Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's all over now, Barack Blue

Thursday! One more day until the weekend! :D And what a week it's been, right? Hillary won the debate.

Last night was really something. The only thing that might top Hillary's masterful performance in the debate and Bambi Obama's crappy performance in the debate is how unhinged his Cult is. They're trying to blame ABC. They're not just trying to blame ABC, they've got this video they put out announcing George Steph's death. They're declaring open season on a pundit. It's like they've issued a fatawa. They are unhinged.

That's what happens when you let a bunch of crazies be your advance men and women. A bunch of Lifetime Failures who never did a thing with their life and have been waiting for this moment where they could either take over the Democratic Party or destroy it. People like Dave Lindorff (he thinks Bambi deserves it because he did drugs) who less than seven months ago were launching their "I Quit The Democratic Party" campaigns. A bunch of outsiders on the outs for good reason who think they can take over the Democratic Party, they know this is their only shot of doing so. And if they can't? They're going to destroy the Democratic Party.

That's what Katrina's whole "Take Back America!" campaign was really about. You've got a lot of rejects and trash trying to subvert the democratic process. And pray for the country if those losers get control.

Hopefully, that won't happen. Hopefully, America won't buy the "ABC was mean to me!" excuse. ABC asked Hillary tough questions. It was just that she knew how to handle them. That's because she was ready to be president.

If you ever doubted it, you saw it last night. She can handle anything. She had the audience laughing, she had them thinking. That's a leader. She is the real deal.

You saw the fake deal. You saw Barack Obama embarrass himself throughout. You saw him stumble and say "uh" over and over. You saw how completely unprepared he is.

This is from Larry Johnson's "Barack Obama and the Politics of Violence:"

Ayers, Wright, Rezko, and Khalidi are not mainstream folks. Their politics are radical or, in the case of Rezko, his ethics are sleazy. And Barack has maintained close relationships with all four. The Republican 527s understand this point and will savage Barack with it in the fall. His whining, bitching, and crying will not save him the attacks. The attacks will come. And he is unprepared to rebut these attacks because there is no defense for hanging out and doing business with an unrepentant terrorist. There is no defense for having as your chief spiritual leader a man who curses America, blames whites for AIDS, insults Italian (garlic nosed) Americans, and verbally assails Jews. There is no defense for having regular lunches and getting a sweetheart real estate deal from a man on trial for federal corruption charges.
Why does Barack make so many wrong choices? He has no problem hanging out with men of questionable character. He has no qualms about taking their advice or their money. Yet, when it came to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, a reverend who preached and lived and died on the message of peace and reconciliation, Barack was missing in action. Barack chose not to go to Memphis to honor the fortieth anniversary of the murder of Dr. King.
Cornel West, an Obama supporter noted his disappointment.
There is no denying Barack’s talent at delivering a scripted message. But he has not shown the courage of conviction in linking himself to the legacy of Dr. King. His minister of choice is Jeremiah Wright. Where Dr. King challenged Americans to lift their eyes to lofty heights and dream of a society that judges men and women by the content of their character, Dr. Wright preaches a message of hate and entitlement based on separating whites from blacks. Dr. King sacrificed his life to achieve integration. Dr. Wright has wasted his life encouraging segregation. And who did Barack choose?
The Republicans don’t have to make up a thing come the fall. If they can morph the image of Senator Max Cleland into the face of Osama Bin Laden--an accusation without foundation or a shred of truth--what do you think they will do with the real ammunition that Barack’s careless associations has provided? If you think they’ll leave Barack the golden child alone I have a bridge to sell you.

I like Larry Johnson and think he's a smart guy but I do disagree re: Bill Ayers. I understand why Larry feels that way and I bet the majority of the country feels that way. But I do think an explanation could have been given. Bambi gave none. I don't know, though, if that explanation can be given by someone trying to run for president.

