Friday, January 23, 2009

The Deal

I am going to start out by talking up a film that's new to DVD, The Deal. C.I. kept asking me if I'd seen it. I'd heard about the film from C.I. but figured I'd grab it when it came out on DVD. (I do not believe it had a theatrical release.)

It is now out and I still avoided it. William H. Macy stars in it. I'm not a huge Macy fan. There's Fargo and then forget it. Nothing else I could live without. Macy also co-wrote the script for The Deal. That might do the trick for some. It did nothing for me.

I had a thousand and one reasons not to watch it and then after the Iraq study group tonight, Mike put in the film and I finally caught it. Mainly because I was too tired to move.

If I had known Meg Ryan was in it, I would have watched it sooner. Jason Ritter is in the film and it took me several seconds to place him. At first I thought he was William McNamara (actor in Copycat, Wildflower and Chasers among other films).

This is really a strong film. It's funny, it's got a point of view and something to say. It's not a mindless comedy and it's not something that's predictable. I was really impressed with it.

I was impressed with Macy who should, apparently, co-write more scripts because it was his most effective role since Fargo and I actually think he was better suited to the role (and performed it better) than Fargo. Macy isn't an actor mentioned (though not seen) near the end of the film. I'll be kind and not name him. He leaves me cold. In the 90s, he was supposed to be this amazing actor. He was and is a hack. He got a big build up from the likes of Rosie O'Donnell but he never became a star. Macy's always rated better than that for me.

But it's a real shame this film didn't get a big theatrical opening (I don't think it got any, I think it played the festivals and then went to DVD) because this really could have and should have resulted in a new image for him onscreen.

Maybe it was Meg's work? She's amazing. But Macy comes off like a human being. The actor I'm avoiding mentioning always comes off cardboardish and actory. You never buy for a minute you're seeing a person onscreen.

Meg's really wonderful. This is the part I wished she played sometime ago. She's really something in this film.

I really don't know what to say here. I've never felt more futile at this blog.

I just can't capture the film's greatness without spoiling the plot twists.

I will tell you Meg Ryan is a film studio suit and William Macy has a script by his nephew (Ritter)
about Benjmain Disraeli (an English Prime Minister in the 19th century) that gets turned into an action flick (by Macy) and becomes a hot property.

That's all I can really tell you about The Deal. If I tell you any other details, it will spoil some of the surprises and a lot of the humor. This is a really wonderful comedy.

LL Cool J plays the action movie star, Elliot Gould is his spiritual advisor.

"Students sit-in protest over Gaza" (BBC):
More than 100 students are staging a sit-in at Cambridge University in protest at the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza.
Members of Cambridge Gaza Solidarity say they intend to spend the weekend inside the university's law faculty.
A spokeswoman said they wanted to show support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

I'm not saying there aren't any, but are there any sit-ins at American universities? I have no idea. It has been a hectic week at work and I have no idea. All the news offers (on TV or in print) is Barack, Barack, Barack. Are American students staging sit-ins?

I kind of doubt it. I would love to be wrong about that.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, January 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, KBR appears guilty in the death of a US service member who was electrocuted, provincial elections loom and more.

Having failed to snag an invite to this week's earlier power-breakfast with the military, Nancy A. Youssef cracked open her little black book and pulled a few strings. Why McClatchy's one-time ace reported bothered is the only puzzler? What
she scribbles is an insult to not only journalism but the collective intelligence as well. Gen James Conway announced (over breakfast tacos?), "The times is right for Marines to leave Iraq." Nance tosses around the name "Barack" and we're all supposed to see this as some sort "New World Coming" (sing it, Cass). Hamlet declared, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horaito, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Someone needs to explain, "There was a world before this week, Nancy, and it's a well documented one." Translation? Thom Shanker (New York Times) was reporting what Nance stumbled upon and was reporting in October of 2007: "The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials." The same day Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) was covering the story and explaining, "The proposal, discussed at senior levels of the Pentagon last week, would have the Marine Corps replace the Army as the lead U.S. force in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops number more than 25,000 and make up the largest contingent of the NATO-led force there. . . . Marine Corps officers who have served in Iraq expressed enthusiasm for the idea, which would in essence allow the service to extricate itself from the increasingly unpopular and costly Iraq war. . . . Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have not publicly spoken of the issue. Officers knowledgeable of the Marine Corps' push for the new mission did not characterize it as a formal plan." August 2008, CNN quoted Conway stating, "To do more in Afghanistan, our Marines have got to see relief elsewhere." Liam Stack (Christian Science Monitor) in August noted, "American and Iraqi officials announced on Wednesday that United States forces would hand over control of the Anbar Province, the scene of some of the war's most gruesome violence, to the Iraqi military as soon as next Monday. Most of the departing US soldiers are marines, many of whom will be sent to Afghanistan, where conflict has renewed between NATO forces and a resurgent Taliban." Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) explained in November, "The Marines have long made no secret of their desire to depart from Iraq and redeploy to Afghanistan, where they were the first conventional U.S. troops in 2001 to invade the country to assist local forces in toppling the Taliban regime." And in December, Cami McCormick (CBS Radio News) reported, "The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps says it's 'high time' his troops leave Iraq and take their battle skills to Afghanistan. 'We are a fighting maching,' Gen. James Conway tells CBS News, and the fight is now in Afghanistan." None of that 15-month public history makes it into Youssef's 'report.' Nancy's too busy mouthing, "Now I have a song inside, The birds sing to me, I finally can be, Free to spread my wings in harmony" (Diana Ross' "Every Day Is A New Day").

Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) calls out the nonsense of 'noble war' Afghanistan and addresses Iraq concluding, "There are at least two antiwar protests coming up in spring 2009. If Barack Obama is not taking the path towards peace that he was elected to take by then, it is essential that those who voted for him with the understanding that US troops would be leaving Iraq (and not going to Afghanistan) attend at least one of these protests. That is what democracy really means." I've chosen that quote but, for any who don't use the link, Jacobs is absolutely not saying, "Wait until the protests." He is calling for action and calling for it right now. Military Families Speak Out is staging "The Change WE Need" from Feburary 6th to 9th in DC which will include marching from Arlington National Cementery to the White House. A.N.S.W.E.R. is among the organizations sponsoring March 21st "Bring the Troops Home Now" rally and march in DC. Dropping back to CounterPunch, Alexander Cockburn writes, "But credit where credit is due. On his second day in the White House Jimmy Carter amnestied Vietnam draft dodgers and war resisters." Then blah blah on Barack. Jimmy Carter did that, Alex? No, he sure as hell as did not do what you say he did. I guess it's easy to treat Jimmy Carter as heroic if you invent actions he never took. War resisters during Vietnam were draft dodgers and deserters. The first category -- and only the first category -- got amnesty from Carter. You can click here for CBC reporting on that (January 21, 1977) and the reaction in Canada. Also on January 21st -- and note, January 21st. Barack's praise from Alex is over Jan. 22nd. His second full day in office. Jimmy Carter pardoned draft dodgers on his first day in office -- and, yes, that is important. January 21, 1977, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (now The NewsHour) featured a discussion on Carter's actions that day. Americans for Amnesty's Louise Ransom was vocal about all war resisters (and protestors) needing amnesty. On the broadcast was Elizabeth Holtzman who was then a US House Rep. I like Liz, I've known her for many years. But what she did is something everyone should learn from because it should not repeat today. She was "pleased" (you know it because she used the phrase "I'm pleased" three times in her first sentence) but, "I would have liked to have seen it broader, I would like to have seen it extend to some of the people who are clearly not covered and whose families will continue to be separated from them . . . but I don't think President Carter has closed the door on this category of people." She didn't think?It's a good thing she didn't wager a bet. That was it. Carter didn't do another damn thing. And those of us calling for more were told, "We can't pressure him. He'll get to it." No, he wouldn't and, no, he didn't. It sure is cute of Alex to come along all this time later and give Carter credit for something he never did. It sure is cute of Alex to rewrite history. (In fairness, he doesn't know the history. Vietnam wasn't personally pressing to him in real time for obvious reasons -- he was Irish, not American, and when he came to the US he was well beyond drafting age for male citizens.) Credit where it's due? Jimmy Carter earns no credit for that. He did as little as possible and he only did that much because he was pressured. Ford had already offered a program (that you had to jump through hoops for) that covered draft dodgers and deserters. Carter was running against Ford and there was a real peace movement in America at that time -- not the fake crap offered by the pathetic creatures trying to pass for 'leaders' today. Demands were made on him.
That's the only reason he followed through on draft dodgers (which he had spoken of to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' convention during his 1976 presidential campaign) was because there was pressure. Gerald Ford was considering pardons for war resisters as he left office but it was thought Carter would take care of it. Carter didn't. He only took care of draft dodgers. And as wonderful as Liz Holtzman can be, she was dead wrong about America 'hoping' Jimmy would find time to revist the issue. He didn't get serious pressure and he never revisted it. There's a lesson in there for today's activism -- although that's a joke. Outside of a few groups, there's no activism going on. Just a lot of embarrassments (see
Mike calling out the Center for Constitutional Rights over their fondling of Barack). History isn't just a bunch of memorized items. It either has real-life, current applications or it's trivia and not history.

