Saturday, October 04, 2008

Plane ride reactions and inept Scott Shane

The weekend! We flew home Friday afternoon and all anyone on the plane could talk about was the debate. Bad for Biden because he named a place called "Katie's" that he visits for a meal and it apparently closed in the 80s. People were laughing about that -- even people saying they were voting for Obama. The other big thing was Biden's getting choked up. People remember the way the press went after Hillary for just having her eyes well up. She didn't cry. Last week, Biden cried several times onstage in Pennsylvania and between that and his getting choked up in the Thursday debate, people were really laughing at that on the plane.

Meanwhile Scott Shane writes about Barack and Bill Ayers for the New York Times and doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Granted, between Elaine and C.I., I know a great deal that I won't mention; however, it's all such bulls**t in Shane's article.

For example?

Charges were dropped against Ayers in 1974!

No, DUMB ASS, they weren't. He and Bernardine had to turn themselves in and they did that in the 80s (when Barack was 18-years-old!). This was national news, Dumb Ass Shane, so drop your bullcrap about "charges were dropped in 1974!"

Second, everyone keeps making the mistake of saying "60s radical." They just don't get it. That's people on the right and left and center.

"60s radical" is said by some because they want to taint Ayers with the '60s' and by others because they're just STUPID. Weather Underground was active throughout the 70s and did the bulk of their bombings (just to focus on that) in the 70s. And when you say "60s," you're giving him a pass because people my age think, "Oh, the sixties! Those were crazy times!"

Then Barackapologist Tom Hayden is brought in by Shane and Dumb Ass Shane lets him get away with lying. There was no real difference between Hayden and Ayers other than Hayden didn't want to get his damn hands dirty. Hayden spoke in Chicago in 1969 at the start of the Days of Rage encouraging violence. That is fact. And it is even fact that is documented in Ayers' own book (that Shane self-represents as having read). Hayden had no great line against violence provided his own hands didn't have to get dirtied.

Remember that ridiculous Diane Rehm (who has her own reasons for minimizing Weather -- oops, did that slip out, too damn bad Diane) covering for Barack by insisting Ayers was engaging in violence "when Barack was eight-years-old!" LIE! The violence was not a one year thing and the bulk of the violence comes after Barack was eight and Bill and Bernardine turn themselves in when Barack is 18.

Dumb Ass Shane, if charges were dropped in 1974, why did Bernardine and Bill need to turn themselves in?

It's a piece that ignores historical realities.

And that's the only way Barack got this far. I've pointed out already that his friendship (denied by Shane but it is a friendship with Ayers) with Ayers is why my uncle and other police officers will not be voting for Barack.

This has been minimized by Barack supporters and the other side has repeatedly screwed it up. Screwing it up is what Scott Shane does.

He goes with what the campaign (Obama) says. But seems to forget that the campaign originally said that Bill and Barack were friends. Scotty Shane misses that. Ooopsie!

And why were they friends, the campaign was asked and replied that Barack's daughters and Bill's children went to school together. No, they did not.

But that lie is too unpleasant to include for Scotty Shane.

Play someone else Scotty, I know the reality about Barack and Bill. (And it wasn't just one fundraiser in 1995 they held and, in fact, Bill and Bernardine attended a fundraiser for Barack's US Senate run. I know because I've seen the photo, Scotty. Try doing your damn job instead of skimming the surface.) January 1978 was when Bill Ayers turned himself in. Get your facts right, Scotty.

On the plane it was a lot of people who are just sick of Barack. Some are going to vote for him even though they're sick of him. Some are exploring third parties. Some decided, based on Thursday's debate, they'll vote for Sarah Palin. This Republican guy told me he was really pleased to hear that there was so much support for Palin (we were in first class because C.I. bought my ticket -- thank you, C.I.). Now it may have been different in other sections of the plane. But this wasn't a non-Democratic crowd. The bulk said they were Democrats.

Men were especially dismayed by Biden's choking up. They pointed out how strong Sarah Palin came off and "then there's Joe tearing up."

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

Friday, October 3, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Rosa Clement (Green Party) and Matt Gonzalez (independent) take part in a vice presidential debate this morning, Sarah Palin (Republican) and Joe Biden (Democrat) took part in a vice presidential debate last night, what got signed in Iraq today?, and more.

