coming out. I believe in honesty but I also believe a child needs a roof over their head.

So, to be clear, I'm talking about adults. In ___'s case, we're talking over retirement age. The Red Scare was decades ago. ____ is over sixty. There's no reason to keep hiding. I don't like deceit and I don't support trickery.

I don't support someone imposing an unfair standard on Hillary (unfair in that Barack's not held to the same standard). I especially don't enjoy it when they're trying to pass themselves off as a Democrat. _____ is not a Democrat. All this nonsense about 'we' have to pull together for the good of the 'party' and get behind Bambi is nonsense because readers are led to believe the 'party' is the Democratic Party. ____ is not a Democrat. At ____'s age, most people would have gotten their houses in order. That's not the case.

____ wants readers to think, "What a kindly old Democrat." I'm not supporting that lie with a link. I honestly think, and C.I. and I have discussed this, that the press needs to stop using "independent." For instance, a joint-column ran last week billing two people generically. Democrats read that and think, "Democrats!" or "Independents!" The two are not Democrat. A lot of Bambi's public "independent" support, the praise being written, isn't from Democrats and maybe if you publish in a playwright's political journal, you shouldn't be allowed to present yourself another way when you publish for the general 'masses'?

In my own youth, during college, working to end that illegal war, I saw the damage the closet cases do. They would start a whisper campaign on a Communist. It would be an open Communist. They would try to run the man or woman off. They were generally some of the brightest about organizing, the ones out of the closet. They were always willing to go to the wall and then some. But this nonsense would start up against them. If you confronted the closet case, they'd tell you it was bad for the organization if a Communist was in it. They'd be attempting a purge.

This happened over and over. Because the Red Scare was in the past but the not very distant past, C.I. would stay silent on it to me. (Both C.I. and I refused to answer the "Are you a Communist?" question in college. We refused to take part in that division.) But the one night, when I was so upset because this 63-year-old man (which seemed ancient to me at the time) who was the most kindly man I'd ever met was being targeted. I was crying and could not understand why a person would work so hard to purge him from the group. What did it matter if he was a Communist? We were all trying to end the war. C.I. explained it to me. The person attacking him, trying to push him out, was a closeted Communist. Proving how young I was at the time, I replied, "But ___ is always putting down Communists." C.I. asked me, "And why do you think that really is?" We stopped that. C.I. and I went to visit ___ and told him, "We think you're right, we should purge all Communists. That's what you want, right?" He immediately agreed and launched into a long-winded speech about the evils of Communism. When he wound down, C.I. smiled sweetly and said, "You understand that, of course, we'll have to purge you as well."

His face went ashen. Then he tried to deny it. C.I. started reeling off all these things, including meetings, and said, "Don't f**k with me." The man grasped that C.I. did not reality and that if he wanted to stay in the closet, he better lay off the old man because, if he didn't, and this was very much a threat, he could be outed himself. That was the eye-opener for me. After that, I could always spot the closet-cases, who worked overtime to act like they were Ike or Mamie (no longer in office). It was an act they'd polished over the years.

Again, the Red Scare ended long ago. There's no reason for anyone to be in the closet politically today. Young people aren't in the closet. They were out in full force in January 2007 at the DC action. They fit in like everyone else trying to end the illegal war. But we did bump into a 70-plus woman who sneered at them as "Communists!" She was a closet case.

I hope this has been clear. I've tried to be very clear in this regarding my feelings on this. (A) That's partly because I want young people today to realize that just because someone self-presents as something doesn't mean they are. (B) I want to be clear that I do not have a problem with anyone following the political theory of their choice. (Even Libetarians.) Working to end the illegal war requires all of us, I know that from Vietnam. (C) Betty and I do not have a problem. A number of people, reading something at Third, e-mailed to ask if I was mad at Betty? Betty got the same e-mails. We're not mad at each other. We weren't mad at each other. To avoid that type of confusion, I've tried to be very clear. (D) I am so offended that Rebecca wrote at least a 25K e-mail and didn't get a response. (E) An old friend asked me to note why closet cases were a problem. (F) When I spoke to Ava to inform her I was delinking and what had happened to Rebeca, she explained to me her mind was picked as well and there was never any need to offer even a thank you after ___ had the information ___ needed. (G) I have a very low tolerance for bad manners and always have. I'm stealing from Kat, here's who I've mentioned in this that has a site:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
February 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the death toll for US service members in Iraq gets closer to 4,000 since the start of the illegal war, Captains Of War meet but who notices that or the protests, yesterday in Iraq saw so many deaths it's been dubbed "Bloody Sunday," Blue-Light special in Iraq, British mothers push for answers regarding the illegal war and more.