Free Speech Radio News included this item by Mark Taylor-Canfield in the headlines:

Hundreds of US soldiers have relocated to Canada, Europe or LatinAmerica after choosing not to serve in the US war and occupation in Iraq. Many of the soldiers have gone into Canada by crossing the border between Washington State and British Columbia, which also served as a point of entry for conscientious objectors escaping toCanada during the US war in Vietnam. Now
Project Safe Haven is calling on President Barack Obama to grant immediate amnesty to all US war resisters who have refused to serve in Iraq. The group is also calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and an end to the war in Afghanistan. Other demands include reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and full benefits and healthcare for US military veterans. According to Project Safe Haven organizer Gerry Condon, the petition was circulated among national anti-war and veterans groups and was delivered to the President-elect's transition team.

Gerry Condon has posted a transcript at his site and you can find out more information there. We noted here throughout 2007 and 2008 that the Democratic candidates were not being asked about amnesty. Had they been asked when US House Rep Dennis Kucinich and former US Senator Mike Gravel were in the race, others might have been forced to say they'd at least consider that or look into it. We noted after the nomination was given to Barack that he needed to be pressed on the issue of war resisters. In 1972, the peace movement pressured. McGovern had to promise amnesty and Nixon upped his lies that he was ending that illegal war because of pressure from the peace movement. McGovern didn't lose because he was forced to publicly support amnesty. And by McGovern doing that, it made it easier for Gerald Ford to do his program when he became president. The pressure on McGovern, Ford and Carter was serious pressure and it vanished on Carter shortly after he was sworn in. Barack should have been pressured on the issue sometime ago. He wasn't. That doesn't mean serious pressure can't be applied now. Especially on a president who claimed (lied) that he was always against the Iraq War and that was proof of his superior judgment. For those who lacked that superior judgment, you know, mere mortals, Barack should be more than willing to pardon them. And a real movement, a real peace movement, would be pressuring him to do so.

But we don't have a peace movement in the United States and we don't have a Dove for a president. We have a Corporatist War Hawk that people are so scared and reluctant to call out. Which, as
Paul Street (ZNet) points outs, was the entire of point:

At the same time, many of his elite sponsors have certainly long understood that Obama's technical blackness helps make him uniquely qualified to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and "manage" the U.S. citizenry's rising hopes for democratic transformation in the wake of the long national Bush-Cheney nightmare. As
John Pilger argued last May: "What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's [in 1968]. By offering a 'new,' young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent." Obama's race is part of what makes him so well matched to the tasks of mass pacification and popular "expectation management" (former Obama advisor Samantha Power's revealing phrase). As Aurora Levins Morales noted in Z Magazine last April, "This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are further disenfranchised and....[about] mak[ing] them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps...make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them."

Paul Street is the author of
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics -- one of three books in 2008 this community found worthy of praise. On the subject of books, Gerald Nicosia (San Francisco Chronicle) praises two new books today Aaron Glantz' The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans is the first, "What makes 'The War Comes Home' such a powerful plea is that Glantz admits his initial bias against the vets - they were the ones who caused all the misery among the poor Afghans and Iraqis. But his eventual realization that both reporter and soldier are common victims of a government that wages such wars allowed him to identify with the vets and to empathize with their struggles." Iraq Veterans Against the War and Glantz' Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations is the second, "Like 'The War Comes Home,' 'Winter Soldier' makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in a military stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting. But these books also make us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speaking out they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."

Someone will come after Ryan Crocker. He is the outgoing US Ambassador to Iraq.
Anthony Shadid (Washington Post), Timothy Williams (New York Times), and Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (All Things Considered) cover that in various degrees. A propaganda outlet outdoes them, Meredith Buel's Voice of America report. So does Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times):

Obama would like to have all the troops out by spring 2010. An agreement forged by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government calls for the last troops to leave by the end of 2011, though it is subject to change. Whatever happens, the ambassador said that if it were to be a "precipitous withdrawal, that could be very dangerous." Crocker said he was confident that was not the direction Obama was going. However, the president campaigned on a promise to end the war in Iraq, and with violence at its lowest level since 2003 and commanders in Afghanistan saying they need more troops, Obama will face pressure to move quickly on his campaign vow. In a conference call Wednesday night with Obama, Crocker said, he and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, gave their assessments of the security situation in Iraq. He would not say what they told the president, though Odierno has also urged caution in reducing forces.

Provincial elections are scheduled to take place in fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces on January 31st.
Afif Sarhan (Islam Online) offers some numbers including that 100,000 is the number of internal refugees in Iraq who've signed up to vote. To put the number into context, International Organization for Migration Iraq's most recent report on internal refugees put the number at 2.8 million. (That report was released this month. PDF format warning, click here.) Sarhan notes approximately "2.9 million Iraqis are registered to vote" -- that's all Iraqis registered -- and internal refugee Wissam Muhammed explains he can't travel to Baghdad to vote: "We don't have money to go to the polling stations. Few displacement camps will have the chance to have a moving station or be driven by someone to vote. In our case, like many other displaced families here [Babel], our polling station is in in Baghdad and we cannot vote here." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) observes, "This year, campaigning falls during the 40 days of mourning for the death of Imam Hussein and election posters compete for space with Shiite flags on buildings, concrete walls and intersections." Viet Nam News explains, "Bombings and the assassination of candidates have increased as the election approaches prompting widespread fear that the vote may spark a new round of bloodshed. Although the incidents cannot prevent the election, they confirm the ferocity of the continuing power struggle." Walled Ibrahim, Fadhel al-Badrani, Tim Cocks, Michael Christie and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report on the Sunni participation efforts in Ramadi and Falluja, "Sitting beneath a photograph of his smiling son, killed by al Qaeda militants two years ago, Sheikh Amir Ali al-Sulaiman said he couldn't wait to stand for a seat in Jan. 31 local elections, after he boycotted the last ones in January 2005." They quote him stating, "We are determined to participate to reclaim what we missed out of before. We urge people to vote this time." Nouri al-Maliki is hoping to fix the vote and, most recently, attempted to force out a police chief. Stanford's Joel Brinkley (McClatchy Newspapers) explains:.

Maliki claimed that this man, Maj. Gen. Abdul Haneen al-Amara, was failing to uphold election laws because he hadn't prosecuted anyone for tearing down campaign posters that candidates from Maliki's political party had put up.
The good news is not that Maliki decided to fire him. No, the encouraging development is that Maliki's decision caused a controversy. His political opponents protested and refused to accept the president's choice of a replacement. In Washington two years ago, the Senate set about changing the law that permitted the president to appoint U.S. attorneys without the Senate's consent. Isn't that the way a democracy is supposed to work? When the United States drafted its Constitution more than 220 years ago, the founders had few real historical precedents on which to base their decisions. That's what makes the document such a work of genius. Of course, by the time the United States began pushing Iraq to create a democratic government, starting in 2003, much of the world had already made that transition. The problems and possibilities were well-known.

McClatchy Newspapers readers will be learning about those attempted tricks in Wasit Province for the first time because, while
Timothy Williams and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) reported on them, McClatchy never found the time. Maybe their partners at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting didn't think it was news? (Ruth covers some of the critiques on IWPR.)

Provincial elections are eight days away.

