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.

mcclatchy newspapers

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jeremiah Wright controversy isn't going away

Thursday and I'm going to try to rush through this post. I'll mainly be focusing on the implosion of Bambi. You're seeing it before your eyes but Panhandle Media is in denial that the sugar they laid out turned sour. They don't grasp what's going on and live in their isolation tanks far, far away.

This is from Joseph Fornieri's "Obama should emulate Rev. King:"

A pattern has emerged in the case of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sen. Barack Obama's spiritual mentor for 20 years. The repeated message of the man who inspired the title of Obama's book seems to be not the audacity of hope, but the audacity of hate. This time, his hateful lesson was delivered not in an outburst from the pulpit, but in a deliberative eulogy for the African-American scholar Asa Hilliard, published in the November/December 2007 issue of Trumpet magazine.
Comparing Hilliard to Jesus Christ who likewise "refused to be defined by an oppressive government," Wright slurred Italians who "for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans." He further described Christ's crucifixion as "public lynching, Italian style."

As Joe Klein notes in Time:

Patriotism is, sadly, a crucial challenge for Obama now. His aides believe that the Wright controversy was more about anti-Americanism than it was about race. Michelle Obama's unfortunate comment that the success of the campaign had made her proud of America "for the first time" in her adult life and the Senator's own decision to stow his American-flag lapel pin -- plus his Islamic-sounding name -- have fed a scurrilous undercurrent of doubt about whether he is "American" enough.

But it isn't all bad news for Bambi. Some people are rooting for him to win the nomination. Reuters reports that those people are Republicans:

The questions raised by Clinton about Obama's lack of experience and suitability as commander in chief will be revitalized, Republicans say, as will the controversy about inflammatory comments by Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Coupling that with Obama's weakness among blue-collar Democrats and Hispanics, and the possibility of a prolonged nominating fight that turns off Clinton backers and independents, Republicans are gaining confidence about a November race against Obama.

Meanwhile Jeremiah Wright's hate speech against Italians hasn't gone unnoticed:

Louis Tallarini, President of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, today condemned ethnically-charged and vitriolic writings by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
The statements were taken from a eulogy Reverend Wright delivered for Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III and published in the November/December issue of Trumpet Newsmagazine, of which Rev. Wright is reportedly CEO and which is affiliated with Trinity United Church of Christ. The writings were cited in press reports by and to and, Rev. Wright described the crucifixion of Jesus as "a public lynching Italian style," and stated, "The Italians for the most part looked down their garlic noses at the Galileans."
Mr. Tallarini's statement follows:
"The Columbus Citizens Foundation condemns in the strongest terms the inflammatory, misinformed and prejudicial comments of Rev. Wright.
"In his message of hate and bias, Rev. Wright takes up stereotyping, a practice long fought by enlightened and fair-minded people who envision a society where people are valued for their individual abilities rather than judged on the basis of their race, creed or ethnicity.
"He also describes the crucifixion of Jesus as a 'lynching' and assigns guilt to the people of a country that did not even exist for another 1,800 years. His statement is not merely inaccurate. It is a loathsome attempt to incite hatred and create mistrust.
"The very use of the word lynching - which is putting someone to death without legal sanction - is fraught with racial overtones as it recalls the tragic, racist lynchings that brought death to untold numbers of African Americans.
"Rev. Wright may not know that in 1891, eleven Italians who had been put on trial for the murder of the police commissioner of New Orleans and who had been found not guilty were hanged in the largest mass lynching in United States history. Numerous other Italians were lynched during the same period.
"We call on Rev. Wright to clarify his writings and offer an apology to the 26 million Americans of Italian descent and to the people of the Italian Republic.
"We encourage all Americans, including those who are candidates for the presidency of the United States, to speak out against divisive messages of hate that seek to drive wedges between Americans of different ethnic, racial or religious groups."
The Columbus Citizens Foundation is a non-political, non-profit organization in New York City committed to fostering an appreciation of Italian-American heritage and achievement. The Foundation, through a broad range of philanthropic and cultural activities, provides opportunities for advancement to deserving Italian-American students through various scholarship and grant programs. The Foundation organizes New York City's annual Columbus Celebration and Columbus Day Parade, the largest celebration of Italian-American culture in the world.

And I'm looking at letters to the editor all over the country. This isn't a dead issue. Check out this one. I meant to have this up already and don't because I've looked at about 50 letters from all over the country (including my state Big Mass). This isn't going away.

