On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, a caller named John from Dallas, TX spoke. He explained he supported Barack Obama. He explained he voted for him. He explained he caucused for him. He explained he was selected as a delegate to represent Obama. Most importantly, he explained he could no longer support Barack Obama.
The above is from C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" and I will be posting the snapshot in full but considering that this is big news and not being noted, Mike and I are kicking it up to the top of our posts tonight. For the record, before any Bambi groupie makes an accusation, that's not something C.I., Ava or I am working on. We're lobbying super delegates for Hillary (and doing very well on that front, thank you for asking).
That is news, it's pretty big news and it does demonstrate how Jeremiah Wright is hurting Barack. Is. Not was. Is. This is an ongoing story.
I had an e-mail saying I must be so excited about the concert and going and I thought the person was referring to the upcoming Elton John concert (which I am excited about, yes). No. He was writing about Joan Baez who is in Cambridge this weekend. She'll have to strum along without me. I've never been in less mood to see Peace Queen Baez. As I understand it, these days Joan is not very connected to the outside world but is instead focused on her family. Which is fine and a noble cause itself. But she elected to endorse Barack Obama and Peace Queens do not endorse a candidate who supports counter-insurgency. There are other things you can quibble back and forth on, but you never endorse anyone who endorses counter-insurgency.
Peace Queen Baez did and, no, I'm not interested in seeing her live. Prior to the endorsement, I would have been. If she had endorsed Ron Paul, I'd be less offended. But Baez is old enough to know what "counter-insurgency" means and what it is. She just endorsed LBJ but doesn't grasp it. That's her problem. I have no use for her. It was a stupid thing to do. If I saw her, I wouldn't say hello, I wouldn't walk over, I would act as if I'd never heard of and were she to recognize me and say hello, I would snub her.
Jess made a really good point that, with her background, if she was finally going to make a presidential primary endorsement, it should have been of a Green Party candidate. She didn't do that. She's fed the same media crap everyone else is and apparently doesn't have the b.s. detector she once had so famously. No one forced to make the endorsement. It was incumbent upon her to do the research which wouldn't have required a great deal of work.
She didn't do it and I really have no interest in her. That might fade. I know Jess hopes to enjoy her music again after the election. Myself?
I'm not Jess's age. I'm not as old as Joan Baez either but I am old enough to remember what counter-insurgency did to the Vietnamese and I would never wish that anyone. That Baez couldn't do the work makes her the "Phoney Joanie" Al Capp used to draw her as. She wasn't then but she is that for me today.
My first thought, since her home base is California, when I heard of the endorsement, was what did that mean for the Latino population in that state? Ava and C.I. set me straight. Dolores Huerta (who endorsed Hillary) has pull with the Latino community; however, many Latinos aren't even aware Joan Baez is one. They said she'd have no impact on the race and she didn't. Latinos went with Hillary.
But I was shocked at first and now am just repulsed that Joan Baez could endorse counter-insurgency. That's what her endorsement is. I have no use for her and for people who know how it was used in Vietnam, that is not a minor issue. She should have done her research. Maybe she thought it would help her sell some CDs? I don't know. But it is a deal breaker for those of us who know the effects of it on the Vietnamese.
How mad am I? I'll give you an indication. It was a shock to see her refer to Barack Obama as "Black" since she shocked me the last time I spoke with her, three years ago I believe, because she was still using the word "Negro." That's the sort of thing I normally wouldn't share but, screw her, I don't give a damn about her now. Hope that clarifies why I won't be seeing her in concert. (When she used the term and I expressed shock, she just thought she was being funny. A little too much "Queen Jane Approximately" going to her head.) (That's a Dylan song and everyone has always known it was about Joan who is called, and has called herself, "Queen Joan.")
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),Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,Mike of Mikey Likes It!,Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,Ruth of Ruth's Report,Wally of The Daily Jot,and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.
I keep stopping to check on C.I. Rebecca got her first night out with her husband, just the two of them, since the baby was born almost a year ago recently. That's because she left with the baby with C.I. No one grasped how huge that was for Rebecca (including me) at first. So tonight, when C.I., Ava and Kat got here, C.I. scooped up the baby and whispered "Go." Rebecca asked, "Are you sure?" C.I. was but I know it was a long day before they got here.
