Thursday! One day until the weekend! :D Okay, going to talk mainly about "homeland security" and Hillary tonight. First up, C.I. told me to check out the transcript from the Bully Boy's press conference today for this:
Q Mr. President, you've stressed over and over in recent days particularly the importance of FISA reform to help keep America safe, and yet you have not yet filled a key national security post. Fran Townsend announced her resignation months ago, in November. What is the delay there, and what are Americans to make of that delay? Is America less safe because of it?
THE PRESIDENT: We got a fine man named Joel Bagnal working that office right now. He's a professional. I trust his judgment. He's a real good guy. And no, they shouldn't worry about Joel. He knows what he's doing.
Q But, sir, the American --
THE PRESIDENT: John.
Q The Homeland Security Advisor is a key post. What's taking so long?
THE PRESIDENT: Joel Bagnal has occupied the position, Elaine. He's doing the job, and I've got confidence in him. And so should the American people have confidence in him. He's a fine professional. He knows what he's doing. And I'm very comfortable in saying, on your cameras, that our staff in the White House, led by Joel Bagnal, knows what they're doing when it comes to advising the President on matters of homeland security.
Do you get that? While Bully Boy's screaming Dems are endangering "homeland security," the nation still doesn't have a Homeland Security Advisor. I read it and just shook my head. Then I started thinking when did Townsend announce she was leaving? So I googled. Here's C.I.'s from November 20th of last year:
Meanwhile -- we're not linking to any of the nonsense -- US Homeland Security chief Frances Fragos Townsend is issuing warnings of upcoming, possible attacks while announcing she's leaving her post at the first of next year. While there's some credit earned for the honesty of not hiding behind 'family' -- FFT is very clear that there's money to be made in the private sector and she she intends to clean up with what her on the job training on tax payer money has provided her with -- if FFT truly believes the statements she's issuing (we've heard them all before -- election time is 'dangerous'), exactly why the hell is she stepping down? There was a time in the United States where officials were expected to do their jobs. She's saying there's a job to be done but there's money to be made in the private sector and greed win out. Though they've issued enough warnings (this administration) to be dubbed Chicken Little even by many supporters, should an attack take place, remember FFT chose greed over national security. If that seems harsh, she wasn't on an advisory board nor did she express, when appointed, a desire to brush up her resume and then rush out the door.
Do you get that? She not only announced she was leaving, she did so while announcing "threats" the country was under. And Bully Boy's doing nothing. He's not named a nominee. It will be March this weekend. Townsend announced she was leaving in November. So anything goes wrong in this country, remember Townsend announced her departure back in November and Bully Boy's done nothing to fill her post.
What did her post entail? This is from Townsend's White House bio:
Ms. Frances Fragos Townsend was appointed Homeland Security Advisor by the President on May 28th, 2004. Ms. Townsend chairs the Homeland Security Council and reports to the President on United States Homeland Security policy and Combating Terrorism matters.
Sounds kind of important, doesn't it? Turkey continues to invade Iraq and this is from Great Britain's Socialist Worker, "Turkish invasion of Iraq is extension of 'war on terror':"
Thousands of Turkish troops have launched an attack into northern Iraq in a dangerous escalation of their war against Kurdish separatists.
The Turkish military have destroyed bridges, fired salvos of artillery into the villages in the border region and threatened to attack any home that gives refuge to fleeing PKK fighters.
Warplanes have been launching daily attacks on northern Iraq since Turkey began a military campaign against PKK militants in December.
Now the troops are reported to have pushed 15 miles into northern Iraq and to have seized PKK forward bases, confirming fears that they plan to establish a "buffer zone" along the border.
This has raised fears that future incursions will extend deeper into Iraqi Kurdish areas.
The PKK emerged out of a struggle against the repression of Turkey's 20 million Kurds. The organisation has made repeated calls for a ceasefire, but these have been rejected by Turkey. Now the military want to crush the militants.
The spread of the war to the north is a mark of the growing instability created by the US invasion of Iraq. The Kurdish regions had been the most stable, with northern Iraq becoming economically dependent on Turkey.
