Friday, April 10, 2009

Roundtabling Iraq

Rebecca: We hadn't planned on a roundtable tonight but Trina asked and we all agreed. She'll tell you why in a minute and this is an Iraq roundtable. Participating tonight are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Ruth of Ruth's Report and me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. Betty and Cedric join us by phone. Trina, how about you kick things off?

Trina: Today 5 US soldiers died in Iraq. As the snapshot notes the world wide web has other things to talk about. Not much of it important or useful. How many times did we all watch as they mounted their high horses and acted like they gave a damn about the Iraq War from 2003 through 2007? Maybe some extended it a little further. But apparently for them the Iraq War was actually nothing but a political football to toss around in the hopes of advancing a few yards for Team Democrat. It's disgusting, it's appalling and it needs to be called out.

Cedric: I agree and that piece of trash, rip-off site Corrente? They used to pretend to care about the Iraq War. They never did a thing on the deaths of the five. But tonight that loony Sarah did find time to write, with no irony, "Style over Substance" -- about Michelle Fashion Plate. Yeah, that was the most imporant thing in the world today. I'm counting 23 blog posts they posted today and not one of them mentioned the death of the five US soldiers. If you ask me, 23 posts in one day and not one of you damn hypocrites mentions that 5 soldiers died in Iraq, you can go rot in hell but truth of the matter is you're pathetic ass is already there.

Elaine: It really is amazing how the blogs, like the media, ran from Iraq as soon as Barack got into office. It doesn't matter if they're pro-Barry blogs, anti-Barry blogs, or in the middle from the center posing as left all the way to the left, they don't give a damn about Iraq and I am mentioning Kimberly Wilder so she can take any problems she has with my remarks up with me by e-mailing me although I probably won't even read it and I won't reply because I don't like having my e-mails passed on. You slammed Hillary and trashed her and did so over her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution. If that mattered at all to you, you would have found time to note the deaths. You want to self-present as "social justice"? Then cover the damn war. You're disgusting and you're little blog posts about Barry and how Barry's going to do this and do that, spare us all. As Kathy Kelly said on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday, "Well I think that Barack Obama is the world's chief exporter of weapons. I mean that goes with the job. And I think that you can't look at attacks on civilian populations using conventional military force and not discuss War Crimes." The peace movement's goals have not changed just because the White House flipped and it's been appalling to watch people like Kimberly Wilder -- an alleged Green Party member until her recent break -- go out of her way to praise a War Hawk named Barack Obama.

Mike: The Iraq War has not ended and you have to be a stupid idiot like Phyllis Bennis to say, "Well I'm happy that Barack's said he's going to end it and the time doesn't really matter." The time doesn't matter to you Phyllis? In 2007, he was promising the Iraq War would be over by now.

Rebecca: Stopping you for a minute, Mike. C.I.?

C.I.: Right. They can click here for Jake Tapper's 2007 story about Barack having just launched his presidential campaign and I quote, "Obama, often criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience, had his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq by March 2008 attacked by an unlikely source -- the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, an ally of President Bush."

Rebecca: Thank you. I know someone's going to question Mike's statement and I knew C.I. would be able to pull it up. Mike?

Mike: Well, he's promised everything and he's never delivered a damn thing and we can see that even more this week with his 'state secrets' excuse to cover up for the illegal spying on Americans that the government did. He lied on the campaign trail non-stop and you've got idiots like Phyllis Bennis saying it doesn't matter when Barack pulls the troops out and that is what she said when he went to 18 or 19 months for a withdrawal and she said it didn't matter if it was longer than what was promised. That's pathetic Phyllis Bennis. It does matter. And if he'd stuck to what he was saying in 2007, the US would have been out of Iraq already and those 5 dead soldiers wouldn't be dead.

Marcia: It just seems to me that there is a detachment about the Iraq War, a distance from it, as if it were a game. I'd honestly appreciate sell outs a lot more if they'd just say, "I'm a sell out, I didn't give a damn about the Iraq War, I just wanted to elect Democrats." If they'd say that, I wouldn't expect a thing from them. I wouldn't be outraged and angry. But they're liars. They want to pretend like they still care about ending the Iraq War and they can't even write about it. They can't cover it, they can't talk about it, they're just a huge disgrace because they're all wanting to act like they're still trying to end the Iraq War. And they're not doing a damn thing.

Ruth: Well actually, what Marcia's discussing is sort of what Stan and I were talking about earlier this evening. We had both read Norman Solomon's embarrassing "Getting a Death Grip on Memory" at CounterPunch and he and I had strong opinions on it. Stan?

Stan: Okay, So Norman Solomon's riding his high horse about how Real Media wants to forget their crimes. That would be Norman Solomon, pledged delegate for Barack Obama. That would be Norman Solomon who lied for Barry and who did everything he could to get Barry elected. He cut off people when he was a guest on the radio and tried to rip their character apart when they questioned Barack. He cut them off and launched personal attacks on them, the sort of thing he maintains he never does, he maintains he debates the issues, but that's not what he did on KPFA. And he's a liar because he'd go on KPFA to 'analyze' the race and 'forget' to tell listeners that he was a pledged delegate for Barck. For that reason alone, he shouldn't have been on. And he knows that. He knows all about media ethics. He just doesn't practice any. He's a disgusting whore and for him to talk about Real Media's memory lapses, what he needs to do is write a column on how someone betrays every thing they supposedly believe in to whore out for a candidate. He's a whore, a cheap, trashy, disease ridden whore.

Rebecca: And Ruth, you say what?

Ruth: I would have to agree with Stan. We were talking about this and how Norman Solomon must wake up every morning convinced that he has really put one over on everybody.

Ava: Or maybe doubting it? Maybe that's why he lays it on so thick.

Ruth: Good point. And, as Stan said, he broke every ethic regarding media in 2008. He knows those ethics, he lectures on those ethics. He might try getting honest about that.

Rebecca: Because confession is good for the soul?
Ruth: Because a blistering confession might allow someone tempted in the future to avoid the path he went down. It would be like a drug addict sharing with people how low he sunk while active in his disease.

Rebecca: Okay. Kat and Wally haven't spoken. Betty hasn't but she and I talked ahead of time and she has a topic she's bringing in. But I'm letting Wally and Kat know they need to speak if they're planning to. Ava and C.I. are taking notes and will type up this rush transcript. They can speak whenever they want but we all doubt they'll speak much. Betty?

Betty: I wanted to talk about Iraq's LGBT population. In the April 2nd snapshot, C.I. noted the reports that they were being executed. No one followed that story this week until we found out, see yesterday's snapshot, that US House Rep Jared Polis went to Iraq and was given information about a gay man sentenced to death for being gay. Why isn't anyone writing about this? Michael Riley (Denver Post) was covering it but I'm not even sure if he grasped all of what he was reporting and, if he did grasp it, I think he intentionally downplayed it. Maybe because he thought if he didn't downplay it, it might be seen as too explosive for print. But read his article. A member of the US Congress has been given information that states a gay man is going to be put to execution because he is gay. The Congress member finds the information and documentation so convincing that he raises the issue on his Iraq trip. I'd say this is pretty big news.

Cedric: I'd agree with you Betty and I'd argue that if all the people writing last week about the executions hadn't been doing that. and that includes C.I. doing the why-are-we-silent writing, we wouldn't have gotten Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" in the New York Times this week. That's really the strongest article on this subject that paper has published. And, speculating, I'm wondering is it that the paper previously didn't care about the issue, thought readers didn't care about the issue, thought it wasn't among the important issues or what?

Mike: Well when they can write that stupid article on the Humvee dealership in Iraq then if it's that the paper didn't think LGBT was an "important issue," that's saying a lot. And none of it good about the paper.

Ruth: I honestly think that there is a 'queasy' aspect to it -- I am talking about among the press. It happens far too often, an issue involving an attack on the LGBT community in any country, even our own, never gets the kind of attention it deserves. Never. I think a large portion of the press, especially above the reporters' level, are uncomfortable with LGBT issues and the LGBT community.