But maybe Bambi should make that his next big speech? He can do a speech on terrorism. He can even go back to Philadelphia. He can tell us all how his Grandma once ran a red light and how that's the same as bombing government buildings. :D

As Elaine and C.I. have said (and they didn't mean it as an insult), Larry Johnson is a law and order type. They disagreed with his take on Ayers two months ago but they noted why he had that take and didn't argue, "We're right! He's wrong!" That's because they don't think he's "wrong." They think he's being completely consistent with who he is and tonight I carried in a point Elaine wanted made (into the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin) which was that most Americans are going to feel just like Johnson and those who feel differently can't 'teach' America a historical lesson. (Elaine did air quotes around "teach.") The Weather Underground was a response and it was a violent response. They did break the laws.

Elaine's second point was that you don't have that baggage (that Bambi does) and run for president. If you're going to, you get that baggage out in 2007. You don't wait for it to emerge. It's too late for Bambi. He waited too long and he doesn't have the skill or intelligence (or time) to address the topic. Bill Ayers (and others) practiced domestic terrorism. Months before the DNC convention is not time for someone who has hidden their friendship to start talking -- and only because they were forced to. In the snapshot today, C.I. points out that when Barack did talk about it, he used the prissiest word possible. Barack finds Bill Ayers' actions (domestic terrorism) "detestable." Barack "detests" those actions.

And here's the thing, Barack's hiding even more. A lot more. See, Elaine and C.I. were ahead of the curve. They heard the Bambi hype in 2003 and 2004. They heard about him being the great left hope back then. He was this and he was that. He was going to save the country. Blah, blah, blah. Then they went to that private fundraiser and Elaine asked him what he was going to do in the Senate to end the war? Not a tough question, remember he's the 'anti-war' candidate. And Bambi tells them that the US is in Iraq now so there can't be a withdrawal. Elaine's mouth just drops. She'll tell you that she didn't know what to say. She'll tell you C.I. is never at a loss for words and that C.I. nailed that down, nailed down that Bambi was saying he was not going to try to end the war if elected to the Senate.

They left. They didn't donate, they walked right out. And the thing they couldn't get over was how hyped he had been. So they started digging, calling friends to figure out what was going on. They found out enough to know that Barack Obama was trash. (He is trash. I can't write about it but, yeah, I know all about it.) And they went on with their lives. They focused on other things. They really didn't think he would run for president. And when he did, they were focused on Iraq. Friends were warning C.I. that Amy Goodman was slanting her crap-ass Democracy When! to Bambi and C.I. really assumed that was happening by accident. It wasn't until they learned that Melissa Harris-Lacewell was brought on by Amy Goodman only after Amy found out that Melissa was a Barack supporter and that Amy LIED to her audience and let Melissa play like she was objective. She wasn't. She is part of the Bambi campaign. And AMY GOODMAN LIED to the audience. She BETRAYED her audience that trusts her. She didn't tell them, "Melissa is part of the Bambi campaign." She let Melissa chatter on about seeing speeches and, you'll notice, Melissa never mentioned Hillary but found time to praise Bambi through the roof. The woman had already gone to California to hear him speak. She is part of the campaign. And AMY GOODMAN LIED to her audience. She played them like suckers. When C.I. learned that (C.I. and Ava actually), it made C.I. sick to the stomach. [Ava and C.I. exposed this nonsense in "TV: Democracy Sometimes?" back in January.] And then C.I. and Elaine really started digging. The whole campaign is a fraud. It always has been.

The Clinton campaign knows that as well. That's why Hillary didn't drop out even when they were smearing her and tearing her apart. It wasn't "I want to be president for me!" It was about doing what was right for the country. She took all that crap because she's fighting for the country and what's best for it.

This is Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: In Her Element:"

The Reviews Are In: After last night's debate in Philadelphia, Hillary was described as "the winner," having a "strong presence," and "in her element." Read more.
State of the Race: Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer assess the State of the Race on a 10am ET conference call with reporters this morning.
Previewing Today in PA: Hillary and Chelsea host a conversation with families in Haverford, PA and host a Block Party outside the Mayfair Diner in Philadelphia. Hillary also appears on Comedy Central’s the Colbert Report at 11:30pm ET tonight.
Young Democrats For Hillary: The editorial board of University of Pennsylvania's The Daily Pennsylvanian endorsed Hillary. " ready to lead this nation now. A successful champion for change...[she] has the ability to turn policy into reality."
Read More.
On The Air In Indiana: The Clinton campaign unveiled a new ad in Indiana that highlights Hillary's commitment to protect American defense manufacturing jobs. Watch here.
Read more.