The US promised Turkey that it would crush the PKK, but it feared this would alienate Kurdish parties who are key allies of the occupation forces.
And Iraq's Turkoman minority, who are ethnic Turks, have been the target of sectarian cleansing by the US-backed Kurdish parties as they attempt to seize control over the oil rich city of Kirkuk.
Turkey's Kurdish population has reacted to the invasion with mass demonstrations. One witness told Socialist Worker, "There is now a heavy police presence in many Kurdish areas in Istanbul and other big cities and the possibility of further clashes is high."
"Police used clubs and tear gas this Monday to disperse mass demonstrations in the city of Diyarbakir in the east of the country. One protester died after being hit by an armoured car."
Stop Turkey's invasion, protest 12 noon, Sunday 2 March, Dalston Junction, Hackney, London E8. Called by Turkish and Kurdish organisations. Backed by Stop the War Coalition
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Amy The Media Whore Goodman can never note any endorsements Hillary Clinton gets so let me do what's too hard for the Media Whore. This is "Ohio for Hillary Announces Statewide Endorsements:"
Support Grows Among Buckeye State Leaders as Primary
COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio for Hillary today announced the endorsements of Mayors and community leaders from across Ohio. Today’s endorsers join the growing ranks of Hillary’s supporters in the Buckeye State, adding to her momentum as the March 4 primary approaches.
"I am so thankful for the support of these dedicated public servants," said Senator Clinton. "Their leadership is bringing about needed change in communities across Ohio, and I look forward to working with them to strengthen our economy and rebuild the middle class."
Elected officials joining the growing list of distinguished Ohio leaders who have endorsed Hillary for President include:
Tiffin Mayor Bernard Hohman
Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith
Mt. Gilead Mayor Mike Porter
Wilmington Mayor David L. Raizk
Marion Mayor Scott Schertzer
Clark County Commissioner Roger Tackett
Hillsboro Mayor Richard Zink
I'm not done yet. This is "More than 100 Rhode Island Women Join Lt. Gov. Roberts to Support Hillary Clinton for President:"
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend discusses Clinton’s advocacy for women across the globe
Providence, RI - Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts today joined women from around Rhode Island in launching "Rhode Island Women for Hillary" a grassroots organization to encourage women to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign to become America’s first women president. The group gathered at 3 Steeple Street, a woman-owned business in Providence, to highlight Hillary Clinton’s commitment to issues affecting women in the U.S. and across the globe.
Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed, former Senate Republican Minority Leader Lila Sapinsley and Bristol resident Suzanne Magaziner have joined Roberts as chairwomen of the group that will organize women for Senator Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy for president.
"From advocating for equal pay, to protecting a woman’s right to choose, to fighting for equal rights for women across the globe, Hillary Clinton is a true champion for women’s rights and a tireless advocate for policies that positively affect the lives of women and families," said former Lt. Gov. Townsend. "As the first woman lieutenant governor in the state of Maryland, I know a little something about breaking political glass ceilings. I am particularly excited about the prospect of electing a woman president as it will inspire women and girls across our nation."
"Hillary Clinton’s commitment to health care for every American is a mission I care about deeply. Our commitment is shared by millions of Americans who understand that health care is vital to creating jobs and creating security for our families. Thousands of Rhode Island women will support Hillary Clinton because we know that she shares our priorities," said Lt. Gov. Roberts. "Over the coming days, we will work together to make history and put Hillary Clinton on the path to becoming our first woman president."
To date, more than 100 women have signed on as members of the group that will organize their friends and family on behalf of Senator Clinton and list continues to grow each day. Organizers also announced a "10 to 1 Challenge" whereby members of the group will each gather names of ten women they know to support Hillary Clinton for president.
The goal is to reach more than 1,000 in the next 72 hours, the kick-off to GOTV efforts in Rhode Island. Rhode Island Women for Hillary will participate in phone banking, canvassing and other field operations in the days leading up to the primary.