As Rebecca noted somehwere online, C.I. and children just have a natural bond. It's not when they're really young. The first six months, it's your normal interaction. But once they get to be six months (which is usually when, C.I. argues, they have a personality), C.I. is the person they rush to, the one they hang on. I belive I've written about how that was true even in college. One weekend, we were somewhere, in the south, speaking out against the earlier illegal war, and we ended up helping out a church we were speaking to. I was with the older kids and C.I. was in the nursery. All alone. I didn't realize that, no one did. It was C.I. and about thirteen babies. C.I. managed/thrived. I heard about how all the diapers were changed and all the babies were fine and C.I. had one in each arm and . . . (Not from C.I., from the preacher or pastor's wife who was amazed. Rightly. That is amazing.)
So these days, Rebecca's baby wants C.I. That's not jealousy on my part or any ill will. I love the baby and we get along great. I have offered in the past to watch. But we know the baby would notice Rebecca's not around. With C.I., there's no guilt because the baby will never notice. She and Flyboy can go grab dinner, a leisurely one, and C.I. will use "The Distraction Method" (patent pending C.I.) which is how C.I. is with kids. Something that is just wrong, C.I. will say so and be firm. Something that just doesn't need to be done, C.I. distracts. Cranky baby? No, just a baby who hasn't been steered to whatever.
Turning to politics. Yesterday's "Iraq snapshot" noted that Mike Gravel has left the Democratic Party and is running for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. I wish him luck, and the Democratic Party's loss is the Libertarian's gain; however, I don't vote Libertarian before anyone wonders. Unless Obama gets the nomination of the Democratic Party, in which case all bets are off.
"HUBdate: Bold and Progressive" (Howard Wolfson, HillaryClinton.com):
If You Read One Thing Today: Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times, "...[T]he substance of [Hillary’s] policy proposals on mortgages, like that of her health care plan, suggests a strong progressive sensibility.…[and] continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive." Read more.
Previewing Today: Hillary makes stops across Indiana, where she hosts a series of "Solutions for the American Economy" town hall and roundtable events.
Real Solutions: Yesterday in North Carolina, Hillary kicked off her six-day "Solutions for the American Economy" Tour with the announcement of a new $2.5 billion per year workforce training program. Read more.
If You Watch One Thing Today: Hillary says, "If the phone were ringing, [Senator McCain] would just let it ring and ring and ring." Watch here.
Erie, Pennsylvania: Yesterday, more than 300 people packed the opening of Hillary's newest office. Read more.
Fayetteville, North Carolina: Yesterday, more than 1,000 tarheels gathered to see Hillary at a town hall event here. One, a 25-year-old freshman at Fayetteville State University, said, "She showed she has the heart to help the average person. It made me go wild." "It would be crazy not to vote her into office," said another woman, who arrived for the speech at 6:30 a.m. to hear Hillary speak at 3:00. Read more.
By the Numbers: A new Rasmussen tacking poll shows Hillary leading Senator Obama nationally (46-44). See the results here.
The Hillary I Know: The Student Body President of West Virginia University on why he’s supporting Hillary: "To hear Hillary talk about the big goals she's setting for our country … really should inspire all of us to join with her to bring real change to America." Read more.
On Tap: This Saturday, Hillary visits Louisville, Kentucky and attends the annual state Governor Ruby Laffoon Dinner in Madisonville.
Just the Facts: One week after Sen. Clinton called for a "second stimulus package" with $30 billion to help states and localities fight foreclosures, Sen. Obama announced a "second $30 billion stimulus package". Response from policy director Neera Tanden: "...When it comes to fixing the economy, we need leadership, not followership." Read more.
The race is not over. As someone lobbying super delegates, I would stress that it really is not over. In fact, it looks very good for Hillary. Patrick Leahy needs to realize that being elected to the US Senate is not the same as being assigned the role of God.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Moqtada al-Sadr is still standing and then some, Patrick Leahy attacks democracy, Barack Obama tries out another story about his relationship with Jeremaih Wright, and more.
Moving quickly. War resisters in Canada are attempting to seek asylum. They need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month. For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters 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 (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) 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 Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, 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, Logan Laituri, 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).