Starting with war resisters. Over the weekend, the Captains Of War met in Germany for the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy. Among the attending was US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Also 'representing' the US were US Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman -- who no doubt made a delightful traveling couple -- with Turkey represented by its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Little Kenny Roth of Human Rights Watch among others. We'll come back to what was stated at the conference. But while Captains Of War gathered to plot continue war, people rose up en mass to protest.
Amy Bradley (Indybay IMC) reports that Friday saw "several hundred activits" protesting and the number increased the following day as "several thousand protesters gathered in Marienplatz to continue the protests" including Iraq War veteran and war resister Chris Capps who the Minuch American Peace Committee awarded a peace medal and who is starting an IVAW chapter in Germany. Bradley reports 14 arrests while an estimated "3,700 police monitored the marchers." Bradley provides a number of photos of the two day protests and this one probably depicts the size of the crowd best. Courage to Resist profiles Chris Capps here and a quote we'll note is his stating, "If the politicians refuse to listen to the people, then the people need to take action. If we had resistance throughout the military then we could finally end this war here and now."

Among those who have resisted, the ones in Canada need help. The country's Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals on the issue of safe harbor status and the country's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters may have. You can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers.

Returning to the Munich Conference on Security Policy for a number of reasons including that it is news. The protests against it are news and what was stated is news. We'll focus on a few speeches briefly and then move to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Lindsey Graham was making his tenth trip and apologizing for being "a poor substitute for Senator [John] McCain" and, as if to make clear how poor, he made a non-funny joke about Russia that wasn't well received and his "I'll buy you a beer after" didn't smooth things over. Even with a crowd that didn't boo his white-washing/minimizing Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, he managed to get off on the wrong foot immediately. Graham offered this look-for-the-rainbow praise: "when NATO expands, the war is enriched." Joe Lieberman wants war with Iran very, very badly. It was the focus of his speech and just because there is no "covert work on bomb design" going on, Lieberman's up in arms over the "overt work on enrichment" as Iran established a nuclear power industry. Human Rights Watch's Little Kenny Roth bragged about the "expertise" his organization has allegedly developed. "We do not deal with the nuclear question. But we look at weapons systems that are used," explained Roth. "Cluster munitions caused more civilian casualities," in Iraq, he declared, "than any weapons other than small arms." He spoke of his concern with "the failure rate" of cluster munitions. Yes, that is a serious concern -- those pesky things do not go enough immediately. So he's not opposed to the indiscriminate deaths they cause immediately, just the deaths they cause days, weeks or years later? Someone needs to watch Human Rights Watch. Bobby Gates declared his focus was the Afghanistan War (for his speech -- before the British and Canadian governments protest, it was the focus for his speech only) and that would be the war that started in 2001 and continues today. He offers a revisionary history -- in bulletin points -- on the 'justification' for the war (no, he doesn't mention Osama bin Laden -- which, for anyone with a memory, was why the US began bombing -- after the Tailaban asked for proof of crimes before turning over bin Laden, the US response was to begin bombing). That war celebrated its sixth anniversary last fall so pay attention to this statement by Gates, "As many of you know, a Strategic Vision document is being drafted that will assess NATO's and our parenters' achievements in Afghanistan, and will produce a set of realistic goals and a roadmap to mee them over the next three to five years." Three to five years? The US Secretary of Defense is stating that the Afghanistan War could last through 2013 or even later? He went on to bemoan "bureaucratic hurdles" that "hinder our progress in Afghanistan" and advoacted for the passage of the NATO Commander's Emergency Response Fund which "will, for NATO, require a more flexible approach to budgeting and funding." Considering the millions, billiions and trillions being spent on both the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War presently, it's hard to see what "bureaucratic hurdles" Gates imagines side-stepping unless he means Congress itself?
Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports on US House Rep John Murtha's take on the huge financial cost of the illegal war and whose being effected -- Murtha: "You can't put a trillion-dollar war on a credit card and leave the bills for our children to pay. The same Americans suffering in Iraq today will be paying for this borrowed war for the rest of their lives." Pincus reports, "Noting that the administration is spending $343 million every 24 hours on the Iraq war, Murtha said that 11 hours in Iraq 'could restore $156 million cut by the president's Defense Department budget for the Family Advocacy Program'."