Megan Feldman (Dallas Observer) notes the suicides of war veterans Andrew Valez, Ted Westhusing, Nils Aron Andersson, Jeff Lucey, Derek Henderson and Chad Barrett and explains:

A series of recent reports reveals that record numbers of active-duty troops are committing suicide, raising concerns about the military's ability to adequately screen, diagnose and treat soldiers with mental health problems.
An Army report released in May showed that at least 115 soldiers killed themselves in 2007, the highest rate since the Army began keeping records in 1980. One of the officials to present the study cited extended and multiple deployments, frequent exposure to "horrifying" experiences and easy access to loaded weapons.
This year's suicide tally among active-duty troops -- 62 confirmed and 31 other deaths still under investigation -- is on pace t surpass last year's and push the rate of suicides per 100,000 service members above that of the civilian population for the first time ever, Army officials announced in early September.
The reports follow the controversy that enveloped the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year when the agency was caught deliberately hiding high suicide rates among veterans. An e-mail to colleagues from Ira Katz, the VA's head of mental health, began "Shh!" and estimated the unreleased number of suicide attempts at 1,000 per month. "Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" he wrote. That was after the agency told CBS there were just 790 suicide attempts in all of 2007. After a three-month investigation, the network reported "a hidden epidemic" of suicides among veterans, especially the youngest ones who had served most recently.

In November of last year, CBS News aired a story entitled
'Suicide Epidemic Among Veterans.' On April 21, 2008, CBS News aired a story 'VA Hid Suicide Risk, Internal E-mails Show.' The reports (Armen Keteyian reported and Pia Malbran was the producer of the reports) were noted in an May 6th hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee entitled "The Truth About Veterans' Suicides." The chair of the committee is US House Rep Bob Filner who pointed to these reports in his opening states and reminded Dr. Ira Katz (one of the witnesses appearing before the hearing) that not only had CBS News reported on this after being misled by the VA in November, but that Katz had told Congress in December 2007 that "from the beginning of the war through the end of 2005 there were 144 known suicides among these new veterans." Katz' e-mail that Feldman refers to in her report was replied to by Ev Chasen (VA's chief communication director) who declared, "I think this is something we should discuss ourselves, before issuing a release. Is the fact that we're stopping them good news, or is the sheer number bad news? And is this more than we've ever seen before? It might be something we drop into a general release about suicide prevention efforts, which (as you know far better than I) prominently include training employees to recognize the warning signs of suicide."

In July, the VA was stated that their suicide hotiline had received calls from more than 22,000 veterans (the number is 1-800-873-TALK). And, apparently keeping Ev Chasen's words in mind ("Is the fact that we're stopping them good news, or is the sheer number bad news?") declared that their work had prevented 1,221 suicides.

The May 6th hearing would include testimony from Dr. Roger Maris (University of South Carolina) where he would note that "the vast majority of VA facilities, in fact, do not have suicide coordinators." Monday
Mike Mount (CNN) reported, "The U.S. Army is establishing a suicide prevention board to examine the mental health of its recruiters around the country after the fourth suicide in three years by Houston, Texas-based recruiters, according to Army officials. The board will look at how to handle the high-stress climate facing recruiters who may be both under pressure from their job and victims of post-combat deployment stress, according to Douglas Smith, a spokesman from the U.S. Army Recruiting command." CNN refers to a recent suicide in the article and states they've chosen not to name the victim. AP reports there were two recent ones (Staff Sgt. Larry G. Flores Jr in August and Sgt 1st Class Patrick G. Henderson in September) "from the same Houston-based battalion" for a total of five from that battalion. Linsay Wise (Houston Chronicle) quotes Texas Tech's psychology chair David Rudd stating, "Clearly, there's a problem. Somebody needs to look and see if there's a broader national problem outside of this one battalion. Is it a problem placing these combat veterans in recruiting positions?" Wise also notes that US Senator John Cornyn has asked the Secretary of the Army "for a briefing on the ongoing investigation and on the policy of returning soldiers from combat and reassigning them to a recruiting office."

