Friday, March 19, 2010

They are the problem

The Iraq War's seventh anniversary is tomorrow.

Wonder how it reached seven years?

They are the problem.

All of Panhandle Media. I went to Znet and saw only one, ONLY ONE, article on Iraq today. Are we supposed to be grateful?

I went to The Progressive and found nothing, ZILCH, on the Iraq War.

I went to The Nation and they had one article. A bad piece by Greg Mitchell.

They can do write about everything else in the world -- including Eric Massa's sexuality -- at The Nation, just not the Iraq War.

In These Times has one article.

Are you seeing where the problem is?

Remember when that nutty Mary Scott Oconnor would grandstand on the Iraq War? Those days are over judging by the current content at My Left Wing.

If any of those people could get off their ass, the Iraq War might be over. But they have other things to do. Having parlayed the Iraq War into a few seconds of fame.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 19, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the ballot counting continues, protests take place against the wars and others gear up, Lt Dan Choi stands strong (as usual), we revisit yesterday's Don't Ask Don't Tell hearing because, among other reasons, Crazy Ass Joe Sheehan got some press attention no one called him out for calling a well known woman a man (just breezed right by, did it?) and more.

Let's start with NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show where Iraq had a cameo appearance.

Diane Rehm: Let's talk about the Iraq election results. We still have no final tally on these votes, Abderrahim?

Abderrahim Foukara: Yes, the counting is still going on and there are obviously conflicting reports coming out of -- or at least conflicting interpretations of what's going on in Iraq. One interpreteation is that no matter what the security challenges are, Iraq has definitely crossed a security threshold. You now have Iraqis actually going to the polls to fight the rather than fight it out on the streets. But the other interpretation is that given the results that are coming out so far the signs are not encouraging that sectarianism is over and done with in Iraq. The, uhm, tension between Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister, and Nouri al-Maliki the current present prime minister. Nouri Maliki representing the Shi'ites. Ayad Allawi, although he is a Shi'ite, he's actually representing the Sunnis in this election. It has come down to sec -- political sectarianism strife in this election.

Elise Labott: Well they're neck and neck. And who ever's party receives the greatest number of votes is goign to have a chance to try and form a coalition and that's when the real horse racing begins: The post-election jockeying to build a coalition and this could cause some tensions. I was just speaking to some US officials in Iraq, this morning and, you know, some might call it sectarianism others might just call it politics. These are politicians that are trying to jockey for position and influence and I heard everybody's up going to visit the Kurds and the question remains: What is going to happen when you have a winning party? Who is going to be -- is that person going to accept the results? Allawi might accept the results but if Maliki loses by a few votes, he has a big constistuenty in the country. Is he going to stand down? And that's when we might start to see some

Elise Labott just outlined some very serious issues but if you think that prompted a discussion, you didn't hear the show. It's a pity when Diane's 'experts' were calling the election for Nouri al-Maliki and speaking of Ayad Allawi's party as "lagging behind" that Diane wasn't able to interrupt a guest (Elise above) with a 'late breaking' announcement regarding Barack and an Israeli leader having a meeting. Wow! Amazing. A US president meets with the Israelis. The wall's really coming down, right? They opened the show with that story or 'story' and gas bagged forever and a day without saying much of anything. And just when listeners are getting some grasp on the Iraqi elections, it's time to return to the tired topic of how low will the US go for Israel. Even though they'd easily spent ten minutes on that at the start of the program (AT LEAST TEN MINUTES). And even though this is what?

"A woman started crying as she read the names of the people killed during the first seven years of the Iraq war,"
reports Paul Deaton (Blog for Iowa). "Today marks the beginning of the eighth year of US participation in this military action and it is hard not to be affected by reading the names of those who died. A bell ran after each name was read. It is especially disheartening when we realize that in addition to 43 Iowans, uncounted Iraqi men, women and children lost their lives during the Iraq war."

Could someone ask The Diane Rehm Show if today was some sort of annivesary for Israel since they were so quick to cut off Elise and change the subject back to a topic they'd already gas bagged on?
On PRI's The Takeaway today . . .

John Hockenberry: Seven years ago today, we began to hear sounds like this.

[Gunfire and explosions.]

John Hockenberry: The invasion of Iraq was beginning. Of course, the people in Baghdad were hearing those sounds first hand. The irony today is that even though this war which dominated the headlines for years after 2003, it's because of a lack of news that today we are permitted really to look back at the seventh anniversary of a war that's now, in a very real sense, faded from the headlines but is very much a part of the US experience. Here's George W. Bush speaking to the American people on March 20, 2003.

War Criminal and High Ranking Liar George W. Bush: My fellow citizens. At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free it's people and to defend the world from grave danger.

John Hockenberry: Well what the military and the coalition forces discovered in Iraq quickly was that there was no "grave danger," that the disarming of Iraq had already been begun by Saddam Hussein himself and that the freeing of Iraqi people is something that political forces in Iraq are still grappling with even today.

I don't care for Michael Iskoff and that may be the only time his name has appeared properly at this site (as opposed to the many pet names I give that dog). Nor do we link to him. But PRI's The Takeaway remembered Iraq on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the illegal war while others just wanted to gas bag about Israel today.
So The Takeaway segment gets a link and I even mention that man's name accurately. Do not expect that it will ever happen again. Also on The Takeaway today, John Hockenberry spoke with Iraq War veterans Matt Gallagher (author of Kaboom: Embracking the Suck in a Savage Little War) and and Mike Scotti (Severe Clear) neither of whom expect the Iraq War to end any time soon. John Hockenberry offered, "Where was Stanley McChrystal seven years ago? The commander of forces in Aghanistan? He was actually running the briefings at the Pentagon. He was assigned to run the Iraq briefings at the Pentagon seven years ago. Now, of course, he's commanding forces in Afghanistan."

As bad as starting an illegal war is continuing one. At the tent meetings of the Cult of St. Barack throughout America in early 2008, Barack was fond of screaming into his mike, "We want to end the war now!" Of course Samantha Power, while still his chief foreign policy advisor, told the BBC News that Barack didn't know what he was going to do about Iraq and wouldn't make a decision until after he was in the White House. That didn't stop Barry O from letting the people think he was Mr. Peace and Mr. End The War Now!

War Criminal Barack Obama speaking in Santa Barbara in early 2008: And most of all the American people are tired of this disastorous war in Iraq that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. A war that has cost us half-a-trillion dollars and thousands of lives and has not made us more safe but has diminished our standing in the world. They want an end to that! And they want an end now!
The White House changed parties and that's about all the change America or Iraq saw. Blood brothers Bush and Barack are so alike that, after winning the election, Barry O suddenly loved the SOFA -- the same Status Of Forces Agreement he termed "unConstitutional" when he was running for office. The same SOFA he protested.
Li Laifang (Xinhua) reports that Iraq today still has no security, still lags (too mild a term for it) in reconstruction. That's on Barack. He's the one who wanted to be president. There have been so surprises since he was sworn in. The economic problems were known starting in the fall of 2008. The Iraq War and the Afghanistan War were known. He came in under the rhubric of 'change' and he's done nothing except repeatedly sing, "Oh come let us adore me."

Protests will take place tomorrow against the Iraq War and Afghanistan War. Actions are scheduled across the country and the best known are the ones to be held in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Michael E. Ruane (Washington Post) reports, "The protest, against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will begin with a noon rally in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. The march will follow." Ruane's article also has a video of people speaking out.Cindy Sheehan: You know some people have abandoned -- in the anti-war movement -- have abandoned peace since Obama's been president. But we need to recreate a movement. And that's what we're trying to do here at this march. We're trying to not just build a camp, but build a movement. Military Families Speak Out's Maggie Pondolfino: I feel like I have a heightened responsibility as a military family to lend my voice to the antiwar movement because these wars have gone on too long and they continue to kill our loved ones. My son is currently deployed in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan and he also did a tour in Iraq.Cindy Sheehan is briefly on Democracy Now! today (blink and you'll miss her.) Fight Back! interviews Jess Sundin (Freedom Road Socialist Organization) about tomorrow's actions.Fight Back!: What's going on with the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan?Sundin: After all these years, Iraq and Afghanistan are each occupied by more than 100,000 U.S. troops, plus the soldiers of U.S. allies. The U.S. runs prisons in both countries, operates checkpoints along roadways and controls government affairs. In Iraq, over a million people have been killed by occupying forces - every family has lost someone. Nearly 6 million Iraqis are refugees, having fled their homes and, in some cases, the country. The infrastructure is in a shambles, where most Iraqis have limited access to electricity, adequate housing, drinking water and sanitation services. Unemployment and underemployment are over 40% and there is no sign that any of this will improve. The people of Afghanistan are being hammered hard by Obama's policy of bringing in more troops - there are more than twice as many American soldiers there now than there was under Bush. And more are on their way. Top commanders promise this will be a brutal year - we have regular reports of civilian casualties. The troops plan to lay siege to more cities, as they did to Marjah last month, promising to make a whole country of ghost towns. There is no chance of victory for the U.S. - the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to resist the occupations and fight to control their own countries and futures.World Can't Wait and A.N.S.W.E.R. are among the organizations sponsoring the DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles actions tomorrow and you can refer to those websites for more information. Local actions are taking place around the country and we'll provide links on two. Karen Kucher (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports the details of Saturday's actions in San Diego. In New York, there will be an action in Nanuet. Jane Lerner (Lower Hudson Valley Journal News) reports on the details of that action.

There is plenty of outrage on the left for Americans on the left to demand that the Congress and the White House be responsive. It's ignored mainly because so many people have decided Barry O is King and they're loyal subjects. Not buying into that is Ian Wilder. From his "
Is Kucinich just herding sheep to slaughter?" (On The Wilder Side):IW: While faux progressive sites like Daily Kos and MoveOn have threatened Kucinich for not voting for the toothless health insurance bill, independent media site like Black Agenda Report and Democracy Now! have lobbed softballs his way. Even Nader refused to directly criticize Kucinich in his roll in mollifying a potential break away of progressives from the Democratic party over the Afghanistan/Iraq Wars and Health Care Reform. We need leaders who not afraid to speak truth to power, even when it's their friends. We need a political party that is willing to stand up for the best interests of the voter, not defense contractors and insurance companies. And where is a real voice that is not afraid to speak truth to power like Cynthia McKinney? Is leaving her out part of Democracy Now's continual policy of marginalizing the Green Party?