The assault on Basra continues. CBS and AP report that, added to the mix, "U.S. warplanes bombed sites in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, targeting Shiite militia members". Robin Stringer and Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) cite UK Maj Tom Holloway stating that the US bombed "positively identified militia targets". Of course they did. And, no doubt, Basra being an inhabited city, they also cleared out all civilian populations as well, right? (No.) US planes aren't the only ones dropping bombs. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reported this morning, "British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city." Meanwhile Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) report, "U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand." Appeared to expand?
Tuesday, the word was that the British were sitting it out. And from the start we've heard of 'Commander' Nouri, rushing to Basra, to oversee the battle. A decisive battle, we were told. CNN gushed, "Al-Maliki is said to be personally overseeing efforts to restore order in Basra". That was Tuesday. By Wednesday (when it was obviously a failed effort) the Pentagon was hoping to grab some bragging rights but it was still "It's All Nouri!" -- and meant it in a positive manner. By Thursday, displeasure wasn't being murmured, it was being stated clearly and on the record such as when Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) reported that "independent Kurdish legislator" Mahmoud Othman was quoted declaring, "Everybody is asking, 'Why now?' . . . . People have ill-advised Maliki. The militias like the timing. Iran likes the timing. They want to show there's no progress in Iraq." It was falling apart before the assault was ever launched. But as late as Thursday, that still wasn't grasped as evidenced by James Glanz (New York Times) reporting how "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own."
Today, Bully Boy declared at the White House that "any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law. And that's what's taking place in Basra and in other parts of Iraq. I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq. There have been other defining moments up to now, but this is a defining moment, as well. The decision to move troops -- Iraqi troops into Basra talks about Prime Minister Maliki's leadership." As usual, it would appear someone left Bully Boy out of the loop. "Criminal elements" echoes Nouri's statements throughout the week but let's note that if you're going to tackle alleged criminal elements, you give the Parliament a heads up. This is a turf war. Wednesday on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show featured McClatchy Newspapers' Leila Fadel.
Leila Fadel: Well Basra has been spiraling out of control for months now, the British military pulled out late last year basically handing it over to Shia militias in a city that are battling for power. Maliki, the prime minister here, finally declared a security operation on Monday night and the battle has been fierce mainly between Iraqi government forces and the Mehdi Army which is loyal to the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Basra is a strong-hold for the Mehdi Army and the Sadrists are saying this is a battle against them to consolidate power for their Shia rivals, the Supreme Council here in Iraq.
The latter would be the party that provides Nouri with his largest support these days after his own Da'wa party. Provincial elections are supposed to be held at year's end and this is seen as one of the primary reasons for the assault on Basra. Another reason was that US Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are due to put on another show for Congress next month and Petraeus has actually grumbled publicly about al-Maliki. As have many Democrats and Republicans serving in the US Congress. If the puppet is fingered as one of the failures, how does that look for those pulling his strings? So this was a rock 'em, sock 'em p.r. bonanza. If you were an idiot.
Moqtada al-Sadr's power was at the weakest. He'd declared the cease-fire/truce with US and occupation forces in August of 2007. The truce was very unpopular in the Sadr City section of Bahgdad where al-Sadr's supporters were. al-Sadr wasn't there. al-Sadr was assumed to be in Najaf. So when Sadrists felt they were being openly targeted. Then came February when al-Sadr (still not home) declded to renwer the cease-fire/truce. Objections were strong before the truce was renewed and just the act of renewing it led "loyalists" to criticize al-Sar openly and to the press. al-Sadr's influence was diminishing. When a people feel attacked and their designated leader isn't with them, questions will naturally emerge and they were starting to. And possibly those in the US government who've long plotted the 'departure' of al-Sadr felt, "This is the perfect moment!" No, it wasn't. And whomever okayed the operation immediatly up to Bully Boy miscalculated (Bully Boy always miscalculates) because when someone you see as an enemy is naturally weakening themselves through their own actions, you do not 'assist' them by lifting them to a higher stature. That's what the assault on Basra did.
