Friday, January 09, 2009
In fairness, I understand Mr. Nader is always a polite person but I'm just not into it. It's time for the left to emerge. I'm sick of the cozy-up to Barack types. (I am not calling Ralph Nader that sort of person. He's not. He's just being way too polite for my tastes.) So, no, I'm not highlighting Ralph tonight.
An Ass Kiss is Tom Hayden. He's pure Ass Kiss. He has no self-respect, he has no integrity. He was born sucking up and he'll go out that way as well. C.I. has a wonderful section on Tom at the start of today's snapshot (reposted in full at the end of my post).
"Who is Black America’s Moral Emissary to the World?" (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report):
When the New York Times describes the emerging Obama administration as "center-right," there is not much for an honest progressive to defend - and most African Americans are progressive on economic issues and questions of war and peace. Beyond a ritual counting of the president-elect's African American appointees, most African Americans seem oblivious to the political nature of his Cabinet, his policy pronouncements and shameful silences. More likely, they pretend to be oblivious so as not to lose that once-in-a-lifetime feeling that happened when the Black man won.
Blacks who have taken on the task of defending Obama, often wind up revealing themselves as persons of little moral or political substance, in the process. New York's Dr. Leonard Jeffries is one of the more prominent Obamists, a self-styled Pan-Africanist. In my second debate involving Jeffries, in Baltimore, December 20 (the first was the week before, in Harlem), he repeated his mantra, that Blacks should "study Obama-ology." I asked him to define this area of study. "Obama-ology," said Jeffries, visibly exasperated by my questioning of the obvious, "is the study of Obama. How he raised so much money...how he used the Internet...."
Dr. Jeffries' response revealed his position to have no political or moral content. He genuflected before Obama because the candidate raised hundreds of millions of dollars (from whom and in return for what?) and created an Internet network (to what end, beyond Election Day?). Most importantly, Obama was a hero because he won. What else is there to know or say?
[. . .]
Cynthia McKinney's attempted voyage of solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza on the medical relief boat Dignity, rammed and almost sunk by Israeli warships, reminds the world that not all African Americans have morphed into warmongering clones of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Thanks to the presence of the former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate on the mission, millions of Arabs have been made aware of a different Black America, one that is not silent, like Barack Obama, in the face of a purposely inflicted human rights catastrophe.
Cynthia McKinney is Black America's moral emissary to the world. She exemplifies the Black America that consistently opposes U.S. military adventures abroad, a people that recognize organized racism when they see it, and therefore condemn Israel's treatment of Palestinians - the Black America that Martin Luther King came from.
Some of us are still in our right minds. Hopefully, most of the others will recover, sooner rather than later.
Glen Ford is correct and not taking part in (partaking of) the Ass Kiss. I miss the days when we had a media for the people. In 2003 or 2004, you could pick up a lefty magazine and find the powerful called out. But, back then, the powerful were Republicans. So it wasn't really an independent media holding the powerful accountable, it was a Democratic media holding Republicans accountable.
Cynthia McKinney is a moral force. Barack's the person about to be presiding over the worst economic recession in years and fretting how to raise even more money for his inaugration. He is a disgrace.
Amy Goodman's an Ass Kiss, by the way. But that's for Third Sunday. In the meantime, you can check out the community movie posts that went up Wednesday:
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
10 hours ago
Mikey Likes It!
10 hours ago
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
gaza, bette davis
10 hours ago
Clark Gable, Roland Burris
10 hours ago
10 hours ago
Oh Boy It Never Ends
10 hours ago
Like Maria Said Paz
10 hours ago
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
10 hours ago
Everyone else that contributed a movie post noted them yesterday but I don't post on Thursdays so I'm behind the times again. Just like this train, as Joni would sing.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 9, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US did not follow Geneva in Iraq, the puppet government attempts to impose 'conditions' on reporters, KBR and Halliburton find that a spotlight comes with greed, and more.
You Just Need a Dilettante To Know Which Way The Wind Blows. And Tom Hayden is one -- a greying, dottering one, but a dilettante none the less. At ZNet (link provided so you can visit the scene of his crime), Tommy list a series of wants: "our new president to succeed, restore hope, and launch a new New Deal at home, not to be distracted by a quagmire abroad." Tom, you are now as officially nutty as Leslie Cagan and both of you should exit stage right immediately. These are not the voices of peace, these are the hormonally charged teenagers trying to figure out why their panties and briefs get damp when Barack walks by (as outlined in the year in review). Where in Tom's 'noble' laundry list do you see the least bit of concern for Iraqis? Poor Iraqis, Tom's all out of hope for them.
This is not a voice of peace, it's the sound of a suck-up who's finally spent the bulk of his divorce settlement (we always said, "Give it time, it will happen."). And Tom's no longer interested in Iraq. You get that from his praise for Dexter Filkins (the Falluja liar Dexy). You get that from his 'judgment' (don't bring up his record when it comes to judgments, we'll all be laughing for days and never get a thing accomplished). His judgment is that Iraq War is, so, like, totally over, you know, and all the way cool kids are sporting Afghanistan these days. Tom-Tom writes, "The conditions for a massive social movement against the Iraq War are ebbing, for now, unless large-scale fighting suddenly resumes or President Obama unexpectedly caves in to the Pentagon and blatantly breaks his promise to withdraw combat troops in 16 months and all troops by 2011." Poor Tom-Tom, he always rushed-rushed. In all areas of life. And now Tom-Tom ditches Iraq to move over to talking about Afghanistan because he's so very sure it's the next great frontier for the Barack Obama Movement. Not for the peace movement, mind you. And what's with 16-months, Tommy? I certainly haven't forgotten when you took one line of Barack's from that absurd Houston, Texas speech and insisted (in a full column -- fool column?) that Barack needed your votes now (more than ever!) because he'd just offered a new 'plan' -- Withdrawal in 10 months! Remember that? "In his victory speech in Texas Tuesday, Barack Obama promised to end the Iraq war in 2009, a new committment that parallels recent [gas baggery] in The Nation." Remember those words?
He's lied for so long and lied so much, he can't even keep it straight anymore. He's honestly as manic as he was when he was rightly kicked out of the commune. And that's only more obvious when he decides he wants to 'comfort' readers with his opinion that Iraq will now be "a low-visibility counterinsurgency war like those that ravaged Central America in the 1970s." And that, apparently, requires no protest and doesn't disturb Tom Hayden. Poor Iraq War, someone should have told you that Tom-Tom loses interrest in causes as quickly as he does women.
Thanks for playing Tom. Go form a B-O circle jerk with Leslie Cagan. The two of you can argue over whether it's better to stare at the seat of Barack's pants or that really tight crotch. And use the link to laugh. I haven't laughed so hard since his August piece ("Dreams of Obama") where he used his children as accessories to shore up his faltering image but, somehow, forgot his adopted daughter. Was no one supposed to notice? Can we all expect 2009 to bring a Tommy Dearest page turner? Apparently everyone was too busy dropping their jaws at his slur against bi-racial children in that column to notice how quickly he disappeared family. As quickly as he tries today to disappear Iraq.
The Old Sell-Out can't be counted on but thank goodness we have an 'independent' media, right? No, we have a Panhandle Media and somehow FAIR forgot to call out the little stunt taking place January 20th -- see Third Sunday for more on that.
Instead we'll drop back to November 28th when Amnesy International issued this warning, "Thousands of Iraqis detained by US forces are at risk of torture or even execution, following the ratification of a security agreement between the US and Iraqi governments. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which will take effect on 31 December, around 16,000 prisoners held by the US will be transferred to Iraqi custody. Those at particular risk . . ." We'll stop right there. No need to worry because those prisoners will remain US prisoners. They are not being transitioned. Yes, the treaty supposedly guaranteed the handover but no one was foolish enough to fall for the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement, right? Oh, some did. Anyway, Peter Graff, Ahmed Rasheed, Khalid al-Ansary and Jon Boyle (Reuters) report, "Some prisoners held indefinitely without charge by US forces in Iraq may not be freed or given trials, even though U.S. forces lost the authority to hold them at the beginning of this year, a U.S. military spokesman said. . . U.S. forces are holding 15,000 prisoners, most of whom have been detained without charge under the authority of a U.N. Security Council resolution which expired on Dec. 31."
Earlier this week (Tuesday), US House Rep John Conyers, as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the "National Commission on Presidential War Power and Civil Liberties" with Jerry Nadler, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Bill Delahunt and Eddie Bernice Johnson among the co-sponsors. The bill argues for the establishment of "a Blue Ribbon Commission comprised of experts outsdie government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush adminstration that were undertaken by the Bush administration under claims of unreviewable war powers." Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Patrick Leahy, released three documents [PDF format warning] from the Office of legal Counsel -- one on the White House authority to use force against Iraq, a second on the UN Security Council from November 8, 2002 and a third entitled "Re: 'Protected Persons' in Occupied Iraq" (March 18, 2004) which is the one we're focusing on.