Back in Munich, Secretary Gates insisted that "we are applying a comprehensive strategy" in Iraq and then declared the following:

We have leanred that war in the 21st century does not have stark divisions between civilian and military components. It is a continuous scale that slids from combat operations to economic development, governance and reconstruction -- frequently at the same time.
The Alliance must put aside any theology that attempts clearly to divide civilian and military operations. It is unrealistic. We must live in the real world. As we noted as far back as 1991, in the real world, security has economic, political, and social dimensions. And vice versa. In the future, the EU and NATO will have to find ways to work together better, to share certain roles -- neither excluding NATO from civilian-military operations nor barring the EU from purely military missions. In short, I agree entirely with Secretary General [Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer and Minister [Herve] Morin's comments yesterday that there must be a "complimentarity" between the EU and NATO.

We could go on and on regarding that push for war-more-war-always-war. Instead, we'll note that
Oliver Rolofs found Gates "ostentatiously concillatory towards Germany during the conference.In his contribution on the future of Aghanistan on the Sunday morning, he said that he had not intended to point a figner at Germany at all, explaining that the request for more commitment in Afghanistan had been issued to all the members of the Alliance." Secretary Gates next jaunted off to Iraq where, Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A few hours before he landed in Baghdad, a big suicide car bomb exploded near a local market in Yathrib, north of Baghdad in Salahuddin province, killing at least 23 and injuring 45. . . . Another car bomb exploded near Ramadi, killing three, and further north two car bombs were reported in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city. Both of them targeted Iraqi soldiers and four were killed in one of the explosions, police said. To the west of Mosul, 21 people were killed in fighting between insurgents and members of the U.S.-funded local awakening council militia." "Awakening" Councils are the US effort at Rent-An-Ally, whereby they toss coins around in an attempt to buy loyalties from those against centeral government in Baghdad, those against the illegal US occupation of Iraq, etc. They're more like Rent-A-Thugs and Ian Fischer (New York Times) explains, "At least 100 Awakening members have been killed in the last few weeks." Fisher goes on to detail the US government's latest attempt to control the news cycle by having the military selectively releasng two documents one allegedly portions of a diary but it's no The Diary of Anais Nin. Maybe they tell something, maybe they don't. Maybe a full release would. But, to be sure, the US government thinks this is the story to inject into the news cycle. Probably a 'happier' thought than letting people focus on the latest problems with the "Awakening" Council. Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Saturday that the US collaborators in Diyala Province went on strike and that "A leader of the group said that brigade members, most of them Sunni Muslims, wouldnt' resume working with U.S. and Iraqi government forces until the Shiite police feisng or is indicted." Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) picked up the story on Sunday noting that the Diyala "walkout" wasn't the only problem, there were problems in Anbar Province as well where the conflict is over the outcome of elections which the Iraqi Islamic Party won and that outcome is not pleasing the 'Awakening' Council or helping with the turfs war. (Both the IIP and members of 'Awakening' are Sunni.) In Diyala, Rubin notes, while the 'Awakening' Council members want the police commander gone (he's Shi'ite and they declare he's a bagman for Moqtada al-Sadr while he stated that the problem is that they are "continuing their past activies of killing and displacing Shiite families."

We're not done with Gates. He announced Lieapalooze 2008 today.
CNN reports that Gates has held a press conference this morning in Baghdad and declared it "makes sense" to halt the return of US troops from Iraq and "A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad told CNN recently that Petraeus feels strongly there should be a period of review before he makes any decisions about additional troop withdrawals." BBC notes it as well but notes that Gates himself "favours a 'pause' in troop reductions in Iraq". Demetri Sevastopulo and Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) quotes Gates stating, "I think that the notion of a brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense" and the reporters remind, "Until recently, Mr Gates repeatedly said he hoped the military could continue to pull out troops at the same pace over the second half of 2008, which would have left about 100,000 forces in Iraq when the next US president takes office in January 2009." Yes, he did take that position publicly . . . once. Apparently, despite Gates quoting Alexis de Tocqueville in Munich, he actually packed Jerry Hopkins' trashy No One Here Gets Out Alive? That seems to be US Senator John Ensign's opinion as well. CBS and AP report that the senator "rejected calls Saturday for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of the year".

