Friday, April 25, 2008

Talking post

Mike said we should write about e-mails tonight. Sunny loves going through the e-mails at work and most of you who write regularly hear from her so you know that. In terms of the drive-bys?

Women's Voices Making History would seem to be something I would support and, at some point in the future, I might. But that's the only e-mail that bothered me. For those who don't know the story, they e-mailed the public account of The Common Ills one morning. C.I. had already posted but Jim was adding a link or something and going into one of the entries. He saw the e-mail from WVMH and included a note on it. He pointed out that TCI is not a "blog." He was very clear that C.I. would not want any community voter rushing off to vote for C.I. But Jim didn't grasp that C.I. wouldn't be behind that contest to begin with. Jim wrote that C.I. would include it in the snapshot.

C.I. called those of us in the community with sites, those of who are women, obviously. Our attitude was the same across the board. We thought the contest -- vote for your favorite blogger! -- went against sisterhood, went against the notion that women work together, come together for a larger purpose. We found the contest offensive. Now I knew that was C.I.'s take but I don't know how many others did. (I knew it because I've known C.I. forever and we both feel the same about these 'contests' that pit women against women.) But that's how every woman felt.

C.I. could have (any of us could have) written a blistering, scathing commentary on how unhelpful that contest was. (It was unhelpful and C.I. predicted who the winner would be from day one.) Instead, C.I. just ignored it.

E-mails came in from people (not with WVMH) asking why we were being silent? We were being silent because we loathed the contest but it was already taking place and it might matter to some woman -- some women want to be Miss America. But the contest is over and we didn't take part in it, we didn't promote it, we didn't support it.

C.I.'s attitude regarding TCI was, "Jim wrote that note, I didn't. If people have questions, they need to ask Jim."

In fairness to Jim, he thought this was a woman-positive thing and, therefore, C.I. would support it. Jim didn't grasp it the way all the women (including me) did. As Rebecca said (when C.I. said, "The winner will be ___," Rebecca immediately knew C.I. was right, the rest of us were less convinced), "If they wanted to give ___ an award, why didn't they just give her an award?"

The contest was insulting. It was nothing but a beauty pageant with a Miss Congeniality title handed out. This was about women bloggers but it wasn't about what they did. If it was about what they did, it would have been, "Nominate the best post . . ." Instead, it was just the usual crap of pit women against each other.

I know C.I. would have rejected the contest if it had been about the work. C.I.'s attitude has always been, and we go back to college years, "I get more than enough attention, let someone else have some." But if it would have been about the work, that might have been something others could have supported.

I think C.I. compared it to the People's Choice Awards (that's not a compliment) and that about says it all, really.

Again, Jim wasn't trying to cause a problem. He honestly didn't grasp how offensive we would find it. He was going by the fact that, back before Panhandle Media went off the rails, C.I. regularly did the afternoon entry (now the snapshot) during the week with nothing but women one day a week. (Women were included throughout the week but one day would just feature women.) It took about six weeks before people really started noticing that was happening. But before the snapshot (and the focus on Iraq near solely), C.I. would regularly highlight women.

The reality is that can't be done today because so few women (including the WVMH winner) ever bother to write about Iraq. But based on that and the way C.I. goes out of the way to highlight other women, Jim assumed this was something that could be highlighted and it wasn't. On the issue of going out of the way, the snapshot could have been done much sooner today but C.I. wanted to be sure women were highlighted (I was present for the dictation of the last of it) and that's why Patty Murray is so much in today's snapshot and also why you have Joan Walsh, Susan UnPC, Jeralyn, Taylor Marsh and links to Deliah Boyd and others. I really think C.I. works in more women than any other site unless it solely focuses on women.

I mentioned Jim so I'll list him in the "here's who I spoke about" but, named or not, I was speaking of all the women with sites in this community so I will list them all:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava and Jim,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Trina of Trina's Kitchen

Ruth of Ruth's Report,


I also mentioned Mike of Mikey Likes It!.

"HUBdate: Fair is Fair" (Howard Wolfson,
Fair is Fair: In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Clinton campaign strategist Geoff Garin writes: "The bottom line is that one campaign really has engaged in a mean-spirited, unfair character attack on the other candidate -- but it has been Obama’s campaign, not ours. You would be hard-pressed to find significant analogues from our candidate, our senior campaign officials or our advertising to the direct personal statements that the Obama campaign has made about Clinton."
Read More.
$$$: "Hillary Clinton raised $10 million in the 24 hours after winning the Pennsylvania primary, aided by contributions from 80,000 new donors."
Read more and keep it going at
An Open Letter From Dr. Maya Angelou: Poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou wrote an open letter about her commitment to Hillary’s candidacy. "Hillary does not waver in standing up for those who need a champion.... I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know that she will make the most positive difference in people's lives and she will help our country become what it can be."
Read More.
In Case You Missed It: Paul Krugman writes in today's NYT: "From the beginning, I wondered what Mr. Obama's soaring rhetoric, his talk of a new politics and declarations that 'we are the ones we’ve been waiting for' (waiting for to do what, exactly?) would mean to families troubled by lagging wages, insecure jobs and fear of losing health coverage. The answer, from Ohio and Pennsylvania, seems pretty clear: not much. Mrs. Clinton has been able to stay in the race, against heavy odds, largely because her no-nonsense style, her obvious interest in the wonkish details of policy, resonate with many voters in a way that Mr. Obama’s eloquence does not."
Read more.
Bringing Troops Home with Honor: Yesterday, Hillary highlighted policies for veterans at "Solutions for America" events in Fayetteville and Asheville, NC. It's rare for a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to endorse a candidate but General Hugh Shelton is backing HRC. In NC yesterday, he said: "Unlike any other candidate, [Hillary] understands that maintaining a well-prepared armed forces goes beyond providing dollars....She is the only candidate who has offered a responsible plan for bringing our troops home with honor."
Read more.
Electable…Without FL or OH? The Obama campaign released a memo yesterday on electability, but as Chris Cilizza highlights, "two states that are not mentioned in the Obama memo are Florida, the key battleground in the 2000 presidential race, and Ohio, the Florida of the 2004 contest."
Read more.
Debate Watch: Hillary is willing to debate Sen. Obama in North Carolina, Oregon, and Indiana while Sen. Obama continues to resist. His excuse today: "It’' not clear that another debate is going to be the best use of our time." Meanwhile Sen. Evan Bayh said this yesterday: “We have thousands of people in Indiana who...deserve an opportunity to see both candidates stand side by side...We in Indiana don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens."
Read more and more.
Today on the Trail: In North Carolina, Hillary hosts a "Solutions for America" event in Jacksonville, NC. In Indiana, she hosts "Solutions for the American Economy" events in Bloomington, East Chicago, and Fort Wayne. She also meets with steelworkers to discuss creating and protecting jobs in Gary.

Hillary won Pennsylvania and, goodness, doesn't that seem to tick of the Cult of Saint Bambi? One of the cults biggest members is the hideous Donna Brazile. Last night, C.I. wrote "I Hate The War" and when I read that this morning, I realized yet again how right some of us were in 2004. We were all pestering C.I. to start a website. C.I.'s hilarious, informed, a great analytical mind and traveling all over the country to speak out againt the illegal war. We were saying, "You need to start a blog." (It was supposed to be a blog when The Common Ills started, it became something else.) C.I.'s excuse was always, "Who has the time?" But C.I. would follow that by pointing out the lack of knowledge about websites. Last night, C.I. took on Donna Brazile and demonstrated yet again why there's no one else who can do what C.I. does.

As noted in that entry, if Ms. magazine can't get it together, kill it. Too many of us have gone to bat for Ms. too many times and we certainly didn't do that so it could be the current pathetic version of a lifestyle magazine it is. Yes, there are strong writers. Martha Burk remains the strongest reason to read each of the four issues. But there's a lot of weakness, a lot of wasted space and when they're printing -- as they are in the issue that's about to go on sale -- Donna Brazile's lies, it's time to give it up. Her lies are so hideous and that Ms. wants to play readers dumb by printing them is nonsesne and shameful. The homophobe shouldn't even be printed in the magazine to begin with. But despite her non-stop attacks on Hillary, the homophobe is allowed to pretend that she's happy for both candidates. Donna Brazile is trash.

Oh, e-mails. Sunny asked me Tuesday to explain "trash" to her because she had two e-mails. When C.I. or I use "trash," we're using it in terms of the culture we were raised. "Trash" was anyone who was an outright liar, a rapist, a crook, you name it. Trash cannot be redeamed. If you were dubbed "trash," you were blackballed from polite society. There isn't a term -- not even a curse word -- that's stronger in our vocabulary. It's why a certain wishes-she-was-somebody is a nobody. Rebecca's mother-in-law dubbed her "trash" and doors closed for her. She throws her money around and plays in a small pool but she can't get the invites she wants and, in fact, C.I. got her kicked off Larry King this year after she'd been booked and announced as a guest. (C.I. did that as a personal favor to Rebecca's mother-in-law who called in a favor noting how close she was with C.I.'s mother. Otherwise, C.I. stays out of it on that woman and lets her drown on her own.)

