Friday, May 21, 2010

Who owns who?

"No Time For Consumer Power" (Ralph Nader, The Nader Page):
In the end, late on Thursday’s Senate passage of the financial regulation bill, the Senate had no time for independent, non-government consumer power. In the end, after listening to swarms of corporate bank, brokerage, hedge fund, private equity, and insurance lobbyists, the Senate had no time for Senator Chuck Schumer’s amendment to create a non-profit Financial Consumers Association (FCA, SA 3772).
In the end, this massive 1500 page bill shifted very little power directly to shareholders and consumers of financial services (meaning just about everyone) either to better use the courts and to organize nationwide to counteract the lobbying muscle of the financial goliaths ready to turn the new regulators into procrastinatory putty. The FCA proposal (see, which Senator Schumer had backed in 1985 when he was dealing with the savings and loan scandal, did not receive the time of day. It would have required the companies to place an invitation to their customers in their mailing and electronic communications (bank statements, bills etc.) inviting consumers to voluntarily join and pay dues to build a powerful consumer lobby to countervail what Thomas Jefferson once called the “monied interests.”

The Senate, the Congress in fact, seems determined to strip us of every last right we have. They never empower us. They'll cut the safety net and swear that will empower people but that's a lie.

The whole thing's rigged to begin with and if Barack Obama's accomplished anything as president it is to convey just how crooked the whole system is. If you missed the news, Barry's picked another winner.

Obama Said to Pick Lawyer Cole for No. 2 Justice Job
BusinessWeek - Nicholas Johnston, Justin Blum - ‎45 minutes ago‎
May 21 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama intends to nominate James M. Cole, a corporate defense lawyer who served as independent monitor of American International Group Inc., for the No.
White House to nominate James Cole as deputy attorney general Washington Post
Cole to Be Nominated for Justice Department's No. 2 Slot Wall Street Journal
ABC News (blog) - Main Justice - Reuters - The BLT: Blog of Legal Times
all 127 news articles »

Corporate defense attorney? Because those poor, poor corporations are getting beat up so badly by public opinion?

Barack is bought and paid for by the corporations.

Roseanne Cash, a great artist, will be on Tavis Smiley's PBS show Monday (also on it will be Pierce Brosnan).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, May 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, another broken promise from Barack, co-dependents rush to enable him, the refugee crisis continues and more.

Today Barack Obama worshiper
E.D.Kain (Truth/Slant) reminds (before excusing), "The potentially big viral video of the day is this one. It's of Barack Obama promising, 16 months ago, that by today -- May 21st, 2010 -- we'd be out of Iraq." As noted, he quickly excuses the broken promise. That's it, E.D., keep suckling on your golden calf. Those man boobs of Barack may yet bear milk. But make room for Jamelle Bouie who wants to go even further in minimizing Barack's broken promise. He says it's not a broken promise because Barack wasn't president!!!! What a stupid ass. "I don't know as much as I should about our Iraq policy" confesses Dumb Ass Jamelle. He doesn't know much about anything. Barack broke his promise. And it's not even a surprise. Samantha Power said he would, that's what she told the BBC in March 2008. From the Friday, March 7, 2008 snapshot:

Obama still lacks the leadership to take control of his campaign -- that would have required firing Power. Instead she resigned indicating that he's unable to run a campaign as well as unable to tell the truth. Power -- who also went to work for Obama in 2005 when he was first elected to the US Senate (November 2004) -- also had to deal with
the BBC interview she'd given. Barack Obama has not promised to pull ALL troops out of Iraq in 16 months. He has promised the American people that "combat" troops would be removed. But promises, promises (as Dionne Warwick once sang) . . .

Stephen Sackur: "You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?"

Samantha Power: "You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can'te ven tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator."

Which would mean Mr. Pretty Speeches has been lying to the American people.

In a bit of good news for Jamelle, Barack has two nipples. That's one for Jamelle and one for E.D. Suckle on your golden calf, boys. And be sure to wipe the floor down when you leave -- maybe even disinfect it. In the real world,
Jason Ditz ( observes:

In all seriousness, everyone who has been following the story even a little knows that just two days after his inauguration,
President Obama was already talking about the promise as "aspirational" and a month later the "16 month plan" was formally replaced with the so-called 19 month plan, which would involve having some American troops leave Iraq by August 2010, declaring combat over, and keeping 50,000 troops "indefinitely."
At the time that pledge seemed a terrible betrayal of a campaign promise that was made the center of his foreign policy in debates. Now, even the "19 month plan" is looking pretty good by comparison,
as officials admit it too is being "reconsidered."

Xinhua reports a car bombing in Diyala Province's Khalis. CNN notes it was "just outside a coffee shop" and resulted in 22 dead and fifty-three injured. BBC adds, "The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad said a car containing explosives was set off in a busy market in front of a coffee shop where crowds were enjoying the cool evening." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) quotes Mohammed Ahmed stating, "The explosion was so big I thought for a minute I was in hell." Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Charles Dick (Reuters) report the death toll has climbed to 30 with eighty injured. AFP reminds, "Khales itself was last struck with a major attack on March 26, when twin bombings in front of a cafe and a restaurant in the city killed 42 people and wounded 65 others."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing which injured four police officers. Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Charles Dick (Reuters) report a Nimrud car bombing which left seven people injured. Reuters notes a Kirkuk Thursday roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 militia member and a Mussayab Thursday night car bombing which left six people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Abu Zaid armed clash which claimed 4 lives and left a fifth wounded and dropping back to Tuesday a Mosul attack which claimed the lives of 2 police officers. Reuters notes a Baquba home invasion (by assailants "wearing military unifornm") in which 4 family members were slaughtered and a fifth was left injured.

Iraqis continue to die while in 'custody' and
Hannah Allam and Jamal Naji (McClatchy Newspapers) report families of six Sunni men who died this month while imprisoned are planning to sue the Iraqi government, that "at least three of the six [. . .] showed signs of torture and they quote the late Salah al Nimrawi's brother Talib al Nimrawi stating, "I blame the Iraqi government, which bears responsibility for the death of my brother, and the American forces hold even more responsibility for handing him over to the Iraqis. The Americans should exert pressure on the Iraqi government to hand over the criminals who did this. Otherwise, (our) tribe is not a small tribe."

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Turkish military bombing northern Iraq. Reuters notes that the Kurdistan Regional Government issued a statement today regarding that bombing and the shelling the Iranian military has been doing on northern Iraq: "The presidency of the Iraq Kurdistan region condemns these attacks on the border regions, and at the same time considers this a violation and aggression on the sovereignty of the Iraqi state and demands its immediate cessation." Iran is in the news for other topics as well including influence. Marjorie Olster and Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) report that unattributed 'chatter' portrays the US government concerned with Iran's alleged backing of Nouri al-Maliki to remain as prime minister of Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki's political slate, State Of Law, came in second in the March 7th elections winning 89 seats in the new Parliament. Ayad Allawi's slate, Iraqiya, came in first with 91 seats. Al-Ahram Weekly quotes Allawi stating, "I really don't know how it will end but what I know is that we are not going to accept that the will of the Iraqi people is going to be confiscated."

The Iraq War created many things but democracy wasn't one of them. Refugees? The illegal war created a huge number of refugees internally and externally. This week the
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre released [PDF format warning] "Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009." Findings in the report include:

* This internally displaced population -- equivalent to one in ten Iraqis -- had been displaced in three phases. Since February 2006, around 1.5 million people had fled sectarian and generalised violence including military operations by multinational, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian forces in northern Iraq. Approximately 190,000 people had been displaced by military operations and generalised violence from 2003 to 2005, and close to a million by the policies of the former government of Saddam Hussein, including the "arabisation" of Kurdish areas, destruction of marshlands in southern Iraq, and repression of political opposition.

* Iraq's many minority groups faced particular threats, including Christian Assyrians, Faeeli Kurds, Yazidis, Palestinian refugees, and also Sunni and Shia people where they were in the minority. Children and women faced recruitment by armed groups, sexual and gender-based violence, and labour exploitation. Despite the decline in violence, the UN and the humanitariancommunity continued to report human rights abuses and violations against civilians by militias, criminal gangs, and security forces, with perpetrators generally avoiding prosecution.

* Over half of the world's internally displaced people (IDPs) were in five countries: Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, DRC and Somalia.

* Internally displaced women and children were particularly exposed to rape and sexual violence in many countries including Chad, Colombia, DRC, India, Iraq, Kenya, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan.

* In Iraq, displaced women heading households on their own faced higher risks of sexual exploitation than women who were accompanied by men.

*In many countries, returns were not voluntary and IDPs' involvement in planning the process was limited. In countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, Iraq and Sudan, IDPs were encouraged or forced to return before it was safe or sustainable for them to do so.

* In Iraq, most displacement in 2009 was caused by the actions of militant groups targeting members of other communities.