Al Jazeera reports 8 family members were killed in a home invasion late last night (11:30 p.m.) outside Balad Ruz while two more people (presumably also family members) were kidnapped during the home invasion: "The family members, who are all Sunni Muslim Arabs, were targeted in the predominantly Shia Muslim village a week before provincial elections." Citing an unnamed police official, Pakistan's GEOtv states 9 family members were killed in the home invasion. Khalid al-Ansary, Tim Cocks and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report it was eight people and, "The attack at 11.30 p.m. on Thursday (2030 GMT) evoked memories of the tit-for-tat sectarian slaughter that nearly tore Iraq apart in 2006-2007, which has only recently subsided."

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left two people wounded.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a Wasit home invasion (Thursday night) claimed 4 lives ("the mother, father, daughter and baby son").

Iraq Body Count includes the Wasit home invasion in Thursday's violence and state the day resulted in 9 deaths including 3 brothers killed in Mosul during a US house raid. It sure is interesting how Mosul -- the center of violence more and more -- gets ignored in daily violence reports. It's also interesting that this is billed "US forces raid house" when allegedly the Iraqis had taken on control.

This morning the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier died in a non-combat related vehicle accident Jan. 22. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is currently under investigation." ICCC lists the total number of US service members killed in Iraq at 4230.

Meanwhile KBR and its former parent Halliburton collect bad press like treasured coins.
Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) reports the latest scandal from those who sought to make a buck cheaply off an illegal war: "An Army criminal investigator told the family of a Green Beret who was electrocuted while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad that the soldier's death was a case of "negligent homicide" by military contractor KBR and two of its supervisors. The report last month to the family of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth said Houston-based KBR failed to make certain that qualified electricians and plumbers were working on the barracks where Maseth was killed a year ago, according to a U.S. government official who has seen the correspondence." James Risen (New York Times) notes the response from the Vultures, Heather Browne (publicity hack) declares, "KBR's investigation has produced no evidence that KBR was responsible for Sergeant Maseth's death." You get the feeling teachers knew not to leave the classrooms when KRB execs were taking tests? Scott Bronstein and Abbie Boudreau (CNN) provides this background:CNN first reported the death of Maseth, a highly decorated, 24-year-old Green Beret, last spring. His January 2, 2008, death was just one of many fatalities now believed to be linked to shoddy electrical work at U.S. bases managed by U.S. contractors, according to Pentagon sources. The Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency last year gave KBR a "Level III Corrective Action Request" -- issued only when a contractor is found in "serious non-compliance" and just one step below the possibility of suspending or terminating a contract, Pentagon officials said. In KBR's case, it means the contractor's inspections and efforts to ensure electrical safety for troops have been unacceptable and must be significantly improved, Pentagon sources told CNN.

Carolyn Lochhead (San Francisco Chronicle) reports, "On her first day at the helm of the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein vowed that never again would there be 'a National Intelligence Estimate that was as bad and wrong as the Iraq NIE was" before continuing, "I voted to support the war because of that and I have to live with that vote for the rest of my life. And I don't want it to ever happen again." Good for DiFi and I mean that sincerely. Better would be grasping Dennis Blair will be a blight on any administration but good for her on that. While Dianne is the new Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Hillary Clinton is the new Secretary of State and we noted that yesterday but I forgot to ask that a link to Marcia's Wednesday post on that be included. My apologies, that was my error.

Moving to those who never take accountability, dumb reporters.
A number pimped the joy, the absolute and total joy among the troops over the inauguration. As if all Americans could ever agree on anything. Richard Sisk (New York Daily News), meet reality. Deborah Haynes (Times of London's Inside Iraq):

Many US soldiers in Iraq watched the inauguration of their new President on television, with opinion split over whether Barak Obama will make a better commander-in-chief than George Bush. Some troopers cheer the change at the top, welcoming the back of a President who led the United States into two wars during his time in the White House.
Others, however, deliberately skipped the historic swearing in of their country's first African-American leader because they are wary of his military ideas on the way forwards in Iraq.

Public radio notes for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all air on
WBAI:Sunday, January 25, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURPost-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew hold the fort.Monday, January 26, 2-3pmCAT RADIO CAFEPlaywright William M, Hoffman and actor David Greenspan on thepremiere of "Cornbury: The Queen's Governor," Hoffman's satiricalcollaboration with the late Anthony Holland about a cross-dressing NewYork governor; Artistic Director Scott Morfee on "Fortnight," afestival of new and improvised works at The Barrow Street Theatre; andproducer Scott Griffin on the landlord-tenant crisis at The Chelsea,"the hotel where Dylan Thomas drank and Arthur Miller wrote and. . ."Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.Wednesday, January 28, 2-3pmCCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMAREGloves-off satire to greet the new bunch with Janet Coleman, DavidDozer, John McDonagh, Moogy Klingman, Scooter, Otis Maclay, PaulFischer, Jon Swift, The Capitol Steps, Red State Update and the greatWill Durst.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio Cafe
Public television? . NOW on PBS actually examines the economic meltdown's effect on older Americans: "The economic crisis is affecting people in all income and social brackets, but America's baby boomers and seniors don't have the option to wait it out. The housing meltdown, market crash, and rising costs of everything from food to medicine have taken the luster out of seniors' 'golden years' or worse, put them into deep debt." That begins airing tonight on most PBS stations. Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and Gwen chats with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Martha Raddatz (ABC News) and Pete Williams (NBC News) while Time magazine's Karen Tumulty offers a new Bette Davis impersonation this go round -- the later stages of the party scene in All About Eve, watch as she decrees that the week's ceremonies were 'historical' and 'fantastic' but "it's going to be a bumpy night."

And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no
60 Minutes:"The Winter Of Our Hardship"Scott Pelley reports on Wilmington, Ohio, whose residents have been hit particularly hard in this economic crisis because the town's largest employer, DHL, is shutting its domestic operation. Watch Video
No Peace DealBob Simon reports from Israel and the West Bank where a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians say that a two-state solution is no longer possible.
Wine RxScientists have found a substance called resveratrol in red wine that slows down the aging process in mice. Will it someday lengthen the lives of humans, too? Morley Safer reports.
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

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the new york timesthom shanker
the washington postann scott tyson
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration realities

'Inauguration report' (Free Speech Radio News, January 19, 2009):
Tanya Snyder: Washington, DC officials are working to clear the downtown area of homeless people for the festivities.

Brian Anders: We don't want people to know that there are poor people living in the nation's capitol living on the streets. That would be insane.

Tanya Snyder: Brian Anders is a homeless advocate who works with
Empower DC a grassroots group that organizes low-income Washingtonians. He says many of the people who sleep on the streets downtown are being moved far outside the city and they have a lot of concerns about this upheaval?

Brian Anders: Are they going to be allowed to come back downtown? Are they going to be put somewhere else where it's too far for them to get back downtown? Are they going to be able to get their property back? Especially if they don't have identification? What about those folks who are on medications? What about those folks who have substance abuse issues? I mean we're not dealing with the bigger questions -- I mean, it's conveniant to move them out because you don't want to see them obviously. But the reality, these are human beings.

Tanya Snyder: City shelters are opening up for inauguration day too, serving hot drinks and showing TV coverage of the festivities downtown. But DC's mayor closed the downtown Franklin Shelter last fall removing 300 emergency beds for homeless men. Some domestic violence survivors are also losing their emergency shelter for the days surrounding the inauguration. Advocate Baylis Beard-Hunting says that the people whose homes are unsafe can normally get subsidized hotel rooms

Baylis Beard-Hunting: Of the two places that they currently have available, one of those hotels is kicking out the clients from Crime Victims Compensation for the period during inauguration because they say they've been booked for many years back. So clients check out on Friday, check back in on Wednesday.

Tanya Snyder: Washington only has fifty beds in the whole city dedicated to domestic violence victims so the hotels often become an essential resource for people needing to escape a violent situation at home.

Baylis Beard-Hunting: I know clients who are bartering food cards, any resource they have available, babysitting other people's children for a space on the couch, a space on the floor, you know whatever they can find.

I did not want to blog yesterday. More so than usual because I had a series of e-mails come in complaining about Danny Schechter's inauguration nonsense. A lot of you were also e-mailing C.I. and she addressed it today. It needed addressing.