But that's really how "trash" works. You think you're getting ahead and becoming 'somebody' and then the doors start closing. Rebecca, who grew up under different socio-economic circumstances than C.I. and I did, was so confused about the ins and outs of all of this until she started reading Edith Wharton. After that, she got it and was only surprised that it still existed. It has always existed. It's why Archer didn't pursue the Countess, it's why a lot of people who want to be players today learn that there is no fashionable playground for them. I think I've blackballed three people in my life and that's it. But if someone like Rebecca's mother-in-law (who was also close to my parents) asks for my assistance and ensuring that trash stays on the curb and doesn't enter the home, I always toss in.

If you beat your wife, you're trash. I don't know how to make it any clearer. There are somethings that will not be accepted and those who violate the rules find themselves shunned socially. C.I. will probably end up in Rebecca's mother-in-law's role at some point because, like her, C.I.'s connections are so deep in every field. C.I.'s are actually deeper due to family members having been in Congress and other fields. Whenever Rebecca's mother-in-law wants to blackball someone, she always gets a pledge from C.I. of "I'll help" or "I won't work against you." As she will tell you, C.I.'s actually more effective than she is because C.I. thinks longterm. C.I. does it so that it happens bit by bit. Mid-way through, a person is apt to think, "Goodness, it seems like I'm being shut out. Is it just my imagination?" That's partly because C.I. will provide chances. A door will get shut but others will be left open. If the person doesn't improve, each door slowly shuts. C.I.'s very methodical about it. A very funny writer always says C.I.'s the only one who could shut down the "Old Queen" of Hollywood. She's probably right about that. C.I. plays it like chess.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, April 25, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, an oversight exploration announces Iraqi Forces figures are wrong, the VA scandals continue and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Claudia Feldman (Houston Chronicle) reported a week ago on consientious objector Hart Vines and his participation at Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier (IVAW's Ronn Cantu who started the first IVAW chapter in Texas, at Fort Hood, is also covered in the article). Feldman reports:

One of his jobs in Iraq was to stand guard with a .50-caliber machine gun while his buddies searched houses supposedly inhabited by insurgents and enemy combatants. At the conference, searches of that kind were described vividly. Sometimes soldiers kicked in the front doors. Sometimes they upended refrigerators and ripped stoves out of walls. Sometimes they turned drawers upside down and broke furniture.
One day Viges was instructed to search a suspicious house, a hut, really, but he couldn't find pictures of Saddam Hussein, piles of money, AK-47s or roadside bombs.
"The only thing I found was a little .22 pistol," Viges said, " ... but we ended up taking the two young men, regardless."
An older woman, probably the mother of the young men, watched and wailed nearby.
"She was crying in my face, trying to kiss my feet," Viges said. "And, you know, I can't speak Arabic, but I can speak human. She was saying, 'Please, why are you taking my sons? They have done nothing wrong.' "

dropping back to a September 2005 speech he gave, here's what happened once he returned to the US:

And after I came home I've come to realise that we've got to make better choices, I applied for Conscientious Objector [status]. I was able to remember the Sermon on the Mount. I'm a Christian, what was I doing holding a gun to another human being? Love thy neighbour. Do good for him. Pray for those who persecute you, don't shoot them. I get my Conscientious Objector packet approved. I'm alone. I'm free, I'm done. It's all gone now, right? No! I still swerve at trash bagsfireworks. I'm looking at everyone's hands and faces [tonight] to see who's going to want to shoot me. I can't express anything, I can't express love. All my relationships are falling apart because they can't f**king understand me. How do they know the pain that I've gone through or the sights that I've seen, the dead bodies? The innocence gone, stripped, dead? I couldn't do it myself. I couldn't stand the pain. People were leaving me. I was alone. I couldn't cut my wrists. So I called the police. They come stomping through my door. I have my knife in my hand. "Shoot me. Shoot me". All of a sudden I was the man with the RPG, with all the guns pointed at him. Misled, miseducated, thinking that "Yes, we can solve all the world's problems by killing each other". How insane is that? Lucky enough I lived through that episode as well. See, you can't wash your hands when they're covered in blood with more blood. It's impossible; the wounds carry on. Families are destroyed.

Meanwhile, in Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).

Turning to the Dept of Veteran Affairs.
Pia Malbran (CBS News) reports that, "While on the stand in California federal court" yesterday, "where the VA is facing a lawsuit filed by veteran advocates who are demanding better health care, Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA's Under Secretary for Health, said, 'I Disagree with the premise that there was some effort to cover up something.' On March 10 of this year, Everett Chasen, the chief communications officer for the VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) sent an e-mail message to several top agency officials including Kussman. At the time, CBS News was preparing a report about attempted suicides among VA patients. Chasen wrote, 'I don't want to give CBS any more numbers on veteran suicides or attempts than they already have -- it will only lead to more questions'." CBS News has been covering this story for some time. Today Peter Hart (FAIR's CounterSpin) explained:

Sadly, there's no end of examples of US journalists accepting and parroting official government statistics without challenge so when we find a case of an outlet actually questioning an official source and bringing that challenge to the public it seems worth taking note of. Last year
CBS Evening News reported what they and others have called an "epidemic of suicides" among those who have served in the US military. The network noted that there were more than 6,200 such suicides in the year 2005. Those numbers were challenged however by the Department of Veterans Affairs head of mental health Dr. Ira Katz who insisted that CBS had it wrong, the suicide rate for vets was actually no higher than normal. In a distrubing April 21st follow-up, however, CBS provided evidence that those numbers were not wrong and evidently that's why the VA didn't want the public to know them. CBS reporter Armen Keteyian noted that the VA recently provided date indicating just 790 attempted suicides by vets in all of 2007; however, Keteyian had access to an e-mail Katz sent to his top media advisor in which the VA official said something dramatically different acknowledging that "our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." That's pretty far removed from the 790 a year the VA had reported to CBS and consequently to the public. Even more disturbing is the evidence that Katz knows he's actively misinforming the public on this critical issue. His e-mail was titled "Not for the CBS News interview request" and the opening line was "Sh!" The note closed with Katz' concern: "Is this something we should carefully address before someone stumbles on it?" Clearly this is a story that will require further follow-up to find out what else the VA would like to hide from the public about yet another of the devastating impacts of the war on Iraq. We certainly hope CBS will continue in the way they've started out and that they won't be alone.

Note on the above, all links in Peter Hart's commentary go to CBS News which has text and video for each link and the e-mail itself, PDF format warning, is
here. Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports that Kussman stated on the stand yesterday, "The number of patients who have adjustment reactions to the experience that they have in Afghanistan or Iraq is very important, but we don't believe that's mental illness. It would be unfair and inappropriate to stigmatize people with a mental health diagnosis when they are having what most people believe are normal reactions to abnormal situations." There is no care or concern, just a desire to cut down on expenses. Diagnosis the mental health disorder requires that it be treated. Dropping back to IVAW's Winter Soldier Investigation last month:

Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.
That's the reality for refusing to diagnose, Kinne's point that the VA would then be ethically bound to treat. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. Kinne testified Friday afternoon. Wednesday saw the VA's deputy chief Gordon Mansfield facing questions from the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee. Armen Keteyian and Pia Malbran (CBS News, link has text and video) reported that Senator Patty Murray questioned him about how anyone could have faith in statements from the VA since "every time we trun around we find out that what you're saying publicly is different from what you're saying privately?" Les Blumenthal (Seattle Times) quotes Murray stating, "I used to teach preschool, and when you bring up a 3-year-old and tell them they have to stop lying, they understand the consequences. The VA doesn't. They needed to stop hiding the fact this war is costing us in so many ways." Murray also noted, "I am very angry upset that we find out this week that several inernal VA e-mails that were made public -- not becuase you wanted them to, but because of a lawsuit that ws ongoing -- showed that the VA downplayed significantly the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Just a few months ago in November the VA was confronted with an analysis that said there were 6,250 veterans who had committed suicide in 2005 an average of 17 a day. VA officials said that number was inaccurate, it was much lower. These e-mails that were uncovered this week show that Dr. Katz, who is the VA's top mental health official, not only backed up those alleged numbers but he acknowledged that the numbers were much higher than that. So what they were telling us in November and December was that the number was lower but inside the VA everyone knew it was higher. And there are e-mails saying that and showing that". Thursday on the Senate floor, during a vote on the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act, Murray stated the following:

And just this week, we got more evidence that the Administration has been covering up the extent of the toll this war has taken on our troops. Internal e-mails that became public in a court hearing show that the VA has vastly downplayed the number of suicides and suicide attempts by veterans in the last several years. Last November, an analysis by CBS News found that over 6,200 veterans had committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 17 a day.
When confronted, VA officials said the numbers were much lower. But according to the internal e-mails from the VA's head of Mental Health -- Dr. Ira Katz -- 6,570 veterans committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 18 a day. The e-mails also revealed that VA officials know that another 1,000 veterans -- who are receiving care at VA medical facilities -- attempt suicide each month.
Mr. President, these numbers offer tragic evidence that our nation is failing thousands of veterans a year. And they reflect an Administration that has failed to own up to its responsibilities, and failed even to own up to the true impact of the war on its veterans.
What is most appalling to me is that this is not the first time the VA has covered up the problems facing veterans who sacrificed for our country. Time and again, the VA has told us one thing in public -- while saying something completely different in private. It is outrageous to me that VA officials would put public appearance ahead of people's lives. Yet, Mr. President, it appears that is what has happened again.
When we -- as members of Congress -- sit down to determine the resources to give the VA, we must have a true picture of the needs. And if there's a problem, we have to act. It's our duty -- and the duty of the Administration -- to care for veterans. By covering up the true extent of that problem, the VA has hindered our ability to get those resources to the veterans who need them. That is irresponsible, and it's wrong.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka has joined Murray in calling for Ira Katz' resignation. Meanwhile C.W. Nevius (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the attorney handling the lawsuit against the VA, Gordon Erspamer: "He's a rainmaker attorney for a major firm in the city who has set aside time to take legal action that doesn't earn a penny. And besides that, he's got a compelling and personal back story and a chip on his shoulder to prove it. Erspamer's cause since the late '70s has been the rights of armed forces veterans, and this week's trial has the VA squirming over a shocking rate of suicides among vets and has captured the national spotlight." Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz hosted a live report on KPFA about the trial Tuesday and Gordon Erspamer was interviewed in the first hour.

Yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction released a report entitled [PDF format warning] "
Intermim Analysis of Iraqi Security Force Information Provided By The Department Of Defense Report, Measuring Stability And Security In Iraq." Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports, "The U.S. military does not have an accurate tally of the number of Iraqi security forces who have been trained or who are present for duty . . . The study says some Iraqi soldiers and police who were killed or wounded in action remain on the payroll so their families can receive financial compensation, skewing the statistics. . . . Reinforcing earlier findings, Special Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and other officials said the data being provided to the U.S. military were inaccurate." William H. McMichael (Army Times) adds that "thousands of others counted as present for duty are not showing up for work because they're injured, on leave or absent without leave . . ." The 21-page report (13 of text and then additional notes) also states, "Evolving changes in reporting methodology make it difficult to compare information from one report to earlier reports." Page five notes of the Defense Dept's most recent report, "Although the March 2008 Section 9010 report, as well as earlier ones, presents an array of numbers, other information in the 9010 reports and elsewhere indicates (1) uncertainty about the number of Iraqi personnel who are present for duty at any one time; and (2) uncertainty about the capabilities of the police force because the police have greater capacity to recruit that to train -- this limits the number of police on the rolls who have been trained. In addition, shortages of officers and/or non-commissioned officers in both the police and defense forces remain a significant long-term challenge that could take a decade to address."

Which fits in with
Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) observation that Nouri al "Maliki's campaign" assault on Basra "has resulted in US troops deploying to Basra and left the UK with no choice but to provide additional support to the operation. One person familiar with US military planning in Iraq said the 'fiasco' started by Mr Maliki had 'forced the hand of the British' to support the Iraqi government, in addition to the current core mission of training Iraqi forces." And the strain comes as Daniel Bentley (The Scotsman) reports, "British troop numbers in Iraq will only be futher reducded 'if conditions allow', Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said yesterday." The numbers also matter in terms of The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour earlier this month. Repeatedly the numbers now known to be non-reliable were cited as 'proof' of 'advances'. Gen David Petraeus' seven-page prepared remarks always cited the numbers of Iraqi Forces:

A number of factors have contributed to the progress that has been made. First, of course, has been the impact of increased numbers of Coalition and Iraqi Forces. You are well aware of the U.S. surge. Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.[. . .] A second factor has been the employment of Coalition and Iraqi Forces have grown significantly since September, and over 540,000 individuals now servein the Iraqi Security Forces. The number of combat battalions capable of taking the lead in operations, albeit with some Coalition support, has grown to well over 100 [Slide 10]. These units are bearing an increasing share of the burden, as evidenced by the fact that Iraqi Security Force losses have recently been three times our own. We will, of course, conduct careful after action reviews with our Iraqi partners in the wake of recent operations, as there were units andleaders found wanting in some cases, and some of our assessments may be downgraded as a result. Nonetheless, the performance of many units was solid, especially once they got their footing and gained a degree of confidence, and certain Iraqi elements proved quite capable.Underpinning the advances of the past year have been improvements in Iraq's security institutions. An increasingly robust Iraqi-run training base enabled the Iraqi Security Forces to grow by over 133,000 soldiers and police over the past 16 months. And the still-expanding training base is expected to generate an additional 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and 16 Army and Special Operations battalions throughout the rest of 2008, along with over 23,000 police and 8 National Police battalions.

AFP reports, "Iraq's hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called upon his followers and security forces to stop the bloodshed a week after he warned of 'open war' against the government." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes him stating, "I call upon my brothers in the army, police and al-Mahdi Army to stop the bloodshed. When we threatend an open war, it was meant against the occupation and not against our people. There will be no war between Sadrists and Iraqi brothers from any groups." And the UN human rights envoy, Radhika Coomaraswamy declared today of Iraqi children, "Many of them are no longer go to school, many are recruited for violent activitis or detained in custody, they lack access to the most basic services and manifest a wide range of psychological symptoms from the violence in their everyday lives."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Tikrit car bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer, a Falluja mosque bombing that claimed 1 life and left four people wounded and notes two US air bombings of Baghdad after night fall yesterday that claimed the lives of 13 people and wounded forty (those numbers are US military numbers).


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Baghdad with three Iraqi soldiers wounded and 5 "gunmen" killed. CBS and AP report: "Assailants on Friday gunned down an Iraqi journalist who had been working for a local radio station run by a Shiite political party that is the chief rival of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the station and police said. Jassim al-Batat was killed by gunmen in a speeding car as he left his house in the town of Qurna in his own car, said Adnan al-Asadi, the head of the local al-Nakhil radio station based in the southern city of Basra. Qurna is 55 miles north of Basra." Reuters quotes al-Asadi explaining, "His only concerns were his work and his family. He was liked by all his colleagues, and we don't know any reason why he should be killed." Reuters also notes 1 adult male shot dead outside his Iskandariya home, 1 fisherman shot dead in Mosul (another injured), 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul and 2 people shot dead in Iskandariya.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad, April 24." The announcement brings to 4052 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Turning to US politics. First up, Wednesday's snapshot referenced Big Tent Democrat's post (TalkLeft) on the nonsense of Tom Hayden -- the latest nonsense from a lifetime of nonsense but the link was wrong. My apologies.
The correct link is here. Wednesday night, Elaine provided the letter Hayden needs to write -- the public letter -- and why no woman need listen to him until he does. (Not that they need to listen to him after, for that matter.) Wednesday night, Taylor Marsh also weighed in on Tom's nonsense and, let me repeat something here, Tom invents things. He invents conversations that allegedly happened years ago when he needs them for modern times. We've avoided commenting on his current wife here because who knows what the woman did or didn't know. Tom loves to embellish a tale. But the point is that he's a longterm sexist and no women needs him speaking for her. On the topic of sexists, Keith Olberman of MSNBC, as Jeralyn (TalkLeft) points out, made a comment on air that has some wondering if he was calling for Hillary Clinton to be assaulted or murdered: "Hyperbole? A figure of speech? Sexist? Or a call to snuff her out?" Joan Walsh (Salon) explains Olberman has 'apologized' -- he still doesn't get how offensive his statement was and how his add-on only more so. He gets that it sounded to some like murder but he still doesn't get (and Walsh doesn't appear to either) that the "apology" is still stating a woman needs to be taken into a room and forced "politically" out of the race. It's undemocratic and, with his pattern, it's sexist. Susan UnPC (No Quarter), writing before the 'apology,' gets it very clearly, "Take notice of his use of the pronoun 'he'." Meanwhile Paul Krugman (New York Times) examines the working class support for Hillary Clinton and how Obama still -- all these months later -- can't connect with those voters? Jonathan Mann (CNN) explains, "Hillary is back. Until now, Hillary Clinton's campaign hd one consistent quality -- it kept coming up short. . . . The biggest question about her campaign was when it would finally succumb to being so second-place. This week that changed. She won the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points, a margin that convinced contributors to flood her Internet site with $10 million."