Ava: Well, in terms of the New York Times, they have a shameful history on AIDS in the eighties and I would argue that's because of the "queasy" aspect Ruth's talking about. They didn't see gays and lesbians as 'real human beings' so when a disease that wasknown as the "gay cancer" struck, they didn't want to devote the kind of attention they would have if the same disease had targeted red-headed-four-year-old boys, for example.

Mike: I don't want to dominate the roundtable but if I can make another point, and I'll try to be quick, homophobia is out there and it's not going away. It might get reduced, but it's not going away any time soon. And if we're not willing to combat it, then I don't know what's going to happen. I am eager about one thing that's coming up.

Marcia: I agree with you, Mike, but I want to also say how important it is that someone like Mike says that and not just me. I'm a lesbian. It's important that I speak out. But Mike's a straight man and it's really important that he speak out as well. I think the gay community is something like one in ten. The LGBT community needs to speak up but we also need support from the straight community. In terms of what Mike's talking about coming up, I agree. And I'm excited about it as well. It's something we're going to be doing at Third. A regular feature. But I would agree there's a silence and, like Ruth, I would have to say it's because it makes some straight people uncomfortable.

Betty: If I can say one more thing on this topic, I'd just like to point out that gays are being targeted in Iraq. By the clergy, by the police and apparently by their state government. And the fact that so many -- including Liar Barack -- have taken to tossing around terms like "democracy" at a time when homophobia is expressed with criminal intent is appalling. And it's disgusting to see US leaders hail a country where homophobia and homophobic murders are condoned by the governemtn. It's disgusting.

Wally: Well the silence goes beyond the press and it also includes our own State Dept which has never condemened the murders. It didn't condemn under the homophobe Colin Powell, it didn't condemn then under Condi Rice and it's not condemning them under Hillary Clinton. Now I happen to like Hillary and, as most people reading this will know, from something like January through the primary in Puerto Rico, I was on the road campaigning for her. I ended up taking off the semester to do that. I believed in her campaign that much. She's being silent. Now I could be an Obot and say, "She needs more time to speak! She needs to get comfortable!" I could offer a million excuses but the reality is she has not spoken out against it and that's not right, and there's no excuse for it, and I'm embarrassed and ashamed for Hillary. And I'll tell you one more thing, I'd be talking about that like her if she was president. Because I don't believe in hero worship. Unlike the Cult of St. Barack, I don't offer excuses. And I believe Hillary would make a great president. But I believe that because I think she's smart. So when someone that smart and that wise doesn't speak out against the murders, it is appalling and I will call out. I will repeat, Hillary Clinton, I am ashamed and embarrassed by your silence. I am fully aware that there are issues that are policy and that come above Hillary. That would include the Israel situtation, for example. There she's merely executing policy. However, in terms of this issue, in terms of condemning any murders in any country -- I'm talking warfare, supposed or otherwise -- she has the power, due to the office she holds, to issue a state condemning the murders. She hasn't done it. I'm appalled. Shame on you, Hillary, you know better. And Kat I knew Betty's topic, Rebecca, which is why we were holding off on talking.

Kat: Right. And it is an important topic but just to back up a second, I agree with Wally and if Hillary had gotten the nomination, she would be president, we all know that, we all know she got more votes than Barack in the primaries and we all know she would have done better than he did in the general. But if she was president, we wouldn't be playing fan club to Hillary. We'd be doing what Wally just did right now. And Wally gave his all to getting the word out on Hillary. He dropped out of college because he took some weeks off and ended up deciding that it was more important that he campaign for her. The original plan was just to campaign for her for a few weeks, he ended up dropping out to campaign for her. And he still believes she would make a wonderful president but that didn't prevent him from calling her out on her silence and doing so strongly. And if she were president and going back on her word to withdraw one brigade a month from Iraq, we'd all be calling her out. The Obots aren't politically educated or smart. They needed a crush, an empty vessel upon which they could impose their dreams of love and romance. It and they are disgusting. Now in terms of the LGBT community in Iraq, I don't want to hear any garbage about Muslim religion or any of that other s**t. We don't use "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture" to hide behind murdering Jews or Christians. Murder's wrong. That's not open to debate. That the US has installed a regime in Iraq which thinks it's okay to murder gays and lesbians -- and even if the government is not executing them, they are turning a blind eye to their murders -- explains how sick and perverted this illegal war really was. And to be clear "Muslim religion" or "Muslim culture," gays and lesbians still were in Iraq. They are Iraqis. And they had acceptance before the illegal war. They are a part of Muslim culture whether fundamentalists want to accept it or not. And they are a part of Iraq and they should have been protected.

Rebecca: I did not know that Kat and Wally were waiting for Betty's topic. And thank you to Betty for introducing it because that was a very lively discussion. We need to wind down and I want to let Trina have the last word since she grabbed the first. Trina, a lot's been said since you explained why you wanted this roundtable. Closing thoughts?

Trina: I think we have shown that there is so much still to discuss about the Iraq War and there's so much that we didn't even get to. We didn't talk about how the violence this week has been so great that even the press has a hard time pretending it's not happening, for example. We didn't talk about the targeting of Sahwa. There are so many topics that we didn't have time for, all Iraq related, and that's going to be true every day because it is an ongoing war and it is a real shame that the people who supposedly wanted to end it have moved on to other things while over 130,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq. The illegal war has not ended and it's appalling to grasp how little that matters to so many who used to pretend they gave a damn.

Rebecca: And on that note, we'll wrap up. As stated before, this is a rush transcript. This roundtable will be posted at the sites of all participating. And, in closing, C.I. asked me to note the Center for Media and Democracy's "Common Purpose: Another Cog in Obama's PR Machine" on the sell out of our so-called left. It's a very important piece and I'm sure will be addressing it at Third on Sunday.

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

Friday, April 10, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces multiple deaths, violence strikes a Baghdad neighborhood for the third time this week, the US employment crisis' impact on the military, Diane Rehm's embarrassing embarace of sexism, and more.

Today the
US military announced: "Five U.S. Coalition Soldiers were killed, and one wounded from a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack earlier today in Mosul. Two Iraqi Security Forces were also killed and 20 wounded. The suicide truck bomb exploded near the Iraqi National Police headquarters in the southwest section of the city. At least two individuals suspected of being involved in the attack were detained, and the incident is under investigation. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense." The five deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4271. Leila Fadel, Corrine Reilly and Ali Abbas (McClatchy Newspapers) observe, "It is the single deadliest incident to befall American troops here in more than a year." They also note that two other US soldiers -- not one -- were injured the bombing. Jomana Karadsheh (CNN -- link has video option which is a report by Frederik Pleitgen) notes one Iraqi soldier was killed in the bombing as well. Frederik Pleitgen explains the bomber "steered his truck into the compound of the National Police in southwestern Mosul. He then breached the sort of first layer of security in that compound and detonated his charge and we know five US soldiers have been confirmed dead, two US soldiers have been confirmed wounded also at least two Iraqi security forces have been confirmed dead and several dozen have been confirmed wounded -- most of those civilians -- is what we're hearing from the Iraqi security forces." Following the breach "of first layer of security," apparently, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reports, "US and Iraqi forces opened fire on the truck after it ignored a request to stop at a checkpoint on the approach to the base." Haynes quotes Interior Ministry spokesperson Karim Khalaf stating, "The truck exploded 50 metres before reaching its target." BBC states, "Reports said the bomber made a sharp turn as he neared the station and charged the truck through an iron fence, careering into a sandbagged wall beyond." Sam Dagher (New York Times) adds, "The Interior Ministry's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, told the state television station network Iraqiya that the truck was packed with about 2,000 pounds of explosives." Xinhau states "the police station and some nearby buildings in the neighborhood were severely damaged by the explosion". In a news brief, PBS' The NewsHour notes three buildings were brought down and apartments were rattled while quoting Amjad Akram stating, "Everything was broken in my home, my refrigerator, my TV, my furniture. The smoke was so thick we couldn't see each other." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) explains, "The attack comes a day after the six year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Many hard-line supporters of Saddam Hussein found refuge in Mosul after the U.S. invasion. Crackdowns on other insurgent strongholds in Iraq prompted extremists to move to that area in recent years." (Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times, filed on the bombing as well.) Amanda Ruggeri (US News & World Reports) observes that the bombing "comes on the heels of a particularly bloody few days. Most of the violence had been focused in Baghdad, where more than 50 people were killed in bombings this week." Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report the death toll as 5 US soldiers and 2 Iraqi National Police with sixty-two people injured ("20 of whom were Iraqi security personnel"). (They note one US soldier wounded, that number has risen to two.)