Kathlyn Stone (Twin Cities Daily Planet) reports on the work of Penny Coleman who runs PTSD workshops (and states, "It's not a disorder, it's an injury") including one in August at the Veterans For Peace conference and notes, "The VA is in denial about PTSD contributing to the high suicide rate of combat veterans, she says, adding that official counts aren't accurate. Speaking of Vietnam vets, Coleman said, 'There are more suicides than names on the [Vietnam Memorial] wall.' Veterans For Peace members agree that the United States must be better prepared to provide not only care for physical wounds but also better mental health support for soldiers now serving or just returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Coleman cited figures released by CBS News documenting over 6,256 military suicides in 2005." At the start of the week John C. Bersia (McClatchy-Tribune) observed, "Most Americans are familiar with the official Iraq toll -- as of last week, 4,169 U.S. dead, along with a several hundred from allied nations. Missing from that list, though, are Americans who fulfilled their duties and returned home unable to cope with the complexities of life after Iraq, often compounded by post-traumatic stress disorder. One such person died last week; his name was Dominic D.H. Pritchard, a resident of Ovideo, Fla. He was a U.S. Marine, a student, a citizen-soldier who volunteered with the Florida Army National Guard because of his desire to serve his community in times of clamity, and an emerging writer with a particular passion for history, military affairs and art."

Meanwhile retired Army Col and retired US State Dept
Ann Wright pens a column for The Fayetteville Observer:

As a former army officer who once served proudly at Fort Bragg, I'll be returning here Wednesday. I'm going to join in a commemoration of the deaths of three military women, and the suffering of the many other victims of military-related domestic violence and sexual assault.
The commemoration will start with a vigil at the Yadkin Road gate of Fort Bragg at 11 a.m. The vigil will be followed by a luncheon-discussion at 12:30 p.m. at the Quaker House and conclude with a wreath-laying at the grave of another victim of military spousal homicide.
We invite the military and civilian communities of Fayetteville and Jacksonville to join us.
We'll be especially mindful of the three women soldiers who were murdered in this area in the first six months of this year, allegedly by male GIs: Army Spc. Megan Touma, who was seven months pregnant; Fort Bragg nurse 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc; and Marine Lance Corp. Maria Lauterbach, who had been raped and also was pregnant.

AP is reporting that arrrests have been made in the death of Sgt Christina E. Smith ("the third off-post killing of a Fort Bragg servicewoman in four months") -- her husband, Sgt. Richard Smith, is "charged with first-degree and conspiracy to commit murder" and "Pfc. Matthew Kvapil, 18, faces the same charges, and [Theresa] Chance [spokesperson for Fayetteville police] said he was hired by Smith to kill the wife as the couple walked together Tuesday evening."

In Iraq today . . . confusion.
Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the presidency council "has agreed to approve a long-delayed law that will allow most of the country to hold provincial elections early next year, officials said Friday." However, China's Xinhua reports that the "presidential council had not approved the provincial election law passed by the parliament, local media reported Friday." Al Jazeera does not say that they have agreed to pass it, Al Jaezeera states that it is passed. AP also states it has passed and, in fact, signed into law by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani: "Firyad Rawndouzi, a Kurdish lawmaker, told The Associated Press that the three-member panel led by President Jalal Talabani had signed the law Friday and asked the parliament 'to solve the minorities problem'." Article 50 issue was never addressed. It is the one that has been called out by everyone from Iraqi Christians to Moqtada al-Sadr and puts minority representation at risk. Nouri al-Maliki did express some public statements and there is said to have been concern on the part of the presidency council. But if it's signed, it's the law. The Parliament can try to fix it but the law is what was signed by Talabani.

Erica Goode and Mohammed Hussein (New York Times) report on Samarra and among the details provided by the reporters is that the reconstruction of Askairya Shrine (after the 2007 bombing) is not only expensive (expected to cost $8 million), the reconstruction is being done "without blueprints." Samara, like everywhere in Iraq, suffers from the same problems: "few jobs available, that the water is not potable, that the electricity is intermittent at best, that they have not received their pensions and that there are shortages of medicine." At Baghdad Bureau Blog (the paper's blog) Mohammed Hussein has written of the journey taken to report that story and notes, "The Awakening and National Police and Iraqi army all manned different checkpoints. It took one and a half hours to drive only 70 miles. There was some risk along the whole journey, but during the 90-minute drive I was really worried for only five minutes, near Meshahda. Five minutes can be a big deal." Hussein shares impressions of all the areas they traveled through, by the way.