We were rightly outraged in the US when China started evicting people and trying to spit polish away their slums with a little paint as they prepared to host the Olympics. Guess what? It's no different than what the US did for Barack's inauguration. (The above is from C.I.'s transcript of the report broadcast Monday.) I have not been able to go to DC since the early 80s and not see a large number of homeless people.

The answer is not hiding them every four years, the answer is addressing the problem. Instead, Barack got his million dollar extravaganzas and the homeless (and victims of domestic violence) were displaced.

The money spent on the inauguration is outrageous. Danny Schechter linked to a stupid Media Matters 'report.' If Media Matters intends to be a laughable apologist for the next four years, they'll be about as credible to me as Danny Schechter is.

Barack's spent more money on the inauguration. Do not try to say, "Well it's security!" Bully Boy was one of the most hated people in the country and barely squeaked out a win over John Kerry. Bully Boy was also scared of his shadow. If Barack's spending more on security than Bully Boy did it goes to too many balls and too much vanity.

Public Citizen offered the following ahead of the inauguration:

Obama's Inauguration, Sponsored by the Few, the Wealthy
A Public Citizen analysis shows that nearly 80 percent of the $35.3 million raised to date by the Presidential Inaugural Committee has come from just 211 individual "bundlers," who collect checks from colleagues or other associates. Many of these fundraisers are Wall Street executives, who, no doubt, are hoping their generosity is appreciated by the new administration.
READ the news release.
LEARN more at

That's the sort of reality Danny Schechter cannot handle. These are my statements, by the way, not C.I.'s. Let me further add, don't write me and expect it to be private. If that isn't clear to one person, I am not Ruth. Don't whine to me or try to charm me to demonstrate that you are not a sexist. You are a sexist and it comes through loud and clear. So that is the one and only warning ____ will ever receive.

Back to inauguration babble. So Mr. Schechter appears to believe he birthed Barack and possibly breast fed him as well. That was yesterday's post that had people questioning his vanity as he yammered on about the Chicago Eight and how they and 'we' are a part of it and blah, blah, blah.

Someone inform Mr. Schechter that he is no John Lennon. I knew John Lennon and I know Yoko and Danny Schechter can dream; however, he can never and will never be John Lennon.

Danny Schechter the self-billed News Dissector REFUSED to dissect the rank sexism in the media against Hillary. He didn't do it when CNN decided to 'debate' whether Hillary was a bitch and you know he's too chicken s**t to ever call out MSNBC's thug boys in pantyhose.

So C.I. addressed it and I'm sure that's going to be it for C.I. for as long as possible. If you have a problem with his rantings, e-mail me. I have no problem calling him out. I also think it's hilarious that he's attempting to write a Barack book. Danny Schechter can't write an honest book about Barack Obama and, more to the point, Danny's garbage fluff will be useless by the time he completes a book and it goes to the printers. Translation (to steal from Ava and C.I.), he is wasting his time writing fluff that will only embarrass him when it finally surfaces (when it finally surfaces and no one buys it).

No one will buy it. No one will want fluff or hero worship. A book publisher (not small publisher) phoned this morning and I only had time to return the call during lunch. It's an old friend of mine (and of C.I.'s) and he was discussing what the trends were. He passed on a Barack puff book and did so back in October. Why? These children's books sell best ahead of the election and immediately after. Once someone ends up with an actual record as a president, there's no interest in the puff pieces.

Sunny said an e-mail came in asking why I wasn't in DC like C.I. For a number of reasons. A) I have a practice that I really do not like to walk away from. If I'm not doing the sessions, I like to give plenty of notice ahead of time. B) I know Joe Biden but not like C.I. C.I.'s known Joe forever and would not miss Joe being sworn in as vice-president. I'm happy for Joe. I will call him "Mr. Vice President" the next time our paths cross. But C.I.'s always been closer to Joe than I am and knows just how much Joe has sacrificed for his family (before Jill was part of it and after Jill became part of it). Without some of those sacrifices, which were wonderful ones and go to the type of person Joe is, he probably could have been president by 1984 if not sooner. Joe's one of those people who can make C.I. cry. I don't mean by Joe saying something or doing something but just by being a stand-up person who keeps his word. People like that, who do have honor, always touch C.I. I skipped the convention as well this summer but I knew before Rebecca told me that C.I. was crying her eyes out when Beau spoke. C.I. doesn't cry at romantic love stories. But when someone really sacrifices for another person -- a friend, a child, etc. -- that will make the tears run.

Let me just stay with that for a moment. What I'm saying is nothing new or revealing. (I may be the first to talk about the tears during Beau Biden's speech, but I don't think I am.) But you go through those snapshots and you find one in the leadup to the election where C.I. fluffed for Biden. You won't find one. Unlike Danny Schechter, C.I. kept a distance. C.I. also called out Biden two times after the convention and before the general election and Ava and C.I. were forced (and they grappled with whether or not they could avoid the topic) to explore why Biden was crying. C.I. played the election as fairly as possible. Did the same during the crowded Democratic Party primary as well. C.I. knew everyone in the race except Barack (whom we met together during his run for the US Senate and had mutual friends). C.I. didn't (and does not) like Dennis Kucinich. But no one knew that from the snapshots which covered Dennis and defended him when he was being attacked. (That only stopped when Dennis revealed he wasn't a real candidate by giving away his supporters in Iowa.) C.I. does not like John Edwards at all. C.I. is friends with John Kerry (and Teresa) and does not appreciate any of the crap and 'creative' stories Edwards told about John Kerry after the 2004 election. But you didn't know that until months after John Edwards dropped out of the primaries. C.I.'s known Bill Richardson since the Clinton era and C.I. has never said a word publicly or privately against Bill for his decision to endorse Barack. Of course, C.I. knew Hillary. C.I. knew Mike Gravel. I was about to ask who am I forgetting and then remembered who it was: Chris Dodd. C.I. does not like Dodd for reasons that are long standing. If Chris Dodd made a good point, C.I. backed him up. If Dodd was attacked unfairly, C.I. defended him.

Mr. Big Former Journalist Danny Schechter had no problem playing favorites (Barack) throughout. It's the difference being raised with journalism ethics (as C.I. was) and adopting them briefly because you're trying to make a living.

Last thing, Sunny asked, "Who is the male actor who came on to the high school boy?" That's in the snapshot. I told her it was a film actor. She still couldn't figure it out. I told her think hard. Finally, I told her I was almost positive that C.I. was referring to ____ because of the way it was written and when C.I. returned my call (we were playing phone tag and didn't speak today, we kept missing each other), say ____ (the actor's movie) and then ask, "Is that right?" It was. It's pretty obvious who the actor is. If you'[re in doubt, make a list of famous actors who've played gay and think of minor actors who wish they were famous who've never done so even though a large number of their peers have done so.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, January 21, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq okays US leaving quickly . . . and it doesn't okay that, provincial elections loom, the inauguration's first fatality was common sense, Liz Smith plays the fool and so much more.

Starting with Iraqi provincial elections which are scheduled to be held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces on January 31st.
Aseel Kami (Reuters) explores the issue of females running for seats (a little over 1/25 of those seeking office are women), "But in a country that was once one of the most progressive for women's rights in the Middle East, and where black candidates plan to run for election for the first time, female candidates say the quota gives them little real clout. The system has been dominated by conservative religious parties since U.S.-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003." Women are afraid to put up their campaign material with photos, they're afraid to campaign and they have to deal with 'honor' killings, threats and sexism. Meanwhile Alsumaria offers, "In this context, some liberals have accused dominant religious parties of giving quota seats to carefully selected women who would not call for better women's rights. However, many Iraqi men, like Abu Omar, welcome the presence of women in the political establishment." In a separate report, Alsumaria explains that Faraj Al Haydari, head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Committee, has declared a "curfew will be imposed and airports will close off on the day of elections." NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (Morning Edition -- link has text and audio) offers an overview:Sheik Aifan al-Issawi is a founding member of one of these groups, the Sahwa, or Awakening, movement. In 2006, he and other tribal leaders turned against al-Qaida in Iraq and joined the Americans.Now, Anbar is one of the more stable Iraqi provinces — and these fighters want to become a political force in Iraq.Issawi, head of Fallujah's tribal security force, says he and other tribal fighters have sacrificed more than anyone else. He cites his own personal losses: nine members of his family killed, including his mother and sisters.The Sunni boycott of the polls in 2005 left them with little representation. This time, the sheik says they are going to flex their electoral muscle.There has been a push in Basra to become its own region (similar to the KRG) andBasil Adas (Gulf News) reports that the push has failed after supporters "fell short of the 10 per cent of votes" needed but "further division and quarrelling" is expected to continue. Basra resident Khamis Al Alwan is quoted stating, "The Basra failure is a blow to those who are in favour of the division of Iraq. Iraqis want Iraq to remain one country, and this can be seen through the cooperation of Sunnis and Shiites to prevent its division." CNN explains only 32,448 people signed the petition (out of 135,707 required) and offers this background, "Basra is the only Iraqi province that borders a body of water -- the Shatt al Arab waterway near the Persian Gulf. The province also borders Kuwait and Iran. Cities in the province include Basra city, Umm Qasr and Zubayr."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that targeted "Zeyad al Ani, the President of the Islamic Univiersty" and resulted in 4 deaths, wounded two of his guards, and injured ten other people; and a Kirkuk roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left one wounded. Reuters notes a Dour roadside bombing that claimed 5 lives and left three people wounded.