* In Iraq, the number of returnees increased but remained a small percentage of the number displaced.

* In Iraq, despite the overall decline in violence, returnees and IDPs continued to face endemic violence and threats on the basis of their religious, sectarian or ethnic origins, or simply for being displaced or a returnee.

All starred statements above are direct quotes from the report. Iraq makes the list of countries with the most internally displaced people (Iraq comes in third with an estimated 2.76 million IDPs). That's the internally displaced. There are also the external refugees.
Monday on Australia's ABC Radio (link has video), the refugee crisis was discussed on Radio National Breakfast with Fran Kelly:

Fran Kelly: . . . Michael Otterman, a freelance journalist and human rights consultant. He is the author of a new book called
Erasing Iraq: The Human Cost of Carnage. Michael, thanks very much for joining us again on Breakfast.

Michael Otterman: Thanks for having me in.

Fran Kelly: The premise of your book, Erasing Iraq, is the litany of wrongs that Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of foreigners. It's seven years since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there's still plenty of violence going on as we hear every day or every week at least. But there is now some political stability. They're have been elections recently -- although they're still being resolved. Is Iraq a better place than it was under Saddam Hussein in 2003?

Michael Otterman: Well you have to look at the wider costs. Things are more stable today certainly as they were right after the invasion. The rates of violence relative to the worst days of the post-invasion chaos are down but what my book is about is the human costs. The costs have been tremendous. As part of this book's research, I've spent time in Syria and Jordan speaking to Iraqi refugees and they were very quick to point out the trauma they've experienced -- obviously it endured under Saddam Hussein. And I include narratives of life under Saddam and torture that some people endured under Saddam. But they're -- in terms of US aggression in that country -- they pinpoint 1991, during the first Gulf War, and the UN sanctions and then, finally, 2003 and the post-invasion chaos as this real continuum of suffering. The costs have been tremendous. Over five million displaced. Millions killed. So it's really hard to compare apples to oranges -- what's better, what's worse? Iraqis I spoke to -- Look, some supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein but I didn't meet any Iraqi that supported this prolonged occupation.

Fran Kelly: Okay. Just the title itself, Erasing Iraq. What do you mean?

Michael Otterman: Well we talk about the concept of sociocide in the book and sociocide is a term which -- essentially it reflects the killing of people and displacement but also reflects the larger cost. And we argue that includes the destruction of society. And sociocide's an apt term to describe the level of destruction in Iraq. And-and is akin to erasing Iraq because not only do you have millions killed and millions displaced, but you have destruction of very basic and central elements of Iraqi life coming through, say, if you look at the religious and minorities in Iraq. We talk about the Mandaeans which is a religious group that have lived, well, for centuries in Iraq. They numbered about 50,000 strong before 2003 and after 2003 they've just been obliterated by Sunnia, Shia fundamentalists. Their numbers are about four or five thousand today, down from fifty thousand. And they've had this almost global diaspora. They've been killed, kidnapped within Iraq. So this is a religious group that's unique to -- or was unique to Iraq -- which has been completely obliterated in the post-invasion chaos. Sociocide, erasing Iraq, also refers to the destruction of cultural elements in the country, the destruction of shared artifacts. Things like the Baghdad museum which was sacked after the invasion. Over 9,000 artifacts are still lost and presumed destroyed. This reflects the wider costs of this war which the term sociocide describes.

Fran Kelly: I suppose no one really thinks any war has no costs. And here, sitting in the West, perhaps we think it's worth it, Saddam is gone, these people are now holding relatively free and fair elections, it seems to be moving forward. I think one statistic that I read in your book that I hadn't really focused on much was the displacements, the displaced people, the amount of refugee people living -- well, homeless in Iraq but outside of Iraq. It numbers in the millions, as you said,
Michael Otterman: Yeah, I mean, it's an incredible number. It's an incredible movement of people. It's the largest refugee crisis in the region since 1948 and the establishment of Israel. But it's almost an invisible crisis because, like I said, there's almost 2 million externally displaced refugees. Most of them live in Syria and Jordan. But unlike other refugee crises that come to mind, these people aren't living in tents. They live in the outskirts of Damascus and Amman in kind of the rougher neighborhoods and in ramshackle buildings. Interestingly, these are mostly middle-class Iraqis, many professionals and school teachers. These are actually the people that Iraq needs certainly right now to rebuild -- to rebuild its society. But they remain displaced and, despite relative drops in violence, they choose not to return because they don't see a country that (a) is stable and (b) that - that has water, power, basic sewage, the services --

Fran Kelly: So life is better in sort of some kind of refugee situation in Syria or Iran or Jordan than it is in Iraq?

Michael Otterman: That's right. I mean, there hasn't been massive returns. Actually, there's only been a trickle of returns.

Moving over to England. HXA is the name the British legal system is using to refer to an Iraqi refugee whose identity is not being publicly disclosed. He entered England in 2000 and was allowed to remain through the fall of 2005; however, he was instead 'detained' and then released only to be arrested and accused of aiding 'terrorists' in Iraq on a 2004 visit.
Channel 4 News (link has text and video) reports that, in 2005, there was an attempt by Tony Blair's government (specifically Home Secretary Charles Clarke) to set up a prison in Iraq ("a Guantanamo-Bay style camp") in Basra that HXA could be sent to: "The High Court ruled today that such attempts were a breach of the man's rights, and that he was detained illegally in the UK while the Home Office plotted to deport, and detain him, in Iraq." BBC notes Judge Justice King found today that he was falsely imprisoned and that damages will be set at a later date.

Turning to the US where Iraqi refugees and other immigrant populations could depend on the East Couny Refugee Center in El Cajon, California.
Anne Krueger (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports Joseph Ziauddin has been funding the center himself "but his funds are running short. He's applying for government grants, but money for the bills is getting tight while he waits to hear if any of the requests for funds have been approved." Diana Nguyen (Southern Maryland Headline News) speaks with Iraqi refugee Sawsan al-Sayyab who left Iraq due to violence and went to Jordan. Of those refugees in Jordan, she was one of the few to be granted admission to the US. She states, "I never left the country after all these years of wars and embargoes. I didn't want to leave even in 2006, but when there's a certain moment when your life is in danger, you have to step up."

Back to England. Ignore the jabbering idiots (or
do like Rebecca and call them out), Iraq had an impact on the UK elections this month. If you still don't get that, take a look what's going on currently. Labour is no longer the majority party in Parliament and there is huge competition to lead the party. Ed Balls is among those vying for the leadership slot. Mary Riddell and Andrew Porter (Telegraph of London) interviewed Balls:

His greatest criticism is reserved for the Iraq war, which still saps Labour support. Mr Balls today becomes the first former Cabinet minister unequivocally to condemn the invasion, claiming the public were misled by "devices and tactics".
"People always felt as if the decision had been made and they were being informed after the fact." Though not yet elected as an MP, Mr Balls -- as Mr Brown's adviser -- was party to top level discussions after attempts to get a second UN Security Council resolution failed.
"I was in the room when a decision was taken that we would say it was that dastardly Frenchman, Jacques Chirac, who had scuppered it. It wasn't really true, you know. I said to Gordon: 'i know why you're doing this, but you'll regret it'. France is a very important relationship for us."
Although Mr Balls concedes that, had he been an MP at the time, he would have voted for the war on the basis of the facts provided, he now concedes that not only was the information wrong but the war unjustified.
"It was a mistake. On the information we had, we shouldn't have prosecuted the war. We shouldn't have changed our argument from international law to regime change in a non-transparent way. It was an error for which we as a country paid a heavy price, and for which many people paid with their lives. Saddam Hussein was a horrible man, and I am pleased he is no longer running Iraq. But the war was wrong."

Ed Balls is only one vying for the position and talking Iraq.
Patrick Wintour and Allegra Stratton (Guardian) report, "Labour's divisions over Iraq broke out into the open tonight as Ed Miliband became the first contender for the leadership to make it an issue during the campaign. He said UN weapons inspectors were not given enough time in 2003 before coalition troops invaded the country, and asserted that the way in which Britain decided to go to war led to 'a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour'." Miliband's position is much weaker than Balls and that may be intentional (right now no one seriously believes Ed Miliband would challenge his brother David Miliband for the leadership post -- everyone could be wrong, but no one believes it's happening). If it is intentionally weak, he's there to siphon off potential support for Balls while not making such a strong statement against the illegal war that it might potentially force his brother to make a comment/rebuttal.

