Friday, April 11, 2008

Barack tells Americans what he really thinks

"Hillary Clinton Reacts to Sen. Obama's Newly Discovered Characterizations of Pennsylvanians" (
Hillary Clinton delivered the following statement at a "Solutions for the Urban Economy" town hall in Philadelphia, PA earlier today.
Video will be available shortly.
"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience.
"As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children.
"Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

If you missed it, Barack Obama insulted Pennsylvanians and, actually, a huge segment of the country. He was basically stating that "stupid people" aren't smart enough to be supporting him. The "stupid people" include people who believe in God, the people who own a gun and I forget the third category. But Bambi knows best and, if you don't like him, there must be something wrong with you because he's the cat's pajamas.

In his mind anyway.

Ruth (Ruth's Report) has me laughing. She says it's like we're trying to turn out a newsletter. The Iraq study group just ended and Marcia (SICKOFITRADLZ), Ruth, Mike (Mikey Likes It!) and I are all typing away madly on laptops. She's doing a bit about, "Where's the mimeograph machine!" In the old days, we used mimeograph machines. You'd put this thick paper into the typewriter and type on it and then take it apart and put the thing on the mimeograph machine (a big cylinder) and crank it to make copies. She says we're either working on a radical newsletter or all part of an underground press newsroom.

That's because they're all yelling at each other, "What do you got? What do you got!" Or, "Hey, I found this! You want it?" We're all surfing madly to find out what to write about because we've just emerged from the study group and are checking to see what's breaking and what we can write about. We're just the first shift. I think Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude), Kat [Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)] and Trina (Trina's Kitchen) are going to be in here any minute.

I was not planning to note this because everyone else had it (my co-bloggers typing furiously away) but C.I. just walked through and tipped me off to the Washington Post's story.

"Opponents Paint Obama as an Elitist" (Perry Bacon Jr. and Shailagh Murray, Washington Post):

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain sharply criticized Sen. Barack Obama on Friday for saying at a private April 6 fundraiser in San Francisco that small-town voters in economically distressed areas of Pennsylvania are "bitter."
"Well, that's not my experience," Clinton told a crowd of several hundred at
Drexel University. "As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive. . . . They're working hard every day for a better future for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them. They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them."
In remarks first reported on the Huffington Post Web site, Obama said, "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.
"And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not," he went on. "And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

You know what? They should be calling him out. He's saying those who don't support him are scared and ignorant. It takes a lot of vanity to make a statement like that. I fear the Cult Leader has started drinking his own Kool-Aid.

Which is why you don't get on board with a neophyte who is prone to egomania. Barack Obama, unfit to serve from day one. Let's turn to a real candidate.

"HUBdate: Safe and Secure Communities" (Howard Wolfson,
Previewing Today: Hillary delivers a "Solutions for Safe and Secure Communities Now" speech in West Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter and outlines her $4 billion a year crime-fighting plan...the plan cuts murders in half, and "put[s] 100,000 more cops on the streets, create[s] a $1 billion grant program to fight recidivism, and provide[s] more funds to combat gangs and drugs." Read more and more.
Recapping Yesterday: Hillary responded to President Bush's address on Iraq: "The President refuses to face the reality that we are confronted with in Iraq"... Mrs. Clinton also dismissed Mr. McCain's housing market proposals as ‘warmed-over’ and ‘half-hearted’ versions of her own plans."
Read more.
Basking in Support: At last night's Allegheny County Democratic Dinner, Hillary "bask[ed] in support"... and "invoking her mother, her daughter and the other women in her family, Pittsburgh's first female mayor [Sophie Masloff] endorsed a candidate battling to be the first woman to preside in the Oval Office."
Read more.
Three In 36 Hours: Hillary received the support of three new automatic delegates over the past 36 hours…the campaign also announced that Hillary has now received the endorsement of over 270 elected officials in Pennsylvania.
Read more and more.
Renewing the American Dream: Yesterday, Hillary attended the Beaver County Democratic Dinner in Hopewell Township, where "she promised a boisterous Democratic audience that she'd renew the American dream and repeatedly said she could fix mistakes made by President Bush on the economy and the war in Iraq."
Read more.
On Tap in Indiana: Hillary will host "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Indianapolis, Mishawaka, and Valparaiso on Saturday. Sen. Bayh previewed the trip on a call with reporters.
Read more.
Standing Strong: Other elected officials, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are joining Hillary in her calls for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics because of the recent human rights violations committed by the Chinese government against Tibetan protestors.
Read more.
In Case You Missed It: Sen. Obama has lost the 10-point lead nationally over Sen. John McCain he had a month ago, while Hillary leads McCain 48% to 45% in the same poll.
View here.

In the snapshot (below), C.I. notes a Lifetime poll and, guess what, Jeremiah Wright is an issue. Women surveyed who stated their opinion of Obama had dropped in recent months stated overwhelmingly it was due to Wright. That would be Obama's pastor who damned the United States, who called on God to damn the United States. Again, Barack Obama, not fit to serve from day one.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 11, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour week concludes, Najaf under curfer, and more.

Starting with war resistance. "As the Vietnam War fades into the past, the struggle for reinterpretation continues. One area that has received insufficient attention is war resistance. The script offered in public circles often reads like this: the war has ended for resisters; isolated numbers of people resisted military service, most of them 'draft dodgers'; all of the legal issues surrounding military resisters were resolved -- they eventually 'got off' and people only refuse military service when they face a draft. These myths, like most others about the war, are designed to influence future generations of potential warriors,"
reminds Harold Jordan (AFSC) in an essay reviewing the realities now fogged and ignored. Reality does make a difference and reality has been torn apart by those who continue to falsely insist that war resisters who went to Canada during Vietnam were just those avoiding the draft. Some had already been inducted into the service, some had deployed to Vietnam. There was never a procedure in Canada, during this period, where you had to state, "I left the service but I was drafted in!" It did not matter. In fact, it was assumed those going to Canada after serving in Vietnam were not only taking a courageous stand but were also bearing witness. Those who repeat the lies that it was just draft evaders have made the current climate in Canada more difficult as everyone latches on to the pot-hazed memories (of people who did not resist) as proof that the Vietnam era war resisters were only granted safe haven because there was a draft. The draft was not the issue, the illegal war was. As it is today.

James Burmeister is a class of 2007 war resister -- tranlation, Panhandle Media ignored him. While serving in Iraq, he saw the Bait and Kill teams -- US materials being planted (not just weapons, as the MSM reported when they picked up on the story in the fall of 2007) so that Iraqis could be shot when they touched US property. Burmeister returned to the US last winter, turned himself in at Fort Knox waiting to hear what happens next.
Courage to Resist posts an interview (audio) with him and his father Erich Burmeister. Asked whether or not Canada had placed "pressure on you to leave," James Burmeister explained, " Of course. You know, they kind of drag out the decision on whether or not they will let us stay. They make it hard for us to get jobs or financial assistance. We're kind of in the middle up here and that's how they pressure us, they don't really give us the status. They make it hard to live up here." Erich Burmeister spoke of the help Ann Wright and Anita Anderson Dennis (Darrell Anderson's mother) have provided. He also noted the kill teams.

Erich Burmeister: It was more what he was involved in there. Particularly what really bothered him was the bait and kill thing which now is a pretty infamous subject which has come up in some of the trials of some of the soldiers that have been put on trial for murder. This sniper, you know, putting out pieces of equipment and waiting for someone to touch it and they shoot him. And that really, really bothered him. Plus the fact that when they would go through these neighborhoods and, you know, kick in people's doors and raid their houses and just loot their houses, and the terror that he saw on people's faces. He told me these things had really bothered him. And the devestation he saw around him. It was -- it was really hard for him to deal with that. He told me times that he would see people digging through garbage, women digging through garbage, and he couldn't believe the conditions that the Iraqis were forced to live under and he felt like he was somewhat responsible for this.

While Burmeister waits to find out what the military will do, war resisters in Canada wait to find out whether they will be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The week's biggest story is the death of 19 soldiers this week. Should have been but few seem aware of it (and, in fact, one news program yesterday evening said there were 16 deaths for the month so far, no, there have been 20 for the month thus far). ICCC has had problems (hacking their server) and possibly that's left some outlets confused. But yesterday's deaths resulted in 19. There are 20 for the month. The only death prior to this week was Travis L. Griffin who died in Baghdad from hostile fire on April 3rd. Clicking here will show you the 20 and the days they died. Starting Sunday (April 6th -- when 8 died), there have been 19 deaths. The deaths, little noticed and incorrectly counted when noted, came as The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour got some attention. But what would the reaction have been to the dog and pony show this week had most Americans read on the front page of their newspapers or heard at the start of their news broadcasts that 19 US service members were killed in Iraq this week thus far? Due to the media snoozing on the job, we can only guess.

On today's second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show, Rehm spoke with Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers), Demetri Sevastopulo (Finacial Times of London) and Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) about the week's events in the US and Iraq.

Diane Rehm: And this week, Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to call of the cease-fire. What is weighing, Nancy? And what does it mean for the security situation in Iraq?

Nancy A. Youssef: Well it's critical to the current, current political situation, because even the US conceeds that that cease-fire has been a key reason behind the recent drop in violence. This week Nouri al-Maliki threatened that anyone with any sort of militia behind them would not be able to participate in the elections and I think that's one reason Sadr is considering his actions this week. If he lifts it, it would substantially change the security situation and I think it would also raise questions about the directions he's headed in. When he declared the cease-fire, many interpreted Sadr as trying to rebrand himself as a Shia nationalist. He spent a lot of time in Iran building up his religious credentials if you will and if he lifts the cease-fire, I think that will put all of that into question. It would also say that he's pretty confident that he can control those forces which I think many people question right now whether he can.

Diane Rehm: The other question that arises, Demetri, is to what extent did the diminishment in violence that occurred in Iraq come about because of the surge or because Moqtada al-Sadr declared a cease-fire?