Even when that pathetic David Sirota brings his sad and tiny sack to the table to LIE. That's really all Sirota can do is LIE. Sad Sirota. He really is pathetic. He LIES and then he LIES some more. The left will never have a chance until they make it clear that LIARS are not welcome.

LIES are pointless. They aren't going to stop the offense Bambi's created by not addressing the damning of America. As the campaign always does, he tried to take it to race. And a lot of his LIARS took it there as well. They seem to think they can LIE to the American people. We're offended by the damning of America. Bambi made a fool of himself by refusing to address it and his LIARS offering excuses make fools of themselves as well. They seem to be telling America, "We don't care what you think! We're right!" First, they are wrong. Second, Bambi has to get votes so his LYING FRIENDS should grasp "We're right! You're wrong!" doesn't pull in voters.

Mags Carlson carved up Al Gore and she's already showing how she intends to carve of Bambi:

Yet he's made two big mistakes, and they are doozies.
First, he didn't see how regular folks who saw the videos of the
Reverend Jeremiah Wright wouldn't be able to get them out of their heads.
The clips are an unfair representation of 30 years of giving three sermons every Sunday, and Obama said he wasn't in the pews when Wright delivered them. Still, he hasn't said what remarks he was present for. And even if they were only a faint echo of what we've heard, why would Obama want his daughters to hear them or think those not conversant with black liberation theology wouldn't be shocked?
His second big mistake is bowling with others in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He ignored the risk every politician faces when trying to be one of the people if they're not, a risk that doubles if you pursue the official state sport when you've never worn a league shirt with your name above the pocket.
A savvy aide would have had Obama devote as much preparation to avoiding a 7-10 split as preparing for debates. Presidents know that if you aren't sure you can get the first pitch from the mound across home plate, better to toss it (like a girl) from the bleachers.
No Joke, Sir
By now, as many people who will ever watch a candidate forum have likely seen Obama's 37 score in a game that started with a gutter ball. He joked that an 8-year-old was giving him tips, but the reality is he didn't even know how low a score it was. He should be grateful this wasn't deer-hunting season.

Bambi thought he could breeze through this and now that he can't his LIARS are pimping hard to tell Americans they are wrong. Yeah, that's how to get votes! What losers. But look at who they support.

Here's Howard Wolfson's "HUBdate: Ringing" about a real candidate who would make a great president:

Ringing: The campaign released a new 30-second television ad statewide across Pennsylvania. "Ringing" highlights Hillary's readiness to be Commander-in-Chief of the economy on Day One. Sen. McCain "just said the government shouldn’t take any real action on the housing crisis. He’d let the phone keep ringing." Watch here.
Tonight on The Tonight Show: Hillary will appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Strong on the Economy: At yesterday's jobs summit, Hillary outlined her insourcing agenda that provides $7 billion in tax incentives and investments for firms creating jobs in America.
Read the plan here. Read more and more.
Big Change: USA Today's "Clinton's goals for economy? Big change" details Hillary's plans for the economy given that "there is still time for policymakers to avert a lengthy and punishing downturn."
Read more.
In Case You Missed It: Hillary appeared on CNBC's "Mad Money with Jim Cramer."
Watch here. Swing State Lead: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary beating McCain in key swing states. In Florida, she leads McCain 44-42 while Obama trails McCain by 9 points. In Ohio, Hillary leads McCain 48-39 while Obama is only ahead of McCain by 1. Read more.
For the Long Run: "Hang in there, Hillary...This Democratic presidential race is much too close - and you'd disappoint way too many people - if you let a bunch of party hacks and hand-wringers force you out now."
Read more.
Active In The Tar Heel State: North Carolina For Hillary announced the grand opening of its state headquarters in Raleigh.
Read more.
Previewing Today: Hillary hosts a "Hillary Live" fundraising event in Beverly Hills, CA.
A Tribute To Dr. King: On Friday, Hillary visits Memphis, TN to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of his assassination. She released a video inviting her supporters to submit testimonials about the impact Dr. King’s work has had on their lives.
View here.
On Tap: Hillary will attend the North Dakota Democratic NPL State Convention in Grand Forks, ND on Friday and will be campaigning in Oregon on Saturday.