Maybe the hope was al-Sadr would stay silent. He didn't. He called it out. Who's winning hearts & minds in Iraq? Moqtada al-Sadr because, across Iraq, Iraqis saw only one person stand up to the occupation. Iraqis has seen Falluja slaughtered (twice), has seen their neighborhoods physically carved up with "Bremer" walls, they've seen that, five years after their country was invaded, not only are occupation forces still present (in direct opposition to the wishes of the Iraqi people) but Baghdad is pretty much off limits to most Iraqis. Who stood up? Moqtada al-Sadr.
Nouri al-Maliki painted himself into the corner as did the US. Wednesday on The Diane Rehm Show al-Maliki's ultimatums were noted.
Leila Fadel: Well Prime Minister Maliki is saying that he wants every weapon in the hands of the government. He wants all weapon smugglers, this is a very important city, 90% of Iraq's oil comes from there, it's a border town. It has the main port of Iraq there. And a lot of the weapon smuggling, oil smuggling happens there. And so the main families that deal with oil smuggling, weapon smuggling have been targeted in Basra. He has given what he calls outlaws 72 hours to surrender while the battle continues it seems that the main targets and the people fighting back are the Medhi army and the Sadrists are saying that they are the targets, the sole targets, of this operation.
al-Maliki was in no position to give ultimatums. But it was 'strong,' it was 'bravery' -- or that's how it was supposed to play. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) cited al-Maliki calling al-Sadr loyalists "criminal gangs". Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quoted Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws." Big tough Nouri? Italy's AGI reports that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, has now extended his 'deadline' (April 8th now and not Saturday) and Al Jazeera notes that he declared, "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially." al-Maliki's reputation was on the line, as James Glanz noted, and the US government knew for sure that their puppet was going to be able to pull this off but only because they've deluded themselves into believing that Iraqis see Nouri as a legitimate ruler. They dodn't. Protests started the minute the assault on Basra began. When Moqtada al-Sadr spoke out, the protests only got heavier -- across Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr called for a political solution and Nouri al-Maliki insisted he doesn't deal with 'outlaws' (which would mean he ignores his own ministries). Today in Iraq, al-Sadr's not only the one who stood up to the occupying powers (a big thing in and of itself), he's the one who did so and got concessions.
China's Xinhua noted the "extraordinary session" in the Iraq Parliament that Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called today and the press conference announcing it where he was joined by Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous prime minister) and others. AP reports that 78 members of Parliament were present and that the committee met for "about two hours" on the issue of Basra. Missing the point, as usual, at the White House Bully Boy was still issuing talking points, calling the assault "a test and a moment for the Iraqi government". If it was a test for Bully Boy he failed as he fell back on all his tired answers ("democracy" and mothers wanting their children to go to school are especially overused). Standing next to him was Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who avoided all questions on Iraq and only addressed that nation in his opening remarks where he mentioned "an assistance package of some $165 million" of which "a large slice" is planned to "train their people better in agriculture and in the wider economy." Train "their people better" in farming? Is Rudd unaware that Iraq was considered one of the breadbaskets of the MidEast?
Let's stay with Bully Boy and mistakes. Not last Monday, but the Monday before (March 17th), Michael R. Gordon presented the usual unsourced junk his infamous for. But because it was pleasing, many picked up on it. Amy Goodman pimped it but, apparently grasping even her declining audience wouldn't accept a report from Gordo, just credited it to the New York Times. We didn't link to it the morning of the 17th, we're not going to link to it now. We noted the morning of the 17th, "At the New York Times Gordo's raving about his insider interviews and access. No link to trash. The thrust is that L. Paul Bremer issued a decree that disbanded the Iraqi military (true) and that this was something Bremer came up with on his own. Collie Powell declares that he was out of the country and called Condi Rice about it to object and Rice explained that it had already been done. The big villian of the piece is Bremer and Bully Boy is painted as someone who was apparently in a daze. (Maybe he was thinking of My Pet Goat?) How true is it? Who knows? It's Gordo and the ship is sinking so the rats are bailing. If Powell knew it was a mistake (as he insists to Gordo), then Colin Powell should have something in real time -- even as an anomyous source. That's the least he should have done. Anyone with real courage would have stepped down and gone public. Again, the ship is sinking and since Bully Boy won't be working anywhere, they'll finger him as out of it (which is believable) and make Bremer the fall guy. While Bremer wins nothing but boos and hisses here, it is equally true that anyone -- not just Bully Boy -- could have objected. (That includes but is not limited to Rice.)" It wasn't news. The tip-off should have been the byline if not the whisper nature of the story. But the paper then had to offer an editorial 'loosely based' on Gordo's 'reporting' entitled "Mission Still Not Accomplished" and Paul Bremer responded to the apportioning of blame Monday March 24th in a letter to the editor (A24). Bremer's claiming that there was no military to disband and we're not in the mood for that nonsense but we will note some of his comments just because the disaster that is the illegal war has many parents and none should be left off the hook:
I take strong exception to your assertion that I "overrode" President Bush's national security team on disbanding the Iraqi Army. Whatever one's view on the issue, there should be no confusion about the process leading to this decision. President Bush's instructions to me were to report to him through Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. I did.