This memo (25 pages plus Appendix) was written by then Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith. The lie the White House repeated was that Geneva didn't apply to Afghanstian (legally, it should have applied) but Iraq was a war and they were following the Geneva Conventions. That was a lie. They were selectively following it. Goldsmith found, W"e conclude that the following persons, if captured in occupied Iraq, are not 'protected persons' within the meaning of GC article 4: U.S. nationals, nationals of a State not bound by the Convention, nationals of a co-belligerent State, and operatives of the al Qaeda terrorist organization who are not Iraqi nationals or permanent residents of Iraq." The White House honored Geneva selectively. They lied to the American people yet again. Equally disturbing is the legal opinion including pages 22 through 24 where the conditions arguing for the protection of members of a resistance movement are selectively noted by Goldsmith who attempts to impose limitations via revisionary history. Acknowledging the need for resistance against the Nazis, he does allow Geneve would protect Germans but, by his argument, members of the resistance in Germany or Poland who were French would not be protected. The Nazis were not limited to Germany and the resistance movement against the Nazis was an European movement -- a fact Goldsmith is either ignorant of or pretends to be. It's an appalling and shoddy legal opinion. He distorts or selectively ignores historical facts and when you're dealing with the Holocaust, that is especially offensive. This is a glimpse at just how sick the 'minds' at work in the current White House were.
So along with the approximately 16,000 prisoners the US was holding in Iraq that Amensty International was aware of, there are who knows how many others captured in Iraq and taken elsewhere? And, no, the expiration of the UN Security Council mandate does not mean that any of them are now turned over to the Iraqi puppet government.
Staying with legal news and also outrageous, KBR and Halliburton have found new scapegoats for their failures. Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk (Bloomberg News) report that the two giant corporations who have made billions in Iraq have decided that the an attack on a KBR truck in 2004 was not due to lack of security provided by the mega-rich corporations, the attack -- resulting in deaths and injuries -- was the fault of "the U.S. Army and Iraqi terrorists". A new low -- even for KBR and Halliburton. Not only is that so grossly insulting to the US service members, the hypothesis can't even hold up under its own weight. Let's throw logic and propriety out the window long enough to not object to the assertion that the US Army failed KBR and deaths and injuries were their fault. How do you lump 'terrorists' in there as well? So the way their little hypothesis works is that the US Army should have provided even more protection and, pay attention, so should terrorists. KBR and Halliburton wanted to make a quick buck on the cheap and risked human lives in order to do so.The US military had to protect KBR and that wasn't fair to them. When the KBR trucks would have a flat, get stuck or whatever, KBR employees would be able to leave the scene. The US service members would have to stay with the trucks, like sitting ducks. And as Kelly Dougherty (IVAW) has explained repeatedly, they would wait and wait and then finally be told to destroy the trucks and any cargo on it. Which would frequently anger the local populations. In March of last year, Iraq Veterans Against the War held their Winter Soldier Investigation. KPFA carried the hearings live for the bulk of the four days and Aaron Glantz and Aimee Allison were the on air moderators. One of the ways to hear the audio of the hearings is to go to Glatnz' War Comes Home site. [Allison is co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None.] March 14th was the first day of panels (the previous day was the opening of the hearings) and one of the afternoon panels was on corruption and war profiteering. Appearing on that panel was Doughtery and we'll note this from the March 14, 2008 snapshot:
KBR was the focus of Kelly Dougherty's testimony. She discussed how she and others serving in Iraq assigned to protect convoys were repeatedly put at risk when a KBR vehicle broke down, how they were told it was an asset to be protected even if that meant killing someone and then they would be told to forget it, to destroy the vehicle and move out. Iraqis desperate for fuel or the contents of the truck were not a concern and, if pressed, the US military command would instruct service members that distributing something in the trucks (before destroying them) could cause a riot. All of which goes to Doughtery's statement of Iraqis, "I'm looking at people I can't even look in the eye." Moving to Kuwait after serving in Iraq and while waiting to be sent back homes, service members were living in a KBR tent city. Doughtery explained, "When we were leaving . . . we were put in these tent cities. Our tents were completely covered with mold on the inside." The tents had bunk beds and not cots so service members were not allowed to (as some wanted) sleep outside the tents to avoid what appeared to be Black Mold. Instead, they suffered from respitory infections. Dougherty noted "this living condition where we couldn't even be in the place were we were supposed to live without getting sick." KBR made a big profit of the illegal war. KBR provided the troops with tents that made them sick. Where's the audit on that?
Marcia also covered Kelly Doughtery's testimony:
They were dealing with KBR trucks -- which were worth about $80,000, chump change to KBR. You may remember the stories of contractors abandoning trucks and cars and the cost for new ones (usually on a cost-plus contract) being passed back on to you and me the tax payers. Doughtery noted that KBR's trucks "would break down a lot, would get in accidents a lot." They'd stop for flat tries or because they got stuck in the mud,things like that as well. The drivers were treated horribly by KBR and were from countries such as Pakistan, India, etc. The truck would break down, the driver would hop out of the truck and get a ride with someone else in the convoy and the MPs would be called in to secure the abandoned trucks. Doughtery explained, "For us as miltary police, we're told when we get into Iraq and when we're getting on these convoy missions" that KBR's trucks are United States assets and "need to be protected, with force, with deadly force if necessary." The drill was always the same: secure the trucks and wait. Then came the call that they couldn't find anyone to come get the trucks so they should just leave it.That didn't mean, "Hop in your vehicles and leave!" That meant disable the vehicles (fire grenades into the engine blocks) and destroy whatever cargo it had. That meant setting fuel on fire in front of Iraqis who had no fuel. That meant burning produce in front of Iraqis who were hungry. That meant destroying a brand new ambulance in an area that had none and really needed one. Doughtery explained that even the local sheiks were out on the last one, trying to convince US soldiers that if they would leave the ambulance alone, they (Iraqis) would figure out how to get it off its side and out of the mud."That was pretty much a daily occurence," said Dougherty. "Where we were abandoning vehicles by KBR contractors on a daily basis."
And KBR and Halliburton have the nerve today to blame the US service members? KBR's always in the news. Julie Sullivan (The Oregonian) reports that there are now 48 ("at least 48) soldiers in Oregon who were "assigned to protect contractors rebuilding a water treatment plant near Iraqi oil fields in 2003 [who] were exposed to hexavalent chronicum" which is risk factor for lung cancer. (It most likely causes lung cancer. Everyone's being careful with their words.) Sullivan notes, "Concern for Oregon soldiers was first raised by Lt. Col. B.J. Prendergast, who served as executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment in Iraq in 2003. His soldiers had already been reassigned when he saw a command e-mail alert about the exposure. He immediately demanded an occupational health assessment for the troops. They were evaluated in Kuwait, and their history was noted in post-deployment reports at Fort Lewis, Wash. No blood or urine tests were conducted." And Laura Strickler (CBS News) reports that "the Senate Armed Services Committee has requested a new investigation into the multi-billion dollar military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR). The investigation request is based on accusations from a retired Army official who managed the contractor's work in Iraq."
Today puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki made a statement. Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) reports that at police ceremony, al-Maliki declared, "Frankly, before there was no confidence (in the police) because of (militia) infiltrations, but great efforts have ended these and closed the doors to those who infiltrated. . . . We changed the police from a broken apparatus, based on sectarianism . . . into a coherent, professional one." Well, he says so anyway. There's no check on his decree. At the start of November, the big story was that the "Awakening" Councils had been turned over to Iraqi control (and that Iraq was picking up their salaries). That wasn't the case either. Today David Axe (Wired) reports on the continued handover of the "Awakening" Councils -- still not completed and will go through at least next month as well. The hopes by many were that they would be absorbed by the Iraqi police. ("Many" is both "Awakening" Council members and US commanders in Iraq.) al-Maliki has seen these thugs as a threat to his control after having staffed so many ranks with his own sectarian thugs and has made clear he does not trust the bulk of the "Awakeing" members on the polic force. Axe notes that the "Daughters of Iraq" number "roughtly 800" and were turned over to the central government already. Also today demonstrations took place in Baghdad against the continued assault on Gaza. AFP reports approximately 2,000 supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against the assault. al-Sadr's call for retaliation attacks in Iraq against the US was repeated by a spokesperson who read his statements.
