Friday, April 04, 2008

Patti Smith, etc.

Friday! But probably Saturday when I post. I'm posting between breaks of the study group. Let's start the weekend off right. Dumb Ass of the week . . . Randi Rhodes.

Randi Rhodes was born a dumb ass and will die a dumb ass.

As you know, she called Hillary a "b**ch" and a "f**king w**re" and she called Geraldine Ferraro a "f**king w**re" and she said a lot more in her antics at the Air America Radio event that raised funds for Barack Obama.

She's just trash, pure and simple. She was out of line. People want to talk about 'free' speech, but this isn't about 'free' speech. This is about commercial speech. Rhodes is a dee jay on the air every Monday through Friday and she elected to let a handful of people know what she really thought. The thing was posted by the AAR local radio station and the whole world found out what she really thought.

What she really thinks is not in line with Air America Radio's stated purposes. What she really thinks is vile, disgusting and offensive. It damages AAR and the Democratic Party. There's no point in their keeping her on. She should have used better judgement (but sounds drunk in the video). She's a Queen Bee sexist pig and that should have been obvious to anyone who listened to her. She does not get along well with women (on her staff or on air) and the bulk of her guests have always been male.

She crossed a line and Air America Radio has to decide whether they want to cross it as well.

If they do, they know they'll lose even more money and listeners.

I heard C.I. talk about this during a break of the study group and let me just say what C.I. wrote didn't cover half of Rhodes' history. But the Patti Smith story C.I. wrote about really does convey Rhodes. Rhodes, this is from C.I., is pissed off because Al Franken, then on right before her, is getting all the guests. He's got big names and she's got nothing. Patti Smith shows up to record a show with Steve Earle. Randi butts in and flatters Patti like crazy. Patti has no idea who this woman is. But because Randi Rhodes is so damn pathetic, Patti agrees to go on her show live right then. So the show starts and Randi's all "I love you Patti! I love you!" And then she asks Patti who she's supporting, this is 2004, and Patti says Ralph Nader and then Randi starts screaming at her and abusing her. Patti didn't know at first if this was a joke or not? She thought, "Is this woman like Howard Stern? Is she going to take a breath in a minute and make a joke?" She was wondering how to respond because she thought maybe this was just Randi Rhodes' radio drama. As the attacks got more personal -- all live on air -- Patti asked if they could just talk without the screaming. Finally Randi says something like, "Okay, make your point." And Patti starts explaining why she supports Nader, or trying to. Rhodes screams and interrupts her before she can finish a sentence. Patti, who has never raised her voice (C.I. says Patti is a very shy person and that what Randi Rhodes did was very hurtful to Patti), says real softly that if Randi's just going to scream at her, she's going to leave.

So Randi keeps screaming and Patti leaves. Randi calls her a big baby, tells everyone that Patti just left, says you need to know your facts before you come on her show and just trashes Patti for the rest of the segment and keeps coming back to it throughout the rest of the show. (Patti was on at the start of the show.) If you read what C.I. wrote, you may be offended for Patti, if you hear C.I. talk about it, you'd be outraged because C.I.'s much more descriptive talking about it. C.I. goes into how Patti is so shy, how she's not someone who ever takes to screaming and yelling and attacking and how this was just such a shock to Patti. And C.I. really underscores Randi's b.s. about "don't come on my show if you don't know your facts." Because Patti didn't ask to come on the show. Patti wasn't booked for the show. Patti went to AAR's NYC studio (the original, tiny one) to talk with Steve Earle (who is a friend of her's) about music she liked and they'd discuss a set list of songs that she found inspiring. While she's there to do that, Randi corners her and begs her to come on the show. "Gives a 'women have to help each other' speech like Joan Rivers who also doesn't help other women," C.I. said. (As I remember it. Sorry, but Joan Rivers is someone who has always irked me so I am including that part.) So Patti decides it's for a new network (AAR was new) and this woman feels she's not getting enough attention from the media and, sure, Patti will do her part to help out this stranger -- who was saying, "If you even come on for a minute or two, I can say, 'I had Patti Smith on my show' and it will make a difference for me."