Deborah Haynes notes that the bombing comes after the top US commander in Iraq has stated that US forces may remain in Iraq cities past June.
Haynes interviewed Gen Ray Odierno who said "that US combat troops might have to stay beyond June 30 in Mosul and Baqubah, where al-Qaeda retains an active presence. 'The two areas I am concerned with are Mosul and the Baqubah and [other] parts of Diyala province,' he said. 'We will conduct assessments and provide our assessments when the time is right'." The June 30th removal from Iraqi cities (and retreating to US bases within Iraq) is in the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. For some time, chatter has been that the June 30th removal would not be kept and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has even suggested publicly that US forces remaining in some Iraqi cities might be a good idea; however, this is the first on-the-record floating by a named member of the US military. (We went over the SOFA last night. For those drive-bys who couldn't grasp it or didn't want to, this AP article on the 5 deaths explains the same point -- third paragraph from the end.) Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) adds Odierno "said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expected to ask US forces to stay in Mosul and in Baquba in Diyala Province, where Iraqi security forces need more time to be able to hold neighborhoods American troops have helped them clear."

It also underscores that the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement was never etched in stone, despite claims otherwise.
Yesterday Baghdad saw a huge rally calling for the withdrawal of US forces. Toss that back to the Status Of Forces Agreement. al-Maliki had to promise Parliament that the thing could be put to a vote (al-Maliki and the US State Dept had to promise Iraq's Parliament that). That vote was supposed to take place in July. Where are the preparations for that? The Kurdistan Regional Government will be holding provincial elections shortly (May 19th) and they are making their preparations. Where are the preparations for the Iraqi people to vote on the Status Of Forces Agreement? For those who don't remember the January 31st provincial elections in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces required extensive work and planning. If you've forgotten the legislation finally passed Parliament September 24, 2008. They moved to hold elections as quickly as possible and all the work required meant as quickly as possible was January 31st. And that work was after considerable work had already been done. In July of 2007, the White House issued a press release declaring, "On January 23, 2007, the COR passed the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) Law, which the Presidency Council (the President and two Deputy Presidents) approved on February 27, 2007. On April 28, 2007, the COR [Council of Representatives] appointed the nine IHEC Commissioners in a process that the U.N. deemed fair and transparent. The Commissioners have completed appropriate training and are in the process of selecting representatives to oversee elections in the provinces. A Provincial Powers Law that defines the authorities and structures of local governments has been read twice in the COR, but changes are being considered, particularly related to the powers of the governor and the reach of the central government at the local level. At the highest levels, the Embassy is urging the Iraqi Government to take the legislative and administrative action necessary to ensure timely and fair elections. The Embassy is intensively engaged with the GOI and the COR at all levels to expedite legislation or amendments to existing legislation that will allow provincial elections to take place. New legislation or amendments to the existing law are required to set a date and secure funding for elections, as well as to establish the electoral system to be used for the vote, among other issues." The link won't work anymore, take it up with Barack. All of that work, all of those preparations. And yet Iraq's supposed to hold a national referendum on the SOFA this July and there's no indication that any prepartion is being done on that. They have not, for example, asked the United Nations for any help on the issue. For those thinking, "Well the ballot will be simplified . . ." The ballot wasn't the issue. Who was on it and campaigning were issues for candidates. The govermnent and the election commission required all those months to set up for the elections.

Now let's turn to the pathetic websites. Shirley says a record number of e-mails came in today on how useless the pathetic web sit and giving specific examples. Let's start with the sewer of all sewers, Mark Karlin's ugly BuzzFlash. I'm dictating this snapshot and I'm not going to ask my friend to count them all but he's counted the top 112 headlines on BuzzFlash -- all it is is headlines -- and not a damn one notes that 5 US soldiers died in Iraq today. They have time to whine and beg for money (and to lie, people left them because of their sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, not because they criticized her -- and Mark Karlin, the sexist pig, never felt the need to do an editorial telling men of color how to vote, but he felt he had the right to tell women of all races how to vote, he's a sexist pig and a great deal more). So that's Butt Ugly BuzzFlash and Butt Ugly Mark Karlin. Let's see what those hard working Lambert groupies (and Lambert himself) are doing at Corrente? More bad health care blogging (probably should try understanding health care if you want to advocate on behalf of it), a video of Larry Summers, more bad health care blogging, Lambykins taxing himself with those brief blog entries. Go on and on and you'll never find that 5 US soldiers died in Iraq today. Once upon a time, Corrente cared about the Iraq War and cared about ending it. But those people bailed on Lambert and on the site and, judging by the brief 'page 6' like items they now pass off as 'writing,' those who left did so for good reasons. No Quarters all over the banks and the pirates and for some reason 'Uppity Woman' feels the need to trash Ralph Nader for a vehicle GM's proposing. That certainly helped . . . no one. Over at The Confluence, they're apparently tired of trying to prioritize their world -- they've confused themselves with a PAC -- and so you've got one post by Riverdaughter from this morning and, no, it has nothing in it about five US soldiers dying. Riverdaughter, when she blogged at the other site, used to care about the Iraq War. You'll search in vain for Iraq at The Confluence. Over at
Little Dicky's Daily Toilet Scrubber, they have time for Sex In The City videos, health care, gas bagging about tea bagging (they're obsessed with that and it has to do with their male-centric ways and their own latent desires) and on and on but, nope, not a word about Iraq. Once upon a time Arianna Huffington pretended she cared about ending the illegal war. Maybe one of her spritual guides suddenly materialized to tell her to cover other things? Today's big concern for Arianna at Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box is, as always, Arianna. You're cluded into that when she can't stop name dropping . . . herself: "The conversation continued last night when Charlie Rose invited me to discuss the issue with Tom Curley, AP's president and CEO. For me, the key . . . reminds me . . ." Poor Arianna. No manners in the cat litter box. What about the 'anti-war' Nation magazine (The Nation supported the slaughter of Aghanistan which is why it's so damn funny to read Katrina's efforts to back peddle today)? Not a damn thing at The Nation -- not just "not a damn thing worth reading" as usual, but "not a damn thing on Iraq." Though visitors can laugh at Larua Flanders' latest make over. Apparently, she asked to look like Patty and Cathy Lane's ugly awkward brother. (The woman who played Patty and Cathy is interviewed by wowOwow here. And for what a piece of trash Laura Flanders is, be sure to read Kat's entry on Laura -- who attacked Hillary in the most sexist terms -- pretending she was offended by sexist attacks on Hillary. She'll say anything in front of a crowd of women. Oh well, maybe she was just trying to get laid that night.)

And as bad as the 'brave' online world is, can anything top
The Diane Rehm Show today where, second hour, a conversation about Iraq could have taken place but so damn desperate to forever sing and act out "The Boys in the Backroom" is Diane that not only did we not get a conversation on Iraq, we got leering sexism which Diane refused to call out. Even when a caller phoned in to object, Diane couldn't call it out and in fact, excused it by lying. She wasted our time with a made-up cat fight (proposed by a man) between Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama. It was sexist and it was insulting (to both women as well as all women) and it didn't belong on NPR. And when it was called out, the pig's response that he was being "cheeky" was as offensive as Diane's attempts to excuse it. If that's all you've got left to offer, Diane, retire because the world doesn't need you.