[. . .]
On May 9, two weeks before the decision was made, I sent a draft order based on these discussions to Mr. Rumsfeld, copied to Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command, and other senior defense officials. A copy went to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq.
All had ample opportunity to comment on this and subsequent drafts of the order before it was issued on May 23. Defense Department civilian leaders and military staffs provided only minor suggested revisions.
On May 22, I briefed the president at a National Security Council meeting attended by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage; Secretary Rumsfeld; and General Myers. No one raised concerns or objections.
Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, says he was unaware of the plan; that is regrettable. But this suggests a problem with the interagency process in Washington.
General Myers told The New York Times (front page, March 17) that there had been no "robust debate" about the draft decree. If any top officials felt strongly at the time that the decision was misguided, as some of them now claim, they had every opportunity, and the responsibility, to make those concerns known to the Pentagon's leadership, or directly to the commander in chief.
Paul Bremer is correct that anyone wanting to claim they were out of the loop needs a better excuse. If Colin Powell wants to claim he was out of the loop, that's an issue with his then Deputy Secretary. Bremer is also correct that those opposed (none were) "had every opportunity, and the responsibility" to speak out. They chose not to. Now, as resume shock sets in and they realize what they own, it was very cowardly to try to add their blame to Bremer. Bremer's not innocent and bears responsiblity for his actions. But when you want to whisper and shove your blame off on someone else -- and you're in power -- you rush straight to Michael Gordon. And it's a sure sign of how pathetic Panhandle Media is that they merely stripped Gordo's name from it as they rushed to repeat it. Over and over. I'm unaware of anyone noting Bremer's reply which ran Monday and I waited until Friday to see if any would bother with "in an update to . . ." but none did.
Basra wasn't the only victim of a US air assault. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings from the air with the US killing "3 gunmen, injuring 8" in the first instance and killing "12 people" with "60 injured" in the second. Robert H. Reid (AP) also notes the air bombings on Baghdad and refers to a Sadr City incident which may be the second one Issa noted or yet another bombing when "a U.S. aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district -- the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army -- after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol. The U.S. military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack "near Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's residence inside the Green Zone injuring 2 of his security detail," a Baghdad mortar attack on "the supension bridge (one of the entrances to the Green Zone) in Karrada" that wounded three people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Qurna city resulted in 5 losing their lives and injured two. Robert H. Reid (AP) reports armed clashes in "Mahmoudiya, Nasiriyah and Kut" resulted in "[a]t least 26 people" dead. Reuters notes 3 dead in an armed clash in Kerbala, 6 in an armed clash in Hamza and that "the mayor of Ghmash neighbourhood in Diwaniya" was shot dead today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 kidnappings of police patrols in Baghdad -- in one instance two police officers were released, in the other three are missing.
Reuters notes 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.
Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad March 28."
Turning to US presidential politics. US Senator Patrick Leahy attacked democracy AND LIED today. Johanna Neuman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Leahy is calling "on Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out of the presidential race, saying there is no way the New York Senator can wrest the nomination from her rival Barack Obama." Let's remember that Leahy is the OLD FOOL who endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court. Now let's walk through slowly. A) If there's no way for Hillary to garner the nomination, what's the big concern with her dropping out? We'll come back to that. The Obama campaign got a spook today and are hoping the press doesn't get wind of it. B) If Barack has the nomination, it doesn't matter what Hillary does. C) Neither Hillary or Barack appeared able to reach the magic number of delegates from primaries or caucuses. Patrick Leahy needs to sit back down. His ass, like the rest of him, is obviously tired.