Laith Hammoudi and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 broker was shot dead in Mosul.


Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Zubair.

Today in DC Gen Peter W. Chiarelli (vice chief of staff in the Amry) met with reporters.
CQ Politics reports that he discussed an ongoing top-to-bottom review that will be completed at the end of next month. David Wood (Baltimore Sun) explains Chiarelli revealed approximately "20,000 soldiers are unable to serve in war zones because they are recuperating from long-term or minor injuries, including an increasing number suffering from stress fractures and other ailments caused by carrying too much weight in combat". Wood notes the general stated that the number continues to increase and that he hopes there would be downtime before any US troops from Iraq were redeployed to Afghanistan (as Barack wants them to be). The general refers to the need for relief. April 1, 2008, the US House Subcommittee on Health held a hearing entitled Post Traumatic Stress Disorter (PTSD) Treament and Research: Moving Ahead Toward Recovery. US Army Director, Divisions of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's Col Charles W. Hoge testified on the first panel.

Hoge declared, "One of the issues with multiple deployments and the dwell time for soldiers when they've come back, we've learned from the research that we've done, [is] that 12 months is not enough time for soldiers to reset and go back for another deployment." Twelve months -- one year -- was not sufficient. US House Rep Shelley Berkley asked him, "Not enough time between tours of duty, did I hear you correctly?" He replied "Yes [pause] What we've found [pause] Yes. That's what I said. [pause] The 12 months is insuf- appears to be insufficient." Now in the United Kingdom, there is a push for British troops to get more time between deployments.
BBC reports General Richard Dannatt is calling for British troops "not to be sent on operations for more than six months out of every 36." Currently, deployments overseas are supposed to have 24 months between them and the plan would push the number of months to thirty. Chris Green (Independent of London) adds that:

. . . the shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, described General Dannatt's comments as "yet more confirmation that overstretch is seriously damaging the Army's ability to do its job" and called for a review of the present strategy. He said: "The surest way to have unhappy service personnel is to have unhappy service families. General Dannatt's suggestions should be taken seriously, as he is at least attempting creative solutions for our overstretch problem.
"Reducing the number of overseas deployments is a start, but the Government must also look at issues of housing, health care and veterans' welfare if it wants to avert a serious crisis in recruitment and retention. Repairing the broken military covenant is long overdue."

Thomas Harding and Jon Swaine (Telegraph of London) quote Dannatt stating, "We have seriously stretched our soldiers -- both their good will and their families." And where is the concern in the US where service members already have less time home between deployments? In the US where Congress has been informed that 12 months is not enough? Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond) reports on 250 Marines who have finally returned from Iraq and how Cpl Kylie Vanderwende's family plans to celebrate Christmas in a few days, Edward Dikitanan's son Nalani just wants to go to the zoo with his father, Jason Bergmann was finishing his fourth deployment and the first since he'd gotten married 16 months ago to Karie Bergmann who he last saw twelve months ago, and Andrew Anderson who got to hold his daughter Kezia for the first time. In the United Kingdom, the service members already get more time between deployments and they are now moving to increase that time. It's time the US Congress did what needs to be done. (US House Rep Patrick Murphy has floated legislating deployment time and downtime and it may be time for that if the military cannot do it on their own even after the admission in an open hearing that 12 months is not enough downtime.)

Back to the US press breakfast with the general.
Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times' The Caucus) notes another point Chiarelli discussed. Asked about withdrawal of 'combat' troops within 16 months (popularly presented as Barack's 'pledge') his reply included, "You can pick up and leave anything very quickly, but if you do, you'll leave it in a certain condition that won't be as good if you went through a certain deliberative process of working through those issues. And there's a lot of logistical issues that have to be worked through, and I think everybody has to understand that, that you can do antyhing, but it just depends on how you want to look and what instructions are given for what you bring and what you leave behind and the contition that you leave your operating bases in when you leave." That's nonsense and Barack could safely withdraw all US troops from Iraq in his first 100 days if he wanted. Now follow closely because it's about to get confusing. AP reports that Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri al-Maliki's mouthpiece to the press, has declared that US service members could leave Iraq "even before the end of 2011." That's what the Status Of Forces Agreement masquerading as a treaty could allow for (departure in 2011) if it was followed and not altered or cancelled (either party can cancel it). Barack's 16-month 'pledge' (only for 'combat' troops) would mean 'combat' troops would be out in April 2010. While al-Maliki's spokesperson stated 'sure, leave early,' others sent a different message. Camilla Hall and Zainab Fattah (Bloomberg News) report Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) disagrees and states, "Nobody can afford in 2009 to contemplate any change in military policy. . . . [We can't] give any impression that there will be draw-downs, reductioins, redeployment because this year Iraq has three elections." So which is it? When pressed, al-Maliki's spokesperson has a long history -- as does the puppet -- of backing down.

We're still on inauguration coverage and here's how it works. If you result in 40 or more e-mails complaining (from community members), you get called out. I'm not in the mood. And I'm not in the mood to try and answer that many e-mails one on one. When that many people are pointing to a problem, it will be called out here.
Danny Schechter. We just rolled our eyes all through 2008 when he pretended repeatedly that he was just calling it like it was and oh, goodness, no favoritism to Barack. Why does the media suck? It sucks because alleged independents refuse to do their jobs. The garbage -- and that's the only word for it -- at Danny's News Dissector today is not journalism and it is not independent. If he can't grasp it, he should substitute "Bush" for "Barack" and he should be appalled by offering up a version of Fox "News."

For starters, Rev Joseph Lowery is not "one of Dr. King's soldiers." There is NEVER any need to MILITARIZE the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Repeating, NEVER. That is appalling and there's no excuse for it. Not even that Danny's giddy over Barack. The US is in two wars with Barack's advisors already itching for two more. Stop trying to turn our civil society into the military. And on Lowery, again
refer to Kimberly Wilder's post at On The Wilder Side.

Meanwhile, it's always great -- and oh, so rare -- when Danny manages to quote a woman at his blog, but possibly stand-up comics who don't know what the hell they're talking about should be avoided?

Jessi Klein? Doesn't know what she's talking about. And Danny should know that. Long before John Roberts, Chief Justice, screwed up the oath, Barack had already done that. And, big point, I'd be awfully careful making fun of John Roberts. Not out of fear that he or his minions would come after but due to questions about Roberts' health which swirl around DC. Also true is the oath isn't that difficult and the presumably healthy Barack has no excuse for messing it up. Jessi wants to ignore that. She wants to say it's "perfectly symbolic" because of who appointed him. And Danny apparently agrees.

