Friday, February 08, 2008

"Idiot of the week" and my interview with Marcia

Friday at last! :D The weekend. Got a lot to do tonight in terms of typing up my interview with Marcia but we've also got an idiot of the week since it's a demanded feature.

Idiot of the Week. Paul Rogat Loeb is the uncontested master. This is his award and he knows it. To be fair, he sat out this week. That allowed a blonde, ringletted boy to win. John Nichols. Nichols works overtime to push Bambi at The Nation. He's pop-eyed the maganificent, the Bette Davis of idiots to PRL's Meryl Streep. And he pulls to the lead this week by writing:

David Obey really did want to vote for John Edwards for president.
In fact, aside from the former candidate himself, there could be few better barometers than the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee for defining where "the Edwards vote" is headed now that his backers must choose between New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
And Obey has made that choice.

That would be David Obey who had a screaming fit captured on video. Screamed and yelled at Tina Richards, mother of Iraq War veteran Cloy Richards. Obey wanted to continue the illegal war, Richards wanted to end it. Only a douche like John Nichols would give a damn at this point what War Hawk Obey thought. Nichols is so stupid he might have even won the prize this week if PRL hadn't stepped aside. John Nichols is like a surfer riding whatever wave he thinks is popular. Which is how he 'wrote' that really bad book on impeachment in 2006 and then dropped the topic. It's how he shares his Bambi love with the world now. For a hilarious portrait of Johnny Five Cents, go read Betty's "Katrina's pep talk."

Okay, the interview.

SICKOFITRADLZ is the latest community site and it was started by community member Marcia. We spoke yesterday on the phone and this is the interview typed up.

You've explained it at your site but in case someone hasn't read that, explain the blog's title, SICKOFITRADLZ?

Marcia: I'm a lesbian and these days I think I'm a radical. I don't think I've changed in the last few years, I think a number of elements in the country have moved way to the right and, as a result, made me, a pretty generic lefty, suddenly appear to be a radical. I've been hearing that a lot lately, "Wow, you're such a radical." And the things I'm usually talking about are not radical at all. I'm not talking about blowing up something, for instance. I'm talking about things like self-respect. Like how, as a lesbian, when the LGBT community is insulted, we need to call it out and say it's not right. But there seems to be all these lowered expectations in this country, to the point that just calling out homophobia is suddenly radical. So "RAD" and "LZ" are in it for that reason. "SICK OF IT" because I'm really sick of it. And 'it' is the illegal war, homophobia, all the nonsense, all the stuff we thought we'd put behind us and progressed from that we've suddenly lost. Rebecca's had to create a mirror site [Politics Attitude (Rebecca's mirror site)] because her original site (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) has "sex" in the title and some schools were suddenly blocking it. Keeping that in mind, I took lesbian down to "LZ."

You're talking about things from your perspective. You're a lesbian and you're African-American. Rebecca's friend "t" -- who is both as well -- called me last week when I said I'd talk to you this week and she wanted to know how much that plays into your support of Hillary Clinton because, like you, t is supporting Hillary.

Marcia: I don't know anyone personally who is gay or lesbian that's supporting Obama. That has to do with his campaign's reliance on homophobia, yes. But it also has to do with the fact that the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, were the first White House that was welcoming to the gay community. Some like to pretend they were the first and then came the Bully Boy. While he'll be nice to a transgendered person that he went to college with who shows up for a reunion hosted at the White House, there's a big difference in inviting everyone in your graduating class and it happens that one man is now a woman and actually including people you know are gay and lesbian. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is an insult. But that's only due to the progress we made.

Talk about Don't Ask Don't Tell because for some people my age, we're talking about something in ancient history.