In the US, Barack is set to deliver an address at West Point tomorrow and this from Debra Sweet's "
Obama Readies Troops: Protest Needed Now!" (World Can't Wait):
Saturday, May 22: President Obama speaks at West Point. Anti-war Protest 10:00 am Memorial Park in Highland Falls, NY. Rally and march to the West Point Gate. Call 866 973 4463
Help publish
Crimes are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them again, in another national publication.
Listen to former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern, advisor to War Criminals Watch, on the history of U.S. government assasination, and Obama's order to kill al-Awlaki.
ACLU Letter Urges President Obama To Reject
Targeted Killings Outside Conflict Zones
May 13, the New York Times front page:
U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease
This is exactly the moment are voices are needed! Please take a moment to
circulate this statement, and ask your friends to sign it!
Cindy Sheehan's Peace of the Action announces a Sizzlin' Summer Protest in Washington DC July 4-17. Join in!
4th of July in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm to pass out Peace Literature to the people who flock to DC for the Nation's Birthday.
The Wars Drone On and On Monday, July 5th -- Friday, July 9th
Hands off our Kids! Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16

This week, Debra Sweet was a guest of
Scott Horton's on Antiwar Radio:Scott Horton: Well, you know, Ehren Watada said, "I will not lead men into battle to commit war crimes. I will not do it, put me in prison. I will not --" Well, he tried to stay out of prison, but he said I would rather go to prison and it wasn't just I don't want to commit War Crimes. It was, "Look, I'm an officer. I'm responsible for the men under me. How can I give them illegal orders to invade and murder people in their own country? I will not do it. And [yet] this is what Barack Obama's asking of these young officers graduating from West Point: To bring young men into battle and order them to commit atrocities.
Debra Sweet: You're right. And we're going to be out at the gate with hundreds of people. Not thousands and not tens of thousands but hundreds who, I'm sure, are going to be giving a counter message to this. This is an immoral, unjust, it's an illegitimate occupation. It has to stop. And we are going to be reading the names of the civilians in Afghanistan killed and also the US military killed. We want there to be an accounting.

David Bacon is an independent journalist who covers the labor and immigration beat -- one of a tiny number of actual labor reporters remaining in the US -- and we'll note this from his "Hundreds of Union Janitors Fired Under Pressure From Feds" (Truthout):

Federal immigration authorities have pressured one of San Francisco's major building service companies, ABM, into firing hundreds of its own workers. Some 475 janitors have been told that unless they can show legal immigration status, they will lose their jobs in the near future. ABM has been a union company for decades, and many of the workers have been there for years. "They've been working in the buildings downtown for 15, 20, some as many as 27 years," said Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees Local 87. "They've built homes. They've provided for their families. They've sent their kids to college. They're not new workers. They didn't just get here a year ago." Nevertheless, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security has told ABM that they have flagged the personnel records of those workers. Weeks ago, ICE agents sifted through Social Security records and the I-9 immigration forms all workers have to fill out when they apply for jobs. They then told ABM that the company had to fire 475 workers who were accused of lacking legal immigration status.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

TV notes,
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), John Dickerson (Slate) Susan Milligan (Boston Globe) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). And Gwen's column this week is "When Washington Insiders Become Outsiders." Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Cari Dominguez, Nicole Kurokawa, Leticia Velez-Hudson and Patricia Sosa on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week it's Laura Bush's book where she states she pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:
Are They Safe?Chemicals called phthalates found in soft plastic products we use everyday are so ubiquitous, that traces of them can be found in everybody. The government has banned some of them in children's toys for fear they may be harmful, but are they? Lesley Stahl investigates.
The SEED SchoolThere's a unique school that's giving kids from an inner-city neighborhood that only graduates 33 percent of its high school students a shot at college they never had before. Byron Pitts reports on Seed School, the first urban, public boarding school.
Marty's Big IdeaHear the story of the invention of the cell phone from the man whose team came up with it at Motorola. The inventor, Martin Cooper, is still at it, improving the gadget he came up with 37 years ago. Morley Safer reports.
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 23, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

antiwar.comjason ditz
abcradio national breakfastfran kellymichael otterman
the guardian
the telegraph of londonpatrick wintour
allegra stratton
mcclatchy newspapersjamal naji
hannah allam
debra sweetthe world cant wait
antiwar radioscott horton
60 minutescbs newsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oh please

If you've missed it, Bully Boy Bush is not responsible. (A trait he shares with Barack.) He has a book he will be selling shortly. Karl Rove (his 'brain,' the press used to say) is insisting that Bully Boy Bush did not know that Iraq did not have WMD. So he was, the argument goes, surprised by the news and can't be blamed. Really?

"Bush case for Iraq war: Does it matter if it was an honest mistake?" (Stanley Kober, Christian Science Monitor):
Since when has honesty been an excuse for starting a war under erroneous assumptions? In what other profession would such an argument be made and taken seriously?
Imagine a medical doctor who diagnosed cancer in a limb and amputated – only to have a biopsy reveal there was no cancer. If the doctor then insisted it was an honest mistake, would such an explanation be accepted with no further action taken, or would the doctor come under professional scrutiny for incompetence?
If that is the level of accountability we expect from medical professionals if they endanger the life of a single individual, should we not hold our highest political leaders to the same standard when they propose war – an action that endangers the lives of many thousands?

I agree with Kober. I also agree that accountability is higher the higher the rank. In the US, you do not get higher than president. Now that the argument is that he was wrong (as opposed to that he lied), there's all the more reason to try him for War Crimes.

No who else was wrong about war? Adolf Hitler.

I'm sorry that Bush didn't care enough (by this latest spin) to do the work required and I fully grasp that he never did, that his book should, in fact, be entitled: Skipping The Work Required.

That doesn't excuse him from accountability.

If you want to know what I really think . . .

Bush knew there were no WMD. I believe it was Paul Wolfowitz who declared that WMD was just the reason they settled on after they had already decided to go to war.

Bush knew and didn't give a damn.

But he's hoping to hide behind a 'we' were all wrong defense.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, May19, 2010. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, a big meet up takes place, a high ranking US senator declares OMB doesn't give a "s**t" about homeless veterans, and more.

Scott Brown is a junior US senator, just elected in January. Does he know that he stopped a very important conversation from taking place today? Does he know that the American people almost got some truth but he cut off the Veterans Affairs official? I have no idea. I don't know Brown. But I do know that the White House wants to put Social Security on the chopping block ("trims" is their codeword that no one in the press wants to report on but everyone in the DC press knows). Last week, US House Rep Susan Davis chaired a Subcommittee hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. I like Davis, she's a great Chair. But I ignored the hearing because I really didn't want to unpack all this. Today we have to. The White House wants to cut Social Security benefits (again "trim" is their word). To sell that, the current plan is to spin that "we" "all" "have to sacrifice." That means "all." And "all" means everyone not independently wealthy. (That's not sour grapes on my part. I'll be sitting pretty regardless of what happens.) That would include veterans. And, for a brief second, before Scott Brown cut the witness off, Americans almost learned what the White House might have in store.

Senator Scott Brown: I'm wondering if you could just tell me what benefits might be at risk at this point and time? Any specific issues that we need to focus on that we're missing or falling through the cracks? Thomas Pamperin: Benefits that are currently being delivered that might be taken away? Senator Scott Brown: Right. Things that we -- that you're saying, "You know what? We got to keep our eye on this."
Thomas Pamperin: Uh - uh, we'd be glad to - to give you a more extensive response in - in the future. Uh . . . My - my concern is that the nation clearly --

Senator Scott Brown: Can I interrupt just for a second?

He clearly could because he did and he then rephrased the question so that it was about benefits that are in place that aren't being worked in full. (
Wally is covering Brown's testimony at Rebecca's site tonight.)

What benefits, Brown asked, might be at risk. And Pamerin was clearly frustrated -- taking long pauses in responding (in the above excerpt), stumbling over his words and uh-uh-ing. "Benefits," he asked Brown, "that are currently being delivered that might be taken away?" And then continuing down that line, he started talking about a "concern" "that the nation clearly" when he was cut off.

The US "clearly" had what "concern" at present? That would be the economy, that would be the debt. Brown should not have cut off the witness, he should not have rephrased the question. DC talk is all about the cuts that the White House is dreaming of pushing through. And there was the VA's Thomas Pamperin stating -- before he was cut off -- what everyone's talking about on the social circuit in DC while they avoid reporting on it at their papers and on their broadcasts.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is Chaired by Daniel Akaka and today's hearing was on pending legislation. Not on the lengthy list of pending legislation? The national list that Senator Evan Bayh presented to the Committee in October of last year. The first panel is our focus -- both for the Brown exchange and another. But we need to pick up one aspect of the second panel first. Vietnam Veterans of America's Richard Weidman was among those testifying on the second panel. In his opening testimony, he commented on each proposed piece of legislation. Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member on the Committee. On Burr's proposed Multifamily Transitional Housing Loan Program legislation, Weidman testified:

In regards to possible improvements in the multifamily transitional housing loan program, VVA favors signficant expansion of this program beyond five loans. We have been stuck at no more than five loans since this program was first enacted as a loan guaranty progrm in 1998. The animus of the permanent bureaucracy at the Office of Management and Budget to this program from the outset continues to be a classic study in the irrationality of a runaway and virtually unaccountable fourth branch of government. Initially the OMB opposition was because it was a loan guaranty program and therefore less subject to tight control by the OMB bureaucracy. Whether this move to change this from a loan guaranty program to a direct loan program is due to finally acceding to bureaucratic wishes, or simply a reflection fo a vry different reality in the private capital markets due to financial problmes of the last few years, we do not know. However, we do know that if this program is worth doing, and we believe it is, then after being in existence for more than a decade it must be expanded beyond something that can and is used for the benefit of only one or two private investors. This program in an expanded form is very much needed if we are to virtually eliminate, or at least to dramatically reduce, homelessness among veterans with the next five or six years.