Seth Bringman ( explains "
Hillary Clinton's Plan to Address the Student Loan Crisis:"

Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton called on the Bush Administration to address the growing problems in the subprime mortgage market. Instead of listening, President Bush stood by as the subprime crisis spiraled into a larger housing and credit crisis that is driving our economy downward. This economic crisis now threatens to claim another victim: student loans. As the result of the credit crunch, more than 50 student lenders, accounting for almost 14% of private student-loan volume, have already withdrawn from the guaranteed student loan program [Wall Street Journal, A3, 4/24/08]. Hundreds of thousands of students who are actively considering how to finance their college educations could be left in the lurch, without the ability to pay for college. And when those students are not able to college, that is not only tragic for them but a loss for our economy as a college graduate earns $1 million more over the course of their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.
Now is the time to act to prevent a student lending crisis. In Indiana, where six of every ten students graduate with debt, and that debt averages $21,000, it is vital that we ensure that every Hoosier student can count on the loans they need to attend school in the fall [Project on Student Debt]. Today, Hillary laid out her plan for addressing the student loan crisis. She urged the Bush Administration to support her plan, and act swiftly to head-off this growing crisis.

That's the opening use the link for the itemized list.
Marlon Marshall offers a photo essay of Hillary at the "Solutions for the American Economy" in Indianapolis. And we'll go out with this from Geoff Garin's "Fair Is Fair" (Washington Post):

What's wrong with this picture? Our campaign runs a TV ad Monday saying that the presidency is the toughest job in the world and giving examples of challenges presidents have faced and challenges the next president will face -- including terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mounting economic dislocation, and soaring gas prices. The ad makes no reference -- verbal, visual or otherwise -- to our opponent; it simply asks voters to think about who they believe is best able to stand the heat. And we are accused, by some in the media, of running a fear-mongering, negative ad.The day before this ad went on the air,
David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist, appeared with me on "Meet the Press." He was asked whether Hillary Clinton would bring "the changes necessary" to Washington, and his answer was "no." This was in keeping with the direct, personal character attacks that the Obama campaign has leveled against Clinton from the beginning of this race -- including mailings in Pennsylvania that describe her as "the master of a broken system."So let me get this straight.On the one hand, it's perfectly decent for Obama to argue that only he has the virtue to bring change to Washington and that Clinton lacks the character and the commitment to do so. On the other hand, we are somehow hitting below the belt when we say that Clinton is the candidate best able to withstand the pressures of the presidency and do what's right for the American people, while leaving the decisions about Obama's preparedness to the voters.Who made up those rules? And who would ever think they are fair?

aaron glantz

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The public letter someone needs to write

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Big Cry Baby"


Oh look at little Barack, "Barack holds his blanket and cries, "Big states and debates are scary." Poor little loser. You think John McCain would let the coward back out of a debate if the loser got the Democratic nomination? No. Think John McCain's going to pull any punches? No. Barack lost because he's a loser. I know his Closeted Communist supporters in Panhandle Media are crying their eyes . . . well, red. But that's really too damn bad because, as C.I.'s noted, if you're not a Democrat, you have no right to be endorsing in the Democratic primary. Barack's Closeted supporters know that which is why they pretend to be Democrats. I'm all for outing everyone of them. No, it's not "red baiting." These people have chosen to interject themselves into a Democratic primary. They don't belong it. They are not Democrats. Exposing them is not "red baiting." It's making sure everyone knows who is supporting whom.

"HUBdate: The Tide is Turning - More People Have Voted For Hillary Than Any Other Candidate" (Howard Wolfson,
More People Have Voted For Hillary Than Any Other Candidate: "After last night's decisive victory in Pennsylvania, more people have voted for Hillary than any other candidate, including Sen. Obama. Estimates vary slightly, but according to Real Clear Politics, Hillary has received 15,095,663 votes to Sen. Obama's 14,973,720, a margin of more than 120,000 votes. ABC News reported this morning that 'Clinton has pulled ahead of Obama' in the popular vote. This count includes certified vote totals in Florida and Michigan."
Read more.
The Tide is Turning: "The voters in Pennsylvania have spoken. America is listening. And the tide is turning…Despite making an unprecedented financial investment in his Pennsylvania campaign, including millions on negative ads ...Sen. Obama again failed to win a state that will be vital to a Democratic victory in November."
Read more.
$$$: The campaign has raised more than $3.5 million since PA polls closed last night…last night’s fundraising total the was the strongest ever.
Fighting for You: In last night’s victory speech, Hillary told voters, "I'm in this race to fight for you, to fight for everyone who has ever been counted out ...I need your help to continue this journey. This is your campaign and this is your victory tonight. Your support has meant the difference between winning and losing."
Watch here and read it here.
In Case You Missed It: The Washington Post reports that "unable once again to score a knockout, Sen. Barack Obama is likely to make his new negative tone even more negative."
Read more.
Closing the Deal? The AP asks: "Why can't Barack Obama close the deal? ...Unfortunately for's a question that bears repeating...The loss, despite a massive cash infusion and robust campaign presence in the state, underscores the persistent problems he’s had winning over many of the voters who form the traditional Democratic party base."
Read more.
On Tap: Hillary attends an event in Indianapolis, IN today...Tomorrow - joined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Hugh Shelton - she returns to North Carolina for stops in Jacksonville, Fayetteville, and Asheville. On Friday and Saturday, Hillary campaigns in Indiana.
On the Air: In a new NC Ask Me ad, Hillary responds to veteran David Eichhorn from Hickory, NC: "It is one of the highest obligations of our president and Commander-in- Chief to take care of our veterans. We owe everything to those who have served us."
Watch it here… "Jobs," airing in IN, emphasizes that "the next president has to begin putting the American people first. Your jobs, your health care, your futures." Watch it here.

Okay, so what I'm about to do is offer the letter, the one C.I. mentions is needed, that Tom Hayden should be writing.

Dear Vanessa,

I am human trash. I was jealous of the fact that your own father was both artistic and talented. I was envious of the fact that he made a name for himself. I was always aware that without your mother at my side, I was just another burned out radical from the sixties.

Your presence reminded me of all my failures.

That wasn't your fault and I never should have taken it out on you.

Not only were you a very sweet child but, in spite of no assistance from me as your step-father, you grew up to be a wonderful, amazing woman. You're talented. You're a caring and devoted mother. As with your beautiful looks, you got none of that from me.

I had no right to undercut your self-confidence repeatedly. I was an adult, not your brother in a nasty rivalry match. I didn't behave like an adult. As a result, I caused you pain.

I can only apologize to you for it. I can only tell you it wasn't mature on my part and that no step-parent should ever behave the way I did.

I apologize (a) for the way I treated you, (b) for the harm it caused you and (c) for acting so many years after like it was no big deal. Of course it was very big deal. You were a child. You didn't have the skills to say, "He's just an asshole." You had a father who loved you very much and when you began making a point to stay with him, I should have grasped that not only were you older, but I was as well. At that point, I should have apologized to you. I never did.

As I said before, I am human trash. Like many men facing the end who've screwed up so many lives, I've remarried and try to act like I'm a saint. You know very well that I'm not. Apologizing to you won't make me a saint but it will take responsibility for my actions. No child should ever be made to feel that they are not wanted. You turned out wonderful in spite of me. That's a testament to your own strength.

Tom Hayden

He could also put in there somewhere that he never respected women and that, if you checked with women who knew him at any period of his life, they'd tell you he always had difficulties with women. He could talk about how his sexism got him kicked out of a commune and how that's why he adopted an alias, not to hide from the law. He was hiding from the left that kicked him to the curb. Vanessa is Vanessa Vadim who got the best from both of her parents, Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda.

Tom Hayden is pathetic. He wants to slime Hillary and hide behind his wife (no, I've never heard of her either) to do so. He wants to act like he's just the voice of reason when it comes to women when the reality is far from it. If his current wife is smart, she'll put her name on everything so if anything goes wrong, he's not again trying to claim he deserves over half of the community property.

By the way, heads up to Third on Sunday. The plan is to do a scathing piece on how Panhandle Media set out to destroy Hillary and why. I'll be blogging Friday, of course. Just adding that in case anyone thinks the heads up means I won't be blogging until next week.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Turkey apparently bombs Iraq, Hillary wins Pennsylvania, Petraeus gets a non-acting nomination, and more.

Starting with war resistance, war resister Camilo Mejia will join Shontina Vernon, Viggo Mortensen, Staceyann Chin, Sarah Levy and others for a May 5th reading of
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States at the First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave in Portlan Oregon. Kristi Turnquist (The Oregonian) notes that tickets are $20 (ten dollars for students) and posts a video of Mortensen providing a voice over to illustrations of Howard Zinn's life. Camilo is among the first known war resisters. Along with being the first known Iraq War veteran to resist and being the chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, he documented his story in Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.

In Canada, many US war resisters are currently hoping to be granted safe harbor status and 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).

