Friday, February 13, 2009

An explanation for Siorta

At last, an explanation for David Sirota's insanity.

He writes:

The country is coming apart, we're handing over $8 or $9 trillion to Wall Street, the government - as I and many others repeatedly warned - is being stacked with those who engineered this crisis, and people are violently angry. And so some of the angriest are desperate for scapegoats and conspiracy theories to help them make sense of it all. My good buddy Matt Taibbi documented this pretty well in his last book - the fringe left (from the LaRouchies to the "everyone is awful" Naderites to the Obama-hating Clintonites) and the fringe right (from the anti-immigrant lunatics to the militia sympathizers to the libertarian ideologues) find common cause in turning their righteous frustration at the Establishment into chest-thumping anger at phantom demons that seem more easy to slay than the massive institutions and powers that have destroyed the country.

His good friend Matt? I'm not C.I. I didn't make a promise not to tackle the man who has a very loose grip and apparently is in the midst of a meltdown.

It wasn't surprising that he struggled so. Not just because he always struggled, long before adulthood, but because when he was trying to become a 'media star' and pimping his bad book on the 2004 election, he shocked two national radio hosts (one of which told the story to C.I. and myself in lengthy detail) by having a meltdown when the issue of Iowa fraud was raised and began insisting that never happened even when they brought up the New York Times column on the issue by Dan Savage (Savage exposed how easy it was to participate in Iowa's caucus even when you were not eligble).

So Matt's a real problem. Matt's a huge problem. I can go into that at length because, again, I never made a promise.

In 2005, when Matt's meltdown (fueled by what?) became obvious, C.I. was asked to please just ignore Matt and C.I. honored that request.

Matt's a bad writer who, when he's lucky, achieves some near rhythm even though he's yet to discover style. The rhythm can wrongly convince you that he has something to say and, possibly anticipating some 'grand' point, his rampant sexism and his vile nature may get ignored.

It makes perfect sense that David Sirota -- a man of many words and none of them pro-women -- would see Matt Taibbi as the height of sophistication.

Maybe in the beggar circles David Sirota runs in, Matt qualifies as 'sophisticated.' In professional journalism circles he's an untouchable. Not in the sense that no one would criticize him but in the sense that no one will hire him. Insert Sydney Pollack speech to Dustin Hoffman about hiring from Tootsie.

Does no one get that? I know beggar Sirota probably thinks Matt's achieved. But in the real world, where journalism is a profession and not something you dabble in between turns at being a Congressional flunky, Matt's got nothing.

He does the occassional (bad) Rolling Stone column. He's not Hunter S. He doesn't even have the following William Greider did in the eighties. But, most importantly, Rolling Stone led to nothing.

What most young writers would have used as a platform to shine, he didn't. What most young writers would have used as a stepping stone, he couldn't.

This truly is the high of Matt's career. In fact, the high long ago passed.

At some point, Rolling Stone will drop him (don't be surprised if that's in the next 16 months) and he'll have no where to go. He'll try to find a freebie alt weekly that will have him. Maybe Village Voice? But they won't be interested.

There is no Up The Ladder To The Roof for him. He got stuck on rung three.

But this is hero-time for David Sirota. No wonder Sirota has achieved nothing.

As mixed up personally as he is professionally, Sirota would benefit from strong role models. He has none and he flounders.

In his latest blog post, he brags about the traffic links to his previous writing gave him. I don't link to his garbage.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 13, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Thomas E. Ricks tries to drag Americans to the grown ups table (no word on how successful the attempt was), Blackwater changes its name, at least 40 dead from a single bombing, and more.

Alan Gomez (USA Today) reports Maj Gen Michael Oates declaring he has no idea why US troops are in southern Iraq and "that he believes recent security gains there are permanent -- and that some of his troops are openly wondering why they're still there, even though he believes their presence remains crucial." Oatest acknowledges problems in Mosul but appears to think that's it. This as Iraq's rocked with the worst bombing of the year this morning. Iskandariya is south of Baghdad but it is considered to be "central Iraq" and not "southern Iraq." Wisam Mohammed, Sami al-Jumaili, Waleed Ibrahim, Khalid al-Ansary, Mohammed Abbas and Michael Christie (Reuters) report, "The attacks occurred despite heavy security on the pilgrimage route. The ranks of troops and police patrolling Kerbala were boosted by 5,000 to 30,000, a city official said. The Arbain rite, which culminates early on Monday, is difficult to secure. Many pilgrims walk all the way to Kerbala, and are easy targets as they cover hundreds of miles clutching religious banners." Michael Evans (Times of London) states, "A female suicide bomber disguised as a Shia pilgrim on the annual trek to the holy city of Karbala today killed over 30 people, mostly women and children. The woman set of a device hidden beneath the traditional abaya Muslim garment. At least 60 were wounded with head and chest injuries." The death toll and the number wounded have continued to rise throughout the day. Monte Morin (Los Angeles Times states, "The bomber had reportedly tried to pass through a checkpoint at Abu Al Jassim village, but failed. It was then that she entered the crowd of women and children who were eating lunch and detonated explosives strapped to her body." Saad Sarhan and Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) provide this context, "The bombing, which occurred shortly before noon, was the deadliest in Iraq this year. . . . Millions of Shiite pilgrims make a yearly pilgrimage to Karbala for the end of a 40-day period of mourning commemorating the death of Hussain bin Ali, one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam." Wisam Mohammed and Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) report 40 dead and sixty-nine injured. At the United Nations, the following statement was released on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General is appalled by the suicide bomb attack against Shi'a pilgrims near Baghdad today, and similar attacks targeting innocent civilians in the past days which have left dozens of people dead and wounded, including many women and children. These acts cannot be justified by any political or religious cause and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The Secretary-General joins with the people of Iraq in rejecting these cruel and reprehensible attempts to reignite sectarian violence in the country. He also calls on Iraqi leaders to work together in a spirit of national dialogue and mutual respect as demonstrated during the peaceful provincial elections held last month.

Helen Pidd (Guardian) notes the death toll has now risen to 35 and then she pimps the following, "Today's bombing is at least the second attack by a female suicide bomber this year in Iraq: on 4 January a woman blew herself up among a crowd of pilgrims worshipping at the Imam Musa al-Kazim shrine in northern Baghdad, killing 38 people and wounding 72. Though the overall number of suicide attacks has dropped off in recent months, attacks by women are becoming more common." Actually, Helen, the January 4th bomber was a MAN. See the January 6th snapshot, see the January 14th snapshot (at this point al-Maliki's government is admitting the Jan. 4th bomber was a man). Second of all, 30 female bombers in all of 2008 is not "more common" but how nice of you to play the alarmist. How about you tell your readers how many bombers there have been and then explain to them what a tiny percentage of that female bombers actually are? Oh, that wouldn't allow you to play the alarmist. The UNINFORMED alarmist. The scariest thing may be that Pidd is paid to write. The Feb. 2nd Khanaqin bombing is said to be a male suicide bomber or a female suicide bomber. And the gender there was actually worth following up on since al-Maliki's government was pimping the alleged confession of the woman they claimed was the 'Mother of all Bombers' (no, that's not the translation, that's what they were saying -- remember, she recruited, she had them raped, remember all those completely unverifiable claims?). If Mommy of all was indeed captured, who was overseeing these female bombers!!!! Daddy of all Bombers? Aunt of all? Who? Who????? Helen Pidd, please, please, wrap your limited capabilities around that story. McClatchy's Idiot in Iraq, Trenton Daniels also repeats the false claim that January 4th was a woman -- it was a man disgusied as a woman and you'd think as much water as McClatchy carries for Nouri al-Maliki, they'd gladly get it right just because he said so.

