Friday, February 06, 2009

Dennis Loo and this week's Dumb Ass pick

Friday!!!! The weekend at last. Hope saying "at last" doesn't mean Etta James is going to kick my butt. :D Joking. I thought it was funny what she said about Beyonce and Barack. "At Last" is a really pretty song but I prefer her other stuff. Including her cover of "Purple Rain." I think she's a better singer each year she records so "At Last," as magical as it is, is really just the start of Etta for me, not her shining moment.

Grabbing this from C.I., On Wednesday, the theme post was magazines and, on that theme, Mike's "International Socialist Review," Rebecca's "interview," Betty's "Movieline, Premiere," Marcia's "off our backs," Ruth's "Dynamite," Stan's "Clamor," Elaine's "The Progressive" and Kat's "Lionel Richie, Billy Corgan, and more." Cedric's "Dick issues a threat" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DICK THREATENS!" also went up Wednesday night. Be sure to check out the mag posts.

I wasn't planning on doing a Dumb Ass of the week but one of the vets in Elaine's Thursday night group saw something and e-mailed me. I called him back when I read his e-mail and told him I could make it Dumb Ass of the week. (He's the vet I usually mention here, by the way.) So the Dumb Ass of the Week award goes to . . . Corrente's Lambert.


Writing this morning about the suicide rate for soldiers last month, Lambert declares of those killing themselves, "Maybe they're realizing they all have sixteen months to gp." That's not funny and we don't make fun of suicides to begin with. But with PSTD being the thing the military works overtime to ignore and minimize, with so many veterans needing help and not getting it, "a little punk ass who never writes about Iraq or PTSD popping off ain't funny." (Direct quote from the vet.) No, it sure isn't. And what was he thinking? Obviously, he wasn't and that's why Lambert is this week's Dumb Ass of the Week.

Congrats, Lambi, you earned it.

Elaine and I are both noting one story from the UK Socialist Worker and I'm going with "Greek protests continue to pressurise government:"

Farmers’ protests in Greece have increased the pressure on the country’s right wing government, which had already been rocked by riots, strikes and protests in December.
Across the country farmers have blockaded roads demanding subsidies and against the low prices they are paid. The government has agreed to pay them 500 million euros.
The crisis is having a severe effect on Greece’s economic situation, with the European Union demanding a stabilisation package of a wage freeze and cuts.
Civil service workers have a strike planned for 25 February, which could become a day of action involving other unions.
The radical mood in Greece was seen in the united meeting of the Enantia and Mera anti-capitalist groups in Athens last Saturday. Around 3,000 people met and agreed to set up a new initiative.
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So did you know about Greece? Did you know what was going on in France? There's so much going on in the world and it's not all Love Barack, Love Barack, Love Barack! There is actual news and most of it goes missing because you can't send multiple valentines to Barack each day and still have time to inform the people.

This is from Dennis Loo's "Panetta, Holder, Obama, Torture and Nuremberg:"

In his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Leon Panetta, Obama’s pick for the CIA directorship, “said there is no intention to hold CIA officers responsible for the policies they were told to carry out. CIA interrogators who used waterboarding or other harsh techniques against prisoners with the permission of the White House should not be prosecuted.” (Pamela Hess, “Panetta: Obama won’t ok ‘extraordinary rendition,’” The Daily Transcript, February 5, 2009.)

"Individuals,” Panetta
said, “who operated pursuant to a legal opinion that indicated that that was proper and legal ought not to be prosecuted or investigated."

This declaration
echoes what Eric Holder, the new U.S. Attorney General said in his Senate confirmation testimony: ‘[W]here it is clear that a government agent has acted in ‘reasonable and good-faith reliance on Justice Department legal opinions’ authoritatively permitting his conduct, I would find it difficult to justify commencing a full-blown criminal investigation, let alone a prosecution.”

See we miss out on that and so much more when we're stuck in the never ending Cult of Barack Love Loop. We deserve so much more and we should demand it. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Barack moves back his "immediately" pledge on Iraq, Military Families Speak Up launch their DC action, US war resister Cliff Cornell has returned to the US from Canada, the (partial) election results are sifted through, and more.

Jon Allen (People's Weekly World News) reports on a teach-in entitled "War's Real Impact: Our Voices" that a number of groups staged in Chicago:

Eugene Cherry joined the army at the age of 19 in the hopes of getting money for college. Despite being a good student, he found his options in his impoverished south side neighborhood limited. "I thought the military would be my ticket out, but I found an organization based on racism, sexism and misogyny" he testified before the assembled audience. Later he spoke of "[a] culture of violence and racism" that the military promotes within its ranks. These pressures proved to be too much for Sherry. He deserted for 16 months after being refused mental health support by the army. "I found myself fighting and oppressing a group of people in the name of the war on terror" concluded his remarks to the gathering. The plight of women in the armed forces proved to be a recurring theme. Patricia McCann, a National Guardsman deployed in 2003, noted during her testimony that instances of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the armed forces have risen but court-martials for these crimes have declined. Another veteran (and current Chicago police officer), Lisa Zepeda, added that victims of assault have no outside authority they can report assaults to; a victim must go through her immediate superior within her unit.

Allen notes that US House Rep "Jan Schakowasky and several Chicago aldermen also took the floor and addressed the audeince. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and Illinois Senator Roland Burris also sent staff members to reaffirm their support of bringing the troops home."

Military Families Speak Out was among the organizations participating in the Chicago event and today they started a DC action that will run through Monday:
Come to Washington February 6-9 to demand "The Change WE Need"
President Elect Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started, calling it a "dumb war." But he and his advisors have also said that they plan to spread the return of combat troops from that "dumb war" out over sixteen months and to keep
tens of thousands of other troops on the ground in Iraq indefinitely.
So from February 6-9, MFSO will be traveling to Washington to bring the new President and new Congress the message that it is long past time to bring all our troops home from Iraq. The four days of events will include:
* A
teach-in featuring the voices of military families, veterans, and Iraqis, explaining the need for an immediate and complete end to the war in Iraq -- and the human impacts of continuing the occupation. Friday, February 6 from Noon - 3:00 p.m. at Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue.
* A solemn procession from Arlington National Cemetary to the White House beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 7. Meet at the front gate of the cemetery right outside the exit of the Arlington Metro stop. Please arrive early.
* A "Meet and Greet" and Legislative Briefing from 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 8 at the Mariott Metro Center.
* Lobbying members of Congress to end the war in Iraq. Meet in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building at 9:00 a.m. Monday, February 9.
The teach-in takes place this afternoon. Actions continue through Monday. Meanwhile US war resister Andre Shepherd is seeking asylumn in Germany (we last noted Andre in
Wednesday's snapshot). Wednesday, he was making his case for asylum to Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Andy Eckardt (NBC News) offers a strong report on Andre who explains, "When I enlisted in 2004 and later was sent to Iraq, I believed I was doing the right thing. But then, like other comrades around me, I started questioning why we were there and what we were fighting for. . . . My job was harmless until I factored in the amount of death and destruction those helicopters caused to civilians every day. The government made us believe we would be welcomed as heroes in Iraq, but we saw nothing but hostility from the Iraqis that came to work for us, they wanted to kill us." Meanwhile James M. Brnaum's GI Rights explained yesterday:

U.S. war resister Cliff Cornell surrendered himself to U.S. border police on Wednesday after being ordered to leave Canada. He was promptly arrested for being AWOL from the U.S. Army, and is now being held at the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, Washington, twenty miles south of the U.S.-Canada border.
Cornell's attorney and supporters expressed outrage at the arrest.
"Clifford Cornell came back to the United States so that he could voluntarily return to his old unit at Fort Stewart," stated attorney James Branum. "He stated this intention to the Border Patrol, both verbally and in writing, by way of a letter I drafted on his behalf. I am disappointed that the Border Patrol chose to arrest my client and place him into a county jail with general population prisoners. This should not have happened."
Cornell, 28, fled to Canada four years ago after his Army artillery unit was ordered to Iraq. But despite a popular outcry to provide sanctuary to soldiers who refuse to fight in illegal wars, Canada's Conservative government is pressing ahead with deportations. Cornell, an Arkansas native, had come to call British Columbia home. But he now faces a possible court martial and imprisonment in the United States.
"Cliff Cornell should not be going to jail," said Gerry Condon, director of Project Safe Haven, a war resister advocacy group. "He had the guts to follow his conscience and obey international law," continued Condon. "President Obama should grant amnesty to Cliff Cornell and all war resisters."
Cornell is the second Iraq War resister to be held in the Whatcom County Jail. He follows Robin Long, who was deported from Canada in July. Long is now serving a 15-month prison sentence at Miramar Naval Consolidated Brig near San Diego.
"We want Bellingham to be a Sanctuary City for war resisters," said Gene Marx of Veterans For Peace, "not a way station for war resisters being sent to prison." Bellingham is known for being a progressive city, having passed two anti-war resolutions through its city council.
A public vigil in support of Cliff Cornell will be held outside of the County jail on Thursday from 10 am -- 1pm, organized by the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center.
A legal defense fund for Cliff Cornell is being established by Courage To Resist, a war resister support group, at
CONTACT: Marie Marchand, Executive Director, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center(360) 734-0217 (office); (434) 249-5957 (cell), WhatcomPJC(at)
Gene Marx, Bellingham Veterans For Peace, Chapter 111, 253-653-4423 (cell)
Gerry Condon, Project Safe Haven, 206-499-1220 (cell),projectsafehaven(at)

In an update,
AP reports that Cliff is being allowed to travel "by bus to Georgia" and will "turn himself in Tuesday at the Army base near Savannah." And, as Gerry Condon stated, Barack Obama should grant amnesty to all war resisters. But the reality is Barack's not even in a rush to end the illegal war.