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

April 3, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Nancy Pelosi babbles in public, Bambi's War Hawk feathers get a little attention, curfews are not good for children and living things, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Joshua Key is an Iraq War veteran who could not continue to take part in the illegal war. He and his family (wife Brandi Key and their children) moved to Canada to seek asylum which was
denied November 2006 by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. Currently he is appealing that decision before Canada's Federal Court. Colin Perkel (Canadian Press) reports that "lawyer Jeffry House told Justice Robert Barnes the board was wrong to conclude that the U.S. allows soldiers to object legally to what their military is doing in Iraq. In fact, House said, the United States Supreme Court has held that going to war is a high-level policy decision that cannot be litigated" and quotes him explaining, "There is no possibility whatsoever in the U.S. that anyone can raise the issue of an illegal war." In 2005, Orlando's WESH reported (text and video) on Joshua Key and quoted Jeffry House explaining of war resisters, "They shouldn't be punished because they are making a moral choice that has a lot to be said for it. . . . These are people that to me seem so innocent of any wrongdoing that I feel like I have to go the last mile for them." Joshua Key explains, "I went to fight for my country. To me, the Army, they lied to me from the beginning."

At 8:30 yesterday morning, Key attempted to receive the justice that has so far been denied to US war resisters in Canada.
Peter Wilmoth (Australia's The Age) reviewed The Deserter's Tale (written by Key and Lawrence Hill) and quoted from the text:

I wish I could pass on my [PTSD] nightmares to him [George W. Bush]. America's sons and daughters are losing their lives because he fabricated reasons to go to war, the weapons-of-mass-destruction lie. I deserted an injustice and leaving was the only right thing to do. I owe one apology and one apology only, and that is to the people of Iraq.

Brian Lynch (Vancouver's quotes Key explaining, "I went to fight for my country, and I did what I was told. I left it only when I saw for myself that it was unjust and immoral. . . . It would've been easier just to say, 'Okay, I'll go back and do what I was doing.' The hardest thing was to do what I did. And I live with a clear conscience because of that." Last year, Jenny Dean (Denver Post) told the stories of several war resisters including Key:

Joshua Key was a welder and part-time pizza deliveryman in Oklahoma with a wife, two kids and a baby on the way. "I couldn't make ends meet," he says.
In May 2002, a recruiter in a strip mall offered a deal too good to refuse: steady pay, health insurance and, because he was a father, no combat duty.
But by fall when Key arrived at Fort Carson, the rumors of war had begun. He and others in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment figured if war came it would be over quickly.
And, in fact, when Key first arrived in Iraq, there was virtually no resistance. He says he was taught how to blow doors off houses and search for terrorists and caches of weapons. In 200 raids, the private first class says, he never found more than the occasional rifle.
All males over 5 feet tall were to be handcuffed and sent away for interrogation, he says. The women and children were to be held at gunpoint, Key says. He adds that any money or valuables were fair game and admits to pocketing his share. After all, he figured, they were the enemy.
His uneasieness grew as the violence around him escalated. The tipping point came one day when his unit was traveling along the Eurphrates River and happened upon the bodies of four decapitated Iraqis. He says he was ordered to find evidence of a firefight. He found none.
But he says he did see a panicked American soldier screming "We (expletive) lost it here" as other soldiers kicked the heads like soccer balls.
"I'm not going to have no part of this," he says he told his commander. During a leave six months later, Key told his wife he wasn't going back: "I couldn't help but think we had become the terrorists. What if it was us and someone came breaking into our homes and held guns at our children?"

Associated Press quotes him from outside the court yesterday explaining, "You're terrorizing the civilian population -- for what sense or for what reason, I don't know. The innocent killings of civilians happened on a systematic basis there. It wasn't every now and then, it was an everyday occasion." Colin Perkel (Canadian Press) reports that "Judge Barnes said he hopes to rule before August." Should the Federal Court not overturn the board's decision, Key's next step would be to appeal to the country's Supreme Court. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey were the first US war resisters to appeal and, November 15, 2007, Canada's Supreme Court refused to hear their cases.

Should the Supreme Court also refuse to hear Key's the case, the best chance for Key and other US war resisters is a measure scheduled to be debated and voted by Canada's Parliament this month. 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).

Turning to the United States. Shortly the White House sends Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker off to make the rounds of Congress and attempt to launch another wave of Operation Happy Talk to convince the people of America that the illegal war must continue. Various efforts are taking place on the part of the US Congress to avoid being caught off guard the way they were in September. Some work, some don't. Case in point, the press conference this morning held by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi, what was the point of the press conference? Reading the wires may result in confusion. Reuters reports on the conference in terms of . . .
a bankruptcy bill. At some point, her nonsense on super delegates will be picked up. The topic was Iraq. Pelosi stated that when they took questions but refused to stick to that topic and felt the need to embellish on other topics repeatedly. After the other House members left, Pelosi continued to entertain questions (she even continued taking non-Iraq questions as she walked out of the room). You either focus or you don't. Pelosi didn't. Pelosi gave reporters every reason to focus on something other than Iraq (not that most need a reason to do so). She did a HORRIBLE job and, if that's the House's best effort, the American people are in a lot of trouble.