We'll use Trenton as our jumping off point to address the elections by noting
the very bad article he wrote yesterday where he rushed to inform that al-Maliki was talking to Baathist officials in exile outside of Iraq. He left out a whole lot including the denials that such talks were taking place. Trent offered white-wash, not news. We'll again note Ma'ad Fayad's "Iraqi Dawa Party Official: No dialogue with Armed Groups" (Asharq Alawsat -- and Haydar al-Ibadi who is spokesperson for Dawa , Nouri's party):Al-Ibadi categorically denied that any official in the state spoke to Baathist leaders whether inside Iraq or abroad. He explained: "The Iraqi constitution does not allow this. Besides, the public' general mood does not support the Baath Party because it committed a lot of crimes during and after the rule of the [former] regime."He added: "The Baathists have committed a lot of crimes and killed a large number of Iraqis since 2003 to date. It is they who allowed the Al-Qaeda Organization to enter the country and who were involved in the killing of hundreds of Iraqis." He asked: "So, how can such a party rejoin the political process?"However, Al-Ibadi noted: "There are Baathists who returned to their jobs and who live a normal life without any problems. But they did so as Iraqis, not as members of the Baath Party, which is known for being a conspiratorial military party that does not believe in democracy and does not allow the establishment of a democratic rule."He added: "Permission for the return of the Baath Party to political action needs a constitutional amendment, and I very much rule out the possibility of such a move."Trenton quotes al-Ibadi in his article, though he downgrades his position in the party. And he leaves out the whole denial that invitations were taking place. Here's reality, al-Maliki's being built up by the press and they never intended to report on the Baathist issue. The fact that some Americans were noticing the situation meant it was time for a white wash and look who shows up.So what he gives you is, 'Guess what, invitations to Baathists are going out!' He leaves out the entire denial that they were taking place -- a HUGE story in Iraqi media at the start of the week. He leaves out the claims of Constitutional issues at play.He reveals himself as something other than a journalist. Toss a Hershey bar on the ground in front of him and he will drop drawers and drop to all fours.There's Trenty, in too much make up and heels that will kill his back and feet, cooing about "Iraqis' desire for a strong ruler. In the poll's preliminary results, Maliki's State of Law coalition won a plurality of the votes in nine of 14 provinces -- more than any other party. Maliki has reinvented himself as a pragmatic, non-sectarian leader. He was the bold figure who crushed both Sunni and Shiite militias, although his opponents charge that he's becoming a dictator." His opponents say that? I can think of many NGOs that say similar things off the record. al-Maliki has not "reinvented himself," the press has and it takes idiots like Trent -- the equivalent of a general studies major -- to continue to pimp the equivalent of state legistlature elections (only in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces*) as 'heavy on the symbolism.'The portent was there when al-Maliki began campaigning around the country, offering empty promises and bribes, and he wasn't a candidate. If the President of the United States started trying to pull that stunt in Vermont, people would be outraged. They would rightly point out that the President has no business sticking into his nose into the election of a state legislature. But al-Maliki sits on billions and he controls how it is spent. He completely thrwarted the democratic process and he should have been called out for it. The elections do not indicate a damn thing. The country remains split. Iraq has 18 provinces, nine -- if you misread the results -- are for al-Maliki!Well nine aren't. Kirkuk might go for him. It's doubtful but it could happen. The three Kurdish provinces will not be hopping on board the Dawa Party wagon.And if people want to get really honest, what the results indicate is a federation just became more likely. Look at the provinces. The north won't go with al-Maliki's party, nor will the south. The support cuts straight along the lines of proposal for breaking up Iraq.What the results -- if people want to read them as support or non-support for al-Maliki (and that's how the press has played this) -- indicate is that the southern section of Iraq stands a good chance of becoming its own regional government the way the northern section is now the KRG. That's good news for al-Maliki?No, it's not. All the oil rich areas and the ports are denied him with 'control' over central Iraq only. Not only is not good news, it indicates that should al-Maliki do something that the KRG and the southern region do not support, he's about as powerful as Hamid Karzai. If the press insists upon wrongly maintaining that the results (still not official results) say something about al-Maliki, then what it actually says is he has very tiny base of power, it is centrally located in Iraq and he's hemmed in there with only slightly more room than Karzai. Meanwhile Marc Santora (New York Times) points out regarding today's deadly bombing, "For the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, which has been widely credited with improving security significantly in the past year, the pilgrimage had represented an opportunity to showcase the efficiency of its security forces. But after the recent spate of attacks, including four in Baghdad alone this week targeting pilgrims, his government is now facing criticism." Today Thomas E. Ricks reminded everyone, "Remember the elections a couple of years ago, puple fingers, people coming out? Followed by a civil war. So I think there's a lot of reasons that Iraq '09 is going to be very tough and harder, in fact, than the last year of Bush's war. And I think there's a good chance that Obama's war in Iraq will last longer than Bush's war." We'll come back to Ricks and that CBS interview in a minute.

But tensions continue to rise between Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government. At yesterday's State Dept briefing, AP's Matthew Lee raised that issue (
here for text, here for video).

Matthew Lee: Robert, speaking of the people who feel ignored by the United States, the Kurds, there seems to be growing concern and some resentment in northern Iraq that the United States is not paying enough attention to the situation there and to the concerns that they have. Can you offer any reassurance to the Kurdish leaders who think that? I mean we've got one here, the regional prime minister saying, "We love the U.S., and they don't care."

Robert Wood: Well I haven't seen those remarks. I don't actually know what they mean. But look, we have been working with the Iraqi Government to do what we can to support a democratic process going forward in Iraq that encompasses the views, the aspirations of all peoples who live in Iraq. Iraq has made a lot of strides, as you know, Matt. It's been a very challenging several years for the people of Iraq. Yes, there are concerns from various groups. There is a democratic government in place. There is a system in Iraq that allows for complaints from various groups, parties to seek, you know, restitution. The democratic experiment in Iraq continues. The recent elections were very positive. That's the best I can tell you, with regard to -- I haven't -- while I've seen these types of comments --

Matthew Lee: Your response? You went on for awahile, but you didn't mention, you know, you didn't mention who I was asking about. What can you do to reassure the Kurds specifically that -- that you are --

Robert Wood: Well it's not so much what the United States has to do. It's really what the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people decide is going to be the future of their country. And I think the Iraqi Government has chosen a path of democracy. It's experiencing, as I said, a number of challenges. But there are ways for peoples in Iraq to bring the concerns that they have to the levers of power. And it's a democracy, and it's not really up to the United States to reassure anyone. It's the Iraqi people and -- through -- and with the Iraqi people, their government, to deal with questions like those.

Matthew Lee: Okay. But you still haven't used the word that begins with K. Is there some reason why you're reluctant to do that?

Robert Wood: No, there's no specific reason at all. I've just given you, I think, is what our views are with regard to Iraq and its future, and where there may be some issues that some of the ethnic groups have.

Matthew Lee: Right. But -- well, your response, I don't think, is going to reassure anyone. In fact, it's going to reinforce their concerns --

Robert Wood: Well, I would disagree with you. What I've said, and I've been very clear about this, is that there is an Iraqi Government, a democratically elected government that's responsible for dealing with the issues that confront its people. And the United States is -- has been a helpful partner. We will continue to be a partner and friend to the Iraqis. But with regard to complaints that various groups may have about their future in Iraq, in the end, that's going to be a decision determined by the Iraqi people and its government -- and their government.

No, press spokesperson Robert Wood never did answer the question. And tensions continue on the border between northern Iraq and Turkey.
Xinhua reports that Turkey's latest air strike resulted in 13 deaths, supposedly all PKK which the US, Turkey and the European Union have labeled a terrorist organization.

"I think there are a lot of reasons Iraq '09 is going to be very tough and, in fact, harder than the last year of Bush's war. And I think there is a good chance that Obama's war in Iraq will last longer than Bush's war." That's Thomas Ricks speaking today on CBS'
Washington Unplugged (link is video). Thomas E. Ricks has released a new book:

Two excerpts from my new book
The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things -- not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq last year. (To read more about how Cook talked an insurgent leader into cooperation, read this excerpt from the book, a section called "The Insurgent Who Loved Titanic.")
Yesterday's snapshot included two paragraphs of Ricks' book on where the top US commander, Gen Ray Odierno, he sees the Iraq War in 2014. Today on CBS News' exclusive webcast, Ricks spoke with Slate's John Dickerson about the reclassification game -- Barack's promised on the campaign trail that he would withdraw "combat" troops within 16 months of being sworn into office -- and noted "there is no pacifisitic branch of the US Army." He detailed the realities everyone tries to avoid, "Newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops."

Everyone also attempts to avoid the realities of the resistance. This week NPR's
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (Morning Edition -- text and audio) reported on resistance fighter Abu Abdul Aziz (not his real name) who informs, "I have killed many Americans, not just one or two. When I kill them, I feel happy, like victory is coming. . . . If you look into my heart, you won't find any sympathy for the Americans at all. That's not because I have no human feelings, but because I feel that they are here to harm us, to steal from us, to kill our women and our children. . . . The honorable resistance does not do suicide bombings. That's al-Qaida. We do not harm innocent people, Muslims or not Muslims. Our target is only the Americans." Garcia-Navarro also reported on the Iraqi police:

Inside Samarra's local police station, officer Adnan Shakir, who works in the investigation unit, says things are better, but "it's a fragile safety, it's a cautious quiet."
The problem, he says, is mistrust between the different branches of the security forces here, especially between local Sunni policemen like himself and the mostly Shiite national police.
"The national police, they don't know how to deal with the people here. They are outsiders. There are always problems; when there is any problem, they use their weapons," he says.
Shakir says many of the complaints they investigate come from local residents regarding abuses by national police. Some are serious. Several women have come forward saying they were raped or assaulted by members of the national police.
Capt. Waleed Abdul Rahman is the head of the major crimes division at the local police station.
"One girl claimed that the police commandos violated her. In another case, a girl was kidnapped, and her family claimed that she had been forcibly abducted by a national policeman as well and taken to Baghdad," he says.
Abdul Rahman says the first case was never investigated. The second girl was slain by her family in a so-called honor killing when she returned home.
The captain says they generally don't take the complaints of assault and rape seriously.
But without an investigation, it's hard to determine the truth of the allegations or how widespread the problem may be.

They don't take the complaints seriously? Well why should they? With the delightful prospect of an 'honor' killing, what girl or woman wouldn't rush to their police station to declare a rape falsely! That attitude of assuming the woman is lying is part of the problem in Iraq. That attitude gets backed and stroked when the US installs thugs because they are cheaper to work with and may bring quicker 'stability' (widespread fear).

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


CNN reports a Mussayiab mortar explosion that claimed the lives of 2 children. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad grenade attack that left three police officers wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a home invasion in which the Ministry of Defense's Thamir Yousif and his son were shot dead.