Endorsement Watch: The Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association (OPCMIA) endorsed Hillary. OPCMIA President Pat Finley said: "We need a leader with Hillary Clinton’s ability to turn around the economy and rebuild the middle class." Salsa icon Willie Colon also endorsed Hillary: "Clinton is more qualified than any other candidate to represent residents of Puerto Rico. 'Hillary has been on the side of our families for over 35 years.'"
Read more and more.
Speaking Out: Darrin McCormick, Mayor of Williamson, WV, described Sen. Obama’s comments about Americans in small towns as "demeaning" and "fe[lt] like all Americans will feel the same way."
Read More.
In Case You Missed It: "ABC News' Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., maintained at Wednesday's ABC News debate in Philadelphia that his handwriting does not appear on a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns. The Democratic presidential frontrunner made this claim even though a copy of the original document suggests otherwise."
Read more.
On Tap: Hillary will visit North Carolina on Friday to participate in a conversation with Dr. Maya Angelou at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem.

For the good of the country and the good of the Democratic Party, it's time to get behind Hillary if you're sitting on the fence. If you're a Cynthia McKinney supporter, I'm not trying to change your mind. Cynthia's a strong candidate. She needs to run. She's got many good qualities. But I'm not talking about the Green Party here. I'm talking about if you're a Democrat, not just someone who sometimes votes for them, but an actual Democrat, you need to get off the fence. (No, I didn't mention Ralph. I have no problem with Ralph and am trying to do what C.I. says in the roundtable tonight "Remember Ralph is not Matt Gonzalez." Matt did a stupid thing today, a really stupid thing, and it's so bad that Ralph may end up not getting covered or linked to. That's going to be up to the community but Matt Gonzalez put his feet -- both of them -- into his mouth today. Ralph needs all the voters he can get, he doesn't need Matt Gonzalez running them off and that's what Matt did today. Matt's not running for Vice President of San Francisco, as Jess pointed out, he's running for Vice President of the United States -- so he needs to get his act together.)

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a US service member enters a guilty plea, Bambi bombs in the big debate and his Cult wants blood!, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Aidan Delgado explains, in his book
The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, the mind-set in Iraq when Abu Ghraib had to be discussed:

There's no doubt now that everything we've heard about is true, and it must be even worse than we thought, for the commander himself to get on our backs about it. All a family? I laugh. We're only a family when the captain wants us to do his bidding or conceal some wrongdoing. The Army has tried that rhetoric before, talking about family and Army pride and everything else to try to get you to buy into what they do. When the Army talks about "handling something internally," it's only because they've done something so obviously wrong, they can't allow the rest of the country to see it. This doesn't surprise me. After all, if Americans back home saw Iraqi prisoners shot dead for throwing stones, saw the wretched conditions inside Abu, or saw the way the MPs dealt with the prisoners, what would they think of our glorious and righteous invasion? The truth about Abu Ghraib has to be concealed, has to be "kept in the family," because if the average citizen saw what we're doing to the people here, they would know in their guts that it's un-American.

Family is the hide-behind, the thing that is supposed to stop all discussions. War resisters have to stand up to a lot to stand up. Is Robert Przyblski a war resister? Who knows? What is known is that he went missing, turned himself in and now awaits . . . what? [See
here and here and here and here)] John Vandiver (Stars & Stripes) reports that "months after being charged, his case remains in legal limbo. No Article 32 has been held. Futhermore, Army officials in Europe would not say whether the captain is still in Baumholder or has taken residence someplace else."

In Canada, US war resisters are waiting to find out whether they will be granted safe harbor. The Canadian Parliament will debate a measure this month on that issue. You can make your voice heard. 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 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, Jose Vasquez, 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, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, 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).

Last month
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier took place and KPFA has a live program coming up April 22nd: Live On Air and Online at!
April 22 from 10am-1pm Join us on April 22nd for this very important follow up to Pacifica's groundbreaking
Winter Soldier live coverage. We will be following the San Francisco trial involving wounded vets and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In this first class action lawsuit U.S. Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder sue the VA, alleging a system wide breakdown in the way the Government treats those soldiers.During this special broadcast we will be bringing our listeners live updates from the San Francisco federal courthouse, we'll speak with wounded Veterans attorney Gordon Erspamer, (taking this case pro bono because his father was permanently disabled in World War II and never received proper health care) and speak with Veterans advocates including Veterans for Common Sense, and Vets for America.Read more about the broadcast here.