Staying with the White House, US vice president Joe Biden is headed to Germany. Before he left the US today, he made some public remarks.
Edward Epstein (CQ) reports, "He listed the economic crisis and ongoing fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as the most pressing issues. Biden used a football analogy to describe the situation in Iraq, saying the United States is 'on the 20-yard-line' and 'driving toward the goal'." Jared Allen (The Hill) states the Biden "admitted that any victory is far from certain, and he reiterated that a victory through military means alone is unattainable." AFP quotes him stating, "Our administration is going to have to be very deeply involved not only keeping the commitment that we've made drawing down our troops in an orderly fashion consistent with what we said."

McClatchy Newspapers' Nancy A. Youssef is convinced that Barack's decision to request a variety of options for 'withdrawal' from Iraq is "the first indication that the Obama administration may be willing to abandon a campaign promise of a 16-month withdrawal." Or it may be Barack wanting to see all options, wanting to check if opinions ever see withdrawal possible (would you listen to someone's opinion if they didn't think the US could pull out in 16, 19 or even 23 months?). Who knows. But withdrawal' is not withdrawl. It is "combat" troops only. The White House unofficially says the number left behind would be approximately 70,000. That's not withdrawal. Youssef reports, "Obama is likely to announce his strategy for Iraq by mid-March, a senior administration official told McClatchy." That would be an indication of a broken promise and Youssef misses that point. At Hopey Changey "Three Facts about Barack Obama and Iraq" which includes this 'fact:' "Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq; successfully ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased."

What did Barack promise? "Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: successfully ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased." Mid-March? Mid-March is "immediately upon taking office"? Immediately upon taking office was when Barack was sworn in. That was last month. It's February. And a White House source is telling McClatchy it will be mid-March before anything's announced. Another case where "
Barack kicks the can" and here he's promised "immediately upon taking office". (I have no idea who Nancy Youssef spoke to and this morning I'm being told that is not correct and that Barack will be making an announcement "this month" on Iraq. He may or he may not. But Youssef didn't make up that source. Even if an announcement is made this month, as two insisted this morning, the fact that some White House insider would tell Youssef it wouldn't be until mid-March goes to how unimportant Iraq is in the Obama White House. And "this month" would not be "immediately upon taking office".)

"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's strong performance in Iraq's provincial elections was also a victory for American goals." No. al-Maliki wasn't a candidate. That's the lede to
Sudarsan Raghavan and Ernesto Londono's Washington Post article and it's incorrect and they are not the only reporters/outlet to get it so wrong.Nouri al-Maliki was not a candidate in provincial elections. These, as Londono himself has explained, are the equivalent of state legislature elections in the US. Did anyone assert that victory for Republicans in (pick one of fifty states) in (pick 2001 through 2007) was a victory for George W. Bush? wanted to get some press and wanted to make the elections about him. He estimated a minimum of 70% of registered Iraqis would turn out. (51% did.) He thought this was going to be his big moment on the international scene.For a reporter, it is very tempting to make it about al-Maliki for a number of reasons. For example, making provincial elections about the prime minister frees you of having to . . . cover the actual candidates. And there were 440 winners -- none of whom were named "Nouri al-Maliki." It's so much easier to stamp "al-Maliki Victory" and be done with it. This afternoon Alissa J. Rubin (at the International Herald Tirbune) focuses on Yusef Majid al-Habboubi who "managed to defeat not only the religious parties who controlled the province of Karbala but also Maliki's preferred candidates by a 2-1 margin in one of the bigger surprises in the provincial elections last week." In the preliminatry vote, Rubin explains, it appears al-Habboubi has 17% of the vote over twice what "the next two closest parties" appeared to have received.This morning, Rubin's "Prime Ministers Party Wins in Iraqi Vote but Will Need to Form Coalitions" (New York Times) did a little better than the Post. The headline writer captures it and Rubin does as well for most of her article; however, sentences like the following trip her up: "In Baghdad, where Mr. Maliki ran a strongly nationalist campaign, he appeared to have had some success in winning votes from Sunnis, but in the Sunni-majority provinces to the north, his party's slate barely made a showing." He ran a strong nationalist campaign? And how many votes did he receive? What did he say in his victory speech? When will he be sworn in?Here's reality, if you're going to wrongly make the provincial elections about Nouri al-Maliki, you're going to have to judge the success or failure of al-Maliki and the reality is "his party's slate barely made a showing" in the north. The reality is that Iraq has 18 provinces -- three of which have scheduled votes for this spring -- and to claim al-Maliki has 'won' a national campaign is not only premature, it doesn't even jibe with the actual (preliminary) results.Raghavan and Londono tell you that the Dawa Party (al-Maliki's party) "won in nine provinces" -- with "an outright plurality" (NOT a majority) in Baghdad and Basra while it was a narrow win for Dawa "in the other seven provinces." Or, as Rubin puts it, "the party fell short of being able to operate without coalition-building."That's a win? 14 provinces held elections last Saturday and Dawa didn't squeak out a majority win in any province, it only got "an outright plurality" in two provinces and, to govern, they need to coalition-build with other parties. That's not a win. Not for al-Maliki -- who was not a candidate -- and certainly not for Dawa.What is troubling - - and what no one's pointed out -- is that we don't expect, for example, Barack Obama to head over to Oregon when they're electing their state legislature. We don't expect him to campaign for them or butt in. That al-Maliki was allowed to hit the road (attempting to buy votes) goes to how problematic the election actually was. Rubin writes, "Some politicians have voiced concerns in recent months that too much power was being concentrated in Mr. Maliki's hands, and the election results suggested that Iraqis were not ready to rally around a single leader." It's a shame the press never bothered to question why a prime minister was attempting to repeatedly inject himself into provincial elections?Rubin writes, "Except in areas where Sunnis were voting for the first time, the large, prominent parties with nationally known leaders won the most seats, showing the power of incumbency and the difficulties facing the newer secular parties." Well if you're going to make that observation, you might also question why the country's prime minister is interfering in provincial elections? These are not the equivalent of US Congressional elections (that would be Iraq's Parliament). That issue was never raised. But, no, it is not normal for the highest office holder in the country to try to inject her or himself into local elections. And it's not normal -- when the press is lauding 'democracy' -- for no one to question that injection. Another question to ask: Did al-Maliki's injection depress voter turnout?In the final paragraphs of Rubin's article she notes Anbar and quotes various complaints from Tamouz ("a nongovernment organization monitoring the elections"). She tells us that the Iraqi Islamic Party is Sunni. She tells us nothing about the make up of Tamouz. Tamouz is making accusations. Readers have a right to know who they are and the use of "nongovernment" will translate to some as 'from outside Iraq.' That's not reality. But we don't get a lot of reality in this morning's election coverage. Back to the Washington Post's article, the following should never happen:The Obama administration appeared as pleased at what did not happen on election day as it was about the results. "Any election where [there is] fairness and generally aboveboard practices, where the people get a chance to vote and they're not rioting in the streets and throwing bombs . . . is a good result," a senior administration official said in Washington. "We should celebrate that. So far, so good." There is no reason to grant anonymity for the above. If the 'celebrator' can't be named, his or her comment doesn't need to be included. When you start granting anonymity for prattle, you're degrading journalism standards. James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) attempts to write up Moqtada al-Sadr's political death stating, "British officials see the political setback as the latest sign of Mr Sadr's diminished importance in southern Iraq." Diminished importantce? Rubin says al-Sadr "did surprisingly well, given that his movement decided to support them only two weeks before the elections." BBC notes, "Finals results are not expected to be known for weeks." What is known is that the violence continues with Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Abdulmajeed al Nuaimi, member of the incumbent provincial in Mosul" called the police about an unidentified object outside his home that turned out to be a roadside bomb.
In other reported violence today . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing at a liquor store that left "material damages to the store," a Baghdad grenade tossed at a supermarket leaving "material damages to the store".