Demetri Sevastopulo: Well I think depending on when you asked the US military and the commanders this question, the answer had been different. For example, when President Bush went to Al Anbar Province last fall, as we were traveling out there, some officials said that the decline in violence there, the so-called Sunni "Awakening" where the shieks who had previously been fighting the Americans, allied themselves with Americans to take on al Qaeda. And we were told that that was in some ways serendipity and that surge was now going to have to build on that. Other officials said no, it wasn't serendipity, the surge created the situation or the platform for that to happen. I think it's very difficult to say. What you see at the moment is that the cease-fire is in danger of unraveling. Formally it's still in place. But the violence in Basra, the violence in Basra that has also spread to Baghdad is showing that it's very volatile. So I think, really, it's too early to tell and we're just going to have to wait and see. And General Petraeus yesterday warned that he was concerned the cease-fire could break.

Diane Rehm: So how did that upsurge in violence effect General Petraeus' comments, Ambassador Ryan Crocker's outlook?

Demetri Sevastopulo: It's been a difficult one for them to address because when it started in Basra, when Nouri al-Maliki launched his offensive, President Bush said this was a defining moment -- the Iraqi Prime Minister was showing the Iraqi people that the Iraqi troops were standing up on their own two feet, they were fighting for their country. On the other hand, Genereal Petraeus, he welcomed that, but he also pointed out that the operation was poorly planned that Mr. Maliki did not take his military advice and I've been told by some of my sources that Mr. Maliki also rejected offers of support from British forces who've been in Basra albiet pulled back at the airport.

[. . .]

Diane Rehm: Here's an e-mail from Josh in Athens, Ohio, Nancy, he says "What happened to the benchmarks that President Bush shared last year? Has anyone forgotten what he said about marked progress? How will we end this war?" Nancy?

Nancy A. Youssef: You know, it's funny, the benchmark question came up during testimony on Capitol Hill this week from some legislators asking that very thing. The administration says that the Iraqis have met three of the eighteen benchmarks. But Ryan Crocker, the Ambassador, was quick to point out that if the Iraqis meet the benchmarks that doesn't necessarily mean that the security situation will improve or that it will lead to political reconciliation -- which was very interesting. And he, essentially, in saying that, really questioned what the benchmarks were for? Was it for the Iraqis? Or was it for the US to say here's tangiable proof that the Iraqi government is working on something?

Diane Rehm: So how much of what we're seeing in this upsurge is political and how much of it is military, Michael?

Michael Hirsh: You mean in terms of the politics here?

Diane Rehm: Yes, exactly. Politics here and the politics there as well.

Michael Hirsh: I think it's equal parts both. Clearly Petreaus is very serious about pursuing the surge and believes that Iraq would fail, come apart, if US troops were not there in current strength. But at the same time Bush came out yesterday, essentially embraced Petraeus' recommendations, said there had been a strategic shift in Iraq and that we now had the initiative -- is how he put it -- and that's obviously a political message for the fall campaign for those who might be or might not be voting for McCain. John McCain's candidacy, and the Republican ascendancy, and, I think, Bush's legacy as he sees it is very much wrapped up in McCain being seen and Iraq being seen in a positive light as McCain goes into November.

Petreaus spoke with Katie Couric (CBS Evening News -- link has audio and text) for Thursday's broadcast and among the questions Couric put to him, "In our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly. More than half obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?" He replied with a denial statement insisting there was progress while acknowledging that "you have to leave that to the American people, who have to be the judge ultimately, who have to weigh all the different consequences along with of course our leaders." At the end of that segment, Couric notes, "General Petraeus also revealed for the first time that he's been engaged in secret diplomatic efforts. In recent months, he's quietly visited several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey, hoping to convince those governments to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq." And of course Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, plan to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Iraq. Which leads one to wonder exactly what is the US Secretary of State doing? As US Senator Chuck Hagel noted Tuesday during the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting Condi Rice doesn't appear to be doing anything "Kissinger-esque". The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday hearing was reported on by Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times), "Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. (D-Del) noted that at least two of the presidential candidates disagreed with President Bush on overall Iraq policy. He warned David Satterfield, the State Department's top Iraq advisor, that 'if the president persists in this course, the Congress will insist on a role in approving or disapproving' the agreements. 'This is folly!' Biden said." The agreements sought by the White House are the Status of Forces Agreement and what's seen as a strategic framework agreement.

Bully Boy's bad speech yesterday dominated the bulk of the press. It was nothing new. As
US Senator Joe Biden noted of it, "The President confirmed what I've been saying for some time -- he has no plan to end this war. His plan is to muddle through and then to hand the problem off to his successor. So the result of the surge is that we're right back where we started before it began 15 months ago: with 140,000 troops in Iraq, spending $3 billion every week, losing 30 to 40 American lives every month -- and still no end in sight." After week long wave of Operation Happy Talk from the administration and its surrogates, what really happened? Peter Schmitz (Der Spiegel) observes, "Bush, in short, is changing nothing -- unless one counts the reduction in a tour of duty from 15 months to 12 months." And that change doesn't kick in until August 1st of this year. Anyone sent over prior to that date will be sent over on a 15 month term. Ann McFeatters (Scripps Howard News Service) pointed to the happiness of some, "[US Senator John] McCain exulted that progress has been made, even though Petraeus stressed it is 'fragile' and reversible.' . . . [McCain] and his buddy, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, are among few optimists left in Washington." While those two got happy in the Land of Denial, Frank James (Baltimore Sun) notes John McCain's former National Security Assistant Anthony Cordsman declared this week, "The Congress, our military, and the American people deserve more than inarticulate Presidential bluster that seems to thinly camoflage a leadership vacuum."

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad rocket attack on the Palestine Hotel that claimed 3 lives and left seven wounded, a rocket attack on the Green Zone, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted in 4 deaths and three people being injured, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives and left five people wounded, a Ramadi car bombing claimed the lives of 4 members of the "Awakening" Council members and left three people wounded, a Salahuddin Province car bombing that claimed the life of 1 "Awakening" Council member, 2 Diyala Province roadside bombings that claimed the lives of 1 child and 2 Iraqi soldiers and left six family members of the child injured. Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack that left eleven people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the Najaf assassination of Seyid Riyadh al-Noori ("brother in law to Seyid Muqtada al-Sadr") "as he was returning from Friday prayers." CBS and AP note that Najaf is now under curfew. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead outside Baiji and "three of his children" were wounded in the attack while, elsewhere in Mosul, 1 more person was shot dead.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 corpse (police officer) in Kirkuk.

Turning to US presidential politics. "I believe that impeachment was taken off the table because it's far easier to distance one's self from the American people than it is to distance one's self from the corridors of power,"
Cynthia McKinney declares to Cindy Piester (video only). McKinney is running for the presidential nomination from the Green Party. In a wide ranging interview, Piester takes you through McKinney's long years of public service, in Georgia's state legisture, in the US Congress and the social justice issues that matter to her campaign. Kevin Zeese (Dissident Voice) writes of McKinney, "McKinney served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where she urged an end to the Iraq occupation, advocated for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, sought release of 9/11 Commission's underlying data, advocated on behalf of Katrina victims and sought to cut the bloated military budget. Twice she was defeated in the primary by a Democratic Party leadership approved candidate who worked with Republican cross-over voters for her defeat. She registered Green in September and became a candidate in a 'Power to the People' campaign in October. She is the putative nominee of the Green Party and will be on the ballot in almost all states." Stephanie M. Lee (The Daily Californian) reports on Wednesday's political forum at UC Berkeley and notes: "Larry Shoup, a local activist backing Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney, said preserving minority viewpoints is crucial in a democracy. 'Once (Clinton or Obama) are elected, in our view they're going to move to the center,' Shoup said. 'The only way we can keep them honest and moving toward good positions is if we have an independent movement." How might Obama respond to that? "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"? Susan UnPC (No Quarter) notes that statement of Obama's that's raising eyebrows. Hillary Clinton's response is: "I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don't need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families."

Judi Panasik (The Weekly Reader) points out, "Obama, like the last two Bush campaigns, is playing off of the fears and concerns of voters with no real merit behind what he is saying. . . . And correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it Bush that convinced us the country was divided and that he would be the one to bring us all together?" From Obama to a candidate who actually stands for something . . . Ralph Nader is running for president. He has selected Matt Gonzalez as his running mate. Angelica Dongallo (The Daily Californian) reports that Gonzalez spoke about Obama's voting record:

"I'm picking on Senator Obama ... because your professor told me this is a pretty strong Obama crowd," Gonzalez said. "It says something about a candidate that can stand in front of you and repeatedly say, 'I can change the culture of Washington, (D.C.)' ... without giving you an accounting of what is going on here. What are these votes about?"

Earlier this week, Foon Rhee was 'covering' (not covering) Senator Hillary Clinton's proposals for breast cancer research. Rhee (Boston Globe) is back to gloat that Nader's campaign "is off to a slow start filling its campaign coffers" having pulled in $321,700 through February. Though not the millions the 2008 Democratic and GOP races that began in 2007 has gotten many to accustomed to, that's an impressive amount for a third party candidate. Rhee seems unaware when Nader declared he was running for president -- February 23rd. Again, that is an impressive amount to have pulled in. Ralph Nader writes: "

April 15 is around the corner.
Could the corporate executives of this country please stand up and show a little appreciation?
To the taxpayers who subsidize them? And bail them out?
How about the $30 billion bailout of reckless Bear Stearns as the most recent and egregious example?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that April 15th of each year be designated Taxpayer Appreciation Day, a day when corporations receiving taxpayer subsidies, bailouts, handouts and other forms of corporate welfare can express their thanks to the citizens who provide them.

US Senator Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Nichola Gutgold (WMC) compares and contrasts the way Clinton and Obama are speaking to voters in Pennsylvania and determines Hillary's is more effective and cites this example of Hillary connecting with voters:

I met with a group of truck drivers in Harrisburg yesterday. They are pretty fed up with high fuel prices and they were making their opinions known. Who is listening? I'm listening, but it doesn't seem like the White House is listening. The president is too busy holding hands with the Saudis to care about American truck drivers who can't afford to fill up their tank any longer. I meet workers all over Pennsylvania and elsewhere who lost their pensions; they have seen companies go into bankruptcy and discharge their obligations. We have a vice president, who, when he was CEO of Halliburton--which now gets all these no bid contracts, don't they, from the government?--workers lost $25 billion in pensions. But Dick Cheney got to strap on a golden parachute worth $20 million. You get tax breaks to people who don't need them while our children get stuck with the bill.