Turning to Iraq,
AFP reports that Lt Gen Lloyd Austin ("number two commander of US forces in Iraq") wants Moqtada al-Sadr's help in the ongoing assault on the Sadr City section of Baghdad, "We hope that Moqtada al-Sadr will influence his elements to stop violence and that he will work in favour of peace." The only problem with that request is that US Secretary of State Condi Rice stood in Baghdad Sunday calling Moqtada al-Sadr a coward. Did anyone think about that before she made that talking point? It was an effective one for the White House to make if they were completely turning their back on al-Sadr but if Austin's now publicly asking for al-Sadr's help, there is a problem. And it's a problem Crispin Thorold (BBC News) explains: "It is now clear that although the initial military planning was Iraqi, US and British forces are deeply involved. In the capital's neighbourhood of Sadr City, US infantry troops are fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers, to try to secure areas that were once firmly under the hold of the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to the Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr. Reports suggest that US combat units have also been deployed at short notice to Basra from elsewhere in Iraq and the Middle East." It would appear the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has yet again been exposed as inept. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) quoted Moqtada al-Sadr's statement over the weekend: "I am giving my last warning and my word to the Iraqi government to the Iraqi government to take the path of peace and stop violence against its own people, otherwise it will be a government of destruction. If it does not stop the militias that have infiltrated the government, then we will declare a war until liberation." The assault on Basra last month turned Moqtada al-Sadr from possible waning influence to the face of Iraqi pride. On the assault on civilians that al-Maliki thought would increase his (and the Iraqi military's) own standing, Sean Rayment (Telegraph of London) reported Monday that unnamed "British commanders" were scathing in their critique: "incompetent officers and unattrained troops . . . sent into battle with inadequate supplies of food, water and ammunition," "unmitigated disaster at every level," Iraqi General Mohan Furayji is characterized "as a 'dangerous lunatic' who 'ignored' advice" and al-Maliki was responsible for the "disaster which felt as though an amateur was in charge." William S. Lind (UPI) observes, "When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent his 'army' to fight the Mahdi Army in Basra, U.S. President Bush called it 'a defining moment.' It turned out instead to be a confirming moment. It confirmed that there is no state in Mesopotamia -- the geographical territory known as the nation of Iraq." Pakistan's The Post notes, "Since Sadr issued his threat, which could unravel months of security gains in Iraq, on Saturday the US military says it has killed around 65 militiamen in Sadr City and other Shi'ite parts of Baghdad." The International Committee of the Red Cross issued a field report today on Sadr City noting that "several hospitals have exhausted their stocks of medical supplies as a result of the ongoing fighting. The ICRC has had difficulty transporting food and medicines where they are needed because of the ongoing fighting. Earlier today the ICRC managed to distribute some three tonnes of medical items to Sadr City General Hospital, Al Imam Ali General Hospital and Ibn Al Baldi Paediatric Hospital in Sadr City. The items included equipment for intravenous infusion, injection and dressing materials, and anaesthetics."

Meanwhile the continuing assaults on Basra and Sadr City aren't the only continued operations. Turkey and PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) continue to have ongoing tensions.
AFP reports that Ahmed Danis (PKK spokesperson) states that northern Iraq was bombed by Turkish airplanes today: "The bombing began at 4:30 pm (1330 GMT) and continued for an hour. The bombardment targeted old rear bases in the district of Kharkurk near the Turkish border." AP notes that Turkey has not confirmed the bombings. Reuters cites an unnamed "Turkish military source" declaring that there were four war planes taking part in the bombing which lasted for about a half hour. Hurriyet notes that yesterday US Secretary of State Condi Rice termed the PKK "an enemy of stability and therefore an enemy of Iraq, Turkey and the United States."

In other reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing wounded two people this morning and two Baghdad roadside bombings wounded nine people in the afternoon and five were wounded in the evening by a Baghdad roadside bombing, a Mosul bomber killed himself right before a car bombing and 2 other people were killed with nine wounded, a Mosul car bombing wounded seven people, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded four people and a Mosul mortar attack wounded four people and a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded two police officers. Reuters notes a US drone killed 2 Iraqis with a Hellfire missile.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Jalal Khorsheed (a teacher) was wounded by gunfire in Salahuddin Province today. Reuters notes the US military killed 6 Iraqis suspected of being "gunmen" and 7 suspected of being "militants," and 2 man shot dead in Mosul (his wife injured), 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, 4 in Muqdadiyah and 38 were discovered in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 5 corpses received by Baghdad's Al Imam Ali hospital (Sadr City -- twenty-two people were also treated for injuries), 3 corpses discovered in Mosul and 2 "close to Tirkrit."

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Baghdad Soldier was killed when he was attacked by small-arms fire while his patrol was conducting operations in eastern Baghdad at approximately 2:20 p.m. April 23."

Turning to the US, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been receiving a great deal of attention for statements made this week.
William M. Arkin (Washington Post) evaluates the statements and evaluates Gates tenure in his post finding, "Gates' problem in the end is not just a military institution that resents being held to task for the sins of the civilian ideologues and amateurs. It is that, if the military were doing all of what he and others wanted, we still would not be 'winning' in Iraq. If the military smartly saluted and aggressively implemented all of the civilian plans, the world would not be transformed back in either a pre-9/11 state of contentment or an immediate-post-9/11 age of solidarity. . . . When Gates is gone, too little progress will have been made in resolving these problems." Today Gates also announced that Gen David Petraeus (currently in charge of US operations in Iraq) would become the nominee to head of Centcom. Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) explains, "Gen Petraeus who has been praised for his oversight of the military 'surge' that has helped reduce violence in Iraq, will replace William Fallon, who resigned abruptly last month after a magazine article that portrayed the navy officer as publicly opposing President George W. Bush over Iran policy. Admiral Fallon rejected the charge, but said the perception had made it impossible to do his job." At the Pentagon today, Gates declared, "I do not anticipate General Petraeus leaving Iraq until late summer or early fall" and that Lt Gen Ray Odierno (who has schilled so hard to bring about war on Iran) will be the nominee to replace Petraeus in Iraq. Despite the fact that Petraeus would not be leaving "until late summer," Gates also attempted to strong arm Congress on both nominations by declaring, "I respectfully ask the Senate to move on them expeditiously, hopefully by Memorial Day, so their families and we can plan appropriately." Asked in the conference by AP about Senate support, Gates maintained he has kept Senators Carl Levin, John McCain and Senator John Warner in the loop. Other Senators were apparently unimportant. Gates was also asked whether or not he expected to serve out his term (which would appear to mean "Do you think the White House might replace you") through January 20, 2009 and he replied, "I certainly expect to. Hope so." [Reuters appears to think the question was about whether Gates would serve in the next administration. They're off their rocker. The original question to Gates was: "Speaking of continuity and staying the course, do you anticipate continuing to serve as Defense secretary through January 20th of next year?"] Petraeus statement released today on the nomination is (in full): "I am honored to be nominated for this position and to have an opportunity to serve with America's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coastguardsmen, and Civilians." At the White House today, White House spokesperson Dana Perino echoed Gates by declaring, "We ask that the Senate move as expeditiously as possible and ask that they act by Memorial Day." She also cited the "families" but "expeditiously" appears to be the talking point they want in all media coverage since both stressed it. Perino was also asked if the nomination of Petraeus meant (if confirmed by the Senate) that the July assessment delivered to Congress would be done by someone other than Petraeus and she responded "I understand that Secretary Gates believes that will be General Petraeus. . . . And so that assassment will take -- will be done by General Petraeus."

Levin made no public mention of knowing the nomination was coming; however,
AP states he intends "to use a major defense policy bill to expand federal hate crimes laws to protect gays and bring troops home from Iraq. The Michigan Democrat says he also wants to use the bill to force the Iraqi government to pay more toward reconstruction costs." Pauline Jelinek (AP) reports that, as oil prices are close to $120 per barrel, Stuart Bowen ("special inspetor general for Iraq reconstruction") has informed the AP that Iraq's oil revenues for the year could be as high as $70 billion. Gordon Lubold and Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor) report that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "appeared to reserve judgment" on the nominations announced by Gates and quotes Reid declaring, "Our ground forces' readiness and battles in Afghanistan and against al-Qaida in Pakistan have suffered as a result of the current costly Iraq strategy. These challenges will require fresh, independent, and creative thinking and, if directed by a new president, a commitment to implementing major changes in strategy."

Turning to US presidental politics. Pressed for time, we're only focusing on Democrats today.
Cynthia McKinney has a lot of new content up at her site and she'll be noted in tomorrow's snapshot (McKinney is running for the Green Party's presidential nomination).
Yesterday in Pennsylvania, primaries were held. There was big news on the Republican side and on the Democratic side. Let's start with the GOP (all Penn. results are with 9,219 ouf of the 9,264 districts reporting). 215,812 voters went for Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul (Paul has 125,810). That is almost half the number who voted for John McCain (576,088). Not a strong endorsement for McCain -- the presumed GOP nominee barring death or scandal -- from Pennsylvania. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama. Clinton leads by 10% of the vote. The percentage is 45.4% for Barack (rounded down to 45%) and 54.6% for Hillary (rounds up to 55%).
Click here for totals. Jake Tapper, George Stephanopoulos and Emily Friedman (ABC News) report, "Basking in her 10-point victory in yesterday's Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton told ABC's Good Morning America today that her win gave her a great 'vote of confidence' moving forward." With yesterday's vote, Hillary Clinton now leads Barack Obama in the popular vote by 120,000. Big cry baby Barack says that's not fair to count Florida and Michigan. The press HAS to count them because THEY VOTED. This isn't about delegates, it's about the popular vote. The DNC may not know what to do about Florida and Michigan in terms of delegates but those states held primaries. In Michigan, Barack took his own name off the ballot (others -- Clinton, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich) did not. In Florida, he had the same chance to win as Hillary. He may not like the results but he's the one who refused a revote. The press HAS TO COUNT those results. They took place. The press isn't the DNC and their job IS TO REPORT WHAT HAPPENED. Barack may not like it but, guess what, it's not about what he wants, it's about what happened. (Taylor Marsh explains it here.) The only way the results don't count is if new primaries are held and the one preventing that is Barack Obama. Wasn't Hillary supposed to drop out? Wasn't Barack the Democratic choice (yeah, laugh at that one, we'll come back to it)? He couldn't win Penn and he's got a million and one excuses but if you are the choice, if you are the candidate, if you are all the hype said you were, you would have won. You didn't. Susan UnPC (No Quarter) breaks it down here. Following her victory, the Clinton campaign experienced record donations with $3 million raised by this morning and ten million currently.