Reuters reports, "U.S. and Iraqi security forces killed a civilian and arrested six suspected militants in raids on towns southwest of Kirkuk".

Nawal Al Samarrai is making news in Iraq.
Alsumaria Iraqi Satellite Network reports she has resigned as the Minister of Women's Affairs due to the fact that her job is for-show and contains no real power to improve anything. Waleed Ibrahim, Michael Christie and Katie Nguyen report Reuters exclusive interview with al-Samarai: Iraq's minister of women's affairs resigned on Thursday in protest at a lack of resources to cope with "an army of widows, unemployed, oppressed and detained women" after years of sectarian warfare.Nawal al-Samarai said her status as a secretary of state and not a full minister reflected the low emphasis given by the government to the plight of women in Iraq, once one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East for women's rights. "This ministry with its current title cannot cope with the needs of Iraqi women," said Samarai, who was appointed in July.The Times of India adds, "Samarrai, who took office in July 2008 and had recently chaired two committees on improving the conditions of women and another on the breast cancer, said she would seek a position where she could actually help women." wowOwow covers the story and notes, "She has not, however, heard back from the Prime Minister's office on whether they accept her resignation or will heed her calls and provide more social services for Iraq's women."

Barbara Starr and Mike Mount (CNN) report, "The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone -- six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday." Stephanie Gaskell (New York Daily News) observes, "In a rare move, the Army released monthly suicide data Thursday to highlight the growing problem. Last week, Army officials said its suicide rates were at their highest in nearly 30 years. Last year, 128 soldiers committed suicide and another 15 suspected cases are pending. Last month, Army officials believe that 24 soldiers killed themselves - compared with just four in January 2008." Lizette Alvarez (New York Times) quotes Gen Peter Chiarelli stating, "Each of these losses is a personal tragedy that is felt throughout the Army family. The trend and trajectory seen in January further heightens the seriousness and urgency that all of us must have in preventing suicides." If you mean your words, do something. If not, stop boring us. The military's had more than enough time to notice the suicides and to do something about it. It's done nothing other than a few pamphlets and a 1-800 number. The change has to come from the top in the military because it is a top-down command. Chiarelli wants to change the culture? Great. Otherwise, it's just him using a tragedy to look sympathetic. And if that's harsh, it's harsh that so many suicides have repeatedly taken place and the military has ignored the problem. Or lied about it. It wasn't all that long ago CBS News was catching the VA lying about the number of suicides. CBS Evening News' Kimberly Dozier most recently reported on the suicides in December noting that 1st Sgt Jeff McKinney's family (rightly, my opinion) called him "a casualty of war" because he served, ended up wtih PTSD and did not receive the treatment he needed and he took his own life while serving.. His father, Charles, McKinney, told Dozier, "I think he felt like he couldn't send one more broken body home, one more person home."

Kimberly Dozier recently wrote about Iraq and Afhganistan for wowOwow.
Throwing out a link for friends,
Washington Unplugged is a new CBS News show. It airs each Friday afternoon. Haven't seen it? It airs online only. Face The Nation's Bob Schieffer is the anchor and I use anchor because it is news reports and, at the closing, Schieffer offers a commentary as he does on Face The Nation. This week his comment is on Tom Daschle. Before that, Kent Conrad appears to make a fool out of himself. Tom Daschle didn't report it to the IRS because he thought the driver and car were a "gift"? Kent, learn the tax code. Such a gift would have to be reported to the IRS. Washington Unplugged streams live online Friday afternoons and archives are available seven days a week. This week (tonight on most PBS stations) NOW on PBS offers:Is there a solution to the foreclosure mess that's destroying communities?Across the country, cities are in crisis because of the fallout from the mortgage mess -- property taxes are way down, and abandoned homes are bringing down property values, inviting crime, and draining government coffers. Neighborhoods are being destroyed. Yet the federal bailout money is not going directly to desperate communities and homeowners, but to local and national banks.This week, NOW investigates the innovative way some cities are fighting back. The city of Memphis, Tennessee is suing major national lenders and banks for deceptive and discriminatory lending practices in an effort to recoup the cost of the financial mess. Other cities suing lenders for their role in the mortgage mess include Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Birmingham.With desperation climbing alongside debt, can the strategy help these blighted parts of America?Washington Week also begins airing tonight on most PBS stations and joining Gwen this installment is Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Charles Babington (AP), Michael Duffy (Time magazine) and Jackie Calmes (New York Times). And on broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, no 60 Minutes:Saving Flight 1549Hero pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his flight crew together reveal for the first time the sights, sounds and physical sensations they experienced as they pulled off an incredible water landing last month, saving the lives of all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549. Katie Couric reports. (This is an extra-length story. Watch Video
ColdplayThe British rock group that has taken its place among the most popular bands in the world gives 60 Minutes a rare look inside its world that includes a candid interview with frontman Chris Martin. Steve Kroft reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
60 Minutes Update
Beckham Leaving The L.A. Galaxy?David Beckham wants to leave the Los Angeles Galaxy and stay with AC Milan after his loan to the Italian club is scheduled to end next month. The 33-year-old English midfielder announced his intentions Wednesday after playing in Milan's 2-2 exhibition tie at Glasgow Rangers. Beckham is about two years into a $32.5 million, five-year contract with Major League Soccer. In March 2008, CNN's Anderson Cooper profiled Beckham for 60 Minutes, discussing his widely publicized move to Los Angeles. Video

military families speak out
andre shepherdandy eckardt
jim branummcclatchy newspapersnancy a. youssefalsumariawaleed ibrahimmichael christiekatie nguyen
the washington posternesto londonothe new york timesalissa j. rubin

kimberly dozier
60 minutescbs newspbswashington weeknow on pbs

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Disappointing Barack

Thursday. One day until the weekend. Will we make it? (Not if Barack keeps screwing up.)

35,000 was the increase on unemployment claims last month. And despite that reality, despite the fact that Americans need relief, Barack Obama is WASTING money on religion.

This is from Barack's left testicle Jeff Zeleny and someone named Laurie Goodstein (New York Times):

President Obama signed an executive order Thursday to create a revamped White House office for religion-based and neighborhood programs, expanding an initiative started by the Bush administration that provides government support -- and financing -- to religious and charitable organizations that deliver social services.

"No matter how much money we invest or how sensibly we design our policies, the change that Americans are looking for will not come from government alone," Mr. Obama said. "There is a force for good greater than government."

Oh, go flush your head in the toilet you idiot. George W. Bush started this violation of church and state. Barack was not supposed to continue it. But he is. He's wasting our money on churches, he's in violation of the Constitution. He's a big, fat liar.

This is People For the American Way's "Obama Should Stick to Constitutional Principles on Faith Based Programs:"

President Obama today announced that he will create a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, but did not use the same opportunity to rescind the Bush-administration policy making it legal for recipients of faith-based funding to discriminate in providing services. News reports indicated that he would ask the Justice Department to review the policy which allows those same organizations to discriminate in hiring.
People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement:
"During the campaign, President Obama made clear that religious organizations that receive federal money should not discriminate. We strongly support that principle, but it’s disappointing that today President Obama has missed an opportunity to put it into practice immediately.
"It's not about left or right: it’s about upholding the Constitution. If churches accept federal funds, it's deeply inappropriate for them to discriminate on the basis of religion in their hiring. It's unconstitutional for federal money to support programs that only benefit those who profess a particular faith.
"President Obama needs to make good on his campaign promise that tax dollars aren't used to unconstitutionally discriminate on the basis of religion. Too often, religious discrimination is used as a proxy for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, and gender. People For is committed to ensuring justice and equality for all, and I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to correct this problem."

Not as weak as CCR's Vinnie Warren but, outside of a shrieking groupie, who's weaker than Vinnie? I really thought they could have come out stronger but at least they didn't ass kiss.

Someone who never kisses ass is World Can't Wait and among the stuff they're offering today (new stuff) is Andy Worthington's "Don't Forget Guantanamo:"

With 50 prisoners on hunger strike, including British resident Binyam Mohamed, who is apparently “close to death,” dissent from a military judge, a protégée of Dick Cheney still overseeing the Military Commissions, and doubts about loopholes in President Obama’s Presidential orders regarding “extraordinary rendition” and the use of torture, Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, encourages opponents of Guantánamo and the “War on Terror” to remain vigilant.

