Friday, June 12, 2009

Bob Somerby, Debra Sweet

"KRUGMAN NAMES NAMES/QUOTES QUOTES! Our guess: The new Miss Cal isn’t pretty enough to make Keith Olbermann mad" (Bob Somerby, The Daily Howler):
We know of no evidence that O’Reilly (or anyone else) “directly incited” recent violence. On the other hand, O’Reilly sometimes called Dr. Tiller “the baby killer” in his own voice—not that such legalistic distinctions make much actual difference. O’Reilly is sometimes over-accused by liberals—by liberals who rarely show much sign of having actually watched his show. In this case, we’d say that Krugman has under-charged.
But then, so did Keith Olbermann, on the infotainment show which frequently stars Gene Robinson. What’s the downside to infotainment? Consider Olbermann and Dr. Tiller.
As noted, we think O’Reilly is sometimes over-charged by excitable liberals. But anyone who watches his show (we watch intermittently) would have known that he’d gone over the line in his ongoing treatment of Tiller. Calling someone a “baby killer” is dangerous work, whether you do so in your own voice or in somebody else’s. O’Reilly played this card, and others like it, too many times in the past several years.
KeithO runs an infotainment show on which he pillories BillO almost nightly. In all honesty, he sometimes stretches and strains a bit to generate the type of outrage with which he favors us rubes. But guess what? In all those years of banging BillO, KeithO never mentioned his trashing of Tiller (Nexis archives). KeithO was full of outrage—after the murder. Before that, nary a word.
Why wasn’t Tiller mentioned on Countdown, despite O’Reilly’s risky behavior? Despite the program’s obsessive focus on BillO? We don’t know—but we’re willing to guess. Mentioning Tiller would have been slightly hard—it would have taken a bit of effort. KeithO would have been forced to explain who Tiller was. He would have had to take some time explain the relevant issues.
This would have been very informative, of course. In the past two weeks, Rachel Maddow has done superlative, deeply informative work about the issues surrounding the abortion services Tiller provided. But KeithO runs an entertainment program. Information is rarely allowed to intrude. It’s all about pleasing us rubes.
Our guess: Olbermann’s staff knew there were simpler, sometimes-inaccurate ways to bang away at BillO. Despite Olbermann’s constant, rube-running focus on BillO, Tiller was never mentioned.

I don't watch Keith Olbermann -- for obvious reasons. I do find it interesting that this man who loathes Bill O'Lielly (even a non-watcher like me is aware Keith Loathes Bill), never called out O'Lielly for his slams against Dr. George Tiller until after Dr. Tiller was assassinated. I guess we know what Bill and Keith can agree on, hmm?

Kat asked me to note that because Betty wanted it noted. She felt Bob had a really important column today.

There are many other portions of it which could be included including the sections on the former Miss America. Michael Musto really needs to find a chair and sit down. Honestly. The diva of the music review set is never as funny as he thinks he is. Saying Diana Ross appeared to use Super Glue on her hair was neither funny nor illimunating, for example. However, if you read on, you quickly were informed of teenage Musto holding his brush and singing into the mirror pretending to be Diana Ross. It's always about Musto, then and now. Everything exists to attest to Musto.

Michael Musto is Keith Olbermann's preferred kind of a woman -- one with a cock. (For those late to the party, Musto is a "kind of woman" not because he's gay but because he's spent so much time wishing he were a woman and pretending he was one. If you're unaware of that, you haven't read his music writing over the years. For example, the Diana Ross review I'm noting above is of 1984's Swept Away. I could toss off 100 more examples where Musto writes of either pretending or wanting to be a woman and anyone who's read the bulk of his work could do the same.)

I'm noting this from World Can't Wait's home page. I'm not noting it to guilt anyone or to shame anyone. If you have something to give and would like to give to World Can't Wait, there are links. If you don't have it to give or don't intend to give to World Can't Wait, that's your business. I'll never know regardless.

If you want this kind of resistance to continue and grow now is the time donate to World Can't Wait. We have the will, the heart, and the commitment to build this movement. But none of the forums, films, discussions or visible national protests World Can't Wait sponsors will continue without your generous financial support. The world can't wait for the crimes of the U.S. government; for an end to torture and wars for empire. Join in efforts to end these crimes by contributing to a vibrant and uncompromising resistance movement.

Staying with World Can't Wait . . .

"Who Will Fill the Need Now that the Abortion Murders Have Resumed?" (Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait):
When I called Dr. George Tiller a hero last week for saving women’s lives, I began to receive messages that greatly deepened my understanding of why, before he was assassinated on May 31, his practice was so critical to the lives of all women. A man from Wichita wrote:
“I knew Dr. Tiller. He was pretty much a hero. He saw my girlfriend when no other doctors would because she couldn’t pay right then. She had gotten real sick and couldn’t understand why. She was 'just' the bass player in our band at the time and broke. She did finally see Dr. Tiller and he found she had a tubal pregnancy and the fetus was dead or almost. If she hadn’t gotten to him, she definitely would’ve gotten sicker and maybe died. She had the 'abortion' and was protested the entire time by those good folks in Wichita. They also found while performing the surgery that she had 'pre-cancerous' lesions. They caught those in time and she had cryogenic surgery a few weeks later. No problem after that and is still cancer free 25 years later. People aren’t told about the good work he did. He saw a need and filled it.”
Now that Dr. Tiller is gone and his family has closed his clinic permanently, who will fill that need?
We have a hell of a challenge before us. For women, the Bush years were a disaster of faith-based abstinence-only education and punitive cuts in access to reproductive care. Abortion and birth control, because of state restrictions and relentless hounding by those against abortion, are
less accessible than at any time since 1973. But rates of unintended pregnancy among teenagers are going up. Planned Parenthood clinics are reporting a surge in demand for birth control and abortion, given growing rates of unemployment. The reality is that women are being increasingly forced to bear the children of unintended pregnancies. To paraphrase what World Can’t Wait’s Call to drive out the Bush regime said in 2005, “Your government is still moving to deny women the right to birth control and abortion.”

There is no real joy for women with Barry O in the White House. He's done nothing for women. He will do nothing for women. He will get away with doing nothing for women because 'leaders' like Kim Gandy, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and others will make excuses for him. Over and over. They will be silent as he uses drones on Pakistan -- even though bombing anyone is not a feminist activity.

They will be silent as he continues two illegal wars. They will be silent as he presents his wife as a Stepford Wife who does as she's told. They will work overtime to defend her from anyone who dares to point out how sick it is for a woman over forty to want to be a covergirl.

But they will do nothing to defend the rights of women. They will do nothing to improve the status of women.

The hard lessons of 2008 can be a gift if we learn from them.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 12, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Newsweek explores Iraq, Congress puts out like a gumball machine for the White House, a Sunni MP is assassinated, Nouri stages a praise-a-thon, and more.