Meanwhile the violence continued today. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left six wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Iraqi service member and left two more wounded and, dropping back to Thursday night, a Basra rocket attack that left "at least 20 wounded civilians" requiring medical attention at Al Fayhaa Hospital. Reuters notes a Baiji roadside bombing today that claimed the lives of 5 Iraqi service members and 3 Basra rocket attacks today that left four wounded. A total of 6 Iraqi soldiers have been reported dead from bombings today. Yesterday's roadside bombings killed 8 Iraqi soldiers. Timothy Williams (New York Times) draws a connection between yesterday's bombings and the upcoming provincial elections in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces, "Although the majority of Diyala's population is Sunni, the provincial council is dominated by Shiites because Sunnis boycotted local elections in 2005. But as new provincial elections, scheduled for Jan. 31, are approaching, tensions between Sunnis and Shiites have increased."
The United Nations has warned for months that violence would increase as provincial elections approached. At the start of this month, Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, condemned the assassination of candidate Mowaffaq al-Hamdani as "the worst kind of election violence. . . . Campaign violence in Iraq must not be allowed to intimidate candidates or interfere with the right of every Iraqi to exercise their vote on 31 January." At the start of the month, the Independent High Electoral Commission published a list of crimes that could result in as much as year-long prison sentence and they include: 'intimidating or bribing" IHEC "staff or voters" as does using force or threats to interfere in the provincial elections. Kim Gamel (AP) reports that other 'laws' are being pressed. Specifically the puppet government has issued a 14-page conduct code for reporters -- Iraqi and foreign -- that they will need to sign "in exchange for permission to attend this month's provincial elections, riaisng concerns among media analysts that independent coverage could be undermined."
Yesterday the Security Council of the United Nations heard from Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Below are his remarks specifically on Iraq:
Mr. President, in Iraq with the improved security situtation, UNHCR is working hard to help the government create appropriate conditions for the voluntary return and sustainable integration of refugees and internally displaced; however, there is a long way to go. Voluntary return must take place in safety and dignity and it is therefore imperative that states preserve the asylum space that they have made available to Iraqi refugees throughout the past five years in the region and beyond. More than 2 million Iraqis are still hosted mainly by Jordan and Syria in a very generous way and a similar number remains displaced inside the country. I call on the world's most prosperous states to offer full support to those countries and organizations that are bearing the brunt of the Iraqi exodus -- both by means of material assistance and through the expended provision of resettlement opportunities to those vulnerable Iraqis for whom voluntary repatriation will not be a viable option. To prepare for returns, we redeployed UNHCR's representative in Iraq from Amman [Jordan] to Baghdad in March of last . . . year. And we have also established an international presence in Erbil, Mosul and Basra. We have national staff in eleven of the country's governorates and plan to further expand our presence and activities in Iraq as the evolving security environment permits. Beyond security, sustainable return to Iraq will require effective action in the areas of property restitution or property compensation for those unable to go back to their places of orign and full and equitable access to welfare services and public distribution systems.
Yesterday's snapshot also included this: "As Stevie Nicks once sang, 'No one ever leaves, every one stays, close til the fire fades' ('Fireflies,' written by Nicks, on Fleetwood Mac Live). Sidebar: Stevie joins bandmates Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham for the group's first tour which kicks off March 1st in Pittsburgh (March tour dates are up at Fleetwood Mac's site)." That should have been "first tour in five years." My apologies. Public broadcasting notes. Starting with public radio, WBAI on Sunday and Monday offers:Sunday, January 11, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURActor/author/raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth on issues ofchurch, art, state.Monday, January 12, 2-3pmCAT RADIO CAFEProducer and Artistic Director Mark Russell on "Under the Radar," aspectacular international theater festival now in its 5th season;author/artist Wafaa Bilal on "Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and ResistanceUnder the Gun," his book about an interactive performance piece; andpianist/composer Andrew Shapiro on upcoming performances and his newrecording of "Numbers, Colors and People," works for solo pianomerging classical and pop sensibilities. Hosted by Janet Coleman andDavid Dozer.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio CafePublic television finds NOW on PBS exploring global warming's impact on ocean currents and sea chemistry as they travel "deep into the oceans with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) with help from other researchers for a first hand look at this stunning sea change, and what we can do about." That begins airing on most PBS stations tonight as does Washington Week (check local listings for both) which finds Gwen and the gas bags exploring few topics but pretending they are many. Look for lots of bad puns and what doesn't even qualify as a one-liner. John Harwood (NYT, CNBC) shows up without his twin (John Dickerson), Michael Duffy (Time magazine) and Mark Mazzetti (NYT) will attempt to grapple with topics (and what passes for topics) while Jeanne Cummings grapples with the English language (stands in front of, stands behind -- it's all so confusing for Jeanne).
And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, 60 Minutes:The Price Of OilThe historic swings in oil prices last year were the result of financial speculation from Wall Street and not supply and demand, several sources from the financial and oil communities tell Steve Kroft. Watch Video
The ChairmanCBS News correspondent David Martin profiles Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.
WyclefWyclef Jean immigrated to the U.S. as a child and grew up to live the American dream as a millionaire rock star. He's now using his extraordinary talents and wealth to help his native Haiti. Scott Pelley reports.
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
60 Minutes Update:
Obama And The EconomyPresident-elect Barack Obama is promoting his economic stimulus plan on Thursday in a speech at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Scott Pelley spoke with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about the economic crisis in October. Watch Video
Finally, the Illinois Supreme Court stuck with the law. Reuters reports that they have ruled Senator Roland Burris does not need Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to sign off on his appointment to the Senate ("The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday ruled Democrat Roland Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate valid . . .") Joe Barrett (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin says a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court over the credentials of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Senate appointee has created an impasse and he urged that the filling of Mr. Obama's seat be put on hold pending the outcome of the state senate trial of Mr. Blagojevich." Durbin's disgracing himself in a way he hasn't since his teary-eyed water works after he got smacked down for telling the truth about Guantanamo.
Reuters reports he has stated that a new governor must be sworn in (that would be the Lt. Governor if Rod Blagojevich steps down) and a new appointment made. That's not how it works. This change the line every time you don't like the way the law is only adds fuel to the charges of racism. Roland Burris needs to be seated and Dick Durbin needs to learn what is and is not his business. (Or else the nation will suffer through many more of his weepy apologies.)
peter graffahmed rasheedkhalid al-ansaryjon boyle
the new york timestimothy williams
laurel brubaker calkinsmargaret cronin fiskbloomberg newsjulie sullivancbs newslaura strickler
iraq veterans against the war
aimeee allisondavid solnit
60 minutescbs newsnow on pbspbswbaicat radio cafejanet colemandavid dozerwashington week
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Tonight we're all doing a fun post on an actor, actress or director. Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess (The Third Estate Sunday Review) helped out by compiling a list and then we picked a number that matched up with their listed name. I was hoping for someone like Natalie Wood or Steve McQueen (who were on the list, Ty told me, but no one picked the right number for them). Instead I ended up with . . . Drum roll, please.
If there's a worse choice for me, I don't know what it could be. I asked Ty, "Who the hell put John Wayne on the list?" Jim. Typical (he knew it would stump someone).
I have nothing nice to say about John Wayne. If you're a John Wayne fan, stop reading right now.
I've never been less attracted to a performer or man in my life.
I'm trying to think what the first film I ever saw him in was?
Whatever it was had to be on TV because I'd never spend money to see him. It was probably Rio Bravo (is that the title?). I remember in college (pre-VCR days) it airing and some guy I was seeing at the time insisting we had to watch it. I made it through about ten minutes.
I didn't like the way he spoke, which always seemed a put on. I didn't like his amble which always seemed like Yosimite Sam come to life. I never saw anything resembling a performance in any of his films.
He said his lines and acted the same. Over and over.
By contrast, Henry Fonda actually tried to shake the Western up. I'm not referring to the more comedic ones he did with Jimmy Stewart. I'm talking about where he played the bad guy and shocked the nation. That really was a shock to a lot of people.
Henry Fonda, that's who I should have gotten. I could marvel over how attractive and endearing he was in The Lady Eve (a screwball comedy with Barbara Stanwyck). How powerful he was in so many dramas throughout so many decades. How he always stretched.
He really could have coasted. He was an institution. I know some feel he did coast but I disagree. He really was the finest actor of his generation in my opinion. Yes, he was versatile but that's not what I'm judging on. If he'd only been able to do drama, for example, he would still be the finest actor of his generation for performances like The Grapes of Wrath or Twelve Angry Men. If he only been able to do comedy, he would have qualified as the finest for The Lady Eve or Mister Roberts.
There are people who like John Wayne. Like many of my generation, I'm not one of them. He was seen a jingoistic and a war monger. (While Henry Fonda actually served in a war -- WWII -- John Wayne avoided it.) He has an eduring popularity and I will assume that results from the popularity of Westerns. (I am sure his conservative politics allow him to remain a favorite with some but I doubt his politics alone or in part are why he remains popular.) If John Wayne does it for you, more power to you. For me, he always seemed to be trying too hard -- trying to hard to be masculine, as if he needed to act the part.