At first glance, “Don’t Forget Guantánamo” might seem to be an unnecessary headline, given that Barack Obama has been President for only two weeks, and that one of his first acts was to sign a Presidential order declaring that the notorious “War on Terror” prison at Guantánamo Bay will be
closed within a year.

However, I believe it is appropriate, not only because such sweeping statements encourage the general public to believe that the closure of Guantánamo is a fait accompli, but also because it has already become apparent that issuing a Presidential order is not the same as immediately addressing the human rights abuses that have dogged the prison’s history, and that, sadly, continue to this day.

The dissent of a military judge
Last week, the mainstream media picked up on the first manifestation of dissent from within the Pentagon, when Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge in the scheduled trial by Military Commission of the Saudi prisoner
Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, refused to halt the case. One of 14 “high-value detainees” transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006, al-Nashiri faces the death penalty for his alleged involvement in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000. His arraignment was scheduled for February 9.

On his first day in office, President Obama asked all the Military Commission judges to
suspend proceedings for four months, so that the new administration could study the cases and decide whether or not to proceed with the much-criticized trial system, conceived in the Office of the Vice President in November 2001, which Barack Obama has opposed since voting against the Military Commissions Act in the fall of 2006. This was the legislation that revived the Commissions after the Supreme Court ruled them illegal in June 2006, and Obama’s request was the first manifestation of his long-stated promise to repeal the Military Commissions Act, and to move those scheduled to face a trial by Military Commission to the US mainland, to be tried in a federal court or a military court-martial.

That's Barack for you. He wants the headlines, he never wants to do the work. He's the guy on the team the coach is forever thinking of cutting because he doesn't pull his weight. And yet he's the one bragging about the big game that we (the rest of us without him) won. That's Barack. A show boater.

And it does matter because you don't praise show boaters the way Barack's been praised. You call them out. You insist that they do something. Because if they get the ego stroaking, they're already thinking about something else. You've lost their focus. So you really need to tell them, "No, you get back out there and you work your ass off." That's not happening with Gitmo and we're going to hear a lot of whining and crying in a few months when people grasp that Barack conned them.

It's real hard for me to feel sorry for them over their being conned due to the fact that they should have known better. These things aren't surprising at this point. Some of us always had Barry's number. But after he bombed Pakistan, after he stayed silent on the slaughter on Gaza, there's no point in benefit of the doubting him. He doesn't earn it.

But a few of us will be able to say, "Yeah, we called it out." Most will have to scream and cry and whine. And play Condi No One Could Have Guessed Rice.

Okay, last night we did a theme post and I'm putting up links to all of those and to Wally and Cedric:

Mikey Likes It!
International Socialist Review
21 hours ago

Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude
21 hours ago

off our backs
21 hours ago

Thomas Friedman is a Great Man
Movieline, Premiere
21 hours ago

Ruth's Report
21 hours ago

Oh Boy It Never Ends
21 hours ago

Like Maria Said Paz
The Progressive
21 hours ago

Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Lionel Richie, Billy Corgan, and more
21 hours ago

Cedric's Big Mix
Dick issues a threat
21 hours ago

The Daily Jot
21 hours ago

And that's really going to be it for me, sorry. Long day and the roundtable went on so long. And then I said I'd do three-way with Jim and C.I. and Jim put it on speaker so Jess, Ty and Dona were on the line. And they were hammering out the edition or trying to. Not much accomplished but C.I. was able to offer, "Okay, if we do that, we an use this illustration or that one." And it was more subtext conversation. More of, what do we want to be saying with this. Not big picture but in terms of the assemblage what will it cause people to flash on and stuff. And it was just rather intense. So that's it for me. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 5, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the election results are not final but the press acts as if they are (and many seem to believe al-Maliki was a candidate), a war critic passes away, actions begin in DC tomorrow and more.

Starting with an action that begins tomrrow and runs through Monday in the US.
Military Families Speak Out explains:

Come to Washington February 6-9 to demand "The Change WE Need"
President Elect Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started, calling it a "dumb war." But he and his advisors have also said that they plan to spread the return of combat troops from that "dumb war" out over sixteen months and to keep
tens of thousands of other troops on the ground in Iraq indefinitely.
So from February 6-9, MFSO will be traveling to Washington to bring the new President and new Congress the message that it is long past time to bring all our troops home from Iraq. The four days of events will include:
* A
teach-in featuring the voices of military families, veterans, and Iraqis, explaining the need for an immediate and complete end to the war in Iraq -- and the human impacts of continuing the occupation. Friday, February 6 from Noon - 3:00 p.m. at Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue.
* A solemn procession from Arlington National Cemetary to the White House beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 7. Meet at the front gate of the cemetery right outside the exit of the Arlington Metro stop. Please arrive early.
* A "Meet and Greet" and Legislative Briefing from 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 8 at the Mariott Metro Center.
* Lobbying members of Congress to end the war in Iraq. Meet in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building at 9:00 a.m. Monday, February 9.

Friday from noon to three p.m. will offer the teach-in at the Mott House (122 Maryland Ave, NE Washington, DC). Among those scheduled to participate are Joyce and Kevin Lucey, Elaine Johnson, Tim Kahlor, Stacy Bannerman, American Friends Service Committee
Raed Jarrar, IPS' Phyllis Bennis, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kris Goldsmith and Ryan Deckard and Veterans for Peace's Mike Marceau. (An aspect of the previous sentence will be noted in tonight's entry. If you have a question about it, wait until tonight's entry.)

Deborah Haynes and Wail al-Obaidi (Times of London) observe, "Preliminary results, issued today, indicate a drastic shift in the political map nationwide, with Sunni Arabs also securing a better representation after boycotting the last polls four years ago in protest at the US-led occupation. Final results are not due out for several weeks, but should show little change with 90 per cent of the ballots already counted." Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) offers these impressions: "Preliminary results from the Baghdad provincial council election have begun to filter out into the Iraqi press. The lead story will probably be that Maliki's Rule of Law list won more than half the seats. But the more important story may be that all of the Sunni lists combined evidently only won four or five seats between them. That, combined with the fiasco in Anbar, could put Sunni frustration firmly back into the center of Iraqi politics – risking alienation from politics, intensified intra-Sunni competition, and perhaps even a return of the insurgency." UPI notes that 'secular' Nouri al-Maliki spent time in Najaf today . . . briefing Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on the results. Mark Kukis (Time magazine) quotes Ayad Allawi (head of the Iraqi National Accord, CIA asset and one time prime minister of Iraq) whose party did well in the elections stating he wouldn't want to be prime minister again "in a sectarian regim. I respect religion. But religion needs to be de-politicized." Please note, these are not final results. Lebanon's Daily Star stresses, "The Iraqi regional elections held on Saturday are not expected to deliver a final result for a few weeks". UPI also points out, "Though Maliki won big in Basra and Baghdad, the post-election political landscape suggests several parties may need to form coalitions in the provincial councils." al-Maliki was NOT a candidate. RTT gets the wording right, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party and its allies have dominated in the crucial provincial council elections, finishing first in nine out of the fourteen provinces in which elections were held, although reports suggested the bloc would still need to form coalitions in order to govern." Aamer Madhani (USA Today) also grasps the difference between candidates and someone not even running and notes, "But throughout the country, voting went along sectarian lines, with predominantly Shiite provinces backing Shiite parties and Sunni-majority provinces choosing Sunni parties vying for 440 local government seats in 14 of the country's 18 provinces." Jane Aarraf (Christian Science Monitor) states 90% of the vote was counted (she also hails al-Maliki for his 'win' -- so take that into account as well) and, "In Iraq's north the most dramatic results installed a new Sunni Arab party, al-Hadba, to take charge of the provincial council after winning almost 50 percent. The council had previously been overwhelmingly dominated by Kurds, who have voewed not to work with the leader of al-Hadba, who is seen as anti-Kurdish." Calling this al-Maliki's 'win' is a bit like congratulating George W. Bush on Kirsten Haglund's win last year. The Kurdish Regional Government's President Masoud Barzani issued a statement Tuesday evening, "We respect the will of the people of Iraq. We hope that this was an emphatic message from Kurds, Arabs, Turkomens, Chaldaens, Assyrians, Muslims, Christians and Yezidis of the Kurdish areas to voice what they really want. . . . I hope and I call on the Iraqi parliament, the federal Iraqi government, the United Nations, the United States, and all concerned parties to respect the will of the people of these areas and to stop avoiding the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution." Mohammed A. Salih (IPS) explained Article 140 as follows, "Article 140 sketches a three-step plan to remove traces of the Arabisation policy of the regime of former president Saddam Hussein. The constitution now provides for a census followed by a referendum on the facte of the province, after normalising the situation." This is about whether or not oil-rich Kirkuk remains a part of the central government out of Baghdad or becomes part of the KRG. Before the vote -- which would be residents of Kirkuk voting -- takes place, Article 140 outlines a length of measures that would allow Kurds to return. Reality is that the KRG has done forced 'returns' to Kirkuk, expelling Kurds from the KRG and forcing them to live in Kirkuk. Has this achieved de-Arabization? Who knows? And that would also depend upon who judges it.