Also at WMC,
Peggy Simpson interviews pioneer and political scientist Jo Freeman about the 2008 race. One point not made in the must-read-article is that, should Clinton win the nomination, November would find two women on the ballot for president -- Clinton and McKinney. Meanwhile Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) weighs in on the insulting way Obama's been speaking to women lately. Nancy Reyes (Blogger News Network) notes a poll by Lifetime TV. The poll had an interesting finding that some reports are mentioning but no one is highlighting. This finding directly contradicts everything the MSM has repeatedly told news consumers. From Ellen Wulfhorst (Reuters):

As to Obama, 23 percent said they liked him more now than in January, citing his personal characteristics, while 22 percent said they liked him less. Of those, the most common reason was the Illinois senator's controversial relationship with the outspoken Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That would be the 'non-issue' Wright who damned the United States from the front of his church in the midst of a sermon. One who did get it was Stuart Taylor Jr. and
click here for his piece Monday for National Journal (that was noted in Tuesday's snapshot but the link didn't make it into the snapshot).

Tonight (in most markets)
NOW on PBS explores poverty. Bill Moyers Journal (also PBS and also tonight in most markets) looks at hunger in America. On the issue of economic realities David Bacon examines day laborers as he continues to report on immigrants and, in September, his latest book is released on this topic: Illegal Workers -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press). You can also see his work here at Political Affairs magazine. Sunday on WBAI (11:00 a.m. EST), The Next Hour is hosted by Andrew Andrew and, on Monday, Cat Radio Cafe (2:00 p.m. EST):Adam Mansbach talks about his new novel, "The End of the Jews"; Stephen Frailey, head of the Department of Photography at the School of Visual Arts discusses "The 2008 Mentors Exhibition"; and painter Simon Dinnerstein discusses his collaboration with his daughter, virtuoso pianist Simone Dinnerstein and radio star Robin Quivers on "A Night of Music & Art with the Dinnersteins," a fundraiser for Healing Bridges, an organization creating jobs for women in Africa.

mcclatchy newspapers

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jo Freeman, Hillary

"Jo Freeman: Women Across the Political Threshold, and Then Some" (Peggy Simpson, WMC):
Political scientist Jo Freeman says there may well be more sexism than racism in American society today but the very fact that a white woman and a black man are finalists for the Democratic Party nomination represents a sea change in attitudes. "It reflects a turning point in American attitudes about race and sex," she said.
She said the changes most likely "were actually happening in the 1990s," set in motion by events that began in the 1960s and affected people as they grew up over the decades. As a result, society’s view has broadened regarding what is "permissible" for women and blacks in terms of achieving "positions of power and responsibility."
"This is the polar opposite of the 1920s," reflecting an enormous shift in 70 years in "attitudes on what is socially acceptable," Freeman said.

Jo Freeman is a second wave pioneer who wrote, among other things, "Trashing." I've always wondered whether she would have suffered the trashing she did if she'd been more apt to toe the line. I'm going to write this assuming that people reading know who Jo Freeman is. If you don't, there's a link above to her website and you can check that out.

But she was left 'back in the day' but not extreme. Like many journalists, which is how I've always seen her (and, yes, I do know her), she had a more detached outlook. I'm not trying to say she wasn't passionate about feminism. (I should note that I didn't know her during the period when "Trashing" took place.) But there were so many camps back then and so many men trying to pit us against each other and, sadly, many women as well. I always felt she enjoyed observering. I didn't see her as stand-offish, I hope that's clear, but there are people who immerse themselves in things (I did in ending the war on Vietnam). But she had more of the distance for detachment.

I think that confused some and is why she was viciously trashed. There are performers I know, for example, who are very keen on observing because they learn from that and use it to shape a character, for example. I always saw Jo Freeman as seeing the patterns the rest of us were running in the maze.

Along with misunderstanding that, I also think (my personal opinion) some understood, some grasped it, and what they were going for was a kind of drag-her-into-the-mud.

By today's standards, she'd be an extreme radical. By the standards back then, which were intentionally passionate, I think her observational nature made people see her as distant and translated that into "she thinks she's better than us."

Equally true, the observational nature, back then, ran the risk of someone thinking, "She's studying us for a reason." Since the FBI and all the other alphabet soups were spying on American citizens, it would be easy for someone already nervous to leap to the conclusion that she was 'infiltrating.'

I have no idea what I'm writing. If I was trying to stamp a moral on it, I would say that if there's someone around you that you can't grasp, don't be quick to leap to conclusions. However, I'm fully aware that those type of conclusions don't really take place as frequently as they used to. I think we're becoming more and more sedate and complacent.

But one thing that gives me hope is the response to the rampant sexism on display these days. Maybe that will jar us out of our lethargy?

I'm really disgusted with Ms. magazine. I think it's knee deep in lethargy and think Marcia's right (Ms. becomes "Little Miss magazine") that it's appalling Ms. (Feminist Wire) wouldn't even cover Hillary's plan to add $350 million to breast cancer research if she was elected president. Breast cancer was hidden, it was something to be ashamed of. We have come so far and to have Ms. stab us in the back like that by ignoring it?

I'm really sick of it. I'm sick of the LIE that they can't cover presidential campaigns due to their tax status. That is a LIE. They cover anything they want to. They just can't endorse. But they're going to hide behind that lie and I think it's insulting to women and I think it's shameful.

I'm sorry, I can remember when Ms. started. None of us would have guessed that a woman getting this far in the political process, being in a dead-heat with the only other candidate for the party's presidential nomination, would be ignored. They don't have to endorse Hillary to cover her. When Ms. can't even cover the women making news, there is really no point to it even existing anymore.

I will probably be removing them from my links shortly and I will not be the only one to do so. It's really just embarrassing and shameful and I have no use for that nonsense. History is being made and Ms. isn't just sitting on the sidelines. That would be bad. But what they're doing is worse. They're ignoring the history being made.

"HUBdate: Commander-in-Chief on Day One" (

Commander-in-Chief: Hillary hosts a town hall with senior retired military officers and Keystone State veterans in Aliquippa, PA.
Strong on Iraq: At yesterday’s Senate hearings with General David Petraeus and Ambassador David Crocker, Hillary said, "The administration and supporters of the administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater costs of continuing the same failed policy." TIME's Jay Carney on Clinton: "In tone, demeanor and command of the facts, she was - I thought - very impressive."
Watch here.
On Air: Hillary launches five new ads in Pennsylvania. Watch
Get it Done, Spectacular, Scranton, Falling Through, and Nuestra Amiga. Read more.
Hoosiers for Hillary: Yesterday, Hillary released her 'Blueprint for Indiana's Economic Future,' her plan to put the American Dream back within the reach of middle class Indianans. Volunteers at phone banks in six cities across the state spread the word.
Read her plan.
Offices in Indiana: The campaign opened offices yesterday in Kokomo, Marion, and Lafayette bringing the total number to 21.
Read more. Volunteers across the state today will gather to answer more than 6,000 questions that have been submitted since the launch of last Friday. Said one voter, "Hillary is not only prepared to listen; she is prepared to offer real solutions to the real problems experienced by real people."
Read more.
Real Differences in Oregon: Hillary has supported the rights of local communities to locate liquefied natural gas facilities. Senator Obama supported the Bush-Cheney energy policy that removed that right.
Read more.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary delivers the keynote address at the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Pittsburgh, PA.
Unifying Force?: "Senator Barack Obama has asked voters to see him as a unifying force...Unfortunately, Obama has failed in his first test to unify his own party. His campaign has failed to recognize the results of the Florida primary -- and Michigan -- for political gain…a decision that could disgruntle Democratic voters in Florida in November and years beyond."
Read more.

Ms. make think they're being 'fair' sitting it out but they're cheating history and they're cheating women. Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Pulled Punches" is another wonderful commentary from two strong feminists and I think the coverage they've been providing since November is among the best campaign coverage there's been. I also think they were ahead of the curve (not a surprise for either of them) in grasping what was going on. They'd planned to stay out of it but when the sexism was so blatant, when women hatred was so easily displayed and so eagerly displayed, they knew they couldn't sit on the sidelines. Look at what Hillary's been up against (read "Randi Rhodes & other Hitler Youth for Bambi") and grasp that, as Ava and C.I. pointed out back in January, what they get away with on Hillary is what they'll try to get away with on the next female candidate and the one after. You either stand up now or spend your later years in non-stop apology. To those who will hear the apologies, you're being lied to. It was obvious what was going on so any woman being silent is just a coward or doesn't have much respect for women.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continues, the US military announces more deaths, The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour continues, and more.

Starting with war resistance. The
Guardian of London notes Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Key is an Iraq War veteran who returned to the US on leave, spoke with his wife Brandi and they decided to go underground rather than for Joshua to continue fighting an illegal war. Eventually, they and their children moved to Canada. Key suffers PTSD and is haunted by his time in Iraq. From his book (written with Lawrence Hill), pp. 98-99:

Not long into our second tour of duty in Ramadi, I was working at a traffic control point, pulling over vehicles. The standard practice was to order everybody out of the car and to have the driver open the hood and the trunk. A black, four-door Mercedes-Benz pulled up carrying a driver and three male adult passengers. Glancing inside the car, I spotted four grenades tucked between the two front seats.
The driver was a young man, and he didn't say or do anything to provoke me. However, the mere presence of those grenades set me off. I hauled him from the car and began kicking and punching him. An older man in the car began screaming at me in Arabic. I could not understand a word he said, and he would not shut up, so I beat him badly too. By the time I finished with them, both men were bleeding profusely. With the help of my squad mates, I zipcuffed the men, threw one of them in the trunk, and stuffed the other three in the backseat.
Sergeant Fadinetz got into the passenger seat, I jumped into the front, and we drove ten minutes through Ramadi to the police station, where we turned over the men for arrest. I have no idea what became of them, but I do know what happened to their car: I stole it for the use of my squad. We had no keys, so I hot-wired it and attached a switch to make it easy for my squad mates to start. We kept the Mercedes and used it on our house raids, preferring to arrive in an unmarked vehicle to disguise our approach.
When I beat up the two me, I justified it to myself on the grounds that they had grenades in the car. But the truth was that, strange as it may seem to someone just outside the war, grenades were everyday items in Iraq, just like the rifles we routinely left behind on our house raids. Although we always confiscated grenades, I had no good reason to attack the men. My own moral judgement was disintegrating under the pressure of being a soldier, feeling vulnerable, and having no clear enemy to kill in Iraq. We were encouraged to beat up on the enemy; given the absence of any clearly understood enemy, we picked our fights with civilians who were powerless to resist. We knew that we would not have to account for our actions. Because we were fearful, sleep-deprived, and jacked up on caffeine, adrenaline, and testosterone, and because our officers constantly reminded us that all Iraqis were our enemies, civilians included, it was tempting to steal, no big deal to punch, and easy to kill. We were Americans in Iraq and we could do anything we wanted to do.