Let's cover the attack on Democracy angle. Vermont held their primary on March 4th. Leahy didn't think it was important to stop the process then, now did he? Today Bob Casey Jr. endorsed Barack. Let's see Bob Casey Jr. echo Leahy, let's see Bob Casey Jr. tell the voters of Pennsylvania that Hillary needs to drop out. Pennsylvania holds their primary on April 22nd so let's see Bob Casey Jr. stand with Leahy and see him tell the voters of his own state that they don't matter, that their votes don't matter and that their voice doesn't matter.
That is what Leahy is doing and everyone -- regardless of party -- should be offended by this attack on democracy. Now this nonsense was pulled on Al Gore privately in 2000. Leahy is so brazen that he thinks he can now do it publicly. Leahy is not the Director of Democracy and it's past time that he and others got that message. It's past time that someone held these little chiefs in check. And the people will. Leahy's not only offended Pennsylvania and all states and regions still to hold primary, he's also offending Vermont which is a state with a long history of allowing the process to go through. His offensive lies and attacks need to be called out.
Let's get it straight, the primary/caucus system is gamed over and over. But the lie those who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire are told each election cycle is that their votes matter to. They're told that if it's ever close, they'll certainly get a say. They're told that just because the runway is cleared for Iowa and New Hampshire each year while everyone else is left in holding pattern, it's still fair, it's still equal. No, it's not. Which is why Bill Nelson is proposing legislation. But under the current system, the race continues. Under the current system, it's not expected that either Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will meet the magic number of delegates required to win the nomination. The super delegates would decide the nominee.
Everyone knows that. Leahy knows that though he lies to make it look better for his heart-throb Bambi. As someone who is lobbying super delegates, you better believe I know it. But while that battle's gone on, a new battle emerged today, totally unexpected. It sent the Barack Obama campaign into a tizzy. On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, a caller named John from Dallas, TX spoke. He explained he supported Barack Obama. He explained he voted for him. He explained he caucused for him. He explained he was selected as a delegate to represent Obama. Most importantly, he explained he could no longer support Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton won the primary in Texas.
That's why Leahy was sent out. Clamp down on this quick! Stop it before it bleeds further! Jeremy Wright is toxic and viral and it has destroyed Barack Obama. Not Hillary or anything she's said. The fact that Wright damned the United States of America is not going down easy despite media lies. The caller referenced an earlier section of the program and may have meant the embarrassing discussion of polls which included Obama's 'good' news from a PEW poll. 51% rated him well on his speech last week. But there's the other side which wasn't addressed on the broadcast. Seven percent didn't know. 42% rated Fair to Poor. The most heavily pimped speech of the campaign, by any candidate. The source of endless columns (bad columns) and non-stop gas baggery. The media was in full force on that speech, trying to shape the minds of Americans. But they didn't. 42% said Fair to Poor. (That's the general population but it's also the number for those self-describing as "Independent" in the poll.) When the US media decided to hop on board the selling of the illegal war, Bully Boy soared in the polls. 51% is very disappointing and that number is only going to continue to lower. Wright is toxic and viral and Obama showed no judgement.
That's what the caller told Rehm and her panel. And they characterized what he was going through as buyer's remorse. Wright has not gone away. He was back in the news for his "I will tour!" which didn't work out that well (it was cancelled for him but he tried to save face) and then came more offensive remarks including "garlic noses" for Italians. Jeffrey Weiss (Dallas Morning News) covers the religious beat and offers this prediction today: "Barack Obama will face more questions about Rev. Wright. Yes, Obama has disavowed the sentiments in the endlessly YouTubed excerpts. But the entire sermon offers a view of America and the American government that stands in sharp contrst to Obama's message. It's one thing for him to say he hadn't heard his pastor call God's wrath down on America that day. But surely some of the broader themes of that sermon about the role and history of the U.S. government were woven through other sermons? And we have not heard how or whether Obama took those up with his pastor and friend." On ABC's The View, Obama offered yet another version of conflicting stories passed off as truth. Today's lie is he would have left the church if Wright had "not retired" and that's a new one. It's equally true that it wouldn't take most people 20 years to make such a decision. Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes that he also claimed Wright "had said he had deeply offended people" and Tapper questions that only to get a "What he meant" from the campaign. Tapper notes:
Okay, except Obama wasn't "clearly" saying that at all.Here's a clear way to say that: 'Had the reverend not retired I would have confronted him about his remarks. If after that Wright still refused to acknowledge that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I think is the great character of this country -- for all its flaws -- then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church.'