Meanwhile Tom Hayden never tires of embarrassing himself (what else is honestly left for him?).
Big Tent Democrat (TalkLeft) notes that Tom-Tom wants Hillary out of the race and is pinning it off on his wife -- that's the current wife and (me speaking) don't expect that to last any longer than usual. Tom-Tom tells you his wife is screaming these days -- well who wouldn't if they had to stare at that pockmarked face in the morning? Seriously, Tom Hayden needs to watch himself when it comes to writing about women. When you went through a marriage treating your step-daughter like crap, destroying her self-image, making her feel unwanted, the only thing you ever need to write about women is a piece entitled "Vanessa, This Is My Public Apology To You." Until that piece gets written and published, he really needs to find a topic other than women to write about.

On the issue of the pathetic males, yeah, we caught it.
Ava and I never laughed so hard. Add "community" to "movement." Nine times out of ten, someone claiming they decided to support Barack for either is a Communist hiding in their closet. "Red baiting"? Ava and I never laughed so hard. We can't link to it, we can't comment on it because we're really not in the mood for Communist Party members who pose as Democrats today. But let's be really clear, the CP and the DNC are two different parties. When you are CP and you interject yourself into a DNC primary, calling you out is not out of bounds. The general election is open to all. The Democratic Primary is not supposed to be influenced by Communists or, for that matter, Socialists or Greens or anyone not of the Democratic Party. If you're not a Democrat and you're deciding to endorse Barack, it's not "red baiting" to clarify that an outsider is attempting to hijack a political party. As a comedy reel, it was wonderful to listen to. As anything resembling journalism? Not so much. (No surprise.) Funniest line: "Senator Clinton can't have it both ways!" Uh, she's not the Communist going on a broadcast today pretending to be a Democrat. It takes a lot of nerve for a Communist pretending to be a Democrat to accuse Hillary of trying to have it both ways. Again, it's a Democratic Party primary. If you're not a Democrat, butt out. If you don't, closet doors can come down and you brought it on yourself by lying. You and you alone. (And it's not "red baiting" anymore than the Democratic Party, in 2004, noting that Ralph Nader was getting support from some Republicans was "conservative baiting". Get real. It's about frauds trying to trick people.) You can endorse whomever you want in a general election but a Democratic Primary is for Democrats and, of course, the Closeted know that which is one reason they pretend to be Democrats. Not playing that game here.

Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) observes:Yet the campaign has exposed Obama's glaring weakness among the working-class whites Democrats need to win the presidency."If I told you somebody was winning California, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida and was not winning the nomination, you'd say something was wrong," said Democratic consultant Doug Schoen, who is unaligned in the race. "And something arguably is not right."

Mike will address the claims of some others quoted in the article tonight. Meanwhile Hillary picked up an endorsement from US House Rep John Tanner, "I do not remember a time when our nation has faced the financial peril that confronts all Americans. To me, this election is not about politics as usual. I believe nothing less than our financial liberty and economic freedom are at stake."

mcclatchy newspapers

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Panhandle Media in all its non-glory

Years ago, when the Farrah hairdo was the rage (when she was Farrah Fawcett-Majors), I remember my shock as so many women (and, honestly, a few men) rushed forward to copy the hair. I remember an actress at an awards show wearing a Farrah wig and trying to pass it off as her own hair which really was hilarious. (Though not intended to be.) I was reminded of that craze by Robyn Blumner's nonsense at Common Dreams entitled "Obama Chose Right Word: Who Wouldn't Be 'Bitter' About Being Bushed?" Robin, you don't believe in God. Obama's remarks were not attacking you. You have about as much reason to weigh in as you do to get a Farrah tomorrow. Really, it's embarrassing. No link to the trash.

I can only take a few moments at that pathetic website before I recoil as I read the unthinking mantras repeated in the comments. "Watch Democracy Now!" Sad but true, some people really believe Amy Goodman tells it like it is. She slants the coverage more than the MSM at this point. If I didn't already note it, read Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The Christ-child fumbles" where they dub Goody's worthless show, "Pravada On The Hudson." Thinking about forking over twenty-plus books for Goody's new bad book (apparently not, no one's rushing to buy that clip-fest)? Read Ava and C.I.'s "Stop the madness!" cry the Goodmans, "You first," reply Ava and C.I. which is amazing. What people don't realize is that Ava and C.I. aren't ticked off yet. They have a slow boil and when it simmers over, look out.

I'm not joking and I'm not taking anything away from the hard hitting work they've already done this year. But if you think they're firing with both barrels, you really haven't seen anything yet. If you think it's not needed, maybe you missed the latest garbage Alexander Cockburn served up over the weekend?

He's pushing the notion that John McCain collaborated with the Vietnamese when he was a POW. "War is one thing, collaborating with the enemy is another; it is a legitimate campaign issue that strikes at the heart of McCain’s character," he quotes from another CessPool, er CounterPunch 'exclusive.' You know what, I don't like John McCain. I really don't like John McCain. But I think you're crossing a huge line when you accuse a POW of "collaboration" with the enemy.

I just deleted four paragraphs on the subject. I'm not going to explain it. I think it's appalling that anyone would suggest that of anyone captured during a war. So I'm going to pull my explanation on the various responses a prisoner of war could have. It doesn't matter. Because that suggestion is appalling.

At another time, I'd be happy to discuss it. But I will not dignify the crap that Cockburn is throwing by offering a discussion.

John McCain is many things and there is more than enough in the public record to go after him without Cockburn's crackpot theories being added to the mix. It really is offensive.

So is the crazed, cracked mind of Dave Lindorff. When he was saying Barack "risked jail" by doing drugs, and that people need to support Barack for that, it was obvious the sharp mind had softened. In his latest bit of nonsense (e-mailed, I have no idea what day it went up), he's attacking Hillary Clinton for "McCarthyism"!

McCarthyism is the government, Dave. Screaming "McCarthyism!" every time you're unhappy that something is unearthed is a bit like screaming "Jew hater" every time someone disagrees with the policies of the Israeli government.

Hillary didn't raise that issue. The Guardian of London was reporting on it in February and reporting what the Obama campaign was saying. I know it's hard for Dave to get the facts right, but that is reality.

Here's another reality, if someone makes the FBI's most wanted list and is friends with a presidential candidate, it is news. It will always be news.

Dave rushes in with his rescue attempt reducing the friendship to "served on a board." Dave's obviously not read what the Obama campaign's been saying for months now. (Of course, I know very well that Barack and Ayers and Dohrn are much closer than the press has revealed. Unlike Dave, I really do go way back in those times.)

McCarthyism is not talking about someone being wanted by the FBI. In fact, McCarthyism not only has to result from the government, it also has to be an attempt to bring up the unknown. When you're dealing with the public record, you're not dealing with McCarthyism.

I realize the left loves to use that. I hadn't realized how much until this election cycle. When I did, my first thought was, "Have I resorted to that charge as well?" I think I did actually. I think I gave money (I don't think I signed the petition) when Jane Fonda was denied an appointment on California's arts board. People, opponents, were bringing up the trip to Vietnam. The talking point was, "That's McCarthyism!" I'm sure I repeated that.

My apologies for that. Jane Fonda documented her trip and held press conferences in France and the US upon returning. Anyone commenting on that is not practicing McCarthyism. It's in the public record.

It's an easy way to make the opponents look small-minded. They may or may not be. (In that case, they were.) But it's not reality. McCarthyism loses its history when people falsely charge it and Lindorff's done just that.

McCarthyism was a witchhunt launched by the government. It was aided by presidents, and we like to forget that. We also like to forget that it was aimed at closet cases. In fairness, gays and lesbians -- the earliest targets -- had every reason to be in the closet back then because there was more than a "stigma" attached to it. You were assumed to be mentally ill if you were gay. But that was really the start of McCarthyism and Democratic and Republican presidents went along with it. It expanded to other "subversives" -- the goal was to 'preserve' the government from outside (Communist) influences. It was thought that gays were especially prone to blackmail. They were drummed out of many departments, not just the State Department.