Lt. Gov. Roberts and former Lt. Gov. Kennedy Townsend, U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy’s eldest child, encouraged Rhode Island women to show their strength by contributing to the get out the vote efforts on the final weekend of the campaign, delivering a victory for Hillary Clinton on March 4th.
Roberts, Rhode Island's highest-ever statewide female officeholder, and other women in attendance spoke about Clinton's plan to end wage discrimination in the workplace, increase capital for women-owned businesses and continue to expand access to family planning, while protecting privacy of women and their reproductive rights.
Still not done. I'm going to quote from Ava and C.I.'s "Panhandle Media" about how 'independent' media stacks the deck against Hillary.
After the introductory segment from the KPFT reporter was quickly dismissed with, you couldn't find Texas -- despite the blathering. Lusane said young Latinos in Texas were for Bambi -- he can see that from DC apparently. Lou Dubose was brought on for a few minutes to offer musings from Austin. Austin is the latte area of Texas, Austin is not reflective of the state (Molly Ivins, Dubose's one-time writing partner, used to note that very often in her own writing and commentaries). What Dubose claimed to see in Austin was typical of what one always sees in Austin during election years. It was pure garbage that pimped Bambi but then Dubose is supporting Bambi.
Which is why he insulted "Mexican-Americans". He was dusting off his old comments from when he lived in the state. A thing happened while he was out of the state, he doesn't appear to know about it (not surprising, his focus is White Anglo men). That would be the 2006 march in Dallas for immigration rights which is the largest march that has ever taken place in Texas. Dubose seems unaware of it. But it doesn't matter, apparently, because Dubose asserted, "Mexican-Americans voters don't turn out as much."
We're unaware why, if the Latino vote's being discussed (we'd say mishandled), by the African-American Lusane, the White Flanders, Dubose and Bensky, that there wasn't an actual Latino or Latina brought on to discuss the issue. Over and over, listeners were given the unsupported claim that young Latinos were supporting Barack Obama. Really?
We were speaking in Texas last week and what we saw was far different. Take, for example, Dallas. The image is the cover of the Thursday Quick (local freebie that's put out by The Dallas Morning News) which we grabbed late Thursday as we arrived in Dallas. On Friday young Latinos showed up at Hillary events. We were on campuses all day and the Latino students were bringing up that event, they were speaking of how it was the first time they'd gone to see any candidate, they were showing the fliers they'd taken (pledging to turnout for Hillary). Or take San Antonio early in the week where we saw nothing but Hillary supporters. We're not Hillary campaigners. Our talks are about the illegal war. El Paso? We saw the same thing. We saw huge support for Hillary among young Latinos on campus after campus.
So who was right? The gas bags of 'independent' media (who support Barack Obama) and could see what was happening on the ground in Texas from DC and NYC and California? Or Ava and C.I. who were in Texas speaking to college and high school students? Click here and you'll find that "a new poll released today shows Senator Hillary Clinton with a commanding 41 point lead over Senator Barack Obama." Ooops for KPFA! Ava and C.I. were right. They knew that, they knew what they were seeing. But Panhandle Media lies, LIES and LIES SOME MORE to try to push Bambi into the White House.
Getting to the snapshot. As I said yesterday, I thought C.I. was holding off to give us all a chance to weigh in and give us links. If you read it, you'll see that is what happened. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Thursday, Feburary 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the Turkish invasion of northern Iraq continues, the House Armed Services committee holds a hearing, and more.