In other news, do you know Xe? Mercenaries hope you don't.
Maddy Sauer and Megan Churchmach (ABC News) report, "The scandal-ridden security firm Blackwater USA is officially changing its name effective immediately as the company moves to rebrand itself after being fired last month by the State Department from its job protecting diplomats in Iraq." Why Xe? Maybe because XYZ would have left them feeling exposed? For those keeping track, this is the third name change in recent years for the company. Blackwater USA was the name until the infamous Baghdad slaughter September 16, 2007. Then it became Blackwater Worldwide. And it has many new names. For example, Blackwater USA is now know as US Training Center which is "An Xe company." This includes not only their physical facilities in Moyock, NC, Mt. Carroll, Il and San Diego, CA but also their home study courses, where they let you tailor your killing needs specifically for your company in the designing of "custom courses." The name change is rather surprising when you consider that if an individual appeared before a judge and asked to change their name, he or she would be asked if there were any outstanding debts or liability actions? Xe is pronounced "Z," Jennifer Wells (Globe and Mail) explains and notes the September 16, 2007 slaughter and how "a company spokesman told The Associated Press that the rebrand was 'not a direct result of a loss of contract, but certainly that is an aspect of our work that we feel were defined by'." Howzit Howard (Hawaii's KGM9) wryly observes, "Blackwater Worldwide, an employer of mercenaries that arguably made life more dangerous for the real U.S. soldiers in Iraq, has decided to take decisive action about its bad name. It is changing it."

Yesterday the UK Ministry of Defence announced the death of a soldier in Basra. He's been identified as 21-year-old Ryan Wrathall. They note Ryan Wrathall "deployed to southern Iraq in November 2008 and was about halfway through a six-month tour of the country as a member of the 5 RIFLES (Strike) Battle Group" and that "The incident, which occurred at approximately 0630 hours local time, will be subject to a full investigation. No enemy forces were involved and there is no evidence to suggest that anyone else was involved. "

Turning to US politics, the stimulus is in the news and it is being analyzed.
Michael Hudson (CounterPunch) offers:

The first question to ask about any Recovery Program is, "Recovery for whom?" The answer given on Tuesday is, "For the people who design the Program and their constituency" – in this case, the bank lobby. The second question is, "Just what is it they want to 'recover'?" The answer is, the Bubble Economy. For the financial sector it was a golden age. Having enjoyed the Greenspan Bubble that made them so rich, its managers would love to create yet more wealth for themselves by indebting the "real" economy yet further while inflating prices all over again to make new capital gains.The problem for today's financial elites is that it is not possible to inflate another bubble from today's debt levels, widespread negative equity, and still-high level of real estate, stock and bond prices. No amount of new capital will induce banks to provide credit to real estate already over-mortgaged or to individuals and corporations already over-indebted. Moody's and other leading professional observers have forecast property prices to keep on plunging for at least the next year, which is as far as the eye can see in today's unstable conditions. So the smartest money is still waiting like vultures in the wings – waiting for government guarantees that toxic loans will pay off. Another no-risk private profit to be subsidized by public-sector losses.While the Obama administration's financial planners wring their hands in public and say "We feel your pain" to debtors at large, they know that the past ten years have been a golden age for the banking system and the rest of Wall Street. Like feudal lords claiming the economic surplus for themselves while administering austerity for the population at large, the wealthiest 1 per cent of the population has raised their appropriation of the nationwide returns to wealth – dividends, interest, rent and capital gains – from 37 per cent of the total ten years ago to 57 per cent five years ago and it seems nearly 70 per cent today. This is the highest proportion since records have been kept. We are approaching Russian kleptocratic levels.

Left Business Observer's Doug Henwood (LBO News from Doug Henwood) explains:
And it looks like the Treasury and the Fed will pump up some $250-500 billion to help hedge funds buy bad assets - with the FDIC guaranteeing the buyers against losses.
At this point, the only thing that makes any sense is to nationalize the weakest banks, kick out management, wipe out the shareholders, clear the decks, and start over with a tightly regulated system. This isn't even all that radical a position anymore - and it may be inevitable, if these sick and devious "public-private partnership" schemes don't work out, which seems likely. There is a radical nationalization position - take the banks over and convert them to public institutions - but I know that's completely out of the question with this gang. But they're doing absolutely everything they can to avoid even an orthodox nationalization. This is looking more and more like Japan's disastrous indulgence of their "zombie banks" in the 1990s than Sweden's successful bailout, the model for the "nationalize them and clear the decks" approach. Instead of a few rough years, we're likely to get a miserable decade.
They've botched the stimulus, and they're botching the financial rescue. They're worse than I expected, and I wasn't expecting much in the first place (see:
Obamamania, a febrile disease).

Bill Moyers Journal's Michael Winship explores the bailout:

You know what they say - half a million dollars just doesn't go as far as it used to. News from the White House that $500,000 was the cap the government wants to put on executive salaries at the banks receiving bailout cash had some on Wall Street and along the plush corridors of Manhattan's swank Upper East Side hollering "Unfair!" (But without those unsightly street demonstrations and picket lines, of course.)"You Try to Live on 500K in This Town" was the tongue-in-cheek headline in last Sunday's New York Times. Just add up private school tuition, mortgage payments, maintenance fees and wages for the nanny and you're already up to more than $250,000 a year - and that's pre-taxes, assuming you're paying any. Then tote up payments and upkeep on vacation and weekend homes, charity balls, car and driver - pretty soon you're maxing out your American Express Black Card.But they work hard for their multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, perks and solid gold benefits, complained some of the financiers. Besides, executive headhunters say, the money giants just can't get good help for anything less. Good help? Spare us the kind of moguls who helped us straight into the current deep, dirty hole we're trying to climb out of."Like spoiled, petulant children," is how Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein described them. "These guys won't be happy until the government agrees to relieve them of every last one of their lousy loans and investments at inflated prices, recapitalize every major bank and brokerage and insurance company on sweetheart terms and restore them to the glory days, so they can once again earn inflated profits and obscene pay packages by screwing over their customers and their shareholders."
More of the essay can be found
online at the show's blog. Tonight on most PBS stations, Moyers speaks with Simon Johnson (about the stimulus) and with poet Nikki Giovanni.
Which brings us to public TV notes,
NOW on PBS offers a look at the stimulus package and zooms in mas transit and North Carolina as "part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called 'Blueprint America'." And online, last week NOW dealt with the Housing Crisis and Manish Thakor ("financial guru") replies to questions viewers asked. NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight, check your local listings. Washington Week also begins airing on many PBS stations tonight and Gwen's roundtable gasbags this week include Gloria Borger (CNN, US News & World Reports), John Maggs (National Journal), John Dickerson (Slate) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no 60 Minutes:Coming Up On 60 Minutes:
Buy AmericanThe economic stimulus package includes a "buy American" clause that the steel and other U.S. industries lobbied hard for. However, American businesses that export overseas now worry foreign governments will retaliate and keep U.S. products out of their market, hurting their business. Lesley Stahl reports.
World Of TroubleThree years before the housing market crash, Paul Bishop says he warned his superiors at World Savings - the nation's second largest savings and loan company - that many of the mortgages they were granting were misleading and predatory. Scott Pelley reports.
War In PakistanSteve Kroft reports from Pakistan, where Islamic insurgents are trying to take over the country and he interviews its new president, Asif Ali Zardari.
60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

the washington posternesto londonosaad sarhanthe los angeles timesmonte morin
wisam mohammedsami al-jumailiwaleed ibrahimkhalid al-ansarymohammed abbasmichael christie
the philadelphia inquireralan gomezhelen pidd
ma'ad fayadmcclatchy newspaperstrenton daniel
thomas e. ricks
morning editionlourdes garcia-navarro
michael hudsondoug henwood60 minutescbs news
pbswashington weeknow on pbs

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tugboat Annie

My phone did not stop ringing all evening/night. C.I. included the following in today's snapshot:

And finally, in honor of Betty's much missed magazine Movieline, today we offer Guess Who Don't Sue. 1) _____ currently runs a CIA cut-out and poses as a 'progressive' but is bothering the Agency as she attempts to grab some headlines in her advanced years (poor dear, doesn't have a great deal of time left to find fame) by jabbering away about topics that have rightly raised eyebrows in the last few days. She spent two decades outside the US sleeping -- for the US government -- with a variety of men and she and her husband were paid back with cushy 'progressive' covers in the US for their 'golden years'. But fame can be a . . . Well, a CIA agent. Too bad for her, payback can be as well. And she's the talk of the DC. Not in a good way.

Two sets of phone calls. One, those in the know. Two, those not.

Those not have wrongly said, "Valerie Plame is out!" It's not Valerie Plame. Are people no longer used to blind items? Even if I didn't know who it was (I'll get to it), I would know it's not Valerie Plame and not just because C.I. has no ill will towads Valerie or Joe Wilson. I have no idea who Valerie supported in the Democratic Party primary (of if she supported a Democrat). I know Joe Wilson supported Hillary. The fact that C.I.'s calling a lunatic out right away should tell you it's a Barack supporter. That has nothing to do with Blind items, just with who C.I.'s going to call out.