Protests against the wars took place today but the true example of protest could be found yesterday in DC. "You have been told that the President has a plan! But Congressman Barney Frank confirmed to us this week that the President still is not fully committed to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. And if we don't seize this moment it may not happen for a very long time."
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports that Iraq War veteran Lt Dan Choi made those remarks outside the White House where he and Capt Jim Piertrangelo were arrested for their activism. Theola Labbe-DeBose (Washington Post) explains, "Shortly before 2 p.m., Park Police came upon two men who had chained themselves to a section of the iron fence on the north side, said David Schlosser, a police spokeman. Officers told the men they did not have a permit for their demonstration and gave them three warnings about the violation." Queerty offers their analysis and we'll excerpt this section:They hijacked HRC's rally. Normally we wouldn't commend a group for taking over another organization's event. That's just rude, and it's like, plan your own shindig, jerks. But HRC wastes millions of its donors' dollars every year, so if anyone is going to make a HRC rally effective, it'll be a third party. [. . .] Like Get Equal. From this HRC statement, it appears Choi wasn't even supposed to speak at all, and instead, through a relationship with Solmonese, secured a chance to take the mic at the last minute: "There's been some confusion about Lt. Dan Choi's role in the rally. As Joe Solmonese was walking to the stage, Lt. Choi asked Joe if he could have a speaking role. Joe explained that it wasn't his sole decision to make on the spot given that there was already an established program that included Kathy Griffin, other organization and veterans. After Choi then spoke with Kathy Griffin, she agreed to bring him up on stage and speak to the crowd during her remarks. Lt. Choi in his speech called on the crowd to march on the White House. Joe Solmonese along with Eric Alva and others felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal. This does nothing to diminish the actions taken by Lt. Choi and others. This is the nature of social change and everyone has a role to play." (Robin McGehee reportedly asked Joe Solmonese if she could take part in the rally, but was rebuffed; it was Kathy and Bravo's rally, she was supposedly told.) But what was supposed to be a camera op for HRC and Bravo became the mere launching pad for Choi's stunt. Nobody will remember the HRC rally for anything other than Choi taking it over. They got Kanye'd.
Yusef Najafi (Metro Weekly) reports that Choi and Pietrangelo entered not guilty pleas this morning in court and are taking their cases to trial. In addition, they've posted video of Dan Choi speaking outside the courthouse.

Dan Choi: There are other people who are oppressed that have the chains on them in their hearts. There were many times when people would say when you go and get arrested, it's difficult because your hands are restrained and the movement is a little bit stymied or halted on the physical level. But it is my hope that the larger movement, even with the chains on it, will do nothing but grow to the point where it cannot be controlled by anything but that freeing and that dignified expression of getting arrested for what you know is absolutely morally right. There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me and I thought of all the other people that were still trapped, that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts and we might have been caged up physically but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation or with a cocktail party or with tokens that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get his dignity back, being chained up and being arrested, that's how you get your dignity conferred back on you. So I think that my actions, my call, is to every leader -- not just gay leaders, I'm talking any leader who believes in America, that the promises of America can be manifest. We're going to do it again. And we're going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest and we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people, we will not go away .

From Dan's heroic actions and stance to Congress.
Yesterday's snapshot included moments from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Carl Levin is the Comittee Chair. Appearing before the senators were Lt Jr Grade Jenny Kopfstein, Maj Michael Almy and Gen John Sheehan -- the first two were drummed out of the military for their sexuality, the third was rewarded with a lengthy career (possibly in part due his homophobia).

Senator Kay Hagan: Mr. Almy and Ms. Kopfstein -- Kopfstein. Although the policy is referred to as Don't Ask, Don't Tell, as the law is currently written members of the armed forces are involuntarily separated regardless how their sexual orientation is disclosed. And under existing law, the quality of your service does not serve as the criteria for retention due to a presumed disruption to unit cohesion and discipline. During your discharge proceedings, what impact did the recommendations from your leadership within your chain of command have on the decision to involuntarily seperate you from your service? And I think, Mr. Almy, you were speaking about that.
Maj Michael D. Almy: Thank you, Senator. To my knowledge it made absolutely no effect on the Air Force's decision not to retain me. I had commanders I had survived with, I had superiors, peers and subordinates all who knew my records, who knew my achievements as an officer and supported me. And even though they knew the full story, still wanted me retained in the Air Force and still wanted me back as their leader. And, to my knowledge, that had zero effect on the Air Force's decision whether or not to retain me.

Senator Kay Hagan: Ma'am?

Lt Jr Grade Jenny L. Kopfstein: Senator, in my case, I was honored and lucky that both of my commanding offers came to my discharge board. They were not required to do so. They took time out of their busy schedules to come and testify on my behalf. The board -- under Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- its hands were basically tied. I had made an admission and despite the vocifierous recommendations of both of my commanding officers, 206s, the board's hands were tied and they had to vote to discharge me.

Senator Kay Hagan: Mr. Almy, in your earlier discussion, I think you were talking about almost a general feeling of acceptance more from the younger generation than the older generation for homosexuals in the military. Do you -- can you elaborate on that? And ma'am too?

Maj Michael D. Almy: Senator I think that -- I think you probably hit the nail on the head there, I think in my mind, in my personal experience this is a generational issue. I have great respect for General Sheehan for his leadership and his sacrifice to our nation. From what I've seen a lot of senior officers, senior military leaders from that generation are the ones who are holding on to maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell. With notable exceptions. Adm [Mike] Mullen [Joint Chiefs of Staff], General [Colin the Blot] Powell, General [John] Shalikashvili. In my experience and that of my peers, the young men and women coming into the military today, the 20-somethings and most of the 30-somethings, which is the largest demographic in the military, for that group of people this is largely a non-issue. There are -- obviously, there are some xecptions but, as I stated earlier, that generation of men and women are far more comfortable with gays and lesbians because, chances are, that they know one.

Senator Kay Hagan: General Sheehan, do you have any feelings on the generational attitudes?

Gen John Sheehan: I absolutely admit that I am old.

Senator Kay Hagan: (Laughing with Sheehan) We all are.

And let's end the exchange there so Sheehan is able to tell at least one truth. And we won't have to note him using "totalitary" when he meant "totality."

Senator Kay Hagan: Ma'am?

Lt Jr Grade Jenny L. Kopfstein: Senator, I agree with Major Almy, the younger generation definitly has a diferent view on this issue. I'll give you a personal story. And I certainly don't have the general's experience but on September 11, 2001 my ship was in port in Seal Beach, California when this -- when we were attacked. And I was standing in the wardroom watching the television, watching events unfold. And one of the young Petty Officers that worked for me ran into the wardroom and said, "Ma'am, ma'am, request permission to load the guns." I was the Ordnance Officer so I was responsible for our anti-aircraft and self-defense weapons, so I turned to the Captain and I said, "Sir, request permission to load the guns." And he said, "Permission granted." And we did. And I can tell you for a fact, in that moment, neither my captain nor the Petty Officer that worked for me, cared one whit about my sexuality.

Senator Kay Hagan: Thank you. The phrase Don't Ask, Don't Tell implies a mutual agreement where the services would not inquire about the sexual preferences of our members and the military personnel would not publicly articulate your sexual oreintation. However, under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, we still have instances of very capable service members being involuntarily separated due to investigations initiated on tips provided by third parties. And this, Mr. Almy, in your situation, do you believe that private correspondence via e-mail while deployed constitutes a breech of the existing policy or do you believe that your case serves an illustration of how the policy is flawed?

Maj Michael D. Almy: Senator, I think it's probably a little of both. I didn't tell. The Air Force asked. And I refused to answer the question. So I think, while it's true I never made a personal -- or a public statement to the military, I was still thrown out. I think that illustrates a flawed implementation of the current law and my understanding of what Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates has called for a review as far as the so-called third party outings would have had a direct bearing on my case and in all likelihood I would still be on active duty. Beyond that, I think it also illustrates that this law is making our nation and our military weaker by discharging qualified men and women who are patriotic and whose only crime is that the may or may not be gay and lesbian. All the while, we're actively recruiting people who aren't qualified to fill some of those vacancies.

And now we'll move over to Roland Burris. The senator has been a leader on this issue publicly since the spring of 2009. He and his office have made public statements on this issue, he has participated in events in his home state (Illinois) to show his support for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We're going into it and Burris does an amazing job but Sheehan? I'm starring two things. The first, a term I will not have appear here. That is not the term for Americans in the service, in the government, in any job. We don't use that word as a country and we haven't in many years. The second is another 'either he's an idiot or he's insulting' moment.

Senator Roland Burris: General, I'll challenge you on age. I'm pretty much your age. If you've served 35-years in, I think --

Gen John Sheehan: Sir, I'll conceed to you.

Senator Roland Burris: I'm sorry?

Gen John Sheehan: I will conceed age to you.