Others participating in the conference were Ike Skelton, Howard Berman and Rahm Emanuel. Skelton, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, declared that, "It's the Iraqis that are letting themselves down. They have had, as a result of the so-called surge, space" to move foward but they "are not stepping up to the plate as they should. The American People should understand that it's theirs [the Iraqis] to win or lose." Berman referred to the need for the upcoming hearings to cover "broad issues about costs, readiness, the [US] role in Afghanistan" and he noted the escalation's "underlying premise" was "national reconciliation" in Iraq which hasn't taken place. He noted the benchmarks and how nothing has really happpened there either. Yes, a few laws have been pased, Berman noted, but they "are ambiguous and it's very unclear whether they will ever be implemented." He cited one in particular. The de-de-Baathifcation law. (Paul Bremer issued the de-Baathification order so anything that remedies it is referred to here as the "de-de-Baatification law. Berman didn't use that term.) Berman noted it was "passed two months ago and still is not implemented." He cited that as the sort of issues that Petraeus and Crocker needed to provide answers on as well as the "strengthening of Iran and even Iran's role" in the Basra conflict. Repeatedly stressed (including by Pelosi) was the issue of "cost" which includes "America's security, our armed forces and, as the Speaker said, our economy."

When reporters tried to enlarge the topic early on, Pelosi was prepared and declared, "Right now our focus is on the testimony next week." (That was in reference to an expected 'supplemental' war funding request from the White House.) But she couldn't even maintain that focus for the brief press conference. (It lasted approximately a half-hour). She noted the costs of the illegal war was "now in the trillions" and the White House declared, before starting the Iraq War, "that the war would probably cost about $50 billion and could probably be paid soon." She noted hos many millions oil revenues bring to Iraq each day and stated that the US is spending "about $300 million a day in Iraq and we get no offset."

"What I hope we don't hear from General Petraeus next week," she declared, is a glorfication of what just happened in Basra . . . because the fact is that there are many questions to arise from what happened in Basra." She listed some including that the US reported only received notice that the assault on Basra would be taking place "twenty-four hours ahead of time". She wondered what was worse -- that the US would only receive 24 hours notice or that US forces were then brought in? She mentioned Moqtada al-Sadr at length and noted "al-Sadr established the terms by which he would freeze the violence from his side -- terms probably dictated by Iran and they were accepted like that (snaps fingers) by al-Maliki."

Skelton noted, "The strain is heavy. It's not heavy just on those in uniform, but on their families as well." He continued by declaring that Afghanistan was not the only "interest" the US had and that "you can only stretch the military so far."

Rahm Emanuel actually rescued the Q&A because Pelosi was so defocused. He stepped up to the microphone at several points. His strongest section was when he noted that, regardless of what happens on the ground in Iraq, the White House cries "more troops, more timeand more money" and dubbed this a "policy cul-du-sac and we just keep going round and round".

Referencing's General Betray-Us ads in Septemeber, Pelosi was asked if she was requesting any advocacy groups sit it out on the sidelines and she responded, "I don't deter anyone's right to speak out. I'm a big proponent of the First Amendment but I wope we [Congress] would shine a bright light of truth and mirror on what he [Petraeus] has to say." This was her strongest section in the press conference and she used the focus (provided by Rahm Emanuel rescuing the moment, let's all be honest) to discuss what needs to be focused on in next week's testimonies. 1) How is it helping the US fight "the real war on terror in Afghanistan"? 2) "How is it impacting our readiness?" 3) "How is it impacting our economy?" She went on to state that the Iraq War is "driving us into debt, which is driving us into recession and the American people are paying the costs." She should have closed with her next statement, reminding the reporters that "we have a general and an ambassador -- two employees of the United States -- coming" to offer testimony. That was the closing moment.