That announcement will appear in the snapshots until the broadcast. If you missed Winter Soldier you can stream online at
Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage.

Yesterday, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity reviewed proposed bills on veternas healthcare with US House Rep Stephanie Herseth chairing the committee (due to the ranking member being on the House floor) and noting that they were discussing "thirteen bills before us that seek to: protect our nation's veterans from possible foreclosure and financial burdens incurred while serving one's country; update VA housing construction guidelines; expand education programs while meeting the current retention needs of the Armed Forces; strengthen employment and reemployment rights for returning service members and veterans; and minimize recidivism among incarcerated veterans." Along with US House Rep John Boozman, Herseth has introduced (April 2nd) the
Veterans Education Improvement Act. US House Rep John Yarmuth addressed the Second Chance for America's Veterans Act (which was signed into legislation by the White House on April 9th) that seeks to assist IVTP's (Incarcerated Veterans Transitional Program). US House Rep Robin Hayes brought up the reality that National Guard members are returning to the US to find out that their deployment did, in fact, effect their employment. We'll zoom in on the issue of employment.

First, on the issue of employment itself. US House Rep Sternes explained HR 3646, the
Veterans Effective Training Job Opportunities and Benefits Act of 2007 ("or the Vets job act"):

I think this bill is an important step in helping our veterans gain gainful employment when retiring from the service. When warriors return home from combat, they often face an uphill battle. For many service members, the transition from active duty to veteran status and returning to a full, meaningful civilian life is daunting frought with many challenging obstacles and buraucratic barriers. Many times these brave service men and women require job training for entirely new careers. . . . My legislation would provide better information to veterans on their local job market needs. The VET JOBS Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Labor to conduct a joint study on the greatest employment needs in various job markets around the country and post the results on the VA website. These results would then be updated annually to reflect the current and possibly changing needs in the local job market. With this tool, veterans could plug in their zip code and see a list of the occupations that are most in demand within their commuting area, and subsequently use their federal job training most effectively. The Department of Labor already has the infrastructure in place for this kind of research, so this is a practical, low cost solution. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has unofficially scored this proposal as having "insignificant" costs. Insignificant costs for immeasurable benefit to our veterans.

Rep Hayes'
The National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2007 addresses the issue of jobs already held being kept while serving. Hayes' state (North Carolina) has a National Guard call up rate of 97 percent. US House Rep Artur Davis noted Congress' actions in 1994 ensuring that jobs would be intact when those serving in the Guard returned home but USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) is being ignored. Davis referenced Jill Carroll's "While Reservsts Serve, Their Jobs Don't Always Wait" (Chistian Science Monitor) which examined this crisis. Steve Duarte was among the veterans Carroll reported on. Duarte was employed at a company for nearly 20 years but upon returning from serving in Iraq, his employers "told his job was ending in a week." He explained to Carroll, "There was that initial shock -- and then the shock of 'What am I going to do?' As Davis explained, "When his efforts with the Departments of Labor and Defense led nowhere, Duarte hired a private attorney and spent $12,000 of his own money for fees. Several years later, he won his lawsuit and was awarded almost $400,000. Duarte is not an isolated case." Davis listed statistics --

*10,061 formal complaints were filed with the Department of Labor from October 1, 1996 through June 30, 2005.

* For fiscal years 2004-2005, the Office of Employment Support for the Guard and Reserve received approximately 10,000 complaints.

Davis noted how a move towards employers use of arbitration has allowed the existing laws protecting members of the Guard to be weakened. To no surprise, the administration sees that differently. Thomas L. Bush is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secreteary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at DoD. Last month he was telling the press that increasing education benefits for service members will increase "
the risk that many who enter for the benefits will leave as soon as they can use them." Yesterday he repeated his assertion that DoD "does not believe that the basic structure of the Montgomery GI Bill is broken." On the issue of securing the jobs and, let's be honest, enforcing the law, Thomas L. Bush made it clear that the DoD doesn't give a damn what happens when the Dept is done with reserves. "We are concerned," he explained, "about the negative message its enactment may send to the nation's employers." That pretty much sums up the White House's sole concern. But this really should get attention because the White House wants to maintain that they and only they care about the US service members.