Starting with war resisters. Stephen Lendman (Global Research) reviews a new book by Francis A. Boyle ("distinguished University of Illinois law professor, activist, and internationally recognized expert on international law and human rights") entitled Protesting Power -- War, Resistance and Law (available in hardcover for $75.00 and in softcover for $24.95). Lendman notes Boyle was not allowed to testify at Camilo Mejia's court-martial but did get to give testimony during the sentencing and was allowed to testify at Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing (August 2006) but not at the court-martial. Lendman summarizes Watada's February 2007 court-martial: "It began in February under very constricted rules -- denying a First Amendment defense and disallowing one questioning the legality of the war. However, legality issues were impossible to exclude, they directly related to charges brought, and the prosecution introduced them at trial. In addition, Watada firmly stated before testifying that he refused to deploy because of the war's illegality. Unable to pressure him not to so testify, the presiding judge" -- that would be Judge Toilet (aka John Head) -- declared a mistrial. He'd lost control of the proceeding, knew Watada was on solid ground, and had to prevent his evidence from being introduced to avoid the embarrassing possibility of an acquittal on one or all charges. If it happened, the war's illegality would have been exposed and its continuation jeopardized. Under the Fifth Amendment 'double jeopardy' clause, Watada cannot be retried on the same charges." In June 2006, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the Iraq War.
Meanwhile war resisters who have moved to Canada were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (email@example.com -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."
That action takes place next month. Today Kevin G. Hall (McClatchy Newspapers) reports on Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz whose new book with Linda Bilmes (The Three Trillion Dollar War) explains how the costs of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War are now over three trillion dollars. Hall reports, "In an interview, Stiglitz said that too much of the public debate has been over the wars' operational costs while the real budget strains would show up only years from now. 'The peak expenditures are way out,' he said, noting that the peak expenditures for World War II vets came in 1993." On the issue of costs of the illegal war, US House Rep Walter Jones declared today, "Uncle China is lending Uncle Sam money to fund the wars!"
Jones made his remark in this morning's House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Deptartment of the Army. Committee chair Ike Skelton noted in his opening statement, "Today's hearing is arguably the most important we will hold this year. We are a nation at war. The Army is faced with an avalanche of demands for ground forces, demands from multiple armed conflicts, from security commitments made to defend our allies and overseas interests, from a requirment to deter potential enemies around the world, and from a mandate to defend the homeland. . . . Today, the Army, along with the rest of the Department of Defense, is at risk of not being able to answer the demands of that strategy without suffering losses that this nation has previously deemed unacceptable." Those offering testimony to the committee were General George Casey -- former top commander in Iraq and now Chief of Staff US army -- and Pete Geren, the Secretary of the Army. The topic was the proposed financing requests for 2009.
Casey maintained that the US military was "not broken, it's not hollow, I lived through hollow in the early seventies." Casey was spinning and his pat answer when he doesn't have a response is to fall back on "General Pace will be here in April" or "That's more of a question for General Petraeus." While US House Rep Gene Taylor was concerned with IED jammers and the lack of training the military has with those (before deploying to Iraq), Rep Silvestre Reyes was concerned with his own political career. Reyes' questions revolved around the November elections and how he could get "beat up" if the Democrats are seen as "the party of earmarks." Therefore Reyes wanted Casey to respond whether or not Casey would back Congress if Congress gave the Army what he was asking for. Casey rambled but got no where leading Skelton to assert, "Excuse me, general, you're not answering the question." Skeleton urged Reyes to "restate" the question. Reyes explained he was asking if Casey would defend the Congress for asking for these items when the attacks of "Congress of earmarks" come in. In fairness to Casey, what Reyes meant by "defend" was never clear. Casey's requesting the items in an opening hearing. It's doubtful (and illegal) for Casey to appear in an attack ad on Congress in the upcoming elections. So was Reyes asking for a press release? For a press conference? It was never clear. However, it was very clear Reyes' first concern is how he will fair in the November elections.
US House Rep Solomon Ortiz was concerned with the "long range budget" and whether it fixes problems or not? Ortiz chairs the committee's subcommittee on Readiness and is co-sponsor, with Neil Abercrombie, of HR 834 which proposes: "That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that because serious readiness shortfalls exist within the Army, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Reserves, severely limiting the ability of the ground forces to respond effectively to any contingency or threat, at home or abroad and thus creating a potentially dangerous level of risk to the national security of the United States, Congress should restore and maintain the ground forces at the highest levels of readiness in the interest of national security and to ensure the integrity of the entire military force."