Why don't we get Iraq War coverage? One reason is that when there is actual news from Iraq, it's not amplified. The 'brave' online world would rather bore us all with 'tea bagging' because they are obsessed with their own and their friend's testicles. They don't give a damn about the Iraq War. It's not just that they won't show up for a protest, it's that they don't give a damn about ending the Iraq War or about whether anyone lives or dies. It's all so 'yesterday' for them.
Alsumaria reports over 243 journalist have been killed so far in Iraq during the illegal war. Reporters Without Borders goes with the more conservative estimate of 225. And if any of them has an America's Funniest Home Video like clip, our 'brave' online world may find time to cover them. Translation, they'll be ignored the same way they ignored Bilal Hussein's false imprisonment. But don't worry, they're advancing the cause of making "tea bagging" a socially acceptable term.

On Saddam Hussein,
Alsumaria has a report (text and video) on Jawad Amer who lived underground for approximately 23 years (until the 2003 invasion) for joining the Dawa Party. A large tile in his living room floor lifted up and led to his crawl space where he had keroscene, pots and pans, a toilet and more. The fifty-something year-old man lived in that space below the home of his mother, Azeeza Masikh Dehash. During his time underground, he lost all of his teeth (his teeth are the items in the matchbox he displays on camera). Meanwhile at Fog el Nakhal, Touta shares a story of a family who were victimized under Saddam Hussein and were happy when the US invaded Iraq:

They rejoiced. Freedom to go the the Kharij (outside Iraq), Freedom for the father finally to be able to get the job he deserved. Instead, the father got kicked out of his job. He was a 'saddamist'-living in Al Aathamiya and having a job-he had to be one of Saddam's favoured right? Wrong. His older brother had been killed by Saddam. That's how favoured he was.
No job, and a family to feed, he resorted to selling everything. First the furniture went, the car, the extra fridge, but soon he ran out of stuff to sell. He sat on the kerbside and sold vegetables and herbs.
During a particularly nasty time in 2006, he was shot by american soldiers. His wife complained, the soldier's reply-he was about to attack them.
Yes, with that deadly broccoli and lethal courgettes.
It was concluded he was shot accidently, as there were many militia men in the area. The wife had no qualifications and could not get a job. The recompensation was equivalent to $100.
For a while, the family depended on their uncle. Who was then kidnapped by militia men, and beaten to the point that he couldn't walk, by his fellow country men. His ransom was so high, that it cost them everything.
And yes, its a true story, and no they had no reason to lie, and yes i met the mother and her orphaned children. What made me smile, is I met the two girls. One is the age of my little sister, and the other is around 9.

The violence continues every day. Even the myth of the 'peaceful' January 31st didn't actually mean no one died in Iraq that day (for example McClatchy's
Sahar Issa reported two Kirkuk roadside bombings that resulted in one person being wounded. McClatchy's Laith Hammoudi noted a tribal fight in Baghdad that resulted in one death and one person injured.).


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report Dhafir Hashim Al Jumayl was shot dead in Mosul today. He had been the "cousin of the parliament member Usama Al-Nijaifi and his brother Atheel Al-Nijaifi who headed Al-Hadbaa list which won 48% votes of the last provincial elections".


Sahar Issa and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad missile attack which left two women wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives and left four people wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 woman and left her daughter injured and a Diyala Province roadside bombing which claimed 2 lives -- a woman and a man -- and left "their three children" wounded. Aseel Kami, Tim Cocks, Abdul-Rahman Taher and Michael Christie (Reuters) report a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 9 lives and left twenty people injured: "Eyewitnesses told Reuters Television that the mother of a 7-month-old baby died in the blast and the father was critically wounded when the explosion struck the front of their car." The attack took place in the Kadhemiyah (also spelled Kadhimiya) neighborhood of Baghdad bombed. Wednesday's bombing claimed 7 lives and left twenty-three wounded. Tuesday's bombing claimed 9 lives and left eighteen wounded. In that neighborhood of Baghdad, there have been three bombings this week, 25 deaths and sixty-one people wounded this week alone.

The Tuesday bombing resulted in one known orphan.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that the Tuesday car bombing set another car on fire. In the car were three people, a woman, a man and an infant. Hammoudi said the man and the woman were the parents -- that may or may not be correct. He also identifies someone who rescued the infant. That may or may not be correct. There is a dispute over who rescued the child (three names have been mentioned in press coverage). But the child was rescued. The infant, a baby boy, was taken in by Umm Assad al-Khafaji. We know that for a fact because Sam Dagher (New York Times) reported on it and Chrisoph Bangert provided a photo of her feeding the child. Dagher estimated the child to be around six-months-old. He noted the man was driving the car and the woman was in the back with the baby and that it appeared the man was a driver the woman had hired. Someone rescued the child and Dagher observed, "In that sense, the baby was luckier than others who had been wounded in the bombing. After Iraqi security forces arrived, they fired shots to disperse the crowd and scuffled withs ome of the rescuers, witnesses said, preventing many of the wounded from getting help." Christoph Bangert offers another photo of the baby here. A man claiming to be the baby's uncle later came forward to claim him.

March 27th we noted that New York Times Iraqi correspondent Sahar S. Gabriel had been granted refugee status in the United States. April 4th Mudhafer al-Husaini, another Iraqi correspondent, wrote about his news: "Leaving Iraq is not something easy, and going to America is a good opportunity. I know that many people around the world would wish to be in my place and travel to America. But Iraq is not a poor, unkown country. It has a great civilization and it's one of the oldest on the planet. It's a very rich country with two great rivers. The Iraqi people are kind and generous; we're really not bad people." I'm using the term "correspondent." I also use the term "reporter." The Iraqis -- for all outlets -- have been the eyes and ears and they are as much responsible for the reports as anyone who gets mentioned in a byline. And I find it strange that the Times credits Mudhafer (at the Baghdad Bureau blog post) as "an Iraqi tranlator with the NYT in Baghdad". January 5th the paper ran Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims." June 25th it ran Alissa J. Rubin and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Baghdad Blast Kills Four Americans." January 8, 2008 it was Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "Suicide Bomber Kills Key Sunni Leader." We can go on and on. Mudhafer was not just credited in the end notes to some articles, he regularly received a byline -- one he earned. It's a bit insulting to refer to him solely as "an Iraqi translator with the NYT in Baghdad." He reported and he got credit for it. If we want to get really ugly, I can write about the Iraqis who made John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins' articles and got nothing -- not even end credit -- we can talk about where they ended up (refugees in Syria, for example) and how they feel they were used. We can make a point to dig up all these stories (we don't have to dig too deep, they began contacting me in December of 2004) and talk about them here or the paper can start giving credit where it's due. A start would be referring to Mudhafter as a "reporter." That's what he is.

Staying on the topic of the New York Times,
Saul Landau (CounterPunch) examines the continued selling of the illegal war:

The New York Times Op-Ed page editors seemed undaunted about printing columns on the surge's success by the very pundits who had only recently assured the public of the biggest lies of the young 21st Century: Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda. Among the surge proselytizers, emerged Kenneth Pollack. In The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (2002), he wrote: "The only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces, depose Saddam's regime, and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction." He dismissed wusses who "exaggerated the danger of casualties among American troops."
Pollack even helped persuade Times columnist Bill Keller to support the Iraq war. "Kenneth Pollack, the Clinton National Security Council expert whose argument for invading Iraq is surely the most influential book of this season," wrote Keller (February 8, 2003), "has provided intellectual cover for every liberal who finds himself inclining toward war but uneasy about Mr. Bush."
After expressing absolute certainty about Saddam's WMD, Pollack threw his enthusiasm behind the surge -- without apologizing for his role in helping to perpetuate destruction and death. Again using the Times as his propaganda organ, Pollack offered new dogma. The surge had provided "the potential to produce not necessarily 'victory' but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with." ("A War We Just Might Win" with Michael O'Hanlon, June 30, 2007)

Turning to the military and the economy, yesterday at the Washington Post online,
Dana Priest did another of her Thursday webchats on national security and international issues. Here's one section of the exchange:
Stafford, Va.: Dana, part of Gates' budget includes an increase in spending to support planned expansion of the Army and USMC. Do you know what the actual size of these forces would be once the plan is achieved and when that might be? Will the military have any difficulty in achieving this goal? Thanks. Dana Priest: Sorry, I don't know the numbers answer. I don't believe they will have problems with recruiting. The economic downturn is driving more people into the military.

Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on the unemployment crisis and how it worries those in the service:

John Roscoe of Swedesboro trained hard over the last 70 days at Fort Sill, Okla., and isn't worried about heading to Iraq this month. The Army private is more concerned about finding employment when he returns in nine months.
For now, deployment means employment.
"I volunteered to go, and one of the biggest reasons is the economy," said the 26-year-old, who recently lost a private security job. "It's an entire year I'm getting paid and don't have to worry about looking for a job."
One comrade, Sgt. Rockyfeller Mensah of Atco, is hoping to hold on to his civilian job. "I'm real, real concerned with everybody losing their jobs," said the 43-year-old sanitation truck driver. "I hope I can come back to work again."
Mensah and Roscoe, a recent college student, yesterday were among more than 250 members of the New Jersey Army National Guard's 150th Assault Helicopter Battalion who took part in a farewell ceremony - attended by Gov. Corzine - at Fort Sill.

Public television notes.
NOW on PBS offers a look at coal (no, I'm not optimistic either, NOW on PBS is highly 'business' friendly):Can America's cheapest and most plentiful energy resource be produced without burning the environment? Americans are addicted to coal--it powers half of all our electricity, and is both plentiful and cheap. In fact, some call America the "Saudi Arabia of Coal." But are we paying too high an environmental price for all this cheap energy? With carbon emissions caps high on the Obama Administration's agenda, coal is in the crosshairs of the energy debate. This week, NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa travels to Wyoming to take a hard look at the coal industry there and its case that it can produce "clean coal"--coal that can be burned without releasing carbon into the atmosphere. President Obama has been outspoken in his support for "clean coal" technology, but some say the whole concept is more of a public relations campaign than an energy solution. As part of the report, Hinojosa talks with Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and Jeff Goodell, the author of "Big Coal," who says that carbon dioxide emissions generated from coal contribute to global warming. Our investigation is part of a PBS-wide series on the country's infrastructure called "Blueprint America."

This week on
Washington Week (begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings) Gwen sits down with NYT's David Sanger, Chicago Tribune's Christi Parson, LAT's Doyle McManus and US News & World Reports and CNN's Gloria Borger. Also, I was asked to note that Washington Week has given their site some "tweaks," so check that out. Bonnie Erbe sits down with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ruth Conniff, Star Parker and Karen Czarnecki to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:The DEKA ArmNew technology is making it possible for amputees to pick up small, delicate objects they never thought they would master thanks to the biggest innovation in prosthetic arms since World War II. Scott Pelley reports. Watch Video
Gun RushAmericans are snapping up guns and ammunition at an increasingly higher rate despite the economic downturn. But as Lesley Stahl reports, the economic downturn, as well as the election of Barack Obama, may be the reason for the run on guns. Watch Video
Steve WynnThe casino mogul most responsible for taking Las Vegas to new heights of gaming and glitter talks to Charlie Rose about his spectacular success and the eye disease that's slowly robbing him of his ability to see the fruits of his labor. Watch VideoAmong those interviewed by Lesley Stahl for her report on guns is Senator Dianne Feinstein whose remarks will, no doubt, be news at home (the Bay Area) due to her days in municpal government when Harvey Milk was assassinated. At wowOwow, Lesley writes about the 60 Minutes segment and also offers a video preview. And as the wowOwow friend who requested that link notes, "You can join the conversation and leave your comments" at wowOwow.

jane arraf
deborah haynes
corinne reilly
sahar issa
hussein kadhimmcclatchy newspapers
laith hammoudi
leila fadel
the washington post
ernesto londono
dana priest
sam dagher
the new york timesalissa j. rubinmudhafer al-husaini
richard a. oppel jr.
60 minutescbs newsnow on pbspbsto the contrarybonnie erbelesley stahlwowowow
kats korner

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Chuck, ACLU, more

Thursday! One day until the weekend! I can't wait for the weekend. How bout you?

Yesterday's post ended up with 16 e-mails today. Everyone agrees Scott Horton's sold out whatever integrity he had left. He has no pull because he's seen as someone always whoring out for Barack. Every post is how his boyfriend Barack's being beaten up or threatened or targeted. It's as if he looked for the weakest boy in the school to fall in love with. Poor Scott. And he really does sound like a crazy person these days. He needs to take a breath, take a deep one. And then take another and calm the hell down.

Okay NBC's Chuck. When that Kings show came on and grabbed Chuck's slot that first Monday, I got behind.

What you missed. Did you watch Quantum Leap? That's Chuck and Ellie's father. Chuck and Sara went to see him.


It started 2 episodes ago when the general at NSA decided Sara was too close to Chuck and brought in another agent to assess the situation. She said Sara needed to go and the general agreed. Chuck was freaking out because of that and other things? Other things, this new agent was putting his sister's life at risk. As if that wasn't enough the agent posed as a stripper at Devin's bachelor party. She needed his hospital card and she knocked him out and people thought the two of them had sex. Ellie found out and almost broke up with Devlin.

Devlin thinks he had sex with the agent/stripper because of some photos. He didn't.

The agent was a screw up and I hated her. Sara was fired so, as one last thing for Chuck, she secretly ran his father through the CIA computer. Ellie had wanted him to give her away at the wedding.

Sara came back for some reason, I forget why, and realized Chuck had been kidnapped. The agent disagreed. But Casey agreed with Sara and they went to rescue Chuck. The agent was an idiot and all her plans would put Chuck at risk of dying. Sara saved the day and Casey ended up siding with Sara to the general so Sara got to keep her job. After that was decided, Sara took Chuck to see his father.

Remember the guy who died, Orphius? (I think he was Orphius.) He was going to help Chuck take out the intersect. He's died but he gave Chuck the schematics for the intersect which Chuck looks at and has them taped inside one of his comic books. Remember that point because Chuck flashes on the plans in the episode that aired Monday.

So Chuck had to go undercover to work for a Bill Gates like guy at Microsfot. And he had his father who was just weird. Ellie is angry at first when she sees her father but then adjusts. He's always going on about the Bill Gates like guy stealing his ideas.

And no one believes him. They think he's crazy.

Chuck's undercover at the computer place because they think it's working with the bad guys.

So the Quantum Leap guy, Scott Bakula, is Chuck's father.

The Bill Gates guy is played by Chevy Chase.

Chuck has to stop Chevy from presenting the new product (which will put all computers at risk) which gets him fired and Ellie was convinced it was because of their dad that Chuck was trying to prove something for his father.

Well after many twists and turns, Chuck looks at the plans he's taped inside the comic book and realizes that it's the site plan for Chevy's company.

He goes there and his father's there demanding to see Chevy to get Chuck's job back.

But really?

Really, it turns out Orpheus is alive. And Orpheus is Chuck's dad. It was always his dad but he couldn't reveal that to Chuck because if he did, Chuck wouldn't have believed him.

So he and Chuck are getting ready to remove the intersect from Chuck's head when Chevy and goons show up. They're going to kill Chuck. Scott Bakula says if they let Chuck go, he'll build whatever they need. So they let Chuck run to Sara and Casey who have just arrived.

And his father's gone. And Ellie thinks their father has run out on them again. And it's all really complicated.

So that's where the story is now and you can watch online at Chuck.