Marcia: Bill Clinton campaigned, in the 1992 campaign, with the promise that gays and lesbians would be able to serve in the US military. When he got into office and attempted to make that change -- and this is completely left out the narrative today, if you ask me -- this was what Republicans in Congress really began attacking him on. The road block was Colin Powell who made homophobic remarks and was the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With Republicans in Congress ripping apart any change and with media hero Colin saying it wasn't possible, Clinton came up with the compromise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Previously, you could be kicked out for being gay. Don't Ask, Don't Tell didn't change that. What it changed was that you could not be asked if you were gay. There couldn't officially be a witch hunt like there had been in the past.
I think there's a lesson about the Clintons in that. There was a huge attack on the White House and you had the media -- still homophobic -- up in arms as well. The easiest thing to do would be to say, "Can't keep the promise, Moving on to a new topic." That's not what happened. What happened was Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We have moved on from that and the policy is now insulting. That goes to the progress in this society. But Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a huge advance at its time. And the lesson there is that, contrary to the trashing in the press today, it wasn't "I'm dropping it because I'm getting attacked." Politicians make a lot of promises. To me, that's a reason to support the Clintons. I think it says something about them. If a promise is made and it can't be kept as is, they don't throw up their hands and say, "Can't do it, can't do anything." I think this goes to Hillary's own sense of experience as well. Don't Ask, Don't Tell wasn't perfect. It was an advance. And when openly serving wasn't going to happen, the Clinton move was to find an improvement that would. And that required fighting because even Don't Ask, Don't Tell had its opponents. I think of the attorney general issue and how the Patti Williams crowd, as I like to think of them, say, "He stabbed Lani in the back!" Uh, that's not what happened. The woman wrote some things, which I agreed with, that were taken out of context by the right-wing and her nomination was dead. There was no way she could fight it. They weren't taking her. They also didn't accept -- they is Congress -- Kimba Woods for another issue but you never have The Nation up in arms going "Poor Kimba!" Lani wrote statements that when selectively pulled put her out of the mainstream as the right demonized her. Now after Lani and Kimba, Bill Clinton could have given up and nominated a male for the post of attorney general. Instead he went with Janet Reno and the US got their first female attorney general. The other thing he's trashed for is the so-called welfare reform. I don't approve it and didn't in real time. But that was the Congress and Bill Clinton and there was a fear at the time that if that compromise wasn't agreed to, what was going to be pushed through by the right would be even worse. It's interesting, C.I. noted Francis Fox Piven in Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot," and I had forgotten that but Piven blamed, in real time, some of the people who've since shown up to decry what was done and act like they were fighting it. That includes a certain woman. Piven went to town on that woman saying she was inflating drive-by shootings -- which most people were, it was a concern but not in the alarmist way, it's the same as the whole over the counter drugs witch hunt today -- and she also went to town on the left which didn't speak out. I remember reading that in The Progressive. So it's real easy to say, "Bill Clinton did this!" But Bill Clinton's actions were in relation to what was going on. The right-wing was demonizing and pushing back hard. I'm not trying to paint Bill Clinton as a saint but I do think he did heroic things in his presidency and I do think Hillary did as First Lady. I think they also did awful things. But I'm not 18 years old and I'm not thinking, "They have to be gods with no flaws!"

That's interesting because I know my mother, who doesn't like the Clintons, is saying that if she votes Democratic she's going to have to be pragmatic due to who's now left as the likely nominee. Dad says he thinks she could vote for Clinton. I don't know about that. But we all know she won't vote for Obama. There is the homophobia and that is a big deal to my mother.

Marcia: I'm not surprised because we're talking about Trina and your mother seems to have this warm embrace for all and be the fighting mother we all wish we'd had. I picture her rushing around saying "Don't you pick on them" about every group. That's just how I see her. But I don't want to minimize what you're saying about her because a lot of other people aren't stepping up to the plate. In my area, this is a huge deal, that Obama's used homophobia. Someone was talking about a remark John McCain made, I didn't catch the remark but the implication was that it was homophobic. It was a Pacifica program and may have been Democracy Now! and I'm sorry, they have no sway currently with any gay person I know because they have refused to address the fact that Obama put homophobes -- and as C.I. has noted repeatedly, it was plural, everyone focuses on the 'recovered' gay gospel singer, but he put four homophobes on stage in South Carolina -- on stage to get the hate vote. That is disgusting and it is disgusting that it wasn't even worth it to left 'voices' to call out.