War resisters in Canada are attempting to be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour continued its Congressional tour. Performances were held for the US House Armed Services Committee in the morning and the US House Committee On Foreign Affairs. Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker stuck to the same scripts; however, Crocker tried to spice up today's matinee performances by introducing a character tic (no doubt borrowed from US Senator Barack Obama's performance yesterday) by repeated usage of the words of "Uh" and "Uhm." In additition to allowing him to add a layer of stumbling buffoon to his performance, it also proved a time eater (think of it as Word Helper from Betty Crocker). Since the five minute rule was enforced in both hearings, it allowed Crocker to avoid answering many things.

Ike Skelton chairs the House Armed Services Committee and he opened the hearings this morning noting, among other things, "We should not begin this hearing without recalling how we got here. Iraq was invaded on incorrect information. The turbulent aftermath following the initial military victory was not considered, despite warnings of the aftermath, including two such warnings from me. Now we are in our sixth year of attempting to quell this horrendous aftermath. Preparing for this hearing, I went back and read my opening statement from our last hearing with you in September. I think I could have delivered the same statement today as I did then, which means either I repeat myself, or things haven't changed that much in Iraq."

After Petraeus and Crocker made the same prepared opening statements. To comments that the US could 'stand down' when Iraq 'stood up,' Skelton would point out "we've been at this for years" (Iraq War) so "how do you do that? How do you take the training wheels off?" Gen David Petraeus didn't get a laugh from this yesterday but seems sure there's a laugh in somewhere, so he repeated that al-Maliki's puppet government 'stood up' in Basra ("That's exactly what Prime Minister Maliki" did "as commander in chief in Iraq!"). He stuck to the script of the puppet of the occupation deciding to assault Basra all by himself, "That was not something that we pushed him to do, candidly. ... That's something they wanted to do" and insisting that this was not a case of "us twisting their hand." Basra, for al-Maliki, was a failure. Petraeus might try mugging in a Norman Fell manner the next time he delivers this line.

US House Rep Solomon Ortiz noted the human costs and that the alleged "security gains are arguable" as well as the crisis in readiness for the military. House Rep Silvestre Reyes would probe the issue of withdrawal and the buzz words of this tour "conditions-based" (which really needs a big production number). By the testimony being offered by Petraeus, Reyes felt that if violence flared up in one area, Petraeus would be arguing to "reinstate the sruge" and Petraeus felt that wasn't likely and stated anything like that was something that the puppet government could take care of.

US House Rep Ellen Tauscher noted the opposition to the Iraq War, that more people are saying (in polls) that the Iraq war was "not worth it) and how "my constituents repeatedly tell me that we can't sustain" the costs (human and monetary). Tauscher noted that a new president would be elected in November and sworn in at the start of 2009. "If you report to a commander-in-chief . . . that wants a plan" for withdrawal "what would you advise?" Petraeus stated, "My response would be dialogue again on what the risk would be." He then tried to take the curtness off his response by noting the US military is under civilian control: "we are not self-employed, we take orders and we obey." Tauscher moved on, "Mr. Crocker, considering that we will have a new president on January 20 . . . what would you advise the president on what would be available and how we could" withdraw? Crocker's response was hilarious.

"That's looking fairly far into the future uh and I've uh learned to keep my timelines short when it uh comes to do with things in Iraq."

He can't see that 'far' into the future? Eight months from now? It's like bad Woody Allen parody. Manhattan, Diane Keaton plays Mary, Allen's Isaac. Mary's decided to leave Isaac for Yale who is married.

Isaac: I give the whole thing . . . four weeks.

Mary: I can't plan that far in advance.

Isaac: You can't plan four weeks in advance?

Mary: No.

Isaac: What kind of foresight is that?

The US Ambassador to Iraq can not ponder how he would advise the next president (elections are less than seven months away) on how to go about withdrawal if that was his or her determination. He can't think that far ahead.

US House Rep Robert Andrews attempted to pin Petraeus and Crocker on the lack of political/diplomatic process in Iraq. Crocker used a lot of words (and "uh"s and "uhm"s) to say nothing. At one point, he declared, "The most important power they [Iraqis] have is access to resources" which led Andrews to point out, "At this point and time the most important resource in Iraq is oil" and there's been no sharing agreement passed. ("No, it hasn't," Crocker admitted.) Crocker had tried to pitch the de-de-Baathification law but Andrews pointed out that this non-implemented legislation bans "former members of the Baath Party" from the military and defense occupations. He noted that it's now five years with no progress and "why should the American people wait five more minutes for that to happen?"

US House Rep J. Randy Forbes expressed his worries about "housewives" and "premature withdrawal." He appeared to be confused at what hearing he was attending and what topics were being discussed.

US House Rep Susan Davis noted Senator Hillary Clinton's questions to Petraeus and Crocker yesterday in the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treaty the White House wants which they call a Status of Force Agreement.
Yesterday Clinton had noted that "it seems odd to Americans" that "the Iraqi Parliament may have a chance to consider this agreement" while "the United States Congress does not." Davis referenced that and noted, "That strikes people in our districts as strange. I wonder if you could talk on that" and how such an agreement might or might not "be used as leverage?"

Crocker attempted to eat up time via "Some uh uh 80 other agreements with different countries uh uh each other country has different aspects us uh . . . uh uh this one will have uh uh . . . " Davis wanted to know if the Status of Force Agreement was "a vehicle for leverage that would actually bring about a result that would not occur without the agreement?" Crocker responded with, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Again, he was eating up time. Davis restated again (this was really the third time she'd done so), "I'm interested in knowing how we use the State of Force Agreements for leverage?"

Crocker went back to his same nonsense, "I think that like other agreements, this is a geustion of mutal agreements uh uh we both have interests in uh uh . . . it's not a question of uh uh having something to give to them uh uh . . ." Davis noted, "The public believes that there is some role that we [Congress] should be playing to be a larger part of that aggreement" but "going back to the Awakening Councils . . . I think others are concerned that the 80,000 or so of indivduals that are not going to be included in the army or police that that, perhaps, marriage of convenience is going to shift back" to violence and "is that a concern to you?" Crocker replied, "Actually Congresswoman, we've had that discussion with the Prime Minister" who "is commited to ensuring that the remainder receive employment in the civilian sector," that they receive "job training and employment opportunites." These are the 91,000 thugs that are costing the US $16 million a month (as Wolf Blitzer noted on CNN -- and he was referenced in the hearing for noting that the bought loyalties could easily turn). Petreaus and Crocker repeated their points from yesterday about how, by paying them, US vehicles aren't damaged. Again, it's the strategy of fork over your lunch money to avoid getting beat on the playground -- a strategy that must make everyone proud.

Howard Berman chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and he noted at the start of the afternoon hearing, "Our witnesses are in the home stretch of a congressional testimony marathon; to some, this hearing may even seem like the fourth time around an endless loop. That's why we are asking both Ambarassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus more or less to summarize the main points of their testimony, at their discretion, a report to Congress that has been heard once in the House and twice in the Senate already. This way, we'll move along more quickly to the questions posed by members of the committee." He also noted that "the surge was intended to quell the violence primarily in order to create political space for Iraqis to move on toward national reconcilliation" but that hasn't happened.

US House Rep Gary Ackerman observed that "we seem to have gotten ourselves into a fix and we don't really know how to get ourselves out of it or unfix it." He noted the many "reasons we've gotten into this mess" including non-existant WMDs, 'democracy,' "getting rid of Saddam." After all of those various reasons, "it seems that we've achieved all of our golas and every time we do, a new goal comes up." Ethnic violence appears to be the new excuse. While Crocker and Petraeus have their jobs, Congress does as well and "our job is just the opposite, our job is to question. Our job is to raise those points". He compared the circular nonsense going on today with a WWII military song: "We're heare because we're here." "Why are the troops there? Because we went there. So we're there because we're there and we're there because we're there." Which raises the question of "How do you fix it?" Ackerman compared it to Sisyphus struggle in Greek mythology (every day he attempts to roll a rock up a mountain and has to start from the beginning each day). So "when you can stop pushing it? . . . When does this end? When do you stop pushing that big stone up the hill? And the answer is you really can't see beyond that big stone . . . You can't see around it." He noted that while the escalation/surge provides a "re-do," those who have died do not get a re-do. What is winning? Ackerman pointed out, "How do you know we've won because at the end of this thing, unless we decide it's an end, nobody's going to hand you a revolver, nobody's going to hand you a sword. Nobody seems to know the answer to that question."

Certainly Crocker and Petraeus didn't know the answer to that question.

US House Rep Brad Sherman provided a summary of points raised such as, "As the chair pointed out, in our war with Saddam, it's possible the winner has been Iran." He declared ("as Mr. Ackerman pointed out") that, "We're there because we're there." And moved to the Status of Force of Agreement wanting to know, "Will there be anything in this agreement that ties the new president's hand?"

Ryan Crocker: Congressman, uh uh, in a word, uh, no.

He asked Petraeus, "Will you begin on November 5th . . . to prepare plans to execute the policies of the incoming president or alternatively, will the incoming president . . . find a dilemma where if they order immediate withdrawal it will be an unplanned withdrawal" which would lead to more of the same currently going on (stuck in a quagmire).

Petraeus: Congressman, I can only serve one boss at a time.

"As a transition approaches," he continued, "obviously there is going to be back and forth to facilitate and not me, this will be the Secretary of Defense, the chair of the Joint Chiefs and, at some point, there will be contingency plans directed."