The government hauled witnesses before Congress. McCarthyism is a government operation and Lindorff insults everyone when he pretends it's anything else.

You may remember Jeff Guckert. I can't remember if that was his real name or his fake name. But he's the reporter with White House access. Reporters exposed that he wasn't a reporter, or a trained one, but did advertise his sexual work online. He was an escort.

McCarthyism! someone could scream. No reporting.

People need to grow the hell up. The left especially. As awful as this campaign season has been, it has provided me with a few looks in the mirror and, trust me, they were needed. It's a shame others on the left haven't grabbed the same opportunties. But they're apparently in so much denial that they really believe they are operating with standards. They aren't.

"HUBdate: Election Day in Pennsylvania" (Howard Wolfson,
Previewing Today: This morning, Hillary visits Pennsylvanians as they go to the polls. Tonight, Hillary will celebrate Election Day in Philadelphia, PA at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia."Who Do You Think Has What it Takes?" An ad released yesterday offers Hillary's closing argument to Pennsylvania: "It's the toughest job in the world. You need to be ready for anything – especially now, with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing and an economy in crisis. Harry Truman said it best -- if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Who do you think has what it takes?" Watch here.Who is Hillary Clinton? From the Huffington Post: "If you want to know what Hillary believes in, what she stands for, and what’s in her heart, then look at what she’s been fighting for her whole life: she’s been fighting for people who need help... And Hillary's supporters are standing up for her, because they know she will stand up for them as President, as their advocate abroad and their champion at home. They are standing up for her, because they know she will work her heart out for them. And they know that, because that's what she's been doing her whole life." Read more.
If You Watch One Thing Today: Hillary tells Larry King, "I think it's important that we have an election that asks people who they would hire for the toughest job in the world." Watch here and here.
Madame President: "Joined by her husband and daughter,...Hillary...wrapped up her final Pennsylvania campaign push last night at a passionate rally at the packed and sweltering Palestra. [Hillary said:] 'This has been an extraordinary campaign, and it has been for all the right reasons,' Clinton told the audience...who frequently drowned her out by stomping on the old bleachers of the University of Pennsylvania's arena." Read more.
Hoosiers for Hillary: Across Indiana, Hillary supporters will participate in phone banks today to reach out to Pennsylvania voters during the final hours of the primary there.
Oregon for Hillary: 20 prominent Oregonians have joined Hillary's state steering committee. These supporters know Hillary "understands Oregon's needs and who has the experience to work with our state to get things done," said Steering Committee Chair Josh Kardon. Read more.
On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary returns to Indiana. She will make stops across the Hoosier state through Saturday, sharing her plans to jumpstart the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.

I love the snapshot today and C.I.'s earlier piece as well. That's not McCarthyism. You hire someone to be the online face of your campaign and you're a Democrat, they should be as well. If the public record says otherwise, people have a right to question. The same way they did when Jeff Guckert pretended he was a reporter. I know C.I. was planning on writing about that on Friday and wasn't able to talk on the phone today so I have no idea why it got pushed up. (It had nothing to do with today's primary. If it had, it would have gone up sooner.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, April 22, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the VA gets sued, Patty Murray calls for a resignation, Condi Rice continues to fail at diplomacy and more.

Starting with war resistance. All who self-checkout of the military are not war resisters; however, in reporting on a husband and wife who self-checkedout and have now returned,
Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) notes, "For a variety of reasons, at least 640 Marines based in California -- most of them from Camp Pendleton -- have landed in military court since June 2005 because they went AWOL, according to an analysis of Marine dockets by The San Diego Union-Tribune. Those records showed at least 30 AWOL proceedings in the past month." That is significant in and of itself (and Rogers notes that most do not end up in court so they aren't included in the public count). It's all the more significant when you grasp that the figures given to the public repeatedly have been of the US Army. Repeatedly the public has been told that this is just a problem for the army and that the marines don't have any problem with AWOLs or desertions.

Let's turn to known war resisters. 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Jason Marek, 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).

Last month
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier took place -- you can stream online at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage. Today Allison and Glantz hosted a live report on KPFA about the trial where veterans are being represented by Gordon Erspamer in their lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dropping back to
yesterday's snapshot:

This morning
Paul Elias (AP) reported on the lawsuit against the US Department of Veterans Affairs alleging that they were not "doing enough to prevent suicide and provide adequate medical care for the Americans who have served in the armed forces" -- a charge the government, naturally, denies. CBS News' Armen Keteyian reports (link has text and text and video to past reports) that despite the government's denials in court today of problems and a rise in suicide risks, an e-mail exists, written earlier this year by the Veterans Affairs' head of Mental Health, Dr. Iraq Katz, which states "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities." Keteyian explains, "Katz's email was written shortly after the VA provided CBS News data showing there were only 790 attemped suicides in all 2007 -- a fraction of Katz's estimate" and that when US House Rep and chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Bob Filner was shown Katz' e-mail by CBS, Filner stated, "This is disgraceful. This is a crime against our nation, our nation's veterans. They do not want to come to grips with reality, with the truth."

Allison and Glantz began the broadcast with some highlights from Winter Soldier and then began speaking with Gordon Erspamer who sketched out how few cases ever make it as far as this one has because the VA moves to dismiss. An 86-year-old Nixon appointee agreed to hear this case despite the VA's efforts to dismiss the case. The VA showed up with seven attorneys and a press flack. Glantz revealed that while Erspamer was making points, the flack was repeatedly whispering into the ear of the New York Times reporter assigned to cover the case. The VA was invited on the broadcast but they refused to send anyone, including their flack. The flack was played via a taped interview where, when asked about the fact that approximately 18 veterans are attempting suicide every day, she insisted "We care very, very much" while also saying that's only about 21% of the rate for the entire US. The most amusing moment in the first hour of the broadcast came from a reporter for a weekly explaining how important this was. That was all the funnier when testimony was played from Winter Soldier and he dubbed it "tragic." Tragic was his outlet's refusal to print a story on Winter Soldier. Why was he there? He said it was an important issue. The reality is that CBS is all over this story so everyone else is rushing to get onboard as well. The reality is that it's follow the leader as opposed to any bravery. The reality is it's an easier story to cover because it can be turned into "Oooooh" and clucking as opposed to something that really challenges.

Reality is also that pathetic job the Veterans Affairs Dept has done. They were happy to trot out their suicide prevention work on The Diane Rehm Show and others late last year. And one of their big things, their big improvements, was their new toll free number to provide assistance for veterans contemplating suicide! They didn't do crap. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and, guess what, that's the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line. That's the number that's always been in existance for ALL US citizens. The VA's total contribution to the crisis is that the National Suicide Prevention Hotline now allows you, at approximately 20 seconds into the automate message, to press "one" and identify yourself as a veteran. That's the sum total of what the VA has done -- they've hopped on board the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

One person who is calling the Veterans Affairs Department out,
Pia Malbran (CBS News) reports. is US Senator Patty Murray who is calling for the resignation of the VA's Dr. Ira Katz. Senator Murray released the following statement today:

"It is imperative that the individual responsible for providing top notch mental health services to our veterans be open and honest about the VA's needs.
"Doctor Katz's irresponsible actions have been a disservice to our veterans and it is time for him to go. The number one priority of the VA should be caring for our veterans, not covering up the truth.
"I have spoken with Secretary Peake and I have asked him to take immediate action to restore the faith of our veterans in the mental health care provided by the VA.
"The epidemic of veterans' suicide is horrifying but it should also be preventable. In order to ensure that it is, the VA must be honest about the numbers and the needs. It is time for the VA to own up to the true cost of the war and ensure our heroes aren't lost when they come home."