Wednesday, the US 'handed over' the "Awakening" Councils to the puppet government in Baghdad.
Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) reports today: "Fresh concern is washing over Iraq of a new wave of insurgent violence as the bands of mainly Sunni Muslim Iraqis, trained, armed and paid by the US military to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq are now coming under the control of a skeptical Shiite-led government. While the group called the Sons of Iraq (SOI) has been critically imporant in improving security, the US military and many leaders within the SOI worry that their foot soldiers -- many of them ex-insurgents -- will simply return to their old ways if they are not paid or brought into Iraq's official security forces." The Charleston Post and Courier editorializes on the same topic, expresses similar concerns and notes: "Doubts about the ability of the two sides to quickly develop a satisfactory relationship is a major reason why the Pentagon on Wednesday announced plans for sending additional forces to Iraq next year. The reinforcements, if needed, would maintain U.S. troop strength in Iraq at the present level of about 152,000 through 2009." Meanwhile UPI reports on the female branch of "Awakening" (also called Daughters of Iraq) and states that "is taking on a new role under U.S. financing as part of the counterinsurgency strategy there, officials said." They are paid 20% less than males and that wage discrimination was put in place by the White House. On the issue of counter-insurgency, Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus (Washington Post) report on the US Defense Department's latest contracts ("up to $300 million") which will "produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements" in Iraq aimed at Iraqis in a program called "information/psychological operations" that is part of the counter-insurgency strategies. The US has a lengthy history of attempting to use the media within Iraq to propagandize to the Iraqi people. For an earlier effort, you can refer to Borzou Daragahi and Mark Mazzetti (Los Angeles Times) explaining the process in 2005 which noted the US military penned articles and that many were then "presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounced insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country."

It's Friday so little violence gets reported but some of today's violence includes:.


Reuters notes a Sulaiman Pek roadside bombing which resulted in two people being injured.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division -- Center Soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle south of Amarah Oct. 2." That is the first announced death for the month and brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq to 4177 since the start of the illegal war.

Democracy Now! today, a vice presidential debate took place between Matt Gonzales (Ralph Nader's running mate) and Rosa Clemente (Cynthia McKinney's running mate). During their debate, they were shown clips of GOP v.p. nominee Governor Sarah Palin and Democratic v.p. nominee Joe Biden weighing in on various topics from last night's debate.
From the transcript (and remember, it is watch, listen or read at DN!):

JUAN GONZALEZ: Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Biden, talking about the war in last night's debate. Rosa Clemente, Green Party vice-presidential nominee, what's your viewpoint on the war?

ROSA CLEMENTE: Well, the Green Party's viewpoint -- and Cynthia has been very clear, and the party has been very clear -- an immediate end to the war, an immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan. And, you know, one thing Cynthia agrees with a former colleague of hers, Dennis Kucinich, is that we now have to talk about creating departments of peace. And we have to also talk about withdrawing troops wherever they reside in other people's homelands. I always found it interesting -- or, you know, the fact that we, as the United States government, and we, as the people in this country, allow our military to be placed in other people's homelands. And being from Puerto Rico, I'm very clear on why the military does what it does. But we would never allow another country to have a military base there. And that might be a little simplistic kind of thing to throw out there, but I also think it speaks to the way we want to move forward in the future. And I don't think that either party is planning on ending the war. I think that the Democrats are more about transferring troops to Afghanistan and potentially preparing for a war in Pakistan. And even yesterday, Joe Biden talked about the possibility of putting troops in in Darfur. And I think that's something that we have to say immediately is unacceptable and that the majority of young people in this country have been clear for the last five years that we want an end to the war right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Independent vice-presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, I certainly -- and Ralph Nader supports getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. I think the problem with a lot of the rhetoric that we're hearing is that if you concede that the surge is working, which we do not concede--but the moment you do that, you are going to run into a problem with the so-called timetable. Are the Democrats going to stick to a timetable if, as they start to draw down troops, there's increased sectarian violence? And I think the answer to that is really unclear, and probably no. I think the only way that we can successfully get out of this country is if, at the outset, we make it clear we're going to -- we're going to work quickly to get our troops out of the region, that we're part of the reason why the region remains unstable.

And we'll also note
this section of the debate:

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Gonzalez, I know you have to leave, so I'm going to give you the first stab at this, as you catch a plane. And also, a correction: in 2004, yes, Ralph Nader was an Independent candidate, as well. He was, 2000, the Green Party candidate. Your comment on same-sex marriage?