On that, you've especially noted Laura Flanders.

Marcia: Because she's a lesbian. I've had a ton of e-mails saying, "Laura's not a lesbian!" Which proves my point that when she had six hours of live radio every weekend, she yacked about her cat and hid the fact that she was a lesbian. The Washington Blade is a gay periodical. This is from their "Listening to the left: Air America host adds lesbian voice to liberal radio's lineup," okay? "Laura Flanders, another lesbian commentator on Air America Radio, hosts her own weekend show from 7 to 10 p.m. on the network. She appeals more to a 20-something crowd, an Air America spokesperson said." That's from February 2005. I can give you article after article on that. From the gay press. With the gay press, she's out. I know C.I. included her in "2007: The Year of Living Useless (Year in Review)" and only did so, noted that Laura was a lesbian, after finding over thirty articles and interviews with Flanders where she discussed it. But she appears to be only gay to the gay press. I mean, she dedicates her book Blue Grit to the late June Jordan and her acknowledgements at the end of the book give no indication that any of the many women listed is her lover. What's the point of being out to the gay community only? It's selfish and manipulative. It's saying, "I'm just like you! Support me!" Do you understand what I'm saying?

It's saying, "Support me when I need you but I'm not telling the straights I'm gay"?

Marcia: Exactly. I quoted her latest column this week ("Flanders remembers the LGBTs ... for a moment") and this line, "Young voters, poor voters, urban voters, anti-war voters, women, people of color, lesbian and gay (LGBT) folk, immigrants, the Democratic party's so-called base -- would turn out – and then be sent home," I mean that's so insulting because she intends that for a largely straight audience and the LGBT community is "folk" -- we're the other. We're not like her. She's a lesbian. Read that sentence without knowing it and you're attitude is, "Oh, that Laura, she's so supportive of all." Read it knowing that she's a lesbian who tries to hide it from the straight audience and it's insulting as hell.

I see what you're saying. In "Laura Flanders the self-hating, disrespecting lesbian," you're connecting what we've been discussing, Obama's use of homophobia and Flanders being a lesbian and yet writing valentines for him.

Marcia: Not just valentines for him, ignoring the homophobia. Days after the South Caroline event, and C.I. points this out in the year-in-review, Flanders shows up with a column that's a plea to Barack Obama. She's a lesbian, so she's going to plead to him to stop using homophobia? That's pretty weak, if you ask me. But what's even worse is she doesn't bring up the homophobia. She's pleading for him to break with Richard Daily and, idiot that she is, she apparently doesn't grasp that Michelle Obama worked for Daily and is very close to him. She wanted Obama to break from Daily, Laura wanted, because Daily supports torture. She never wrote about the homophobia and she's a lesbian and now she can't shut up about Obama the wonder-boy. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of that woman who thinks she can hide to the straight world that she's gay while courting the LGBT community saying, "I'm one of you." Well if you're one of us that makes you one of the few of us with a radio program and the ability to publish at big sites online. So how about getting more than your big toe out of the closet and calling out the homophobia? She won't. She's pathetic. And I know from Ty that she can't go back to Your Call if everything blows up -- if Air America Radio goes under. Ty says this is becoming a huge issue in the gay community in the Bay Area. She's called a sell out. I called her an Uncle Tom but I swiped that from Ty who told me that's what they were calling her in San Francisco. And that pathetic Uncle Tom better grasp this never goes away. This will follow her throughout her career. Later on, when she needs to be out to all because otherwise no one gives a damn about her, when she needs to 'play the card' because going around on TV braless in a pink t-shirt doesn't play as well when she gets a little older, she's going to find very little support because she refused to support the gay community and she backed a homophobic campaign. Think about what we were talking about with Bill Clinton, welfare 'reform.' That wasn't a huge issue the way it is now. It wasn't remarked upon everywhere. It follows him around today. This will follow Laura around and she's going to find it very difficult to feel 'welcome' as a result. The e-mails I'm getting on this indicate mainly a surprise. The first surprise is how many do not know that Obama used homophobia. If you count on independent media, it's very easy not to know because most of them ignored it. They stayed silent. So there's that shock. Then, for some, it's that Laura is a lesbian. For gay people e-mailing me, they're aware of Laura's sexuality and most are aware that the Obama campaign used homophobia. They were not aware that Laura never called it out. This is huge. There's an actress that the whole world knows is gay. The gay community knows it and her adventures on campus are still talked about. But she doesn't come out of the closet. She stuck a toe out over the summer thanking her lover in a public speech but using vague language so it may not have been clear to the straights. At this point, decades later, the gay community's attitude is screw you. She refused to answer about her sexuality. She did talk about kissing Scott Baio and Rob Lowe and the gay community saw that nonsense as her attempts to play straight for the straight audience. But I mean, her career's probably headed to over. And we're really damn tired of the Richard Chamberlain and all the others who, when the career is really over, finally decide to come out. As much anger as there is at that actress, there's an even bigger rising anger at Laura and it's not going away. She's played I'm-gay-too in the gay press once too often and she's revealed that she thinks she can 'pass,' so she'll stay silent. That's disgusting. She's disgusting.