Second, I don't know who Valerie supported. Do you? Probably not. Point? She's not posing as a progressive. Or she can't be since no one knows where she stands.

I am going to write about this at length and one reason is because if some mutual friends (mutual friends of C.I. and I immediately lept to Valerie Plame, someone else might have as well). No clues and nothing C.I.'s done in the past points to Valerie. Those leaping to Valerie are jumping mistakenly. Repeating: C.I. feels great empathy for both Valerie and Joe Wilson. They would not be a blind item.

So who is it?

Many years ago, when C.I. and I were at the tail end of our teens, I was seeing a British official (I'll leave it at that and not get more specific). On one of our early trips to London, we were at an embassy party when a loud, ugly American woman was approaching. My lover grabbed us each by an elbow and steered us away from her. We didn't know her but C.I. had living parents whereas mine were deceased then. Point? Just because C.I. didn't recongize the tug boat approaching with a big smile didn't mean she wasn't some sort of family friend. C.I. had to determine that or risk a later phone call of (after, "What were you doing in London?"), "Why did you snub ___? She's very upset and . . ." My lover (not trying to offend anyone but "boyfriend" is a bit weak) kept tugging at C.I.'s elbow and C.I. finally said that the only reason to avoid this woman was if she were CIA.

My lover knew C.I. but had not come across C.I.'s razor sharp way of picking up on clues and cues and was left stumped. C.I. quickly said something to the effect of that's all my lover needed to stay and we quickly moved across the room.

This woman was not stationed in London and why she was there was a thing of much conjecture. Among diplomatic staff (hint, don't whisper within X number of yards of C.I. -- if you whisper, she will hear and everyone knows that about her) and among C.I. and myself.

This woman is 'blonde' -- not like Valerie Plame (who has wonderful hair) but "blonde" in the way that if you're an American in a non-Western country, you're blonde. You may have to travel widely to find that out. Her hair was more brown than blonde. But to people in some countries -- not developed at the time -- she was the blonde American.

If you're a fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I can tell you she used to wear her hair like Edie Grant (Lou Grant's wife, then ex-wife). No, it's not an attractive style. It wasn't then either.

So recently (I say without being overly specific), C.I. called me while I was stunned to ask, "Are you catching this?" I was. This woman was being interviewed and just yammering on, trying to act so important and having no clue that she was basically outing herself as a CIA agent.

She was always desperate for attention. Our paths would cross in the future and I'd always avoid her (as would C.I.). Today she's a 'progressive' and her husband is as well. They aren't. C.I.'s in DC and apparently everyone's gossiping.

(Not a surprise. That interview would have had any thinking person saying, "She's CIA." Or at least, "She was CIA!" She really outed herself and she is so clueless or desparate for fame that she doesn't care.)

I avoid the woman. C.I. more or less does but she attached herself to several friends of C.I.'s and C.I.'s had to erect a firm wall and make sure everyone knew she didn't trust that woman, that woman was not a friend, when that woman tossed around C.I.'s name, she did so without permission.

The woman slept her way through her assigned countries as ordered and was referred to as the "Nympho American." Had C.I. used that phrase, no one calling me about the blind item would have had to ask who it was. This was how foreigners talked about that woman. No one ever found it strange, apparently, that her husband never minded. Cuckold?

She presents herself as left and has a CIA-cut out operation that's supposed to be left. The only way it's stayed 'afloat' is that the CIA has kept it afloat. Which is another lesson: When you can't figure out how something stays in business, when you can't follow the money, you need to ask why that is?

She blew a ton of government money and, even now, has never learned to dress. It's probably less noticeable today (I still detect it) but if you'd seen the tugboat bearing down on us at the embassy all those years ago, you would have laughed out loud. (I may have.) A huge amount of money had been wasted on bad clothing that was someone's idea of classy and that awful hairstyle.

Her cover back then was very obvious to students. We were very familiar with how certain things worked. She apparently grasps that because she was eliptical in her interview and careful to tone down certain elements. But, again, it was very obvious.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, February 11, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, officials continue to be targeted in Iraq, Iraqis seeking asylum in the US are asked 'interesting' questions, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Michael Amsel (Asbury Park Press) reports on Daniel Marble who was been AWOL from the US army for two years starting in July of 2006 and turned himself in at Fort Knox February 2nd. Amsel reveals that he began rethinking things while on leave, "That was my first chance to really reflect on what my actual job would be in combat, which is to kill people. You go through this vigorous daily training shooting targets and human silhouettes and you become a machine to some point. You don't have clear thoughts about what you are doing. Once I seriously thought about killing people, I was not comfortable with it. I couldn't bring myself to go back." Instead of being discharged, Danile's been sent to Fort Bragg and his lawyer, Larry Hildes, believes he will most likely be ordered to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. Asbury Park Press has set up a forum where readers can discuss Daniel Marble's decisions. Yesterday US war resister Cliff Cornell turned himself in. Frenchi Jones (Coastal Courier) reports, "Arkansas native Cliff Cornell stood outside the gates of Fort Stewart Tuesday afternoon trying to stop the tears streaming down his un-shaven face." Jones quotes Cliff's attorney James Branum explaining, "He was tired of looking over his shoulder. . . . He just wanted it to be over. We're going to go for less than six months. He stood up for what he believed in. Cliff might have broken the law, but in the end he did the right thing. The truth of the matter is, he's really a sweet guy, someone who was scared and probably should have never been in the military." Darrell Bellaart (Nanaimo Daily News) quotes Cliff's adopted mother Annie Nichols stating, "He just called us from the base about five minutes ago. He's doing OK. Of course they have their pressures -- they're the military. He's only being charged with being AWOL which is a good thing. And we'll know more later as the process goes along." Cliff's attorney states that the AWOL charge is standard ("basically it's a form letter") at this point and does not reflect whether or not additional charges will follow. Lyndell Nelson (WSAV) reports, "When asked if he would do it all over again, Cornell said, 'Yeah, because I am not over there taking part in this illegal war, I'm not over there killing innocent people or taking part in the torturing that is goin on'." Dee Knight (Workers World) reports US war resister Chris Teske, who -- like Cliff -- was facing a deporation from Canada, "crossed the British Columbia-Washington state boarder unassisted on Jan. 22 at an undisclosed location." Susan Lazaruk (The Province) quotes Chris declaring the day before he left, "I'm completely shocked that this is happening. I hope everything goes well when I cross the border tomorrow."

Iraq Veterns Against the War and other groups are gearing up for an action next month on the sixth anniversary of the start of the illegal war. A.N.S.W.E.R. explains:

We are organizing a Mass March on the Pentagon on Saturday, March 21, and it is important that you and your family, friends, co-workers and fellow students put on your marching shoes that day. People are coming from all over the country. Simultaneous demonstrations are taking place in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Why are we still marching even after the war criminal George W. Bush has left office? Because the people must speak out for what is right. More than 1 million Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been wounded or killed.
The Iraq and Afghanistan war will drag on for years unless we act now. The cost in lives and resources is criminal regardless of whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge of the government.
[. . .]
If Bush's war and occupation of Iraq was an illegal action of aggression -- and it was -- how can the new government say that it can only gradually end the war over a number of years? The Iraqis don't want foreign military forces running their country. No one would!
The Pentagon has employed 200,000 foreign contractors (mercenaries) and 150,000 U.S. troops to maintain the occupation of Iraq. They have no right to be there. A few thousand are being brought out of Iraq only to be redeployed to occupy Afghanistan, and the fools in the media proclaim "the war is winding down." That is not true.
President Obama decided to keep the Pentagon just as it was under Bush. He even selected Bush appointee Robert Gates to keep his position as chief of the Pentagon. Gates announced that the new administration would double the number of troops sent to Afghanistan. That is certainly not the "change" most people though was coming following the end of Bush's tenure.

Meanwhile United for Playgrounds and Naptime wants you to tell . . . Congress to end the illegal war. Yeah, you tell Congress because Leslie Cagan won't let you tell Barack to end it. Someone tell Leslie no cookies and punch when she gets off her mat at the end of naptime. Wide awake and not hiding is IVAW's
Matthis Chiroux who offers' "I Have a Date With the Army!" (World Can't Wait):

March 12, I'll attend a board hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, to determine what the nature of my discharge from the Individual Ready Reserve will be. The Army has alleged "misconduct" and they're shooting for a "general discharge," but I'm pushing for "honorable," as my refusal to deploy was not an act of misconduct.I will attend this hearing in uniform as ordered, but only for the purpose of these administrative proceeding. I'm not contesting the fact that I did not report as ordered to deploy to Iraq. However, I intend to paint a clear picture of my convictions to the military, and I seek to corroborate them with first hand accounts of occupation. No person is bound to act against the dictates of conscience, let alone their understanding of the law. I know the occupation of Iraq and further, the Global War on Terror, to be an illegitimate and ultimately murderous campaign waged for economic gain, fueled by misinformation and greed. I know it to be in violation of not only international law, but the U.S. Constitution. Far more importantly, it is against the dictates of my own conscience, and never again will I compromise my humanity to support or ignore the crimes of my government. I will be working closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War to plan what we hope will reflect a Winter Soldier event in the form of our members testifying under oath to the military about their experiences in the Global War on Terror.I seek only truth to be heard and considered by the military. If reconciliation is possible, I seek that, as well. [. . .] We are continuing to gather funds needed to cover travel expenses and accommodation for those who will be testifying. I hope anywhere from 15 to 30 veterans, military family members, Iraqi civilians and constitutional experts will appear before my board. Please consider making a donation to my defense campaign either through my website,, or through