Brad Sherman asked, "So you would expect to get contingency plans?" And David Petraeus replied, "I'm very uncomfortable candidly describing" this. He spooks so easy.
He wanted Crocker to explain, considering the price of oil per barrel, "Why are we paying everything that we're paying" in Iraq? But he was out of time. US House Rep Dana Orbacher followed up on Sherman's questions and cautioned that "any Status of Force Agreement with Iraq" should "include a provision that the Iraqi government pay for any security that we're providing them with." Crocker replied, "Uh, Congressman, in the last few days, uh, uhm, had that message emphasized loud and clear. . . . That's uh something" to be discussed. Orbarcher responded that the correct answer was "yes" and "If not there's going to be trouble on the Republican side as well as the Democratic side" when the next war funding bill comes through.

"General, we often hear President Bush and [Senator John] McCain say we must win in Iraq," US House Rep Robert Wexler noted. "What is the definition of 'winning'?"

Wexler explained that he had sought out input from his constituents as to what question they would be asking if they were on the committee. Stuart Wolfer, 36-years-old, died in Iraq on Sunday. He was a major on his second tour of Iraq and "his family was relieved that he was in the Green Zone because they hoped he would be safe there." He was killed in an attack on the Green Zone. He leaves behind a wife Lee Anne Wolfer and three daughters. His parents, Esther and Len Wolfer, live in Boca Raton. Len Wolfer wanted Wexler to ask, "For what?" Wexler explained, "For what had he lost his son? What has all this been for and please, respectfully, don't tell us as you told Senator [John] Warner [yesterday] to remove a brutal dictator. What did Stuart Wolfer and the . . . others die for?"

David Petreaus: National interests.

Petreaus defined 'winning' as Iraq being "a country that is at peace with itself and its neighbors." Gee, when does the US make that a goal for itself?

US House Rep Eliot Engel noted the Status of Force Agreement proposal and how when Seantor Clinton noted it yesterday, she was told that "it was unclear whether they [al-Maliki] would bring it to a vote or simply read it to the Iraqi Parliament"; however, the Iraqi Constitution require it to be brought to the Parliament. So, Engel wanted to know, "If the Maliki governemtn bypasses the Iraqi Parliament and approves this agreement unilaterally, will the Bush administration . . . reject any agreement?" Time ran out and no answer was provided.

US House Rep Sheila Jackson opened with, "May I ask a simple question? How do we get out of this mess?" She showed photos of a recent trip to Iraq (noting that the photos weren't classified) and how she saw quality of life needs throughout her visit (trash, lack of potable water, etc.). She noted the Iraqis she spoke with and how Nouri al-Maliki is seen not as a leader of Iraq but as a sectarian leader. The 2002 Iraq resolution required UN approval, she pointed out, which never took place. "Now Saddam is gone, there's been a democratic election," she noted, so why is the US still in Iraq? Petraeus tried to avoid her questions including the most basic ones about whether al Qaeda exists outside of Iraq. "Certainly," he replied after dodging. "Let me say that I frankly believe we are operating without authority, the 2002 authorization has been completed . . . We should now bring our troops home."

Underscoring Sheila Jackson Lee's point, the
US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from non-combat related injuries at approximately 6:30 a.m. April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier died from non-combat related injuries at approximately 5:30 a.m. April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- North Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in Salah ad Din Province, April 9." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device attack at approximately 2 p.m. in northeastern Baghdad." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack while conducting operations east of Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom April 8." Sunday saw at least 5 deaths announced, Monday saw 4, yesterday saw 2 and today sees 5. ICCC lists 19 for the month thus far and only one of those was before Sunday. So that's 18 announced dead so far this week. ICCC's current total for the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 4031.

Today, the fifth anniversary of the staged photo-op of the US military taking down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad to the cheering of . . . a few Iraqi exiles shipped in that weekend, was supposed to see a massive demonstration by Moqtada al-Sadr; however, he called off the action.
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that while Petraeus and Crocker were hitting the war drums for war on Iran yesterday:
As they spoke, firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr threatened to unleash his Mahdi Army militia against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Once again, it was Iran that stepped into the political vacuum and urged a halt to militia attacks into the heavily fortified Green Zone, where U.S. and Iraqi officials, including Petraeus and Crocker, have their offices. The Iranian foreign ministry called for "restraint and prudence of various Iraqi groups," an implicit rebuke of Sadr, who is living and studying in Iran.

In some of today's other reported violence . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks on the Green Zone today. Reuters notes 2 Mosul car bombings that claimed the lives of 3 police officers and 1 civilian and left twenty people wounded. CBS and AP report 7 dead in a Sadr City mortar attack (three were children) on a home.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in the Sadr City section of Baghdad that left three people wounded. Reuters notes a Sadr City armed clash that resulted in 23 deaths and eighty-three people being injured, 1 police officer shot dead and 1 civilian in Tuz Khurmato, and 1 person shot dead in Tal al-Hadeed.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 2 discovered in Kirkuk.

Turning to US presidential primary news, "I don't actually think it's a bad idea to have an open convention, where we actually got to hash out what the differences [between the candidates] were and how important they are." That's
Elizabeth Edwards speaking on ABC's Good Morning America today (link has text and video). Edwards endorsed no one and her husband (John Edwards) hasn't either. She did endorse Senator Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan, declaring, "You need that universality in order to get the cost savings. . . . I just have more confidence in Senator Clinton's policy than Senator Obama's on this particular issue." On her own health, she stated, "I'm doing great. I still have cancer in my bone. I get tested periodically. But it's under control. It doesn't seem to be growing, knock on wood. And i'm continuing taking some sort of treatment for the rest of my life, and hope that medicine catches up with my disease." Edwards was interviewed by GMA's Robin Roberts who had surgery last year for cancer. It is not a minor issue, and we'll again note "Clinton Unveils Plan To Find Cure For Breast Cancer On The Ellen DeGeneres Show: Plan Includes $300 Million in Increased Funding For Research Annually And Increased Access To Treatment And Screening Services." Somehow, the news outlets couldn't give attention to that, couldn't acknowledge it. Though it effects many women, it just wasn't important apparently. Or it wasn't important to them. How nice it must be to be them.

At 11:30 a.m. EST tomorrow, the Bully Boy will prance in front of America to claim the illegal war is 'winnable' and more fairy tales.
Hillary has released a statement on the Iraq War today:

"Yesterday in the Senate Armed Services Committee, I asked General Petraeus for the conditions under which he would actually support a change of course in Iraq, and to begin a drawdown of our troops, given that the surge has failed to achieve its stated goal of political reconciliation among the Iraqis. Well, he didn't really answer me.
"I also asked Ambassador Crocker if the United States Congress would have the same opportunity as the Iraqi Parliament will have to review any agreement or long-term security pact that President Bush is negotiating with the Iraqis. Ambassador Crocker said that the Congress, your representatives, would not have that chance.
"I have two requests of President Bush for his speech on Thursday. First, I call on the President to answer the question that General Petraeus did not. What is our end game in Iraq given the failure of surge to achieve the objective that the president outlined for it? Second, I call on President Bush to pledge to the American people, who have sacrificed greatly for this effort that the United States Congress will have the chance to review and vote on any long-term security agreement he has negotiated with the Iraqis.
"President Bush must not saddle the next president with an agreement that extends our involvement in Iraq beyond his presidency. We have lost more than 4,000 of our best sons and daughters. They have given their lives in service to our country in honor and for the objective of giving the Iraqi people the greatest gift another human being can bestow - the gift of freedom. Tens of thousands of our young men and women have suffered - wounds both visible and invisible - to their bodies, their minds and their hearts.
"This war has cost more than $1 trillion if you factor in the lifetime of care and support that is due to our returning veterans, and of course, we must. Our ongoing military involvement in Iraq has also undermined our efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week that our continued involvement in Iraq has meant we cannot deploy the forces we need to that country.
"There has been a harsh and daily toll on our men and women in uniform, many of whom are on their second, third, and even fourth tours of duty. Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress, according to an official Army survey of our soldiers' mental health. And we cannot forget the toll on military families. When fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives sign up to serve our country, their families sign up, too.
"So it is vital for our national security -- and for the health and safety of our men and women in uniform -- that we begin to end the war in Iraq and rebuild our military. A great Pennsylvanian, Benjamin Franklin once said, 'Well done is better than well-said.'"

mcclatchy newspapers

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Barack gets the nom, Dems take a dive

Okay, for tonight, we need to remember the lies. The first lie is that Barack Obama has the support of Democrats. He doesn't. He has the report of less than Hillary. As his campaign used to brag, they had independents. Thanks to Jeremiah Wright, the verb is "had." That's what peeling away Obama's support, the independents leaving his coalition over Wright. Now the Obama campaign did "Be A Democrat For A Day" campaigns throughout the primaries and caucuses. Somehow that was never seen as a bad thing -- encouraging non-Democrats to vote in a Democratic Party. As Texas' primary approaches, Rush Limbaugh tells Republicans to cross-over and vote for Hillary and Bambi's campaign is up in arms. But the reality was that Republicans were going to the polls in Texas to vote for their Republican choice. There was a couple at one precinct, and I read many of these stories but I'm thinking of the one Dallas wrote about in the gina & krista round-robin, who were convinced they were being tricked. "We want to vote for McCain" they kept insisting because they had voted. They were now ready for the caucus and no Democrats were going to trick them! For an hour, poll workers were explaining to them that there was no Republican caucus, you just voted in the GOP primary. Only the Democrats had a caucus. But it was, "Oh how awful!" and a lot more nonsense from Panhandle Media. Report after report has demonstrated that Limbaugh's plan didn't send voters Hillary's way. But C.I. slid a report over to me and at first I was thinking, "Yes, I saw this already." Then I read on and realized, "Oh, no, I didn't see that part."