Turning to Anbar Province. As noted
yesterday, Sheik Ahmed Buzaigh abu Risha has been threatening violence over the possibility that the Iraqi Islamic Party might have done better in the polls than his own party. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) observes, "In Anbar province, in western Iraq, tension between rival Sunni parties have been running high after leaders of the Awakening Council groups, or Sahwa militant groups who fought al-Qaida militants in their areas, accused the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), headed by Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, of committing fraud to win majority of the 29-seat provincial council. IIP vehemently denied the accusation." Sam Dagher (New York Times) reports "al-Maliki sent a deputy, Rafie al-Issawi, a Sunni who is an Anbar native" to speak with Shik Risha and that the meeting was also attended by the Iraqi military. He threatens violence -- he continues to threaten violence -- and he gets his way. All the people who peacefully demonstrated against not being permitted to vote? They're ignored. But it's rush down to make nice with Sheik Risha when, if it was anyone else, the US military would be rushing down to arrest him. And al-Maliki can't stand Risha. The fact that the sheik is being catered to indicates just how little control al-Maliki still has.Dahger speaks with another tribe leader from the area, Sheik Ali al-Hatem, who has (like many in Anbar) frequently been in conflict with Sheik Risha (al-Hatem has also had issues with the Iraqi Islamic Party)who notes that each tribe put up their own candidates so you had slates competing against each other as well as competing against IIP. He states that Risha is "sowing rifts among the tribes" and that the violence could become "intratribal": "Ahmed is playing with fire. We will confront him if he acts this way and divides the tribes." al-Hatem doesn't call on al-Maliki to reign in Risha, he calls on the US military to do so. (If that happens, it may take place during today's meet-up in Anbar.) Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports the US Marines are back in "Ramadi in observation roles, patrolling areas from which they had largely withdrawn." Again, Risha stamps his feet and threatens violence and gets his way. All the people turned away from the polls and refused the right to vote? All Faraj al-Haidari has to offer them is this 'pithy' little comment, "It's not our fault that some people couldn't vote because they are lazy, because they didn't bother to ask where they should vote." Again, they should have ditched the peaceful protest and run around threatening violence -- that's the only way al-Haidari would have listened. Sheik Risha works the commission the way he wants to.And you need to grasp how ludicrous the claims of Risha, et al are. Now ludicrous doesn't mean that they are false. I believe they are but I don't know that. But reporters do know and did report on the vast number of Iraqis in Baghdad, for example, being refused the right to vote. But that's not being investigated. Risha's drama leads to an investigation. Risha is unhappy that his slate of candidates appear (no vote counts are final yet) to have done poorly. He insists that his candidates should have done better and that voter fraud is responsible for them not doing better. Risha says the ballot boxes were stuffed. Don't worry about whether he's right about that or wrong for a second. Just grasp that is the basis of his assertions. Now note this from Monte Morin and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times): "Tribal sheiks and their followers here in Ramadi, the provincial capital, and in Fallouja charge that their political rivals gained control of local election offices and stuffed ballot boxes the day after the elections. Election officials reported that 40% of eligible Anbar voters cast ballots, but tribal candidates say the turnout was half that and that the additional votes are false." Less than 40% voted -- according to the people asserting voter fraud, only 20% of registered voters in Anbar bothered to vote. Do you not see the conflict in the two positions? "We are popular and we should have won!" vs. "They cheated because really only 20% of the registered voters voted!" If you're argument is that 80% of registered voters stayed home, you can't make the claim that you're popular with voters at the same time. The two positions are in conflict.Today the commission that did nothing for the Iraqis who peacefully called for their rights appears to have fixed the Anbar results. Back to Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy):

he official results in Anbar are sharply different from the reports of the last few days. The IHEC tally gave the victory to Saleh al-Mutlak's bloc, followed by Abu Risha's Awakenings Bloc, followed by the Islamic Party in third place. This is a surprise. The behavior of the Islamic Party and the Awakenings bloc over the last few days strongly suggests that they had the same information about the preliminary results-- that the Islamic Party had won. This "adjustment" -- if that's what happened -- for now appears to have defused the crisis over the alleged electoral fraud by the Islamic Party and the threats of violence by the Awakenings leaders by denying victory to either of the two main rivals (Abu Risha says that he's happy with the result). This resolution is very, shall we say, convenient... and, perhaps, a clever solution to the escalating confrontation. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this soon.. the Islamic Party's website is currently silent on this sudden change in their electoral fortunes. Where's Nate Silver to analyze the exit poll data when you need him?

What do the elections mean? The
Financial Times of London speaks with Ahmed Jihad of Salahaddin Province who explains what he's expecting, "Electricity, water and employment, these are the three main things. We need a leader who is strong but fair at the same time. . . . We tried talking to the council about getting electricity but we can't afford the 15m diner [$13,000 US] for a connection because there are no employment opportunities here." Whether that will happen or not no one knows.

Peter Graff, Waleed Ibrahim, Mohammed Abbas, Michael Christie and Charles Dick (Reuters) report "the bloodiest attck in Iraq in weeks," with at least 15 dead in Diyala Province from a suicide bomber. No word on the gender of the bomber, so it's most likely a male. Germany's Deutsche Welle explains, "The suicide bomber blew himself up in a popular restaurant in the Kurdish town of in Khanaqin on the border with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region." BBC says the wounded numbers at least fifteen and quotes eye witness Yahya Ibrahim stating, "I was at the back of the restaurant when suddenly the explosion happened at the entrance. Everything around was destroyed." Xiong Tong (Xinhua) quotes an unidentified police member stating, "A suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest inside Dilshad Restaurant in the town of Khanaqin, klling 15 people and wounding 15 others."

And in the latest attack on the press in Iraq,
McClatchy Newspapers' Sahar Issa reports, "Reporter Salam Arab Doski, was killed by a policeman during a fight, on his doorstep in Wadi Sakhr neighbourhood, western Mosul at 4 p.m. Thursday. Police said it was a personal issue."

Let's stay with the press as the topic for another second to note that
Samad Ali is doing a "weekday roundup of news from around the Middle East" at Wall St. Journal's Baghdad Life blog. Now back to the day's violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing target Nihad al Juburi (Dept Eductation Minister), another Baghdad roadside bombing that targeted the US military (no known injuries or deaths), a Gatoun home bombing on Liqaa Party provincial candidate Salim al Zaidi (no one harmed, house destroyed), and a Mosul roadside bombing that wounded two people.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Khadija Owaiyid's car was fired upon (a provincial election candidate with Party of the Constitution) and 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes Iraqi police shot dead Tariq Azab.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 corpses (headless) discovered in Baquba while 30 corpses were buried in Baquba today ("Unidentified bodies that are not claimed within two months are buried by the Morgue").

Dave Lindorff truly embarrassed himself in his support of Barack Obama. Never more so than when declaring, during the Democratic Party primary race that Barack was "
a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs". Now a glimmer of light finally makes it through Lindorff's Pig Pen-like haze surrounding him leading him to write (CounterPunch) the following:

The problem with the new Obama administration is that it is turning out to be not about change at all, as he claimed during the campaign, but rather about more of the same--and these are not times that call for more of the same. Nor is more of the same the reason Obama won the election.
The economic team President Obama has put in place is composed of the same Wall Street hacks and conservative economic theologians who helped produce the current crisis, many of them as part of the Clinton administration, and some, like Timothy Geithner, actually as appointees of the thoroughly discredited Bush administration.
Obama's military team is essentially composed of holdovers from the Bush administration, starting at the top with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and retreads from the Clinton administration.
Little wonder that the president's economic team is still talking about throwing more money at banks, with the only real tweak making this boondoggle different from the Bush administration's fall bailout that there will be some limits established on executive pay. Banks will still be able to use their taxpayer bailout cash to buy other banks. And there will still be no way to force them to lend money. Little wonder too that there is no real effort aimed at propping up the struggling public--no job sweeping job creation programs (except for expanding the military), no major income supplements for the poor, no expansion of welfare benefits, no mandatory mortgage renegotiations or mortgage payment holidays. And so far, no real effort to pass labor law reform to protect workers who try to form labor unions.
Little wonder too that Obama seems to be backing away from his key campaign promise to end the war in Iraq, and that the one area where he is moving rapidly is in expanding the war in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of western Pakistan.