Senator Roland Burris: Thank you. And I can remember, General, when I was Attorney General of my state, how difficult it was for me to make a change But on my staff there was a young lesbian lady who would sit down with me each day and explain to me the problems of persons who were lesbian or gay that never ocurred to me because I grew up in a different era. We talked about them, we laughed about them, it was something -- yib-yib-yib, you know, it was all these derogatory terms that we used to use. And, General, it also deals with the racial question. Do you know a fellow named Jackie Robinson? You ever heard of him? [Gen Sheehan nods.] You talk about the bright and the best. We don't know if we've got the bright and the best serving in our military service until we let everyone serve with their best distinction, best ability. The bright and the best may not be Ever hear of a couple of tennis players named the Williams sisters? You ever hear of the young man who had a little personal problem called Tiger Woods? We didn't know how golf really could be until a Black person got into the competition. They were all eliminated from the game of golf. All eliminated from the game of baseball, General. Eliminated from type of sports which were for Whites only. Now we're saying the military is for straights only. General, I think we need to put a moratorium on this situation right now. Don't let anyone be discharged from the military because of their orientation until we can change this law -- which I'm currently supporting a co-sponsoring of Senator [Joe] Lieberman's bill to change this law. General, could you just give me a little insight into your background? Did you ever command Black soldiers under your command?

Gen John Sheehan: Sir, the American military has been in-in-integrated since President . . . Truman was the president.

Senator Roland Burris: 1947.

Gen John Sheehan: Yes.

Senator Roland Burris: By executive order, sir.

Gen John Sheehan: I have never commanded a unit that there were not Hispanics, Blacks, Whites . . . and Ori**tals.* At one time, during the Vietnam War, as both Senator Lieberman and the Chairman will remember, 65% of my rifle companies were Black. They sustained 40% of the casualties in Vietnam soldiers. They understand what it means to be in harm's way. So race in the military is not an issue. This institution

Senator Roland Burris: Pardon me, General --

Gen John Sheehan: -- that I represent has the finest --

Senator Roland Burris: -- I have to interrupt you

Gen John Sheehan: -- of integration of any instutiton in this country of ours.

Senator Roland Burris: Absolutely. How long did it take that to take place? What happened in WWII with my uncles and my uncles-in-law when they were discriminated against? Prisoners were being brought back from Germany and the Black soldiers that were guarding them couldn't even ride in the cars, they were put in the back cars because of the color of their skin. That's how far America has come. For you to now command those men and they're fighting and dying for us and at one time because of this [taps fingers to hand], the color of their skin, they could not serve this country. And they fought and they clawed to have an opportunity to serve. These are the same things with the gay and lesbian people. They want to serve. That's all they're asking. Continue, General, I'm sorry.

Gen John Sheehan: Well, Senator, I think that . . . if you go back to the 1993 discussions and hearings on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, there's a very rich history of a discussion with [Lt Gen] Cal[vin] Waller, Colin Powell and the Committee about this very issue when Congressman* Pat Schroeder was trying to equate this to a racial issue. Both Cal Waller and Colin Powell objected strenously to the analogy. And many of the Black leaders and Black Marines I was with at the time objected to the concept that their Civil Rights Movement was being hijacked by gays and lesbians. I'm not an expert on this issue. But I would only defer to Cal Waller and Colin Powell [C.I. note, Calvin Waller died in 1996. Colin Powell has changed his 90s position on the issue.] and refer the good Senator to their testimony back in 92 and 93.

We're going to stop it there due to space limitations. As usual, Senator Burris did an outstanding job. Pat Schroeder, for those who don't know, was not a Congress MAN. Pat is short for "Patricia." Schroeder was the first woman Colorado ever elected to the US Congress (that was in the November, 1972 elections). You can
click here for her profile at Women in Congress. Did he mean to be rude? He may have. Or he may have not known what he was talking about (a repeat problem during his testimony). His "social engineering" remarks should have gotten attention -- and did yesterday. His yelling at Senator Burris -- on two separate occassions above (such as "this institution"). The man's unstable. A witness who appears before Congress of their own volition and can't control their self-presentation has some serious issues. Burris ended his allotted time by calling for a stop-order on Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges from the military until the law can be repealed. Senator Jim Webb corrected General Crazy Ass on his 'statistics' -- "African-Americans were about 13% of the age group, about 12% of the people in military, about 12% of the casualities and about 10% killed in action." Webb noted that "people" (the press) were "walking out of the room" (to file their stories) and he wanted that to be clear because it's an issue he's studied for years, written of, etc. He was very clear that he was correcting the numbers and not attempting to take anything away from anyone for their service or sacrifice. General Crazy then allowed that he wasn't really talking about all the service during Vietnam, he was talking about one program.

Yesterday's snapshot contained some coverage of the hearing and other community coverage of the hearing are: Kat's "McCain can't shut up long enough to get an answer" covers what stood out to her the most, Wally also emphasized McCain in "McCain wants his recognition -- just his" at Rebecca's site and Ava's wrote about it at Trina's site in "What happened in that fox hole, General Sheehan?" In addition, Marcia and I discussed the hearing in her "Carl Levin's historic Senate moment."

In Iraq, the ballot counting continues. Pakistan's
Daily Times reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and main rival Iyad Allawi were locked in a close election race on Thursday, as updated results showed their blocs running neck-and-neck for seats in parliament." Alsumaria TV adds, "State of Law Coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki is slightly ahead of other coalitions, according to preliminary results of Iraqi Parliamentary elections." Mohammed al Dulaimy and Hannah Allam (McClatchy's Miami Herald) report that approximately 92% of the vote has now been counted and they observe:

For all the focus on the extremely tight race between Iraq's top two vote-getters - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the former interim premier Ayad Allawi - election tallies released this week reveal several smaller dramas unfolding outside the capital. Sunni Arabs have weakened Kurdish leaders in diverse northern provinces, militant Shiites have overtaken their Iranian-backed allies for the religious vote, and many prominent figures will be cast into the political wilderness, according to the near-complete results issued by the Independent High Electoral Commission:
The election for the 325-seat parliament remains too close to call, with results still to come from out-of-country voting and early rounds for security forces and others such as hospital patients who needed special accommodation.


Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier with three more injured and a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 2 lives and left seven people injured.


Reuters reports 1 person was injured in a Mosul shooting and a Baghdad home invasion resulted in the death of a police officer (and it was his home) while, last night, Iraqi and US forces "killed an alleged" suspect in Mosul.


Reuters reports 2 corpses were discovered in Mosul yesterday.

TV notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):
There are places in the world where the success of a soap opera is measured not just in TV ratings, but in human lives. On March 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW travels to Kenya, where ambitious producers and actors hope one such TV show, "The Team", can help foster peace amongst the country's 42 official tribes.During presidential elections two years ago, tribalism-influenced protests in Kenya left almost 1,500 dead and nearly 300,000 displaced. Tensions continue today over issues including extreme poverty and widespread corruption. In "The Team", soccer players from different tribes work together to overcome historic rivalries and form a common bond. The hope is that commonalities portrayed in fiction can inspire harmony in the real world. Early reaction to the show's inaugural season is promising."I was very surprised to see how Kenyans want change, how they want to live in peace and the way the responded to us," Milly Mugadi, one of the show's stars, noted during a local screening. "There were people from different tribes talking about peace and how to reconcile with each other... they opened up their hearts."John Marks, whose organization Common Ground produces versions of "The Team" in 12 different countries, is cautiously hopeful. "You don't watch one of our television shows and drop your submachine gun," explains Marks, who says he was inspired by the influence of "All in the Family" on American culture. "But you can change the environment so it becomes more and more difficult to be in violent conflict." Can this soap opera for social change really make a difference in stopping violence? Next on NOW.
Staying with TV notes,
Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Peter Baker (New York Times), Jeanne Cummings (Politico) and Karen Tumulty (Time magazine). Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. They're beefing up their online presence and that includes highlighting archived shows and Gwen's weekly column which, this week, is entitled "Deadlines, Schmedlines . . ." Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Melinda Henneberger, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:
Chief of StaffThe man in the middle of all things presidential - especially the health care reform legislation in Congress right now - is President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Katie Couric talks to Obama's right-hand man about his tough job and his even tougher reputation.
The Lost Children of HaitiScott Pelley reports on the most vulnerable victims of Haiti's earthquake, children who not only face hunger, disease and sexual assault, but a form of slavery that is legal in the Caribbean country.
Tennis TwinsPro tennis' leading doubles champions are identical twins who are so coordinated on the court that their opponents actually suspect they have twin telepathy. Lesley Stahl reports.
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, March 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

We'll wind down with this from David Bacon's "
Californians March into the Heartland" (The Nation):Shafter, CA - As the March for California's Future left Bakersfield, marchers trudged past almond trees just breaking into their spring blooms. From Shafter and Wasco across dozens of miles to the west, white and pink petals have turned the ground rosy, while branches overhead are dusted with the delicate green of new leaves.The San Joaquin Valley's width--over seventy-five miles at its widest point--is even more impressive than its length, as it stretches several hundred miles from the Tehachapi Mountains in the south overlooking Bakersfield to the delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers in the north. In the heart of that delta lies Sacramento, the state's capital and the marchers' goal. This immense space is filled with almond orchards, grape vineyards, dairies, and alfalfa and cotton fields. A myriad of crops, grown on a huge industrial scale, make obvious the historical source of the state's wealth. For almost two centuries, that wealth has located California's political center here. The conservatism of the valley's political and economic establishment has been the main obstacle to the growth of progressive politics, which long ago shaped the coastal metropolises of San Francisco and Los Angeles. For decades growers succeeded in preventing rural industrialization, for fear it would bring unions and higher wages. Even mass housing was discouraged, until the corporations that own the land realized that the profits of development rivaled those of grapes and pears. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

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the takeaway
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queertythe san diego union-tribunekaren kucherjane lerner60 minutescbs newspbsnow on pbsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The spineless Dennis and his flunkies

ADDED: This posted 17 minutes ago. I want to add something to it because I don't post on Thursdays (I do group therapy Thursday nights and there's no time for posting). So I'm adding a note before the Iraq snapshot.

Dennis Kucinich, pathetic joke.

Yesterday, I wrote about Zeese and Swanson in "The Panderers" last night and Mike added a detail in "Tired Zeese and NBC's Chuck." Swany, Davy Swany, is the big Denny K booster. Ha. That tells us all we need to know. I remember being in Trina's Kitchen on Friday nights and hearing C.I. (who doesn't care for Kucinich) argue with the press (especially editors) about the lack of coverage on Kucinich. I knew then, Denny gets one. That was it. Never again. So I really hope that Denny runs in 2012 because he won't have anyone to help him and, in fact, C.I. will ridicule him to the press and ensure Kucinich gets the bum rush he deserves -- and then some.