"Scenes from a convention" (Patrick G. Barkman, Cleburne Times)
Fears of a Republican takeover at the behest of Rush “Oxycontin” Limbaugh seem to have been groundless. A major newspaper from the urban colossus to our north and east analyzed the statewide vote to see how many voters had merely checked off their presidential preference and ignored the rest of the ballot, on the theory that Republican infiltrators would be unlikely to care about the nominee for Court of Criminal Appeals or Texas Railroad Commission.
More than 80 percent of voters in counties heavily carried by Clinton went on to vote in the U.S. Senate race; only 71 percent of the voters in the counties heavily carried by Obama did likewise. This suggests that Obama voters, who tend to skew younger than average, were motivated mostly by him and not a general enthusiasm for the Democratic Party as a whole; this also suggests that Rick Noriega has his work cut out for him in persuading these new voters to pay attention to his race against the singularly inept John Cornyn in November.
And it suggests that Rush, Ann Coulter and all the rest of the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus have absolutely no influence on the electoral process whatsoever, if they ever did in the first place.

Did you catch the second paragraph? If not, go back up and read it again.

Who is helping the Democratic Party? Hillary, not Bambi. Hillary's voters voted in other races. If that seems familiar, as it did to me when I read it, you may be thinking back to the start of the year. Read on.

"Roundtable" (The Third Estate Sunday Review, January 13, 2008):
Jim: So the point is that I want to get to something before we finish and I'm not saying we're about to call time. Dona's agreed this can run as long as needed because it may be one of our key pices and one of the only ones. C.I. made a point on Tuesday and I claimed it in the name of The Third Estate Sunday Review. On Tuesday, Hillary had won the New Hampshire primary, for anyone who missed that last week. And C.I. was looking at the exit polls with a friend with the wire service and I'll turn it over to C.I.

C.I.: I think this has been reported at length but I don't know that people are grasping it. It was true in Iowa as well. And this isn't an endorsement of any candidate. But what I was explaining to Jim over the phone was that the smartest thing for the Democratic Party -- strategically -- would be to nominate Hillary Clinton. Her base continues to be the Democratic Party and what's showing up is that her base is lower income Democrats who are not always prone to voting. There's a great deal being made about how Bambi's bringing in 'independents' and Republicans and that's actually not a good thing. I'll get to that in a moment. What Hillary's doing is bringing in lower income Democrats in larger numbers than is generally expected in a primary. Having voted for her in the primary, one could expect them to show up in at least similar numbers in the general election. Why is that a plus for the Democratic Party? Because they need to turn out as many Democratic voters as possible. The Dems can win, because they have more people than the Republicans, in any election if they can just turn out their base. Now the Obama phenomon isn't helpful to the party though bean counters -- who make their lives out of doing the easiest thing -- would argue otherwise. First off, a primary cross-over doesn't have to be genuine. I know of efforts by Democrats, most famously in 1992, to cross over to the Republican Party primary and vote for Pat Buchanan in an effort to make him seem more popular and that certainly paid off since Buchanan's speech at their convention was a huge shock to most of America. But if you want to assume that the ones crossing over, independents or Republicans, are doing so genuinely, the issue becomes who is at the top of the ticket and who benefits from that? If Obama's at the top, due to 'independents' and Republicans, it's less likely that they will be voting straight ticket. Since Hillary's turned out the base thus far -- which could change -- the difference is that if she was at the top of the ticket, you'd be most likely to see, judging by available data currently, more people showing up who would vote straight ticket. In terms of control of Congress -- I'm speaking strategically -- the indication from the results so far indicate that Hillary as the nominee, this could also turn out to be true for Edwards who is not polling high on independents or Republicans, would mean people voting Democratic on every office. The Republicans face the same problem if they nominate McCain. Some Democrats, who foolishly believe he's a straight talker, would cross over. If they do cross over for his race, they aren't likely to cross over for House and Senate or municipal, county, etc. races. They are likely to vote McCain and then vote Democratic. I don't know if I explained that well, I'm sick so pin it on that.

Jess: No, I get it. I'm a Green so I really have nothing vested in the Democratic or Republican parties. But what you're saying is that a candidate whose strength depends upon pulling over people from outside the party will likely lead to the top of the ticket doing well and other candidates in other races doing poorly. On the Republican side, a Democrat voting McCain for president is probably not voting straight Republican. In fact, if they're a Democrat, they'll probably feel some guilt over their vote and go out of the way to 'prove' they are still a Democrat by voting Democratic in every other race on the ticket. By the same token, Obama at the top of the ticket might or might not be good for the presidential race but since his support is not from the base him being the candidate risks the Democrats losing control of the House and maybe even the Senate.

C.I. was correct then and is correct now. It is equally true that the results of the polling data don't appear to be registering. Barack supporters showed up in Texas to vote in a primary and they didn't care enough to know who else was running. They voted for Barack and that was it for a significant portion. Barack on the ticket in the general election does not help the other races on the ticket. It just helps him (and most likely hurts the party when he loses). There is no "lift" for the other candidates. His being on the ticket doesn't provide them with extra votes. They just skipped the other candidates in Texas. As C.I. pointed out back in January, in a general election, Hillary voters are much more likely to vote straight ticket. Bambi's voters are much more likely to split their votes since he draws so many 'independents.'

In January, when C.I. noted, it might have been difficult for some to discern. Now the writing is on the wall: Nominate Barack and his groupies may or may not show up on election day (I'll get back to that) but even if they show up, that doesn't provide a spillover for other Democrats in other races. Getting back to it, to have the turnout he's had thus far, Bambi has had to hit the road like crazy, speak here and there to adoring, fainting crowds. Come November, some may feel foolish about their behavior (some already do) and some may not show up without the personal glad handing. Especially for his young supporters, November is a lifetime away. The Democratic Party should be paying attention to that. Hillary is the only choice that helps the ticket.

"HUBdate: 'True Tale'" (Howard Wolfson,
'True Tale:' Despite claims to the contrary, the aunt of a young woman who died after being turned away from one hospital for lack of $100 says Hillary "has been telling the story accurately."
Read more.
Global Leadership: Yesterday, Hillary called on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympics this summer in China. She said the Bush White House "has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy with China."
Read more.
Previewing Today: Hillary delivers remarks to the Communications Workers of America. Later this morning, Hillary questions General David Patraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker during a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing.
If You Watch One Thing Today: In Indiana's first statewide television ad, Sen. Evan Bayh highlights Hillary's innovative plan to strengthen the economy and emphasizes her proven record of delivering for hardworking Hoosiers and all Americans. Watch here. Meanwhile, groups say that Sen. Obama's oil ad is "a little too slick."
Read more.
Hoosiers for Hillary: The IndyStar reports Hillary "understand[s] the...challenges facing average Hoosiers" after speaking with her yesterday. Read Hillary's
full Q&A.
Native American Issues: After the Montana Democratic Party's state dinner last Saturday, one leader said Hillary is "strong on native American issues" and another said Hillary was her "choice from the beginning."
Read more.
Portland, OR: Rep. Darlene Hooley joined Beaver State supporters for the grand opening of the campaign's headquarters in Portland. "Echoing one of the staffer's given reasons for supporting Hillary -- 'to change the world' -- [Rep.] Hooley celebrated the opportunity that Clinton supporters have in Oregon... 'Her breadth of knowledge, her depth of knowledge and understanding is incredible.'"
Read more.
Energy in Oregon: BlueOregon says the Cheney-Bush Energy Bill "is responsible for no fewer than three LNG facilities threatening Oregon coastline, rivers, [and] forests." Sen. Obama supported the bill; Hillary is fighting to restore Oregon's stewardship of the environment.
Read more and more.
Arkansas Support: Hillary picked up another superdelegate in Arkansas "Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox, who was selected last month as the Arkansas Democratic Party’s last remaining superdelegate to the national convention."
Read more.
In Case You Missed It: The Huffington Post reports: "Last night at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Barack Obama took a question on what he's looking for in a running mate. 'I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I'm not as expert on...foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Sen. Clinton or Sen. McCain.'"
Read more.

Marcia (SICKOFITRADLZ) likes to point out that Hillary is running to be president of all of America. Marcia's correct but it's funny if you think about it. Here's Hillary, a White woman, who is proposing plans (like breast cancer yesterday) that benefit all, who has the more universal healthcare plan, who Native Americans, the LGBT community, the Latino community and so many more are supporting. Then there's Barack who wants to be known as "Black" but is actually bi-racial and he's thrown everyone under the bus: the Asian-American community, the LGBT community, Latinos, bi- and multi-racial persons, women, go down the list. Hillary's not trying to be a symoblic leader, she's trying to be a leader. That's why she's running the better campaign.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, April 8, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Crocker and Petraeus put on a show, Prince Bambi demands to go early and demands more time and does nothing with it, al-Sadr calls off tomorrow's march, the US military announces more deaths, and more.

Staring with war resistance.
Friday's snapshot noted: "War veteran Chad Hetman writes The Daily Targum to explain, 'People should be asking if ROTC instructors are teaching cadets that it is their legal duty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to refuse and challenge unlawful orders. Since the illegal war began, only one soldier has had the sense and courage to do his duty, Lieutenant Ehren Watada. The military is supposed to be politically neutral, but not legally neutral and almost all troops never read or understand the Constitution that they blindly swear to 'Support and Defend Against ALL Enemies both Foreign And DOMESTIC'.' Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006). In February 2007, Watada was court-martialed. [. . .] Chad Hetman is not a war veteran. He is a US Army veteran. He does not claim to be a war veteran. The Daily Targum billed him as that (and still does today) but he did not claim that because he is not that. It's not a minor issue and he's attempting to get the paper to correct it. At this site, it was also noted in "Other Items" on Friday and I've added this to that entry "[CORRECTION ADDED APRIL 7TH: Chad Hetman is not a war veteran and does not present himself as such. The paper made a mistake. Hetman is a US Army Veteran and the paper's headline should have noted that and not that he is a "War vet." Again, Hetman does not claim and has never claimed to be a war veteran. The paper made a mistake. He is attempting to get the paper to correct the error. This correction will be noted in the April 8th snapshot.]" Hopefully, the paper made an honest mistake and will soon correct it but we'll correct Friday's snapshot in this one, he is a US Army veteran, not a war veteran. He never claimed to be a war veteran. Back to war resistance . . .

War resisters in Canada are attempting to be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour took their act on the road. First stop, the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are supposed to be providing a status report on the Iraq War. They didn't. In fact, Petraeus made clear that the status report would come . . . next September. When the results are this bad, you stall -- which is exactly what Petraeus did.