Roberts -- whom this site LOUDLY opposed -- was confirmed by the Senate. Barack's buddy Cass Sunstein (currently married to War Monger and Our Modern Day Carrie Nation Samantha Power) pimped Roberts hard. Barack obviously loves Cass' 'judgment' since he's named Cass to head Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Barack voted against Roberts while also leading the public argument of "WE CAN'T FILIBUSTER!" The Democrats could have kept Roberts off the bench. They did not do so. The Senate confirmed Roberts: 78 voted for Roberts, 22 voted against. Who voted for Roberts among Democrats? Well Robert Byrd among others, Russ Feingold, Kent Conrad, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Patty Murray, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Ken Salazar (whom Barack nominated to be Sec of Interior and whom the Senate confirmed in the post yesterday), Herb Kohl, Blanche Lincoln -- we can go on and on. Only 22 senators voted against Roberts (all Democrats). The Democrats had a bloc of 45 votes at that time (44 Dems plus independent Jim Jeffords). When half of them voted to confirm him and when the Dems would not filibuster the nomination, Roberts sitting on the Court -- presiding over it -- is as much their fault as the Republicans. That's reality in The Land of Grown Ups.

Barack said what on the Senate floor about his vote? "Given that background, I am sorely tempted to vote for Judge Roberts based on my study of his resume, his conduct during the hearigns, and a conversation I had with him yesterday afternoon. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. Moreover, he seems to have the comportment and the termperament that makes for a good judge. He is humble, he is personally decent, and he appears to be respectful of different points of view." Barack continued on and on.

That's a little more complicated than Jessi Klein and Danny Schechter want to make it. But Barack's 2008 campaign ran on that sort of simplification. Danny, it's "Jessi" and writing two episodes (two bad episodes, in fact) of Samantha Who? did not make Jessi a political scholar or, for that matter, informed. But then you knew she wasn't informed when you read her. It failed as political criticism and, like so much of her writing, it failed as comedy. Stick to drooling over David Gergen, Jessi.

It was "stirring" -- gushes Danny of the inauguration -- of the pomp and assholeness of it all. (And that's true of every inauguration.) He confesses Iran's PRESS TV didn't "share my enthusiasm" and that an interviewer for South Africa media "was more focused on what policies, if any, would shift." That should have been the first sign that there's a problem with your reaction.

We could go line by line but we're wrapping up. I will note that I attended the inauguration to see Joe Biden sworn in. I didn't feel the need to go goo-goo-gaa-gaa. I haven't written about it and don't intend to. I'll leave the mash notes to our so-called 'independent' media.

Danny quotes AP (though it's not clear at his website that he's doing that) "Not since the September 2001 terrorist attacks have so many television networks shown such a unity of purpose, this time for a moment of hope." Manufacturing of consent and Danny toiled in the TV industry long enough to grasp that without my pointing it out. Then it's time for him to provide the transcript to the bad poem. It's a really bad poem because it's neither the 19th nor 20th century currently.

For a supposed new day dawning (those words top Danny's site currently), trying writing about today and not nostalgia. What's really sad is Alexander doesn't even grasp that her Norman Rockwell garbage is neither realistic nor poetic. She's got a teacher telling students to "take out your pencils" -- take out your pencils? She apparently thinks it is 1899 and not 2009. She's then off to "dirt roads" and "highways." She apparently even pre-dates the creation of the nation's interstates.

With no sense of irony, Danny then quotes Michael Parenti on, among other things, "conservative forces" who "continue to reject . . . publicly funded campaigns." Who rejected public money? Oh, yeah, War Hawk Corporatist Barack Obama.

To Danny's e-mailer from Denmark, Barack Obama is not your president. I am so sorry that you are so ashamed of your own country which you must think is pathetic and backwards. But that's your problem. This goes for people in Kenya (non-Obama family members), France and elswhere. Barack is a citizen of the United States, elected to be the president of the United States. Denmark and all the rest, don't whine about the US always trying to throw its weight around when your PATHETIC LIVES are so empty that all you can do is obsess over another country's leader.

It really wasn't cute in Breaking Away when Dave was obsessed with a country other than his own, when he need to pretend he's from that country. It was seen as adolescent and embarrassing and it's the main reason the box office for the film was so poor and why it ended up on NBC (broadcast TV) so quickly that it couldn't even go back into theaters after its Oscar win for best screenplay. No one wants that crap. No one wants some whiney ass obsessing about another country. If you loathe Denmark so much, work on improving it. If you're tired of the US throwing its weight around, stop hero worshipping the country.

Is this the same crowd that worships Prince Harry and gets out the scones (even though they're not British or part of the United Kingdom) and tea for their 'wedding parties' anytime HRH has a family member getting married? It's pathetic. Do you not have lives to live? They're the equivalent of rubber neckers passing a traffic accident but with their pinkies lifted.

John Pilger actually is independent and you can find him explain Barack
here and here and here and here and here. And you can find Danny telling the same or similar truths . . . Where?

And now we move on to
Liz Smith. Liz apparently missed the news of the actor who will never play gay (because he is and he's in the closet) who got drunk last night at a ball, mistook a high school junior for a trick and caused an ugly, ugly scene (that only got worse when the parents -- part of official Washington -- ended up involved). Or maybe she's ignoring that scoop to cover for the actor? I have no idea. But I know what she's dishing out today is GARBAGE and needs to be called out. Liz wants everyone to leave Barry alone. He's "historic" and people need to get out of his way, says the tall Texan before explaining:

I'm more worried about the Democrats and their mumbling about taking members of the Bush administration -- perhaps even the ex-president himself -- to legal task for eight years of ineptitude and possibly worse. Please! Nancy Pelosi, buy a clue. When your president talks about turning the page, he doesn't mean to have the country and media embroiled and obsessed with Bush and company for ages ahead. I don't want to see or hear or concern myself with anything Bush from now on. Leave them all to heaven.

Liz, Nancy's not the one who needs to buy a clue. You're the damn fool who's clueless. Now everyone was laughing at you two weeks ago when you were running with Tina Fey's p.r. that she and Sarah Palin were friends. You got punked, Liz. You're not going to get your credibility back by refusing to grasp the seriousness of what the Bully Boy did to this country. You embarrass yourself. You don't come off funny or hilarious. You come off completely unconcerned with the law and more interested in covering up for torture than holding anyone accountable. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, really doesn't need your 'strong' 'editorials.' Why don't you stick to who's sleeping with who and stay away from topics so clearly beyond your limited grasp? For reality on the need to hold the previous administration accountable, see
this by the Center for Constitutional Rights president Michael Ratner who also is a co-host of Law & Disorder along with Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith. And on Guantanamo, Barack's last public statements were they he would close it but would move the prisoners elsewhere. As Ava and I pointed out, "Believe it or not, the cry to close Guantanamo was not a cry for relocation. It was a cry for freedom. But Barack made clear to The Post that some people held at Guantanamo could not be convicted in a court of law because their 'confessions' resulted from torture." As Barack now indicates that even closing Guantanamo will take a year, the Center for Constitutional Right's Executive Director Vince Warren points out: "It only took days to put these men in Guantanamo, it shouldn't take a year to get them out."

the new york timeselisabeth bumiller
tony perrythe los angeles times
mcclatchy newspapers
camilla hall
thomas harding
aseel kami
basil adasnprmorning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
law and disorder
michael ratner
michael smith
dalia hashad
heidi boghosian

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Phoebe Snow, Isaiah, World Can't Wait

"Kat's Korner: Phoebe Snow's Journey" (Kat, The Common Ills):
She does that on Something Real's "If I Can Just Get Through The Night." That late eighties tune was a lush drama originally. Now it's got a funkier beat and it's more conversational. Phoebe's looser on it vocally, hitting and holding notes she ignored in the original. She's coaxing the listener and coaxing herself as well.
Phoebe Snow established herself as one of music's most significant talents with one song "Poetry Man." In fact, it took less than half of the first verse to make that proclamation. That 1975 Snow-penned classic makes the album. What stands out to me on this version is how the softer vocal sections are even softer and how her voice is more elastic on this recording, switching ranges with greater flexibility and ease than I remember.
"You're My Girl" follows, dedicated to her daughter Valerie, and the flexibility and ease continues along with a swelling and tightening on her vocal that goes beyond loud and soft or modulation. More than any of her peers, Phoebe Snow's always resembled the vocal equivalent of a saxophone.

The above is from Kat's review of Phoebe Smith's concert CD Live which came out last October. (Kat's review went up Monday night.) I love Phoebe's CD. I love Kat's review. I've included the link to Phoebe's webpage hoping that if someone's curious about this talent that Kat's praising, they'll decide to go to Phoebe's website. I know who Phoebe is. But I realize that some people may not. She's really one of the great vocalists but women don't tend to get endless covers of Rolling Stone magazine just because they turned another year older.