You've also noted your disappointment with Amy Goodman. Once such post is "Amy Goodman peddles it for Barack."

Marcia: Democracy Now! was my favorite news resource.

You coined the phrase "Democracy Now! always worth watching" that used to pop up all the time at The Common Ills.

Marcia: Yes and C.I. always credited me. It would read "'Democracy Now! always worth watching,' as Marcia says."

But you don't feel that way now?

Marcia: Amy Goodman's refused to cover the homophobia. She's stayed silent, Ms. Go To The Silences! It's a joke. That show is so disgusting now. Ava and C.I. tackled it in "TV: The Surreal Life stages comeback!" and that was just so amazing. I printed it up for some friends and the reaction was, "This is great! I already read this!" Because it's a very popular piece. And it's popular, Amy Goodman, because Ava and C.I. went to where the silences are and called you out on your crap.

In the middle of last week, C.I. had to ask -- sort of indicate -- that if we were all asking, the community, that Democracy Now! be addressed in terms of the Bambi Love each day -- which was happening -- that we were going to be missing a great deal on Iraq.

Marcia: I know. I thought C.I. handled that very well. I don't think you could have read that sentence and thought, "I've been scolded!" Instead it was more along the lines of, "There are trade offs and these are important issues but if we're covering them we're not getting as much on Iraq." C.I. tossed it back to the community -- the same TCI community that voted to make Iraq the focus. I thought it was well handled by C.I. And I loved the suggestion of just don't watch it.

Did you ever think Amy Goodman would slant her show to one candidate?

Marcia: I assumed if it happened it would be to a third party candidate. I assumed she would hold Democrats running for office to the same standards if she covered them. I never thought she'd ignore so much or book guests who were supporting Bambi without telling us, the audience, that this was the case. She was someone I had a lot of respect for and now I don't have any. That's where I stand.

We hope to do an interview with you at Third this week and we're both participating in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin so I know we need to wind down. I'm just going to ask, closing thoughts?