Okay now for some news, this is from the ACLU:

Iowa Supreme Court Grants Same-Sex Couples Right To Marry (4/3/2009)
Great Day For Fairness And Equality, Says ACLU
DES MOINES, IA – A unanimous Iowa Supreme Court today ruled that the state could no longer bar same-sex couples from being able to marry. The American Civil Liberties Union, which supported the case through friend-of-the-court briefs, applauds this historic victory for fairness for lesbian and gay couples.
“The Iowa Supreme Court has given an incredibly well reasoned explanation for why our constitutional principals of fairness and equality simply will not permit us to continue to deny lesbian and gay couples the right to marry,” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “This unanimous decision coupled with the recent movement by statehouses across the nation to advance pro-marriage bills shows that the tide has finally turned in support of the freedom to marry.”
In reaching its decision, the court said, “Our responsibility … is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”
The case, Varnum, v. Brien, was brought by
Lambda Legal on behalf of six same-sex couples and their children. Today’s decision affirms a lower district court decision ruling that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny same-sex couples from marrying in the state. The ACLU field friend-of-the-court briefs both before the district court and the Iowa Supreme Court.
“Like the Iowa justices who courageously made Iowa a legal haven for desegregation and equality nearly a century before the federal government did so and who issued pioneering decisions advancing the rights of women, the court today showed the world that Iowa is again among the leaders in America’s quest for justice and fairness,” said Ben Stone, Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa.
The Iowa decision follows similar high court decisions in Massachusetts, California and Connecticut finding that is unconstitutional to bar lesbian and gay couples the right to marry. In addition to the courts, a number of statehouses across the country during this legislative session have advanced bills granting same-sex couples the ability to marry. Both houses of the Vermont legislature have approved a bill giving same-sex couples there the ability to marry. In New Hampshire, the House has approved a marriage bill, which is now pending in the state Senate. Marriage bills are also expected to be introduced soon in New Jersey and New York, were a bill passed the Assembly in 2008. In addition, there is a comprehensive civil union bill pending in the Illinois legislature and a domestic partner bill pending in Wisconsin. The Washington legislature is considering expanding its domestic partner bill to include nearly all of the legal protections that it provides to married couples.
The copy of the decision is available at A copy of the brief the ACLU filed before the Iowa Supreme court is available at A copy of the brief field in the district court is available at

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

Thursday, April 9, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, if you play dumb it's easy to praise Barack's VA budget, a US soldier is wounded in a bombing, Baghdad sees a huge protest calling for the US to leave, a member of the US Congress asks questions about the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, and more.

Phenola Lawrence (The Daily Collegian) reports on James Reilly who served two tours in Iraq:

Reilly's transition to civilian life was hard. He didn't have a job and was strapped for cash, so he began delivering pizza in order to keep the bills paid. His wife was a 911 dispatcher. Money was always a problem for them. His wife urged him to stay home at night, but he wanted to celebrate making it out alive.
He drank excessively to cope with his memories. After nights out, he would drive home inebriated. He still wasn't afraid of death. But this time, he realized it wouldn't only be his life on the line.
[. . . .]
His wife complained and he became more frustrated. He had a low-paying job, no prospects for the future and a crumbling marriage. He separated from his wife in the summer of 2007. Two months later, they got a divorce.
At 26, Reilly is now a Penn State student, war veteran, divorcee and future engineer.

When Barack Obama's speech on veterans was scheduled last week (he gave it today), it seemed like Thursday snapshot would especially require a focus on veterans. There was, however, the hope that some in the press would have done the heavy lifting by then. Apparently not. Last Friday,
Maria Hinojosa (NOW on PBS) was mindlessly chattering away in her usual excessive praise of Barack, "His fiscal 2010 budget -- set to be approved this month -- would increase the VA's budget by $15 billion. That's the largest increase ever requested by a president." Wow, Maria. If we can all be mindless Obots (and hasn't the press proved that it is possible for many to be just that), we can be happy . . . and stupid. Maria proves that. She also proves this lesson: Always hide the context to strip news from the factoid you want to pimp.

Barry gave his big speech today and, as a friend at the White House said, "He didn't say 'guys' this time." Well good for Barry. It's a real shame that when addressing a (mixed) crowd in Iraq, he used the terms "guys." What he did offer today was his usual bloated sense of bragging to the point that every speech is now an informercial for Barack. Following the 2010 elections, look for the White House to bring in new blood for the speeches. Until then, get used things like this: "I'm also pleased that the budget resolutions adopted by both houses of Congress preserve priorities that I outlined in my budget -- priorities that will go a long way towards building that 21st-century VA that we're looking for. The 2010 budget includes the largest single-year increase in VA funding in three decades. And all told, we will increase funding by $25 billion over the next five years." Cute, wasn't it? Three references to himself in the first sentence alone.

When not self-stroking, Barry was pushing "streamlined transition of health records." This isn't his idea. It predates him and he did no work on this in Congress, he's not on the committee. (The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have worked on this and held hearing on this.) But what Barry's done is advocate for money for it. How much money will go for that? That is the fourth measure of the seven items the administration was promoting at the end of February ["(4) investing in better technology"]. So how much of the $15 billion will go to that? Do we want to tell the veterans how much is allocated to the VA under "discretionary budget" and where that money will go?

And at any damn point does the press plan to address reality? The 2010 fiscal year increase is approximately 10%. 47.6 billion dollars was the 2009 fiscal year budget. For eight years, Bully Boy Bush underfunded the Veterans Affairs -- despite the fact that two wars would be fought thereby increasing the number of veterans. A ten percent increase is a joke. This 'hallelujah' nonsense doesn't even grasp that Barack's insulting budget is less of an increase for the VA than what John Kerry was promising in his 2004 presidential run.

Barack promised open government and bills would be posted online and this would be and that would be and blah, blah, blah. Didn't happen and most look the other way. But it can't happen. If it does, it'll make life hard for Barack cheerleaders like Maria Hinojosa who allegedly wanted to illuminate the plight of veterans last Friday on PBS but instead pretended cheerleading and distorting actually passed for reporting NOW on PBS should either drop their we-care-about-veterans segments are learn to be a damn advocate. The VA has been underfunded for eight years. During that time, two wars have been fought. Barack has decided to continue those words and is offering a pittance of a ten percent increase in the budget for the VA (with a huge amount of money going to "discretionary" spending -- which won't be explained or justified any more than the CERP funds in Iraq are). It's shameful and it's disgusting.

And for eight years the press let Bully Boy Bush get away with underfunding so maybe it's not really a damn surprise that they'll now encourage Barack to do the same thing. There's a legislative proposal by US House Rep Walter Jones that someone should build on. HR 743 is the Executive Accountability Act of 2009 which Jones introduced January 28th, US House Rep Neil Abercrombie signed on as co-sponsor and reads: "To prohibit the President or any other executive branch official from knowingly and willfully misleading the Congress or the people of the United States, for the purpose of gaining support for the use of the Armed Forces of the United States." That is needed. But notice how no one's rushing to push for its passage. What's also needed is that before X number of service members are deployed to a combat zone, it needs to be established the potential VA costs. And since Barack's committed to continuing Bully Boy's wars, a ten percent increase is an even bigger joke. He will ensure the creation of a more than ten percent increase in the need for VA care in fiscal year 2010. While the VA is supposed to be thrilled with the $15 billion increase to its tiny budget, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made his Pentagon budget proposal this week: $534 billion. That's $21 billion more than for fiscal year 2009. The always bloated Pentagon budget increased by $21 billion only further establishes what a pittance the $15 billion Barack tossed out was.
Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes that "Gates unveiled the biggest military budget in world history, in anticipation of an endless series of Iraq and Afghanistan-style wars by American imperialism. Both the military budget itself and the official who drafted it -- Gates held the same position in the last two years of the Bush administration and is the first Pentagon chief to be retained by a new president -- underscore the fundamental continuity between Obama and Bush. For all its pretensions of 'change' and all the popular illusions attached to Obama's supposed 'anti-war' stance, the new administration is as committed to the ruthless pursuit of the interests of American imperialism as its discredited predecessor." Jeremy Scahill (at CounterPunch) covers the bloated budget and the myths of 'cuts' while noting that US House Reps Lynn Woolsey and Jim McGovern are among those expressing distress over the proposed budget of the Pentagon. The two budgets need to be placed side-by-side, they need to be talked about in connection with one another. You can not grossly overfund the war machine and refuse to fund the care of veterans. This might be a good time to note Cindy Sheehan has a new book out, Myth America: The 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution. She will be hitting the road with her internet radio show to discuss the book and the stops include:

April 18 to 22nd, New Mexico (Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos)
April 23rd Eureak Springs, Arkansas
May 3rd Chicago

There are other dates, some confirmed, some tentative currently. Refer to
her website for more information. And the VA budget and the Pentagon budget are not separate issues. The budget of the Pentagon does effect the numbers the VA has to serve. Staying with the costs of war, Deidra Walsh (CNN) reports, "The Obama administration will ask Congress for another $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September, Democratic congressional sources said Thursday."