Alex Spillus (Telegraph of London) reports on Senator John McCain, in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, voicing his regrets that British forces withdrew (somewhat) from the southern part of Iraq -- that's how to appear presidential, whine about the actions of one of the US allies! "Obviously I would like to have seem stay longer and larger," declared McCain who previously stated (video link) that if the US remained in Iraq for 100 years it "would be fine with me." No word yet on whether he's prepping for a role in Broadway bound musical of Dr. Strangelove. Two would disagree with McCain are UK citizens Rose Gentle and Beverley Clarke. Michael Herman (Times of London) reports the two women were in the House of Lords today with their attorneys who "will argue before an enlarged panel of nine law lords that the Government is obligated to hold an independent review of the decision to go to war under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) which protests the 'right to life'. They will argue that the Government is bound by the convention to safeguard soldiers' lives by not sending them to fight in an illegal war. If the mothers win their appeal, it could result in Tony Blair, Lord Goldsmit, QC, the former Attorney-General, and Geoff Hoon, the former defence minister, called upon to give evidence in public." Beverley Clarke's son David Clarke died in Basra in March 2003 while Rose Gentle's son Gordon Gentle died in Basra June 2004 (both men were 19-years-old). The Express & Star notes, "The hearing at the Lords is expected to last three days." Tim Castle (Reuters) states it "will continue for the rest of the week after which judgement will be reserved to be given in writing later, probably in two to three months' time." ITN quotes Rose Gentle stating, "I think Tony Blair sent our boys to war on a lie. He just agreed with George Bush right away. They didn't even give it a second thought" and the father of the late Shaun Brierley, Peter Brierley, stating, "My son always used to say he would defend his country. This was not defending his country. The country was not under any threat of attack." Hasan Suroor (The Hindu) notes concerns that British troops were not also not supplied with adequate equipment (the inquiry into Gordon Gentle's death found he would have lived had the vehicle he was in been up to standard) and quotes Rose Gentle explaining, "It's really important to us to find out why my son was sent there and why he was killed in this right equipment, we believe they should never have been there in the first place." BBC cites attorney Rabinder Singh and notes, "Mr Singh said it had become clear the overwhelming body of legal advice had been the invasion would not be lawful without a second resolution from the UN Security Council, in addition to Resolution 1441 on 8 November, 2002." The UK's Military Families Against The War notes Rose Gentle's speaking at the London College of Communication as part of an action that includes the screening of the documentary Battle for Haditha directed by Nick Broomfield.

CBS and AP term yesterday in Iraq "
Bloody Sunday" and adds today, "In all, 70 people were reported killed or found dead by police on Sunday, one of the highest nationwide death tolls in recent months." Today?


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a Baghdad car bombing that wounded three people as well as two police officers, a Mosul mortar attack that left two people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded "a woman and a child" and what may be a coordinated Baghdad car bombing where one went off not far from a Sheikh's office and, five minutes later, as police were headed there, another car bombing took place at an intersection resulting in at least 11 deaths and thirty more people wounded including Sheik Ali Hatem. Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that the Sheik is with the US collaborating 'Awakening' Council, that Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha ("Ali Hatem's predecessor") was assassinated in September (two weeks after meeting with the Bully Boy of the United States) and describes the bombing scene, "In neighborhoods nearby, dark gray smoke could be seen lifting in the air from the site of the bombs. Gunshots from security forces trying to ward off crowds were also heard."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Diyala Province in which 3 apparent assailants were killed by the Iraqi army, a shooting outside of Mosul that left one person wounded, an armed clash in Mosul where 3 people were killed and an Iraqi soldier was wounded.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Dr. Ahmad Al Jubouri was kidnapped in Muqdadiyah in Diyala Province and also, "Gunmen kidnapped a foreign journalist and his translator Sunday night. An Iraqi police captain identified the kidnapped to be a journalist who works for CBS news and said the gunment using two civilian cars kidnapped the two men near Qasr Al Sultan hotel in Basra." On the latter, CBS and AP note, "Two journalists working for CBS News in Basra are missing and efforts are underway to find them. A statement released by the network said CBS News had been in touch with the families and asked that their privacy be respected." Reuters notes, "The Committee to Protect Journalists in a recent report called the Iraq war 'the deadliest conflict for journalists in recent history,' with 125 journalists and 49 support workers killed since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion."


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "DIYALA PROVINCE, Iraq -- A Multi-National Divison -- North Soldier was killed Feb. 10 when the Soldier's vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Two MND-N Soldiers were wounded and were evacuated to a Coalition Force medical facility for treatment." So on the 11th day of the month, 16 US service members have thus far been announced dead. And the total since the start of the illegal war is currently 3960 which is 40 from the 4,000 mark.