But Pelosi couldn't stay focused and, by this time, Rahm was gone and so were Skelton and Berman leading Pelosi, in this alleged "Let's focus on Iraq!" conference, to start rambling on about MLK, Ghandi, her recent trip to India ("which some of you may have read about") and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Could someone inform the Speaker of the House that the Democrats in Congress are attempting to prevent another snow job by Petraeus and Crocker? Pelosi needs to stay on topic. No one needs to hear about her travels to India. Or what's going on in the rotunda. Presumably, all press present were provided with a schedule of the day's events. The conference was about Iraq and specifically attempting to set down markers by which the American people could measure next week's testimony. Sadly, Pelosi still wasn't done and had to then offer her opinions on the issue of super delegates -- her opinion, it should be noted, to a question NO ONE ASKED. The topic, Pelosi apparently forgot, was Iraq and preparing for next week's testimony. She needs to stay focused or send out surrogates in the future.

If that seems minor, it's not. Congress is attempting to set the tone and expectations for next week's testimony. Many members are doing their part. No one needs Nancy Pelosi blowing off everyone's hard work because she wants to play Starlet Holds A Press Conference. Yesterday, US Senator Joe Biden did his part as the chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as the issue of withdrawal was seriously addressed and explored via multiple testimonies. That was an all day session that broke only for lunch. The media seems to be willfully missing that. Possibly the same press that sold the illegal war doesn't want to discuss Congress exploring withdrawal? Today, the committee heard testimony for their panel entitled "Iraq 2012: What Can It Look Like, How Do We Get There?"

"Before the war began," Biden explained in his opening remarks, "this committee warned that the failure to plan and define realistic objectives in Iraq would cause us to pay a heavy price. We cannot continue to make it up as we go along. We must mark a direction on our strategic compass -- and deliberately move in that direction. Ironically, despite all the debate in Washington and beyond about our Iraq policy, there is one premise just about everyone shares: lasting stability will come to Iraq only through a political settlement among its warring factions. So the single most important question you would think we would be debating is this: 'What political arrangements might Iraqis agree to and what are the building blocks to achieve them? Yet we almost never ask ourselves those questions. Today we will."

Senator Richard Luger, the highest ranking Republican on the committee noted, "Yesterday, in two hearings, the Foreign Releations Committee examined the status of military and political efforts in Iraq. Today, our witnesses will look beyond immediate problems to the prospects for Iraq four or five years into the future. . . . We being this inquiry knowing that we have limited means and time to pursue an acceptable resolution in Iraq. Testifying before us yesterday, Major General Robert Scales joined our other witnesses in underscoring the limits imposed by the strains on our armed forces."

The sparsely attended hearing (Senator Bill Nelson was one of the few to show) may have had to do with the fact that three of the four witnesses were advocating for 'federalism.' The panel had no real diversity of thought. Harvard's Dr. Dawn Brancati (who supported 'federalism' from the start) would declare at the end of the hearing, "Actually I think discussion among the three of us has changed my position slightly." So there's little point in reviewing her opening statements or anything during the hearing. Brookings' Carlos Pascual and American University's Professor Carole O'Leary also favored 'federalism' (O'Leary would argue that using 'partion' was an obstacle). RAND's Dr. Terrence Kelly did not offer an opinion but felt that what Iraq currently has in the political system is what it will have for some time to come because no one will want to give up powers. Only the University of Vermont's Dr. F. Gregory Gause III would address larger issues than "wants" (on the part of the United States) and he focused on the players in the region. He identified Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as "the most important regional players." He stated, "The Saudi-Iranian contest for influence is not a direct confrontation. Iran does not pose a military threat to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis do not see Iran as such. While Riyadh worries about the Iranian nuclear pogram, that is an issue for the future, not the immediate present. President Ahmadinejad visited Saudi Arabia in 2007 and the two countries have kept lines of communication open." In terms of Turkey and Iraq, he noted that "the Turkish perspective on Iraq, is not regional; it is domestic. Ankara views events in Iraq through the prism of its own Kurdish issues. It has accommodated itself since 1991 to the de facto independence of Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish businesses are developing substantial interests there. However, it will not long tolerate any actions by the Iraqi Kurdish leadership which it sees as encourging Turkish Kurds to dream of independence and revolt against the Turkish government." He listed the three most cited outcomes from a US withdrawal from Iraq. 1) Iraq violence spills over to Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. 2) Civil war (high intensity) breaks out in Iraq forcing neighboring states to intervene. 3) al Qaeda would use it as a base. "It is hardly inevitable," he explained, "that American withdrawal from Iraq would lead to any of these bad results. On the contrary, I will make the case that an announced intention to withdrawal on a realistic timetable might -- again, I stress 'might' -- actually push regional powers to take more coopertive stances on Iraq." On the first option, he felt Syria and Jordan would be at risk for refugees arriving and called for more international aid. On the second, he felt that various Iraqi elements within the country would stabilize as they "tested" their won powers. He felt that no one really wants to control Iraq. Iran has what it wants (influence), Turkey doesn't want to "annex" the Kurdish region of Iraq (not noted but that would further extend the Kurdish region in Turkey) and "the Saudi army is hardly capable of serious cross-border operations." On the third outcome, he stated that "making that . . . the reason to maintain our presence in Iraq gives Usama bin Laden a veto over American policy. That cannot be a good thing."