Did you catch Kucinich whining that he had to support it because there were people who didn't support Barack Obama? He said, "That hurts the nation! He was elected!" Really? Did he feel that way when Bush was in office?

Way I see it, we've got a third term of Bush under Barack.

By the way, Denny K? PDA. Yes, he is one of the cowards of Progressive Democrats of America.

"My reputation is that I don't buckle under pressure," Denny K insisted sounding like the drama queen he is.

All Kucinich ever does is buckle. Go home, Dennis. Or go have another bad face lift. People always talk about Nancy Pelosi's face. Have they ever looked at Dennis?

Last week, Dennis was grand standing on the Afghanistan War. He was asked in the press conference this morning if he spoke to Barack about the war on their flight to Ohio and he replied "no." He said they only talked about health care.

So Denny caved and caved again. He didn't even press the president on the issue of war.

What a joke. What a damn joke.

That's what the problem is with Kevin Zeese and David Swanson. Sunny told me an e-mail came in asking why pick on them?

I'm not picking on them. I'm stating clearly that they are responsible for the current situation, they have not taken accountability and the peace movement can't afford them.

They are liars. David's of course worse. But they're both chicken s**t when it's time to stand up and they both lie. Repeatedly.

ADDED NOTE: This is the note I wanted to add. I just read this piece online by David Swanson. I don't care for David and think he's a rude and cruel person (as I've explained why before) but I will give him credit for publicly disagreeing with Kucinich. He couldn't have been harder hitting because let's not expect the ones who still crawl to run a marathon. But I do want to provide a link to it and note it was certainly more than I expected from him.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wendesday, March 17, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, ballot counting continues, a British court rules against the Ministry of Defence ordering them to pay the parent of a soldier who died in Iraq, Gordon Brown corrects his testimony to the Iraq Inquiry, the US Congress hears about what veterans and veterans' families need, Dennis does what's best for Dennis, and more.

"The voting may be over,"
observes Jim Loney (Reuters), "but the March 7 parliamentary election viewed as a make-or-break moment for Iraq as it tries to emerge from decades of economic decline, dictatorship and war is far from over." The ballots counted thus far is still estimated to be approximately 80%. Al Jazeera reports that Nouri al-Maliki's party (State Of Law) are complaining of election fraud, stating the tallies are being manipulated. No concerns until al-Maliki's perceived lead was thought to drop. (Thought to. The ballots are still being counted.) Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) also note 80% of the ballots have been counted and state that the biggest vote getters thus far apper to be the Iraqi National Movement (led by Ayad Allawi and also known as Iraqiya) and State Of Law. Alsumaria TV reports, "After counting votes of around 80% of polling sations till Tuesday night, figures showed former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in the lead by a difference of 9000 votes in comparison with Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki in all Iraqi provinces." These are preliminary numbers and unofficial. Not only are they subject to change, they do not include the Iraqi refugees or the Iraqi security forces. BBC News points out, "The BBC's Andrew North, in the capital, says the picture could well change by the time all the votes are counted." Xinhua explains, "However, the rivals on Wednesday are keeping their eyes watching the remaining count of about 20 percent of the elections votes that may either widen Allawi's margin or reverse the balance." Anthony Shadid (New York Times) adds that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc appears to have done well by the votes counted thus far and may even be the second most popular Shi'ite bloc in the election behind Nouri's political party. At War (the paper's blog) has video of Shadid speaking to Stephen Farrell about al-Sadr's bloc and another Shi'ite party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which has done very well in previous elections. (However, leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim died last fall of cancer and his son Ammar al-Hakim is the new leader.) Jason Ditz ( weighs in on al-Hakim's party. Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) notes that the ballot counting is supposed to be completed tomorrow (that may or may not take place) and that a count will be known. Reminder, this will not be the official (certified) count. Spencer notes that as the unofficial count stands now, State of Law and the Iraqi National Movement would each receive 87 seats in the Parliament. That would be 174 seats leaving 151 for other parties (there will be a total of 325 seats in the Parliament, up from 275. Spencer notes that an individual political party needs to win 163 seats to have a majority or else they need to enter into a power-sharing coalition with other parties to reach the 163 number. The unofficial results thus far do not indicate any political party will be able to rule without entering into a power-sharing agreement. That was expected before the election (though some gas bags on March 8th tried to insist Nouri's party was likely to win enough seats to rule without a power-sharing agreement.)

Should the trend continue in the remaining 20% of the ballots and should it hold in the official count, each party end up with 87 votes, to reach the magic number of 163, one of them would need to grab 76 seats out of the 151 seats remaining. 151, point, is 76 plus 75. If the current vote holds and the official vote is similar, there could be some intense negotiations as each of the two parties rushed to form a power-sharing agreement with other parties. Potentially even the minority candidates could wheel and deal -- such as the 5 seats that will go to Iraqi Christians. That's not gas bagging, by law, the Iraqi Christians are guaranteed 5 seats in this Parliament. 3 other seats are guaranteed to religious minorities. The Yazidis in Nineveh Province are guaranteed one seat, the Shabakis in Nineveh are guaranteed one seat and, in Baghdad, the Saibis are guaranteed one seat.
Kadhim Ajrash, Caroline Alexander and Henry Meyer (Bloomberg News) quote Control Risks Group's Julien Barnes-Dacey stating, "It is up to Maliki and Allawi to make the best offers. No one is showing their cards yet because the full results have not yet emerged and they are going to wait and see what they are offered." Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observed earlier today, "A narrow lead would make it harder for Maliki to garner allies he needs to form a coalition government." And substitute Allawi for al-Maliki in that sentence because it's true of both of them. And, should there be a major upset in the official count, true of a third party as well.

If the results are similar but not exact, say side A ends up with 6 extra seats, it could be the 'winner' but not the group to end up with the power-sharing coalition that puts it in charge.
Andrew England (Financial Times of London) explains, "It is not even guaranteed that the victorious coalition, or 'list', will form the government as no side will have an overall majority, meaning there will be weeks or months of political bargaining." Jim Loney and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) run down election possibilities here.

Regardless of the outcome,
Michael Hastings (The Hastings Report, True/Slant) observes:

To claim that the war is a success because we established something that looks like democracy is an interesting one to make. First, it presupposes that an establishment of democratic principles in the region is an actual goal of American foreign policy. This is clearly not true, as seen by our relationship with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and the Gulf States–we don't pressure those folks too much about their democratic principles. Secondly, it presupposes that the only(or certainly the most effective) way to bring democracy to the Middle East was to invade Iraq. This, I think, is a claim that should be subject to debate, and the winning argument should be pretty obvious. Perhaps we could have used our economic leverage with our above mentioned allies to push them towards democracy first, and maybe then that would have the "democratic domino" effect on Iraq, all while avoiding a war!

Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) scoops everyone by discovering "A Strategic Plan to Improve the Political Position of the Islamic State of Iraq:"

The 55 page document, published under a pseudonym, is a remarkably frank "lessons learned" analysis which does not shy away from identifying where the ISI's strategy went wrong. It's not an "official" document, whatever that means, but it's fascinating nonetheless and demonstrates some deep thinking about the fortunes of the Islamic State in Iraq. It explains its setbacks, which it argues came at the height of its power and influence, on what it calls two smart and effective U.S. moves in 2006-07: an effective U.S. media and psychological campaign, which convinced many that the "mujahideen" had committed atrocities against Iraqis and killed thousands of Muslims; and the Awakenings, achieved through its manipulation of the tribes and the "nationalist resistance." The document doesn't mention the "Surge" much at all, at least not in terms of the troop escalation which most Americans have in mind.
Building upon a lengthy post-mortem on the Awakenings and the media campaigns, the Strategic Plan sets out a detailed agenda for the coming years during and after the U.S. withdrawal. It calls the coming war "a political and media war to the first degree", with the winner "the side that best prepares for the period following the withdrawal." It recognizes that the Islamic State can not control all of Iraq through military force alone, and that only a wise political strategy can succeed. It then offers a detailed five point plan, including a process to unify the ranks of the jihad, in part by reaching out to the old nationalist resistance and convincing them to return to the fold; detailed military preparations, including recommendations to conserve men and resources until the right time; and an enhanced media operation designed to rebut the most damaging charges against the Islamic State and carefully tied to a coherent political strategy. Perhaps its most striking concept is a detailed plan for creating "Jihadist Awakenings", mimicking the U.S. engagement of the tribes to create broader popular support.

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


Reuters notes an Abu Ghraib bombing which injured two children.


AFP reports that Iraqi Christian Sabah Gurgis was shot dead by unknown assailants in Mosul. This appears to be the latest in another wave of persecution of Christians in Mosul. Reuters notes a Baghdad shooting resulted in a Human Rights Ministry official being wounded.