US House Rep Patrick Murphy was also concerned about readiness. He wanted to know specifically that, regardless of any upcoming announcements, would the length of tours be reduced. On Tuesday of this week, Casey and Geren appeared before the Senate's Armed Service Committee also offering testimony on the 2009 Fiscal Year. From that hearing, the only thing that the media picked up on was that tours in Iraq and Afghanistan would (maybe) drop from fifteen months to twelve months. (Some outlets picked up on the stop-loss issue, stop-loss will continue but they 'hope' to drop the numbers from 8,000 to 7,000 -- ignored was Senator Jim Webb's questioning of Casey which produced Casey's claim that the UCMJ had been applied to Defense Department contractors serving in Iraq.) Murphy wanted to know specifically with the Afghanistan War still going on, an incomplete serach for Osama bin laden, with "the majority of our military in Iraq," what happens "if we're still bogged down refereeing a civil war in Iraq?" And when Petraeus appears before Congress, Murphy wanted to know, "What happens" in terms of the reduction of tours of duty "if he comes back to us and says we need a 'pause' not a 'drawdown.' Casey maintained that regardless of a "a brief pause, as you say, that will not impact our ability to come off of 15 months . . . the most important thing for us to do is to come off 15 months."
Murphy noted that "we're begging for about 7,000 troops for Afghanistan from our allies" and wondered if Congress needed to "mandate that if you deploy for 15 months, you're home for 15 months, if you deploy for 12 months, you're home for 12 months"? Casey wasn't keen on that idea and claimed it would interfere with the military's ability to do their job. Which makes the 'promise' Casey and Geren made earlier this week seem even more hollow (even more hollow than Casey claimed, in today's hearings, his experiences in the seventies were).
Casey wasn't making promises. He was seriously confused and repeatedly referred to Representatives as "Senator" and was repeatedly corrected. He made a fool of himself injecting a joke into the proceedings "about the heart surgeon and the motor mechanic" with the heart surgeon explaining, "I do my work with the motor running." No one was laughing. (He was attempting to put foward the claim that it was difficult to train Iraqis in the midst of an illegal war.) But the comment that should be noted, because it may come back to haunt him, was when Rep Gene Taylor wanted to know about how prepared the military command was for what could happen in Iraq (porous borders) and weapons could come from in from anywhere -- any kind of weapons. Taylor dropped back to the Afghanstian War of the 80s and noted that the Russians were aware of Stingers but hadn't expected them to show up in that war. Casey responded, "Congressman, I am confident that we are doing everything to anticipate what the enemy might do and how he might do it."
Rep Walter Jones stated, "I think we've already had victory in Iraq." Though a fan of the escalation, Jones was referring to the immediate invasion. He wanted Casey to define "victory" in the Iraq War so that everyone would know "when this happens, the game is over, we have won." Casey fell back on his favorite cop-out, "That's more of a question for General Petraeus." Pressed further, Casey declared, "I believe we are working toward and need to get our presence down to a level that is acceptable to us and the Iraqis." He stated that as soon as the Iraqi security forces are where they need to be to maintain 'order,' that's 'success': "That's what I believe it looks like." Jones wasn't cheerleading that (and he cheerleads a lot). He insisted, "It's the same thing year afte ryear, year after year and the country [United States] cannot continue to wait 10 years, 100 years, for Iraqis" to take control of their country. Skelton also wasn't quick to accept this wave of Operation Happy Talk -- that it's just a matter of training and it's being done and things are going fine. He asked Casey, "Is it not true that the American army began seriously training the Iraqi forces in late 2004?" Casey answered it was true and it began in April or May. What followed was Skelton attempting to ask questions and Casey cutting in repeatedly. Consider the following paraphrasing. Skelton pointed out, "2005, 2006, 2007 and now we're well into 2008. Could you give us a target date as to when the Iraqi forces can be fully trained to take on their own security -- take it over and the United States Army can come home?" Casey replied, "They're going to need our help for some period of time." Skelton pointed out of his constitutents, "Folks at home say, 'How long have we been there? How much longer do we have to be there to train up these folks?" and stated that "somewhere along the line we ought to say, 'It's your baby'." [This is where Casey inserted his bad joke about the heart surgeon and the motor mechanic.]