If they care about them, why won't they secure their civilian jobs? Apparently still having fond memories of Enron, the White House longs for something different. Thomas L. Bush explained, "We would rather reach out to employers and work with them to resolve problems, as we do through Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve organization." Given the chance to stand with individuals (in this case service members) or Big Business, it's really not surprising to yet again seeing the White House ignoring the needs of the people. It was interesting to see a sparsely attended hearing (I'm speaking of observers) yesterday as opposed to the huge turnout today for the House Armed Service Committee's Strategic Forces Subcomittee afternoon hearing but there was money in that one. (US House Rep Ellen Tauscher raised the issue of why THAAD funding was coming from research and development and US House Rep Silvestre Reyes raised the issue of whether foreign nations were attempting to purchase the technology and it was admitted that "at least one nation" had.) That was also in stark contrast to another House Armed Services' subcommittee hearing this morning chaired by US House Rep Susan Davis to explore "military resale and morale, welfare and recreation or MWR programs. When service members and their families talk about community quality of life, they are referring to the commissaries, exchanges, child development centers, youth centers, libraries, gymnasiums, playing fields, parks, golf courses, clubs, restaurants, recreation equipment, and hobby shops that are the core of the military community." The core but apparently not 'sexy' enough for the working press to be bothered with covering.

Monday the House Committee on Veterans Affairs holds a hearing in Sanford, Main on "Women, Rural and Special Needs Veterans". Meanwhile the Rand Corp has conducted a new study on PTSD.
Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times) reports the study finds approximately "one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is currently suffering from depression or stress disorders" and that, of those who are, the bulk have not received care for PTSD. AFP reports that the study estimates 300,000 have PTSD and 320,000 have TBI.

Meanwhile, in legal news,
AP reports that Cpl Timothy Ayers yesterday entered into a plea bargain to the charges of "involuntary manslaughter" in the death of his platoon sergeant, Sgt 1st Class David A. Cooper Jr ("Sept. 5 in Baghdad). The dishonorable Judge Toilet (aka John Head) presided.

Turning to Iraq,
Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor -- link has text and audio) reports today's bombing attack on "a funeral for two brothers -- killed the day before -- who had joined the Awakening Council in Albu Mohammed, 90 miles north of Baghdad. The blast killed at least 50 mourners, many of them thought to be sympathizers of anti-Al Qaeda groups." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) explains, "Wearing a sucide vest, the bomber wlaked into a tent where mourners had gathered to pay their last respect to the two tribesmen, who were murdered yesterday. He detonated his explosives among the crowd, killing and maiming scores of people." Eye witness Imad Abdullah al-Azzawi informed AFP, "There are bodies and body parts scattered everywhere. There is blood everywhere." CNN's Jomana Karadsheh offers, "Police believe the strike appears to be latest assault to intimidate members of the awakening -- predominatly Sunnis Muslims who have joined forces with the U.S. and Iraqi governments." Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) quote eye witness Khalaf Farhan stating, "The gangesters thretened us not to make the funeral. They said if we hold the funeral they will kill more of us, from our tribe." CBS and AP note that today's "attack came on the heels of a string of suicide attacks on Tuesday that killed 60 people in four major cities in central and northern Iraq" and one day after puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki declared, "We are today more confident than any time before . . ."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a Baghdad rocket attack that wounded one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed 2 lives (police officers and civilian) with ten more wounded, an Adhamiyah roadside bombing attack on the "Awakening" council that killed 5 of their members as well as "1 civilian and injured 2 children" and a Diyala Province bombing that wounded "4 MNFI servicemen and 1 Iraqi Army officer" who were in the midst of raiding houses. Reuters notes a Mosul bombing (hand grenade) that injured three police officers.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the latest attack on officials resulted in the assassanation of Doura Local Council Member Saad al-Nuaimi while his son wounded, a Baghdad shooting that wounded three people, 2 police officers shot dead in Basra and another wounded in a separate Basra shooting. Reuters notes 1 of Brig Gen Mohamed Kadhim al- Ali was shot dead in Basra while the general was injured along with two other bodyguards.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 female corpse was discovered in Mosul yesterday.