Marcia: There's never an advance without a backlash. The gay community advanced in the 90s and it was huge. The backlash was huge as well and I include South Park as part of the backlash and have no use for it's 'fans' like George Clooney and Norman Lear. It's organized hate with a laugh track. We're dangerously close to losing so much. We have survived the Bully Boy. But if we get someone who resorts to homophobia -- someone who throws us under a bus for support -- we're in serious trouble because then it will be a 'bi-partisan consenuse' that the LGBT community doesn't matter. That is among the main reasons I'm for Hillary. There is also the issue that women -- regardless of sexuality -- have been under attack and I'm not going to roll the dice -- I'm African-American, I can say that Michael Eric Dyson, you pompous fool -- on a man who refused to stand up for women in the Illinois legislature. The "present" votes on abortion cannot be explained away no matter how many excuses his supporters offer. And let's remember when it came to sexual victims' privacy -- and a greater number of women are the victims of sexual assault than are men -- he also voted "present." He's disgusting. He is not a friend to women. There's his one-note of "I was right about the Iraq War." No, you weren't. You called it 'dumb.' You thought Saddam Hussein had WMD! You admit that in the 2002 speech. So just shut up about how you were right because you weren't right. Idiot. He also caved and voted for funding the illegal war when he finally had a vote in the Senate. And he wants to trash Hillary's vote on the Iran resolution over the summer but he didn't even vote on it. There wasn't even a 'present' vote. He refused to vote on that. He lacks experience, he sucks up to the right, he spits on the left and this is the candidate we choose over Hillary? It's ridiculous. Last thing, everyone with a site has helped me out and assisted me in doing my site and I know we have to wrap up but thanks to everyone.

And thank you for the interview.

Marcia: My pleasure.

It's late. Here's "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, Feburary 8, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Andy Sullivan loves John McCain and lies for him, will al-Sadr's cease-fire/truce hold when they're praying in some regions for it to end, Americans say "Save the economy by pulling out of Iraq," and more.

Starting with war resistance,
Krystalline Kraus (The Rabble) traces the historical support Canada has provided to war resisters:

According to Lee Zaslofsky, a key organizer for the
War Resisters Support Campaign and a Vietnam resister himself, he believes that Canada has a certain historical legacy to live up to by accepting war resisters.
It was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Liberal Party who opened Canada's doors during the Vietnam war to thousands of Americans war resisters, who were often motivated by the same feeling of objection to an unjust and illegal war.
"Of course, Canada's legacy extends back further to the [American] Civil War and before that when slaves came north via the underground railroad, and even before that with the United Empire Loyalists, so there is sort of a Canadian tradition of welcoming dissenters from the United States and this is another part of that," Zaslofsky explains.

With the Canadian Supreme Court refusing to hear appeals on this issue in November, the country's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters may 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 ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at 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.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Josh Randall, Robby Keller, 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).

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

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.

In the United States, a new poll may cause a stir. Jeannine Aversa (AP) reports that Americans surveyed by AP and Ipsos feel "The way to get the country out of recession -- and most people think we're in one -- is to get the country out of Iraq" and "Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery." The number saying ending the illegal war would pull the United States out a recession was 43% and included respondent Hilda Sanchez who declares, "Let's stop paying for this war. There are a lot of people who are struggling. We can use the money to pay for medical care and help people who were put out of their homes." [Marin of error on the poll was plus/minus 3/1%.]

In Iraq, a cease-fire/truce between the US military and Moqtada al-Sadr is close to expiring.
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that yesterday a raid conducted by US soldiers, with Iraqi support, was conducted in "the Shia distrcit of Sadr City" utilizing Humvees and helicopters to arrest 16 (one of which would die in 'custody') and doing so over the objections of local Iraqis such as Abu Sajjad who declares that the US military "detained people who are neutral and educated people. They care only about religion. They will never be witht he military wing." al-Sadr has issued a statement for all followers to continue the truce/cease-fire at present. Lebanon's The Daily Star notes a "report by the International Crisis Group think tank said the respite offered by the cease-fire was 'exceedingly frail' and that Sadrists -- many of whom complain they are targeted by security forces -- remain extremely powerful" and offers this description of the US military incursion into a civilian neighborhood yesterday: "Police and residents said that US soldiers in humvees, backed by helicopters, sealed off a block of the neighborhood and raided four house. The front-door lock on one of the houses was shattered by gunfire, and 22-year-old Arkan Abid Ali was shot in the chest and wounded. Diaa Shakir, 20, said he heard gunfire coming from inside houses US soldiers had entered, as he watched the operation from the window of his home nearby." The paper also notes that the military assualt on a civilian area left two women injured as well as an elderly person. Though the 16 arrested (that's counting the one who was reported to have died in US 'custody') have not been identified by name, the BBC runs with the US military command's boast that one of the 16 may be "a suspected leader of a Shia militia group allegedly backed by Iran." AP notes the toll from the assualt as 1 Iraqi who died in US custody, 1 Iraqi woman shot (but "treated and released"), "two women and an elderly man also had been wounded and tkane to a hospital, where one of them had died." Lauren Frayer (AP) explains that in Kufa today, prayers included condemning "the recent arrests and accused Iraqi officials of sectarian bias" quoting Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Karbalaei who believes the truce/cease-fire is leaving them vulnerable, "For the past six months there have been non-stop detentions of al-Sadr followers, day and night." Those who would like or require audio can refer to Jim Lehrer's News Summary (PBS) from The NewsHour which briefly includes the incident and also notes:

In Iraq, the US military announced an American soldier died Wednesday in a roadside bombing. There have been eight U.S. deaths so far this month. More than 3,950 Americans have died in Iraq since the war began.

In the New York Times today,
Alissa J. Rubin leaves out the total but makes a similar claim re: 1 death announced. Repeating from yesterday's snapshot:

Today the US military announced [PDF format warning]: "
A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed when the Soldier's vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in western Baghdad Feb. 6." As noted this morning: "The ICCC total since the start of the illegal war for US service members killed while serving in Iraq is 3950 with 6 for the month. 50 away from the 4,000 mark but since Ted Koppel stepped down from Nightline does the media -- big or small -- even bother to let those numbers register?" The numbers have gone up -- due to DoD namings, not M-NF announcements. Currently the total is 3952 since the start of the illegal war and 8 for the month thus far. On the 7th day of the month, the number of US service members who have died in the illegal war this month is 8.

The US military wasn't eager for the deaths to be widely noted (AEB the fact that M-NF didn't make the announcements) but they're eager for everyone to know something else.
Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) notes the US military is stating that al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia is instructing its followers to 'play nice' out of concern that potential Sunni allies might be turned off and Paley speaks with a man named Riyadh al-Ogaidi whom is identified by the paper as a senior leader of the group who claims, "The Americans have not defeated us, but the turnaround of the Sunnis against us had made us lose a lot and suffer very painfully" and also asserts that the Iraqi membership accounted for 12,000 last year but has fallen "to about 3,500 today."

In political news,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports that Thursday Iraq's "Parliament again deferred a vote on the budget of Thursday as political blocs argued about how to divide financing among the provinces, but legislators did make headway toward approving a law that would outline provincial powers. . . . The debate on Iraq's 2008 budget, which was supposed to have been resolved with a vote in December, has revolved around how much of the money to allocate to the Kurds and whether the central government will pay the costs of the pesh merga soldiers, the Kurdish militia. Lawmakers said Thursday that the Planning Ministry had collected date showing that Kurdistan had 14 percent to 15 percent of Iraq's population, and that it should get that share of the nonfederal part of the budget." Along with deferring a vote -- on the 2008 budget, the 2008 budget -- they also had a walk out. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times via San Francisco Chronicle) reports the walk out took place "to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year, marking another potential setback for U.S.-backed proposals to ease Iraq's sectarian rifts. The walkout postponed a vote on the measure to redistribute power in Iraq."

"The delay in the budget is harming everyone," stated Adel Abdel-Mehdi, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president
according to Lebanon's The Daily Star which also notes that legislation put on hold also included a bill "that would release thousands of mainly Sunni Arabs from Iraqi jails . . . The law that would free prisoners who have not been charged with or convicted of major crimes, like murder or treason, is also seen as a step toward reconciliation because most of the 23,000 people held in Iraqi jails are Sunni Arabs" and this is among the legislative demands that the Sunni Accordance Front made before walking out of puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet.