One of the training 'successes' is the "Awakening" Councils or "Sons of Iraq." Now you've got a group that walked out this month and another that's on strike. On top of that, Sudarsan Raghavan and Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) report that the turncoats on a dime "are increasingly frustrated with the American military and the Iraqi government over what they see as a lack of recognition of their growing political clout and insufficient U.S. support." The reporters note that those who walked out in Diyala Province wanting the police chief fired said yesterday "they would disband completely if their demands were not met." This on the heels of the news that the highly touted legislative 'success' wasn't all of that. As noted yesterday, on February 25th White House flack Dana Perino was stating, "The President has been working towards reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shia, and it's actually working on a political level in some ways. Especially we saw that last month, when they passed three laws in one day, which was quite a significant achievement for the Iraqis." However, provincial elections were one of the three and that legislation hit a roadblock. Steve Lannen (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the importance of what just got trashed, "The rejected bill, which sets out the political structure for Iraq's provincial governments and establishes a basis for elections in October, was only the second of 18 U.S.-set political benchmarks that the war-tore nation needs to reach." The now trashed law, Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) notes, "called for provincial elections by October, and it was hoped that it would eliminate severe electoral distortions that have left Kurds and Shiites with vastly disproportionate power over Sunni Arabs in some areas, a factor in fueling the Sunni insurgency. It would also have given Iraqis who have long complained of corrupt and feckless local leaders a chance to clean house and elect officials they believe are more accountable." Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times) explains who threw out the roadblock, "The presidential council consists of President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, Shiite Muslim Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi and Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq Hashimi. They gave lawmakers vague reasons for rejecting the law, which includes dozens of articles, assuring them that they would provide notes later."
Meanwhile Turkey's invasion into northern Iraq continues. At the White House today, Bully Boy was asked about the invasion and he responded, "One, the Turks, the Americans, and the Iraqis, including the Iraqi Kurds, share a common enemy in the PKK. And secondly, it's in nobody's interests that there be a safe haven for people who are -- have the willingness to kill innocent people." Bully Boy went on to echo US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' earlier remarks, "I strongly agree with the sentiments of Secretary Gates, who said that the incursion must be limited, and must be temporary in nature. In other words, it shouldn't be long-lasting. But the Turks need to move quickly, achieve their objective, and get out." Reuters reports that Turkish singer Bulent Ersoy appeared on Turkish TV Thursday declaring that, "A war is waged with conspiracies designed in office rooms. Some people write it and everyone is forced to play along. If I were fertile and had a child, I could not accept burying him for others' plans." (Ersoy was a popular singer long before her sex change operation in 1981. Following that, she left the country due to some regulations. In 1988 she returned to Turkey and remains a very popular entertainer.) Great Britain's Socialist Worker concludes, "The spread of the war to the north is a mark of the growing instability created by the US invasion of Iraq. The Kurdish regions had been the most stable, with northern Iraq becoming economically dependent on Turkey. The US promised Turkey that it would crush the PKK, but it feared this would alienate Kurdish parties who are key allies of the occupation forces."
Kim Gamel (AP) reports that yesterday US forces killed a man in Muqdadiyah for wearing a "bulky jacket" and having "his hands in his pockets" and that "Iraqi police in Diyala province, where Muqdadiyah is located, said the slain man was elderly and suffered from mental disabilities and hearing problems. The police, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said the killing occurred in a market."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing wounded two people, a Habbaniyah bombing claimed 1 life and left two more people wounded and (last night on this one), Mudhaffar Turki ("chariman of the observation and complaints department in the integrity committee") was targeted with an unsuccessful assassination attempt in Baghdad that left him and another person wounded. KUNA reports six people were wounded in a Mosul bombing.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an "Awakening" council member was shot dead in Diyala Province. KUNA reports 2 police officers were shot dead in Mosul today.
Kidnappings and torchings?