In DC, US Secretary of State Condi Rice held a press conference today. Among the questions she was asked was whether or not diplomatic staff would be moving into the US Embassy in Baghdad and Rice cited US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker as the one to ask ("But I know that Ryan is working on it"); however, her own "concerns are that the property is properly inspected and ready for our people." Yes, that is important. It's important in any building, let alone a complex that will be under constant threat of mortar attack (the way the Green Zone currently is) and might, for example, catch fire. Earlier this week,
Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) reported, "The State Department on Monday certified the new $740 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as ready to open, more than six months behind schedule. Richard Shinnick, the department's buildings chief, said problems with the mammoth, 27-building complex's fire-safety systems have been fixed, and the embassy compound will now be turned over to U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker." So, yes, considering the compound's history, the State Department better make sure everything is in working order before stationing staff within. Especially staff that may not want to be in Iraq. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reported yesterday, "The State Department has warned U.S. diplomats that they may be required to serve in Iraq next year if there are insufficient volunteers to fill job openings there, U.S. officials said." The current plan is that, in May, 300 'opportunities' in Iraq will be posted for bidding and if the slots are not filled by employees volunteering, the State Dept intends to assign the posts. Elise Labott (CNN) reminded that this sort of threat was also made last year, "In 2007 the issue caused an uproar in the State Department, resulting in a contentious town hall-style meeting in October. One official called the order to serve in Iraq 'a potential death sentence'." Asked about the costs, Condi played dumb, "The original plans for the embassy are at that 540-plus amount that was originally anticipated. There are other costs that -- I can't give you the exact figures, but it's -- it takes it somewhere slightly north of 700 million, I believe." She denied the problems were "a classic cost overrun" but insisted it resulted from "a program change" and referred to a non-existant "civlian surge" that took place somewhere around after 2005.

Turning to the US presidential race in the Democratic Party.
Barack Obama lost last night's debate. [For community coverage of the debate see Elaine, Kat, Ruth, Marcia, Mike, Rebecca and Wally & Cedric (joint-post on the last two).] What to do when you lose big in front of the country (in the most watched debate)? Wah-wah-wah. Cry like a big baby. And have your cult -- the same cult text-messaged to hit message boards last night during the debate -- do things like create videos on the death of George Stephanopoulos. George and Charlie Gibson hosted and the Cult of Saint Bambi proves just how thuggish they are. Thuggish and childish and it's really getting old. To the nation, it's really getting old. They had to tone down their attacks on Hillary Clinton -- Common Dreams, CounterPunch, The Nation, The Progressive, their 'traffic' was down. They had to pull it just a little back. And they've been sitting on all the HATE inside them this whole time so now they're going to go after George. George isn't a journalist in any trained sense and ABC knew that when they hired him. He also isn't 'in the bag' for Hillary Clinton. He asked questions and they were questions about issues people were raising. Hillary supporters are not circulating Death of George videos around the web today. She was asked about Bosnia. But heaven forbid Saint Bambi should be asked about Jeremiah Wright, heaven forbid he should be asked about Bill Ayers. It's time to cry, and scream, and threaten. The mob mentality of the Cult of Saint Bambi.

Marc Cooper showed up at one of The Socialite's Cat Chow blogs last night to smear Hillary because a summer job after college found her working for someone who might be a Communist. Today, Bill Ayers' brother embarrasses him (and his brother) at one of The Socialite's Cat Chow blogs by screaming that asking Obama about Bill Ayers is like McCarthyism! No, it's not. What Marc Cooper did was like McCarthyism. Bill Ayers and Obama are friends. Bernardine Dorhn -- top of the FBI Most Wanted List at one point and proud of that fact -- and Ayers hosted a fundraiser for him. Mark Rudd (Weather Underground alumni) has publicly endorsed Barack. Whether you think the Weather Underground was evil or not (I don't), they did break the law, they were wanted by the FBI. They were part of an armed revolution struggle. Richard Nixon was breaking every law in sight and the Weather Underground was in response to that. Their actions were criminal. They were in response to a criminal administration. But Barack could get honest about that and many other things. Instead he went, last night, with calling Bill Ayers' actions "detestable." (What a prissy word.) Well, if that's how he feels, why is he hanging with the man? It goes to Jeremiah Wright. "Disowned" him Bambi indicated in the debate until George caught that and Bambi clarified he only disowned Wright's words (the damning of America from the front of a church in a sermon).