His prepared remarks will be noted (ahead of time) in this exchange during the first panel.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Mr. Jefferson, I'll show you the same love today OMB provided you to come to this hearing. [C.I. note: OMB did not clear the prepared remarks by the Dept of Labor's Raymond Jefferson in time for them to be included in the record. ] Mr. Pamperin, in your testimony, it indicated VA would be submitting a legislative proposal in the near future. Now I didn't see anything in your description of it relating to homelessness so let me turn to Dr. Jesse. Does the administration require legislative changes as part of its overall homelessness program?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm, I don't think so at this point. Right now as you know homelessness is one of uhm -uhm Secretary Schinzeki's major initatives. It's his top initiative. Not just to reduce homelessness but to eliminate it. And there are, uh, significant forces being martialed towards that end -- both at very high levels within his office as well as in uh, uhm, the VHA to address homelessness not just from providing housing but trying to address the fundamental issues related to that.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Were those the FY011, 012 advance funding requests anticipate or require changes in the law to release funding for homeless veterans programs?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm -- from my perspective, I don't see that it does at this point but I don't think we should preclude asking for that.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: Can anybody tell me when the Committee would be wise to expect legislation to come from the VA?

Richard Hipolit: Uh, I was in touch with the Office of Management and Budget yesterday and they're assuring us they're going to clear our bill for submission.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: I hope they do better than they did with Mr. Jefferson's testimony today.

Richard Hipolit: Yeah, they're telling me they hope to clear it today in fact. So hopefully we'll be getting it up very shortly.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well Dr. Jesse, our second panel, Mr. Weidman, testifies, will testify in support of my bill but he had some criticism of the Office of Management and Budget -- arguing that OMB's permanent bureacracy has been opposed to the program from the onset. What's been your experience as it relates to the oversight of the program?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uhm -- I apologize but I don't think I can really speak to that.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Have you had an opportunity to look through the bill that I've introduced with Senator Akaka, with Senator [Roland] Burris, with Senator [Dick] Durbin?

Dr. Robert Jesse: Uh, we -- we -- we're -- we don't have comments cleared for - for that, sir.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well, I -- Do you have any personal comments that you'd like to make? Other than the comments of the Office of Management and Budget? Now let me say, I whole heartedly endorse the Secretary's committement to homelessness. Let me tell you, OMB doesn't give a s**t about homelessness. If they did, this problem would be solved. The Secretary is genuine and passionate about ending it. But if OMB is going to design the program, it's not going to get solved. I'm not soliciting an answer. I'm not asking a question. I'm making a statement that I hope all of you let it penetrate. If we're going to solve this problem, we can't wait for somebody down the street to come up with another bureaucratic solution to a problem that keeps veterans on the streets. We can go home and feel good about the fact that we put a shelter over their head. But if OMB is not willing to release the program to work where the wrap around services provide that veteran everything they need to end permanent homelessness, it isn't going to happen. So let's quit fooling ourselves. And you might say to the Secretary, he's the only one who can have a conversation with OMB. If OMB is the one that we need to pull up here and not VA, then for goodness sake, tell the Chairman and we'll start pulling OMB up. Mr. Pamperin, in a recent opinion, Posey v. Shinseki, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for Veterans [Judge Lawrence B. Hagel] provided this observation [concurring opinion] about what happens when an individual tries to appeal to the court but mistakenly sends his or her notice of appeal to a VA office: "It has become clear to me that VA somewhat routinely holds correspondence from claimants that it determines, sometime after receipt, are Notices of Appeal to this Court. As a result, in far too many cases, the Court receives the Notice of Appeal from VA only after the 120-day appeal period has expired, permitting the Secretary to then move to dismiss the appeals for lack of jurisidiction." First of all, can you give us an idea of how frequently a Notice of Appeal mistakenly is sent to the VA rather than the court?

Thomas Pamperin: Uh, no - no, sir. I - I am aware that it does happen periodically. But in terms of a hard number, I don't have such a number.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: What policies are in place for dealing with a Notice of Appeal that's mistakenly been sent to the VA?

Thomas Pamperin: The letter is sup -- is to be returned to the veteran and advised as to where he should file it.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Has a written guidance been provided to VA staff on these policies and, if so, can the Committee have a copy of that written policy?

Thomas Pamperin: Uh -- Sir -- I don't know specifically that but if -- I will bring that back and we will provide you with the instructions that have been provided.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Do you know if VA staff is following these policies?

Thomas Pamperin: [Long inhale] The VA routinely conducts site surveys of its regional offices. Each regional office, once every three years. And an assessment of the performance of the office in terms of compliance with instruction is included in that. I do not recall, in the last couple three years, a specific reference that that has been idenfitied as an issue.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Last question, Mr. Chairman, do you think that more could be done to protect the appeal rights of veterans who mistakenly send their Notice to the VA instead of to the court?

Thomas Pamperin: Yes, sir. I think that there are legitimate uh occasions when the 120 day, hard and fast rule needs to be adjusted.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Well given - given that you can't cite an instance lately, I'll be more than happy to supply you with some instances that you can look back at. I thank the Chair.

Again, Senator Daniel Akaka is the Chair of the Committee and his office notes:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) held a hearing today to review pending veterans' benefits and health care legislation. The Committee questioned witnesses and reviewed 20 bills in preparation for later legislative action.

"The bills before us represent a sincere effort to improve the care and benefits veterans receive. I will work with my colleagues on developing a package of legislation that can move forward," said Akaka.

The Committee heard from the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Labor (DOL), as well as representatives from leading veterans service organizations, on legislation to improve veteran employment, telehealth services, and VA outreach. Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Ray Jefferson described several veterans' employment initiatives currently underway at DOL. The Committee also reviewed four technical bills Akaka introduced to help veterans and their survivors, based on Committee oversight of the VA disability compensation system.
Chairman Akaka's full statement, as well as written testimony from today's witnesses, and a webcast, is available at To view the agenda, including a list of the bills reviewed today, please click here: LINK.

In addition, Chair Akaka's office notes:

The U.S. Senate passed legislation last night to clarify that VA health care programs can meet the minimum coverage standard required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This includes the health care VA provides to children with spina bifida born to veterans of the Vietnam War, to some veterans who served in Korea during specified times, and to children of women Vietnam veterans with certain birth defects. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week, and now awaits the President's consideration.

"This bill gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to ensure that veterans' family members who receive health care from VA will meet the health insurance reform law's minimum health care coverage requirement," said Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii),
author of the Senate bill.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, individuals must hold a minimum level of health care coverage. The bill passed last night,
H.R. 5014, would provide the VA Secretary with the authority to designate VA health care programs as meeting the minimum standard.

The original clarification bill authored by Akaka, S. 3162, was
approved in the Senate on March 26. H.R. 5014 is the House companion to Akaka's bill.

Wally is covering Brown's testimony at Rebecca's site tonight. Also noting, Memorial Day (May 31st) will not have a snapshot unless the news of the day demands one. But there will be an entry re: veterans that a number of community members and visitors are helping with. Reminder on that, you need to weigh in (including responses) no later than May 27th to ensure that you're heard on that. Rural veterans (community members and visitors) are weighing in (and thank you for that) and if that remains where the bulk of responses are, that will be the focus of that Memorial Day entry.