Margaret Kimberley doesn't need to awaken because she never put her critical faculties on slumber. At
Black Agenda Report, she notes:

Easily fooled Americans were glued to the television watching the Obama inauguration while simultaneous ignoring their own worsening financial situation. Who can bother to look at the fine print on multi-billion dollar deals when HISTORY is being made? Now the same zombified population ignores presidential inaction on bankruptcy "cramdown" legislation that could save their homes, explicit threats to Social Security, and back-tracking on employee free choice for labor unions.
In their delusion and despair, the only reaction left to non class conscious Americans is to turn on themselves. Murders and suicides are too often the reaction to financial disaster instead of righteous indignation directed towards a failed political and economic system. Americans are losing their minds when they might alleviate their depression by taking to the streets or at the very least giving their elected leaders a piece of their minds.
Americans never had the tools to fully understand the system that is failing them so terribly. Now they are enthralled by a man who explicitly instructs them not to confront the people and institutions that have brought them to the brink. The economic meltdown will continue for a long time and so will the individual meltdowns and disasters for millions of people who will literally not know what hit them or where they ought to turn after the crash.

Like Kimberley,
John Pilger has no "awakening" to do. Like Kimberley, John Pilger called it like it was when all around the left, idiots rushed to have their second adolescence. Unlike some pathetic types (for example, Vincent Warren) trying to peddle hopium, Pilger (New Statesman) tells the truth regarding Barack and torture:

On 23 January, the Guardian's front page declared, "Obama shuts network of CIA 'ghost prisons'". The "wholesale deconstruction [sic] of George Bush's war on terror", said the report, had been ordered by the new president, who would be "shutting down the CIA's secret prison network, banning torture and rendition . . ."
The bollocks quotient on this was so high that it read like the press release it was, citing "officials briefing reporters at the White House yesterday". Obama's orders, according to a group of 16 retired generals and admirals who attended a presidential signing ceremony, "would restore America's moral standing in the world". What moral standing? It never ceases to astonish that experienced reporters can transmit PR stunts like this, bearing in mind the moving belt of lies from the same source under only nominally different management.
Far from "deconstructing the war on terror", Obama is clearly pursuing it with the same vigour, ideological backing and deception as the previous administration. George W Bush's first war, in Afghanistan, and last war, in Pakistan, are now Obama's wars - with thousands more US troops to be deployed, more bombing and more slaughter of civilians. Last month, on the day he described Afghanistan and Pakistan as "the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism", 22 Afghan civilians died beneath Obama's bombs in a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds and which, by all accounts, had not laid eyes on the Taliban. Women and children were among the dead, which is normal.
Far from "shutting down the CIA's secret prison network", Obama's executive orders actually give the CIA authority to carry out renditions, abductions and transfers of prisoners in secret without threat of legal obstruction. As the Los Angeles Times disclosed, "current and former US intelligence officials said that the rendition programme might be poised to play an expanded role". A semantic sleight of hand is that "long-term prisons" are changed to "short-term prisons"; and while Americans are now banned from directly torturing people, foreigners working for the US are not. This means that America's numerous "covert actions" will operate as they did under previous presidents, with proxy regimes, such as Augusto Pinochet's in Chile, doing the dirtiest work.
Bush's open support for torture, and Donald Rumsfeld's extraordinary personal overseeing of certain torture techniques, upset many in America's "secret army" of subversive military and intelligence operators because it exposed how the system worked. Obama's newly confirmed director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has said the Army Field Manual may include new forms of "harsh interrogation" which will be kept secret.
Obama has chosen not to stop any of this. Neither do his ballyhooed executive orders put an end to Bush's assault on constitutional and international law. He has retained Bush's "right" to imprison anyone, without trial or charge. No "ghost prisoners" are being released or are due to be tried before a civilian court. His nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, has endorsed an extension of Bush's totalitarian USA Patriot Act, which allows federal agents to demand Americans' library and bookshop records. The man of "change" is changing little. That ought to be front-page news from Washington.

And Chris Hedges is another who never lost his criticial thinking abilities (most recent example
here). Hedges spoke today on KPFK's Uprising and here's a portion of his remarks:

I think we have to walk out on the Democratic Party. I didn't vote for Obama, I voted for Nader. A lot of that had to do with the war. I think the left has thorwn its -- has essentially rendered itself impotent by throwing in its lot with the Democratic Party that over and over and over betrays the interests of the working and, increasingly, the middle class in this country. I mean, just look at the bailouts -- constitutent calls were running a hundred-to-one against the bailout and they passed it anyway. Why did they pass it? Because lobbyists and corporate powers wanted it passed. The FISA reform act, which Barack Obama voted for, giant step towards fascism. Why did it pass? Because the telecommunications companies spent 15 to 20 million dollars in lobbying fees to make sure it got passed. The government at its core -- forget the rhetoric, forget the propaganda, forget "Yes, We Can" -- serves the interests of corporations. We are watching it right now with the financial bailout. We are watching it with the absolute failure on the Democratic Party to challenge the rapacious canabalization of the country by the military-industrial-complex.

In other news
CNN reports that Jeremy Roebuck has died (car accident outside Fort Bragg) and Roebuck was one of seven members of the military who wrote the August 19, 2007 New York Times column "The War As We Saw It." CNN notes that he is the third soldier (of the seven) to die. From the 2007 column:

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a "time-sensitive target acquisition mission" on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse -- namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

military families speak out
jane arraf
the new york timessam dagherthe los angeles timescaeser ahmedthe washington postmcclatchy newspapersmonte morindave lindorff
margaret kimberley

chris hedges

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

International Socialist Review

Hump day, hump day. And we have a theme tonight: magazines.

My pick to write about is International Socialist Review. Until they decided to go completely nuts, I loved the magazine.
But suddenly, the magazine -- true of US Socialist Worker which has many of the same people -- thought Barack was the way to prove you weren't a racist. First off, I assume people are innocent until proven guilty. Second of all, I don't think supporting a War Hawk Corporatist demonstrates you aren't racist.
I do think it demonstrates that you are paralyzed in fear of what someone else might think.
And that's really what happened with ISR.
They could have been something worthwhile.
But they just got really, really snotty.
Of all the magazines, for US Socialist Worker and ISR to turn their noses up at the workers was the most offensive. Aren't they supposed to be the ones who support the masses?
Instead, it was one attack on the masses after another.
What they should have been doing was attempting to build their audience. Instead, they ran it off by making fun of them and insulting them.
I'm not joking on that. I know southern community members that are especially offended by ISR and US SW and planning to never read them again -- members who are, as a matter of fact, Socialists.
I'm not surprised by that because my grandfather is a Socialist and, yes, my family lives in Boston, but my grandfather was noticing the attacks on the workers and on the south long before I did. He was saying, "They are going to run people off with these elitist attitudes."
They should have been inviting people to participate but instead they just wanted to run people off because it was more important that they be seen as the 'creative class.' So now that they can no longer speak to the workers (because they've run them off), lots of luck galvanizing any movements.
That's really not something I should have to explain to ISR. They should know that already. But for some weird reason, Socialism took a back seat to electing a Democrat. When they betray their own beliefs they are sell outs. When they shoot themselves in the foot, they're stupid. No one's fault but their own.

The smart thing for ISR (and US SW) to do was to stake out the Socialist position on all the issues but they were too busy defending Barack and pimping him. If it seems like US SW was worse in this respect, just grasp how much more often it publishes. The bulk of the writers and editors work on both. There's no real division between the two as anyone who reads ISR will quickly grasp. By that I mean, it's 'international' only if it's a country that the US is attacking. Otherwise, it's really just another US periodical.

Imagine where the Socialist Party would be right now if they'd firmly staked out their positions and refused to whore for Barack. They'd have set themselves up as the go-to critics and people would know whenever anything happened in the news cycle that their first stop should be, "What's ISR or SW saying?"

They did nothing to distinguish themselves or get a message out. In fact, there was very little difference between what they offered and what The Nation offered.

Candidates (and presidents) come and go. You either believe in a movement or you don't. If you do, you fight for it. You don't say, "Oh, well, let's just pimp this Democrat this time." It doesn't work that way. You whore yourself out for Barack, you're a whore now. That's how your seen because that's what you are. You could have stood for something. But you didn't. And that's probably the saddest thing about ISR.

Yeah, it's still got a few writers worth reading (three). But they could have used Barack to say, "No, over here, this is what the left looks like!" They could have energized the nation and done so in a way that went way beyond the 2008 elections.

They blew it. That's the line to a movie but I forget which one right now. Easy Rider? It's one of the old movies. "We blew it."