So as a favor, she goes on the show and she's attacked non-stop. Randi Rhodes is just a hateful person. She probably (my guess) thought attacking Patti would get her more attention and it's all about the attention for Randi Rhodes. She begs this woman to come on her show and then, seconds later, is ripping her apart on live radio. She's a fake, a fraud and a hateful person.

C.I. said that there's not anyone who knows Patti that isn't protective of her because she's this rock lion on the stage but she's also a very shy person, a very sweet person. So to have done that to Patti was just offensive. C.I. said that Patti never attacked John Kerry (who was the Democratic nominee in 2004), never shouted at Randi Rhodes. And that Patti was seriously bewildered by what was going on. She really thought, at the start, that this was a prank and Randi was going to burst out laughing in a minute. When that didn't happen, Patti realized this was someone she would never do a favor for and she was weighing whether to leave or stay.

This is what 'sweet' Randi Rhodes put another woman through, a woman who was doing her a favor, a woman who doesn't do a lot of interviews unless she has to (she wasn't plugging her CD on Steve's show or on Randi's). And to try to do a favor for someone and have them just attack you on air, call you stupid, say you didn't know your facts, scream at you, make fun of you, when you were doing them a favor was just appalling.

C.I. brought up Ralph Nader's appearance on Randi's first show. How he too thought he was being brought on as a guest but instead got "Ralph, we can't afford you." Ralph hung up on her and C.I. said Randi was brutal but not as brutal as she was to Patti. With Ralph, you're talking about a presidential candidate. It was over the top but he's thrown his hat in the political ring and he can take what gets dished out because he knows it's coming. But for Patti, it was just such a shock because this woman had been so nice to her face and she really thought, "Oh, here's this sweet woman trying to make a difference in the world and she's saying Horses gave her courage so I should be supportive." She tries to be and gets ripped apart by Randi Rhodes.

Rhodes is just a hateful person.

She will use anyone, she will attack anyone. She has crossed the line repeatedly and this time she got caught doing it on YouTube. Some are comparing her to Don Imus and some are saying (online) that's not fair! They're saying that Imus said what he said on his show. Actually, FAIR documented their case long before Imus went after the women's basketball team based on things said on air and things said off air and on other programs (such as 60 Minutes).

Randi has taken to attacking women -- all women -- repeatedly on air in recent months. She had a fit about women who called her show talking about the very real sexism and went off on them. I could say more but I can hear Jim saying, "We could have written about this at Third!" :D So I'll just say that Patti Smith is a sweet and shy woman who tried to do a favor for another woman who was a complete stranger. She got stabbed in the back on air for being kind. That's the sort of person Randi Rhodes is.

And the event was sponsored by Obama groups. So where's Obama's apology?

You won't find it because you can attack any woman and get away with it. You can attack all women and get away with it. Such is the 'Unity' campaign he's running. This is what the campaign has stirred up and encouraged. And The Nation wants to claim it's a 'free' speech issue. This isn't about government censorship. This is about someone using hate speech. She can use it, there's no law against it. But if you use it, prepare to pay the price if people are offended.

Kat reviewed Patti's Twelve which is a great CD, in case anyone's just lived on a diet of Disney Kid pop and doesn't know who Patti Smith is.