August 19th Baghdad was slammed with car bombings and rocket attacks targeting various sections of the government -- Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Housing. Today, Press TV reports, Nouri al-Maliki made a big-to-do out of reopening the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. David Gura (NPR) notes that it is "nine months to the day" of the attack. Little Nouri wants to continue as prime minister. Each day is another wave of talking points and spin from Little Nouri as he attempts to convince someone -- anyone! -- that he's brought safety to Iraq and can continue to do so. Hence the World Cup 'confessions' (we're ignoring that crap and the US military doesn't buy it either, FYI). Today Caroline Alexander and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report Little Nouri's insisting that 2010 will be the year he ends inflitration of the security forces! Apparently the last four year-plus were just a dress rehearsal for Little Nouri but if he's allowed to continue as prime minister, he will absolutely, positively continue making loud statements . . . if not providing action. Iraq held Parliamentary elections March 7th. McClatchy Newspapers provides a primer on what took place and where things stand. From that, we'll note the following:Q: Have the major players changed since election day?A: Not much. The main blocs are still Allawi's Iraqiya, a mixed-sect ticket with broad Sunni support; Maliki's State of Law, mostly from his conservative Shiite Dawa Party; the Iraqi National Alliance, the main religious Shiite grouping of Iranian-backed parties, including politicians loyal to militant cleric Muqtada al Sadr. The two main Kurdish parties ran on a single ticket as the Kurdistan Alliance. An upstart Kurdish opposition party, Gorran, won some seats, as well.Q: One of the first snags was an attempt to disqualify some winning candidates by accusing them of ties to the late dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Did they lose their seats? A: There were several rounds of de-Baathification, the controversial process of rooting out former Baathists and barring them from public service. Former exile and Bush administration ally Ahmad Chalabi and his deputy Ali al Lami, who both ran in the elections, oversaw the purges. Hundreds of candidates were eliminated, but an Iraqi court Monday ruled in favor of nine victorious candidates whose cases were in dispute. Those candidates are expected to take their seats in the next parliament.

Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) quotes the US Assistant Sec of State Jeffrey D. Feltman stating, "Iraqi leaders now are spending a lot of time debating who gets to go first trying to form a government. I would argue it's more important to be talking about what the programs of the new government are going to be." Others would argue that who it is will determine what the programs are. Sami Moubayed (Asia Times)provides an overview of the process thus far and includes this on the coalition of Iraqi National Alliance and al-Maliki's State Of Law, "Both the INA and Maliki's team are Shi'ites, and both have a desire to create a mini-theocracy in Baghdad modeled after the government in Tehran. Both have scores to settle with the Sunni community for having produced Saddam Hussein, whom they fought for decades until his downfall in 2003. The new coalition is closely affiliated with Iran, which bankrolled their activities and offered them sanctuary during Saddam's three decades of power. United States ambassador Christopher Hill called the alliance a 'Shi'ite mega party'." What a proud contribution for Hill and -- like so much he's done in Baghdad -- 'snazzy' if the year were 1993. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) reports that "key political players, international diplomats, and government officials" met today and that the UN's Ad Melkert sees it as a hopeful sign for movement on Parliament. Arraf reports, "As waiters passed canapés around at a reception following the ceremony, much of the talk was over who would show up for a presidential lunch on Thursday aimed at bringing political leaders together. More than two months after the vote, Maliki and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi -- leaders of two political blocs considered essential to a coalition government -- have still not met."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


AFP reports Iskandiriyah car bombings claimed 6 lives with ten more left injured. Mazin Yahya (AP) says it was one car bombing and "The car was left in front of a restaurant where people had gathered to eat grilled meat." Reuters notes the bombing was in Mussayayb and puts the death toll at one, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured one Iraqi soldier and the wounded at thirteen and, dropping back to yesterday, they note that a Baghdad roadside bombing injured five people.


AFP reports 2 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes an armed clash in Basra.

Iraqi journalist Sardasht Osman was kidnapped from his college campus and murdered. His corpse was discovered
May 6th. Demonstrations have been held to protest the murder. Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports, "Now his death is underscoring the limits of free expression and igniting angry debate about what issues could cost journalists their lives. Many question whether true democracy can take hold in this corner of Iraq that has been spared much of the violence and instability that has plagued the rest of the country over the past seven years, allowing it to be considered a haven for business and investments." Wamith al-Kassab (MidEast Youth) writes:Sardasht Osman wrote over two years under the pseudonym Sardo Zardasht the Kurdish website, is well known for its satirical articles about the two ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK ). Sardasht also wrote for Hawlati, a popular newspaper with its headquarters in Sulaimaniya, in the south of Kurdistan.He drew the attention of the situation of the poor people and Kurdish youth who cannot find jobs other in security forces through the rolling parties. He translated the anger of young Kurdish citizen in a sarcasm of his dream to marry Barazani's daughter.[. . .]I will not talk about human rights or freedom of speech, because many people like this young man died in Iraq and received death threats for saying words against holy men or political leaders. Both groups would not be in such power if not for America to come and get ride of Saddam so they can "enjoy" freedom of choice and expression. Both groups, the religious and politicians, were refugees and in exile and fighting Saddam for his tyranny and for preventing any man to speak against him or his policies and beliefs.Today it is funny to know they will kill you if you speak or make fun or express disapproval of them. Why the victim became a punisher? I do not know.The Committee to Protect Journalists notes an open letter to the KRG:As journalists who have covered Iraqi Kurdistan for many years, we are writing to express our concern over the apparent deterioration in the right of Kurdish journalists to report and comment freely and in particular about the recent murder of twenty-three-year-old journalist Zardasht Othman. The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned the killing and stated, "This is a heinous crime and a crime designed to undermine the security of the region and to attack the life and liberty of the people. The relevant security forces are closely investigating this case and are doing their utmost to bring the perpetrators to justice." We echo the condemnation of the Kurdistan Regional Government. However, given the credible allegations of security force involvement in Mr. Othman's kidnapping on 4 May and his brutal murder immediately afterwards, we respectfully request that an independent investigation be empowered. Mr. Othman, as you know, was handcuffed, tortured and shot dead, before his family were told to collect his body from the outskirts of Mosul. We further request a public commitment from the Kurdistan Regional Government to Articles V and VI of the Kurdish Press Law of 2008 calling for severe punishment of anyone, including the security forces, who attacks members of the press. The murder of Mr. Othman, a university student who had written critically of the leadership and published biting satires of a kind that are tolerated by leaders in other democracies, is only the latest in a series of assaults on independent journalism in Iraqi Kurdistan. Last year, Kurdish journalist Soran Mama Hama was murdered in front of his house in Kirkuk after he had written articles that offended government officials. On 20 April 2010, regional security forces attacked at least sixteen Kurdish journalists reporting student demonstrations in Suleimania. Some were beaten severely by police, and others had their cameras taken and their photographs destroyed. On 28 April, police interrogated the editor of the respected journal Hawlati, Kamal Rauf, for five hours after he published information on the absence of public services in a Kurdish village. Another editor, Fuad Sadiq, lost his job for criticizing Prime Minister Barham Salih. Hakim Qubadi Jali Zada, a Kurdish jurist and poet, was dismissed as a judge in Suleimania for writing an article in the newspaper Hawal that disparaged aspects of the judicial system. Despite these and other assaults on Kurdish journalists, no one has been apprehended or charged in a court of law. The effect of the government's inaction has been to intimidate Kurdish journalists, many of whom rightly fear for their lives. During the Kurdish struggle against the Iraqi dictatorship, when Kurds suffered savage repression and attempted genocide, the maxim was that the "Kurds had no friends but the mountains." The truth was that the Kurds had friends in the free press, many of whose members risked their lives to cover Iraqi government crimes against the people. Dana Adams Schmidt of the New York Times in 1963, Peter Sturken of ABC News in 1975, Gwynne Roberts after the massacre at Hallabja and many others raised the alarm to an outside world that would otherwise have been ignorant of the crimes committed against the Kurds. We were always grateful for the protection that the Pesh Merga afforded us on hazardous missions in northern Iraq. All of us who send you this letter have covered your country at great personal risk going back to the revolts against the Iraqi dictatorship by the father of the Kurdish national movement, Mulla Mustafa Barzani. Some of our colleagues, including Gad Gross and Kaveh Golestani, died to bring the news of the Kurds' suffering to the world. On many occasions, when you were in hiding in the mountains or in exile, both of you told us of your intention to end the abuses of freedom, including the suppression of the press, in your country. We who write to you today do so as friends rather than opponents, as correspondents who believed your words when you were seeking power and as journalists who respectfully remind you of your past commitment to your people's liberty. This liberty includes the right to expose corruption and, yes, to satirise national leaders. Kurdish journalism has an honorable tradition dating to the first Kurdish-language newspaper, Kurdistan, in Cairo in 1898. In solidarity with our Kurdish colleagues and as friends of the Kurds, we urge you not to imitate the oppressive policies of the regime your people struggled against for so long. Yours sincerely, Geraldine Brooks Gérard Chaliand Charles Glass Yves Harté Cécile Hennion David Hirst Jim Hoagland Marc Kravetz Chris Kutschera Quil Lawrence François-Xavier Lovat David McDowall Edward Mortimer Fabrice Moussus Jim Muir Jonathan Randal Hazhir Teimourian Martin Woollacott