Wednesday, January 7, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, al-Sadr reportedly issues a call for violence, a US commander calls out the refusal of al-Maliki to fund reconstruction in Anbar, Iraq War veteran and war resister Kimberly Rivera is informed she's to be deported from Canada, and more.
Starting with the press. As Kat noted last night, incoming and outgoing White House occupants love their fake news. For some strange reason, people are looking the other way. Carol Marin (Chicago Sun-Times) explained Sunday that she and her colleagues in the press have been "[d]eferential, eager to please, prepared to keep a careful distance" and that at Barack's 'news' conferences, "The press corps, most of us, don't even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day." For those who've forgotten, the staged, fake 'news' conference has a direct relationship to the Iraq War.
"This is scripted," joked Bully Boy in the Mrach 6, 2003 press conference (link has text, audio and video) and it was one of the most pathetic performances by the press ever. It was so bad Saturday Night Live parodied it having Rachel Dratch play the dean of White House correspondents Helen Thomas trying to ask real questions and being prevented. "How can you justify bombing innocent Iraqis for oil" led to Helen being chlorformed and she gets hit with a poisoned dart when she points out, "Mr. President, you have not dealt with the main issue! You have yet to speak on the fact that half the people in this country do not want this war!" You can see the dart at NOW on PBS when that bit of the skit was played during David Brancaccio's profile January 16, 2004 of Helen Thomas. The New York Press offered, "After watching George W. Bush's press conference last Thursday night, I'm more convinced than ever: The entire White House press corps should be herded into a cargo plane, flown to an altitude of 30,000 feet, and pushed out, kicking and screaming, over the North Atlantic. . . . Abandoning the time-honored pretense of spontaneity, Bush chose the order of questioners not by scanning the room and picking out raised hands, but by looking down and reading from a predetermined list. Reporters, nonetheless, raised their hands in between questions -- as though hoping to suddenly catch the president's attention. In other words, not only were reporters going out of their way to make sure their softballs were pre-apporved, but they even went so far as to act on Bush's behalf, raising their hands and jockeying in their seats in order to better give the appearance of a spontaneous news conference."
That was an important moment and the PRESS FAILED. They failed in their jobs, they failed journalism, they failed the country and they failed democracy. Was it just too difficult of a moment for them?
The press that caves today and play-acts a 'news' conference for Barack before he's even sworn in is telegraphing that they will not stand up for a free press any more than they did during the last eight years. It is disgusting and it needs to be called. Barack also needs to be called out for his fraudulent practices. That is deceitful. And he's demonstrating that he is just as craven as his predecessor. The press wants to tie a bow around the Iraq War or -- more likely -- shove it in a Hefty trash bag and leave it out on the street, they want to insist they're done and the war is over. That is not reality but it will benefit a president who never technically promised to withdraw all US troops (expect Barack to get a lot of "It depends what your definition of 'is' is" jokes in two years) and has no plans to end the illegal war.
Staying with the responsibilities of the press, the US broadcast networks want to end their coverage from Iraq. Paul J. Gough (Hollywood Reporter) reports that ABC will hand-off day-to-day coverage for the American Broadcasting Company to the BBC, increasing the ties between the two in sharing coverage that began in 1994: "ABC News president David Westin announced the change Wednesday morning in Baghdad in an email to employees obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. He wrote in the email that Iraq would continue to be an important story for ABC News and 'we will devote all the resources necessary to do the story justice.' ABC hopes that the expanded partnership will free ABC News' resources from daily stories." When Brian Stelter (New York Times) reported on the move by ABC, CBS and NBC to pick up shop in Iraq and move their on-air correspondents to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he noted that a deal for BBC to pick up the slack for ABC might be in the offing but that no one was talking about that at the time. And we'll note this from article: "Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces."
From the December 18th snapshot: "The Committee to Protect Journalists released their end-of-year analysis today and 'the deadliest country in the world for the press' is . . . For the sixth year in a row, the 'honor' goes to Iraq". Yesterday the International News Safety Institute (INSI) released their numbers and they "counted 109 casualties in 36 countries" -- guess who came in first? Iraq with 16 deaths counted by INSI and they note, "A total of 252 news personnel, most of them Iraqi, have now died covering that conflict since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003."
Still on the issue of the press, but turning to Iraq's press. Alive in Baghdad wonders, "Iraq's Free Press?" in this week's report. Nabeel Kamal and Huda Muhammad explain at the start of the report, "Since Baghdad fell in April 2003, all manner of newspapers have become commonplace. Every opinion or issue has its own newspaper, and many Iraqis are wondering, is this what a free press looks like?" They then ask Iraqis, "What is the impact of these newspapers since 2003?"
Male Iraqi newspaper vendor on the street: There are good and bad, some were good for people, although most of their topics are taken from the internet or satellite TV, and most of the news is fake, most of the time their talk is irrational. It's hard to find in any of the daily newspapers something to educate people about elections, or cholera, or anything that helps people.
Iraqi Male #2: There were still four newspapers before the regime's fall, then there were more coming. I can say the number increased in a terrible way. It's "chaos." Chaos with unlimted freedom, and the difference was clear, due to the shortage of media.
One of the most specific critiques
Iraqi Male #3: We need opposition journalism, journalism that shows the truth. We need journalism to show the suffering of this population. I don't mean to keep talking about the bad things during the ex-regime, but also now there are many bad things, with any government's fall there are plenty of bad things that come to the surface or facilities that break down, so we need true journalism that can clarify the facts and show the destruction, the corruption that is happening, now we need this journalism to educate a new culture.
Their press fails them and refuses to provide the information they need. So democracy never took hold in Iraq but the US did manage to export its press system. Timothy Williams and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) note the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for January 31st, "Provincial councils are roughtly the equivalent of state legislatures in the United States, and the balloting for them is expected to correct underrepresentation in local governments among Sunni Arabs, particularly in areas where there has been heavy insurgent and sectarian violence, including Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh Provinces. Sunni Arabs largely boycotted the 2005 provincial elections." Provincial elections were declared a benchmark by the White House. As 2007 came and went without them, they began pretending otherwise. In September of 2007, Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "Largely gone from the president's speech Thursday was his January insistence that the Iraqi government meet 18 benchmarks and sort out its differences on the most divisive issues in Iraq. In January, the talk was tough: 'America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced,' Bush said then. 'I've made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act'." This was the so-called "New Way Forward" and it was quickly abandoned. Bully Boy will leave the White House this month and will do so before the January 31st elections are held (if they're held -- this is a puppet government that most recently called of New Year's Eve at the last minute -- damaging a local hotel industry that can't afford to absorb any more losses). The same month Bully Boy was suddenly ignoring the benchmarks (his 18 benchmarks), the US Government Accountability Office was reporting, "The government has not enacted legislation on de-Ba'athification, oil revenue sharing, provincial elections, amnesty, and militia disarmament." That's September 2007. Let's jump a year forward to the September 16, 2008 snapshot for that day's US House Committee on the Budget hearing on Iraq's Budget Surplus and this exchange is between US House Rep Lloyd Doggett and the GAO's Joseph A. Christoff:
Lloyd Dogget: All of us remember, except maybe President Bush, that in January of 2007, he selected the benchmarks, the guidelines by which to measure success, by which to measure victory in Iraq and when we sought an analysis so we would have an objective information instead of just the propaganda from the administration about whether those benchmarks had been met the Congress turned to the Government Accountability Office. And my recollection is that when you came out with your report on August the 30th of last year that you determined that . . . 11 of the 18 benchmarks that President Bush had set were not met. Is that correct?
Joseph Christoff: Based on that prior report correct.
Lloyd Doggett: Yes, sir. And you found that of the 18 benchmarks the president set himself to measure success in Iraq that only three had been met as of August 30, 2007. Now this year, a year later, you did some evaluation again. You did not evaluate every single benchmark but you really found that there had been very little progress in the year. We know that fortunately fewer Americans are being killed there. But in terms of the objective of the Bush policy in Iraq, you had a grand amount of success in that they met one more benchmark than they had the year before, isn't that correct?
Joseph Christoff: Well we didn't go through a benchmark by benchmark analysis but we did provide a report that talked about progess on the security front, the legislative front and the economic front in our June report.
Lloyd Doggett: Right and I believe you found one more benchmark met than the year before.
Joseph Christoff: Again we didn't do a benchmark by benchmark analysis, sir.
Lloyd Doggett: Well if you look at the -- it may not have been called a benchmark analysis -- but you looked at some of the same factors you had the year before. Just to begin to go through them, on the Constitutional Review Committee, you found that they'd formed the committee but the committee hadn't done anything. Right?