MATT GONZALEZ: Well, obviously, Nader and I support marriage rights for all. I think it's insulting to hear these candidates want it both ways. They're essentially trying to appeal to both conservative voters who are opposed to gay marriage and somehow also appeal to progressive voters who want to see equality. You know, I think Ralph Nader, you know, when you step back and look at his history, he is somebody who is an enormously important voice against the growing corporate greed in this society and what concentrated capital does when it's left alone. And I think he's not somebody who has decided to fight against the two parties. You know, he has, his entire life, been fighting against these parties -- it's not a recent conversion -- on a host of issues. And I think he should have been in this debate. I think he has a legislative record that's stronger than the candidates that we saw in that debate. I mean, Joe Biden should have been asked about his support of credit card companies in Delaware, of the federal sentencing guidelines that he helped pass in the 1980s that, you know, has disproportionately hurt people of color. These were things that were absent. And I think if Rosa and I had been in that debate, it would have been a better debate.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Rosa Clemente, your perspective on gay marriage?

ROSA CLEMENTE: I mean, full 100 percent equal rights for everybody. I also take it a step further for it being about human rights. LGBT people are human beings, and they have a right, like anyone else, to get married, to get divorced, to not get married. But if I could just quickly just say, yes, Cynthia did leave the Democratic Party after twelve years, but while she was in there, it was Cynthia McKinney that had a hearing on the issue of political prisoners, the first-ever congressional hearing on that. It was Cynthia that pushed the envelope about what happened on 9/11. It was Cynthia that wrote the articles of impeachment. And I think that speaks highly to someone who will leave a party, finally, based on principles and values and then pick someone that truly represents what the majority of this country is going to look like. I think if me and Matt were on there, and if Cynthia, Bob Barr, [Chuck] Baldwin, Ron Paul and Ralph Nader were allowed to debate, the presidency on November 4th would look radically different and would represent the majority of American people.

Green Party presidential nominee
Cynthia McKinney took the "super pledge" Thursday:
I, Cynthia McKinney, pledge to use my candidacy, whenever feasible, to advance the preservation of democracy. I will officially challenge the results of the election as provided by law if the combination of election conditions, incident reports and announced election results calls into question the reliability of the official vote count. I will wait until all valid votes are counted and all serious challenges resolved before declaring victory or conceding defeat. I will involve my campaign volunteers in actions to enhance the accuracy and verifiability of the election in which I am a candidate. I will speak out publicly during the pre-election period about the importance of fair, accurate and transparent elections and about this pledge. I will designate a liaison between my campaign and "Standing For Voters" so that "Standing For Voters" can alert me to any red flags they are aware of regarding my election.

Meanwhile independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader weighs in on the economic bailout.
Click here for his post before the House voted today (it passed) and here were his thoughts prior to vote:

People often ask me -- what forces shaped you, Ralph? I reply simply: "A lucky choice of parents." Among other things, my parents passed down many traditions. Traditions that were handed down from generations before them. Traditions that served as a counterweight to the addictions. And fads. And technologies.

Of modern life. Traditions such as: The tradition of listening. The tradition of scarcity. The tradition of discipline. And the tradition of civics. A couple of years ago, I sat down at my manual Underwood typewriter and wrote a book titled The Seventeen Traditions (Harper Collins, 2007). It's about growing up in my hometown of Winsted, Connecticut (above is a picture of me standing next to my mother Rose). And it details the seventeen traditions of my youth. It's the only book that I've written that everybody loves. When you get a copy, you'll know why. Flipping through a copy of the book the other day, I asked myself -- If the majority in this Congress was governed by the traditions that we grew up with in the New England of my youth -- wouldn't they have acted to prevent Wall Street's "sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior" -- as Richard Fisher, the president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank put it last week?
Surely they wouldn't then turn around and reward that behavior with a $750 billion bailout? By now you know that McCain, Obama and Bush all support the bailout. And Nader/Gonzalez are opposed. And we again urge all members of the House to vote against the bailout today.

But no matter how the House votes today, Nader/Gonzalez will be barnstorming the country in October. Putting front and center our platform of shifting the power from the corporations back into the hands of the American people. We're on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia. We've deployed a contingent to each state to coordinate our get out the vote drive. And we're raising money to drive the campaign home to election day. But we need to raise $1,000,000 in October to get it done. Our first October goal is to raise $250,000 by October 12. Yes, that's a heavy lift. But it's been heavy before, and you've come through every time. So, here's the idea:
If you donate $17, or $170, or $10, or $50 -- whatever you can afford to donate -- by midnight tonight, we'll e-mail to you tomorrow a signed one pager listing the 17 traditions.