Turning to the US where President Barack Obama plans to give a commencement address at West Point May 22nd.
Scott Horton discussed it with World Can't Wait's Debra Sweet on Antiwar Radio:Scott Horton: Well, you know, Ehren Watada said, "I will not lead men into battle to commit war crimes. I will not do it, put me in prison. I will not --" Well, he tried to stay out of prison, but he said I would rather go to prison and it wasn't just I don't want to commit War Crimes. It was, "Look, I'm an officer. I'm responsible for the men under me. How can I give them illegal orders to invade and murder people in their own country? I will not do it. And [yet] this is what Barack Obama's asking of these young officers graduating from West Point: To bring young men into battle and order them to commit atrocities.Debra Sweet: You're right. And we're going to be out at the gate with hundreds of people. Not thousands and not tens of thousands but hundreds who, I'm sure, are going to be giving a counter message to this. This is an immoral, unjust, it's an illegitimate occupation. It has to stop. And we are going to be reading the names of the civilians in Afghanistan killed and also the US military killed. We want their to be an accounting.Need more on that protest? This is from Debra Sweet's "Obama Readies Troops: Protest Needed Now!" (World Can't Wait):
Saturday, May 22: President Obama speaks at West Point. Anti-war Protest 10:00 am Memorial Park in Highland Falls, NY. Rally and march to the West Point Gate. Call 866 973 4463
Help publish
Crimes are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them again, in another national publication.
Listen to former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern, advisor to War Criminals Watch, on the history of U.S. government assasination, and Obama's order to kill al-Awlaki.
ACLU Letter Urges President Obama To Reject
Targeted Killings Outside Conflict Zones
May 13, the New York Times front page:
U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease
This is exactly the moment are voices are needed! Please take a moment to
circulate this statement, and ask your friends to sign it!
Cindy Sheehan's Peace of the Action announces a Sizzlin' Summer Protest in Washington DC July 4-17. Join in!
4th of July in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm to pass out Peace Literature to the people who flock to DC for the Nation's Birthday.
The Wars Drone On and On Monday, July 5th -- Friday, July 9th
Hands off our Kids! Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16

iraqthe new york timessam daghermideast youthwamith al-kassabthe committee to protect journalistsmcclatchy newspapersthe washington posternesto londonomcclatchy newspapersthe asia timessami moubayedbloomberg newscaroline alexandernayla razzoukantiwar radioscott hortondebra sweetthe world cant wait

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Politics, Robbie Williams

President Barack Obama tried to avoid a high-profile ouster of his original White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, by coaxing him out of his job and into a federal judgeship, according to a new book.
Craig declined Obama’s offer, and his forced removal — which he learned of while reading the morning paper — caused a backlash by Craig’s Washington loyalists, who felt he was being treated shabbily, and by many liberals, who believed he was being punished for trying to fulfill Obama’s failed campaign promise to shut the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Craig was the closest the administration came to a male liberal. When he was ousted, the left should have awoken. But far too many were invested in the big lie that Barack was all about change. Hence the silence.

Speaking of Politico, this article argues that Nancy Pelosi is safe as Speaker of the House even if they suffer grave losses in the November election (but not enough to put Republicans in control). What I find most interesting is the comparison the article doesn't make but appears to infer: Harry Reid. So should Reid manage to retain his Senate seat is Politico suggesting he might be gone? Good. I couldn't think of anything better that could happen to the party.

How did an anti-choice, corporatists, centrist Mormon from Vegas with ethics issues end up representing us in the Senate?

I find him to be both grossly ineffective and personally offensive.

Robbie Williams' "Come Undone."

That's the answer to a question from community member Joan. She wondered if I had a favorite song from the last ten or so years? I would go with that for both the song and in answer to Joan's question about favorite music video.

The music video comes in two versions. My link goes to a live performance of the song, not to a music video. The music video comes in edited form and in uncensored. I prefer the uncensored. Robbie Williams wakes up in bed with two women. He's badly wasted from the night before and wanders around his home in his underwear. A heavy party has taken place. It's a really interesting video that's filmed with real talent. I also happen to like Robbie Williams as a singer and have never gotten over how he's not as popular here as he is in the UK. He should be huge here.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills);
Tuesday, May 18, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, persecution continues, silence continues, Francis A. Boyle calls out Elana Kagan's 'record' (or lack of), and more.

Because he just didn't get it. Gordon Brown is the former prime minister of England. He's former because he never got it.
Poodle Tony Blair's crimes became Gordon's because Gordon had nothing to offer. Take the Iraq Inquiry where he had one last chance to draw a line between himself and Tony Blair (Blair was prime minister prior to Brown). Instead, he attempted to echo Blair's testimony and, as Labour's own polling indicated, that was it for Brown. He never recovered from that moment (and his poll numbers had already been dangerously low). He was forever dishonest, forever lying. Gordon Brown killed Labour.

Right before the elections,
Brown answered questions for Pink News that readers sent in on LGBT issues. Simon Reader asked about the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community:

Life in Iraq is now much worse for gay people than it was under Saddam Hussein. As architects of the political situation in Iraq do you consider your government morally obliged to extend asylum more actively and with less bureaucracy to gay Iraqis who are in danger as a direct consequence of UK intervention in their country?

Most people can read that question and reply in an honest manner. Not so for the anchor around the neck of the Labour Party. Gordon Brown wanted to lie, he always wanted to lie:

I unreservedly condemn abuses of gay rights, wherever in the world they happen, including in Iraq. But I'm sorry I can't agree that this is a result of military intervention. Saddam's was a brutal regime which mistreated a wide range of minorities inside Iraq including LGBT people. Whatever people's views about the military intervention -- and I have made clear that I think the international community had no choice given Saddam's repeated flouting of international resolutions as well as his abuses of his own people -- I hope they will acknowledge that in almost all respects Iraq is a better place, and the Middle East a better and safer place, with him no longer in power. Iraq is now an emerging democracy -- definitely still with many flaws, but a strengthening democracy with the recent elections. We must continue to press the Iraqi government to improve their record on tolerance and human rights as we do with other countries in the region and the world. I believe that human rights are universal, and that it is the job of mature democracies like Britain to support the development of free societies everywhere. I think Iraq now has a better chance of becoming a free society that genuinely respects human rights than it did under Saddam. As to your question on whether there is something we could do for gay asylum seekers from Iraq as a group, it is a fundamental principle of our asylum system that each cases is assessed fairly, separately, and on its merits.

No, life was not worse for Iraq's LGBT community before the 2003 invasion. Life was far from perfect for them -- for all women, for Christians, for Jews, for academics, for doctors, for aetheists -- but it was better (for all categories) than it is today. That's because Iraq was a secular nation. And the US and the UK governments invaded and wanted to establish 'order' quickly so they selected brutal people to work with -- fundamentalists and/or exiles with a grudge they wanted to avenge. Iraq is not a secular state today. And all women, gay men, men who may appear to others as gay (for various reasons including, yes, wishful thinking on the acuser's part), Jews, Christians, academics have it much, much harder than they did prior to the 2003 invasion. Gordon Brown lied and, in doing so, in defending that illegal war, he merged completely with Tony Blair at a time when the only thing that could have saved him was proving he was not Blair II. With regards to Iraq's LGBT community,
Ashley Byrne (BBC News) was reporting in July of last year on the various members of the LGBT community who were able to give testimony that life under Saddam Hussein was better than what has followed:

All the LGBT Iraqis interviewed for Gay Life After Saddam maintained that life was easier for them when Saddam Hussein was in power, from 1979 to 2003.
Some spoke fondly of an underground gay culture that flourished before the war in Baghdad.
But it was unclear exactly what Saddam's view on homosexuality was, and there has been some evidence to suggest that the former dictator was acting to clamp down on sexual minorities in the latter years of his reign.

A month later, August 2009, Human Rights Watch released their report [PDF format warning] "
They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." The report features the narratives of many Iraqis. Hamid shares this story:

It was late one night in early April, and they came to take my partner at his parent's home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked fo rhim by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. All that, I heard about later from his family.
He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.
Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. I don't have friends other than those you see; for years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now -- I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself. In Iraq, murderers and thieves are respected more than gay people.
Their measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us.

Tariq is another Iraqi detailing the new realities in 'democratic' Iraq:

At the end of March, I started to hear from friends that the Mahdi Army was killing gays. The newspapers also reported there was an increase in the "third sex" in Iraq, also known as "puppies" [jarawi]. Then on April 4, I found out that two of my gay friends, Mohammed and Mazen, had been killed. I think those were their names; within a gay group, gays rarely give out their real names. We were friends, we met in cafes or chatted on the Internet, and one day they just disappeared.
A few days later, I met the brother of one of them and he told me they were killed. They were kidnapped on the street and then their bodies were found near a mosque, with signs of torture. One was 18, one was 19.
A couple of days after that, on April 6 or 7, I was in my parents' house, and someone threw a letter at the door. I didn't see who. Inside the envelope was a bullet. It had brown blood on it, and the letter said, "What are you still here for? Are you ready to die?"
I think those two were tortured into giving my name, because two days after I learned they were killed I got this threat. . . . I spoke by phone to a friend of mine yesterday night: he is also gay but he's very masculine and no one knows about him. He said, "Get out if you can and save yourself. They are killing gays left and right."
I said, "Who is doing it?" He said, "Everyone knows. Who do you think? The Mahdi Army."