Joseph Christoff: And that's still true.
Lloyd Doggett: Well they hadn't met that. On enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification you found that they had enacted the legislation but they hadn't implemented and of it, right?
Joseph Christoff: That's correct.
Lloyd Doggett: Well they hadn't met the second benchmark. On the question of enacting the hydrocarbon or oil legislation, you concluded that they had not met that again this year, did you not?
Joseph Christoff: Correct, and no progess this year either.
Lloyd Doggett: On enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions -- that was the fourth benchmark President Bush had -- you found that that was only partially met. Again they passed a law to allow the provinces to act but it hadn't been implemented.
Joseph Christoff: Well on that one it will be implemented when provinces come together to form regions so that's an open --
Lloyd Doggett: Right, but we're not there yet.
Joseph Christoff: Well no provinces have voted to form regions other than the KRG originally.
Lloyd Doggett: On enacting and implementing legislation for an Independent High Electoral Commission you found only partially meeting it. Again, they passed a law but hadn't implemented it.
Joseph Christoff: The commission was established. The provincial election law -- the date was established for October 1 but the implementing laws have not been enacted.
Lloyd Doggett: Right. And they won't have the elections they've been promising us they'd have for a year in October.
Joseph Christoff: October 1, they will not meet that date.
And even if the provincial elections take place January 31st, they will not be in all the provinces. Iraq has 18 provinces. Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported in October, "Iraq's presidency council passed a critical law Wednesday to organize provincial elections that were originally scheduled for Oct. 1 and now are likely to be held sometime early next year. . . . Despite the law's stated deadline of Jan. 31 for elections in 17 of Iraq's 18 provinces, there may be a further postponement, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission." Not only will the January 31st elections not take place in Kirkuk, they also will not take place in Irbil, Dohuk or Suleimaniyya. Only 14 of the 18 provinces will be holding elections and, no, that's not meeting the benchmark even after Bully Boy is out of the White House. Andrea Stone (USA Today -- link has text by Stone and USA Today video by Stone adn Rene Alston) reminds, "And there is the threat of violence. Two candidates have been killed in the northern city of Mosul, including one who was gunned down in a cafe on New Year's Eve. Friday, a suicide bomber killed 23 people at a campaign event south of Baghdad."
The US House Committee on the Budget hearing noted earlier was exploring how very little the puppet government in Baghdad had spent. At that time it was expected/estimated by the GAO that Iraq's oil revenues for 2008 would be somewhere between $73 billion and $86 billion (the oil prices dropped significantly after that hearing). Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reported Monday that "Iraq earned about $60 billion from average crude oil sales of 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2008, a top Iraqi oil official said on Monday." Qatar's Gulf Times gives the figure as $60.9 billion and notes this is a 49% increase from the oil revenues the country brought in for 2007. Also on Monday, UPI reported, "Iraq's Oil Ministry has opened a new pre-qualification application process for firms that didn't pass the cut for the first round of oil and gas field bidding." Along with filling out papers, [PDF format warning] Iraq's Oil Ministry notes that each applicant must pay a $10,000 non-refundable fee ("USD or their equivalent in Iraqi Dinars"). And the never ending illegal war demands more and more money. Andrea Shalal-Esa, David Morgan and John O'Callaghan (Reuters) report, "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has told members of Congress he believes the Pentagon will need another $69.7 billion to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of the federal fiscal year." Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg News) examines the monies and notes that "Congress approved $171 billion in fiscal 2007 and $187 billion in fiscal 2008 to fund the war on terror. Costs in Iraq and Afghanistan alone in fiscal 2008 averaged $13.6 billion per month, $10.9 bill of that for Iraq". Newsday adds up the 2009 fiscal year totals: "Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would cost almost $136 billion for the 2009 budget year that began Oct. 1 if they continue at their current pace, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says. He told top lawmakers in a New Year's Eve letter that the Pentagon would need nearly $70 billion more to supplement the $66 billion approved last year."
Meanwhile the assault on Gaza continues. Iraqis have taken to the street to protest and officials statements have been issued. December 30th, the Kurdish Regional Government issued the following:
Unfortunately the recent events in the Gaza Strip have led to violence and war, resulting in the death of a large number of people and heavy damage to properties. This can only increase the humanitarian suffering on both sides and move us farther away from a just and lasting solution. The Kurdistan Regional Government expresses its concern over the escalating violence and our sadness for the loss of life on all sides. We believe that dialogue and a commitment to peaceful negotiations are the only way to resolve these disputes and we hope that all parties will cease violence and open discussions on a cease-fire immediately.
The Foreign Ministry issued the following December 29th:Foreign Ministry Condemns Israeli Brutal Aggression on Palestinians The Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Iraq condemns the Israeli brutal attack against Palestinians that caused many civilian casualties. The act of the Israeli authorities is incompatible with basic international human law and human rights. The Foreign Ministry calls for the United Nations, Arab League, other organizations and the International and Human institutes to stop this aggression. We call for the Palestinian parties to join forces with all good people in the world to protect the rights and interests of the Palestinians and enable them to practice their legal rights according to International Law. And December 31st, they issued:Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari "We Support any Effort Agreed by Arab States Concerning the Israeli Bombing"
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated that Iraq supports any effort by Arab states on the Israeli shelling of areas in the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas in a statement to Al-Jazeera on Saturday and that the Iraqi stance is with Arab solidarity and what the Arab countries agreed upon. Minister Zebari added that Iraq would be in favor of any decision in this regard. Israel launched air raids on positions in the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas and killed two hundred people.
Today, AFP states Moqtada al-Sadr has declared that Americans in Iraq are targets as a result of the DC support for the assault on Gaza and they quote him stating, "I ask the Iraqi resistance to engage in revenge operations against the United States, the biggest partner of the Zionist enemy." Asked about the statement in a US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Robert Wood stated, "Well, I mean, obviously -- I mean -- any call for attacks against Americans is outrageous and, frankly, not worthy of much more comment. Look, what we're trying to do, as I've said and as Sean [McCormack] has said, is to try to see what we can do diplomatically to reach a long-term solution to this problem. And the Secretary [of State Condi Rice]'s been working very hard on this, others have been, and these types of efforts take time. They're not easy, obviously. And we're going to continue to work with our partners -- and the Secretary has got a full schedule of meetings -- as you can see -- and try to do what we can. But outside calls to attack Americans for what's going on in the region are outrageous." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "A spokesman for the cleric said the words were not intended for all members of the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to Hojatoleslam al-Sadr which has been turned into more of a social services network. Instead, he said, the call was to members of a special unit of fighters that has been maintained."
While al-Sadr reportedly issues that call, another warning comes from a US Maj Gen. Chelsea J. Carter (AP) interviews Marine Maj Gen John F. Kelly who states that the central government in Baghdad's refusal to spend reconstruction money in Anbar Province qualifies as, his words, "a mission failure." Kelly states, "What the Iraqi government in Baghdad should have done is said Anbar is getting peaceful, let's commit. It drives me to distraction. I would count it as a mission failure."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a motorcycle bombing that wounded five people and, dropping back to yesterday, 2 Mosul roadside bombings which wounded four people.
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Mosul today and 1 yesterday.
Turning to legal news. Yesterday, the five Blackwater mercenaries charged in the September 16, 2007 Baghdad slaughter appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas. Del Quentin Wilber (Washington Post) reports, "The guards did not speak during their arraignment on 14 counts of voluntary manslaughter, 20 counts of attempting to commit manslaughter and one count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. They will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years if convicted of the firearms charge." Jesse J. Holland (AP) reports the date set was January 29, 2010 and notes the five charged: "former Marines Donald Ball of West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard of Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty of Rochester, N.H.; and Army veterans Nick Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., and Paul Slough of Keller, Texas." James Risen (New York Times) teams the five appearing in court yesterday with former Blackwater mercenary Andrew J. Moonen whose attorney received a letter of the feds intent to charge him in the shooting death of Iraq's Shi'ite vice president bodyguard (the guard's name was Raheem Khalif). In addition, AP notes that US Sgt. John E. Hatley is being charged in the murders of 4 Iraqis and will face a court-martial and they note that war resister Kimberly Rivera has been ordered to leave Canada by January 27th ("unless the order is reversed"). Rivera is an Iraq War veteran and the mother of three including six week old Katie. Rivera, from the North Texas area originally, self-checked out and went to Canada with her husband and (then) two children. She has spoken out against the war to the Canadian press since February 2007. At her site, she explains, "I love my family and would do anything for them. I am a pasifist. I believe in the WAY! I am a activist. I do not condem, only one can do that. I know that people have the Will to change and are not inheratly bad as i use to think." Kimberly Rivera was the first female war resister to go public once in Canada.