Here's Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: A Tribute To Dr. King:"

Poverty Czar: Today in her speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, TN, paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of his assassination, Hillary announces a cabinet level position that will be solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it in America.
A Tribute To Dr. King: Earlier this week, Hillary released a video inviting supporters to submit testimonials about the impact of Dr. King’s work on their lives.
View here.
On The Air: The Clinton campaign released the first 60-second television ad statewide in North Carolina inviting Tar Heel voters to submit questions. "I'm committed to hearing directly from voters across the Tar Heel State, so in this new ad, I'm asking North Carolinians to talk to me." Hillary will answer those questions in follow-up ads in the coming weeks.
Watch Here. Submit questions here.
Tonight Show: Hillary appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" despite, Hillary joked, being "pinned down by sniper fire at the Burbank airport." Watch here. Read more.
If You Read One Thing Today: The NYT writes "Senator Barack Obama's support among Democrats nationally has softened over the last voters have taken a slightly less positive view of him than they did after his burst of victories in February, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll." Read more.
By The Numbers: A new poll out from Research 2000 shows Hillary leading in the Hoosier State (49-46).
See the results here.
Endorsement Watch: Former Indiana Congressman John Brademas endorsed Hillary because she "has the intelligence, the integrity, and the experience to jump-start our struggling economy, create needed Hoosier jobs and put the country back on the right track."
Read more.
More Hoosiers For Hillary: Hillary received the endorsements of 21 additional mayors and four local Democratic Party leaders in Indiana. "These mayors and local leaders see up close every day the impact of our rough economy on families in their communities. They know it's going to take someone who can deliver real solutions to put our economy back on track."
Read more.
West Virginia Announcements: The campaign announced its West Virginia State Director and Communications Director. New State Director, Talley Sargent: "West Virginians have patiently waited their turn to head to the ballot box --"and now they will have their opportunity to make their vote count." Read more.
Save the Date: Hillary agreed to an April 27th debate in Raleigh, NC hosted by CBS. Read more.
On Tap In Oregon: Hillary will hold a town hall in Hillsboro and will host a rally in Eugene.
In Case You Missed It: "A key adviser to Sen. Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office."
Read more.

And here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, April 4, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi refugee crisis continues, al-Maliki's evaluations less than glowing, Barack Obama says one thing on Iraq in public and apparently another thing in private, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War veteran
Chad Hetman writes The Daily Targum to explain, "People should be asking if ROTC instructors are teaching cadets that it is their legal duty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to refuse and challenge unlawful orders. Since the illegal war began, only one soldier has had the sense and courage to do his duty, Lieutenant Ehren Watada. The military is supposed to be politically neutral, but not legally neutral and almost all troops never read or understand the Constitution that they blindly swear to 'Support and Defend Against ALL Enemies both Foreign And DOMESTIC'." Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq (June 2006). In February 2007, Watada was court-martialed. Judge Toilet (aka John Head) halted the court-martial in order to give the prosecution a do-over and he halted the court-martial over defense objection. Double-jeopardy should prevent Watada from being prosecuted/persecuted again; however, the US military holds out hopes of convincing a judge that the Constitution -- though members of military swear to uphold it -- does not actually apply to the military.

Weeks before the court-martial took place,
Ave Diaz and Lance Holter (Haleakala Times) spoke with Watada who shared these expectations:

I certainly expect the army to make an example out of my stand and what I'm speaking against. Certainly they want to set the example and I think it's very dangerous because the example or message they are trying to send is that when you join the military you do what you are told -- it doesn't matter what your beliefs are, you do what you are told and that is a very dangerous message to send because who wants to join the military if you are going to be forced to do (something) -- regardless of whatever you believe in your own conscience -- and I think that will lead to a mass exodus of soldiers leaving the military because of that and also it will prevent a lot of potential recruits from joining the military.

And that apparently remains the goal of the US military which refuses to discharge Watada (whose service contract ended December 2006) and holds out hopes of subverting the Constitution by court-martialing him again. Since his contract expired, Watada has reported for duty each day. He continues to do so.
Thank You Lt. Watada is calling for: "No New Court Martial! Dismiss All Charges! Release Lt. Watada with an Honorable Discharge!"

Some war resisters are attempting to be granted safe harbor in Canada. 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, 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, 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).