I love the whole album but "If I Can Just Get Through The Night" will always be one of my favorite Phoebe songs so the live version is my favorite track on the new CD. ("Poetry Man," for those who are familiar with Phoebe, is on the CD.)

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Debutante Barack"
Debutante Barack

I think Isaiah says it all. The only thing I'd add is that maybe if you've whored for Barack all along, it wasn't the best time to announce this once you were going to bask in the "joy"? Especially if you are an alleged 'media critic.' Might I further state that if you're going to repeat Media Matters water carrying for Barack, you might try noting that Public Citizen has already documented the Big Money.

So many whores and, sad for them, so few Johns with money. A lot of the pathetic beggars will have to get new jobs shortly. I saw this in the seventies, I can't wait to laugh this decade as well.

A week before Barack Obama’s inauguration he received religious advice from a coalition which purports to include both conservative and progressive Christian leaders. However, the truth is that the signatories to the message are overwhelmingly from the religious right and hold firmly to the conservative message on the “hot button issues”. Women signatories are extremely scarce. With very few exceptions, all are opposed to reproductive rights, which include the right of abortion and to same-sex partnerships.
Evangelical big wigs have aligned with Third Way, a Washington, D.C. think tank which has been influential in forming Democratic Party policies, and with a group called Faith in Public Life, a tax-exempt organization which is seen as “left leaning” and seeks to facilitate such coalitions. In their epistle to Obama, they collectively claim to have reached compromise agreements on abortion, homosexuality, torture, and immigration reform.
The headline of the press release reads: “Long Time Foes United to End the Culture War.” Would that it were true. But alas, it is not. In fact most truly progressive Christians have been left out of the so-called unity of the evangelical/Third Way/Faith in Public Life coalition (hereinafter the Coalition).
By truly progressive I mean those that are not locked into backward theological notions of women’s submissiveness to men, and who also firmly believe in a woman’s right to an abortion. Further, they hold there should be full equal rights for LGBTs --- Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgendered persons. All of them. What two consenting adults do in the private is no one’s business but their own.

At what point does the glow go off? When do the Pod People return to outer space and allow the humans to walk the earth again? I don't think it will be anytime soon; however, when it finally happens, you can remember that World Can't Wait never mistook themselves for a fan club for the powerful. In addition, Larry Jones has not played groupie.

There is a long, long list of people who have disgraced themselves. It is really important to take a moment to give those with spines credit. Sunsara Taylor, Larry Jones and others at World Can't Wait have earned your faith in them.

The list of those who've demonstrated that they are spineless is a much longer list. (Be sure to read C.I.'s "Norman Solomon: Damn Liar" on the spineless Solomon.) But that is how it goes. It takes strength to stand up, it takes courage. To go along? It takes nothing. It doesn't even require expending energy. You can just lay there and be pushed along.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, January 20, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq gears up for the provincial elections, al-Maliki tries to oust a police chief, Barack Obama is sworn in and more.

In the US, Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office today and
Iraq Veterans Against the War issued the following:

IVAW members and chapters got together recently to produce an ad calling for an end to the war in Iraq. This ad will be broadcast a few minutes before Barack Obama takes the oath of office (at noon EST) on NBC in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, New York City, and Washington DC as a reminder that the war goes on, and that electing a new President is not enough to bring it to an end.
For supporting arguments and further information about the content of this ad,
click here. IVAW would like to thank Baked Goods Productions, The Flobots and Beau Weaver for generously contributing their talent to create this ad.
Iraq Veterans Against the War depends upon the support of individuals in order to continue organizing for an end to the Iraq war, care for our veterans, and justice for the people of Iraq. 2009 will be a pivotal year for U.S. involvement in Iraq, and it is more important than ever that we keep the pressure on to bring this occupation to an end.
Support IVAW, click here to make a donation now.

Sunday the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Jan. 18 at approximately 11 a.m." M-NF announces the deaths (like the previous ones) and the Defense Department then follows by issuing the name after the fallen's survivors have been notified. For example, Monday the Defense Dept announced, "The Department of Defense announced today the death of an Airman who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.Senior Airman Omar J. McKnight, 22, of Marrero, La., died Jan 17 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla." The military's problem with that announcement is the death they identified was never announced by M-NF. January has seen eight US service members deaths and the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war is 4229.

Friday Haitham Kadhim al-Husani was assassinated, shot dead in Baghdad. Sunday deaths included Hassan Zaidan al-Luhaibi. Jonny Dymond (BBC) reported that a Mosul suicide bombing claimed the life of the "vice- president of the Sunni National Dialogue bloc" who "was leading his party's campaign for provincial elections to be held at the end of this month." In addition, Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) notee that al-Luhaibi's "son Falah is a parliament member". Sam Dagher (New York Times) explained al-Luhaibi "was barred from holding elected office because he had been a senior member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party" and he had been "an army general who commanded Iraq's military academy. He was among the senior officers involved in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and its long war with Iran in the 1980s." Ernesto Londono and Zaid Sabah (Washington Post) explained, "The attack occurred amid bitter competition between Sunni Arabs and Kurds for control of Nineveh province, one of four that includes areas claimed by both Arabs and Kurds."

Provincial elections -- which were supposed to take place no later than 2008 to meet the 'benchmark' -- are scheduled for January 31st. Even if they take place, they still do not meet the 'benchmark' for progress because they are not taking place in all provinces. Fourteen of Iraq's eighteen provinces will hold elections. The United Nations has regularly and repeatedly warned that violence would most likely increase in Iraq as provincial elections approached.
AP's Kim Gamel and Hamza Hendawi explain that the elections are for 444 seats (444 from all 14 pvoinces) and that 14,431 people are competing for those seats. Timothy Williams (NYT's International Herald Tribune) notes a new poll of Iraqis has found 41% of those surveyed cite a preference for secular candidates and 31% prefer candidates from religious parties. Though religious markings and artificats are not supposed to be used in the campaigns, Anthony Shadid reported today that "everyone from the Communist Party to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party, has resorted to Shiite imagery." Saturday Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) reported that the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, was attempting to make the elections all about himself: "He is not on any ballot in the provincial elections scheduled for Jan. 31. But in agreeing to be the public image of the Coalition of the State of Law, a group of candidates running primarily on his record, Maliki has effectively turned the contest into a referendum on his rule. The elections will be the most crucial test so far of Maliki's attempt to bolster the central government's authority -- and his own. If he succeeds in establishing a nationwide base of local politicians ready to support him and the idea of centralized government, Maliki will have cemented his three-year transformation from little-known lawmaker to the most powerful Iraqi statesman since Saddam Hussein." The following day, Timothy Williams and Mudhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) explained that al-Maliki had demanded that Abudel Haneen al-Amara be kicked out as the police chief in Wasit Province and be replaced with a successor hand picked by al-Maliki leading to huge objections including objections over the timing. The reporters quoted a local council member, Sayyd Sattar al-Masqsusi, stating, "It's really not good to replace him at this time. We called the minister of the interior himself and he didn't know about the replacement and was as surprised as we are. Only God and Maliki know the reasons behind the change at this time." Monday Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) explored Basra where elections are expected to continue and solidify "Shiite Islamic parties" control of the area. Meanwhile Sam Dagher (New York Times) explores Anbar Province and finds that the US backed and elevated tribes may take control in the elections. Anbar is where the "Awakening" Councils were 'birthed' (created by tossing US money around). Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports that the estimated 100,000 "Awakening" Council members are still not under Iraqi control and that the US is expected to continue paying the bulk of members until April when al-Maliki may finally pay the cost. So come April, the Iraqi government might finally take over payment. Strange.

April 8, 2008 during The Petraeus & Crocker Variety Hour, Senator Barabara Boxer brought up the thugs on the US payroll and noted $182 million a year was being paid by the US tax payers. "Why don't you ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that program?" Boxer asked. When US Ambassador Ryan Crocker tried to dance around the issue, Boxer stated, "I asked you why they couldn't pay for it. . . . I don't want to argue a point. . . . I'm just asking you why we object to asking them to pay for that entire program giving all that we are giving them in blood and everything else?" Crocker's response was he would carry the suggestion back to Iraq. The "Awakening" Councils were supposed to have been turned over to Iraqi control in November. That has not taken place. Nor is al-Maliki assuming the payment. All this time later. In more non-progress, Timothy Williams (NYT's International Herald Tribune) notes that yesterday Iraq's Parliament again delayed their vote on selecting a new Speaker and now intend to vote on the 4th of February. December 23rd was when Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was relieved of his duties as Speaker. All this time later and they still have no Speaker.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which targeted the Ministry of Higher Education's deputy minister and left four people wounded, another Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a third Baghdad roadside bombing which also wounded two people, a Baghdad car bombing that resulted in five people being injured, a Mosul grenade attack that left six people injured and a bomber in Mosul who took their own life and left three police officers wounded. Reuters notes a Baquba bombing that injured three people.