Starting with
Newsweek. Comedian Stephen Colbert took his Comedy Central show to Iraq and, as a tie-in, was the guest editor of Newsweek for the issue on sale now (with his photo on the cover). For four pages you get more lies from Fareed Zakaria, these are titled "Victory In Iraq." Liar Fareed wants you to know "the democratic ideal is still within reach." Oh really? How do you define "democratic ideal," you damn liar? Two centuries ago, if you lied in the public square the way Fareed has repeatedly, you would have found yourself whipped in the public square and maybe for pundits who put the lives of others at risk we should bring that policy back. Here's reality that liars like Fareed can never tell you about:

We are writing to urge you to call upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and to protect the right of all Iraqi citizens to be free from all forms of cruel,inhumane or degrading punishment.
Deeply disturbing reports are enamating from Iraq with regard to the torture, beating and killing of LGBT people in that country. The increasing violence is being led by religious zealots who are targeting these individuals simply because of their sexual orientation. This year alone, 63 people have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against gay citizens. A prominent Iraqi human rights activists has reported that Iraqi militia have deployed painful and degrading forms of torture and punishment against homesexuals that must be stopped.
The United States is spending trillions of dollars to fight a war that is based on bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. These unspeakable actions of violence on Iraqi citizens are in direct violation of our purpose for being in that country and of the stated policy of non-discrimination of the new administration.
Local police in Iraq have issued a statement that "the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state." The violence occuring against LGBT Iraqis is in direct contradiction to this statement.
As one of the signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life (Article 6) and the right of all its citizens "to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (Article 7). Current actions belie this obligation.
To protect the lives of LGBT Iraqis, we urge you to please take immediate action to stop the violence. We believe that a strong public condemnation of these actions must come from you and our other national leaders, along with the necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to protect the life and liberty of all its citizens.

The [PDF format warning]
letter is signed by California state legislatures Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Christine Keho, John A. Perez, Jim Beall Jr., Julia Brownley, Sandre R. Swanson, Tom Torlakson, Marty Block, Mariko Yamada, Pedro Nava, ANthony Portantino, Jerry Hill, Hector de la Torre, Mike Feuer, Felipe Fuentes, Cathleen Galgiani, Curren D. Price Jr., Norma J. Torres, Jospeh S. Simitian, Elaine Alquist, Alan Lowenthal, Leland Yee, Gilbert Cedillo, Jenny Oropeza, Gloria Romero, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Lou Correa, Loni Hancock, Lois Wolk, Patricia Wiggins, Ellen Corbett, Carol Liu, Fran Pavley, Bonnie Lowenthal, William W. Monning, Isadore Hall III, Mary Salas, Mike Davis, Paul Fong, Warren T. Furutani, Jared Huffman, Bob Blumenfield, Alex Padilla and Paul Krekorian. The letter was sent this month to US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and US Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

The issue has been reported on by the Denver Post, the New York Times, the BBC, ABC and many other outlets. Newsweek has NEVER reported on it. Newsweek has never acknowledged the attacks and assaults on Iraq's LGBT community. And that falls on Fareed who decides what makes it into non-guest editorial issues and what doesn't. Fareed doesn't want to touch the subject due to his own apparent homosexual panic.
As SourceWatch notes, in October of 2006, War Hawk and Cheerleader Fareed was finally walking away from the illegal war declaring that the puppet government in Iraq "has failed" and calling the US venture/war crime a failure as well. He's back to selling the illegal war all over again. The Henry Kissinger wannabe infamously said as the illegal war on Iraq began, "The place is so dysfunctional any stirring of the pot is good. America's involvement in the region is for the good." Again, a few centuries back, he would have been flogged in the town square. These days he just feeds his own vanity which is how he ends up with an attention getting, four page spread which leads off the news section of the magazine. Vanity, thy name is Fareed.

On a better (and actual news) note, Gretel C. Kovach contributes "Canada's New Leaf" which zooms in on Kimberly Rivera, the Dallas - Fort Worth native and Iraq War veteran who self-checked out and took her family to Canada becoming, in February 2007, the first female Iraq War veteran to publicly seek asylum in Canada. Kovach notes Kimberly next appears before a Canadian court in July:

Now 26, Rivera has more problems than ever. Her mother hasn't spoken to her since she fled to Canada, although Rivera misses her terribly. And the Canadian government keeps trying to send her home to face desertion charges. She might end up in a military prison -- but says she has no regrets about her broken commitment to the service of her country. "At least I can say I never killed anyone, ever," she says. "I think that's a little more honorable."

Kovach demonstrates that Fareed doesn't know how to edit worth s**t. Jimmy Carter, as president, did not pardon deserters. He pardoned draft dodgers and only draft dodgers. He did that in the first month of his administration and there was hope among some (such as US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman) that he would revist the subject but he never did. Before Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford offered a conditional amnesty for deserters and draft dodgers which required that they jump through hoops for a considerable amount of time and may or may not end up with amenesty. Very few attempted Ford's program. Near the end of Ford's presidency -- in November and December -- he considered proposing a pardon for draft dodgers and/or deserters, however, he was convinced (as were columnists at the New York Times) that Jimmy Carter would do this once sworn in. They were mistaken and only had to hear Carter's speech to veterans while campaigning for the presidency where he made clear that, if elected, he would pardon draft dodgers but not deserters. (Carter was booed during this speech.) We've covered this before and it's all public record. The inability of Newsweek and their fact checkers to get the story straight goes a long way towards explaining why all the whining about the death of Big Media is so much blah blah blah b.s. If you can't get damn facts right, you have no business charging anyone even a penny. I'm blaming the editors because I know where Gretel C. Kovach was fed the lies, the same place the lies are always fed up north. And, yeah, there little attacks on this site stemmed from the fact that we wouldn't let them lie in public without correcting the record. A
July 10, 2008 entry quoted Robert Trumbull, "Pardon Brings Cautious Response From Some War Exiles in Canada," New York Times, January 23, 1977:

Jeff Enger, a deserter from the Army and therefore excluded from the Presidential pardon, will be sworn in as a Canadian citizen next Friday, one of the many self-exiled American war resisters who "want to make our lives here." However, like other deserters, Mr. Egner would like to be able to travel freely in the country of his birth. The Presidential pardon covered nearly all draft evaders of the Vietnam War period. Mr. Carter postponed a decision on the men who entered but then deserted the armed forces. Jack Colhoun, a leader in the Toronto exile community, is one of those deseters who insist that they would fight in a "just war," or "if the United States were attacked," as Mr. Colhoun put it. The men interviewed, who rerpesent a cross section of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 American war resisters living in Canada, have in common a yearning for recognition by Americans at home that their actions were an acceptable exercise of principle "in the American tradition," as one said. "We don't expect to be congratulated or anything," said Mr. Egner, a law student at the University of Toronto, "but we believe we acted correctly." They also share a deep conviction that the deserters, as well as the draft evaders, should be pardoned.

Because the lies from up north continue, we're apparently going to have to do a slow walk through.
David Postman (Seattle Times) outlined what Gerald Ford offered to war resisters: "a limited clemency for Vietnam draft resisters and military deserters." Here's Gerald Ford speaking in September of 1974 (and link has text and audio):

In my first week as President, I asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense to report to me, after consultation with other Governmental officials and private citizens concerned, on the status of those young Americans who have been convicted, charged, investigated, or are still being sought as draft evaders or military deserters.
On August 19, at the national convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars in the city of Chicago, I announced my intention to give these young people a chance to earn their return to the mainstream of American society so that they can, if they choose, contribute, even though belatedly, to the building and the betterment of our country and the world.

That's Ford and his jump through hoops program which a study by the New York Times found, before Ford even left office, was being utitlized by very few of the over 50,000 who had self-checked out. Now let's move to Jimmy Carter once he becomes president.
Here's how PBS's The NewsHour (then The MacNeil/Lehrer Report) reported Carter's program on January 21, 1977 (link has text, audio and video):

Just a day after Jimmy Carter's inaguration, he followed through on a contentious campaign promise, granting a presidential pardon to those who had avoided the draft during the Vietnam war by either not registering or traveling abroad. The pardon meant the government was giving up forever the right to prosecute what the administration said were hundreds of thousands of draft-dodgers. . . . Meanwhile, many in amnest groups say that Carter's pardon did too little. They pointed out that the president did not include deserters -- those who served in the war and left before their tour was completed -- or soliders who received a less-than-honorable discharge. Civilian protesters, selective service employees and those who initiated any act of violence also were not covered in the pardon.