Next Tuesday, Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker begin their attempts to sell Congress -- and therefore the American people -- on the notion that "progress" exists and thrives in Iraq. In anticipation of the expected snow job, Congress has attempted to lay down some guidance this week. Most successful was
Wendesday's hearing by the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee where retired Gen William Odom explained the escalation ("surge") didn't work, was never going to work, explained the problems with paying off thugs who are 'loyal' for coin, and much more. Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee continued to explore Iraq and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference on Iraq that was supposed to outline the message but instead she got sidetracked (with her travels, her candidate of choice, etc.) -- US House Rep Rahm Emanuel managed to salvage the conference.

If the snow job is blinded by realities this time, credit will go to those like
Marilou Johanek (Toledo Blade) who've shown what a working press is:

SO MUCH for Iraq's "defining moment." That's what the "Decider" called last week's Iraqi offensive against Shiite militants in Basra. It was a defining moment all right, one that underscored how worthless Iraqi's army and "unity" government are five years into the war. Interesting how muted Washington has been about the whole affair lately. Initially, the Bush Administration scrambled to put a positive spin on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ill-advised and ill-prepared government crackdown in the country's second largest city. Only after Iraqi security forces got a "thumpin" -- to put it in George W. Bush's vernacular -- and the prime minister, who had vowed to remain in Basra for a "decisive and final battle" against the militias, backed down after Iran brokered a cease-fire, did the administration start to disown the debacle.

And include The Villager whose editorial, "
Dems must find their spine on Iraq," spelled it out clearly: "The so-called surge is not "working" and it has nothing to do with the heightened violence last week. Even with the reduced level of violence against Americans in the last few months, we were still losing about a soldier a day. Many more troops are being severely wounded with crippling physical and mental injuries. Iraqi civilians continue to be killed in far greater numbers. The surge's intent was to prompt the Iraqis into making political compromises in order to govern themselves. Even the Bush administration admits there has been little progress on that front. How will the Iraqis ever be able to police themselves if Bush and John McCain continue to suggest we are willing to stay indefinitely -- a century, if necessary?" The assault on Basra was a War Crime. It was also a moment that revealed to the entire world that the US installed puppet Nouri al-Maliki was incompentent and unsupported by the Iraqi people.

He made ultimatums and then had to back down because he lacks the support to carry those out. This week he showed up attempting to save face after Moqtada al-Sadr's call for a stand-down (via talks between members of Iraq's parliament and Iran) brought the peace al-Maliki can never provide. He also begged for resistance fighters to return at least 50 government vehicles they had seized during the fighting -- but he calls it a 'win.' And he and his White House handlers learn nothing from the experience.
AFP reports that Thursday he was boasting of more assaults on al-Sadr's followers and repeating his talk of "outlaws" and how he doesn't make deals with him. Having yet again talked big, he got sleep and -- maybe he had scary nightmares -- showed up today with a different tune. Reuters reported this morning that he was now saying turn in weapons and everyone can get along! He'll even "grant amnesty from prosectuion"! Retuers observed, "The statement appeared to soften Maliki's position from Thursday, when at a news conference he threatened a crackdown on Sadr's strongholds in Baghdad." Meanwhile Matt Schofield (Kansas City Star) wonders, "So, we're almost five years from the day Baghdad fell, and it's time to ask: Who is in control of Iraq?"
Turning to the topic of Iraqi refugees. Tuesday the
UNHCR's Jennifer Pagonis broke down the latest figures on the internally displaced noting that "it is estimated that over 2.77 million people are currently displaced inside the country. Of these, 1.2 million were displaced before 2006 and more than 1.5 million were displaced in 2006 and 2007." Of these, "over 1 million cannot access regular income. Around 300,000 individuals have no access to clean water and are in need of legal aid to enable them to access other basic services." On external refugees, Trudy Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer) observes, "More than two million Iraqi refugees are struggling to survive outside Iraq, the bulk of them in neighboring Jordan and Syria. . . . Jordan and Syria can't afford to keep them, but they can't go home and are running out of money. Yet the desperate plight of Iraq's refugees isn't one the president wants to highlight -- because it underlines how tenuous the situation remains in Iraq." That's putting it mildly. Relief Web notes this from the Christian Reformed Church in North America, "Early last year the U.S. government agreed to resettle 7,000 refugees by February 2008, giving preference to those at greatest risk of violence. Today, only 2,000 Iraq refugees have entered the United States, with nearly 12,000 more awaiting approval." That should read: "still waiting approval." Dropping back to the Feb. 21st snapshot:

The total number of Iraqi refugees accepted by the US in 2007 was 1,608. In the
February 5th snapshot, the US State Department's laughable press confrence was noted. It featured Homeland Security's Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Iraqi Refugee Issues Lori Scialabba, The State Dept's Deputy Assistant for Consular Affairs Tony Edson, and the Senior Coordinator on Iraqi Refugee Issues Ambassador James Folely with a lot of excuses. CNN Elise Labott and Bloomberg News' Janice Zacharia had questions (and numbers) the State Department wasn't expecting which led to such claims by Foley as the State Dept had never said it would have 7,000 settled by the 2007 fiscal year. Finally, he offered "I came on board in September" (the end of the 2007 fiscal year) and that apparently means that he can't be updated on what's come before.

The crisis is not 'new,' it's not something unexpected. It remains something the US refuses to address.
Simone Campbell (The Mountain Mail) notes, "Traveling throughout Lebanon and Syria recently with several religious sisters and staff members from Catholic Relief Services, I witnessed lives of desperation and quiet stories of hope. Our visits with Iraqi families, Christian and Muslim, humanize numbing statistics staggering in scope." She notes are:

Among them is Dovid, a gentle Christian man so traumatized by torture at the hands of a militia in Iraq that his body constantly shakes. He struggled to hold steady for a picture we took with his wife and 10 children who live crowded into one room in a poor Beirut neighborhood. There is Leila, a Shiite Muslim who had a successful career in nuclear medicine in Iraq until she and her father were threatened because they worked with a U.S. company on hospital construction. Her father sent her to safety in Lebanon; a few months later, he was executed as he walked home from his job. She is haunted by rumors her father's enemies are searching for her.

Sheryl Kornman (Tuscon Citizen) speaks with the US State Dept's Barbara Day who attempts to stamp a happy face on things like refugees "remain near their countries in refugee camps or in cities hoping to one day return to their homes." The State Dept wants them to return. It looks better for the administration if that happens. But the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent have noted that it is not safe for them to return. Homeland Security's Barbara Strack also spins for Kornman explaining that those who have "provided any money or goods to terrorists" may get exemptions -- since the US is defining a family who pays the ransom for a family member kidnapped as having "provided any money or goods to terrorists." In the current issue of Harper's Magazine (April 2008), Deborah Campbell debunks that nonsense and other policies and attitudes preventing the Iraqi refugees from getting assistance in "Exodus: Where will Iraq go next?" (pp. 50 -56; link may only work for subscribers to the magazine). Campbell describes the crisis:The result of this societal collapse has been the largest exodus in the Middle East since the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948. One fifth of the population have fled their homes. In addition to the 2.5 million people known to be displaced within Iraq, a further 2.5 million have left the country. Several hundred thousand have made it to Egypt, the Gulf States, Iran, Turkey or Yemen, and Jordan hosts another half million. But it is Syria that has taken on the largest burden.

She shares the stories of many Iraqi refugees in Syria such as Aisha who provides English clases for free to other Iraqis each weekend and left Iraq after being kidnapped and the ransom being $50,000 and leave Iraq immediately There's Saif who was an intelligence officer but was among the many to lose their jobs when Paul Bremer (with White House approval) disbanded the Iraqi military. A rocket attack on his home left his wife paralyzed and his days in Syria are mainly spent "feeding and bathing his wife". A daughter was killed in the attack. Another daughter badly burned with no money for reconstructive surgey and a son was kidnapped "and tortured with electric cables to the head -- now he babbled incoherently and was violent unless drugged." In Lebanaon, she meets Iraqi refugees win jail such as the man trying to get his family "to Europe on passports he had pruchased" and was now told he would only be released if he agreed to go back to Baghdad. These are among the many stories she shares and she also charts the routes of Iraq. She notes falsehoods of
The Myth of the Great Return (including that the bussed and bought featured one family that was kidnapped immediately upon arriving in Baghdad) and explains that "the plight of former U.S. employees, particularly translators, remains the sum total of the discussion of the crisis within American media and political circles. The result is that, although more than 30,000 Iraqis were resettled in the United States after the 1991 Gulf War, only 3,775 Iraqis were granted entry between the beginning of the 2003 invasion and the end of January 2008."