Totally unrelated but Michael Yon covers Iraq and a recent article of his reports on his friend Aew who was visiting the US from Thailand and the stunts, intimidation and harassment 'Homeland' 'Security' put her through ("Mr. Knapp hides behind a badge bullying a woman whose only activities are Yoga, reading, travel, and telling me what is healthy and unhealthy to eat. Knapp is a face of Homealnd Security. How many other officers at Homeland Security bully 90-pound women, but are afraid to give their own names?"). And we'll go ahead and grab another Iraq topic that relates to security. US Senator Dianne Feinstein is doing her job and getting slammed for it. As Stan noted about Feinstein last night (not related to this topic), we have called her out loudly when we thought she was wrong or failing and we've tried to give her credit when she earned it. (Rebecca's 'miss diane girl-senator' is probably the best example of calling her out.) I know Feinstein very well and that didn't prevent me Monday from posting the information about the protest at her local office. I'll call her out to her face (and have) and will thank her to her face (and have). So this isn't my rushing to rescue someone I know (before the drive-by e-mails come in on that). I know Leon Panetta as well and have never had an ill word or thought about him. There is some hugely sexist coverage going on regarding Dianne Feinstein. Woman-hater Glen-Glen feels she's being 'petulant' and whenever he launches a sexist attack, everyone follows on the premise, "Well he's gay. He can't be sexist right?" Glen-Glen's a pig-pig. To be clear, I'm not referring to press reports like Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick (Washington Post), I'm referring to the Bloggy Boize. Dianne Feinstein is a US Senator. She is the state's senior senator and she is now the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Before she's next trashed in sexist terms, someone might want to stop a moment and grasp that the Senate will confirm the next head of the CIA and if another 9-11 takes place on US soil, the American people will want answers. A position like that must be vetted.
Dianne is doing her job. By contrast, Ron Wyden (who thought he'd be president this time in 2006 -- seriously, he really believed that stood a chance of happening) is an idiot. The Post quotes him stating, "Obama trusts [Panetta] -- that's a huge plus"! Really? Okay, Ron, if there's another 9-11 and you're asked to justify your support for Panetta, remember your response was "Obama trusts him!" Presumably, Barack trusts everyone he plans to nominate -- even those that may have withdrawn their names. If that's the criteria for judging whether or not someone's qualified, why do we need the Senate to confirm any of these appointments.
You better believe, and Dianne knows this, if October 3, 2009, there is an attack on US soil, the questions will immediately go to, "Who was in charge of the intelligence?" If it's Panetta, the immediate follow up will be, "His resume showed no background in intelligence. Why did Barack pick him and why did the Senate confirm him?" And there may be answers to both of those last questions. Valid answers -- not Wyden's Barack-trusts-him! -- and those will come out in the confirmation hearing. (My own personal belief is the CIA should be disbanded.) Feinstein is the chair of the committee. On her shoulders rest the bulk of the responsibility for vetting the nominee. She takes that responsibility very seriously. There is nothing in her public remarks to justify the sexist attacks (and, yes, they are sexist, especially when they portray her as a woman scorned and forget to note, oh, yeah, Jay Rockefeller -- the outgoing chair -- was also surprised the transition team did not approach the committee beforehand). Here is Dianne Feinstein's public statement in full:
I have been contacted by both President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden, and they have explained to me the reasons why they believe Leon Panetta is the best candidate for CIA Director. I look forward to speaking with Mr. Panetta about the critical issues facing the intelligence community and his plans to address them.
Feinstein can be criticized, she can be called out. People should be calling out her backing of Dennis Blair. But in terms of the Leon Panetta, she is doing her job and it's amazing that Glen-Glen and the others are, in effect, slamming her for doing her job. On war monger Blair, see ETAN or click here. Feinstein is also correct about Senator Roland Burris. wowOwow (The Women on the Web) quotes Feinstein stating yesterday, "Does the governor [Rod Blagojevich] have the power, under law, to make the appointment? And the answer is yes . . . If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America. Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller and he is very well respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been the one blocking Senator Burris from being seated. Reid has repeatedly urged the appointments of White people to Senate posts such as Caroline Kennedy and Tammy Duckworth. Ruben Navarrette Jr. (San Diego Union-Tribune via San Jose Mercury News) points out, "Maybe we should broaden the criteria a bit. Let's say that, if you scheme to put your own interests above the interests of a particular racial group relying on racist assumptions about who is electable so the end result is that you exclude members of that racial group, then some might call you a racist. With that as the standard, Reid might have a shot at the title. The Senate majority leader should face facts, seat Roland Burris and salvage what's left of his reputation." The White sheet clad Harry Reid is still stating that Burris will not be seated unless Illinois Secretary of State signs off on Blagojevich's paperwork. Reid asked Jesse White not to sing off on it. And Wendell Hutson (Chicago Defender) reports, "Attorney General Lisa Madigan, acting on behalf of Secretary of State Jesse White, filed a motion with the state Supreme Court that not only said White still would not sign a certification form, as required by the U.S. Senate Rules Committee, but that there is no legal basis to force him to do so." That's a cute little shell game Harry's got going. Tell the state's Sec of State not to sign off on the paperwork, then say you won't seat Burris unless the Sec of State signs the paper. Now the State's AG is declaring, 'That sign-offs, that's US Senate rules! We don't have to follow them!' UPI reports that Barack sent signals today that "the Senate will seat former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris as the junior senator from Illinois."
helen thomasthe new york timesbrian stelter
alive in baghdad
the new york timestimothy williamssuadad al-salhymcclatchy newspapers
nancy a. youssefleila fadel
del quentin wilberthe washington postjesse j. holland
deborah haynesthe new york timesjames risenandrea shalal-esadavid morganjohn o'callaghantony capaccionewsdaychelsea carter
ruben navarrette jr.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
So because I wrote about Janis Ian last night, a number of e-mails wanted to know what I thought of ____. There was a long list.
I always loved Melanie's music and my favorite of her songs is "Peace Will Come." I wouldn't say "I know Melanie," but I have met her and she had the cutest apple cheeks. She looks (or looked) a great deal like Sally Field. (But then I always thought Debra Winger should have played Carole King in a film because I felt Winger looked a great deal like her, so what do I know?)
2) Suzanne Vega.
I really don't know Suzanne's work. I know "Left Of Center" best of her songs but even there, not really. That's not my effort to get snide with Vega. I just have never sought her out. One year, a box of CDs from C.I. included one of Vega's CDs. It was the red cover, lava or flames. I don't remember. I did listen to that and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. For me to really follow someone they have to have a perspective in their work. I could listen to ten tracks in a row and never knew who the artist (forget the person) Suzanne Vega was.
3) Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Huge fan of Buffy, have seen her perform many times. After "Universal Soldier," my favorite song by her is probably "Little Wheel Spin and Spin." If you can mix formats, I still have everything she's released. Huge fan of Buffy. ("Mix formats" means CDs, vinyl, cassettes, etc.)
4) Nancy Sinatra.
C.I. knows all the women above but C.I. knows Nancy and Tina Sinatra very well and would kill me if I said anything rude about Nancy so good thing I don't intend to. Seriously, Nancy's underrated. "Sugar Town" is my favorite track by her. "These Boots Are Made For Walking" rightly remains unforgettable but I always felt she was able to play with the vocal of "Sugar Town" more and thought she had some surprisingly bluesy notes when you least expected.
5) Phoebe Snow.
I had mentioned her last night (a song she, Janis and Odetta recorded) and about ten e-mails came in on "Poetry Man." That is her signature song. I also love the 1989 album she did with the single "If I Can Just Get Through The Night." Marcia (not our Marcia) e-mailed to say she felt Phoebe Snow was the country's finest singer. I think it would be hard to make a counter-argument. A few might match her but would they surpass her? Probably not.
6) Melissa Manchester.
"Don't Cry Out Loud" is one of Rebecca's all-time favorite songs. That's why C.I. and Rebecca will often refer to the momentary media coverage of Iraq as "the Baby Cried The Day The Circus Came To Town coverage." (The song opens with: "Baby cried the day the circus came to town . . .") That truly is a wonderfully written song. She also co-wrote (with Kenny Loggings) "Whenever I Call You Friend" (which Kenny sang with Stevie Nicks), another wonderful song. My opinion (and C.I. agrees) is Melissa derailed her career by singing the title track to Thief of Hearts. Melissa had just had the biggest pop hit of her career ("You Should Hear How She Talks About You") and she did Thief which was too much for some audiences. I'm not saying it's not a bad movie, I am noting it was rejected for displaying the male flesh in the same way that A Night In Heaven was. It made a lot of people uncomfortable (I don't know if that would be true today) and you'd see a simlar reaction to Travolta when he did Stayin' Alive. So a lot of teen angst was aimed at Melissa as a result of Thief. It was an attempt for the Flashdance team to sexualize a man (a thief of hearts and jewels!) in the way they did welder/ballet dancer Jennifer Beals. Gender roles and rules were a little more etched in the early eighties than they were in the seventies or sixties. Melissa has always had a wonderful voice and tone.