Use the link and you can read, listen or watch the roundtable which includes then US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman who states, "I'm pleased that the pardon was issued, I'm pleased that it was done on the first day and I'm pleased that President Carter kept a commitment that he made very clear to the American people. I would have liked to have seen it broader, I would like to have seen it extended to some of the people who are clearly not covered and whose families will continue to be separatedf rom them . . . but I don't think President Carter has closed the door on this category of people." I like Liz and I've known her for years but it was this b.s. attitude of praising Jimmy instead of pressuring him that allowed him to never revist the issue again. He never did another thing and its appalling that a magazine called "Newsweek" which wants $5.95 an issue for their 'factual' reporting can't get their damn facts straight. (Hint to other reporters, stop believing the lies you hear up north. It is your job to fact check statements if you present them in your articles.) Jimmy Carter did not offer an "unconditional pardon" to deserters. He offered nothing to deserters and just because an old man in Canada (a deserter) told you that Carter offered something doesn't make it true. It's also appalling because Newsweek covered some of this in real time so the magazine (wrongly) fabled for its fact checking should have caught these lies before they made it into print. Kovach is of the opinion (it's a popular one these days -- that doesn't mean it's accurate) that the resisters will all be deported (the decision by Canada's House to pass ANOTHER non-binding resolution on the issue demonstrates that they really won't stand with war resisters) and notes:

All of which means that the United States must now figure out what to do with the deserters who have already begun trickling back. No one expects Obama to issue them a pardon. They'll have to plead their cases before the military command. Prosecution rates of deserters have increased during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts from 2 percent at the start to about 10 percent now (the remainder receive administrative punishments, like the loss of a stripe).

It's a real shame that 'helpers' up north wanted to refight Vietnam because of their own issues instead of helping today's resisters. (They lost their planned statue right before the resisters began pouring in and that apparently hurt a lot of feelings.) For the record, there are groups in Canada (and I give money to them) that have been successful in getting citizenship for resisters. They don't make a spectacle of themselves because the issue isn't them or what they did or didn't do during Vietnam. The issue is and has always been how to ensure that a resister doesn't have to return to the US. (
Elaine wrote about that group, which she also contributes to, in August of last year.) And resisters in Canada can forget about Barack, he will not help any returning deserters. He has taken the Carter position that if some had avoided the draft that was one thing but those who have left service will not be let off. No, we didn't have a draft but that is his position. It was the same position as Carter's which is boiled down as "It's not honorable to desert." [Carter referred to his actions as a pardon and not amnesty, he stated calling it amnesty would push the notion that their avoiding the draft was a 'correct' action and he did not believe it was.] Neither the assaults on Vietnam or Iraq were "honorable" and self-checking out was one of the bravest things anyone could do. Today's resisters deserve praise but they won't get from the White House and many believe they won't get it from the Canadian government.

Jessica Ramirez examines the effects of deployments on families in "Children Of Conflict" and finds that "roughly 890,000" parents have been deployed since September 11, 2001 and that "[t]he personal sacrifices of military kids can go unnoticed amid the grown-ups' struggles, in part because the scars they may sustain aren't necessarily the visible kind. But they are real and long-lasting, and they are not diminished by the fact that levels of violence in Iraq have dropped or that U.S. troops are no longer taking the lead on combat operations there." Christopher Anderson contributes a photo essay on Iraq and US forces in Iraq. Dan Ephron explores the War Porn Six Days in Fallujah. And an article by Daniel Stone, Eve Conant and John Barry on the effects at home for the returning:

Part of the trouble with long tours is the stress of holding together a normal life back home. "When you're gone o long, you put your whole life on hold," says Ohle. "You can't plan anything." That can be OK if you're single, but Ohle has been dating another Army intelligence officer who is in a different brigade. They met during a training exercise many years ago, and then in 2006 spent a few months together "downrange," as Ohle calls the combat zone. After that, the dating was long distance. They've been "together-together" only since February, and Ohle expects her boyfriend to deploy again sometimes this summer.
Whenever she comes back to the United States, Ohle faces culture shock similar to anyone who returns from a foreign land. She's overwhelmed by the food selection in the markets, and the number of people in the aisles. But unlike ordinary travelers, she also needs to keep her anger in check. "When someone with a shopping cart gets in your way, you can't just yell at them to get out of the way," she says. "Interacting with people requires a reset."

Most of the features are not available online. Fareed is but we don't link to trash. A West Point story is available online and we'll link to that. What does Colbert do in the issue besides 'guest editing'? He speaks to the readers on page five and contributes letters (the earliest from 1933) in his TV character complaining about Newsweek coverage over the ages (starting with 1933). He also does the Conventional Wisdom on page 15 and an essay on page 68.

Colbert's trip to Iraq resulted in Newsweek focusing on Iraq. It's not a great issue but it is attention to an ongoing illegal war and that is an accomplishment. I don't care for Colbert but I applaud him for that. It also got attention from the daily papers -- many of whom have also forgotten that the Iraq War continues to drag on. (
James Rainey (Los Angeles Times) covers Colbert's trip to Iraq.) AP reports members of Mississippi's National Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team is preparing for its second deployment to Iraq and notes the previous deployment resulted in 14 deaths. WKYC reports 161 Ohians are deploying to Iraq ("part of the Ohio Army National Guard's 1192nd Engineer Company"). But because it's so very difficult for people to pay attention to Iraq, let's all pretend the war is over. That's how it works, right?

In Iraq today, a Sunni leader was assassinated. Ned
Parker and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times) report Harith Obeidid "was gunned down by a teenager" in Baghdad. Obeid had been the leader of the Accordance Front. after shooting Obeidid twice in the head, the teenager than threw a grenade. BBC reports their correspondent "Jim Muir in Baghdad says the assumption will be that this attack was carried out by insurgents from Mr Obeidi's own Sunni community, who have often targeted Sunnis involved with the government." Michael Christie (Reuters) asks, "Could the killers be Shi'ites? Possibly, although suicidal attacks, as Friday's assassination appears to have been, are more often associated with Sunni extremists." Al Arabiya reports that Obeidid was one of 5 people killed in the attack and that twelve were left injured while the assassin was killed as he attempted to escape. KUNA notes that al-Maliki's government has declared 25-year-old Ahmed Jassim Ibrahim the assassin "in contrast to claims by Iraqi police who earlier mentioned he was only 15." In terms of possible motives, Al Arabiya explains, "Obaidi, born in 1966, was deputy chairman of parliament's human rights committee and on Thursday had called for an independent inquiry into torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq's prisons." Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observe that Iraq's President Jalal Talabani went on TV to urge calm following the assassination and speak with MP Shatha al Obusi who serves on the Human Rights Committee and states Obaidi leaves behind a wife and eight children, that "he was a fun-loving man with an easy smile" and "I believe that he was targeted for these qualities by people who would not have him succeed. He was, and will continue to be, a role model to us regarding the issue of human rights and defending those who have fallen under injustice."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing destroyed a US military vehicle, another Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left ten people injured and, dropping back to Thursday, a Karbala roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left four people injured. Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded six people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baquba home invasion in which 2 people (mother and daughter) were killed. Reuters notes 2 Sahwa members were shot dead in Mussayab by a police officer who claims "they were planting a bomb".