Turning to England and legal news. Robert Thomson died serving in Iraq at the age of 22 on January 31, 2004 in what
England's Ministry of Defence termed "a tragic accident." A court of law begs to differ. BBC News reports that a British military inquiry "blamed Mr Thomson" for the "tragic accident" (he was buried alive when the trench he was in collapsed) but the Court of Session overruled that and awarded Margaret Valentine forty-two thousand pounds (US equivalent: approximately $64,398). His mother is quoted stating, "It has taken six years and it was never about the money. Money would never bring him back, supposing they gave me forty-million pounds. My laddie died a horrific death. He struggled to get out [of the trench] but couldn't. It was about getting here, a judge ruling that there was negligence. It was totally unsafe work and there was no regard for his safety. I always knew he never entered the trench of his own volition." Still in England, Gordon Brown testified to the Iraq Inquiry March 5th. Miranda Richardson and Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) report that while taking questions on Wednesday Gordon Brown's claim to the Inquiry that when he was Chancellor (under Tony Blair) defense spending rose each year ("in real terms") and confronted, with it today, Brown admitted he had mispoken. [PDF format warning] Sky News has posted the letter from Brown here. Richardson and Barnett point out, "The four-page document does not acknowledge that the Prime Minister made an error in the way he described defence spending." Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) gets the last word on Brown's letter, "It is typical Brown -- no admission of error, no apology, a lot of spin. It may be Brown's way of limiting the political damage, but to puff such a letter out with so much spin must have seriously alienated the Inquiry." Polly Curtis and Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) explain, "The prime minister was forced to correct his official evidence to the Chilcot inquiry -- which he repeated just last week in the commons -- after Ministry of Defence figures revealed that once inflation was accounted for, the budget declined in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007. The revelations are particularly damning because some of the real-term cuts spanned years when the armed forces were at war in Afghanistan and Iraq." James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) terms the incident "an embarrassing retreat". Quentin Letts (Daily Mail) observes, "The truth was extracted by Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury), who put his question in an unhysterical but assertive manner. Mr Baldry spoke along the lines of 'come on now, there's a good boy, say you're sorry, then we can all start afresh and nothing more will be said of the matter'. Mr Brown hated admitting it. Shades of a child drinking its spoonful of cod liver oil." Cathy Newman (Channel 4 News) quotes MP David Cameron offering his thanks to Brown, "In three years of asking the prime minister questions I don't think I've ever heard him make a correction or retraction." Nico Hines and Philippe Naughton (Times of London) note that Brown's correction still wasn't accurate since he claimed that it was only one or two years that his statements were incorrect: "In fact, it fell in three separate years, according to figures compiled by the House of Commons library -- four years if 1997/98 is included, although the financial year had already started when Labour came to power." Jon Craig (Sky News) wonders what other things Brown might "own up to between now and election day?"

Monday the US House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee held a hearing which started a little after 5:30 p.m. There wasn't space for it in yesterday's snapshot so we'll pick it up now. US House Rep Susan Davis is the Chair of the Subcommittee, Joe Wilson is the Ranking Member. Appearing before them were the
National Military Family Association's Kathleen Moakler, Dr. Barbara Cohoon, Kelly Hruska, Candace Wheeler and Katie Savant. Chair Davis explained at the opening that the "hearing is a review of the priority legislative initiatives needed to support military families. We have asked the National Miliatary Family Association, the association with the greatest expertise regarding family issues, to help us understand how the Congress can best assist our military families." Various issues were raised, including housing on Guam by US House Rep Madeleine Z. Bordallo. We'll emphasize the following exchange:

Ranking Member Joe Wilson: For any of you, I'd like to ask, it's been mentioned in the testimony that there are redundancies in military programs and some programs don't meet the needs of today's military families. Are there any programs existing today in your opinion, that should be terminated? If so what are they?

Kathleen Moakler: Well I think we need to look at the myriad of services that are provided by each of the services and especially in the area of information and referral. It seems like people are starting up new programs to collect information from community sources and get them out there for military families but there's so many areas to choose from that it gets confusing. So if there could be one list. The National Resource Directory is a good start. That'd be a purple list. We are all about having purple programs for families. Not that they would lose their individual individuality but sometimes too many resources can be confusing.

Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And the internet could be a real resource to help cut through, so you can find it for a particular community.

Kathleen Moakler: Yes, you could put in your zip code and find out where these resources are.

Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And to me, again, it's exciting that they're so available technologically for families. Another recommendation has been to establish a unified joint-medical command structure within DoD. Can you explain how that would be helpful?

Dr. Barbara Cohoon: That would be me. On this particular one. I handle health care for our organizations. What we're talking about right now we're dealing with the funding happens under 3 different srevices rather than it being joined and we're looking at what's happening with the national capital region and how that's rolling out. And as we're looking at programs that are rolling out sometimes the best practices aren't necessarily shared across. And as we've seen up at the national capitol region where you'll have Army and Navy working together and then down in the San Antonio region you have Air Force and Army working together -- the ability to be able to share resources so you're purchasing the same equipment, you're teaching your staff as far as utilizing the same policies would go a long way as far as keeping down cost but also improving the quality of care through efficiencies but also as far as patient safety .

Joe Wilson: And another example would be the Uniform Services University which is a joint-service university. And since one of my sons [Add Wilson] is a graduate, I know it's a great institution. So I hope we can possibly look into what you suggest.

Dr. Barbara Cohoon: We'd look forward to working with you on that.

Joe Wilson: That'd be great. And then for anyone who would like to answer, it's been suggested the system of multi-layered case managers for wounded service members and their families may be aggregivating the delivery of necessary services to the families. How would you streamline the process to make it more effective.

Dr. Barbara Cohoon: What we're seeing again is all the services are rolling out their own programs and their own level of case managers. The VA's doing the same thing, also we have DoD doing the same thing. And our families are getting confused as far as who do you go to for what when? So we've been asking for maybe a report to take a look and I knew the GAO was looking at the Federal Recovery Coordinators to see how effective they're being, but also we need to look at the Recovery Care Coordinators and everyone else. What we're finding is that the families sometimes aren't aware that certain case managers are available that they could utilize -- i.e. the Federal Recovery Coordinators -- or that they're in the VA and now they could be using the VA Case Managers and instead they're still utilizing the services on top of that. So there are a lot of great programs but we want to make sure that we take a look that we haven't added so many on that it's getting confusing for the families.

Joe Wilson: Well your organization serves such a vital function as a safety net and as a means of providing assistance to families and so I hope you'll continue that effort and I'm particularly concerned about persons going from DoD to VA care -- that that be as seamless as possible and without a hiccup so that people receive services with nobody to fall between the cracks so thank you very much for your time.

Yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and Kat covered it at her hearing last night in "Senate Armed Services Committee," while Wally covered it in "Saxby Chambliss wants clarification" at Rebecca's site and Ava covered it in "Guantanamo, Bagram" at Trina's site.

Individuals, organizations and groups are gearing up for the demonstrations Saturday against the wars Barack Obama now owns. DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco have scheduled demonstrations. One organization participating is A.N.S.W.E.R. and
they note:
In just days, we will be taking to the streets! We are hearing from people all over the country who are coming to bring their message to D.C., and we want to share with you some of the plans and ways that you can make an important contribution to the impact of the March 20 National March on Washington to demand "U.S. Out of Afghanistan and Iraq Now!"
Visual Impact
As always, there will be thousands of printed and handmade signs. We will also be making hundreds of coffins with flags representing the multinational victims of U.S. wars of aggression, and many people are bringing coffins that they are making themselves. You can help make and carry coffins in the march by arriving at Lafayette Park between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.
In just days, we will be taking to the streets! We are hearing from people all over the country who are coming to bring their message to D.C., and we want to share with you some of the plans and ways that you can make an important contribution to the impact of the March 20 National March on Washington to demand "U.S. Out of Afghanistan and Iraq Now!"
Visual Impact
As always, there will be thousands of printed and handmade signs. We will also be making hundreds of coffins with flags representing the multinational victims of U.S. wars of aggression, and many people are bringing coffins that they are making themselves. You can help make and carry coffins in the march by arriving at Lafayette Park between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.
You can also bring visuals that are specific to the stops on the march. We will be marching from the White House to the offices of Halliburton, Washington Post, Mortgage Bankers Association of America, National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
For example, Cheney puppets would be great to have when we go to Halliburton. You might want to bring a copy of the Washington Post to return to their doorstep since it's functioning as pro-war propaganda rather than real news. Think about each stop and be creative!
Be Seen AND Be Heard
We'll have speakers on the rally and march, and of course we'll be chanting. We also want to have as many drums as possible, so we are encouraging everyone who can to bring a drum (or a bucket or other implement on which you can drum). The drums should have straps so you can hold them while at the rally and on the march.
If you are not able to bring anything, don't worry. You can pick up a sign when you arrive.

The plan had been to note a hearing and to note a report released but those we'll wait (or maybe never appear here.) Reality: If women don't make a point to note things to do with women, usually no one else steps up to the plate. Hillary Clinton, for example, had an incredible proposal regarding funding for breast cancer research when she was running in the Democratic Party primaries and the press ignored it. One of the few to cover it was a woman at the Boston Globe. -- a tiny bit of coverage. That's only one example. [
Click here for real time commentary on the way the press buried it.] Let's stay with the Globe. When you're talking about women in the service or female veterans who have been the victim of sexual assault, you don't go to a man who's never been sexually assaulted for your quotes. You go to a woman. It's basic but at the Globe no one thought before they wrote an article allegedly about sexual violence aimed at women in the military and spoke to men in the military but forgot to speak to women. Now we could go to any outlet and do that, note where a woman stepped up and where a man wrote women of the story (even when they were the story). We don't note everything of Women's Voices, Women's Vote. This community (including me) supports single-payer, universal health care and not Barack's BigBusinessGiveAway (see Betty last night for the most recent community commentary on that). So we don't break our necks to include that sort of thing. But they've released a new report and we'll will note their press release in full:

There's legislation now before the 111th Congress that would dramatically advance the economic security of unmarried women -- a fast-growing group that is not recognized or understood by the nation's lawmakers. That was the message today for the standing room-only crowd gathered for the release of a joint comprehensive report by
Women's Voices. Women Vote (WVWV) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). The report , "Advancing the Economic Security of Unmarried Women," details the legislation before this session of Congress that, if enacted, would lift the lives of unmarried women. In addition, WVWV released a summary of a demographic report that details a seismic shift in America since 1960 -- the move from a nation of married couples to a nation of unmarried people. (To download copies of the legislative report and demographic report summary, click on the link below.) Advancing the Economic Security of Unmarried Women Unmarried America 2010: The Status and the Importance of Unmarried America "Today, more than 45 percent of all Americans are unmarried and almost half of all women are unmarried -- widowed, divorced, separated, or never married. But policymakers have failed to recognize this new definition of the American family or the economic disparity between married and unmarried women," explained WVWV founder and President Page Gardner. Unmarried women "are already half of all women, burdened and un-served by a set of policies designed for the America of 50 years ago. That's why WVWV and CAP have joined in this groundbreaking effort to help elected officials understand that our government's policies must meet the needs of all Americans, regardless of marital status."
(To download Page Gardner's presentation,
click here.)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the author of the Paycheck Fairness Act, also participated in the event and called on Congress to enact legislation that will help unmarried women. The legislative report focuses on key areas that would benefit unmarried women economically, including bills that would increase the minimum wage, access to job training and higher paying jobs, expanding the definition of family and increasing funding for child care. The
complete demographic report will be available on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 12:00pm.