The most dramatic moment came as committee chair Carl Levin was questioning Petraeus and a man in the gallery began exclaiming "Bring them home!" repeatedly. (He did so at least 16 times before he was escored out). The most hilarious moment was hearing Petraeus explain that it's tough in the school yard and America needs to fork over their lunch money in Iraq to avoid getting beat up. In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up.

How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost". Again, in this morning's hearings, the top commander in Iraq explained that the US strategy is forking over the lunch money to school yard bullies. What a pride moment for the country.

Crocker's entire testimony can be boiled down to a statement he made in his opening statements, "What has been achieved is substantial, but it is also reversible." Which would translate in the real world as nothing has really changed. During questioning from Senator Jack Reed, Crocker would rush to shore up the "Awakening" Council members as well. He would say there were about 90,000 of them and, pay attention, the transitioning of them is delayed due to "illliteracy and physical disabilities."

Levin wanted to know about Basra. "Is that correct," he asked that the US didn't know about the planned assault on Basra until right before the action started? Petraeus replied, "It is, Senator. We had a Friday night heads up" and in a Saturday meeting about how to use the resources, they discussed it futher. Levin then asked, "It was not something that you recommended?" Petraeus replied, "No." Two points were raised in that and Senator Hillary Clinton caught them.

"In response to a question by Senator Levin," Clinton pointed out, "regarding when you knew of Prime Minister Maliki's plans to go into Basra, and I was struck by it so I wrote it down, you said you learned of it in a meeting of planning" to utilize our resources in southern Iraq. Senator Clinton pointed out that the US is not known for its presence in Iraq, that until the British pulled out, that had been the region the UK was responsible for. So "what did you mean by the resources you were planning to deploy and over what length of time?"

Petraeus responded that "A plan was being developed" for Basra but this US plan would have been "a fairly deliberate process" and instead al-Maliki was "moving up the time table and compressing . . . the resources" that the US was planning to use over time. So there was a US plan to assault Basra and, at best, al-Maliki merely jumped the gun on it.

Basra was a constant reference throughout the hearing. Senator Susan Collins wonder "why should American combat troops continue to take the lead" after all the money and years spent to train Iraqi forces? Petraues response was that the "US didn't take the lead in Basra." Which proves Collins point, though Petraeus seemed not to grasp that. Collins was pointing to all the years and money spent training the security forces and how it appears to have been wasted and Petraeus' response was to offer that Basra was where Iraqis led. And the whole world saw how that went but maybe Petraeus is unaware of that?

Senator Bill Nelson pointed out that last year's escalation was sold by the White House with that prediction "that the military surge would stabilize the situation" and allow for political progress and national reconciliation in Iraq. "Has political reconciliation happened?" It was a question Petraeus hemmed and hawwed around. He noted the passage of laws (none have been implemented) and then tossed to Crocker for help. Crocker could provide none. He spoke of "cross-bloc horse trading" in the Iraqi Parliament which was supposed to explain or excuse why nothing had taken place throughout the escalation.

Nelson noted the testimonies the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard last Wednesday (he cited retired Gen William Odom in particular) and, along with Senator Clinton, was one of the few who appeared to be building on something other than the testimony they were being fed.

Senator Joe Lieberman was probably a suck up in school. Not just with the principal or the teachers but even with the substitute teachers. Lieberaman used his time to guest ("incredible service in the course of freedom") and earned the Eddie Haskell Award. Senator John Cornyn flashed his ignorance (he loves to do that) by conflating the Taliban and al Qaeda and rewriting history. Senator Roger Wicker embarrassed himself as well. He wanted to talk about the recruited. He proposed that most US combat troops in Iraq were made up of 20-year-olds and wanted Petraeus to go along with that which Petraeus did somewhat sheepishly. (Because Petraeus doesn't have know the average age -- neither did Wicker but that didn't stop him.) Wicker delcared that these people "made their decision to participate in this war in 2006." They decided to participate? So Wicker is arguing that service members make a decision which must mean he would at the very least agree that war resisters have a right to make the decision not to participate? Wicker felt that "history would view this Congress as very foolish" if they attempted to end the illegal war. He must have learned his history from John Cornyn.

But the most embarrassing performance by a Senator would have to be Lindsey Graham. "If you had to pick one example of success," Graham offered up, what would it be? Petraeus gave two (of which Anbar Province was one). Graham asked for an example. He was given two. It wasn't what Graham wanted to hear. "Would it be . . ." Graham, he answered your question. Sell the illegal war on what you're given instead of attempting to coax the witness.

In her time, Senator Clinton opened by noting the smears "that it is irresponsible or demonstrates a lack of leadership" to advocate for withdrawal. "I fundamentally disagree," she explained and added that it would be irresponsible to continue with the same failed policies. "We rarely talk abou the opportunity cost, the opportunity lost, because of this continued strategy." She explored the costs including noting that "the cost to our men and women in uniform is growing" referencing a New York Times article [Thom Shanker's "
Army Is Worried By Rising Stress Of Returns Tours"] which found of those who had been repeatedly deployed, one in four exhibits anxiety, depression or acute stress. These costs and other cots are ignored to pursue "continuing the same failed policy."

"For the past five years," Senator Clinton pointed out, "we have continuously heard from the administration that things are getting better, that we're about to turn a corner." Still nothing. It's time "to begin an orderly withdrawal." With Petraeus, Clinton referenced the Washington Post [Cameron W. Barr's "
Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making 'Sufficient Progress'"] and how the general had told them last month that "'no one feels there has been sufficient progress.' Those are exactly the concerns that my colleagues and I raised when you testified before us in September." At that time, Clinton pointed out, Petraeus responded that "if we reached that point in a year you'd have to think very hard about it. We're there now. . . . What conditions would have to exist for you to recommend to the President that the current strategy is not working?"

A fairly straight forward question, so naturally Petraeus ignored it. "What I said," he said in unmasked irriation, "was no one was satisified with the progress that was made, either Iraqi or American." Yes, Petraeus, everyone who read the Washington Post article or heard Clinton's summary got that point. Before you made it in the hearing. In the afternoon, Senator Chuck Hagel would also bring up the Post and Petraeus' remarks.

With Crocker, she brought up the treaty the White House wants to make with the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, "With respect to our long term challenge, Ambassador Crocker, the administration" is planning to make an agreement with Iraq and "will it be submitted to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification?" Crocker replied that it had been "indicated that" it would be brought "to the council of representatives." Well then, Clinton wanted to know, "does the administration plan to submit the agreement to our Congress?" No, Crocker replied, "at this point . . . we don't" because they don't believe it "would require the advice and consent" of the Congress. That "seems odd to Americans," Clinton noted, that "the Iraqi Parliament may have a chance to consider this aggreement" while "the United States Congress does not." She noted
the legislation she introduced (December 6, 2007) calling for the Bully Boy "to seek Congressional approval for any agreement that would extend the US military commitment to Iraq." And it is very odd that the White House thinks they can make a treaty without the consent of Congress and that the Iraqi Parliament will be weighing in (their Constitution guarantees them that right -- the US Constitution guarantees that Congress also has that right).

Other points from the hearing would include (as
Lara Logan's legwork for the US military brass Sunday conveyed) the White House wants war with Iran. Ironically, though happy to touch on that and any other country during their testimony, when Senator Evan Bayh made the point that many say the US presence in Iraq is making the US less safe and wondered about the fact that Pakistan is seen as a base for terrorism, Petraeus began insisting that he couldn't comment on any of that, his territory was Iraq. Again, he was happy to weigh in (as was Crocker) on Iran and other countries . . . until a question he didn't like came up. Petraeus was very nasty with Bayh and did not even want to acknowledge that people who favor a withdrawal are not unpatriotic or some pejorative (Bayh: "As I acknowledge your honor and patriotism, I hope you would acknowledge the honor and patriotism of those who look at this very complex set of facts and simply have a very different point of view."). Pressed repeatedly, Petraeus snapped (sounding like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men), "Senator, we fight for the right of people to have other opinions." Where is that? Outside the US? "Your mission is limited to Iraq. Congress and the President have a broader responsibility," US Senator Joe Biden would point out in the next hearing. Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the other big news from the morning hearing which is Petraeus' statement "that the U.S. will need a 45-day assessment period starting in July, after some 20,000 troops withdraw, to determine whether more soldiers can leave." During the morning's hearing, Petraeus wanted to debate with Levin what US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had meant by a pause in withdrawal this summer. Petraeus likes to play word games.

This afternoon, they took The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Apparently, they had no post-show notes from the first performance because they pretty much repeated the same tired act. That included Petraeus again bragging that paying off bullies ("Awakening" Council members) allowed US vehicles not to be damaged. Fork over the lunch money, Petraeus, fork it over. With Senator Chris Dodd, Petraeus took offense to the idea that they were "arming" the "Awakening" Council members. Apparently, they provide their own guns. So the US just supplies the bullets?

Biden, chair of the committee, used his opening remarks to set out the basics, "The purpose of the surge was to bring violence down so that Iraq's leaders could come together politically. Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together. Our military played an important role in the violence. So did three other developments. First, the Sunni Awakening, which preceded the surge. Second, the Sadr cease-fire. Third, sectarian cleansing that left much of Baghdad segregated, with fewer targets to shoot or bomb. These tactical gains are relative. Violence is now where it was in 2005 and spiking up again. Iraq is still incredibly dangerous and, despite what the President says, very far from normal. And these gains are fragile. Awakening members frustrated at the government's refusal to integrate them into the national security forces could turn their guns back on us. Sadr could end his cease-fire at a moment's notice. Sectarian chaos could resume with the next bomb. Most important, the strategic purpose of the surge has not been realized: genuine political power sharing that gives Iraq's factions to pursue their interests peacefully."

If only those serving under the chair could have maintained the same focus. Senator Chuck Hagel was probably the best in the first hour. He noted it appeared that Iraq was "holding our policy hostage" by day-to-day events. He wanted to know, "What are we doing" in terms of all this talk of a diplomatic surge he keeps hearing talk of but doesn't see any going on? He noted that he's not seeing US Secretary of State Condi Rice doing anything "Kissinger-esque" so "what are you talking about?" Crocker acknowledged that more could be done. When it will is anyone's guess because Crocker didn't seem to have a clue (and we know the administration doesn't). As Hagel said, quoting Petraeus' own words back to him, "there is no military solution" in Iraq. In the second hour of the afternoon hearing, Senator Barbara Boxer was clearly the strongest voice.