Rod Nordland and Marc Santora (New York Times) report on the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki hosting a praise-a-thon for himself. Nouri fancies himself the new strong man of Iraq, the new Saddam. And Nordland and Santora capture that as they note he's now positioned himself as commander in chief despite the fact that the Iraqi Constitution does not give him that power and that he received toadies yesterday who called him their "master" and "commander in chief" (the Ministry of the Defense being among the toadies). An unnamed US military officer attempted to attend but was sent packing by the one of 'master' Nouri's thugs.Drunk on the smell of Nouri's cheap cologne (truly, he wears the cheapest cologne and over wears it, a detail that's yet to make it into domestic reports) the puppet's puppets engaged in a circle jerk where they self-praised and pretended they were running the country. And, insert laughter, runnig it well.If you automatically thought "air force," the reporters go there. There is no Iraqi air force to speak of and the reporters have Gen Anwar Hama Ameen later admitting that it will take more than the optimistic US prediction of "tow and a half years" for the air force to be built. The reporters note that this and other realities were left out of the circle jerk. The paragraph that should haunt reads: "The tenor of the meeting reminded many of similar ones between Saddam Hussein and his commanders, which featured fawning speeches praising him, the use of the word 'master' when addressing him, and a recitation by a nationalist poet. In Thursday's case, the poem was a recent one denoucning terrorism."

So Nouri's the new Saddam and the air force is nowhere ready.
Jack Dolan (McClatchy Newspapers) reports more problems. Despite all the praise going down in the meeting with Nouri, turns out things are not so great. Iraqi forces are apparently not ready to take over the security functions in Mosul and reveals that issues include lack of ammunition and weapons and the 'hope' that the people of Mosul will work with Iraqi security forces.
Last night at the Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. reported that the Democrats in Congress had found some mutual understanding that would allow Barack's war funding supplemental to move forward, "The agreement was reached only after a letter from President Obama to a congressional committee saying that his administration would appeal to the Supreme Court to keep the photos from becoming public, rather than try for a Congressional ban as part of the war funding bill. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Thursday stayed an earlier order that the photos be released immediately, so the government will now have time to appeal." Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) offers, "The measure does not include language allowing indefinite detention as President Obama has initially proposed. The White House also dropped a request for a provision imposing a congressional ban on the release of photos showing the abuse of prisoners at US jails in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama said he will continue to seek the photos' censorship through an appeal to the Supreme Court." With more on the reassurance on suppressing the torture photos, Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) explain, "The deal was concluded after Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, went to the Capitol to assure Senate Democrats that President Obama would use all admnistrative and legal means to prevent the photos' release. At the same time, a federal court issued a ruling effectively ensuring that the photos would not be released for months, if ever." Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal) quotes Rahm stating, "I talked to the Senate Democrats -- everything's fine." Amy Goodman breaks down 'fine': "The war funding bill includes more than $90 billion for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and is expected be voted on next week. In a letter to other House members who have previously opposed war funding, Congress members Lynn Woolsey of California and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio urged them to retain 'steadfast opposition' to the new bill. Speaking on the House floor, Kucinich said the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is based on 'aggression and lies'." Goodman goes on to quote some of US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's statement so those who need or prefer audio use the previous link but here's Kucinich's statement in full:

Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, had no intention or capability of attacking United Statess, had nothing to do with Al-Qaida's role in 9/11, and each and every statement made by the previous administration in support of going to war turned out to be false.
Yest here we are. A new administration and the same old war, with an expansion of the war in Afghanistan. We cannot afford these wars. We cannot aford these wars spiritually. They are wars of aggression and they are based on lies. We cannot afford these wars financially. They add trillions to our national debt and destroy our domestic agenda. We cannot afford the human costs of these wars, the loss of lives of our beloved troops and the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. So, why do we do this? Why do we keep funding wars when they are so obviously against truth and justice and when they undermine our military? These are matters of heart and conscience which must be explored. Our ability to bring an end to thse wars will be the real test of our power.

We'll note Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey's letters to their colleagues in part [PDF format warning,
click here for letter in full]:

Continued funding of war operations in Iraq ensures a continued occupation thereby undermining the stated U.S. goal for withdrawal by the end of 2010. Funds for Iraq should be dedicated to bringing all our troops and contractors home immediately. We must meet our moral obligation to rebuild Iraq and support viable solutions to the crises faced by the refugee and internally displaced populations. As such, the U.S. must maintain a continued commitment to the country of Iraq that does not include war or occupation.
Funding expanded combat operations in Afghanistan will not meet the security objectives of the U.S. Sending additional brave American service members to Afghanistan does nto increase security and it is not an act of diplomacy. This approach only encourages the Taliban and other insurgent groups to do likewise, while fueling their recruiting efforts. The bill ensured that the months and perhaps years ahead will be bloody. And the bill fails to present an exist strategy.
Voting down the funds for war honors the mandate to end the war in Iraq that was given to this body by the American people in November 2006. Futhermore, defeat of the War Supplemental sends a clear message about U.S. priorities at home and abroad.
Congress must use the power of the purse to end combat operations. When the War Supplemental conference comes to the Floor for a vote I urge you to continue to vote no.
Today the bufoons at CounterSpin yet again tried to pimp Barry O's Cairo speech. Reality on that speech via independent journalist
John Pilger via ZNet:

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that "you're either with us or against us". He smiled the smile and uttered "many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran", noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a "tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table". And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world's most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith - a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name. In his "reaching out" in Cairo, as in his "anti-nuclear" speech in Berlin, as in the "hope" he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

Independent Peace Mom
Cindy Sheehan wondered recently:

I have integrity. I oppose war, torture, economic oppression and environmental degradation no matter who is in the White House or what political party he belongs to. I have been one of President Obama's earliest and most ardent critics, but where's the media coverage when I protest the carnage now that Obama is president? Where's Air America calling me to comment on the war crimes that Obama has already committed? Why won't most "progressive" online sites print my articles anymore (except, Oped News and

Cindy's on the road and heads to Nashville June 13th through 16th.
Click here for her full schedule for this month and we'll run the remaining dates next week. She was in Texas this week. Kimberly Kreitner (Daily Texan) reports on her stop in Austin where Cindy explained, "We have a Democratic party [in office], but nothing good is happening. It pays for war and coddles war cirminals. What's the difference between Democrats and Republicans? . . . People ask, 'How can peace be relevant during time of a peace president? Well, I don't like to go around and tell people there is no Santa Claus, but May was the deadliest month in Iraq [for U.S. Soldiers]." And apparently Lily Tomlin's Suzy Sorority attended Cindy's speech because an unnamed woman told Kreitner, "We already have enough negativity going on, and saying bad things about the Obama administration won't help anything." For those who don't remember Suzy Sorority of the Silent Majority, let's revisit one of Tomlin's Laugh-In skits:

Suzy Sorotiy: I'm a charter member of the YACF -- that's Young Americans for Connie Francis. Now there's a person with a lot of problems -- like what to wear to entertain the troops, things like that. But you don't see Connie shooting glue or smoking acid or getting low or smelling those LSMFT tablets. No sir! When something upsets Connie, she just sings her little heart out and the troubles of the world disappear.