You can share it with your friends and family.Or just stick it in your drawer for posterity's sake.If you
donate $100 now, we will send you a copy of the 150-page hard cover edition of The Seventeen Traditions -- my favorite book. And I'll autograph it.In my humble opinion, this book makes a wonderful present -- for the upcoming holidays, as a wedding present, birthday present, Mother's Day present, or for a baby shower. (This Seventeen Traditions book offer expires on October 12, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)So, stock up now.The more the merrier. The proceeds will power our campaign during this momentous October.Thank you again for your generous support.Together, we are making a difference.
Onward to November

Thursday night, Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden debated.
The John McCain - Sarah Palin campaign issued this statement regarding the debate:

Statement From Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker
ARLINGTON, VA -- McCain-Palin 2008 Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker issued the following statement on tonight's Vice Presidential Debate: "Tonight, Governor Palin proved beyond any doubt that she is ready to lead as Vice President of the United States. She won this debate, putting Joe Biden on defense on energy, foreign policy, taxes and the definition of change. Governor Palin laid bare Barack Obama's record of voting to raise taxes, opposing the surge in Iraq, and proposing to meet unconditionally with the leaders of state sponsors of terror. The differences between the Obama-Biden ticket and the McCain-Palin ticket could not have been clearer. The American people saw stark contrasts in style and worldview. They saw Joe Biden, a Washington insider and a 36-year Senator, and Governor Palin, a Washington outsider and a maverick reformer. Governor Palin was direct, forceful and a breath of fresh air."

The McCain - Palin campaign also quotes Geraldine Ferraro, the first women to make the ticket of one of the country's two major parties (1984, the Democratic ticket of Mondale - Ferraro). Ferraro stated on NBC: "I really wanted her to get up there and do a good job, and I think she did. . . . I think it was a good evening for -- certainly for Governor Palin. . . . . I think she showed she is certainly capable of going toe to toe with a man who is more than qualified to be vice president, if not president of the United States."

Quickly, TV notes,
NOW on PBS offers a look at New Mexico which is seen as a battleground state in the 2008 election and speak to various voting groups as well as to Governor Bill Richardson. Washington Week finds Gwen sitting around the table with four journalists including the AP's Charles Babington. (And for others, 'journalists' is being generous.) In a book note, independent journalist David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which came out last month. The Oakland Institute notes: "Since NAFTA's passage in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new trade agreements - with Peru, Jordan, Chile, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time it has debated immigration policy as though those trade agreements bore no relationship to the waves of displaced people migrating to the U.S., looking for work. Meanwhile, a rising tide of anti-immigrant hysteria has increasingly demonized those migrants, leading to measures that deny them jobs, rights, or any pretense of equality with people living in the communities around them. To resolve any of these dilemmas, from adopting rational and humane immigration policies to reducing the fear and hostility towards migrants, Uprooted: The Impact of Free Market on Migrants, a new Backgrounder from the Oakland Institute, suggests the starting point has be an examination of the way U.S. policies have both produced migration and criminalized migrants."

the new york timeserica goode
armen keteyianpia malbran
democracy now
karen deyoungwalter pincusthe washington postthe los angeles timesborzou daragahimark mazzetti
scott peterson
david bacon
now on pbspbswashington week

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why I think Palin won the debate

Thursday and we got one day until the weekend! We head home tomorrow. It's been a good week. Because of C.I.'s health, I have been worried but she -- nothing phases her. She's strong. It was good to see her, the first time since I heard the news, and see that she wasn't just putting on a brave face. She said repeatedly on the phone that there was no point in worrying because whatever happens happens. And those weren't just words. It helped to see that. And I do believe everything's going to be okay.

I've had a lot of e-mails asking about that and I've tried to reply when I had time but I'll just open with that tonight. And also repeat: C.I. is strong. She's tough. Even with all of this she's still posted every day, she's still done as much as possible and I just have so much admiration and love for her.