She wanted to know about the training, all the training, that had gone on and then on again. "We've done a lot for the Iraqis just in terms of the numbers themselves," Boxer declared. "I'll tell you what concerns me and most of my constituents, you said -- many times -- the gains in Iraq are fragile and reversable. . . . So my constituents and I believe that" after all the deaths, all the money, "you have to wonder why the best that you can say is that the gains are fragile and reversable." Noting the lack of military success and Hagel's points, Boxer pointed out that nothing was being done diplomatically "and I listened carefully to Senator Hagel and Ambassador Crocker -- from the answer you gave him, I don't get the" feeling that the White House has given anything, it's still "the status quo. She then turned to the issue of monies and the militias, "You are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them" and wouldn't put them into the forces because he doubts their loyalty. She noted that $182 million a year was being paid, $18 million a month, to these "Awakening" Council members and "why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that progam" because as Senator Lugar pointed out, "It could be an opportunity" for the Iraqi government "to turn it into something more long term." This is a point, she declared, that she intends to bring up when it's time to vote on the next spending supplamental. Crocker tried to split hairs.

Boxer: I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . I'm just asking you why we would object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?

Crocker declared that he'd take that point back to Iraq when he returned. She then focused on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad noting, "The Bush administration told the American people more than five years ago that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and supporters of the war said that they would be dancing in the street with American flags." That didn't happen and not only did that not happen but when Ahmadinejad goes to Iraq, he's greeted warmly while Bully Boy has to sneak "in, in the dead of the night." She wondered, "Do you agree that after all we have done, after all the sacrifices, and God bless all of our troops . . ., that Iran is stronger and more influential than ever before?"

Crocker wanted to debate that reality. He stated it was just militias. Boxer pulled out reports that demonstrated it wasn't, where Ahmadinejad was greeted warmly even by children who gave him flowers, kissed him on both cheeks. "I'm saying that after all we have done," Boxer declared, "the Iraqi government kissing the Iranian leader and our president has to sneak into the country -- I don't understand it." Crocker still wanted to argue leading Boxer to respond, "I give up. It is what it is. They kissed him on the cheek. . . . He had a red carpet treatment and we are losing our sons and duaghters every day for the Iraqi people to be free. . . . It is disturbing."

Those were the strong performances. Bill Nelson was methodical but strong in the afternoon hearing (which is still going on as I dictate this.) As for the others? In the afternoon, the most embarrassing performance was given by John Kerry who gushed and fawned over Petraeus for over two minutes. Then he moved slowly and offered little but, when Barack Obama went, you grasped why. Kerry was Bambi's hand-holder. Bambi tried hard to make Kerry's points his own by repeating . . . them . . . oh . . . so . . . slowly. Someday he may provide leadership. Thus far, he just plays follow the leader and spoiled brat. Bill Nelson asked permission to wave the cry baby ahead because Obama was pressed for time. Biden allowed it. If Obama was pressed for time maybe he should have stuck to the alloted time? Or, as he would word it, maybe . . . he should have . . . stuck to . . . the alloted . . . time. (Did he study voice with William Shatner?) He didn't stick to the time limit and whined that he needed more, "I know I'm out of time, if I could have the indulgence of the committe for one minute." One minute? Try seven minutes. Couldn't wait his turn and then got his allotted time plus seven minutes more. And offered nothing in all that time. Babara Boxer could have done something with an extra seven minutes (she did a great deal with her allotted time). But Bambi wasn't prepared. He repeated all of John Kerry's points (they're friends, so it's not theft -- ask David Axlerod). ". . . that are . . . doing harm to . . . uh, . . ." Is he unable to speak if the lines aren't written ahead of time? If so, can Bully Boy slide the ear piece over to him because he obviously can't speak on his own. Seven minutes. Obama went seven minutes over -- after he'd used his allotted time. After he'd claimed he'd only take one more minute. The Whiny Boy Prince gets his way . . . and does nothing with it.

In Iraq,
Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Moqtada al-Sadr "announced a postponement of a march planned for Wednesday in Baghdad to protest the U.S. occupation of Iraq" and quotes him declaring in the statement, "I call those beloved Iraqi people who wish to demonstrate against the occupation to postpone their march, out of my fear for them and my concern to spare their blood. I fear that Iraqi hands will be lifted against you, although I would be honored if the Americans were to lift their hands against you." Fadel notes the cease-fire/truce as do CBS and AP, al-Sadr is floating the threat that he will end the cease-fire. The same statement declared that, "I call on the Iraqi government, if it exists, to work for the protection of the Iraqi people, stop the bloodshed and the abuse of its honor. . . . Let the Iraqi government be informed that the Imam Mahdi Army will stand hand-in-hand with the Iraqi people to ensure that the people have everything they need. If it is required to lift the freeze in order to carry out our goals, objectives, doctrines and religious principles and patriotism, we will do that later and in a separate statement."

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that wounded nine people, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 2 lives with five other people left injured, a Baghdad bombing that wounded two people, a Kirkuk motorcycle bombing that left fourteen people wounded, a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed 6 lives and left five people wounded, a Nineveh bombing at a motorcycle repair shop that claimed 1 life and left two more people injured and a Salahuddin Province mortar attack that claimed the life of 1 woman and left three members of her family injured. Reuters notes that the US again launched an air attack on the Sadr City section of Baghdad today firing "four US Hellfire missiles" resulting in 12 deaths according to the US military


Reuters notes an armed clash in the Sadr City section of Baghdad claimed 13 lives with one-hundred and forty people injured.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed as the result of an improvised explosive device attack at approximately 12:30 p.m. in northeast Baghdad April 8." And they announced: "A Multi-Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed from wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle at approximately 9:30 p.m. April 7." Like Tina Susman's "Fighting intensifies in Iraq's capital" (Los Angeles Times), in the snapshot yesterday 3 deaths are noted but, as CNN points out, there were four deaths on Monday. There were at least five announced Sunday. With at least two announced today, that's 11 announced deahts since Sunday.

Turning to US presidential politics, Elaine's "
AOL Poll 67% doubt Barack's patriotism" noted an AOL poll. The question was: "Do you have any doubts about Barack Obama's patriotism?" Last night when Elaine wrote, there were 145,327 votes. 48,158 (33%) said "none at all." 78,697 (54%) said "Yes, a lot" with 18,472 (13%) saying, "Yes, a little." Leading to a total of 67% saying they doubted Barack's patriotism. After she wrote, voting continued and over 100,000 more votes were cast for a total of 249,089 which led to 137,552 (55%) saying "Yes, a lot," 31,676 (13%) saying "Yes, a little" and 79,861 (32%) saying "None at all." As Elaine noted, "The Democratic Party better get serious and grasp that these doubts are HUGE and that they come after a non-stop media blitz where Barack's speech was universally praised. If that's the best he can do now, what happens if he gets the nomination and faces McCain? Forget McCain's promise not to question Bambi's patriotism. When elections are close, promises get forgoteen by the best and I doubt anyone visiting this site would assume McCain qualified as 'one of the best.' Regardless of what McCain does or does not do, independent groups will raise the issue repeatedly. And you'll see that 67% climb even higher. I would argue that anything over 7% was too high. This will be a close election, regardless of whom the Democratic nominee is and Dems don't need to destroy their chance to take the White House." B-b-but, the Wright issue is over, right? Wrong. Thomas Sowell ( notes, "The same people who have gone ballistic when some prominet figure is found to belong to some all-male social club are full of excuses for why Barack Obama remained a member of a racist and anti-American church for 20 years." Richard Cohen (Washington Post) raises the Wright issue today. Michigan's Niles Daily Star editorializes on the Wright issue noting, "The controversy involving his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was more about anti-Americanism than about race. His wife Michelle's unfortunate comment that the success of his campaign made her proud of America 'for the first time' in her adult life, coupled with an Islamic-sounding name and decisions not to wear a flag lapel pin like all the other politicians are being used to fan below-the-radar doubts about whether he is 'American' enough." Then there's Stuart Taylor Jr. (National Journal) who explores his own reaction to the Wright issue (he damned America from the front of the church, as a pastor, called on the Lord to damn America), notes "Obama's shifting explanations," and he notes how some Democrats dismiss the issue which seems the sort of willful denial evident as John Kerry's campaign began its non-stop tanking following the DNC convention but Dem and Panhandle Media kept insisting it wasn't happening, things were great, things were groovy. Nancy Kruh (Dallas Morning News) covers the patriotism issue today and notes the recent columns by Joe Klein and Fred Barnes on the issue. Meanwhile, an issue Ava and I have repeatedly raised in our TV commentaries (most recently here) is in the news: Barack's successful maternal grandmother. Yes, the woman was successful, yes, she did break the glass ceiling, yes, she did make money. It's not the poverty picture Bambi's played it as being. Dan Nakaso (USA Today) notes that Madelyn Dunham "blazed a feminist trail in Hawaii banking circles in the late 1960s and early 1970s and rose to become one of the Bank of Hawaii's first female vice presidents." He notes "Obama's campaign declined to make Dunham available for interviews" and that those who know her question his Philadelphia speech claims about her -- Dennis Ching, "I never heard her say anything like that" and Sam Slom, "I never heard Madelyn say anything disparaging about people of African ancestry."

University of Kentucky student Kyle Mills shares why he's supporting Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, "As a college student and first time presidential election voter, it didn't take long to see that there was massive enthusiasm surrounding Senator Hillary Clinton and her run for the presidency. After doing research on her policies, I finally understood the energy behind her campaign and saw that she was best suited to lead our nation. Perhaps the most impressive thing to me was the depth and ingenuity of her plans. From the ending the war in Iraq to providing health care to every American, the differences between Hillary Clinton and the other candidates were easy to see. Many college students now know that Hillary stands for the only truly universal health care plan. Many students also know that Hillary knows how to get us out of Iraq in a safe, prompt manner. Most don't realize, however, that Hillary has a very aggressive plan to help students attend and afford college. Her college access plan calls for a $3,500 college tax credit, an increase in the Pell Grant, and the creation of a graduation fund to help increase the amount of students actually graduating. These points only scratch the surface of her plan to assist college students such as myself.

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