7) Tracy Chapman.
Her self-titled debut has never left my CD player. I know all of those songs by heart. "But what happened after that?" asked an e-mail. That follow up album is one I honestly hated. I really loathed it. Then, about a year after it came out, I went back and started listening (Crossroads) and I really fell in love with it. I think, due to the instrumentation being so different and the song focus as well, it was an abrupt shift and a lot of us judge it in terms of does it flow naturally from the previous album which really isn't a requirement. "Give Me One Reason" brought people back on board but, there again, I preferred the follow-ups. Straight through to Where You Live. Her most recent, Our Bright Future, is in a class by itself and I recommend it strongly.
I think there was one more; however, I'm pulling a blank. I'll check with Sunny tomorrow and note it on Wednesday.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 6, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, women's rights remain under attack in Iraq, Blackwater mercenaries have court dates, and Ron Jacobs attempts to set the record straight regarding the treaty.
At a time when broadcast networks leave the ongoing illegal war in Iraq and when all the beggars of Panhandle Media avoid the issue, Ron Jacobs shows up at CounterPunch to address Iraq and the treaty:
While no one has suggested that this transfer of control is tantamount to the evacuation of US and allied forces from Saigon in 1975, the overall tone of the US mainstream media is that it is a step in that direction. This is patent nonsense. The nation of Iraq will not be rid of US military influence until every last US soldier is gone. This means troops considered combat forces along with those in support, intelligence and advisory roles. In case Americans have missed it, this fact will not exist on the ground for a long time. This means, quite simply, that there is plenty of time for things to go in a direction unfavorable to Washington's designs. Should this occur, the likelihood of the recently negotiated Status of Forces Agreement existing in its current status diminishes rather quickly. For those unfamiliar with the actualities of the agreement, there is a section that allows either Washington or any Iraqi government to abrogate the agreement at any time. As for the rest of the agreement, US military officials are already on record calling into question elements of the agreement that limit their troops' ability to conduct raids, move freely about the country, and defend US bases.
When it comes to Washington, the Bush administration has also questioned the interpretation of various parts of the agreement and has left it open for its successor to do the same. These questions seem to stem from the Pentagon's resistance to the limitations on its mobility and perceived mission a strict interpretation of the agreement would require. Unless the Obama administration makes it clear that it will listen to US voters and begin the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq immediately, then the Pentagon will continue the occupation despite the opposition of the US and Iraqi people. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has made no indication that he will fulfill the hopes of those that want all US troops home now. Like every other president of the US, he seems to have tuned out the voters and tuned in the generals. It is up to us to reverse that situation.
And while it's good that Jacobs is writing about it, it's sad that it couldn't have been written about when there was still an effort in Congress to stop the treaty masquerading as a SOFA back in November. Or when everyone was pushing the notion that this one-year contract with two options for renewals and the ability to cancel any details was being treated as "US HAS TO LEAVE IN 2011!" It's especially sad that he's the only one writing of it this month but that goes to how little anyone cares about Iraq -- including UPFJ. As for later in the article when Jacobs attempts to write about what US troops can do, he needs to review the treaty because there are outs in it for the US military in the shooting of Iraqi journalist Hadil Imad. (And the US military is aware of it which is why their story conflicts with eye-witnesses who saw Hadil shot. The US version is crafted to avoid liability.)
In legal news, Gene Johnson (AP) reports that Andrew Moonen has received notification from federal prosecutors that he will be charged in a December 25, 2006 shooting in Baghdad. Mike Carter (Seattle Times) reported this morning that the Justice Dept was said to be seeking "a grand-jury indictment against" Moonen who was working for Blackwater when he shot dead Raheem Khalif -- a bodyguard for Iraq's Shi'ite vice president Adil Abd al-Mahdi
that the 2006 shooting in Baghdad where a Blackwater contractor shot "the bodyguard [Raheem Khalif] of the Iraqi vice president after a drunken Christmas party" will finally result in charges -- in the US and that the Justice Dept is seeking "a grand-jury indictment against 28-year-old Andrew Moonen". Meanwhile Raheem Salman and Kimi Yoshino (Los Angeles Times) report that the five Blackwater employees involved in the September 16, 2007 Baghdad slaughter were expected to be arriagned in federal court. One of the five men is Evan Liberty. Jason Claffey (Foster's Daily Democrat) reports William Coffield (Liberty's attorney) stated he would move to dismiss: "Coffield said the type of diplomatic security Blackwater provided was a 'state function' that did not relate to DOD's mission. 'We didn't believe there was any probable cause of the indictment'." Meaning that since Blackwater was working for the US State Dept and not the US Defense Dept, Coffield does not believe that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act should apply. (I'm not arguing that, that is Coffield's argument and a judge will have to rule on it because this is new ground for the courts.) Sarah Jennings (Chattanooga's Channel 9 News) notes all five were expected to enter not guilty pleas today. Which, CBS and AP report, the five did and the outlets also note: "In advance of the arraignment, the judge has unsealed the arrest warrant for Ridgeway, reports CBS News producer Stephanie Lambidakis. The government believes the document knocks down defense claims that the convoy was fired upon, reports Lambidakis. The government says they don't believe the radio logs released by defense lawyers in which a guard reports incoming fire. That guard was apparently in the 'belly of the vehicle' and didn't see anything first-hand." The radio logs are most likely a creation and it's amazing that no one's noticed that. (As noted here in December.)
In Iraq, the latest attack on women's rights takes place under the guise of security, always under the guise of security. AFP reports that ALL women are banned "from visiting a Baghdad district which is home to the city's most famous Shi'ite tomb" and why is that? Because of the Sunday suicide bombing which, you may remember, Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) maintained Monday was carried out by a man despite statements to the contrary. So you've got confusion as to the gender of the bomber. But you've also got the fact that no men were banned from shrines and these bombings have been going on for over five years now. Regardless of whether Sunday's bomber was or was not a woman, there's never been a similar effort to ban just men. It's only women that get screwed over and always while being told that it's for the 'security' of all. It's not for security. It has nothing to do with security and when you grasp that this is a pilgrimage and that the pilgrims come from all over Iraq and outside of Iraq, this is blatantly offensive. It is yet another effort to curtail the mobility of women and even in the 'logic' being offered, there's no excuse for it. They have still not established the gender of Sunday's bomber. Dagher and al-Husaini as well as LAT's Usama Redha and Kimi Yoshino provided statements by Iraqis outraged by the lack of security. What you have is a band-aid measure that will not fix a damn thing but the government wants to scapegoat someone and, just like their allies in the US, the Iraqi government will gladly scapegoat women. And Reuters is now reporting: "Initial reports said Sunday's bomber was female, although the government later said he was male." But who's being barred from worshipping? Monday, the United Nation's Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, made a point of condemning the attacks on pilgrims and decreeds bombings like Sunday's "appalling and unjustified crimes." Will de Mistura call out the barring of women from worship or is he only interested in speaking up for the male pilgrims?
Statistically female bombers really are not an issue (August 21st, LAT was reporting that "the number has jumped to 30" for the year 2008 -- still not a huge number) but if Iraq's so alarmed, well maybe they should pay more money? "Awakening" Council members are also known as Sons of Iraq and they do have Daughters of Iraq but they pay them over 20% than they do men. If they are saying female bombers are just so earth shattering and such a great threat, maybe they shouldn't have been so sexist and cheap? Maybe they should paid women doing the exact same work the exact same amount? And "they" is the US. The US military set up that pay scale, the US military endorsed and embraced sexism.
Dropping back to the June 6th snapshot and Badkhen is Anna Badkhen who was filing that report for the San Francisco Chronicle::
Badken observes: "The US military pays each member $300 a month to man thousands of checkpoints throughout Iraq. The Americans have credited Sons of Iraq for the waning Sunni insurgency and the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad. But questionable loyalties, often brutal conduct and an uncertain future make these groups a wild card in the ongoing effort to stabilize Iraq. In April, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said these U.S.-funded militias may one day 'turn their guns on us'." But that cautionary note is dismissed by the White House and, on Friday, Jim Frederick (Time Magazine) reported on the lastest twist to the "Awakening" Council: Female recruits! US Capt Michael Starz told Frederick that "this is an employment program" and that "many of the women around here are widows and have no way of supporting themselves." What a load of crap.