He used "might" often. There were no such qualifiers from O'Leary who might want to turn that psychic eye to the financial markets if she is so sure of herself. She offered predictions (presented as fact and findings) as to what political parties would be standing (and which wouldn't be). When not predicting, she stressed the importance of tribal identities in Iraq and felt that tribes were the most logical unit that could explore issues such as "civil society" due to them being "the metaphor of family". As an acedmic exercise, O'Leary's presentations would be interesting. In terms of the topic of the hearing, O'Leary was too vested in what "should" happen ('federalism') and appeared eager to get to the issue of "How we make it happen!"

Dr. Terrence Kelly feels violence is a mainstain in Iraq for at least a generation regardless of anything else that does or does not take place. Echoing the generals at yesterday's hearing, he stated that the US is not equipped to do nation-building in Iraq. He noted the competing narratives among the three largest groups (Shia, Sunni, Kurd) and that "Americans do not undestand Iraqi social processes well, and so have not been effective at recognizing their importance. In many, though not all, ways, the U.S. cannot significantly influence these processes. Nor should it try to in most cases. The U.S.'s role in these issues are primarily to support insitutions and pressure political leaders to make needed changes."

In questioning, Kelly would return to the basics of a system such as when he noted "democracy requires a set of laws that people follow." In response to whether the current system (referred to as a 'cofederation') will exist but have "a dictator on top of it," Kelly replied that he didn't believe that was possible "because the dictator would want to have a unified government" and "I don't think that an army officer would say I want to be president of Iraq but I want the power to be in the provinces."

Biden noted the testimony of the generals on Wednesday and how the current course is not sustainable for the US military. It was not as in-depth (or as varied -- even from the center) as yesterday's hearing but it did get the point across that the Iraq War is not achieving and that political solutions are something the Iraqis will have to decide on, not the US.

Turning to Iraq where the 'solution' is always 'crack-down' and 'curfew.' The assault on Basra led to the expected reaction for anyone with a functioning brain but caught the puppet Nouri al-Maliki (and his handlers) by surprise. Their response was the usual curfews. The
International Medical Corps notes:

Recent fighting and subsequent curfews in several major Iraqi cities have led to food shortages, disruption of health services, and above normal gaps in water and electricity supplies. Fighting, instability, and restriction of movements caused many people living under the curfew to feel depressed and agitated. The overall standstill of commercial life hit the poorest and most vulnerable Iraqis most.In a rapid assessment International Medical Corps (IMC) found that living conditions of Iraqis deteriorated under the multi-day curfews in almost all aspects. In telephone interviews people were asked to comment on their economic situation and their physical and mental well-being. "The curfews show how vulnerable Iraqis are to any further disruptions in their lives," says Agron Ferati, International Medical Corps country director in Iraq. "Over the last days we have seen how the everyday problems in the lives of ordinary Iraqis can quickly reach crisis proportions."A large number of respondents (75%) were either unemployed or support their families as day laborers. Although most said they are used to stockpiling supplies, people with a low or irregular income said they would run out of food if the curfew would continued. International Medical Corps also found large gaps in the health care sector. More than half of those respondents who needed medical assistance during the curfew said they had difficulties finding help, and a quarter could not get access to a health facility at all. Hospitals experienced shortages in medical supplies and were short-staffed during the curfew while the caseload of patients with serious injuries increased. Medical personnel could not reach hospitals and the referral system broke down due to the overall restriction in movement. In response to the crisis International Medical Corps is providing assistance to 2,000 families in Sadr City, a poor district in Baghdad, where fighting was especially fierce and citizens were cut off from assistance during the curfew. IMC is distributing one month's worth of food to the families -- including rice, cooking oil, sugar, beans, and flour - and is also delivering 100,000 liters of water in Sadr City. To avoid further disruptions in critical care three hospitals are receiving medication and supplies from International Medical Corps that will help them to better cope during curfews and administer life-saving care to patients. The insecurity and resulting curfews exacerbated existing worries and led to increased tension among family members. The vast majority of people interviewed for the survey said that the situation had made them feel hopeless, restless, and worthless.