The 57-page report -- I'm leaving off "about the authors" and pages that follow it in my count but counting the appendix -- ends with an easy to follow appendix entitled "Laws and legislation discussed in this report" offering break downs of bills (and who sponsored them) for categories such as "Equal pay, better pay," "Child care and early education," housing, and both paid and unpaid family leave bills. On health care, more work should have been done -- IS ANYONE GOING TO DO THIS WORK? -- explaining how the working poor and slightly higher will be effected under ObamaCare. The extreme poor and the poor are covered. The people -- especially single mothers -- who are just keeping their heads above water right now -- how would ObamaCare effect them? As Betty pointed out last night, a parent will postpone their own insurance to ensure that their child's needs are taken care of but, under ObamaCare, you're no longer able to make that choice. It's an in depth report and worthy of much praise but I want to be clear before someone e-mails we DO NOT support ObamaCare and we do not support the 'findings' in this study on it. Working women have been completely left out of this conversation and how working women will be hit if this passes isn't something that the press cares a great deal about. But, hey, remember, it was the New York Times that told us the way to judge ObamaCare was by how it provided for prostate cancer -- a disease no woman will ever get. But the paper thinks that's how you judge a health care plan or plan for reform of health care. By how it treats the men. [
Click here for real time critique and scroll way down into the entry.]
While we're on the subject of Obama's BigBusinessGiveAway, if you're a community member and you wrote me about Dennis Kucinich, I either wrote you or had someone write you one line: Dennis does what's best for Dennis. If you're not a community member but are a regular reader who e-mails often, you may have gotten that reply as well. A number of people also wrote community sites and, when asked by anyone if they should include Dennis' 'brave' stand at their sites, I said, "Dennis does what's best for Dennis." Yes, Chris Floyd wrote a powerful piece. But what's the point? Dennis does what's best for Dennis. Today he held a press conference to announce his caving. He was going to stand tall, he was going to stand brave.

In 2004, as
Rebecca loves to share, she and I were at the DNC convention in Boston and a young woman (college age) came up in tears because Dennis had sold out the peace movement. I told her he wasn't worth her tears, that he was a little s**t (and he is) and that "Dennis does what's best for Dennis." Dennis has no spine. It's a myth. If Nancy doesn't pull the chain around his neck, Dennis stands tall. But you better believe when Pelosi snaps her fingers, Dennis falls in line. I've seen it happen too many times. That is not why I didn't join others in 2007 (others in the community) in endorsing Dennis. I didn't think I should endorse any one candidate for president. (This community has Democrats, Greens, Socialist, Communists, independents, swing voters and never-going-to-vote-for-any-of-the-bums. It's not my place to offer an endorsement in that situation.) We treated Dennis like a real candidate until he demonstrated that "Dennis does what's best for Dennis." He did that by handing his delegates to Barack in Iowa, remember? Peace man Dennis. He did that. Dennis does what's best for Dennis. You should learn to take anything he says with a grain of salt and you should never, ever depend upon him keeping a promise no matter how many times he makes it publicly. Dennis, all together now, does what's best for Dennis. Should this cite not be dark when the next Democratic Party primaries take place and should Dennis run again, we won't play fair this time. He's demonstrated over and over again that he's not a real candidate and we won't bother to cover him. It was fine to do so in 2008 because so many members thought he did something, thought he stood for something. And he did what he always does which is prove you can't count on him for anything. Having wasted time covering him once in the site's existence, I have no desire to do so again. Bye-bye, Dennis.

Finally, TV note.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

There are places in the world where the success of a soap opera is measured not just in TV ratings, but in human lives. On March 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW travels to Kenya, where ambitious producers and actors hope one such TV show, "The Team", can help foster peace amongst the country's 42 official tribes. During presidential elections two years ago, tribalism-influenced protests in Kenya left almost 1,500 dead and nearly 300,000 displaced. Tensions continue today over issues including extreme poverty and widespread corruption. In "The Team", soccer players from different tribes work together to overcome historic rivalries and form a common bond. The hope is that commonalities portrayed in fiction can inspire harmony in the real world. Early reaction to the show's inaugural season is promising. "I was very surprised to see how Kenyans want change, how they want to live in peace and the way the responded to us," Milly Mugadi, one of the show's stars, noted during a local screening. "There were people from different tribes talking about peace and how to reconcile with each other... they opened up their hearts." John Marks, whose organization Common Ground produces versions of "The Team" in 12 different countries, is cautiously hopeful. "You don't watch one of our television shows and drop your submachine gun," explains Marks, who says he was inspired by the influence of "All in the Family" on American culture. "But you can change the environment so it becomes more and more difficult to be in violent conflict." Can this soap opera for social change really make a difference in stopping violence? Next on NOW.

reutersjim loneyal jazeeracnnjomana karadshehmohammed tawfeeqthe new york timesanthony shadidxinhua
the telegraph of londonrichard spencer
caroline alexanderbloomberg news
the financial times of londonandrew england
bbc news
the washington postleila fadel
true/slantmichael hastings
marc lynch
sky newsmiranda richardson
ruth barnett
iraq inquiry digestchris ames
the guardian
richard norton-taylor
the telegraph of londonjames kirkup
channel four
the times of londonnico hines
philippe naughton
pbsnow on pbs

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Panderers

"Why Hayden's Wrong, Why Pelosi's Lying" (David Swanson, ZNet):
Tom Hayden wants peace, but he's sincerely mistaken about how to get it. He claims that Wednesday's unsuccessful vote to end the war in Afghanistan makes ending the war less likely, and that the way to end the war is to pass a bill that would then have to pass the Senate and the President, a bill requiring an exit strategy, any exit strategy -- it could be "redeployment" to Iran in 2038 or anything else.

You may be thinking, "Huh? What's that little prick going on about?" What C.I. already took care of last week. See dopes like Swanson need additional time on their homework assignments. Thinking is hard for them.

Tom Hayden wants peace? Shut the f**k up, David Swanson.

You've know Tom how long? C.I. and I have known that s**t for decades. Screw you.

By their actions, we will know them.

Tom Hayden has repeatedly put peace on hold to elect Dems. That's all it is for him.

But that's all it is for Swany as well.

I know his Cindy Sheehan's best bud. I don't give a damn. He's a whore. Kevin Zeese is another friend of Cindy's and he's a whore too.

I've told you about how David Swanson steals the work of an African-American and how he forwards private e-mails. But let's talk Kevy Zeese.

Kevin Zeese is an ass. He was e-mailing Kat throughout the election. His little feelings were hurt because she kept noting that he wouldn't call Barack out.

And he wouldn't.

And he sent her these stupid e-mail 'reasons' which boil down to Kevin Zeese is a coward. If he called out Barack, it might have meant he was called a "racist." If he called out Barack, some places might not post his articles.


You care about peace or you care about 'being cool.'

There's no two ways to it. You either make a committment to peace or you don't.

David Swanson and Kevin Zeese are two little whores who helped put the War Hawk Barack into office and they have still been too damn cowardly to call Barack out the way they did Bush.

They need to shut the f**k up. They have nothing America needs to hear. They're so 'brave' in their e-mails but they can't say a damn thing in public. Chicken s**t assholes, that's all they are.

Kevy couldn't do a damn thing because he was too much of a chicken. Excuse me, sexists that they are, he and David Swanson attacked Hillary. That they could do. (As I noted last week, Cindy Sheehan attacked her as well. Couldn't do that for Barack. They all bear blame but Cindy does call Barack out now. She doesn't couch it or the way the little boys do.)

Here's some reality for Kevy and Davy, until you can stand up, you can't stand up for peace. You two are pathetic.

"Iraq snapshot " (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the counting of ballots continues, the US military announces another death, Gen David Petraeus is not in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (despite what some outlets are 'reporting'), he did offer curious remarks re: the draw-down, in DC peace activists are gathering, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- A United States Division - North Soldier died of injuries sustained in a vehicle roll-over while conducting a patrol in northern Iraq, March 15. Three other Soldiers were injured and evacuated to a military medical facility where they are currently being treated. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at, The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." Two service members were announced dead over the weekend (see yesterday's snapshot) and with today's announcement, the number of US service members killed in the Iraq War should be at 4385. ICCC has only 'discovered' one of the weekend deaths and not yet discovered today's so their count is currently 4383. Should this continue for long, we may switch to either AP or DoD's count.

Staying with today's violence . . .


Jim Loney and Robin Pomeroy (Reuters) report that twin Mussayab bombings have resulted in at least 8 deaths. BBC News adds, "Police told the BBC the devices - a type known as "sticky bombs" - had been magnetically attached to the underside of two minibuses carrying passengers." Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing left three people injured and 2 Baghdad roadside bombings left five people wounded. Lin Zhi (Xinhua) notes that the death toll for yesterday's Falluja bombing increased by 1 (to eight, twenty-five is the number wounded). Alsumaria TV also notes the death toll is eight from the Falluja bombing.


Reuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to Monday, 1 Mosul store owner shot dead in his store.