Turning to the 'diplomatic front,' US Secretary Condi Rice's trip to the Middle East has producded no photo-ops and no results.
AFP reports: "Rice failed to clinch any firm Arab pledges on debt relief or diplomatic presence at talks in Bahrain earlier on Monday but took her campaign to Kuwait for a meeting Tuesday with Iraq, Arab states, Turkey, Iran and world powers. Speaking after a meeting in Bahrain with counterparts from six Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, Rice said the talks covered relieving Iraq debt and sending ambassadors to the war-torn nation. But she did not report any decision on either score." Why has Rice's charm-assault failed so badly? It probably doesn't help you make your case when you rely on lies that the US press might bite their tongues but foreign governments have to reaspon to. Today in Kuwait, she included this following in her speech, "I would just note that violence in Iraq has decreased. Iraq's leaders have certainly made progress in passing legislation on the budget, provincial powers, de-Baathification reform, pensions and amnesty. They have significantly improved Iraq's budget execution and they are now allocating more of Iraq's own budget to build the infrastructure and provide the services that the Iraqi people expect from their elected government." Neighboring countries don't have oceans between themselves and Iraq, they are fully aware of what the puppet government in Baghdad hasn't done and probably find it insulting when Rice thinks she can spin them as if they were the press corps.. The de-de-Baathifciation (actual de-Baathification was started by Paul Bremer, overturning that would be de-de-Baathification) 'reform'? Nothing's happened on that. A laughable piece of legislation was passed, never implemented and considered by most, impossible to do so. "Provincial powers" translates as the issue of Kirkuk and Iraq's neighbors pay a lot closer attention to that struggle over who get claim to Kirkuk than the US does. The puppet-government sits on millions of dollars for reconstruction, none of which it is spending and neighboring countries are as aware of that as they are of the number of Iraqi refugees trying to enter their countries. Despite the fact that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki became a worldwide joke for his attempts at 'commanding' the assault on Basra, Rice not only wanted to cite that as 'success,' she wanted to imply that those attending were too stupid to grasp that with remarks such as, "And here, I want just to underscore that we need to really understand what happened in Basra." Everyone understood what happened. Not content selling failure as a success, she then wanted to encourage Iraqi's neighbors to back failure, "This is something that the Iraqi Government needed to do, and we all need to support what has been done there." On the subject of Iraqi refugees her remarks were just insulting. The US government has not met their (tiny) stated goals for admitting Iraqi refugees and the Iraqi government has not paid neighboring countries any reasonable amount of money so the last thing Iraq's neighbors needed to hear was Rice babbling on about 'success' on that front and all the money Iraq is investing to aid its citizens.. In fact, on Monday, Tom Casey, US State Dept' spokesperson, was asked about the puppet government not spending the oil revenues on the Iraqi people ("they're investing in US treasuries") and the best that Casey could respond was to state he didn't have the information in front of him and then the standard talking point of how "Iraq is investing in its own people." Casey ignored the reference to January's GAO report. James Glanz (New York Times) reporting on that report at the start of this year noted the White House claimed in September 2007 (when asking for more war funding) that Iraq had increased their spending on infrastructure, "The Iraqi government had been severely criticized for failing to spend billions of dollars of its oil revenues in 2006 to finance its own reconstruction, but last September the administration said Iraq had greatly accelerated such spending. By July 2007, the administration said, Iraq had spent some 24 percent of $10 billion set aside for reconstruction that year. As Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Iraq, prepared in September to report to Congress on the state of the war, the economic figures were a rare sign of progress within Iraq's often dysfunctional government. But in its report on Tuesday, the accountability office said official Iraqi Finance Ministry records showed that Iraq had spent only 4.4 percent of the reconstruction budget by August 2007. It also said that the rate of spending had substantially slowed from the previous year." Despite that reality, Casey in the US and Rice in Kuwait, were eager to spin. Rice's most laughable claim -- in the midst of the continued assault on Sadr City -- may have been maintaining "that the Iraqi government is working now to establish the trust of all of its citizens". Earlier this month, US Senator Chuck Hagel asked US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker about the alleged diplomatic 'surge,' what they were doing and how Rice was not looking "Kissinger-esque." Nothing from her current trip abroad would suggest any reason to stop questioning those claims.

"At the southern entrance to Sadr City several Iraqi men on the US military's payroll are sweeping the street in the latest attempt to stop al-Mahdi Army militia from recruiting new fighters,"
explains Deborah Haynes (Times of London) of the realities in the Baghdad neighborhood loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. Just to repeat "Iraqi men on the US military's payroll". That would be the turncoats who turned with coin was tossed at them. As US Senator Barbara Boxer noted in the April 8th US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, "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" out of doubts about their loyalty --- loyalty that the US pays $18 million a month, $182 milliion a year for.

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left five people injured, a Baghdad car bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left eighteen civilians and two soldiers wounded, a Baghdad bombing wounded two Iraqi police officers, a Baghdad mortar attack claimed 5 lives and left eight more people injured, a Ramadi truck bombing claimed the lives of 4 people and left twenty-one injured, a Kirkuk bombing wounded a PUK party member "and three of his guards," a Mosul car bombing claimed 1 life and left ten more injured, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded a father and his daughter and a Baquba bomber killed herself "near the police station of Jalawlaa" as well as 8 others ("including five policemen") while wounding seventeen more. AFP notes, "The attack was the second by a woman in as many days in Diyala". Reuters notes a Baghdad rocket attack that claimed 6 lives and left ten injured, ups the Mosul car bombing by 1 to two killed and the injured count to twenty. And CBS and AP note: "In Basra, a senior aide to Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani died on Tuesday, a week after being seriously injured in an assassination attempt. Two other al-Sistani representatives were injured in separate ambushes. The attacks came just days after a top aide of al-Sadr was killed in Najaf, suggesting the violence could be part of an internal Shiite power struggle."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "an employee of Baghdad municipality" was shot dead in Baghdad, a Baghdad shooting left one Iraqi soldier wounded. Reuters reports today that "Gunmen wounded a reporter and cameramn from local television station Biladi and their driver on Monday in a drive-by shooting" in Baghdad.


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

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Force -- West Marine was killed by an improvised explosive device in Basra, Iraq, April 21. Additionally, one Marine was injured in the attack." On that death, AFP notes, "This is the first US military loss in Basra since Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a crackdown against Shiite militiamen there on March 25." CBS and AP add: "AP Television News footage from Basra on Monday showed thick smoke rising from a military vehicle burning on a highway overpass." And the US military announced: "Two Multi-National Force -- West Marines were killed when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at an entry control point in the vicinity of Ramadi, Iraq, at approximately 7:30 a.m. April 22. The SVBIED attack wounded three other Marines. Two Iraqi Police and 24 local Iraqis were also wounded in the attack." The announced deaths bring to 4044 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

In other US military news,
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports in the increased used of moral waivers by the US army to meet recruiting goals, the increase of approximately 1/4 in the number now admitted under the waivers ("8,129 in fascal 2006 to 10,258 in fiscal 2007" for the army), "In particular, the Army accepted more than double the number of applicants with convictions for felony crimes such as burglary, grand larceny and aggravated assault, rising from 249 to 511, while the corresponding number for the Marines increased by two-thirds, from 208 to 350. The vast majority of such convictions stem from juvenile offenses. Most involved theft, but a handful involved sexual assault and terrorist threats, and there were three cases of involuntary manslaughter."

In US presidinatila campaign news, the state of Pennsylvania is voting today. Though John McCain is considered the GOP presidential nominee, the race continues for the Democratic nomination with US Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the last two standing and tied in a dead heat.
Fernando Suarez (CBS News) reports Hillary raised the obvious question about the media favorite Barack, if after outspending her (3 to 1 or 4 to 1) in Penn, he can't win the primary, the question on everyone's minds should be: "Why can't he close the deal?" Meanwhile CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic reports that Barack is upset that some question his patriotism and that he doesn't understand why they would? Being close to two members of the Weather Underground -- Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn -- who declared war on the US and have refused to renounce their past acts of violence might be one reason. Another might be the online face of his campaign: Sam Graham-Felsen who is the Obama's campaign official blogger and who, less than a year prior to taking that post, was publishing in a periodical that explained: "The Socialist Workers Organization was formed to advance the revolutionary Marxist political program in the United States. . . . The capitalist ruling class of the United States exercises a virtual dictatorship not only over American society, but also over the entire world. This capitalist class rule is the basic cause of the poverty, wars, and the degradation of the natural environment." What was the vetting process in that hire? Is it a lack of judgement? Is Barack endorsing that point of view? What's going on there? Susan UnPC (No Quarter) previews how the Bambi Groupies will attempt to spin a Bambi loss. And the Clinton campaign released this statement:

The Obama campaign is attempting to pre-spin the results from tonight's Pennsylvania primary by suggesting that Sen. Clinton should -- and will -- win.
But after the Obama campaign's "go-for-broke" Pennsylvania strategy, after their avalanche of negative ads, negative mailers and negative attacks against Sen. Clinton, after their record-breaking spending in the state, a fundamental question must be asked: Why shouldn't Sen. Obama win?
Sen. Obama's supporters -- and many pundits -- have argued that the delegate "math" makes him the prohibitive frontrunner. They have argued that Sen. Clinton's chances are slim to none. So if he's already the frontrunner, if he's had six weeks of unlimited resources to get his message out, shouldn't he be the one expected to win tonight? If not, why not?
As the phrase goes, watch what they do not what they say.
There's a reason Sen. Obama and his campaign have ratcheted up their year-long assault on Sen. Clinton's character and ended the Pennsylvania campaign with a flurry of harsh negative attacks. It's because they know that a loss in Pennsylvania will raise troubling questions about his candidacy and his ability to take on John McCain in the general election. And it's because they know that the race is neck and neck and tonight's contest is a measure of where the campaign stands.
The reality is this: both candidates need a combination of pledged and super delegates to secure the nomination -- and either candidate can reach the required number. The press and the pundits have repeatedly counted Sen. Clinton out and she has repeatedly proved them wrong. The vote in the bellwether state of Pennsylvania is another head to head measure of the two candidates and of the coalition they will put together to compete and win in November.
No amount of spin from the Obama campaign will change that -- nor will it explain away anything less than a victory by Sen. Obama.

aaron glantz
mcclatchy newspapers