Last month Amnesty International released [PDF format warning] "
Civilians Under Fire" which noted:
Gay men face similar discrimination as women under the legislation that provides for lenient senteces for those committing crimes with an "honourable motive". Iraqi courts continue to interpret provisions of Article 128 of the Penal Code as justification for giving drastically reduced sentences to defendants who have attacked or even killed gay men they are related to if they say that they acted to "wash off the shame". In its rulings, the Iraqi Court of Cassation has confirmed that the killing of a male relative who is suspected of same-sex sexual conduct is considered a crime with an "honourable motive", thus qualifying for a reduced sentence under Article 128.
Although provisions under Articles 128 have been amended in the Kurdistan Region by Law 14 of 2002 and, therefore, may no longer be applied in connection with crimes committed against women there, they continue to be applicable throughout the whole of Iraq in connection with crimes against gay men.
For example, on 24 October 2005 the Court of Cassation of the Kurdistan Region confirmed the conviction for murder and one-year prison sentence imposed on a man from Koysinjak who had confessed to killing his gay brother earlier in 2005. The court found that he had killed his brother with "honourable motives" because he "wanted to end the shame which the victim [of the crime] had brought over his family by practicing depravity and by being engaged in homosexuality and prostitution." The court also accepted that a one-year prison sentence was in this case appropriate for premeditated murder, a crime which carries the death penalty.
Impunity or, at most, a disproportionately lenient prison sentence for the murder of gay men by their relatives, appears to be the rule rather than the exception in Iraq.

In fairness to Gordon Brown, he's not the only one refusing to deal with reality. The Nation magazine -- the bible of the faux left -- showed no interest in the issue. Richard Kim works a special kind of gay beat -- he runs around screaming whenever a well off public figure is called gay -- especially if they are they gay. He ignores the people who actually need help and, of course, refuses to call out the politicians who put homophobes onstage . . . if there names are Barack Obama.

Not staying silent is
Ali Hili -- an Iraqi attempting to help other LGBT Iraqis and fighting for his own right of asylum in England. He shares his story with the New Internationalist:I used to work as a DJ at the 1001 nightclub in Baghdad at the al-Rashid hotel. I started working there when I won a DJ contest in 1987. It was a great scene -- lots of dance parties -- and a hang-out for the gay community. When I was 18, I had a partner who was a foreign diplomat. Iraqi intelligence forced me to become a spy and report back to them, threatening that they would kill my family if I didn't. This went on for almost 10 years. I wanted to leave. I tried to escape once via Kurdistan but was arrested and handed over to Iraqi police. I used my connections to escape a jail sentence. The police asked me, why do you want to leave? I said life was hard under sanctions and I couldn't make a living. So they sent me to Dubai to work for them. There I met my current partner -- a Texan. I explained the situation to him and he understood. I started to get harassed by the mukhabarat [secret police] -- they wanted information from me. We tried to escape to Dubai via the US embassy and were able to get to Europe. Eventually after many difficulties -- constant threats from Iraqi secret police, several failed attempts and many traumatic incidents (including being nearly deported back to Iraq) -- I made it to England in 2002. My partner had a job there. For the last seven years I've been fighting for the right to stay and seeking political asylum. I've been refused a couple of times already. I was granted permission to stay until 2008 but that's expired. I've received a death fatwa against me from the Ayatollah Sistani in response to my activist work for gays in Iraq. The group that kidnapped British hostages, Assab Alsar Al-Haq (The League of the Righteous), has also threatened me. Now I'm under police protection, moving from house to house. But even the police said to me: 'You have created this situation. You scream and shout against fundamentalists and they will threaten you. What do you expect?' The irony is that the situation for gays has been caused by the Anglo-American invasion. The fatwas were issued by people empowered by the invasion. Now Britain should take responsibility for protecting their victims. Some people in Iraq are targeted because they are doctors, or Sunnis or Shi'as or women or Christians. But no-one is talking about the killing of gays by the fundamentalist militias. One of my best friends -- a transsexual -- was murdered by a militia from the Ministry of the Interior. They beat her and then set her on fire. That's an excerpt. Iraq's LGBT community is among the many who have been targeted. The Jewish community and Christian community have been targeted as well. On the topic of Iraqi Christians, the Cristina Odone (Telegraph of London) addresses the silence that is the response to so many assaults on Iraqi Christians:A bus carrying 80 Christian students to their university in northern Iraq was bombed on 2 May. According to the Washington Post, the most startling thing about the report was that young Christians could attend university at all. Since 2003, Iraq's Christian community has been subjected to assassinations, kidnappings, extortions and rapes. Over half of the estimated 1.5 million Christians in Iraq (less than 4 per cent of the population) have fled to Syria, Jordan and elsewhere. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has branded Iraq's religious persecution "of particular concern", and called on the Obama administration to intervene before the ancient religious communities (some still praying in Aramaic) are exterminated.Assyrian International News Agency adds, "In Sweden there are thousands of Assyrian Iraqis hidden from the authorities because they have been rejected as refugees and are forbidden to remain in Sweden. They are hunted down by the Swedish police. If they are arrested, they are put in prison or in custody until the authorities have enough refugees to fill a plane with which to fly them to Baghdad. They are dumped by the Swedish police back to that very city where they can be slaughtered for their religion or ethnicity."
Last year the Iraq Inquiry began conducting hearings in London. The hearings continued this year and have included testimony from former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (Brown was then-Prime Minister when he offered testimony). The hope/plan on the part of the Brown government was that such testimony, if taken, would be taken in private. Instead, public demand and John Chilcot (who chairs the committee) ensured that testimony from Brown and Blair took place in public. While the UK gets an Inquiry, the US gets nothing but no one is ever supposed to notice that.
The Committee released the following statement today:

Members of the Iraq Inquiry committee have arrived in the United States to speak to officials and military officers from the current and former administrations. The committee is in the US for five days visiting Washington DC and Boston. They will have private discussions with a number of people who have insights into the UK's involvement in Iraq over the period being examined by the Inquiry.As the talks are being held on a private basis, the identities of the people the Inquiry committee are seeing and the location of meetings will not be revealed in advance. Subject to the agreement of participants, the Inquiry may provide more details about the trip after it has been completed. Similarly, if the committee wishes to use any of the information it receives from individuals in America in its report, it will seek their permission first.The trip to the United States follows a one-day visit to Paris on Tuesday 4 May, where the Iraq Inquiry committee met a number of French citizens who provided perspectives on international issues in the lead-up to and during the conflict in Iraq. They included Dominique de Villepin (French Minister of Foreign Affairs 2002-2004), Jean David Levitte (French Permanent Representative to the UN 2000- 2002 and then Ambassador to the US from 2002 to 2007), Gerard Errera (French Ambassador to London 2002- 2007), General Henri Bentegeat (Chief of the Military Staff to the President 1999- 2002 and then Chief of the Defence Staff 2002-2006) and Jean-Luc Florent (French UN legal advisor). The committee also saw Maurice Gourdault-Montagne (Senior Diplomatic Counsellor to the President 2002-2007, and currently the French Ambassador to the UK) in London.Since finishing the first round of public hearings in March, the Iraq Inquiry has been analysing the witness testimonies obtained during the hearings, as well as continuing to examine many thousands of highly classified government documents. The next round of public hearings is due to start in the summer. Hearing dates and details of witnesses will be released soon.March 7th, Iraq held elections (early voting started a few days before that). Ayad Allawi's political slate Iraqiya won the most seats in Parliament (91), followed by Nouri al-Maliki's State Of Law (89). Nouri then worked overtime to discredit Allawi's win while he went to work circumventing the Constitution by forming his own coalition. This morning the
New York Times editorial board notes:Even though his Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition won the most votes, Mr. Allawi is considered a long shot to become the next prime minister. That's because Mr. Maliki's coalition has aligned with the other major Shiite coalition, which is friendly to Iran. Four seats short of a majority, it is the biggest bloc in the new Parliament. (Mr. Maliki seemed to lose enthusiasm for election challenges after he forged this alliance.)Iraq's leaders should look beyond their sectarian and ethnic bases and show the skill and vision to govern all of their people. Iraqis unhelpfully voted mainly along sectarian and ethnic lines. But they also gave Mr. Allawi significant representation that needs to be reflected in the government. Sunnis need a reason to stay in the political process and not turn to violence as many did after the last parliamentary election in 2005. Gordon Robison (Gulf News) adds, "Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, having narrowly finished second in the election, has tried to hold on to power by rewriting the rules after the fact. A tortuously slow recount of many of the votes in Baghdad has left government-formation in limbo. Iraqi politicians have been busy travelling around the region seeking support from their various foreign patrons."