In US military news,
Gina Cavallaro (Army Times) reports that the National Guard and Reserve fell short of their goals last month (623 short) but remain "comfortably ahead in their fiscal 2009 goals." Staffan De Mistura has always fallen short in Iraq and been an embarrassment for the United Nations. Alsumaria reports: "UN special envoy to Iraq Staffan de Mistura announced that he will leave his post shortly after a two years mission in Iraq. After meeting with Iraq's supreme religious authority Ali Husseini Al Sistani, De Mistura affirmed that the United Nations will pursue its work in Iraq as long as Iraq needs it noting that a good successor will take over." The United Nations work, under de Mistura, has been a joke for two years in Iraq. That goes beyond the cover for the occupation the UN has granted to include the blaming of the Iraqi women for the cholera outbreaks each fall, it goes to the refusal to address the Kirkuk issue, an issue that was supposed to be addressed long ago but which the UN has repeatedly given cover for and allowed to be sidestepped and postponed.

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings):The murder of Dr. George Tiller has reignited the abortion debate, and raised the question: should violence against medical doctors who perform abortions be viewed and prosecuted as domestic terrorism? This week NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa sits down with two of the remaining handful of doctors who publicly acknowledge performing late abortions, including Leroy Carhart, a fellow doctor in Tiller's Wichita, Kansas clinic.Carhart discusses his vow to carry on Tiller's mission and what it's like for him and his family to live as "targets". The show also investigates claims that law enforcement dropped the ball when it came to stopping Tiller's alleged murderer, Scott Roeder.Hinojosa travels to Colorado as well to talk with Dr. Warren Hern, another late abortion provider who says he's been living "under siege" for decades. Dr. Hern works behind four layers of bulletproof windows and is now under round-the-clock federal protection.NOW goes into the eye of the abortion rights storm to see how Tiller's killing and its ramifications are impacting doctors, free speech, and a civilized society.
Bill Moyers Journal begins airing tonight on mnay PBS stations and he and Michael Winship have an essay on gun control:

You know by now that in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, an elderly white supremacist and anti-Semite named James W. von Brunn allegedly walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum with a .22-caliber rifle and killed a security guard before being brought down himself. He's 88 years old, with a long record of hatred and paranoid fantasies about the Illuminati and a Global Zionist state. How bitter the bile that has curdled for so many decades.You will know, too, of the recent killing, while ushering at his local church, of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country still performing late term abortions. Sadly, this case was proof that fatal violence works. His family has announced that his Wichita, Kansas, clinic will not be reopened.You may be less familiar with the June 1st shootings in an army recruiting office in Little Rock that killed one soldier and wounded another. The suspect in question is an African-American Muslim convert who says he acted in retaliation for US military activity in the Middle East. Soon, however, these terrible deeds will be forgotten, as are already the three policemen killed by an assault weapon in Pittsburgh; the four policemen killed in Oakland, California; the 13 people gunned down in Binghamton, New York; the 10 in an Alabama shooting spree; five in Santa Clara, California; the eight dead in a North Carolina, nursing home. All during this year alone.There is much talk about hate talk; hate crimes against blacks, whites, immigrants, Muslims, Jews; about violence committed in the name of bigotry or religion. But why don't we talk about guns?We're arming ourselves to death. Even as gunshots ricocheted around the country, an amendment allowing concealed weapons in national parks snuck into the popular credit card reform bill. Another victory for the gun lobby, to sounds of silence from the White House.
Washington Week finds Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Bara Vaida (National Journal), Tom Gjelten (NPR) and John Harris (Hedda Hopper Lives!) joining Gwen around the table. Also tonight on most PBS stations, Bonnie Erbe sits down with Melinda Henneberger, Susan Au Allen, Avis Jones-DeWeever and Tara Setmayer to discuss the week's news on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings. And turning to broadcast commerical TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:The Man Who KnewHarry Markopolos repeatedly told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernie Madoff's investment fund was a fraud. He was ignored, however, and investors lost billions of dollars. Steve Kroft reports. Watch VideoFor Better Or WorseForeigners who marry Americans are entitled to become permanent residents of the U.S., but in a stricter post-9/11 world, hundreds of widows are being asked to leave the country because their husbands died – even some whose children were born in the U.S. Bob Simon reports. Watch VideoAlice WatersShe has been cooking and preaching the virtues of fresh food grown in an environmentally friendly way for decades. A world-class restaurant and eight cookbooks to her credit, Alice Waters has become famous for her "slow food" approach – an antidote to fast food. Lesley Stahl reports. Watch Video60 Minutes, Sunday, June 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

iraqthe new york times
robert trumbull
perry bacon jr.the washington post
marc santorarod norlandcarl hulsedavid m. herszenhornalsumaria
the los angeles timesned parkermcclatchy newspapers
democracy nowamy goodman
john pilger60 minutescbs newsbill moyers journalto the contrarybonnie erbenow on pbs

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Deborah Vagins, World Can't Wait, American Dad

"Equality in Our Pay Envelopes" (Deborah Vagins, ACLU Blog):
Today marks the
46th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. That historic act signified our nation’s commitment to ensuring that women are not paid less than men for equal work. Upon signing the bill, President Kennedy proclaimed that the bill "affirms our determination that when women enter the labor force they will find equality in their pay envelope." Indeed, the bill helped women make significant strides towards equality in the workforce. Unfortunately, over time, loopholes and weak remedies have made this historic law less effective than Congress originally intended. Therefore, there is no more fitting way to commemorate this historic anniversary than to push for passage of S. 182, the Paycheck Fairness Act, a necessary update to the Equal Pay Act.
There is no doubt that updates to improve the effectiveness of the Equal Pay Act’s protections are needed. Forty-six years after President Kennedy signed the Act, women, on average, continue to earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men — that’s only 18 cents more on the dollar than when President Kennedy signed the bill in 1963. For women of color, the progress has been even slower. This bill would enable President Kennedy’s vision to be fully realized, albeit several decades late.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would give employees legal tools to close the wage gap that has held women’s economic progress back for so long. For example, the bill would require employers to demonstrate that disparities in pay between men and women working the same job result from factors other than sex. It would also prohibit retaliation against employees who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own pay to their colleagues. Furthermore, the Act would deter discrimination by strengthening the penalties for equal pay violations and would authorize additional training of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff to better identify and address pay violations. Through these steps, the Paycheck Fairness Act would allow our nation to finally move forward in closing the unlawful wage gap.

Yes, it would. Which is why I don't have much hope in it. Maybe Congress will get on it (I've already called my senators and my rep and urge you to do your same). I don't expect any leadership from the White House. Not only has the White House provided no leadership at all, it's made a point to ignore women's issues.

So it's needed and maybe we can hound our Congress members into action? That's really the only way I see this happening.

"A Speech of Lies To Enforce a SYSTEM of Oppression" (World Can't Wait):
As you read this, the U.S. is either waging, bankrolling, or threatening war all across the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of millions of people in the Arab countries and South Asia bitterly oppose these wars. They connect these American-led wars to a whole matrix of political, economic and cultural domination by the imperialists. And they are right to do so.
On June 5 Barack Obama, the chief representative of the imperialist system in the U.S. and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces waging those wars, gave a speech in Egypt, at Cairo University. Obama’s mission was NOT, as we shall see, to change these basic relations. He did not even announce the end of any of these wars.
Instead, Obama aimed to recast people’s understanding of the terms of all this, to use his background and ability to "package" it to provide a "different narrative." It was an attempt—a major attempt—to change how people understand history, how they view the world today and how they see the possibilities and avenues for change.
It is important to understand the actual policies set forth in this speech, and we will address some of those. But it is at least equally important to dig deeply into the historical and analytical framework in which Obama cast those policies, and that will be our principal focus.