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack. Reuters notes that yesterday people in police uniforms conducted a home invasion in Baquba, shot dead 5 people and then exploded the home and today a Hawija car bombing injured two police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person and 1 police officer in Anbar Province following a clash with unknown assailants and, last night in Baghdad, the "Head of Sahwa," was shot dead in Baghdad (two bodyguards of the 'Awakening' Council chiefton were also injured). Reuters notes a college student was shot dead in Mosul.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 Christian missionaries ("with the Norwegian Churches Organization") were kidnapped last night in Basra.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today the US State Department issued "Background Notes: Iraq" which contained many amusing 'interpretations' but we'll note this section:
The focus of United States policy in Iraq remains on helping the Iraqi people build a constitutional, representative government that respects the rights of all Iraqis and has security forces capable of maintaining order and preventing the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and foreign fighters. The ultimate goal is an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, with institutions capable of providing just governance and security for all Iraqis and is an ally in the war against terrorism. U.S. forces remain in Iraq (under a UN Security Council mandate) as part of the Multi-National Force-Iraq to assist the Government of Iraq in training its security forces, as well as to work in partnership with the Government of Iraq to combat forces that seek to derail Iraq's progression toward full democracy. The U.S. Government is carrying out a multibillion-dollar program to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.

"Under a UN Security Council mandate" is a good time to again note the treaty that the Bully Boy is attempting to prepare with Nouri al-Maliki -- without US Congressional consent (a violation of the US Constitution) or the Iraqi Parliament's consent (ditto). As noted in
Wednesday's snapshot, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Stafff Michael G. Mullen went before the US Senate's Armed Service Committee on Wednesday to beg for even more money and claimed that there was no interest in the permanent bases being established in Iraq or that the treaty (neither used that term) didn't call for them. Yesterday, Peter Spiegel (Los Angeles Times) covered the Wednesday hearing as well as the Wednesday House Armed Service Committee hearing, noting that "Gates denied Wednesday that the Bush administration was seeking a treaty with Iraq that would require long-term secuirty commitments forcing future U.S. presidents to continue sending troops. Instead, Gates told lawmakers, a new agreement with Baghdad would give the U.S. military continuing legal authority to operate in Iraq, much like the current United Nations resolutions, which expire at the end of the year." Why not simply renew the resolution isn't dealt with. At the end of 2006, al-Maliki by-passed the Parliament and the Iraqi Constitution by renewing it all on his own. Though the Constitution makes clear he does not have the power to do that, the Parliament passed legislation which they hoped would prevent that from taking place agian. Instead, al-Maliki went around them again. It needs to be noted that the United Nations was aware of that and should have rejected the renewal (which would legally mean US forces could not be in Iraq) . Because Parliament is even angrier at al-Maliki this time and because Bully Boy's reign at the White House will come to a close next January, the two are cooking up a scheme that by-passes the United Nations, both countries' Constitutions and both countries' legislative bodies. As Spiegel notes, "Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has made the proposed agreement an issue in her presidential campaign, accusing the administration of seeking to tie the hands of the next president by committing to Iraq's protection with U.S. forces" and that to Gates denial that this is a "treaty," "Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, has countered that the Iraqi foreign minister has termed the agreement a treaty and that, under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is required to ratify any treaty that provides such security guarantees." Charlie Savage (Boston Globe) interpreted the Senate Committee hearing to mean that the White House "is backing off its unprecedented plans to commit the US military to defending Iraq's security for years to come without submitting the agreement to a vote in Congress" citing Gates' testimony after Gates first attempted to debate what qualified for a treaty.

Staying with the US,
Andy Sullivan (Reuters) reports that US Senator John McCain ("his victory as Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency virtually assured"????) has "turned his sights on his Democratic challengers" today claiming that "they were weak on national security and their Iraq stance would hand al Qaeda a victory." Senator Insane is a little slow on the draw -- possibly due to age? -- and Sullivan misses a lot himself. Sullivan goes on to quote a statement by US Senator Barack Obama (singing the same song he always sings and has it gotten old: "On the most important foreign policy decision in perhaps a generation, I strongly believe John McCain got it wrong") but seems to miss Hillary Clinton.
Sullivan forgets in his ENTIRE article is a sitting US senator and not just "former first lady" and a presidential contender. It's cute the way he also refuses to quote Clinton's statements. But Sullivan IS WRONG. Bambi may or may not have 'fired back' today. Hillary Clinton raised the issue yesterday.