In Iraq,
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life) reports on the process Iraqis applying for refugee admittance into the United States go through which includes some "ridiculous and strange" questions: "Friends of mine have been asked whether they would try to instigate a coup d'etat or a revolution if they moved to the U.S. A sampling of other eyebrow-raising questions are as follows: Are you a member of al Qaeda? Would you think about financing al Qaeda if you moved to the U.S.? Are you a member of Mahdi Army (the militia linked to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtdad al-Sadr)? Would you be willing to work as a spy? For America or al Qaeda? My friends were bewildered by these queries. Even if their answer was 'yes,' did the people asking the questions really believe they would get honest answers?" Earlier this month the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on the Iraqi refugees in Egypt, Syria and Jordan: "While many Iraqi refugees have been following the provincial elections closely, some people are either not interested or pessimistic, seeing no real benefit in the exercise." An Iraqi man in Damascus says, "The elections carry no significance. The country is destroyed and people care only for their personal gains, positions." An Iraqi women in Cario states, "Most of my family members have either been killed, kidnapped or are now refugees scattered across the globe. I am not going to return to Iraq. . . . Do you think it matters to me who will win the provincial elections? It does not matter, at least to me."
Meanwhile in Iraq, attacks on various ethnic and religious minorities continue to add to the refugee crisis.
Marc Santora and Alan Cowell (New York Times) report a Christian woman was shot dead in Mosul. Last fall's assault on Iraqi Christians in Mosul resulted in a mas exodus for many weeks. Assyria Times reports the Assyrian Universal Alliance has written US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden about the plight of Iraqi Christians. This is the text of their letter to Barack:

On behalf of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and its affiliates worldwide, it gives me great pleasure to extend my warmest congratulations on your historical inauguration as President of the United States of America. At the same time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you and Vice President Joseph Biden for your continuing support of the Assyrian people; however, our work is not finished and our nation urgently needs your help. We recognize the significance of your election and take this opportunity to equally congratulate the American people for ushering in a bright new chapter in the progress of civil liberties for U.S. citizens. We rejoice with all those who have struggled for a very long time to bring this significant era to fruition. Although the road has been long and difficult, they have kept the dream alive. As a nation that has been in a similar struggle for many centuries, we Assyrians feel a special sense of the joy, relief, and accomplishment that your election carries. As we fight for our survival, we hope that our cry for help will be heard by someone who intimately understands the predicament we face as a nation. As you know, the situation of Assyrians in Iraq is dire and the recent news from Mosul, the heart of Assyrian ancestral lands, points to alarming deterioration of our nation's status. With so many Assyrians having fled Iraq, the very survival of the Assyrian nation hangs in the balance. Our numbers are dwindling and our communities are being shattered. Should this continue, the world will witness the demise of one of its most ancient and historically significant nations. We appeal to you to urge the Iraqi government to agree to the essential institution of an Assyrian Autonomous Region in the historical and ancestral Assyrian lands in Northern Iraq as part of modern day Iraq. This newly-formalized Assyrian region which will be administrated and protected by Assyrians under the jurisdiction of Iraq's central government is crucial to the security and survival of our nation and will encourage Assyrian refugees, whether those internally displaced in Iraq or those scattered in Diaspora, to return. We eagerly await your leadership in promoting the establishment of this Assyrian Autonomous Region and thank you again for your continuing campaign to ensure the survival of one of world's most ancient nations. We look forward to meeting with you to further discuss our situation and implement strategies to secure the future of our people.

Marc Santora and Alan Cowell (New York Times) report on puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's attention-seeking stunt in the midst of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Iraq and they laughably assert puppet Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to go from client-state to equal partner with the US -- and doing so by insulting US vice president Joe Biden (see yesterday's snapshot). Hilarious. Are your sides aching yet? The reporters strive for stand-up with this one-liner: "Mr. Maliki also contended Tuesday that his government had fixed the missteps of the Americans after the invasion, like the American decision to dismantle the pre-war Iraqi Army."The Baathists? What has al-Maliki done? Not a damn thing. The White House benchmarks were signed off on by al-Maliki personally. He has had over two years to do something. One of them was about the Baathists. Paul Bremer (with the White House signing off -- including Colin Powell who now loves to whisper to reporters that it was all Bremer) disbanded the Iraqi military and did so as part of his Baathist purge. There was no reason for that and it was a mistake. It has been seen as a mistake by most for many years now. One of the benchmarks was to fix Bremer's de-Baathification policy (which would be de-de-Baathification). Though al-Maliki finally got around to pointing at a law, it's never been implemented and it had no checks or balances. And when rumors surfaced at the start of the week that al-Maliki was in talks with former Baathists to bring them into the government, what did he say? (This was specifically Baath officials from Saddam's regime who are now exiles -- and, no, no domestic outlet bothered to report on these rumors or al-Maliki's on-the-record response.) al-Maliki stated it wasn't true and it couldn't be true because the Iraqi Constitution would have to be changed first.The Iraqi Constitution would have to be changed first? And he wants to claim he's fixed US mistakes? The puppet was installed by the US. The puppet sits on billions while Iraqis suffer. Biting the hand that's fed him is never a trait to strive for and for those who missed the reports of Nouri Talking To Baathists, here's one example. Ma'ad Fayad's "Iraqi Dawa Party Official: No dialogue with Armed Groups" (Asharq Alawsat) and al-Ibadi is Haydar al-Ibadi who is spokesperson for Dawa (Nouri's party):Al-Ibadi categorically denied that any official in the state spoke to Baathist leaders whether inside Iraq or abroad. He explained: "The Iraqi constitution does not allow this. Besides, the public' general mood does not support the Baath Party because it committed a lot of crimes during and after the rule of the [former] regime." He added: "The Baathists have committed a lot of crimes and killed a large number of Iraqis since 2003 to date. It is they who allowed the Al-Qaeda Organization to enter the country and who were involved in the killing of hundreds of Iraqis." He asked: "So, how can such a party rejoin the political process?" However, Al-Ibadi noted: "There are Baathists who returned to their jobs and who live a normal life without any problems. But they did so as Iraqis, not as members of the Baath Party, which is known for being a conspiratorial military party that does not believe in democracy and does not allow the establishment of a democratic rule." He added: "Permission for the return of the Baath Party to political action needs a constitutional amendment, and I very much rule out the possibility of such a move."

Progress! cried Nouri yesterday. But
Michael Christie (Reuters) reports the US will turn over all Iraqi prisoners at some point in 2010. This would be the prisoners that were supposed to be turned over to Iraq on January 1st of this year. And staying with Nouri's laughable claims yesterday of all the 'progress,' James Denselow (Guardian) observes, "While no state in the Middle East has a particularly exemplary record of governance, the Iraqi state is still the most dangerous, fragile, deeply divided and incapable. Maliki's government still cannot deliver event he most basic of services (electricity and clean water supply or a safe environment for refugees to return.)" As further proof of how Nouri can't deliver, look at some of today's violence. McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi reports the driver for Brig Gen Sabah (national police) was wounded in a roadside bomb attack, Raghad Abdul Hussein's car was targeted in Baghdad with a sticky bombing (a civilian was wounded -- Hussein works in a government ministry) and in Diyala Province a home invasion was launched on police Capt Sallal al Timimi's house with one guard being killed and a roadside bombing leaving a police officer arriving in the area dead.
Reuters notes two were killed in the home invasion as well as the polic officer -- by the bombing -- when he arrived to provide assistance and that Raghad Abdul Hussein (Raad Hussein Abdullah, in their report) was murded in the Baghdad attack.

That's far from today's only reported violence but those are officials targeted -- all in one day -- and Nouri's not been able to 'fix' that either.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad car bombings (one after the other) that claimed 16 lives and left forty-three people wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left 1 person dead and four more wounded, three other Baghdad roadside bombings that left 1 person dead and seventeen wounded, a Babil roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 police officers (three more wounded), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed 1 life, a second Mosul roadside bombing that wounded one person, a Mosul grenade attack that wounded one person. On the double bombing, Monte Morin and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) explain it was a bus station and quote eye witness Ammar Hussein, stating, "I lost consciousness, and when I woke up I saw that my left leg was bleeding, I was taken to a hospital and was crying the whole time because I don't know what happened to my friend." In addition, Xinhua reports a Mosul 'suicide' car bombing that has claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with five additional people left wounded and a police source tells Xinhua, "A suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into a joint U.S. and Iraqi Army patrol in the Hadbaa neighborhood in northern Mosul."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 "Awakening" Council members wounded in a Baghdad shooting, 1 "Awakeing" Council member wounded in another Baghdad shooting and 3 police officers shot dead in Mosul.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.