Barack wants more money to continue his illegal wars. They're his now. As
Elaine noted Kathy Kelly was a guest on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday.

Dennis Bernstein: We continue our series talking with high profile resisters of the US war in Iraq, the occupation there and the expanding war in Afghanistan. And yesterday Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Iraq. He congratulated the troops and all Americans on a job well done there, quite a different visit and flavor from his last anti-war visit and people are concerned about the expanding war in Afghanistan, Pakistan. Now joining us is Kathy Kelly. Kathy Kelly is co-founder for
Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is making her way, I guess you're in Nevada now, right?

Kathy Kelly: That's right, Dennis, I joined a group of people who are intent on bringing attention to the Predator and Reaper drones -- the unmanned aireal vehicles that are headquarted inside of Creech Airforce Base and I think that there is now some increasing awareness of how it is that the United States is conducting escalated warfare in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. There's increasing reliance on what might be called a sort of remote control assassination squad or extrajudicial execution. The drones don't have pilots inside the airplane the pilot is inside Creech Airforce Base or Langley Airforce Base if the pilots are working for the CIA. So we've been vigiling since April 1st outside the base. We hold signs that say "Ground the drones lest you reap the whirlwind" and "Ending war: our collective responsibility" along with "Keep the troops home" and it's amazing the cordial response that we've had from people in the air force or others going inside the base. We've been given waves, peace signs, smiles, indications to keep going. And yet they are themselves becoming very instrumental in the changing face of the United States military.

Dennis Bernstein: Well Bush War Secretary, now Obama War Secretary, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates loves these drones. This is his vision for 21st century war along with a forward fighting force that is reinforced by depleted urainmium the drones, this is the way he wants to move. Talk a little bit about Gates and now the Obama pro-war policy. I mean, after all when Obama says "Job well done" in Iraq, I think he's talking about an illegal war and occupation that destroyed a country and led to the deaths of about a million people.

Kathy Kelly: Well I think there is a certain blindside that both Mr. Gates and President Obama are not seeing. They seem not to be aware of the tremendous antagonism toward the United States that's been occassioned by a long history of United States regarding life in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan as being expendable, cheap if you will. Right now there are one million people in Pakistan who have fled their homes because they're afraid that they might be struck by a drone Predator or drone Reaper and, you know, I think if we could just imagine what would it be like if we looked up into the skies and heard a sound that was like a snow mobile or a leaf blower and realized that that vehicle up in the sky could carry two Hellfire Missiles and two 500-pound bombs. We'd be terrified. We wouldn't want to conduct our lives always afraid that maybe they're going to decide to launch one of those bombs at us. And so similarly people who have fled their homes because they're so afraid are going to feel increasing antagonism in a country that is already very angry with US policies. And I suppose the US miltiary might say "Well it's better than carpet bombing this is more precision bombing than what we're accustomed to and we don't have to worry about losing a single soldier." But I think, again, we have to be aware of the context of a region of the world where the United States has regarded people's lives as expendable. There's a horrendous loss of life in Iraq amongst many people who meant us no harm. And also in the United States occupation of Afghnaistan where people have been forced to become refugees as well.

Dennis Bernstein: Now Kathy I spoke with Adam Kokesh who I'm sure you know very well. An Iraq War veteran and on the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War. And we were speaking and I asked him how he felt or when he felt these War Crimes committed by the Bush administration become the War Crimes of the Barack Obama administration?

Kathy Kelly: Hmm. Well I think that Barack Obama is the world's chief exporter of weapons. I mean that goes with the job. And I think that you can't look at attacks on civilian populations using conventional military force and not discuss War Crimes. And so the United States is certainly in the position of being easily accused of having committed war crimes and also in having given so much weaponry to Israel. And Israel has, I think, in the Operation Cast Blood assault and in those twenty-two days certainly committed War Crimes. And then when you think about the fact that we create and export more weapons than the next -- well we're six times greater in our weapon production and use than any following country. We've placed our economy on a war footing throughout a time when we could very well have been repaing a peace dividend. And this is the world that President Obama inherets but in the appointments that he made in the -- which are center-rightest appointments by and large -- and his indications -- since the time he was campainging, that there would be an uptick in military spending in an Obama administration the clue for all of us who want to abandon the military -- and I mean that, abandon the military -- our work is the same as it was under [Occupant] Bush.

"[Occupant]" is my insertion. See
Elaine's post if you're late to the party. For more on the drones, see Tom Engelhardt's article at Information Clearing House. Dennis mentioned Barack's speech during the exchange (the above is not a full transcript of the segment) and we'll note these observations by Kenneth Theisen (World Can't Wait) about the for-show visit:

Obama made a short propaganda speech to the assembled U.S. troops and stated, "It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. They need to take responsibility for their country." Obama told the troops, "You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement." I wonder if Obama sensed the irony of declaring a country "democractic" in making this announcement at just one of the many U.S. bases used to occupy it. But in a deeper sense, the invasion and continuing military occupation of Iraq concentrate exactly what the U.S. delivers when it claims to bring democracy to any country. The so-called democratic government there was installed after a massive U.S. invasion that has resulted in the deaths of a million Iraqis. Millions more are external or internal refugees. Hundreds of thousands of medical personnel and other educated Iraqis have fled the country. The U.S. still occupies the country with more than 100,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of U.S. contractors. The U.S. is currently training tens of thousands of Iraqi puppet troops to help the U.S. to control the country, even after the so-called withdrawal of "combat troops."

While Barack wanted to talk 'democracy' to the Iraqis from one of Saddam's former palaces which the US military occupies, today saw something far more democratic: A protest.
Corinne Reilly and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report the sixth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad was marked by "tens of thousands of Iraqs" calling for the departure of US troops. BBC News reports "tens of thousands" have taken to the streets in Baghdad to protest, carrying flags and chanting "No, no America. Yes, yes Iraq" to mark the sixth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. The protestors are said to be followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and "the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the cleric is still showing that he has some political clout. His political followers did quite well in January's provincial elections and he is again showing that he has the ability to call tens of thousands of people out into the streets, our correspondent says." BBC offers a photo essay here. Assel Kami and Richard Balmforth (Reuters) add the chants also included, "Down, down USA." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes protestor Nahab Nehme who states, "This is not democracy. When America came, they didn't do anything for Iraq -- they moved Saddam out, but he was their servant, and the people who are in power now are their servants, too." Wail al-Haforth (Times of London) quotes protestor Abu Alla stating, "I say to Mr Obama, we are Iraqis and we can solve our problems among ourselves. The occupying forces must leave Iraq immediatly." Xinhua quotes demonstrator Abdul Zahra Ali stating, "Demonstrations are part of our rights to peacefully express our rejection to occupation. We will continue protesting the occupation from time to time until the remove of the occupation." Al Jazeera went to the Strategic Studies Centre in Qatar to ask Abdel Wahab Al-Qassab his opinion: "The US has said verbally that it will end the occupation but we do not know what the real ambition of the invaders is. They could yet say there is no stability in the country and extend their presence there. The US has already said that 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq for what they say is training Iraqi troops. But I think that every Iraqi wants US troops out of the country because what has occurred is the shattering of the Iraqi society." Of the speakers, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN -- link has text and video) reports, "Hazem al-Araji, a senior aide to the radical Shiite cleric [al-Sadr], called on the Iraqi government to release all Sadrist detainees inside U.S. and Iraqi prisons." Irish Times quotes the message from al-Sadr that was read at the rally, "God, unite us, return our riches, free the prisoners from the prisons, return sovereignty to our country . . . make our country free from the occupier, and prevent the occupier from stealing our oil. God, make us liberators of our land." Irish Times also quotes protestor Khalid al-Ibadi stating, "Iraq has experience of occupation . . . No country has emerged from it through politics and transparency. It will only end through the sword." Though most reports focus on the Shi'ites in attendance, McClatchy's Reilly and Issa note that Sunnis were present at the rally including Sahwa/"Awakening"/"Sons of Iraq" leader Hameed al Hayis:

In a speech Thursday, Hayis demanded that the government release Shiite Sadrist prisoners and that high-ranking government security officials resign. The recent spike in violence proves that they're unqualified, he said.
His attendance Thursday suggests that his party may be looking to strike an alliance with Sadrists, a possibility that Hayis didn't rule out in an interview after the demonstration.
"Our Sadrist brothers have a clear vision. We appreciate that they don't compromise on that," he said. "They don't want an occupation on their land."
Any alliance shouldn't come as a surprise, Hayis added: "This is only an unusual idea to people with short memories, because we must remember there was a time when we were all Iraqis. The divisions only came when the Americans came."