Taylor Marsh tracks Obama's changing story and how this new "I would have left if he hadn't been retiring" nonsense is just that. Brad Warthen (South Carolina's The State) explores the offense of the most famous sermon Wright delivered (and then sold online):
But what Mr. Wright said is clear. The six-minutes-plus of context that went before "G** Damn America" was exactly what I would have guessed went before it. Essentially, it was a review of history, mixed with a small dollop of political partisanship (the comparison of not-so-bad presidencies with the current one). Short version: The government has upheld oppression of black people during the course of American history.
Folks, I'm an American history major, and I've lived in this country for most of 54 years. What part of the rather sketchy overview in that sermon do you think I didn't know already? If I'd been sermonizing, I could have added a lot to it -- including the fact that the blood offering of the Civil War, as horrific as it was, seems to have been an inevitable sacrifice to expiate the sin of slavery. And I would have said the evil didn't end there, nor could it, there being original sin in the world, and no one of us since Jesus Christ born free of it.
But I wouldn't have said "G** Damn America." Not in a million years. For me, the point of bringing up evil is to try to overcome it -- as I believe two people Mr. Darby mentions (King and Bonhoeffer) were trying to do.
Sorry, but I can't accept that the Rev. Wright was saying "things that challenge America to rise above its sins of prejudice and greed." No, if he'd said America was in danger of damnation, or headed straight thataway, rather as Jesus said to the Pharisees in the example cited by my colleague Warren Bolton this week, that might have been seen as a challenge, perhaps even a well-intentioned warning. (Personally, although he had more right, being God, than anyone else to do so, I don't remember Jesus ever damning anything more sentient than a fig tree.)
But Mr. Wright didn't call on us to do anything. Instead, he called on G** to damn America.
Wright isn't going away. And let's be clear that what happened today was an Obama delegate -- voted for him in the primary, caucused for him -- announced on NPR that he wasn't able to support Obama and wouldn't be, that he was switching his vote to someone else. It's the story the campaign doesn't want noted.
Meanwhile, the following US military retired endose Hillary:
General Wesley Clark General Henry Hugh Shelton Admiral William Owens Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak, Jr. Major General Roger R. Blunt Major General George Buskirk, Jr. Major General Paul D. Eaton Major General Antonio M. Taguba Brigadier General Michael Dunn Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard Brigadier General Jack Yeager Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. Rear Admiral Roland G. Guilbault Rear Admiral Stuart F. Platt Rear Admiral David Stone
The lettter reads:
As retired flag and general officers, we have devoted our lives to our country. We have hundreds of thousands of men and women on the front lines that have done the same. At this critical time in our nation's history, our men and women in uniform deserve better than a presidential debate mired in trivia. The stakes are simply too high. As we are poised to choose our next Commander-in-Chief, we should not allow the media to divert attention from the real issues. What matters is who is ready and inspired to lead -- who can be Commander-in -Chief on Day One.
It is imperative that our new President knows how and when to use force and diplomacy judiciously, to know how to deploy the olive branch and the arrow. The President needs to be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis. And we think our next President must restore our moral authority and leadership around the world with the courage to meet with our adversaries when appropriate, and the wisdom to pursue diplomacy wisely.
It is especially important to understand the military and diplomatic challenges facing us in Iraq, and to end the Iraq war responsibly and safely. It is also important to rededicate ourselves to winning in Afghanistan, the forgotten front line in our fight against terrorism.
In these critical areas, it is clear to us that Senator Clinton is the candidate best qualified to be our nation's next Commander-in-Chief.
We believe that she has real understanding of the military through her diligent service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has worked tirelessly to ensure our men and women in uniform are properly trained and equipped to be sent to battle. And she has fought to make certain that they are treated with dignity when they return home. We have personally and closely observed her respect for our armed forces, and she has earned their respect. And ours.
We hope that as a country, we will now turn our attention to the critical issues that will determine the future of our great nation.
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