Don't hide things. If you want to keep them hidden, don't run for office. If you do and some things (these are not the big things) come out, don't blame the press. But Saint Bambi was questioned and the Cult will not have it. So they lash out at George and circulate "Death" videos. They really are thugs. (I'm not referring to Obama supporters. I'm referring to the ones stirring this up and that's never been a bottom-up thing. This is stirred from the top.) They are as Cultish as were the followers of George W. Bush after 9-11. And don't we all know how that worked out for the country?
George Stephanopoulos tells Robin Abcarian (Los Angeles Times), "The questions we asked were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant and what you would expect to be asked in a presidential debate at this point. The questions we asked . . are being debated around the political world every day." They did, for example, ask Barack about the man who is suing him and claiming the two of them did drugs and had sex. This was not The National Enquirer. These were valid questions.

Many Americans consider Ayers and Dohrn terrorists (some consider them heroes for their past actions, some grasp those were very complex times) and it certainly is a question that should be on the table. As for Wright, Obama chose to bore the nation with a really bad speech. So when he controls what is and isn't said, that's okay? He spoke to the nation about Wright. Now it's off limits? That's nonsense. The thugs are sending out the groupies to do their bidding. Do your best. The media circles wagons. You're only harming your own candidate and showing what a trashy campaign relies underneath Bambi's "HOPE" and "CHANGE" talk. You're showing the whole country just how trashy, how thuggish and how undemocratic you are. The "death video" isn't funny, it's not cute and George doesn't deserve it. Make fun of him all you want, question his judgement, but you better grasp that you crossed a line. I know George and I don't think it's funny nor do I believe it was intended to be funny. It is revealing about what's really behind Barack Mania.

Hillary won the debate. She won it because she is the better candidate. Things were tossed at her as well. She handled it. Bosnia was brought up, she said she apologized for the story she had told. She called it something embarrassing. She owned her mistake. It doesn't need to be brought up again, because she dealt with it. That's what a real candidate does. She had her policy down, she knew her facts, she had the audience laughing. Barack doesn't inspire that because he doesn't come off human. He's wooden. He's wooden . . . and . . . he . . . creates . . . pauses . . . where none should . . . be. He's responsible for his bad performance. He could have done Hillary and taken control of the moment. He didn't. He bombed. Those questions weren't new. Not Bosnia to Hillary, not Wright to Barack. An experienced candidate knew what to do. That Barack didn't, that all these months later he's still not experienced go to his own faults and his own immaturity. His groupies can't threaten and stomp their feet but he lost. He lost because he was wooden, he lost because he said "uh" over and over, he lost because it was a conversational style and Barack doesn't want to talk, he wants to lecture.

The Daily Pennsylvanian has endorsed Hillary:

...Sen. Hillary Clinton, her public service, political experience and tenacity tell us not only "Yes we can" but also "How we can." As such, we endorse Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
...[C]hoosing the president of the United States is too important a decision to make based on hope alone. After finishing his term in the Senate and better showing us what he can do for the American people, Obama could one day be a remarkable president.
Clinton, on the other hand, is ready to lead this nation now. A successful champion for change, her experience in the Senate and as first lady gives her a better understanding of how Washington works. She has the ability to turn policy into reality. And her mastery of causes central to the Democratic Party's platform makes her better suited to challenge presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.
...[I]n New York, her senatorial campaigns united a surprisingly wide coalition of supporters across political and socioeconomic boundaries. She can do the same this November.
Ultimately, we are confident in Clinton's ability to implement her agenda. It's this quality that has brought leaders like Mayor Michael Nutter and Governor Ed Rendell to her side. And it's this quality that convinces us to support her as well.


aaron glantz