Reuters notes a 1 real estate agent shot dead in Mosul (and a child injured) and another Mosul shooting which claimed a life.

Today Barack Obama had his coming out party.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Debutante Barack" first ran January 4th and features Bully Boy (holding Barack's hand) declaring, "In 2004, they asked if I should have a big 'bash while the country is at war?' But you've got over 60 D.C. bashes planned, we got two wars and a recession." Barack replied, "A girl's gotta have a coming out party." Apparently regardless of the cost and regardless of the economy. Scott Mayerowitz (ABC News) reports, "The country is in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which isn't stopping rich donors and the government from spending $170 million, or more, on the inauguration of Barack Obama. The actual swearing-in ceremony will cost $1.24 million, according to Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies." Yesterday Free Speech Radio News reported on "the most expensive inauguration in history" taking place while DC's homeless were "displaced and scrambling just to get through the next few days."

Tanya Snyder: Washington, DC officials are working to clear the downtown area of homeless people for the festivities.

Brian Anders: We don't want people to know that there are poor people living in the nation's capitol living on the streets. That would be insane.

Tanya Snyder: Brian Anders is a homeless advocate who works with
Empower DC a grassroots group that organizes low-income Washingtonians. He says many of the people who sleep on the streets downtown are being moved far outside the city and they have a lot of concerns about this upheaval?

Brian Anders: Are they going to be allowed to come back downtown? Are they going to be put somewhere else where it's too far for them to get back downtown? Are they going to be able to get their property back? Especially if they don't have identification? What about those folks who are on medications? What about those folks who have substance abuse issues? I mean we're not dealing with the bigger questions -- I mean, it's conveniant to move them out because you don't want to see them obviously. But the reality, these are human beings.

Tanya Snyder: City shelters are opening up for inauguration day too, serving hot drinks and showing TV coverage of the festivities downtown. But DC's mayor closed the downtown Franklin Shelter last fall removing 300 emergency beds for homeless men. Some domestic violence survivors are also losing their emergency shelter for the days surrounding the inauguration. Advocate Baylis Beard-Hunting says that the people whose homes are unsafe can normally get subsidized hotel rooms

Baylis Beard-Hunting: Of the two places that they currently have available, one of those hotels is kicking out the clients from Crime Victims Compensation for the period during inauguration because they say they've been booked for many years back. So clients check out on Friday, check back in on Wednesday.

Tanya Snyder: Washington only has fifty beds in the whole city dedicated to domestic violence victims so the hotels often become an essential resource for people needing to escape a violent situation at home.

Baylis Beard-Hunting: I know clients who are bartering food cards, any resource they have available, babysitting other people's children for a space on the couch, a space on the floor, you know whatever they can find.

Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) was noted in "2008: The Year of Living Hormonally (Year in Review)" and she can do a strong post and she can do a weak one. On the strong, check out this one. On the weak? As e-mails complain, another post where she attempts to make nice with Barack Obama because what's a Green Party member to do but suck up to the Democratic Party? Words that could haunt the next four years: "And, I am aware of the setbacks in Obama's message and platform: Promoting a surge in Afghanistan, keeping nuclear energy on the table as a possibility, not acknowledging racial disparities enough" meek, meek, meek. The Afghanistan War is a crime and a mistake and wants to list is under "setback"? Is that the Green position? From the same post: "And, while our electoral system is somewhat broken, we used the system we have in place, my candidate -- Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party -- was allowed to run (as were some other independent and third party candidates)" meek, meek, crap. Was your candidate 'allowed' to run? Did they also let her drink out of the water fountain? What the hell is that? Being grateful your candidate was "allowed to run"? And, more to the point, where was she allowed? She wasn't allowed to run in Oklahoma where she wasn't on the ballot and could not be a write-in. 18 states "allowed" her to run as a write-in but there's little indicating that states fully counted their write-in votes. But, hey, she was "allowed" to run, right? Barack promises more deaths in Afghanistan and if the Green Party is too chicken s**t to call him about because he's bi-racial passing for Black, good to know. For the empire, that's good to know. They will, no doubt, act accordingly when choosing future candidates. Several e-mail to note that while Kimberly doesn't appear to believe a Green Party (or Green president) would make much difference (except maybe in selecting the menu?), the Green Party is offering "The First 100 Days: What would a Green Administration look like?" Many are videos, some are text. On the latter, we'll note this from Morgen D'Arc's response

A Green administration in Washington D.C. will launch the first mandate for women that the United States has ever known. It will reflect a comprehensive Green plan that highlights constitutional equal rights and an administration tone and orientation that in seriously addressing the problems for women that stem from inequality will also positively impact the attitudes of people toward women that together will work to achieve the issues detailed in the
Women's Rights section of the Green Party Platform and other Green positions to improve conditions for women in the United States.
The United States, as the richest country in the world and a leading model of democracy, has never taken the opportunity it has always had to lead by example to the rest of the world for achieving equality, safety and quality of life for women. In nearly 100 years of acquiring the right to vote, women total only 15% of congress, earn only 70% of male pay, comprise the largest most severe segment of poverty in the country, are battered, raped and killed in domestic and other violence in staggering numbers including in the military and by returning soldiers. The U.S. still has a large number of women trafficked under violent and slave conditions for forced sex, which is rape.
A Green administration will prove its agenda for women by establishing a Department of Women to which significant funds are appropriated and which the department's head officer directly reports to and advises the President. This department will represent women domestically as well as in international relations and initiatives regarding women. It will work closely with all organizations relating to women and be a tri-partisan department.

Meanwhile wacky Alice Walker earned laughs today by declaring that Barack means "we have a chance now, as a country, to take our rightful place in the leadership of the owlrd and in the caring of the world." Caring starts with your own damn family, Alice. You have a grandson, Tenzin, whom you refuse to see, one you've never seen. Before you sit down to chat about 'joy' to the public again, get your own damn house in order. There's something very, very shameful about you and Amy Goodman referring to your marriage to a White man (Mel Leventhal) and ignoring that you had a daughter (Rebecca Walker) -- one you now refuse to see, your only child. We'll come back to Alice in a moment but shame on Amy Goodman. Now we know Amy's worthless so it's no surprise she pimped out Barack's inauguration via "Black" as opposed to addressing the reality of race in America. But she had Bob Moses on. So talk. You bring on Bob during a war, let's talk about Bob's days in Canada as Bob Parris. Let's talk about his war resistance then and contrast it with the two wars that are ongoing today. Can't do that, apparently, because it wouldn't allow the Little Red Firehouse to rock with self-adulation. [On war resistance,
click here for Krystalline Kraus' most recent article regarding US war resisters in Canada.] As usual, Alice was trying to play "mother love" and embarrassing herself. She declared, "And it's very hard for people to think in terms of doing what is best for everyone -- and everyone, including people of different colors and different classes." And different sexualities, Alice? You of all people should care about that but you always excuse away and ignore homophobia.

Hillary Is 44 doesn't and they explain the con game Barack pulled. He added Bishop Eugene Robinson to the Hoporium Concert on Sunday in order to mitigate the outrage over his decision to put HOMOPHOBE Rick Warren in charge of the religious competition of today's inauguration. But then Team Obama decided to make sure Bishop Robinson got bumped up early and wasn't part of the HBO broadcast. And Team Obama initially attempted to play innocent and act like it was HBO's fault.

iraq gina chon
the wall street journal
timothy williams
jonny dymondthe washington posternesto londonozaid sabah
amit r. paley
anthony shadidthe new york timessam dagher
timothy williamsmudhafer al-husainiscott mayerowtiz abc news
kimberly wilder the world today just nuts comic barack obama bully boy debutante barack