Yesterday saw the Kadhemiyah neighborhood of Baghdad bombed for the second day in a row. While the US has blamed al Qaeda and Nouri al-Maliki's blamed Baathists, Iran's Press TV reports this speculation:An Iraqi lawmaker alleges that 'the occupiers' are behind the recent bomb blasts in Iraq basing his claims on the fact that the US has access to Iraq's security and intelligence files. Maha al-Dori, a member of Sadr fraction in the Iraqi parliament said that "the occupiers are causing disarray in Iraq with aim of at taking control over the country's affairs." Al-Dori, who was speaking to al-Alam on Wednesday, also noted that Sadr's anti-occupation movement has called on Iraqis to hold a demonstration, calling for the occupiers' - a term referring to American forces -- immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He added that the demonstration would also urge the release of the innocent detainees, while protesting at calls for the return of the Baath party.

It's not known who was behind the bombing but it's interesting what the US press makes time to serve up. What makes the speculation they keep tossing out any more valid than the speculation above? Nothing. Repeating, no one knows who was behind the bombing.

It is known that US House Rep
Jared Polis just finished a visit to Iraq. It is known that Michael Riley (Denver Post) is covering it even if others aren't. While in Iraq, Riley raised concerns to the Iraqi government and the US State Dept employees in Iraq about "the case of a man allegedly sentenced to death in a criminal court for membership in a gay-rights group." Riley notes how 'sensitive' the issues are for Iraq and the US government -- since the US government installed the current government in Iraq. Riley references Timothy Williams and Tareq Maher's "Iraq's Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" and notes how relatives are being "blamed" for the murders but "Polis said the most disturbing aspect of the persecution is that the government itself may be involved. The Boulder Democrat said that while State Department officials in Washington initially dismissed the claims of Iraqi Interior Ministry involvement, the charge d'affaires in Baghdad has requested more documentation and the chance to speak with witnesses and victims."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which left eight people injured, a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed 1 life, another Bauqba bombing which claimed the life of 1 construction worker and left one more injured, a Balad Ruz bicycle bombing which wounded six people and a Salahuddin Province grenade attack on a US convoy: "One American soldier was wounded with one vehicle damaged."


Reuters notes 1 man was shot dead in Mosul.

In legal news,
Rick Rogers (San Diego Union-Tribune) covers yesterday's closing arguments in the court-martial of the marine who twice confessed to murder on tape. And the BBC reports he was aquitted. What a proud moment for him and his hack of an attorney who demonstrate that the marine corp belief is lie and get your buddy to refuse to testify and somehow pretend that qualifies as "honor." Belittle the dead and mock the fact that no one even knows their names. That's the Hacket way, apparently. What a proud, proud moment. May he can cry in public again about those mean Democrats who promised him he'd have an easy run for Congress and then went back on their words which forced him out of the race because he's not running for office unless a political party's going to clear the field for him. In someone's cracked mind that too translates as "democracy" and as "honor." From crackpot justice to the real thing, famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, author most recently of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, is interviewed by Michael Collins in "Murder Trumps Torture Says Bugliosi" (Dissident Voice) and we'll note this section:Vincent Bugliosi: There was a cover story in, I think it was Harper's Magazine about two months ago, about prosecuting Bush. Obviously, I bought the magazine, and I opened it up to the prosecution. What was it all about? Torture. The New York Times had a pro and con in the op-ed section about two months ago, pro prosecution to Bush, anti prosecution to Bush. So I looked at what the prosecution was about -- torture. I'm offended by this. Who's fighting to bring about justice for the perhaps one million innocent Iraqi men, women, and children and babies in their graves? Actually, I shouldn't say I'm going to bring about justice for them, or try to, because I was unable to establish jurisdiction to go after Bush for the deaths of the Iraqi citizens. I did establish jurisdiction to go after him for the deaths of the 4,200 American soldiers. In any event, it would be a symbolic effort to bring about justice for the million people in their graves. Let's say that number's high. In my book I say over 100,000. Certainly there's over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, children and babies who died as a result of Bush's war. Some numbers put it in excess of one million, and we know there's 4,200 American soldiers. Who's fighting to bring about justice for those in their graves, decomposing in their cold graves right now as I'm talking to you, Michael? Who's doing that out there? MC: Right. VB: No one seems to be interested in that. It's all torture, torture, torture, torture, so apparently torturing 24 or 200 Iraqi citizens or Iraqi insurgents or what have you is more important than bringing about justice, let's say, for 4,200 American soldiers who died in Bush's war. So you can see where I am offended about that. I'm not saying that Bush should not be prosecuted for torture. Let's talk about why it's even more offensive to me than I've already told you. I've given you the main reason why I'm offended by it, that that's all they talk about, as opposed to saying let's go after him for taking this nation to war under false pretenses, and then let's also add a count to the indictment for torture. Do you follow? Bugliosi is correct and among the reasons for the disconnect is that a lot of the torture 'prosecutors' have never prosecuted a thing, live in a sheltered world where they give lip service to "international law" but really can't visualize an American being forced to face the same sort of justice anyone else would have to. Torture becomes the "easy" path, the "low hanging fruit" they think they can grab or at least point to.

Last night Cedric's "
Barack caught bowing and scraping" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BARACK WORSHIPS SAUDI KING!" dealt with Barack Obama's decision to violate etiquette and proceudre and bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. A US president does not bow to any royalty. It's considered offensive for anyone occupying that office -- that elected office -- to bow to royalty. You shake the hand, that's it. William Warren (Liberty Features Syndicate) has a comic on the issue -- click here -- and it's probably right-wing and I really don't care. It's a comic. And it's on an issue that the press really is working overtime to avoid.

We started with veterans health care and we'll end with it.
Stephen Soldz (CounterPunch) explores the lies the government resorts to in order to avoid paying for needed treatment:

Michael de Yoanna and Mark Benjamin in Salon have just published
the first of a three-part series on pressure from the military to not diagnose soldiers with PTSD. They obtained a secret recording of a Denver neuropsychologist confessing to his patient, a sergeant wounded in Iraq, that he is under tremendous pressure to not assign PTSD diagnoses. [Thanks to Salon, you can listen to a portion of this recording here.]
"OK," McNinch told Sgt. X. "I will tell you something confidentially that I would have to deny if it were ever public. Not only myself, but all the clinicians up here are being pressured to not diagnose PTSD and diagnose anxiety disorder NOS [instead]." McNinch told him that Army medical boards were "kick[ing] back" his diagnoses of PTSD, saying soldiers had not seen enough trauma to have "serious PTSD issues.""Unfortunately," McNinch told Sgt. X, "yours has not been the only case ... I and other [doctors] are under a lot of pressure to not diagnose PTSD. It's not fair. I think it's a horrible way to treat soldiers, but unfortunately, you know, now the V.A. is jumping on board, saying, 'Well, these people don't have PTSD,' and stuff like that."
[. . .]
This article provides new confirmation of previous reports, several of which are by Mark Benjamin, that the military is seeking to reduce the number of PTSD diagnoses assigned to soldiers. In some cases they have been accused of
assigning personality disorder diagnoses, presumed to have existed prior to enlistment, to soldiers more likely suffering from the traumatic effects of war. A personality diagnoses makes the soldier ineligible for veterans benefits, thus avoiding the government assuming the potential high costs of treatment.

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