In the US,
Katharine Q. Seelye (New York Times) reports that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates suggested today that he was open to allowing the media to photograph the flag-draped coffins of fallen soldiers as their bodies and remains are returned to the United States" and that "he was ordering a review of the military policy that bars photographers from taking pictures of the return of the coffins". Mike noted Reuters report last night: "U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday ordered the Pentagon to review its ban against news media photos of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. military dead returning from combat zones overseas." For those who missed Monday's press conference:QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've promised to send more troops to Afghanistan. And since you've been very clear about a time table to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, I wonder what's your time table to withdraw troops eventually from Afghanistan? And related to that, there's a Pentagon policy that bans media coverage of the flag-draped coffins from coming into Dover Air Force Base. And back in 2004, then-Senator Joe Biden said that it was shameful for dead soldiers to be, quote, snuck back into the country under the cover of night. You've promised unprecedented transparency, openness in your government. Will you overturn that policy, so the American people can see the full human cost of war?MR. OBAMA: [. . .] Now with respect to the policy of opening up media to loved ones being brought back home, we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don't want to give you an answer now, before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved. CNN's Ed Henry asked him about the coffins and above was Barack's response on that. He LIED. We are in the process of reviewing those polices? There was no review going on until Gates ordered one yesterday unless every news outlet mangled the story. Barack stood before the nation and lied claiming there was already a review in process. When might Barack have moved on that issue? An issue that should have been addressed before he ever took office? He's been called on to change the policy since before he was sworn in. Rebecca noted Paul Bedard and Nikki Schwab's "Lautenberg to Obama: Don't Hide Our Fallen Troops at Dover Air Force Base" (US News & World Reports):President Obama is under more pressure this week to let media cameras cover the arrival of war dead at Dover Air Force Base. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, in a letter to Obama provided to Whispers, said, "I respectfully urge you to work to bring an end to the misguided policies of the past that seek to hide the sacrifice of our soldiers and the public recognition and pride that should accompany it." The policy is controversial on all sides: Some claim the government wants to soften the impact of many coffins being pictured at once; others say taking pictures is disrespectful. Lautenberg has been outspoken on the issue for several years and pushed for a reversal of the policy in 2004, in the middle of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Officials say that Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey, and the administration have been discussing the policy. "Throughout our nation's history, it has been a tradition for our nation to honor fallen military men and women when their flag-draped caskets are flown home from war operations overseas. Seeing these returning caskets prompts a national sense of shared pain and sacrifice, as well as gratitude and pride," the senator said in the letter.We are in the process of reviewing -- that's what he said. Not we're going to start a review. He said the review was under way. It was not. Liar. And don't say, "We'll he meant he was reviewing whether or not to review . . ." He deliberately misled. It was a lie. Like a student who didn't do his homework, stalling for time, Barack lied. Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) notes:Critics of the Pentagon policy view it as a means for blocking images that underscore the human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as preventing coverage that honors those killed. Obama was asked about the issue in Monday's news conference and said, "We are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense, so I don't want to give you an answer now before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved."

Noting Barack's non-democratic, non-change policies (including continuing torture, rendetion, etc.),
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) wonders:

So, when do we march? We have an administration that has officially upheld the lawlessness of the previous administration. The same people who took to the streets or at the very least engaged in righteous indignation over Bush administration actions should not silently sit by and allow Obama to do the same things.
It isn't too soon to protest. He told us right away that there is no change we can believe in. We don't have to wait for bombs to fall on Iran or for more prisoners to be denied their human rights.
It is not only acceptable but imperative that we speak up now. We must say that Iran has the right to have nuclear power or nuclear weapons or satellites or anything else it wants without being threatened by the United States. We must say that the continuation of Bush administration human rights abuses will not be excused under the guise of giving Obama one hundred magical days to learn his new job.
It is time to take not only Obama to task, but faux progressives to task as well. They are the Obamites who claimed they would hold his feet to the fire if we would just shut up and let him get elected. It is time to protest against them too and call them out for being the hypocrites they are.
That means a lot of protesting needs to be done. Why waste time when Obama isn't wasting any. We must get started now.

In music news,
Mike noted a new album, The Good Things, in his entry last night. It's Schuyler Fisk's new album and you can find out more info at her MySpace page. She's immensely talented and I know her mother. We'll note her debut album and MySpace page which provides you with an opportunity to hear some of the album's new tracks. The album is available for downloading at Amazon and iTunes.

And finally, in honor of
Betty's much missed magazine Movieline, today we offer Guess Who Don't Sue. 1) _____ currently runs a CIA cut-out and poses as a 'progressive' but is bothering the Agency as she attempts to grab some headlines in her advanced years (poor dear, doesn't have a great deal of time left to find fame) by jabbering away about topics that have rightly raised eyebrows in the last few days. She spent two decades outside the US sleeping -- for the US government -- with a variety of men and she and her husband were paid back with cushy 'progressive' covers in the US for their 'golden years'. But fame can be a . . . Well, a CIA agent. Too bad for her, payback can be as well. And she's the talk of the DC. Not in a good way.

iraqcliff cornellmatthis chirouxdaniel marblelyndell nelsonchristine smithashbury park pressma'ad fayad
gina chonthe new york timesmarc santoraalan cowell
katharine q. seelyepaul bedardnikki schwabthe washington postann scott tyson
margaret kimberley

thomas friedman is a great man

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feminism and deranged David Sirota

Having witnessed again and again over a period of years rank discrimination in the treatment of women professional colleagues and being the father of two girls I have joined the National Orgnization for Women (yes, men can and do join NOW). Edward Grossman would have us believe Women's Lib groups get organized not in an effort to end discrimination but because women cannot get male mediated orgasms with sufficient frequency and must masturbate. What a curious and insulting rationalization. Can Grossman advance similar theories to explain the civil-rights movement? Until we can stop indulging in such pseudoscientific Freudian locker-room fantasies, the real issues will remain obscured -- or was that Mr. Grossman's intent?

Does that letter to the editor seem timely? Peter K. Gessner, Ph.D., Williamsville, New York wrote it. This year?

No. He wrote it in 1970. It appears in Haper's May 1970 issue, page 6. Stan's going through some bound volumes C.I. sent for a research paper Stan's working on and he found it and passed it onto me (thank you, Stan) and another to Kat. Doesn't it make you think of the topic Marcia was addressing today in "Ass Kiss of the Week: Danny Schechter"?

It should and it should make you realize just how little progress has been made since 1970 and how many Grossmans there are. Gross Man. How apt.

Maybe he's David Sirota's father? Like Sirota, he was a neocon waiting to be fully hatched. Sirota had a meltdown. He lied about Hillary, savaged her, and pimped Barack like crazy. He wants to rewrite history and -- something C.I. pointed out would happen -- say, "Look at this one article, out of all my articles, this one article where I said . . ."

Ugly Sirota ends his rage against his own stupidity with the following (he's in bold, I comment after):

Among Clintonites, the “I Told You So” rants are just straight-up sore-loser-ism. Unable to accept that a first-term senator defeated their candidate who had every single advantage, they cannot embrace the new president, even as that new president (wrongly, IMHO) appoints her to a top position in his administration.

Every single advantadge? You mean Mother Jones, The Progressive, The Nation, Truthout, Democracy Now! and all the rest attacking her daily? You mean their use of sexism to do so? You mean you think it's normal for Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) to link to The Weekly Standard? You think it's normal and 'understandable' because, hey, the article was about what a c-word Hillary allegedly was?

Go f**k yourself, David Sirota. Those of us in the peace movement are fully aware how DANGEROUS you are to women and we haven't forgotten your attacks on Tina Richards. Yeah, you thought you could walk away from those, didn't you? Not happening, s**t ass stupid Sirota.

Let's leap ahead . . .

So my message is pretty simple:

Of course it is. You can almost manage the simple. It's when you have to use big-boy scissors that you have trouble.

1. I - and other Obama supporters - have nothing to apologize for on this score. Nothing at all. If telling the truth makes you dislike me or anyone else, that’s your problem, not mine.

You have everything to apologize for. You have NO ethics. You are a LIAR. You are a HACK. You are disgusting. Physically disgusting as well as Ava and C.I. pointed out ("TV: Baby, I Know"), "It wasn't the fact that Sirota's head strongly indicates forceps were used and squeezed tightly during his birthing, it wasn't the fact that Frank's reductionist hypothesis were being yet again presented as historical facts, it was seeing Bill in all of his corpulence, laughing it up, convinced he'd gotten away with his inexcusable breach of journalism ethics throughout 2008." You're disgusting. Deal with it, Poverty-Doomed Hack.

2. To Naderites, STFU and start doing the unglamorous work of building the third-party you say you really want.

To David Sirota, shove it your ass. You're stupid ass where you may damage your brain. (No loss if you do.) I believe you mean Cynthia McKinney. Or are you so stupid that you think Ralph ran on the Green ticket in 2008?

3. To Clintonites, just STFU and slither back to your rathole of bitterness. Your candidate lost because she helped create the problems we now have to fix. Deal with that and become a productive member of society, or again, just STFU.

He is the one that Bob Somerby warned you against. He is a crazed, woman hating, Clinton deranged thug that someone mistakenly said "Good idea" to -- leading the Congressional staffer to fancy himself a political thinker. Oh, that is so funny.

What I like best about Sirota the blow-hard is that when you read him, you can tell pathetic ass really thinks he's someone important. Poor Sirota. He's the sanitation crew of the pundit set trying to play to the manor born.