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

February 4, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, a DC peace event looms, results from the provincial elections have still not been sorted out but that hasn't stopped thugs from making threats, what happens to your finger after the purple dye, and more?

Starting with an action that begins this week in the US.
Military Families Speak Out explains:

Come to Washington February 6-9 to demand "The Change WE Need"
President Elect Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started, calling it a "dumb war." But he and his advisors have also said that they plan to spread the return of combat troops from that "dumb war" out over sixteen months and to keep
tens of thousands of other troops on the ground in Iraq indefinitely.
So from February 6-9, MFSO will be traveling to Washington to bring the new President and new Congress the message that it is long past time to bring all our troops home from Iraq. The four days of events will include:
* A
teach-in featuring the voices of military families, veterans, and Iraqis, explaining the need for an immediate and complete end to the war in Iraq -- and the human impacts of continuing the occupation. Friday, February 6 from Noon - 3:00 p.m. at Mott House, 122 Maryland Avenue.
* A solemn procession from Arlington National Cemetary to the White House beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 7. Meet at the front gate of the cemetery right outside the exit of the Arlington Metro stop. Please arrive early.
* A "Meet and Greet" and Legislative Briefing from 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 8 at the Mariott Metro Center.
* Lobbying members of Congress to end the war in Iraq. Meet in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building at 9:00 a.m. Monday, February 9.

November 27th snapshot noted Iraq War veteran Andre Shepherd who self-checked out of the US military while in Germany and held a press conference to explain: "When I read and heard about people being ripped to shreds from machine guns or being blown to bits by the Hellfire missiles I began to feel ashamed about what I was doing. I could not in good conscience continue to serve. . . . Here in Germany it was established that everyone, even a soldier, must take responsibility for his or her actions, no matter how many superiors are giving orders." The December 2nd snapshot quoted the following from James Ewinger's Cleveland Plain Dealer article:
Shepherd said he grew up on East 94th Street in Cleveland, attended Lakewood High School and studied computer science at Kent State University until he ran out of money.
He enlisted in 2004 with the hope of flying the Apaches, but was urged to become a mechanic first.
Scharf said he doubts that Shepherd's expected order to return to Iraq would, by itself, constitute an unlawful order.
"His best argument would be that Apaches are used to kill civilians," Scharf said, but he still viewed it as a weak case.

Andre is seeking aslyum in Germany and has been working with the
Military Counseling Network and attorneys on that effort. Today AP's Patrick McGroarty reports that Andre is one of 71 US soldiers who has self-checked out from "European bases in 2008" (actually, he shouldn't be, he self-checked out in 2007) and his case was scheduled to take place before the Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees today where Andre would be stressing "a 2004 European Union directive that established basic guidelines for refugee status within the 27-nation bloc. Soldiers who face punishment for refusing to commit a war crime or serve in an unlawful conflict are to be granted that status, the directive says."
The Military Counseling Network blog notes Samantha Haque's January 28th report for the UK's Channel 4 News on Andre (both links have videos):

Andre Shepherd: When I speak to the other asylum seekers in the asylum camp and I explain to them my story, they completely understand it however this doesn't make me any better or any worse than anyone else that's there. We're all there because we can't go home.

Samantha Haque: As an asylum seeker he is currently in a camp in Germany with people from places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. All in a similar position to him. The difference is that Andre Shepherd is a US citizen. And an Iraq War deserter. For security reasons, we were not allowed to film in the camp. Shepherd has a friend, a peace activist, who lives within the restricted boundary he's allowed to move in. He took us there.

Andre Shepherd: I was working on the Apache helicopter. Those Apaches won't fly unless we take care of them. The Apache helicopter is a deadly weapon a lot of people call it a flying tank. What started my doubts was when I saw the Iraqi people, when they would come and help us, the looks that they gave us weren't the looks of heroes or people that you know were bringing freedom. We looked like conquerors and oppressors. That really bothered me a lot. So I started to look into the reasons why we were actually there in Iraq. I thought that what we were doing was a great thing and a positive thing. That we were actually bringing freedom to people and making them happy but what I found out instead was that we completely destroyed an entire country on a pack of lies. It started to weigh very heavily to the point where my actions when I was a soldier were starting to deteriorate so as this was going on I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to back to Iraq.

Samantha Haque: None of the criteria that the US military offered for discharge were availble to Mr. Shepherd. To be a conscientious objector in the US means to be against all wars, something he was not. While in Germany, he was faced with a second mission to Iraq. On April 11, 2007 he went absent without leave. Unable to apply for German residency without official military discharge papers, he decided that applying for asylum was the only way forward.

MCN's Tim Huber: Andre contacted us about a year and a half ago and he asked about asylum He wasn't the first to ask about asylum but our answer was always the same, we don't know what would happen if you tried aslyum. We went over the pros and cons of trying it. We noted that we were quite pessimistic that it would actually work, but we said it's an option.

Samantha Haque: His lawyer on the other hand is confident that he will have his application accepted.

Reinhard Marx: It's a specific European law, the so-called directive on qualification of refugees and in this directive it is ruled that deserters of an army who refer to international reasons, refer that the war is conducted in a way which infringes the national law then he has a right to be accepted as a refugee.

Samantha Haque: His lawyer cites the case of Florian Pfaff, a German officer demoted after refusing to work on a computer program for the US Army in Iraq in 2005. A federal court overturned his demotion because the Iraq War contravened international law. But although Germany opposed the war in Iraq and said no to the US resolution backing it, it still allowed its territory to be used as a base for military operations in Iraq. Here in Heidelberg is the US Army's headquarters in Europe. There are currently around 51,000 US military service men in Germany If Mr. Shepherd's application for aslyum is accepted, there could be implications for US-German military relations.

Gas Bag: It would mean that any US soldier in Germany who disagrees with military operations being conducted can basically step out of the base and seek asylum in Germany and that would probably be a situation that would be unacceptable to the US military.

Samantha Haque: The US is already looking at shrinking its military presence in Germany and possibly moving bases to Europe.

Gas Bag: There is a 60-year tradition, there's many Germans who cherish having the Americans here. There's also an economic factor, the US bases, particularly in the German southwest provide a lot of jobs.

Samantha Haque: Shepherd is something of a darling for the anti-war movement. Here at the Miltary Counseling Network, an American center where conscientios objectors go for help, letters of support come in from all over the world.

Tim Huber: He joined for the American dream. He joined for life, liberty and the pursuit of justice. Suddenly he finds that his pursuit of life, liberty and, most importantly, justice causes him to take a 180 degree turn and walk away from the military.

Samantha Haque: Do you think that there's a danger that Andre's case trivializes the term asylum seeker?

Tim Huber: Not at all. I think, if anything, it's causing people to look at the term asylum and put it in a 21st century defenition

Samantha Haque: The US army said that it was aware of the case but that the matter was completely in German hands. As for Mr. Shepherd it will be some months before he finds out the results of next week's hearing and whether he faces jail in America or exile abroad.

Andre Shepherd: Not being able to go back? At this point, that's just something I have to live with if I can make my consc clear then fine that's just a sacrifice I have to make.

Russia Today notes the Pentagon claims 5,000 US Army soldiers "are missing from duty" presently and quotes Andre explaining, "When the CIA report came and they said that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, that really made me angry. I wondered if there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the CIA obvioulsy the Bush administration knew about this, then why did we just destroy Fallujah, completely wiped out the entire city?"

Dahr Jamail (MidEast Dispatches) has returned to Iraq for the first time in four years and has heard the much hyped "security" hype:

I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is "better," compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number. But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004. Compared to days of multiple car bomb explosions, Baghdad today is better. Is it safer? Is it more secure? Difficult to say in a place when the capital city of the country is essentially in lock-down and prevailing conditions are indicative of a police state. We have a state in Iraq where the government is exercising rigid and repressive controls over social life (no unpermitted demonstrations, curfews, concrete walls around the capital city), economic (read - the 100 Bremer Orders that were passed under the Coalition Provisional Authority - all of the key laws over economic control still in place), and political life of the citizenry. By definition, a police state exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and in today's Iraq, we have plenty examples of both.