As the US government ignores the crisis they created, criticism also goes to the United Kingdom.
Jamie Doward (The Observer) reports that 50 Iraqi refugees were forcibly taken back to Iraq, to a 'safe' area (Irbil): "The British government claims the region is safe, but human rights campaigners warn it is becoming increasingly dangerous. It has emerged that one failed asylum seeker, Solyman Rashid, who was returned from Britain after his appeal was rejected, was killed by a car bomb in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, last September." Speaking in Amman, Jordan today, John Holmes, United Nation's Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, explained the crisis for all Iraqis and, of internally displaced ones, that that "have little or no access to proper health care, food assistance, sanitation and other services" which is why the UN has issued a call for $265 million in donations and currently is $60 million short of that figure.

UPI reports a movement in Germany's religious communities to lobby "for sancturay in the country for Iraqi Christians" and asking for "long-term asylum for 25,000 to 30,000 Christians". In the United States, David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reports, attorney Robert Dekelaita is attempting to do the same thing:

Over the last decade, DeKelaita has obtained asylum for hundreds of Iraqi Christians threatened with deportation. He travels the U.S. to counsel distraught, uprooted men and women who have fled religious persecution in Iraq.But each new grant of asylum leaves DeKelaita feeling conflicted; his efforts inadvertently contribute to the slow dissolution of the once-vibrant Christian community in Iraq."My heart is really wedded to the idea that they should be safe and secure in their own homeland in Iraq," DeKelaita, 45, said inside his law office in Skokie, Ill., near Chicago. "What I'm doing is temporary. That's how I justify it to myself -- that they will one day all go back home safely to their homeland."Repressed under Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christian population has been decimated since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Muslim extremists have murdered priests and burned churches and Christian-owned shops and homes. Priests in Iraq estimate that fewer than 500,000 Christians remain, about a third of the number as before 2003.

Turning to some of the violence that's created the refugee crisis . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports mortar attacks on the Green Zone, a Diyala Province bombing at a funeral that claimed 16 lives and left 29 wounded. CBS and AP report: "The attacker detonated an explosive vest in the midst of the mourners attending the funeral for a Sunni policeman who had been shot dead on Thursday night, said and officer who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak." Reuters reports a Mussayab roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers (two more wounded). Reuters also notes a US helicopter attack in Basra that had multiple "casualties" according to eyewitnesses.


Reuters reports a member of the "Awakening" Council was shot dead outside Samarra.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Kevin Naff (Washington Blade) reports on keeping someone in the closet even in death. Major Alan Rogers died in Iraq on Januray 27th and was buried March 14th.

But the mainstream media accounts of his death omitted any reference to his sexual orientation. These were not benign omissions. The Washington Post, in particular, worked overtime to excise any mention of Rogers' sexual orientation. It did not even report his work for AVER. Several of Rogers' gay friends told the Blade that they were interviewed by a Post reporter at the funeral, but their memories were not included in
the paper's coverage.

As offensive, possibly more, is the report
Steve Inskeep (Morning Edition) which offered such gems such as this "Rogers had no wife or child to take away the flag that draped his coffin, so soldiers folded the flag and gave it to his cousin." Rogers had no wife? Why was that? NPR worked overtime to avoid telling the truth and was selective in what they aired. Not only did the media attempt to deny who Rogers was, Chris Johnson (Washington Blade) reports someone at the Pentagon recently attempted to remove references to Rogers' sexuality from the Wikipeida entry on him.