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "the director of the southern branch of the electricy company" was kidnapped in Basra today while five homes were set fire and burned down in Diyala Province.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 3 in Al Anbar Province.
Turning to the media landscape. Carol Jenkins (Womens Media Center) notes last weekend's Saturday Night Live sketches [here for Ava and my piece on that], "The show recognized what many observers had come to feel: the media has conducted itself poorly and are worthy of parody. And watching Tim Russert, parodying himself last night, scowling eyebrows, raised voice, blustery manner and slightly weird questions -- encapsulated what's wrong with the media. Time seemed to have the mistaken believe that he was the third debater, an impression only heightened after the debate when Chris Matthews repeatedly lauded Russert on 'reeling in' Hillary Clinton with a question on her war vote." The Iraq War. Jenkins goes on to list Howard Kurtz and Howard Fineman as among those recognizine a media bias -- a pro-Obama media bias. But it's not just Real Media, it's also Panhandle Media. Take the trash that passes for 'journalism' on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! these days. To her credit, Goodman didn't lead the headlines today with Chris Dodd's endorsement of Bambi; however, as Marcia pointed out yesterday, Goodman led it with it on Wednesday after having already included it as a "news" "headline" on Tuesday. Jeremy Scahill was a guest on the program today to discuss his talk with a foreign policy advisor on the Obama campaign (everyone assumes it's Samantha Power and the statements/justifications do read as if they're from her -- here for his article at Common Dreams on this topic). Goody played a clip from the debate. She didn't play the exchange everyone's working hard to ignore. We noted the exchange Tuesday night and Rebecca noted it Tuesday night. From the New York Times transcript of the debate:SEN. CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war? [. . .]SEN. OBAMA: Let me just follow up. My objections to the war in Iraq were simply -- not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why. And so when I bring this up, it is not simply to say "I told you so," but it is to give you an insight in terms of how I would make decisions.
Did you catch the lie? Common Dreams can't stop pushing Bambi off on their readers including today. Click here for the bad 2002 speech (it calls out the illegal war, yes, it is a bad speech and one that takes for granted that Iraq had WMD which they didn't). What's the date on that speech? October 2, 2002. Obama was not "in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign." He did not run for the US Senate in 2002. He was running for the Illinois state senate. It was not "a high-stakes campaign." He was running for re-election. He won the seat in 1996. He ran for re-election in 1998 and won. He ran for re-election in 2000 and won. He won for re-election in 2002 and won. It was not a statewide campaign. His race was one of 59 state senate races taking place in Illinois in 2002. [For Bambi as a state legislator, MyDD recommends Todd Spivak's article in the latest edition of the Houston Press.]
Since we noted Bambi's lies, Rebecca and I have had all sorts of whiners complaining that Bambi was referring to something else. As with Bully Boy, there's a lot of "Obama really means" going on (Jeremy Scahill takes part in peering into Obama's soul on Democracy Now! today). So let's go slow for the really stupid who think a politician's statements can be 'fixed.'
When was Bambi in a high-stakes race? The Democratic 2004 primary race? No. His only real opponent, Blair Hull, was done in by a whisper campaign launched by Barack Obama's campaign. They used their usual press contacts (including the same writer at The Chicago Tribune who's always been Bambi's bag man) to push rumors about Hull's former marriage repeatedly. But let's pretend that Bambi, commenting on 2002, actually was referring to that 2004 primary race. Did it take a lot to be against the illegal war? No. Blair Hull, a veteran, was also against the Iraq War. Dick Durbin's opposition to the illegal war wasn't held against him by the voters of Illinois. So it wasn't the primary. What about the campaign for the general election, was that "high-stakes" for Bambi to stake out a position against the illegal war? [He was not against the illegal war during this time, but let's all buy the lie.]