Iraq held provincial elections in 14 of the 18 provinces last Saturday.
Thomas E. Ricks (Foreign Policy) announces he is waiting to weigh in: "The two key questions, he [an American official] said, were whether those who lost power would give it up and those who gained power would be able to execute it well. Why wait? Because, unlike my former colleagues in the newspaper racket, I can." While he waits, the battle of the spin continues with threats of violence mixed in. Alissa J. Rubin and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) quote one-time "Awakening" Council leader Sheik Hammid al-Hayes who is unhappy with the early (and unofficial) results thus far in Anbar, "If the results aren't acceptable, then we'll bring back the old days. We will use rifles again, and we will eliminate the Islamic Party." When the US military keeps you and your underlings on the US tax payer dime ($300 a month per "Awakening" member), you'd think the monthly stipend might require a few civics lessons. Now "Awakening" free, al-Hayes demonstrates yet again exactly the type of person the US was paying off . They scream, they yell, they threaten violence and . . . they get their way. Ned Parker, Caesar Ahmed and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) quote Sheik Ahmed Buzaigh abu Risha vowing, "If the percentage is true, then we will transfer our entity from a political to a military one, to fight the Islamic Party and the commission." If the Iraqi Islamic Party is declared the winner in Anbar, the "Awakenings" say they will begin a slaughter. And instead of being called out, they're getting catered to. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports, "A coalition of parties that competed against the Iraqi Islamic Party in Anbar submitted complaints that the commission considers grave, commission chief Faraj al-Haidari said, 'We will deal with it seriously because it might change the result of the election in this province,' he said."
Al Arabiya News Channel notes Anbar is "under curfew for a night". Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes how "quickly" the officials go into motion for the ones making threats in Anbar, "The Independent High Electoral Commission sent a committee from Baghdad Wednesday to recount ballot boxes from some polling stations in the province after tribal leaders accused the Iraqi Islamic Party, IIP, which currently controls the provincial council, of rigging the vote. The accusations of vote rigging came from an especially important source, Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the province's Awakening Council, which is widely credited with bringing calm to Anbar." Oh, yes, that voice of peace Sheik Risha. And what did LAT quote him saying? "If the percentage is true, then we will transfer our entity from a political to a military one, to fight the Islamic Party and the commission." Andrew England and Ernesto Londono (Financial Times of London) note, "The IIP is one of the few Sunni Arab groups that took part in 2005 elections, which were boycotted by Sunni Arabs. It has been the community's main political force and had run the council in Anbar" and they quote the Iraqi Islamic Party's Omar Abdul Sattar stating that these threats of violence by people unhappy with the preliminary results are "unacceptable and totally rejected." UPI explains, "The Awakening Councils had looked to secure seats on the provincial councils as reparation for their role in routing al-Qaida militans from Anbar as part of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency strategy known as the surge." These are preliminary results -- unofficial ones. That needs to be remembered. And if al-Maliki wasn't attempting to spin the results and the press wasn't so eager to help him (we're ignoring the installment in today's news cycle on that), we'd follow Thomas E. Ricks' example (which, as noted Tuesday morning, was the plan). But since we can't, we'll note an obvious fact. "Awakening" Councils members were collaborators with the US in the occupation of Iraq. Anbar especially rejected the illegal war and occupation on and of Iraq. While "Awakenings" turned when a buck or two was popped in their g-strings, that doesn't mean the people did. If the results hold, you may see the people -- and we made this point when NYT did their ridiculous "Everything is beautiful in the province and the people are so happy" 2007 article -- really didn't want anything to do with US collaborators. If so, that's not surprising. When France was occupied, the French loudly rejected the collaborators. And continued to make known what they thought of them -- to this day. Those who go to work for the enemy -- and a foreign force occupying any country is that country's natural enemy -- are collaborators and, no, they are not popular with the home-grown population. And Monte Morin and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) quote the menacing Sheik Risha promsing, "There will be very harsh consequences if this false election stands. We won't let them form a government."

"There will be very harsh consequences if this false election stands. We won't let them form a government."

The same thugs the US paid off so they'd stop attacking US military personnel and equipment -- as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus told Congress repeatedly last April -- scream and whine and moan about the potential results and everyone rushes to make the big babies feel better. They whine and make threats and that gets a reaction from the elections commission chair? The same pompous ass who declared Sunday, "
It's not our fault that some people couldn't vote because they are lazy, because they didn't bother to ask where they should vote"? Well apparently "lazy" is mitigated when you threaten violence so possibly all those who were not allowed to vote, who were repeatedly turned away at polling stations should start threatening to 'set it off' and maybe the elections commission chair would suddenly take an interest in their issues? Of the commission, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) points out, "Iraq's electoral commission insisted that it was pleased with the turnout on Saturday, with about 7.5 million Iraqis, or 51 per cent of those eligible to vote, casting a ballot. Mr al-Maliki had forecast participation of up to 80 per cent after to an improvement in security and a decision by Sunni Arabs to participate, after boycotting past ballots in protest at the occupation." In the meantime Trenton Daniel and Mahdi al Dulaymi (McClatchy Newspapers) observe, "Thousands of Iraqis, however, couldn't vote because their names were missing from registration lists; in Hawsa, just west of Baghdad, thousands demonstrated over their exclusion." No, don't demonstrate, threaten. It works so very well in Anbar. The response to demonstrations and massive voter suppression? "Election officials said that they have no plans to address the grievances, saying that displaced voters missed their opportunity to register."

In New York at the United Nations yesterday, Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, spun like crazy trying to find the 'good' in an election process that, he admitted, saw five candidates assassinated "and the explosion of two mortar shells on Election Day" -- he side-stepped the other violence taking place Saturday. [Even US Army Lt Gen Lloyd J. Austin III admits to "11 attacks" on election day.] He offered a figure of 42% for Sunni participation (42% of registered voters) which, if it holds, will only further underscore how many people stayed home (Sunnis boycotted the vote in 2005's provincial elections).

Deborah Haynes (Times of London) notes an interesting bit of trivia regarding the election process:

Iraq commentators go misty-eyed when they talk of the symbolic purple finger brandished by Iraqis after casting a ballot. But no one ever mentions the smelly orange nail. Had such an abominable side-effect been better public knowledge, then I would never have enthusiastically jammed by right index finger into a pot of indelible ink at a polling station in Baghdad on election day.
[. . .]
"What the hell is happening to my nail?" I asked my interpreter. "Oh it turns orange," he said, casually. "It is because of all the chemicals in the ink."
Four days and hours of scrubbing later, the purple ink on my finger has almost gone but the Orange Nail from Hell is still there, as colourful as the moment it first appeared. The nail has also started to smell rather foul, as if something nasty is rotting on the end of my finger.

"The latest is that nothing much has changed," AP's
Kim Gamel explained yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, "al-Zaidi has been in custody since Iraqi guards wrestled him to the ground." Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw two shoes at George W. Bush December 14th and has been imprisoned since. Gamel said he remains in a jail cell in the Green Zone and his attorney has had only one visit with him (back in December). Asked about the alleged letter Nouri al-Maliki was touting linking the journalist to 'terrorists,' Gamel replied, "Maliki did say he received that letter and the family [of Muntadar] denied that" and she noted it's impossible to determine whether the claim is true or false at this point.

What a novel concept. A journalist noting what can and cannot be verified. That's certainly nothing
Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) worries himself over today as he rushes to turn a suspect into a convict. We addressed the topic in yesterday's snapshot. Yes, it was obvious yesterday. But Myers misses out as he rushes to tell you a criminal confessed! Let's go to Tina Susman ( Los Angeles Times):There was no way to independently verify the video's authenticity, but the use of female suicide bombers has soared in the last year. More than 30 women blew themselves up last year, compared with eight in 2007, according to U.S. military figures. U.S. and Iraqi officials say Sunni Arab insurgents have run short of male recruits and turned to women for the missions.Suspected suicide bombers were among those rounded up in the sweep conducted in the 72 hours leading up to Saturday's elections, said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad and the surrounding region. Hammond said attacks in the his area of command had dropped 80% since June 2007, part of a nationwide decrease in violence that was highlighted by the peaceful voting for new governing councils in 14 provinces.And that is what's known as reporting. Suspected. Video could not be independently verified. All points Steven Lee Myers can't be bothered with. What a social hit he would have been in Salem back in 1692. No doubt he would be partying at Gallows Hill. Steven Lee Myers, the Cotton Mather of 2009.

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


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left two people wounded, a Baghdad sticking bombing aimed at an "Awakening" Council head that wounded the head and claimed the life of his son with three other people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing that left four people wounded and a Mosul car bombing left four people wounded. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing that left two people injured and a Mosul grenade attack with no reports of wounded but the US military fired at the thrower.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports one person shot in Kirkuk (wounded).


Reuters notes 8 corpses discovered in Baquba.

military families speak out
andre shepherdjames ewinger
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thomas e. ricks
the new york timesalissa j. rubinsteven lee myersthe los angeles timesned parkercaeser ahmedsaif hameedthe washington posternesto londonomcclatchy newspaperstrenton danielmahdi al dulaymi

patrick mcgroarty
nprall things considered
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