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraq soldier and left three more wounded, two other Baghdad roadside bombings left four people wounded, a Baghdad bombing wounded a police officer, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 3 lives and left ten more people wounded, a Nineveh truck bombing claimed 7 lives and left twelve people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded eight people and a US airstrike on Basra claimed 4 lives and left six people injured. Reuters reports a Samara roadside bombing claimed the lives of 5 police officers and a clash in Hilla that ended with a US airstrike resulting in 6 deaths ("including 4 policemen") and fifteen more people left injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 people were shot dead in Kirkuk last night.


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

Reuters reports that Moqtada al-Sadr has announced a march against the occupation for April 9th as well as for a Baghdad "peaceful sit-in" this Friday. In the US, justice is delayed for crafts. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi murdered and gang-rape was supposed to be the focus of a civilian trial starting this coming Monday. That has been delayed. March 12, 2006, US soldiers invaded Abeer's home and gang-raped her while killing both of her parents and her five-year-old sister. They then killed Abeer. While other soldiers have confessed to their part in the planning of the conspiracy and in the crimes, Steven D. Green has maintained his innocence -- despite being fingered in courtroom confessions as the ringleader. Part of the plot was to plan the crimes on Iraqi 'insurgents' and Green was discharged from the US military while these mythical 'insurgents' were still believed to be the culprits. As a result of the fact that he had been discharged, he was set to face a civilian court and that trial was finally due to start this coming Monday; however, AP reports the trial has been delayed "by three weeks to accomodate a quilt show". Also in the US, Erika Bolstad (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Senators Patty Murray, Lisa Murkowski, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Blanche Lincoln, Jay Rockefeller, Ron Wyden and Charles Schumer have sponsored a bill which "would require that the VA system adapt to care for the 90,000 wmen who have served in the military since 2001" and "require the Veteran Administration's mental health staff to be trained to counsel victims of sexual assault." The bill is entitled the Women Veterans Health Improvement Act of 2008 and would "address many of the unique needs of female veterans by authorizing programs to improve care for Military Sexual Trauma (MST), increase research on the current barriers to care, and expand women veterans staff positions at the VA."

Turning to US politics, Kevin Zeese wonders "
Is It Time for the Peace Movement to Start Protesting Senator Obama?" (Dissident Voice) because, frankly, he finds Bambi "has been sounding rather hawkish" lately. Lately? Zeese is apparently just waking up. He notes Bambi groupie Amy Goodman's 'earth-shattering' two minutes (she cornered Bambi) that didn't turn out so well. "First," Zeese huffs, "Obama acknowledged combat troops would be left behind as 'a strike force in the region'." First? Zeese, where have you been? Zeese goes on to quote Bambi saying that troops could be left in Kuwait. This is only news, Kevin Zeese, because the Pathetic Likes of Amy Goodman have schilled for Bambi for months. It's not news here. From the Nov. 2nd snapshot:

Writing up a report, Gordo and Zeleny are useless but, surprisingly, they do a strong job with some of their questions. The paper should have printed up the transcript. If they had, people might be wondering about the 'anti-war' candidate. He maintains Bill Richardson is incorrect on how quickly US troops could be withdrawan from Iraq. Obama states that it would take at least 16 months which makes one wonder how long, if elected, it would take him to move into the White House? If you can grab a strainer or wade through Obama's Chicken Sop For The Soul, you grasp quickly why he refused to pledge (in September's MSNBC 'debate') that, if elected president, he would have all US troops out of Iraq by 2013: He's not talking all troops home. He tries to fudge it, he tries to hide it but it's there in the transcript. He doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq -- he appears to want them outside of Iraq -- such as Kuwait.