If the concern was providing women with opportunities, the US could have done so long ago, could have fought to protect and ensure women's rights instead of installing radical thugs in the puppet government. Most importantly, while the men make $300 a month, they're paying the women eight dollars a day -- that would be two dollars a day less than their male peers while claiming that there "are widows" who "have no way of supporting themselves." The US government wants credit for 'creating' employment opportunites for Iraqi women but the US is paying them $2 less a day than the males while claiming that the women needs these jobs because they're supporting themselves and children. Can you say "exploitation"? The real reason the US is using women, as Capt Starz readily admits is that female bombers are now an issue. The women are being trained to 'inspect' and search other women. And apparently that's not a job important enough to warrant equal pay -- at least not according to the US. And the reason for including Senator Boxer's April remarks was to make it clear that the US government is the one paying the "Awakening" Council members, nothing has changed on that since April. So the US government is sending the message in Iraq that a woman's work is worth 20% less than a male's. If that figure sounds familiar, Nancy Clark (Womens Media, link has audio) was noting that figure last year: "Women are paid 80 cents for every dollar men are paid and that does NOT include any part-time workers! If it did, it would be even lower." The women in Iraq are being asked to do the exact things the males are being asked to do and the US government is sending the message that, for the same work, it is okay to pay a woman 80 cents while paying a man a dollar. Capt Starz tells Frederick that the increase in female bombers means, "It is a critical security issue that we find a way to have women searched at high-traffic areas." It's 'critical' but, apparently, work but apparently not critical enough to offer the same rate of pay. Repeating, US tax dollars are paying for this program. (US Ambassador Ryan Crocker repeatedly bragged in April, before Congress, that paying them off meant attacks on US service members was down. It's the hand-over-your-lunch-money-to-the-bully-and-you'll-be-safe-in-the-playground 'strategy.') Should it be funded by the US? I don't think so but as long as the US funds it, it certainly doesn't need to endorse gender discrimination. But that is what's taking place.
And, pay attention, the US put it in place. That's June. If today the puppet government wants to say it takes so long to search women (which AFP quotes them doing today), well then they damn well should have hired more women back in June. The female suicide bombers result in alarmist headlines (here for US News & World Reports) because, "Oh goodness! It's a woman!" As if Pirate Jenny was an obscure character from a never heard of play? As if Pirate Jenny doesn't have her roots in any revolution (including the American revolution). But, "Oh no, it's a woman!" So when a female bomber executes a bombing, it's a big deal to the press. When a man does, it's a single sentence and there's no hand wringing or pondering WHY????? It's obvious why and the one's pretending otherwise are the same ones pretending that something good can yet come from this illegal war. And it's pretty obvious that there is HUGE sexism involved in the coverage. This summer Time offered up "The Mind of a Female Suicide Bomber." I'm sorry, are female bombers unheard of in illegal wars and occupations? They become the norm. And pretending otherwise is not only historically ignorant and sexist, it's damaging to anyone's grasp of what is actually taking place on the ground in Iraq. They're attempting to make it some sort of pathological sickness in the minds of some woman when this is a natural response to a people occupied, under attack and prevented from self-governance. There's nothing pathological about it. Historically, it is a common response. Mythologically, even more so. Will Time next offer us "The Mind of Areto"? Was there any difference in Areto attempting to avenge the murder of Hippolyte and Iraqi women today attempting to avenge the murders of their famillies? Aztec mythology includes many similar examples, such as La Llorona who acts to avenge the murders of her children. It's really disgusting that we rush to pathologize a normal response on the part of women that has been historically charted and culturally taught. The sickness is not inside the women in Iraq who decide to wear a bomb, the sickness is the illegal war and continued occupation and you have to historically and culturally ignorant or else a liar who hopes others are historically and culturally ignorant to push these women's responses off as something unheard of and completely unexpected.
By contrast, think about the "biggest" Iraq "news." Meaning the tid-bit that caught everyone's attention and produced water cooler talk. A reporter throws his shoes. A male reporter. He had a thriving career. He had to know he was risking throwing that away. Did we get "Inside the Mind of the Shoe Tosser"? No. No, there was never an effort made to pathologize him (or any male suicide bombers, for that matter). All the clucking is dishonest and needs to stop. Those doing it are either liars or the most uneducated and uninformed people in the world. Grasping that reporters are, for the most part, glorified general studies majors, World Civ is taught for a reason. It's not a set of facts to be remembered, there are lessons to impart from it.
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 4 police officers (two more wounded), a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life (three more wounded) a Mosul suicide car bombing that left seven wounded (and the driver dead -- will the press spend hours wondering about his state of mind, will they tut-tut -- no because he's a "he") and a Tuz Kharmatu roadside bombing that wounded two police officers as they "were trying to defuse it". KUNA cites Iraqi police for reports of a grenade attack in southern Baghdad that wounded three American service members.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul pharmacy invasion which resulted in the death of "the chemist running the pharmacy" and, dropping back to Monday, "Subhi Hassan Mohammed, a PUK official" and 1 body guard were shot dead (another bodyguard was injured) in Kirkuk. Reuters drops back to Monday to note a police officer wounded in a Kirkuk shooting and an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Sekhra (both shootings took place Monday night).
This Thursday, Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will deliver public remarks after he briefs the UN Security Council about forced displacement.
Today Human Rights First notes that "forced migration from Iraq continues to occur" and that:
Preliminary surveys suggest about one-third of the displaced population fled generalized violence, while two-thirds fled targeted religious, political, or ethnic persecution, and in some cases were forcibly expelled from their property.ii In neighboring countries, Iraqi refugees have encountered both hospitality and hostility. For the most part, they enjoy freedom of movement and access to subsidized public health care and education, particularly in Syria. However most refugees cannot obtain work authorization and many refugees lack legal residence rights. In the past two years, as Iraqi refugees have exhausted their savings, the cost of living in host countries has rapidly risen. Human Rights First has observed the beginnings of frustration and fatigue among host communities in Syria as well as serious anti-Iraqi and anti-Shi'a discrimination in Jordan. With time, these tensions could aggravate instability in the region.
Based on field interviews conducted in Jordan in September 2007 and Syria in October 2008, Human Rights First believes that a high percentage of Iraqis who register with UNHCR do not see return to Iraq as a realistic option for the foreseeable future, and hope that registering with UNHCR will provide a path to resettlement in a third country. In the past two years, the United States has resettled about 15,000. In addition, 64,500 Iraqis made applications for asylum in industrialized countries in 2007 and the first half of 2008, primarily in Sweden, Germany, and Greece.
On the very few Iraqis who have been admitted to the US, Julia Lyon (Salt Lake Tribune) reports on the Utah scene where some of the Iraq's brain drain has settled (professionals such as college professors, doctors, etc who fled Iraq due to the violence). Lyon notes that "Iraqi's college degrees and licenses usually are not recognized" in the US. (And when we were noting the Baltimore Sun's coverage on this topic, I meant to note that Europeans often face similar problems when coming to the US. I didn't note it and war reminded by a friend who is a college professor and hails from Scotland originally.) Lyon explains that Dr. Fzia Al Berqdar is unable to use his degree (thus far) in the US and quotes him stating, "Do you know what I've become? Weak, poor, diseased."
In US political news, Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports that surpremely unqualified to be senator Caroline Kennedy no longer has the support of New York residents. Kennedy would like to be gifted with a Senate seat by NY Governor David Paterson but Montopoli reports a new poll has found only 27% of New Yorkers want Kennedy as their Senator while 58% "prefer [Andrew] Cuomo." Cuomo is currently the state's Attorney General (and has been working while the media chased the enchanted princess). I know Cuomo and I know Caroline and the latter is suffering from the same problem she's always suffered from: The more familiar people become with her, the less impressed they are. As Montopoli notes, a month ago, Caroline trumped hard-working and qualified Cuomo by 20%. Meanwhile, the qualified Senator Roland Burris was denied today. The Senate refused to seat him continuing their long history of systematic and institutionalized racism. Harry Reid has mistaken his role as US Senator from Nevada (the only post any citizens voted him into) as Boss Of All Governors. He shot down everyone of Rod Blagojevich's nominees for the Senate -- all of whom happened, just happened, to be African-American. Instead he wanted to install a White War Hawk (Tammy Duckworth) but then Harry Reid is a War Hawk who voted for the illegal war and whom US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has increasingly fingered as the one allowing the illegal war to continue. When not attempting to tell Illinois' governor whom to nominate, Harry Reid has been running to the press and to Governor David Paterson to make it clear that the unqualifed Caroline Kennedy is his choice. Cedric's "Harry Reid flashes his true colors" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HARRY REID AND HIS WHITE SHEET!" covered this topic earlier today. Repeating, Harry Reid is championing White candidates to governors but refusing to sit the qualified Roland Burris who has been appointed the junior senator from Illinois.
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