Iraq wrapped up Parliamentary elections Sunday March 7th. The counting of ballots continues.
Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraqi Parliament constitutional term ends today." At Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy observes, "It looks that our politicians want to design a kind of democracy that fits their demands and wishes regardless the wish of millions of people who voted only to have a real national government that can provides their basic needs which they have been waiting to gain for decades." On today's Morning Edition (NPR), Quil Lawrence spoke to a dairy farmer in Falluja, Suhaib Munaim, who "believes that the Americans are trying to impose sitting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the votes won't make any difference." Quil notes that belief. With no sense of irony and with no sense of responsibility. Quil has repeatedly hailed Nouri as the winner for over eight days. If people in Iraq see Nouri as the US choice, maybe US reporters in Iraq need to take some accountability? Monday March eighth -- the day after voting concluded -- Quil Lawrence took to Morning Edition.

Steve Inskeep: Well let's remember here, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's party was trying to maintain control of the government. That was one key question here. Do you have a sense about whether he succeeded?

Quil Lawrence: He seems to have done very well. I'm talking to people all over Baghdad as well as hearing reports from friends in the south -- but it's probably not possible for him to form a government without a couple of allies. [. . .]

The elections were for the Parliament. That's what the people voted for. The Parliament then decides who is Prime Minister. The votes had not been counted -- not even a partial return from even one province but there Quil and Steve were gas bagging on how Nouri would maintain control. Golly, Quil, why might Iraqis think the US wanted Nouri?

Thursday on All Things Considered (NPR) -- or maybe All Things Except The Facts Considered -- Michele Norris and Quil spoke.

Michele Norris: Fivce days after the polls closed in Iraq's general elections, the first preliminary results were released today and they confirmed what many had predicted. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to have done well, but not well enough to form a government without convincing a few of his opponents to join with him. And, as NPR's Baghdad correspondent Quil Lawrence reports, that won't be easy. Maliki's closest opponents from the secular bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Alawi have already started claiming fraud.

Quil Lawrence: About 12 million ballots are being counted and then entered into two separate computer systems in a building deep inside Baghdad's Green Zone. Almost two days later than expected, Iraq's electoral commission announced results in only five of the eighteen provinces based on less than 30 percent of the votes from those provinces.

Grasp that. With less than 30% of the vote in 5 provinces -- not even half the vote in half the provinces -- it was time for more gas baggery about how Nouri was a winner! It never ended. It never stopped. Live by the gas baggery and you can die by the gas baggery. We didn't engage in it, we're not going to now. The ballot counting at present --
about 80% of the votes counted according to Reuters and McClatchy's Hannah Allam and Laith Hammoudi via Christian Science Monitor note that the votes counted make up 79% -- has the race much tighter than anything NPR informed of you. Gas bagging served no one. It was a waste of time. It will be a waste of time regardless of the outcome of the vote. Reporting isn't let's all make like we're on MSNBC talking to/shouting at Chris Matthews. In engaging in the gas baggery -- NPR was only one outlet to do so -- many messages were sent to Iraqis. The first was that the US wanted Nouri as prime minister. On this week's Listening Post (Al Jazeera), Richard Gizbert observed, "As they scan their new media landscape, Iraqis are under no illusions about what they see. They know the channels covering the elections had their favorite candidates as did the newspapers." He was speaking of Iraqi media. But Iraqis have every reason to think what they see in their media is similar to what goes on elsewhere. Please note, now forgotten, the HUGE number of young, first-time voters in this election. This was their moment and the Western press failed them. If the US press wanted to set an example of how to report on an election -- which includes facts and objectivity and distance -- they failed. Iraqis paying attention to the Western coverage learned that you don't need results before calling an election and that you could run with anything -- facts be damned. I have no personal preference on who is prime minister. I'm not Iraqi. But I know it does matter to them -- as it should -- and I know they got cheated by the Western press. Vote counting continues, that is known.

Also know is that Iraq's minority populations are targeted non-stop. This includes Iraq's LGBT community. At the end of last month,
David Taffet (Dallas Voice) reported on Iraqi refugees Yousif Ali and Nawfal Muhamed who were in Dallas speaking about what they'd experienced in Iraq ("being kidnapped, raped, robbed and stabbed in Baghdad") for the 'crime' of being gay. After being designated refugees by the United Nations, the US granted asylum to the two men. Last Thursday, the US State Dept issued "2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" which noted the persecution of the LGBT community in Iraq:

During the year there were reports of discrimination and violence against gay men and lesbians, mostly by nongovernmental actors. Press reports in April indicated that approximately 60 gay men had been murdered during the first four months of the year, most of them in Baghdad. According to UNHCR, during the year approximately 30 boys and men from Baghdad were murdered because they were gay or perceived to be gay. On April 4, local and international media reported the discovery of the bodies of nine gay men in Sadr City. Three other men were found tortured but alive. Numerous press reports indicate that some victims were assaulted and murdered by having their anuses glued shut or their genitals cut off and stuffed down their throats until they suffocated. The government did not endorse or condone these extra-judicial killings, and the MOI publicly stated that killing men or lesbians was murder. On May 29, Muqtader al-Sadr, leader of the JAM militia, ordered that the "depravity" of homosexuality be eradicated. Although he publicly rejected outright violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals, reports attributed the killings of gay men to radical Shia militias, as well as to tribal and family members shamed by the actions of their LGBT relatives. Authorities had not announced any arrests or prosecutions of any persons for killing, torturing, or detaining any LGBT individuals by year's end.

Last May,
Paul Canning explained , "The campaign started in 2004, following the religious decree of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that said gay mena nd lesbians should be 'punished, in fact, killed . . . The people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing'. Since then Iraqi LGBT has received reports and information of over 600 LGBT people killed. But Iraqi gays and media reports say that the killings have massively escalated since the end of 2008."

We'll stay with LGBT issues but move over to the US for a moment. Gen David Petreaus appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee (as did Adm Eric T. Olson). The general was asked about Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- the current policy in the military which is supposed to translate as 'If you are gay, you can serve but you cannot discuss your sexuality or personal life or loved one or much of anything. If you do, you're kicked out of the miltiary. Oh, but your surperiors can't ask you if you're gay.' Allegedly, President Barack Obama is going to keep a campaign promise and end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Not anytime soon. Maybe at the end of the year

Ranking Member John McCain: Finally General Petraeus and Adm Olson do you believe that Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs a thorough review before action is taken?

Gen David Petraeus: Uh, Senator, my position is . . . Can I -- can I give my statement on that?

Ranking Member John McCain: Yeah. We're short of time. But please go ahead.

Chair Carl Levin: Well how long is this statement?

Gen David Petraeus: About eight minutes sir.

Ranking Member John McCain: No. No.

Gen David Petraeus: Well look sir this is not -- this is not a soundbyte issue.
Chair Carl Levin: I understand.

Ranking Member John McCain: It's a pretty straight forward question, though.

Chair Carl Levin: We respect -- we respect -- believe me the thoughtfulness that you are applying to it, we've read your public statement but an eight minute answer unless someone else wants to use all their time for it, I'm afraid would violate the spirit of our rules. I would suggest however that if nobody asks you that question and their time is used for that purpose that you make that part of the record. But someone may well ask you. I just don't -- because of our time limit -- to take eight minutes.

With that settled -- or seemingly settled -- Adm Olson was asked (by McCain) and he spoke a few words (but didn't press the button on his microphone) while nodding his head indicating "yes." Which, based on McCain's question, means he does believe a review is needed. After that, Petraeus jumped in.

Gen David Petraeus: I believe the time has come to consider a change to Don't Ask, Don't Tell but I think it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative manner -- that should include the conduct of the review that Secretary [of Defense Robert] Gates has directed that would consider the views in the force on a change in the policy and it would include an assessment on the likely effects on recruiting retention morale and cohesion and would include an identification of what policies might be needed in the place of a change and recommend those policies as well.

Chair Carl Levin: And as I believe you said in my office the likely effects could go in either direction. The likely effects could go in either direction, I believe you told me, either negative or positive

Gen David Petraeus: It could. It could.

That is what was said. Some outlets are declaring Petraeus supports the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That is not what he stated. He stated he supports a thorough review before anything is done. And Levin's remarks at the end really nail that down -- which may be why they're not reported. Petraeus has only endorsed the study. We'll return to the hearing later in the snapshot. Yesterday
Marcia wrote about Jene Newsome who was dischared from the Air Force for the 'crime' of being in a loving relationship with another woman. Robert Doody (ACLU's Blog Of Rights) provides background on how the police, while in Jene and Cheryl's home, saw their marriage certificate and dropped a dime on them with the Air Force. As Marcia rightly points out, this is NOT the compromise that was agree to in the early nineties. Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs to be tossed out (and all who want to serve should be able to). But it is the law now and it's not Don't Ask, Don't Tell, But Snitch. Jene's rights were violated under the policy. She did not go public with those she served with. She followed the policy and she's been punished for following the policy. Marcia notes this: has a page where you can contact your members of Congress to let them know where you stand on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'s Ryan Teague Beckwith provides an update, "After a week, more than 2,500 letters were sent, with 64 percent opposed to changing the policy and 36 percent in favor of ending it."

Between those numbers and the obvious reluctance on the part of many (put Petraeus on that list), the repeal is not a "done deal." And while it's in effect, it's not fair to expect Jene or anyone else to follow it but not demand that the superiors follow it. A snitch calls? So what. It's really not your business and, in order for you to make it your business, you have to be in violation of the policy because a 'tip' that leads to questioning means you violated the Don't Ask aspect of the policy.