After all the nonsense we had to endure (including Juan Cole) last week, it is good to see the left coming out with some accurate critiques. (Juan Cole is not the left. He cheerleaded the illegal war. At the start. Then he turned and then he cheered it some more in 2006 and Steve Rendall confronted him about that on CounterSpin and Cole insisted it never happened.)

Barack Obama is not the left. He's center-right. It would be wonderful to see the left wake up and stop using their time apologizing for and justifying his actions.

American Dad is an animated series that airs on Fox. It revolves around the Smith family headed by CIA agent Stan and Francine. Their two children are Hayley and Steve. Their family pet is a talking goldfish named Clause. Also living in their home is an alien named Roger.

Roger thinks he is very important and my favorite episode starts with Roger in the 50s. He's in a diner and wearing a toupee to fit in. Another man comes in and says Roger's sitting in his place. Roger flicks the man's tie and says the man's titilated and they can meet in the men's room, he'll bring a power drill to put in the glory hole. Then it's the 70s and Roger's wearing a blonde Farrah Fawcett wig, is on roller skates and has heart shaped sun glasses. Out of my way, he insists as he takes over a pinball game. He claims he's very, very important. Then we're in the 90s in Seattle and Roger's grunge Roger demanding coffee refills.

Stan has had it with Roger's bossy nature and insistence that he's so special. Roger explains that he is the chosen one and can end life on earth at any minute. Stan laughs. Roger gets mad and heads off to Roswell where his spaceship is. Stan follows him. Roger gets there and Stan finds a note on the spaceship that informs Roger was lied to, he has no special decider powers, he's just a crash test dumm.

So it was very funny and it's funny to see Roger get back on top.

Which he does.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, song-and-dance before Congress on corruption, the State Dept gets pressed on the persecution of Iraq's LGBT community, Iraq police apparently helped in the slaughter of 5 US soldiers (and, oh yeah, this relates to the prisoner the US just turned over to Iraq), and more.

A new bombing results in massive fatalities.
BBC Radio reported on the bombing earlier today.

Mike Cooper: A car bomb has exploded in southern Iraq killing at least 28 people around 40 others were wounded. Nicholas Witchell has more from Baghdad.

Nicholas Witchell: The explosion happened in a crowded market in al Bathaa about 30 kilometers west of Nasiriyah one of the main cities in southern Iraq. This is a Shi'ite area which has been relatively free from violence in recent months. No group has said it carried out the attack but Sunni insurgents aligned to al Qaeda will inevitably be expected. Iraq is more peaceful now but there are concerns that insurgent groups may be trying to take advantage of the current withdrawal of US troops from Iraq's towns and cities to try to provoke renewed sectarian conflict.

Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) explains, "The area has been the scene of violence between Shiite militias that have fought each other." Anne Barker (Australia's ABC -- text and a video clip from Lateline) reports, "The bomb ripped through a crowded market place in a Shiite Muslim town near Nassairya, in southern Iraq. Children are said to be among the dead." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the wounded number over seventy-five. BBC video shows the remains of a charred car and a street being hosed down as people cry and hug one another and an angry male waives a blood soaked cloth at the camera. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) quotes survivor Abu Sara stating, "It felt as if there was an earthquake beneath me." Sky News reports, "The police chief in Bathaa, a predominantly Shia Muslim town 25 miles west of Nasiriyah, has been fired following the attack. Angry residents protested when he arrived at the scene of the explosion with the local governor." How angry? Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports the crowd "began stoning the police, blaming them for lax secuirty." Al Jazeera quotes eye witness Hussein Salim declaring, "The police neglected their job. How could the car enter the market? It was crowed with people." The Telegraph of London notes that "an inquiry has been launched to determine whether the police could have prevented the bombing." The United Nations' Staffan de Mistura has declared the bombing "a cruel crime against innocent civilians that aims to derail Iraq' stability." 35 is the numbr many outlets are going with for the dead (the UN is also going with 35). CBS News offers a video report here.

Charlie D'Agata: Iraqis tried to console each other after a violent bomb blast robbed them of the people they loved. Police say the car bomb tore through a crowded market about 200 miles south of Baghdad. Dozens are dead -- including several women and children. Many more wounded. 'People were just sitting there selling their goods,' he says, 'then the bomb went off.' The attack comes just weeks before the US forces are due to withdraw from major towns and cities in Iraq. It's the deadliest blast to hit the area in almost six years. Nobody has taken responsibility but a number of recent assaults have been blamed on Sunni militants linked to al Qaeda. Many fear as America pulls back its troops militants will step in and step up their attacks. Charlie D'Agata, CBS News.

"They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." That's Danny Chism
quoted by Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) yesterday. We noted it in yesterday's snapshot and Danny Chism's son, the late Jonathan Bryan Chism, is in the news today. McClatchy Newspapers buries a major story by Richard Mauer entitled "Who was behind Karbala assualt, in which 5 Americans died." January 23, 2007 the Department of Defense announced that four US soldiers "died in Jan 20 in Karbala, Iraq, from wounds sustained when their patrol was ambushed while conducting dismounted operations." The four were identified as Jacob N. Fritz, Jonathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican. Also killed in the attack was Brian S. Freeman. Bryan Chism was from Louisiana and WAFB reported January 31, 2007 that the military was "trying to cover up the details of an incident in Iraq," that the four "were actually abducted from a tightly-secured American compound by an insurgent commando team. The insurgents were driving American vehicles, wearing American uniforms and carrying American weapons. In fact, on eof the kidnappers is reported to have even had blonde hair." Over two years later, Richard Mauer has uncovered additional details. "The men inside were dressed in U.S. army camouflage and carried American weapons," he reports. "They knew enough English to bark simple commands and offer polite greetings. They knew exactly how the U.S. soldiers would defend the compound. They knew that the compound's most important room was the command and control center -- with its radio base stations -- and they knew that at 6 p.m., the soldiers in the room would be off guard and relaxing. They even knew that the two most senior American officers in Karbala would be in the room next door." Via a Freedom of Information request, McClatchy just obtained an investigative report by the military which was completed February 27th and which "put the onus for intelligence-gathering and ground support [in the attack] on Iraqi police, America's supposed ally. Not only were police negligent in surrendering their guard positions to the intruders without firing a shot or warning the Americans, the report says, but investigators found strong circumstantial evidence that police officials gave the attackers key intelligence and may have been complicit in allowing an advance force of attackers into the compound."

Now drop back to yesterday's news. The US military traded the Iraqi prisoner said to be responsible for the murders -- traded him for five British hostages. Laith al-Khazali was traded. Was freed. Which is why Danny Chism was asking, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it." At
Bryan's MySpace page, his brother Steve left this message May 25th:Sup bro? Well its memorial day and it sucks pretty bad to still not have you here. We miss you alot, dad says he misses you too and thinks about you all the time. Seems like people are starting to forget about you or something, wtf, the last comment you got was a month ago, i dk, maybe people are just busy these days. Well R.I.P. and remember your gunna be an uncle in a few more months. Love you bro and miss you alot. His brother remembers him. His family remembers him. The government that sent him to Iraq? They apparently don't give a damn. They didn't even have the decency to give his family a heads up before releasing his presumed killer.

Five US citizens were arrested in Iraq over the weekend allegedly as part of the investigation into the murder of Jim Kitterman in the Green Zone last month. The US government and the Iraqi government refused to identify the five. John Feeney told the press the five included his father Donald Feeney Jr. and his brother Donald Feeney III. John Feeney has repeatedly maintained to various news outlets that his brother and father were innocent.
CNN reports that one has been released today and the other four are due to be released shortly. Michael Christie (Reuters) identifies the released as Don Feeney Jr. and identifies those still held as Don "Buddy" Feeney (John's brother), Mark Bridges, Jason Jones and Micah Milligan. Christie does not report that the other four are due to be released.