Now Kat has done many, many music reviews and I love them all. I saw Marcia write that C.I. talked her into how to copy and paste the list of Kat's reviews into a post so I called C.I. to find out how as well. (I called Marcia first and she said, "You know C.I. was on the phone with me and I tried it again, after, and couldn't get it to work.")

So these are all of Kat's CD reviews from the last five years:

Tracy Chapman Our Bright Future
Bruce Springsteen Working On a Dream
Best of Janis Ian
Phoebe Snow Live
2008 in Music
Labelle Back To Now
Pretenders Break Up The Concrete
Aimee Mann @#%&*! Smilers
Augustana Can't Love, Can't Hurt
Cold Play Vida la Vida
The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt
Carly Simon This Kind Of Love
Jack Johnson Sleep Through The Static
Lenny Kravitz It Is Time For A Love Revolution
2007 in Music
Smashing Pumpkins Zeitgeist
Ann Wilson Hope & Glory
Prince Planet Earth
Joni Mitchell Shine
Stephen Stills and Ani DiFranco
Ben Harper Lifeline
Judy Collins Sings Lennon & McCartney
Cowboy Junkies at the end of paths taken
Mavis Staples We'll Never Turn Back
Rickie Lee Jones and Norah Jones
Albert Hammond Jr. Yours To Keep
Tori Amos American Doll
Patti Smith Twelve
Bright Eyes Cassadaga
Holly Near Show Up
Diana Ross I Love You
Lizzie West I Pledge Allegiance to Myself
Carly Simon Into White
2006 in Music
David Rovic Halliburton Boardroom Massacre
Ani DiFranco Reprieve
Justin Timberlake Future Sex/Love Sounds
Michael Franti & Spearhead Yell Fire!
Janis Ian Folk Is The New Black
Neil Young Living With War
Pink I'm Not Dead
Josh Ritter The Animal Years
Pearl Jam
Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way
Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions
Richie Havens
Ben Harper Both Sides of The Gun
Etta James All The Way
Nina Simone The Solid Gold Collection
Cat Power The Greatest
2005 in Music
Carly Simon No Secrets
James Blunt Back to Bedlam
Bright Eyes Motion Sickness
Stevie Wonder A Time To Dance
Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang
Joan Baez Bowery Songs
The Complete Cass Elliot Solo Collection
Aimee Mann The Forgotten Arm
Carole King The Living Room
Carly Simon Moonlight Serenade
Coldplay X & Y
White Stripes Get Behind Me, Satan
Judy Collins Portrait of an American Girl
Carole King Tapestry
Tori Amos The Beekeeper
Nirvana With The Lights Out
Why Does Music Suck So Bad Pt. I
Why Does Music Suck So Bad Pt. II
Wilco A Ghost Is Born
Almost 41 Years Later
Maria McKee Live In Hamburg
Green Day v. Disney Kids

I should have said music essays because some are not on individual CDs.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, February 10, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, al-Maliki slams Joe Biden, the ACLU speaks out, Cliff Cornell turns himself in, and more.

Today US war resister Cliff Cornell turned himself in. Some reports state he's the second US war resister to be deported from Canada. The second deported would appear to be Daniel Sandate.
Rena Guay interviewed Daniel on January 22, 2009. In one video, Daniel tells about enlisting.

Daniel Sandate: Well, like a lot of other soldiers, the military seemed the last resort [. . .] to stay on my feet. My father had just died and I inherited his house and, after a series of events -- mostly my fault, I just was tired of living that every day life. I just got out of jail, actually, a few days before I went to the recruiters and the marine recruiter asked me if I had ever been arrested and he asked me a series of other questions and they ended up flat out rejecting me in like five minutes. They said, "Get out of our office, we don't want you!" And so, I walked directly, right across the hallway, to the army recruiters, they were all in the same building. And they asked me the same questions and I gave them the same answers and basically they said, "Yeah! Sure, we'll take you. There's absolutely no problem at all. All you need is just to get a waiver and you'll be in.

J. Adrian Stanley (Colorado Springs Independent) wrote of Daniel's court-martial

Sandate tried suicide countless times, using drugs, rat poison, even slicing his tongue in half, hoping he'd bleed to death. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. He never finished high school. He did a lot of drugs.
He says he told everything to military recruiters. The Marines wouldn't take him; the Army gave him a waiver. He was 24.
Later he went to Iraq, where he survived three attacks and cleaned up masses of dead bodies. Along the way, he herniated a disc in his back. Instead of immediately treating his injury, the Army put Sandate through a bureaucratic nightmare. He became suicidal again. Then he took an online friend's offer to desert and live with her in Canada. Together, they grew marijuana to help Sandate with his phyiscal pain and mental instability. But Sandate says he felt guilty for abandoing his comrades, and blamed his girlfriend. The relationship crumbled. Alone again, Sandate slit one of his wrists in his Canadian apartment.

His attorney James Branum explains the route back to the US in
this video, "You went from Brantford, Onatrio later to Niagra Detention Center, eventually was deported into the US and from there he was transported to Colorado Springs where he was held in the county jail in pre-trial confinement." In this video, Branum explains that Robin Long and Daniel were the first two US war resisters to be forcefully deported from Canada and Daniel speaks about the back surgery he had while in the military.

Which brings us to
Cliff, also represented by Jim Branum. Gary McCollum co-owns the Village Food Market where Cliff worked and he told the Nanamio Daily News, "He was a wonderful worker, it is very sad that he had to leave and that the U.S. arrested him. He won a national award for us for setting up the best display in the country last November. I know the entire store missed him and he got a great deal of support from across Gabriola [Island]." Today Cliff turned himself in at Fort Stewart. Russ Bynum (AP) quotes him explaining yesterday, "I'm nervous, scared. I'm just not a fighter. I know it sounds funny, but I have a really soft heart." Project Safe Harbor's Gerry Condon continues to call on US President Barack Obama to grant amnesty to all war resisters. Former US presidents Gerald Ford created a process for Vietnam war resisters (draft dodgers and deserters) to seek asylum and Jimmy Carter provided amnesty to all Vietnam draft dodgers. AP notes, "His lawyer says Cornell has been assigned to a unit after meeting with military police, but it's not clear if the Army will hold him in pretrial confinement."

MIlitary Families Speak Out just wrapped up four days of action in DC. Saturday's action was "a solem procession from Arlinton National Cemetery to the White House . . . to bring President Obama the message that they want him to bring an immediate end to the war in Iraq that has already claimed the lives of over 4,200 U.S. troops and more than a million Iraqis." Celeste Zappala explains, "Our walk from Arlington to the White House is a symbol of the walk that families of the fallen make everyday -- we mourn and miss our heroes, our lives will never be the same, and we promise in their names to do everything we can to bring the troops home and never again commit to a needless war -- this is the message of our feet and the tears in our eyes." Celeste Zappala is the mother of Sherwood Baker who was killed in Baghdad April 24, 2004. Next month another action takes place. From Iraq Veterans Against the War:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21st

As an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.)
To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.
For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: or

Yesterday President Barack Obama held his first 'press conference,' calling on pre-selected journalists. Not one asked about Iraq despite the fact that the Iraq War hits the 6 year mark in March, despite the fact that approximately 147,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq, despite the fact that four US service members died in Mosul yesterday, despite all that and more, Iraq wasn't a 'worthy' topic. Sports stars on steroids was considered a 'national issue' to ask about, but an ongoing war, not one damn question. Barack was asked if he would allow photos of flag draped coffins returning to Dover. He needed 'more time'. Really? When George W. Bush banned it, he did so quickly. The practice of hiding the dead is not an American practice or policy. There is nothing to review, you simply overturn Bush's ban. Barack's not interested in that. Today he added more insults to the military.
Yunji de Nies (ABC News) reports that Barack declared today, "I am so proud of you guys and grateful for you. You guys are doing very important stuff." As de Nies points out, these were military "men and women in uniform". Not that a sexist like Barack easily understands but "guys" have penises. His remarks were insulting. Maybe he thinks it a plus that he didn't call the women "sweeties"? 102 service women have died serving in Iraq.

Joe Biden is the vice president of the United States. He's in the news today as thug Nouri al-Maliki tries to see if the new White House puppet masters will be easier to jerk around than the previous ones. Thug Nouri is blasting Biden.
Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) quotes al-Maliki stating Biden is "out of date" for stating that the lack of progress in Iraq means (Biden) "I think our administration is going to have to be very deeply involved. We are going to have to get in there and be much more aggressive in forcing them to deal with these issues." al-Maliki whined, "Such a speech is out of date, because the government of Iraq knows its responsibilities and acts accordingly in a strong way." While such b.s. no doubt has Patrick Cockburn reaching around inside his shorts and heavy panting, the adult world grasps that al-Maliki hasn't done a damn thing.

The 'surge' was rammed through -- over Democratic (verbal) objection -- with the understanding that it was being done to give the Iraqi government the room to maneuver and accomplish some of the needed tasks. The 'surge' resulted in no action on the part of the government. The Iraq Parliament STILL does not have a speaker. De-de-Baathification measures (passed by the Parliament) have still not been implemented.
April 2, 2008, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled "Iraq After The Surge." From that hearing, exchange between US Senator Barbara Boxer and Council on/for/of/from Foreign Relations Stephen Biddle:

Barbara Boxer: Did you just say that Maliki uses the Iraqi security forces as his militia? Did you say that?