March 16, 2004 was the primary election. Obama won the Democratic primary, Jack Ryan won the Republican primary. The Obama campaign launched a whisper campaign against Jack Ryan almost immediately. And, not surprisingly, Obama's usual crowd of supporters today were penning columns on his Senate run. The whisper campaign gets real traction beginning in late April (whisper campaign against Jack Ryan and his ex-wife Jeri Ryan). You have The Chicago Tribune (and a local station) suing to unseal the records. Jack Ryan is out of the race June 25th. Three months after Obama became the Democratic nominee in the Senate race. "High-stakes"? No. July? No oppenent at all. A few consider it but none decide on running. August 8, 2004 is when Alan Keyes agrees to become the GOP nominee. Keyes did not (and never had) lived in Illinois. In 1988, he ran for the US Senate from Maryland and only got 38% of the vote, in 1992 he ran again and only got 29% of the vote. He was a joke and there was no "high-stakes" involved in his campaign. 27% would be the percentage of the vote Keyes received. That needs to be noted. Barack Obama has never won a tough state-wide race. In the state legislature, he was representing one of 59 districts. In 2004, whisper campaigns killed off his only real competition and he was left to run against professional joke Alan Keyes.
Barack Obama lied. There was never a "high-stakes" campaign he was in where it hurt him to be against the war. But while doing his US Senate race, he was against US troops leaving Iraq. That is reality and it will be addressed more tonight. Liars like Amy Goodman would prefer you not know that reality. But Obama was not calling for "TROOPS HOME NOW!" when he ran for the US Senate. That's a lie or, if you prefer, a fairy tale.
The debate was an embarrassment for Obama. As Ruth points out, he repeatedly cribbed from Hillary Clinton's answers as if he didn't have time to do his own homework. As Mike points out, Obama's 'excuse' for not holding meetings of the Senate subcommittee he chairs (one whose terrain includes NATO and Afghanistan) is laughable, "I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign." Then you decline the offer to be chair you do not let 14 months go by without holding a hearing. The Afghanistan War is not our scope, but it hasn't ended. Obama demonstrates no leadership but does suggest that he puts his own ego ahead of elected duties. As Kat and Rebecca pointed out last night, Bambi belittles Hillary's very real experience. Of course, when you don't have something, you campaign has to belittle it. We saw that take place in 2004 when the GOP belittled John Kerry's record of serving in Vietnam. As Elaine pointed out, his manner of destroying candidates in the past focused on whispers about their marriages. His campaign attempted to do that with the Clintons last year. When that failed (as always, the New York Times took the bait), it was time to find a new strategy: any criticism of Bambi is "racism." His campaign has played that strategy for months -- long before South Carolina but they really took it to a new level following New Hampshire. How long is that going to work? How long can every criticism be dismissed as "racism" before he turns off voters of all races?
In terms of Iraq, Dennis Ross argues in The New Republic that it's time for Hillary and Barack "to compromise on withdrawal from Iraq." He wants to argue (wrongly) that the escalation has worked (at least somewhat -- it's not worked at all). Ross futher wants to maintain that "if withdrawal is truly to be used as a lever to help broker such understandings" political understandings, "the approach to withdrawal needs to be more flexible and not driven by a rigid timetable." Yes, we've heard that "logic" every year of the illegal war (we've even heard it from Bambi himself). what makes this news is that Ross is an Obama advisor. It's not included in the column or in the slugline at the end. Ron Kampeas and Ami Eden (JTA) reported last August, "Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a group of Jewish communal lay leaders that he is receiving advice on Middle East issues from Dennis Ross. . . . The association with Ross could help Obama solve a key dilemma: how to win the confidence of hawkish pro-Israel donors without alienating his anti-war base. . . Eric Lynn, Obama's liaison to the Jewish community, told JTA that his boss and Ross have had a realtionship for several years." The reporters then quote Lynn quoting Obama, "He says, 'Tony Lake and Susan Rice are my top foreign advisers,' but when it comes to the Middle East, Dennis Ross informally advises the senator."
There's no time but Cynthia McKinney is running for the Green Party's nomination for president. Terrny Morrone produced this video interview with McKinney which we will note in greater depth in tomorrow's snapshot. Correction to Tuesday's snapshot, Ralph Nader's 74th birthday was Wednesday not Tuesday. My apologies.
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