Meanwhile 2011 looms around the corner. The Iraqi air force is not ready (as has been noted since 2007). The Congress continues to complain about the administration not sharing a withdrawal plan with them. (Michele Flournoy always offers such lovely excuses.) And people are beginning to grasp that if the US government wanted troops out of Iraq, they'd be out by now. Just last week, the Afghanistan War was debated on the House floor and the bill being voted on would have pulled all US troops out of Afghanistan by . . . the end of this year. And yet our 'antiwar' (or at least 'antidumbwar') Barry O's done damn little. Well that's not fair. He's done an amazing job of embracing and continuing the policies of George W. Bush. Michael Schwartz asks "
Will the U.S. Military Leave Iraq in 2011?" (Huffington Post): Like so many others who have been following the recent developments in Iraq, I do not have a settled opinion on what will happen to the US military presence there between now and the end of 2011, when the Status of Forces Agreement calls for the withdrawal of all troops (not just "combat" troops). For me, the (so far) definitive statement on this question by Obama was his 2006 election campaign statement at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where he firmly asserted the need to maintain a (approximately 50,000 strong) US "strike force" in or near Iraq to guarantee US interests in the Middle East, to allow Washington to move quickly against jihadists in the region, and to make clear to "our enemies" that the US will not be "driven from the region." (I am attaching that document, which I still think is the most explicit expression of his thinking on this issue.) In that statement he said that this force could be stationed in Iraq, perhaps in Kurdistan, or in a nearby country (despite the absence of nearby candidates). Since taking office he has neither reiterated nor repudiated this policy, but his actions have made it very clear that he is unwilling to sacrifice the 50k strike force, even while he has also said he would abide by the SOFA and remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. In the meantime, Gates and various generals have released hedging statements or trial balloons (see the recent Tom Dispatch article by Engelhardt) saying that the 2011 deadline might be impractical and that various types of forces might stay longer, either to provide air power, to continue training the Iraq military, or to protect Iraq from invasion. Any or all of these could translate into the maintenance of the 50k strike force as well as the five (previously labeled as) "enduring bases."

Back to Congress on Iraq. The 'deadlines' for draw-downs and withdrawals were addressed in the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning in testimony from Gen David Petraeus. Also offering testimony was Adm Eric T. Olson. "By September 1st the US combat mission will end" in Iraq declared Committee Chair Carl Levin speaking of the planned draw-down. That something more might be coming was probably most noticeable with Petraeus' prepared remarks which, typed, ran 56 pages. Wait, he didn't read the whole thing outloud, did he? Olson noted that he'd submit his prepared remarks for the record and just make a few brief statements to which the Chair replied, "That'll be fine." Did Petraeus read his entire prepared remarks? No. He declared, "I too have submitted a written statement for the record and will summarize it here." He declared that. As opposed to everything else which he read word-for-word from a prepared statement. That is correct. Petraeus showed up with a 56 page statement and also with a written statement that was supposed to be more 'off the cuff' and 'brief.'

Brief? Eighteen minutes and thirty-four seconds after he began his opening remarks he used the phrase "In conclusion." A minute and sixteen seconds later, after referring to "our troopers" when he meant "troops" and "unvavering" when he meant "unwavering," he was finally done. Finally. Nearly 20 minutes for an opening statement?

In his written remarks and read-aloud-but-written (opening statement) remarks, he gave what he always gives. For example, does he ever speak of Iraq without offering "but the gains there remain fragile and reversible"? Senator Joe Lieberman noted that phrase as well. And during his exchange with Lieberman the issue of the draw-down was raised. "[. . .]" indicates I'm not interested in Joe Lieberman's Happy Talk of the illegal war and have edited him out.

Senator Joe Lieberman: [. . .] whether it is still going to be possible or we should desire to draw down to 50,000 American troops in Iraq by September 1st of this year? It's obviously not a goal, a draw down required by the Status Of Forces Agreement with Iraq. It's a good goal but I'm sure -- you'd say -- you'd be the first to say, we don't want to arbitrarily go to it if we think there's risk of a reversal as a result. So give me your sense at this moment of whether we'll be able to get down to the 50,000 by September 1st?

Gen David Petraeus: I think we will be able to do that, Senator. I think that in fact we may reconfigure the force a bit over what we were originally were thinking it would look like say four months or so ago. We're constantly tinkering with it There's a possibility we may want to keep an additional brigade headquarters, as an example, but then slim out some of its organic forces and some of the other organic forces elsewhere. Headquarters really matter in these kinds because they're the the element of engagement. And if indeed we think there's a particularly fragile situation say in a certain area in the north, we might do that. And that's something we are looking at. But we still believe we will be able to stay on track to get down to that 50,000 figure.

Lieberman stated that would mean there would be a 7th Brigade headquarters and Petraeus agreed and that it would be somewhere around Kirkuk. Kat 's going to cover some of the hearing at
her site and Wally will cover another exchange on the numbers in Iraq at Rebecca's site tonight.

Switching to Suzy Sority, the
New York Times' Matthew Longo. A pampered child who, like all the brown nosers who came before him, goes for the easy applause from the adults by attacking other students. (Let's hope those undergraduates caught what the prissy grad student had to say about them.) Apathy, Matthew Longo has discovered it and it's here, in River City, right here in River City, with the young! They're apathetic and so disconnected from the war, unlike him, Longo wants you to know. It's the apathy of the young, he insists. So much easier to blame the people than to offer a media critique, right? Iraq disappeared from the media radar some time ago and only resurfaced in the last two weeks as a means for gas bagging over the (unknown) election outcome. But blame the people and not the media. What the brown noser can't find, Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soapbox) sees in DC:

Well, I have good news for all these people who have been lamenting over the lack of young people in our Peace Movement: they are out here at Camp OUT NOW on the lawn of the Washington Monument.
We set up our
Peace Camp today (Obama flew over us in his helicopter twice) with very little glitches, except a few involving our permit and the Park Police. For the very first, very cold day, we had a solid 50 people, and the best news is, 25 of them are college students, and one of my organizers is a senior at Catholic University.
Today as I observed the young people interacting with each other and the other activists, I felt such energy and a renewed sense of real hope. For some people, the struggle for peace has lasted decades, even for me. I have been working so hard for almost six years now.

Students for a Democratic Society aren't apathetic.
They released the following last week:

Funk the War 9: Bad Romance Student power against Obama's recession empire
Funk the War, light the bed on fire, and break free from this bad romance! Washington, DC. March 19, the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Student mutiny against the War on Terror: Fund Education, Not War & Occupation.
Obama's got us singing like Lady Gaga, "I want your love and all your lover's revenge." Thousands of anti-war youth fell in love with Obama and dropped everything to build his campaign. He seduced us with promises of hope and change from Bush's abuses, all the while refusing to give up his lust for the War on Terror.
We've been together a while now and Obama keeps expanding the War on Terror in the Middle East and Central Asia. He's taking advantage of record youth unemployment and skyrocketing college costs to drag young people into a war we've got nothing to gain from. More soldiers trapped in the War on Terror are committing suicide than ever before. Obama, "Baby, you're sick."
March 19th is the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and the occupation's going strong. It's time to Funk the War, light the bed on fire, and break free from this bad romance.
"Walk, walk, fashion baby, work it!" DC SDS is calling for a massive student power dance party against empire to disrupt the corporate-political war machine in streets of the capital city. We refuse to let another year of war in Iraq and war on our youth pass by without resistance. Join us in the streets and help build an unstoppable student & youth anti-war movement in 2010.
Assemble your crew, practice your moves, and throw on them dancing shoes. We'll be hosting anti-imperialist education events, direct action trainings, dance floor mayhem, and smaller actions in the lead up to March 19th. Get in touch if you'd like to attend or host an event or if we can help support your resistance efforts: strategic planning, action trainings, logistical support, we'd love to help. We'll see you in the streets.
Upcoming events in Washington, DC:
[. . .]
* March 19: Funk the War: Bad Romance * March 20: Mass march against the war; Funk the War post-action meet-up
More information: visit us on the interwebs at email: phone: Sam 202-436-2075; Rachel 609-529-6415

Most likely, the problem isn't the students Matthew Longo encounters; the problem's Longo himself. March 20th, in DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles, marches against Obama's continued wars will take place. The wars continue. In an essay entitled "
Changing the Dynamic" (World Can't Wait), Debra Sweet nails it. By refusing to force Bush out of office in disgrace -- he didn't even have the threat of impeachment hanging over his head (thanks, Nancy Pelosi) -- we're now stuck with this cloud of 'normalcy' lingering over his policies which Barack Obama has embraced and continued. Read the essay. We'll note this from it on what you can do:
You can join in and support this resistance now.
Sustain World Can't Wait's work! Help spread this national movement.
Join in protest Saturday March 20, marking the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Washington DC, noon, The White House, or other cities nationwide.
Become a War Crimes Watcher; help bring the Bush era war criminals to justice by protesting wherever they appear publicly.
Get involved with the
We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour, bringing Iraq & Afghanistan war veterans into high schools to help students resist recruiters.

Finally, TV note.
NOW on PBS begins airing Friday on most PBS stations (check local listings):

There are places in the world where the success of a soap opera is measured not just in TV ratings, but in human lives. On March 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW travels to Kenya, where ambitious producers and actors hope one such TV show, "The Team", can help foster peace amongst the country's 42 official tribes. During presidential elections two years ago, tribalism-influenced protests in Kenya left almost 1,500 dead and nearly 300,000 displaced. Tensions continue today over issues including extreme poverty and widespread corruption.In "The Team", soccer players from different tribes work together to overcome historic rivalries and form a common bond. The hope is that commonalities portrayed in fiction can inspire harmony in the real world. Early reaction to the show's inaugural season is promising. "I was very surprised to see how Kenyans want change, how they want to live in peace and the way the responded to us," Milly Mugadi, one of the show's stars, noted during a local screening. "There were people from different tribes talking about peace and how to reconcile with each other... they opened up their hearts."John Marks, whose organization Common Ground produces versions of "The Team" in 12 different countries, is cautiously hopeful. "You don't watch one of our television shows and drop your submachine gun," explains Marks, who says he was inspired by the influence of "All in the Family" on American culture. "But you can change the environment so it becomes more and more difficult to be in violent conflict."Can this soap opera for social change really make a difference in stopping violence? Next on NOW.

nprmorning editionquil lawrence
the huffington post michael schwartz
cindy sheehan
the new york times
alsumaria tv
richard gizbertlistening post
mcclatchy newspapers
hannah allam
the christian science monitor
the world cant waitdebra sweet
pbsnow on pbs