Biddle: Yes.

Barbara Boxer: If that's true and Maliki uses his military as a force to bring about peace -- that's scandalous and that we would have paid $20 million to train [it] and someone that we consider an expert says it's a militia, that's shocking.

[. . .] Boxer wanted Biddle to explain his remarks and explain how the US could still be a peacekeeping force in Iraq while they were engaging warlords in Iraq which boils down to taking sides. ("You cannot count" on them, Boxer pointed out of the warlords on the US dime.) She rejected as offensive Biddle's suggestion that that sitting down with warlords was an answer. "There is no good solution to this nightmare," she pointed out, "so why not just figure out a way to tell the Iraqis, 'We've spilled the blood, now it's your turn.'"

April 8th, Gen David Peteraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker took their song and dance to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and from
that day's snapshot:

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

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

What's al-Maliki done? Since emerging from hiding after the US military went into Iraq. al-Maliki's just another pathetic Iraqi exile installed by the US government and the puppet might want to consider that before snapping and pretending he's actually accomplished a damn thing because outside of terrorizing the press, al-Maliki hasn't done much but fatten his own bank account and it's past time an independent auditor was sent to Iraq. Remember that when the puppet leaves and -- yet again -- we hear, "Where did the money go? Where did it go?" If the puppet's feeling so strong, why doesn't he order the US military out of Iraq? (He won't because the moment they leave, his 'power' crumbles.) "
Goodbye Pasha" indeed.

Meanwhile the thug refuses to help Iraqi women.
Feminist Wire Daily reports on Nawal al-Samarraie's resignation:

Nawal al-Samarraie, the Iraqi Minister of Women's Affairs, resigned from her post last week largely due to lack of funds for her office. Her budget was slashed from $7,500 to $1,500 a month after a drop in oil prices. Al-Samarraie told the
Associated Press, "I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women. The budget is very limited ... so what can I do?"The Iraqi State Ministry of Women's Affairs was founded after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, but has achieved little progress since. On a daily basis, women in Iraq face homelessness, lack of jobs, domestic violence and the possibility of detention during US and Iraqi military sweeps. Other Iraqi ministries have faced similar budget cuts, yet Iraqi women's rights activist lawyer Safia al-Suhail told IRIN that "when we talk about the women of Iraq, we are talking about nearly 65 percent of the population. They need a national and comprehensive strategy to help them enjoy their legal, health, and social rights." Al-Suhail urged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to deny al-Samarraie's resignation and instead help form an independent commission for women with a bigger budget, according to the Associated Press. However, al-Maliki signed al-Samarraie's resignation the day it was submitted Al-Samarraie told IRIN, "my office is inside the Green Zone with no affiliated offices in other provinces and not enough funds to hold conferences, invite experts for studies and implement development plans." "How can I work and serve women under such circumstances?" Al-Samarraie plans to travel to an international conference in Turkey concerning Iraqi women. She said she would consider returning to her job and told the Associated Press that "maybe with the next government it will be a priority."

The resignation comes as
Naseer al-lly (Asharq Alawsat) notes that "dozens of widows" are being refused assistance by family members and quotes Bosaina Mahmoud Abbas, Director of the Eve Relief Organization, stating Diyala Province "is currently suffering from a problem that warns of an imminent danger, and this is the swelling of the size of the number of widows, divorced women, and unemployed women who are forced to marry elederly men in order to ensure their own livelihood, and the livelihood of their children. But the question is: who guarantees that the new husband will actually support the widows and her children? . . . I recently met dozens of widows who complained that their late husbands families has disowned them and their children. Such a phenomenon is dangerous. Iraqi society in the past was known for family interconnectivity and social integration, to the point that you would find relatives supporting afflicted family members. But now families disown their own children due to the hardship of life. And so there is only one option and that is to get the government to focus on supporting the families of the victims of terrorism. It is a terrorist victims right to have the support of the government."

Deborah Haynes and Sonai Verma (Times of London) report that "a British manager for the services company Kellogg Brown and Root" is accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with an Iraqi women working for the British embassy and that the manager "was also accused of sexual harassment more than 18 months ago by an Iraqi cleaner and two cooks at the embassy." The reportes quote the cleaner who charged sexual harassment a year and a half ago stating today, "I was in the British Embassy and under the British flag and I was oppressed but nobody did anything about that."

Steven Lee Myers and Sam Dagher (New York Times) offer that Anbar thug Sheik Risha is very happy to display photos of himself with George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- a thug's gotta' have friends -- and having intimidated the 'election' 'commission' into results he liked, he now declares that his weapon of choice is "papers and evidence." The reporters note he "did not recant his earlier threats of violence". The reporters note:
Khalid al-Alwani, a senior official of the Iraqi Islamic Party in Anbar, called the accusations a smear campaign. He insisted that the party's slate in Anbar won nearly 40 percent of the votes, not the 15.9 percent that was announced. The party issued a statement on Sunday accusing Sheik Ahmed and Mr. Mutlaq of practicing "intimidation and extortion" in order have the results declared in their favor. It vowed to "reclaim what is rightfully theirs." Another of the party's backers called for more drastic action. Sheik Hakem al-Saad, a leader of one of the largest tribes in Anbar, called for the firing of the police chief and army commander and the declaration of a state of emergency. He accused the Awakening leader of sowing discord and inciting violence."Ahmed Abu Risha is a bandit and thief," he said.

From election crimes to some of today's reported daily violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing on the car of a bodyguard to Iraq's Shia vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi -- two people were wounded, a Baghdad mortar attack that claimed 1 life and left four people injured and a Mosul car bombing that left three police officers injured. To the sticky bombing, Reuters adds, "Reuters Television footage showed the badly wounded guard lying motionless. Eye witnesses said he died but police did not confirm that. Police initially said the guard worked for Vice President Adel Abdul-Mehdi's office, but the vice president's office said he worked for another branch of government."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 police officers shot dead in Mosul.

This week
Dahr Jamail (MidEast Dispatches) back in Iraq reports on hospitality. Last week, he reported on the thriving grave digging business including that "in the Al-Adhamiya area of Baghdad, what used to be a park is now a cemetary with more than 5,000 graves. According to the manager, most of the dead are never counted. . . . Such graveyards, and there are many, raise questions about the real death toll in Iraq."

Iraq is moving to stop foreigners from visiting their country apparently as a result of the Italian visitor. The
New York Times' Baghdad Bureau Blog offers more details -- from an Iraqi correspondent -- on the Italian tourist and the correspondent notes, "I found it very strange that he had got to the city so easily. Falluja resident have badges that allow them to get in the city. Those who are not locals of Falluja are usually there on missions."

Meanwhile Thomas E. Ricks has a new book out on Iraq.
Tim Rutten (Los Angeles Times) reviews Ricks' new book The Gamble and notes, "This is contemporary history of a vivid and urgent sort, and Ricks has produced a book that deserves to be read by any American who realizes that something other than today's economic news also is of vital interest to the nation." Michiko Kakutani (New York Times) also reviews the book today and notes, "Mr. Ricks writes as both an analyst and a reporter with lots of real-time access to the chain of command, and his book's narrative is animated by closely observed descriptions of how the surge worked on the ground, by a savvy knowledge of internal Pentagon politics, and by a keen understanding of the Iraq war's long-term fallout on already strained American forces." From Rick's "The right way to do Iraq, and the wrong way" (Foreign Policy):Two excerpts from my new book The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things -- not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq last year. (To read more about how Cook talked an insurgent leader into cooperation, read this excerpt from the book, a section called "The Insurgent Who Loved Titanic.")FYI, Ricks is of the opinion that the US cannot leave Iraq and clearly everyone in this community (including me) disagree with that call. But that's an opinion expressed in the book and not what his book's about. It's offering a serious look at events on the ground in Iraq and it is as strong a read as his previous book Fiasco (my opinion).

Turning to the US, the
ACLU issued the following yesterday:Justice Department Stands Behind Bush Secrecy In Extraordinary Rendition Case (2/9/2009) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; NEW YORK – The Justice Department today repeated Bush administration claims of "state secrets" in a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the extraordinary rendition program. Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen was brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The Bush administration intervened in the case, inappropriately asserting the "state secrets" privilege and claiming the case would undermine national security. Oral arguments were presented today in the American Civil Liberties Union's appeal of the dismissal, and the Obama administration opted not to change the government position in the case, instead reasserting that the entire subject matter of the case is a state secret. The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU: "Eric Holder's Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama's Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again."The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU, who argued the case for the plaintiffs: "We are shocked and deeply disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen to continue the Bush administration's practice of dodging judicial scrutiny of extraordinary rendition and torture. This was an opportunity for the new administration to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition, but instead it has chosen to stay the course. Now we must hope that the court will assert its independence by rejecting the government's false claims of state secrets and allowing the victims of torture and rendition their day in court." Totally non-related but we'll note Sandra Bulluck's Q&A with In Style readers -- just because it's Sandra.

iraqruss bynumthe new york timessam dagherstephen farrellcliff cornellcourage to resistdarh jamailaclu
the washington post
thomas e. rickstim ruttenmichiko kakutani