Spency Ackerman -- the never-ending joke. The man The New Republic dumped (how bad do you have to be to get fired by The New Republic? Seriously)
showed up this morning at 10:18 thrilled with Alissa J. Rubin's article in the New York Times and excited over the July referendum. Poor Spency The Spazz, this morning (long bfore he posted) it was already known that the referendum had been moved to January. In fact, we'll just quote ourselves from this morning for the topic Rubin was reporting on. In this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin offers "Iraq Moves Ahead With Vote on U.S. Security Pact" and that's the problem with print, her article's already out of date. Alsumaria reports, "Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh announced that the government plans to conduct a referendum on the security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington in parallel with general elections." Rubin's report rests on the vote taking place in July. The vote has been pushed back to January. (Presuming general elections are held in January. They were supposed to be held in December but got pushed back to January. Who knows if they'll be pushed back again?)Rubin's covering the Status Of Forces Agreement. The Iraqi Parliament voted on it Thanksgiving Day in 2008. 149 members of Parliament voted for the treaty. There are 275 members of Parliament. The treaty then went to the country's Presidency Council for the vote. The SOFA passed in the Parliament due to many members going AWOL and due to those present insisting on a national referendum to give the Iraqi people a voice on the issue. That referendum was supposed to take place next month. Rubin reports:But senior lawmakers appeared to think that a change in the date was unlikely. Under current law, the referendum would be held on July 30. In order to change the date, the cabinet would have to submit a new draft law on the timing of the vote to Parliament, which would then have to move it through the lengthy parliamentary process for considering legislation."The date was an essential part of the security agreement," said Ali Adeeb, a member of the Dawa Party, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.The Parliament speaker, Ayad al-Sammaraie, a Sunni lawmaker from the Iraqi Islamic Party, held the same view. "No one can say they don't want a referendum, it is a law," Mr. Sammaraie said in a recent interview. Rubin refers to how a vote against the SOFA would mean that a year from now the US would be forced out of Iraq. She's referring to Article 30 The Period for which the Agreement is Effective, paragraph three: "This Agreement shall terminate one year after a Party provides written notification to the other Party to that effect." The parties are the US and Iraq. The 'binding' contract was never binding ( "This Agreement shall be amended only with the official agrement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional proceudures in effect in both countries."). Only the first year could be seen as such and even then it could be altered in terms of details. 2009 was only binding in that it would cover 2009 (meaning that even if the Iraqi government declared January 2, 2009 "We are breaking this agreement!" they would be bound to it for one year). As Rubin notes there is hostility to US forces. She offers that only the Kurds might vote strongly in favor of the SOFA -- and that this expectation might result in increasing Arabic objection to the SOFA.

Yesterday Boston's The Edge offered Seth Michael Donsky's "
Life Only Gets Worse for LGBT Iraqis :: Part 2" (click here for the earlier part one):

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Program, substantiates the claim that Iraqi government is tacitly encouraging the violence by ignoring the victims and overlooking the perpetuators. "It's true," he says, " that the government has been unable to restrain violence in the past, particularly during the virtual civil war of 2004-2007--but it has a vested interest in denying widespread violence directed at any group is returning in the supposedly 'stabilized' Iraq."In early April, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, in response to questions from the Western media and from Western embassies in Baghdad, acknowledged that gays were being killed, but claimed that is was all the consequence of familial, or tribal, violence. "It was a pro forma acknowledgement," says Long. Long believes the acknowledgement was primarily meant to distract attention from the organized nature of the killings and the involvement of the militias. As recently as two weeks ago ABC news reported, in conjunction with the murder of the two young, gay men in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, that an unnamed Iraqi military source linked the killings to tribal violence and not militias. They quoted their source as saying that the men who were killed were "sexual deviants," saying that their tribes killed them to restore "family honor." "Unfortunately," says Long, "much of the Western press, as well as LGBT activists in the US and Europe, have bought the Ministry's version and have stopped asking systematic questions about the militia's involvement or even the government's own role."

The United Nations made a statement today on the bombings. In addition the United Nations
offered a statement on the death of reporter Alass Abdel-Wehab (he died last month, the UN offered their statement today). To date, they have offered no statement on any of the many gays, lesbians and transgendered Iraqis killed for who they were. They have not called out the targeting or the persecution of the LGBT community in Iraq. The US State Dept has offered lies and silence. They alternate between the two. US House Rep Jared Polis sent a letter to the then-acting US ambassador to Iraq asking that she follow up on the reports of persecution and targeting. Chris Hill is now the US Ambassador to Iraq and became it shortly after Polis' request. He has made no public statement. Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) interviews him and the topic is not addressed (by either Chon or Hill) and you can click here for an edited transcript of the interview. The UK's Lesbian and Gay Foundation is calling for a march in Manchester this Saturday and they note: "There were 452 homophobic hate crime reports in Greater Manchester from 2008 to 2009. On a national level, last year alone we lost Michael Causer, Ronald Dixon and Gerry Edwards in alleged homophobic attacks. On a global scale we have seen anti gay campaigns in Iraq which have resulted in the deaths of over sixty men, Eastern European gay Pride demonstrations outlawed or broken up, and the passing of Proposition 8 in California has resulted in inequality for the state's gay population." But the UN and the State Dept remain silent as does Barry O and the White House. The White House that no longer pushes to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the White House which invites homophobes for inaugural events (just as Barry O put homophobes on stage repeatedly during his primary and general campaigns in 2007 and 2008).

Today Ian Kelly, State Dept spokesperson the BBC raised the issue: "The other week Muqtada al-Sadr said that the depravity of homosexuality must be eradicated. And while he went on to say that he was not advocating violence, there obviously has been a lot of rather gruesome violence directed at gays and lesbians in Iraq. So I was wondering if State has any reaction to that? And then off the back of that, is there any extra responsibility that the U.S. feels towards these groups who were, by their accounts, safer and more free to live their lives under Saddam?"

Ian Kelly: Well, let me say that, in general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we've been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise the issue with senior officials from the Government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

Human rights traning is not, as the State Dept does it, LGBT rights training. That's covered in Seth Michael Donsky's "
Life Only Gets Worse for LGBT Iraqis :: Part 2" and Ian Kelly knows that and chose to use 'human rights training' as a smokescreen. It's a real shame that the press refuses to explore the issue and that when it's finally raised we get more tired questions on the same never-ending issues that have been asked at the US State Dept for over thirty years now. Truly appalling. Is the press corps on automatic?

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


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad mortar attack which left four people wounded, another Baghdad mortar attack which hit a home and also wounded four and a Kirkuk explosion which killed 2 people (possibly two people placing a bomb in the road for others to die from). Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing which left two police officers injured. Telegraph of London notes a Falluja motorcycle bombing which left five people wounded. Yesterday a Falluja motorcycle bombing left nine injured.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 police officer wounded by sniper fire in Mosul.


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.