And as the illegal war drags on, never forget what's being fought for --
Roland Gribben (Telegraph of London) explains, "Foreign investors are being offered joint venture and production-sharing agreements in 400 state-owned factories and plants in Iraq in an effort to break the industrial reconstruction log jame. Forty contracts, described as the 'most productive and lucrative', are being offered in an initial programme that Fawzi Hariri, minister of industry and minerals, hopes will yield $2bn in foreign investment." They paved paradise . . . and held a tag sale. Worked so well in Argentina -- oops, didn't. Selling off the people's property -- a puppet government is selling off the people's property (or at least trying to). The theft of Iraq continues. Roula Khalaf (Financial Times of London) notes, apparently with approval, that "The US has been bypassing the Iraqi government, trying to revitalise economic life at the community level. Charles Ries, the US co-ordinator for economic transistion in Iraq, says the US has given grants of $1,000 to shopkeepers in pacified areas and employed 70,000 in community programmes." Note the salary for 'Awakening' Council members (approximately 60,000 people): $300 a month -- this when unemployment is at over 35% in Iraq.

Turning to US politics -- mainly because 'media critic' Amy Goodman didn't see it as news on Democracy Now! today --
Feminist Wire Daily explains:

MSNBC anchor David Shuster was suspended from the network last week following his offensive comments about Chelsea Clinton's work for her mother's candidacy. While guest hosting on "Tucker," Shuster
remarked that Chelsea's efforts to support her mother were unseemly and that it was like she is being "pimped out" by the campaign. Shuster has been suspended from all NBC network appearances other than to issue his apology. He also apologized to the Clinton family. NBC News President Steve Campus said in a statement: "David Shuster . . . made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. . .NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks." "I am a mom first and a candidate second and I found the remarks incredibly offensive," said Senator Clinton said at a news conference over the weekend, reports Reuters. "I have sent a letter to the head of NBC expressing the deep offense that I took." Senator Clinton did not say whether or not she would participate in the debate scheduled for February 26th on MSNBC. Take Action to tell network presidents that sexist comments like Shuster's are not acceptable.

Apparently the treatment of women by the media is of little concern to Amy Goodman? Meanwhile
Liliana Segura (via CounterPunch) examines Barack Obama's endorsement from "Habeas Lawyers for Obama" and explains how constitutional lawyer Bambi just doesn't get what's going on at Guanatanamo and Segura notes, "In April of 2007, Obama gave a speech in Chicago at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in which he outlined five ways he would lead if he were elected to the White House. Restoring habeas corpus was not among them. Neither was eradicating torture in the War on Terror. Neither for that matter, was closing Guantanamo. To be fair, this does not mean he wouldn't do these things. But his argument rested on a sort of benevolent militarism and an expansion of U.S. involvement across the world -- as Noam Chomsky called it, 'the military humanism'."

Goodman did make time today to wrongly state that a US army sniper was convicted of "killing" an Iraqi. No, he was convicted of murder. You expect bravery from independent media and they had none. But they didn't even need bravery, they just needed to use the same terms that the US military did in this instance.
M-NF's announcement on the verdict:Sgt. Evan Vela was found guilty Feb. 10 on one specification of unpremeditated murder during a general courts martial at Camp Liberty Courthouse.Vela, a Soldier in 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, was on trial for the murder of an Iraqi man as part of operations May 11 in Jurf as Sakhr.Vela was found guilty under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline -- wrongfully placing an AK-47 on the remains of a deceased person.He was also found guilty under UCMJ Article 107 for making a false official statement.The proceedings are currently in the sentencing phase.From M-NF's announcement of the sentencing:Sgt. Evan Vela was sentenced Feb. 10 in a general court-martial at Camp Liberty Courthouse.Vela was sentenced to 10 years confinement. He was also sentenced to a reduction in rank to E1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge from the Army.Vela, a 24-year-old Soldier in 1st Battalion, 501st Airborne, was on trial for the murder of an Iraqi man during operations May 11, 2007 in Jurf as Sakhr, Iraq.Vela was found guilty on one specification of unpremeditated murder.In addition, Vela was found guilty under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline (wrongfully placing an AK-47 on the remains of a deceased).He was also found guilty under UCMJ Article 107 for making a false official statement.The next step in the process is an automatic appeal. Solomon Moore (New York Times) reports, "Sergeant Vela, of Idaho, slumped in his chair as he heard the verdict, and his wife, Alyssa Carnahan, broke down in tears." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report, "Outside the courthouse, the brother of Ghani Naser Janabi, the man killed by Vela, rejoiced at the ruling. 'It is proof that my brother is not guilty. It was the sergeant,' Fadl Janabi said."