There's nothing new in Goody's brief report. That could have all been reported in real time -- back in November -- but Liars and Fluffers for Bambi didn't want people knowing that (or a great deal more). One of the Fluffers was Tom Hayden who saw the byline of Michael Gordon and just knew it had to be true! He failed to read the transcript and, when he finally got around to doing so, he broke . . . just like a little girl. That would be the same Tom-Tom who endorsed Bambi in the lead-up to Super Duper Tuesday and then immediately came back with "WE HAVE TO HOLD BOTH THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE!" You do that by endorsing? Age has not brought Tom-Tom any dignity.
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes Tom-Tom, Stab, Bill Fletcher and Danny Glover and states they contributed the "most pitiful communication"

The self-styled "progressives" attempt to upend history and fool everybody, including themselves. The four claim that current conditions can be compared to the 1930s, when "centrist leaders" were compelled by activists "to embrace visionary solutions." There's a huge problem with that reasoning, however. In the 1930s, there were already strong movements existent before Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 and 1936 runs for the presidency. It was the movements -- many of them communist-led -- that shaped the Roosevelt campaigns and the New Deal, that in fact changed history. Today's four wishful signers insist that "even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined."
Really? Believe that hogwash when any of the loyal Lefties demand Obama discard his plans to add 92,000 addition soldiers and Marines to the total U.S. military ranks, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and bringing with it the certainty of more wars. Never happen. The signers have already claimed the political campaign is a movement. Would they expose themselves as poseurs and fakers by making futile demands on the campaign, which is, after all, supposed to be one with the "movement?" Would they risk being told to shut up? No, it's too late for Hayden, Fletcher, Ehrenreich, and Glover to strut around as if they have options; they pissed all that away in the initial glow of Obamamania, and from now on will have to accept their status as hangers on.

Again, if, like Zeese, Bambi's Iraq realities are emerging for you, blame it on Tom-Tom, Amy Goodman, self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders and all the others in Panhandle Media who want to be seen as "fair" but don't want to actually be fair. Better to lie to your audience apparently.
Friday Marcia covered the foursome Ford's addressing.

Andrew Stephen (New Statesman) charts one of the bigger lies (and yes, Goody repeatedly promoted it on her trashy show) and a non-stop 'strategy' by the Bambi campaign:

The genius of the Axelrod strategy thus far is that it has been directly centred on race while maintaining the appearance of the opposite, appropriating the race card as well as that of moral rectitude for Obama himself. Very early in the campaign, Obama's South Carolina press office put out a memo pronouncing routine political sniping from the Clinton camp to be racist. The memo came from a local "low-level staffer", Axelrod reassured us. In fact, it was written by Amaya Smith, a seasoned Democratic Party spokesperson and former congressional press secretary based in Washington -- and the labelling of the Clintons as racists had stuck.
Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats' vice-presidential candidate in 1984 and a former congresswoman, was similarly targeted. In an interview last month with a tiny Californian newspaper called the Daily Breeze, that would have passed unnoticed by at least 99.99 per cent of Americans, Ferraro casually observed that if Obama was a white man or "a woman of any colour," he would not be a presidential candidate today. Her remarks led to a national furore, but nobody pointed out that it was Obama's campaign that alerted the national media to Ferraro's words.
"I'm always hesitant to throw around words like 'racist'," Obama said, doing just that. Ferraro, a veteran 72-year-old, riposted that "every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist". She sussed out the Axelrod strategy: to gain immunity from political attacks by immediately smearing attackers as racists.
The kind of thing that is worrying some super-delegates, too, is that Obama is increasingly emerging as no mean fibber himself. In his latest television ad, he declares that he does not take money from oil companies. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, however, Obama is overlooking the $213,884 he had received from the oil and gas industry up to 29 February, most of it channelled directly from the CEOs of two major oil and gas companies.

Pimping Bambi required rendering a lot of people invisible. Such as students who support Hillary Clinton. Law student
Diana Winer Rosengard explains, "As a law student, my respect for Senator Clinton has only continued to grow. I have spent the last two years working with victims of domestic violence, helping them obtain restraining orders and connecting them with community resources. Thanks to Senator Clinton's unwavering support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), federal funding is available to protect women and children who are frequently victimized by the ones they love. VAWA helps victims at the moments when they are most vulenerable by providing resources to train police officers, covering the court costs of emergency restraining orders, and giving victims access to advocates while they work their way through the criminal justice system. Senator Clinton's commitment to ensuring that federal funding continues means support for programs like the ones I volunteer with -- every week I get to see, first hand, the difference that Senator Clinton's work makes in the grateful faces of these women and children."

Lastly, the 40th anniversary of the assassination of MLK is tomorrow.
Hillary Clinton offers (text and video), "I believe we can honor Dr. King and all Americans -- including the women and men serving our country around the world -- by remembering his timeless challenge: What did you do for others?"

jeremy hinzmanbrandon hughey

mcclatchy newspapers