Get it straight, McCain didn't lay down a 'marker' -- a mythical narrative to paint him as a 'leader.'
Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post), Julie Bosman (New York Times) and, most important to this community, our own Kat noted that Hillary laid down the marker yesterday declaring, "I have the greatest respect for my friend and my colleague Senator McCain. But I believe that he offers more of the same, more of the same economic policies, more of the same military policies in Iraq." Reuters needs to figure out (A) how Sullivan is so grossly uninformed that he's not aware of that and today paints Hillary as responding to McCain's 'leadership' and how Sullivan manages to credit Barack Obama as a US Senator when he's only been that since Jan. 2005 but Hillary Clinton, a US Senator since Jan. 2001, is just "former first lady." Reuters really needs to figure that out -- especially since the press has a long history of bending over backwards in favor of Senator Crazy, the Showboat Express. Kat's finishing her explanation tonight (on the "She's boxed someone in" via the statemtns) tonight, just FYI. We (Kat, Ava and myself) heard that (Hillary's statement) on NPR yesterday evening but I'm not seeing any article of it online (and it may have been local news and not the national news feed). Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) takes a look at McCain's public statements and winds down noting, "Now he espouses the belief that the U.S. can stabilize regions -- with enough troops. The lesson of Vietnam and Iraq, he said in a May 2007 speech, is that 'we must never again launch a military operation with too few troops to complete the mission and build a secure, stable and democratic peace. When we fight a war, we must fight to win'." That is a revisionary take on Vietnam. And it's one that avoids issues such as legalities and treaties. Senator Crazy, despite Andy Sullivan's mad crush from him, is not yet the GOP presidential candidate and may not yet become it. Again, Reuters needs to take a serious look at how that nonsense ran to begin with.

Tonight on
Bill Moyers Journal, the program looks at viewers recommendations for what book the next president of the United States should take to the White House. Among the books noted thus far by viewers at the show's blog are Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal and Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.

Winding down, Angelina Jolie's visit to Iraq. Noted in
yesterday's snapshot and we were supposed to continue it today. No time. Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) shares what she thinks of the visit. This was addressed earlier today -- from that entry, among the coverage the Iraqi refugee crisis received as a result of Jolie's visit: Here's a gossip column in the Miami Herald that mentions Jolie's visit. Here it is in India's The Economic Times. Here's AP at MSNBC. Here's the British tabloid Hello! Here's a Seattle Post-Intelligencer gossip column. Here's Australia's Herald Sun. Here's AP in the Toronoto Star. Here's E! (gossip channel). Here's Reuters. And, of course, Fadel's write up.

Lastly. In DC today, at the US State Dept, this question was asked, "I wondered if you wanted to comment on a memo that was sent by a former contractor at the U.S. Embassy, Manuel Miranda, to Ambassador Crocker at the U.S. -- a former contractor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. And he, in this memo, complains that the Foreign Service is not competent to do the job that they have undertaken in Iraq. He talks a lot about how Foreign Service officers do not have enough management experience so that they're not equipped to management programs, hundreds of millions of funds and the capital assets needed to help the Government of Iraq to stand up. So do you have any comment on that?"

The State Dept's deputy spokesperson Tom Casey responded by first attempting to make a joke of it ("Yeah, I guess he needs to tell us how he really feels") and then declaring, "Look, Mr. Miranda, was, as you note, a 3161 -- that's a contracting employee -- in Iraq, I guess, for about -- I guess for about a year. Obviously, he's expressing his own views and he's entitled to his opinions. What I can tell you is that you've heard from the President, Secretary Rice and many others about the job that Ryan Crocker is doing as the U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad. We think he and his team are doing a tremendous job" blah, blah, blah.