On the topic of veterans,
US Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announces the creation of Veterans for Hillary Leadership Committee which has "21 distinguished veterans from the Keystone State" and "will spearhead the campaign's efforts to reach out to Pennsylvania's veterans and inform them about Hillary's record of fighting for the men and women who have worn our nation's uniform. Congressmen John Murtha and Joe Sestak will co-chair the committee." Serving on the committee:

Larry Babitts, Boiling Springs, US Army
Ron Byrd, Tobyhanna, US Army**
Russell Canevari, Jessup, US Army
Ed Cemic, Sr., Johnstown, US Army
Kathy Cullinane, Scranton, USAF
Hal Donahue, Scranton, USAF
Thomas Dougherty, Dunmore, US Army
General Mike Dunn, Davidsville, US Army
Glen Embree, Mt. Pleasant Township, Navy
Greg Erosenko, Monroeville, US Army
Wy Gowell, Clark Summit, USAF
John Hugya, Hollsopple, USMC
Christin Joltes, Johnstown, USAF
Jim Kull, Uniondale, US Army
Joe Long, Bethlehem, USAF
William McCool, Levittown, Navy
Mike Miskell, Scranton, Navy
Phyllis Reinhardt, Scranton, US Army
General Gerald Sajer, East Berlin, US Army
Joseph Tully, Scranton, Navy
Jeffrey Voice, Philadelphia, US Army
**"Ron" is my guess. The first half of the name is left off the list. If that guess is incorrect on my part, my apologies and we'll correct it if it's pointed out.

At ZNet, Phyllis Bennis attempts to interject a little honesty into the discussions of Barack Obama: He Pees Peace and Rainbows. Naturally, Tom-Tom Hayden is having none of it. Bennis notes that Obama does not need to "'clarify' his own position on counter-insurgency or troop withdrawal, but to CHANGE his position." Those are fighting words to Bambi Groupies, Phyllis. And Tom-Tom shows up singing "Songs to Aging Children come, Aging children, I am one." Trying aging fool -- and for the record, Tom-Tom, I didn't need to poll behind your back to make that call. Tom-Tom's humping Bambi like his found another cash cow, chattering on about the 2002 anti-war speech (that no one heard in real time and could be 'expanded' today -- the same way recordings of it were 'recreated'), "his 16 month combat troop withdrawal plan, his refusal to support Bush on Iran's Revolutionary Guard" blah, blah, blah. Reality check. Bambi didn't refuse to support Bully Boy on that measure. He didn't show up for the vote. Patricia J. Williams has tried that LIE as well. Let's stick to the real world, Tom-Tom. In addition, as William M. Arkin (Washington Post) observed at the end of March, Obama's anti-Iran talk now "sounds like current White House policy."

The 16-month is the most hilarious. Showing the same dedication to denial that got him kicked out of the commune in California, Tom-Tom wants to pretend Samantha Power never happened.
Power told the BBC -- while still Bambi's chief foreign policy advisor -- that the 16-month pledge . . . really wasn't a pledge. If Barack made it into the White House, he'd decide what to do about Iraq then. Of all days to look like a sap, Tom-Tom picked the wrong-wrong one. Eli Lake (New York Sun) reports:

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a cofidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.
The paper, obtained by
The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000--80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq. A shorter and less detailed version of this paper appeared on the center's Web site as a policy brief.

No fool like an old fool, Tom-Tom.
Sarah Sewall is the 'brain' behind the US counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. She advises which campaign? Barack Obama's. At some point the PATHETIC are going to have to stop lying -- they are a danger to themselves and others. As Doug Henwood (ZNet) observes -- no fan of either Hillary or Barack, "And despite the grand claims of enthusiasts, he doesn't really have a movement behind him -- he's got a fan club. How does a fan club hold a candidate accountable?" As Tom-Tom demonstrates repeatedly, they don't.

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