In Iraq, violence continues.
Reuters notes yesterday's violence included a woman shot dead in Mosul, another Mosul shooting in which one person was wounded and a Mosul roadside bombing in which two women were injured. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraq Ministry of Oil said that it signed a contract with state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) and its partner, the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation, known as TPAO in order to develop three oil fields in Missan Province. The deal comes in the framework of the efforts exerted in order to lift Iraq oil production." Wan Zhihong (China Daily) adds, "The two companies have bagged a 20-year technical services contract to increase the output of the Missan oilfields, located 350 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) over the next six years, Cnooc said in a statement. Earlier media reports said the current production of the fields is 100,000 barrels per day." Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) remind, "The agreement was part of the first of two licensing rounds in 2009 which brought international oil producers into Iraq for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein."

Turning to the US,
Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. Steve Miller (WBBM) reports Troy is in the Chicago area for the next few days:

So far he's walked 550 miles. Many of them painful. "I go through a pain every single day. Today was left calf day. Yesterday was lower back day." Yocum has raised more $40,000 for military families in need. He wants to raise $5 million. "So we still have a long distance to go there. But I'm happy that we've been able to help some people already." Yocum says by raising money for military families in need, he hopes to stop what he sees as a trend of more suicides among veterans.
Soldiers' Angels issued the following:
Iraq veteran Troy Yocum has reached Illinois in the first month of his 7,000 mile "drum hike" across America for military families. The 16-month journey, which began in Kentucky, crosses 25 states and 25 major cities to "drum up" donations, support and awareness for families needing financial assistance. Funds raised will be distributed through military support nonprofit Soldiers' Angels, which has a number of project supporting veterans and their families. Yocum's motivation and motto is "Never Walk Alone," something that Yocum believes too many families of veterans have had to do. "In the last couple years, thousands of military families have been applying for financial assistance," he says. "And there's just not enough money being donated to help them." Drum Hike aims to change that. The Illinois leg of Yocum's Hike began yesterday in Chicago, where he marched with the firemen's union and Axe-men. From May 18 through June 6 his route will roughly follow Interstate 55, stopping in towns along the way to St. Louis, such as Clinton and Heyworth. Young Marines will join Yocum in Peoria, and Boy Scouts will hike the last leg into St. Louis. He will also return to Chicago on the 28th and 29th for the Memorial Day parade and to celebrate the opening Friends of Fisher House Illinois at Hines Hospital. Throughout his Drum Hike, Yocum will carry a custom Louisville Slugger baseball bat for mayors and governors to sign, assisting the Soldiers' Angels' bid to declare Oct. 26 "Day of the Deployed," a national day of honor. Yocum will present the bat to the White House on May 11, 2011. Yocum is live-streaming his journey, presenting a video blog and interviewing U.S. veterans on while tracking his progress on Google Earth. Patriotic Americans are encouraged to greet Troy along his route or develop troop support events in conjunction with his arrival by visiting or emailing Established in 2003, Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit or call 615-676-0239. Tax ID# 20-0583415
Troy's schedule can be found
here along with this note:
Anyone can join in the "Hike for our Heroes" and walk alongside Troy. We need people to contact EMS, Fire, Police, Boy Scouts, Young Marines, VFWs, American Legions, marching bands and anyone who wants to join for a few miles. If you are a wounded soldier we will see to it that you can take part. Please contact us at

US President Barack Obama has nominated Elana Kagan for the Supreme Court. Human rights and international law professor Francis A. Boyle was a guest on
Law & Disorder yesterday and spoke with Michael Ratner and Michael Smith (Heidi Boghosian wasn't a part of the segment) about the nomination. Here's a sample:

Francis A. Boyle: She has fully defended all of the Bush administration's hideous atrocities on civil rights, civil liberties, human rights and international law --

Michael Ratner: We're talking about Elana Kagan now.

Francis A. Boyle: Kagan. Right. Elana Kagan. There has been no retreat. No abandonment of any of the Bush positions. Even the Ninth Circuit, as you know, was amazed. She's fully carrying out the Bush policies in United States federal courts. And, you'll note, she's supposed to be replacing Justice [John Paul] Stevens. No great liberal there, but at least Stevens, on the cases that counted -- Rasul, Boumediene and Hamdan -- came through for the American republic and our Constitution.

Michael Ratner: Francis, talk about why those three cases counted, what they stood for.

Francis A. Boyle: Well, gosh. First, the writ of habeas corpus which really separates our country from a police state and a dictatorship was at stake in two of them. And the last one, Boumediene, as you know was a five-to-four decision. Fortunately, Stevens was able to win over Justice [Anthony] Kennedy to grant cert and then to rule in favor of habeas corpus. Kagan would have been on the other side. Boumediene, that was a near death experience for our Constitution. If they had ruled the other way, I shudder to think where we'd all be today without the writ of habeas corpus. On the Hamdan decision, striking down the kangaroo courts on Guantanamo, for violating the Geneva Conventions and Uniform Code of Military Justice, and there even Justice Kennedy pointed out in his separate opinion that violating the Geneva Conventions also violated the US War Crimes Act of 1996 and thus was a War Crime. Again, we would have lost all those cases under Kagan given the position that she has taken. She did write this one tendentious tome in the Harvard Law Review. I haven't gone through it all but I did read the abstract and it's basically the equivalent of the Federalist Society unitary executive power theory of the presidency that really goes back to Thomas Hobbes and The Leviathan and a blue print for a totalitarian state. So in my perspective, she'd be a total disaster on the cases that really count for the future of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, human rights, international law.

Michael Smith: Francis Boyle, what do you say to those liberals who argue that she's the best we're going to get?

Francis A. Boyle: I don't believe so at all. She's -- she's not liberal at all. I mean, basically she's a neoconservative. She has literally no qualifications to speak of except that she was Dean of Harvard Law School. And the only reason she was made Dean of Harvard Law School was that the neoconservative president of Harvard, Larry Summers, made her the dean to carry out his neoconservative agenda at Harvard Law School. She promptly announced that of the $400 million capital campaign, she was going to allocate $20 million to promoting Summers' globalization at Harvard Law School. Immediately proceeded to hire large numbers of conservative and neoconservative White faculty toward that end. Only hired one professor of color.

Michael Ratner: Those figures are astounding. First, in terms of race, what she did was basically make the place more White than it already was. And then, you've pointed out and others have, she hired Jack Goldsmith who was one of the authors of a number of the torture memos.

Francis A. Boyle: And not just the torture memos, as I'm sure Michael can tell you, Goldsmith helped set up the kangaroo court system down in Guantanamo, he authored torture memos. And, in addition, he authored another memo that authorized -- in his capacity as [Office of] Legal Counsel -- the kidnapping of people from Iraq and then they're transported to another country where they would be tortured in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture which are War Crimes. Now I made sure that Kagan and the rest of the Harvard faculty knew that Goldsmith was up to his nose in torture, War Crimes, forced disappearances and crimes against humanity. And they hired him anyway because that was what Kagan was instructed to do, pretty much, to carry out the neocon agenda of Larry Summers who supported the Bush 'War on Terrorism.'. And so she, Kagan, wanted to hire one of the architects of the Bush 'War on Terrorism' which Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights has done such a heroic effort to oppose in the United States federal courts for the last nine years. And we're still fighting against Kagan supporting the Bush War on Terrorism in all its essential accoutrements.

Michael Smith: Francis, let me step back and ask you a more fundamental question and ask you what your views are on this. Justice Stevens has said that perhaps the only exception being Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court has gotten more and more reactionary over the last 40 years with each successive judge being further to the right than the last one that was appointed. Obviously, you think that that would be true of Kagan as well and I agree with you. But my question is this: What process do you see as underlying all of this? Why has there been that right wing drift for four decades? What's going on here in terms of -- what forces are shaping the Supreme Court?

Francis A. Boyle: Right. Well there's a new book out by a professor at Princeton University Press that I think documents the deliberate effort by all the right-wing funders and think tanks to move the United States judiciary and American legal education to the extreme right. And it goes back to, certainly, to the founding of the Federalist Society by Meese and Bork and some of the others. You probably remember the Heritage Foundation report put together as --before the Reagan administration came to power.

Michael Ratner: Called "Mandate For Change." I remember it well, Francis.

Francis A. Boyle: Right. And all of this was funded and orchestrated and bought and paid for by all these right-wing funders. So this has been done deliberately and on purpose starting with the Reagan administration coming into power. Now the main problem with this book by this professor that just published at Princeton on the conservative legal movement is that he bought all the Kool-Aid on the Federalist Society -- that somehow they're a 'balanced,' 'reasonable' organization. We know for a fact the Federalist Society is in favor of overturning Brown v. Board of Education.

I believe (I could be wrong), Boyle is referring to Steven Michael Teles'
The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle For Control of the Law.

iraqiraq inquirythe new internationalistali hilialsumaria tvchina dailywan zhihongbloomberg newskadhim ajrashnayla razzoukthe telegraph of londoncristina odonethe new york timeslaw and disorderfrancis a. boyle
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michael smith
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