Now the debate. We watched. We held all comments during because Kat invited over some friends for a focus group. She had six friends come over who were not voting for Barack or John and are trying to decide whether to vote for Ralph or Cynthia. So she's writing about that right now (and will probably be done before I am) so be sure to check her out tonight.

You can read a transcript of the debate at CNN. I do like Joe Biden but I felt Sarah Palin won. Joe would make a great president. But his performance only underscored that. You got the feeling he was too qualified to be vice president. And that only underscores how unqualified Barack Obama is. I think he's a team player and stepped up for the ticket when a lot of people wouldn't. (I don't blame those who refused to be Barack's running mate.) But he wasn't likeable enough. He really wasn't. He lost his temper a few times and that really didn't play well. It's the vice presidency. It was like he was determined to get the job of fry cook at McDonald's.

He was just too intense. And he looked tired which he may have been. He's a senator and the Senate passed the bailout bill (nightmare) so he may have been tired. But he just came off as cranky at times because of the way he spoke and because he looked tired.

And with Palin pointing out his disagreements with Barack in the past, when he got cranky it really looked like he was trying so hard to make Barack into something he's not.

That's probably why I judge Palin the winner. She was confident and able to support McCain without changing her manner in drastic ways. There were some really scary shots of looks on Biden's face when he was speaking.

Palin's argument (whether you believe it or not) is that politicians should be able to work together on the issues and she got that across in her delivery and manner. She made the words believable because that's how she carried herself. Biden was like five or six different men in the same debate and just really cranky when it was time to defend Barack.

It also didn't seem like he mentioned Barack that much.

I'll read over the transcript tomorrow and check that out but, watching, I didn't get that. Palin was stressing McCain over and over.

We now know John Edwards isn't fit to be president. Not because he had an affair but because he had an affair and went for the nomination (while having that affair) at a time when Dems were saying this would be the most important election. So for him to have run at such a time with his secret just shows he's not fit. Hillary was clearly qualified and the people's choice (and my choice as well). But if had to go to someone other than Hillary, I would say Biden and be comfortable with it because he is qualified for the presidency. And he is a good, stand up guy. That came through. It could have come through stronger, but it was there from time to time. But he's wasted as a vice presidential candidate (and would be wasted as vice president).

We watched the debate on PBS, by the way. Ava and C.I. had been asked by PBS friends to give their coverage a look. They were taking notes throughout. Jim had also asked them to review it for Third. After everyone had shared their opinions, Ava and C.I. offered that they thought Palin won the debate. But that's all they'd say. And Ava pointed out that as the NutRoots go into overdrive, C.I. may have to make some sort of comment in tomorrow's snapshot. But they're really trying to hold as much as they can for Sunday.

I also noticed how Tina Fey doesn't look a think like Palin. It was really obvious. Ava and C.I. pointed that out and pointed out that Palin actually looks more like Victoria Principal. They're right. If a TV movie about Palin is done in the next few years, Victoria Principal would be the best choice to play her. I'm sure Tina Fey will rip apart Palin this Saturday in the name of 'sisterhood' -- same way she's hogging a role that belongs to Kristen Wing.

Palin came off informed and personable. I'm not voting for her but it was just a reflection of how bad the press is. She was the same Palin people saw at the GOP convention and not all the smears and attacks we've had non-stop since then. The press really is out of control.

By the way, Gwen Ifill? C.I.'s not commenting on her because PBS friends asked that Ava and C.I. score her in a review if they wrote one. So that will come up Sunday. Don't expect it at The Common Ills tomorrow (or tonight).

Even though I'm not voting for Barack or John, I was torn going into the debate. Joe Biden's a good guy and I didn't want to see him embarass himself. Sarah Palin's been beat up by the press non-stop, it's practically a stoning and I didn't want her to embarrass herself either. At the start, they were on equal footing but when Biden started getting that lecturey tone in his voice and started acting indigant, I felt Palin won. Isn't John McCain allegedly the angry one? I really felt Biden gave him a run for that title tonight.

By the way Kat did two CD reviews this week: "Kat's Korner: Chris Martin's cold play" on Coldplay and "Kat's Korner: Hold Me Down" on Augustana. I agree with her. Coldplay's gone from a little U2-ish to a parody of U2. And it might mean something if they'd produced a Joshua Tree or War but they write the most inconsequential lyrics and their songs (lyrically) are about one baby step above Justin Timberlake's ditties so they really can't carry the pose off. Their music really has gotten lifeless. I love Augustana and I think Kat captured cleary why that is. So be sure to check out her reviews. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, October 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, military court-martials continue, Iraqi widows in Baghdad live in appalling conditions (provided by the government!), and more.