Today the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan released [PDF format warning] "
At What Cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan Interim Report June 2009" which found:

** Neither the military nor the federal civilian acquisition workforces haveexpanded to keep pace with recent years' enormous growth in the number andvalue of contingency contracts. ** Contracting agencies must provide better and more timely training foremployees who manage contracts and oversee contractors' performance. Inparticular, members of the military assigned to perform on‐site performanceoversight as contracting officer's representatives often do not learn of theassignment until their unit arrives in theater, and then find insufficient time andInternet access to complete necessary training. ** Contract auditors are not employed effectively in contingency contracting. ** Contracting officials make ineffective use of contract withhold provisionsrecommended by their auditors, and many contract audit findings andrecommendations are not properly resolved. ** The government still lacks clear standards and policy on inherentlygovernmental functions. This shortcoming has immediate salience given thedecisions to use contractors in armed‐security and life‐support tasks for militaryunits.

Robert O'Harrow Jr. (Washington Post) observes of the report, "It's a sad reminder about just how bad the contracting system has been in recent years, and all the billions that have been wasted because of poor oversight, poor planning and plain old corruption." The report actually offers some blame as opposed to the usual pretend no one could have forseen the problems: "The Department of Defense has failed to provide enough staff to perform adequate contract oversight." US House Rep Stephen Lynch put it more bluntly today, "It's only happening because it's taxpayers' dollars." Exactly. The co-chairs of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Michael Thibault and Chistopher Shays, appeared before the the US House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee and that's where Lynch made his remark. The co-chairs reviewed the report in their testimony and classified as an "immediate concern" the possibility that waste will take place as US forces draw down in Iraq as a result of lack of oversight and the handling and disposing of property. In Iraq, there is also a shortage of US government employees who posses the qualifications to monitor and supervise private security and this is on top of the fact that the 'security' is often ill trained and ignorant of the Rules for the Use of Force. US House Rep John F. Tierney chairs the committee. In his opening statements, he outlined potential problems (I'd say they were problems):

US House Rep John Tierney: It is also important that the Commission break new ground. There is no sense in creating an oversight entity that merely duplicates work that is on-going by Inspectors General or the Government Accountability Office. Congress already receives those reports. I look forward to hearing what the Commission is finding that we have not already heard about. In short, I expect our witnesses this morning to ensure us that our investment in their activities was a worthwhile decision. We in Congress --as the sponsors of the Commission -- need to hear about any challenges or hindrances the Commission faces in conducting its work. For example, I am concerned that the Commission will not be able to fulfill its mandate without a semi-permanent presence in theater. I would note that, according to the report, the Commission has only made two trips to date to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am also concerned that the current one year mandate of the Commission might allow responsible government officials and culpable contractors to wait it out. The Commission's charge is too important to suffer defeat at the hands of obstruction. Furthermore, I do not want to see a lack of subpoena power deter the Commission from going after recalcitrant parties.

Two trips? December '08 was the first trip according to Chris Shays testimony to the Subcommittee today. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was just in Iraq last February (Feb. 26 through the first week of March). The Committee can send members there why can't the Commission? And why do their lengthy report seem to be a repeat of GAO reports? John Duncan pinned them down on the fact that they'd only visited three bases in Iraq. With no sense of awareness, let alone irony, Michael Thibault wanted to delcare that, "You have to spend the time in the country" to know what's going on in Iraq. Which leaves the Commission where?

Chair Tierney noted, "This Subcomittee stands ready to assist the Commission in this regard as appropriate." It's not as if the Commission is denied anything. But it really does appear to be a whitewash and an attempt to run out the clock. Jeff Flake, Ranking Member, would state in his opening remarks that "there's never too much oversight that can be done" and that may be true in theory but equally true is that the Comission was not set up to offer retreads of GAO reports. Tierney noted that the Committee points to suggestions that have not been enacted and pointed out that knowing why they weren't being implemented (legislation inaction, not enough hearings, etc) would be helpful. (Translation, Committee, that's your job.) Thibault noted there were 1200 plus recommendations and stated they do intend to trace each one, to start tracing each one. To start. Some day, I suppose. As The Mighty Mighty Bosstones once put it. Under questioning from Flake, Thibault admitted all the 1200 were from other bodies.

Along with the two co-chairs, Commission members Charles Tiefer and Grant S. Green also offered testimony on the first panel. Tierney had all the witnesses sworn in before any testimony was offered -- a detail many subcommittees and committees tend to skip (but shouldn't). Tiefer's response to the Subcommittee about wrapping things up as the US prepares to turn the lights off may go to the problems with the Commission. And it might help for someone to inform Tierney that the US will NOT be turning out the lights in Iraq when they leave (whenver that is) because Iraq is a country with its own population and Tiefer's remarks were as irritating as his deeply nasal voice.

"We're absolutely going to do that," said Tierney. About looking into contracts. They're going to do that. They're going to look into contracts. They're going to look into the recommendations and the status on each, they're going to . . . . What do they actually do? This wasn't a meeting to discuss projections, this was a hearing to discuss what they had done and what they'd learned and the reality was that they really had not done a great deal. And that may go to why so few members of the Subcomittee bothered to show up for the hearing.

Republican John Duncan noted that "very few people are willing to vote against anything the Defense Department wants" and that this reluctance appears to continue even in the face of revelations of contract abuse and more. And he is correct. He pointed out:

According to the Congressional Research Service, we're now spending, when we add in the regular budget, the supplemental bills and we're getting ready to vote on another supplemental bill here either this week or a few days and yet in the emergency appropriations and all the money that they throw into the omnibus -- according to the CRS -- we're spending more on defense than all the other nations in the world combined and it seems to me that a lot of it is generated because the defense contractors hire all the retired admirals and generals and then they caught the revolving door at the Pentagon. But somebody is going to have to -- I don't think we can just keep on wasting and blowing money in the way that we're doing.

Tierney also expressed puzzlement over why the report did not first go to the Subcommittee members and not released by the press until the hearing. AP had the report on Sunday.

On war spending,
Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) reports US Senator Lindsey Graham states he will block the supplemental if a non-related provision isn't in it. [Graham and US Senator Joe Lieberman are attempting to force in a measure which would allow Barry O to refuse to release torture photos.] Graham states he will block the bill. Graham is threatening, pay attention, to do what US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed could not be done, claimed for the last two years could not be done. It could always be done. The Democrats could have blocked spending any time they wanted to.

Alsumaria reports on allegations that the US is preventing corruption investigations in Iraq: "Head of the integrity commission Rahim Al Ugaili criticized US authorities for not assisting in the investigations of probable corruption by US officials and companies in the wake of 2003. Al Ugaili considered that US officials and contractors' immunity from Iraqi law has prevented the commission from investigating into the spending of Iraqi funds by the coalition power. He added that Iraq is cooperating with the US inspector in exchanging intelligence; yet, the cooperation is unilateral Iraqi wise."

Quickly, Gloria Feldt offers her thoughts on the assassination of Dr. George Tiller
here. In addition, she's hosting a pre-Father's Day panel June 20th at Brooklyn Museum to discuss the women's movement and how it has changed men and women. The panel begins at 2:00 pm. Among those scheduled to participate on the panel is Susan Faludi. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now! -- watch, listen or read) spoke with abortion provider Dr. Warren Hern about Dr. Tiller today and about the assault on abortion rights, democracy and more. Maria Hinojosa will speak with Dr. Hern and with Dr. Leroy Carhart to discuss terrorism and abortion rights on this week's NOW on PBS (which begins airing Friday on most PBS stations, check local listings).

the washington postanthony shadidthe new york times
rod norland
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
robert h. reidqassim abdul-zahrarobert o'harrow
perry bacon jr.npralsumaria
alissa j. rubin
gina chonthe wall street journal
susan faludi
now on pbs
amy goodmandemocracy now