Starting with an update to the
September 17th snapshot which noted:

BBC reports that Sgt John Hatley, Sgt 1st Class Joseph Mayo and Sgt Michael Lehy Jr. are charged with murdering four Iraqis ('blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal in April 2007'). . . . CBC notes, "The killings are alleged to have been retribution for casualties suffered by U.S. forces." CBC also states that four more are being held and are under investigation (with two of the four US soldiers having been charged). AP, however, says the four additional soldiers 'have already been charged with conspiracy in the case'." None of those three soldiers charged with murder has entered a plea but one of the four charged with conspiracy has: Spc Belmor Ramos. AP reports that Ramos "pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to seven months in prison Thursday in the deaths of four Iraqis, saying he stood guard from a machine-gun turret while the bound and blindfolded prisoners were shot."

BBC reports today that Spc Steven Ribodry "has been jailed for eight months after admitting playing a part in the killings of four Iraqi men in April 2007" -- accessory after the fact. George Frey (AP) adds that Ribordy "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of accessory to murder and was sentenced to eight months in prison" and "also will receive a bad conduct discharge". RTT News quotes Ribordy telling the court, "The reason I didn't say anything was because of loyalty to my comrades." CBS and AP quote him also stating, "I wasn't ordered or asked in any way, shape or form to move the body. I wanted to get it done and get out there -- I didn't want anybody getting in trouble." Matt Millham (Stars and Stripes) explained in August that Ribordy was among the four (Staff Sgt Jess Cunnigham, Spc Belmor Ramos, Sgt Charles Quigley and Ribordy) suspected "in the alleged cover-up. The soldiers who pulled the triggers, according to Sgt. Daniel Evoy, were 1st Sgt. John Hatley, who he called a beloved company first sergeant; Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo, the company's master gunner; and Sgt. Michael Leahy, a medic." Reuters notes the "charge against" Riobordy "of conpiracy to commit premediated murder was dismissed. As part of his guilty plea, Ribordy agreed to testify in the trials of other soldiers involved".

Staying with that theme,
Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reports on the "pretrial hearing Wednesday at Camp Pendleton" of Sgt Ryan Weemer "charged with murder for allegedly killing a prisoner Nov. 9 [2004] in the first hours of battle" who called "Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal as a character witness". While Weemer testified as a character witness (and about the US actions in Falluja), Rick Rogers (San Diego Union Tribune) reports that Sgt Jermaine Nelson did not despite having immunity and being "ordered to testify. But Nelson wouldn't talk about what transpired during a Nov. 9, 2004, battle in Fallujah. He, Weemer and other Marines allegedly found several men during a house-to-house search, held them captive and then shot them to death after interpreting their superiors' comments over the radio as an order to kill. 'At this time, sir, I am going to continue to use my Fifth Amendment right,' Nelson said in reply to questions from the prosecutor." Perry reports that Sgt Jose Nazario is also refusing to provide testimony and this follows Nazario's own court-martial which Weemer and Nelson refused to testify at leading to an acquittal for Nazario. As the White House attempts to push through a treaty with the puppet government in Baghdad (while calling it a SOFA) a sticky point has been the issue of immunity for US service members whom Iraqis feel are not punished for criminal actions. Court-martials like Weemer's do nothing to allay those fears. (And long after the next US president is sworn in, this will still be an issue.)

In other military legal news,
David Allen (Stars and Stripes) reports, "Marine Sgt. Bassa Cisse was sentenced to eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge Wednesday for beating to death his 6-year-old daughter. . . . An Air Force psychiatrist testified that Cisse suffered from PTSD as a result of his second tour in Iraq, when a patrol vehicle he commanded almost tipped over a cliff. However, the prosecution submitted a medical report by a Navy psychologist that rejected the PTSD diagnosis."

From Iraq,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) examines the various tensions between different factions of Iraqis and how elections might put new sections into power which "in turn means that groups currently in power would likely lose ground". Rubin explains how many groupings (such as the "Awakening" Councils and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr) can point to the names of colleagues who were assassinated, the struggle in southern Iraq between the Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (both Shi'ite political parties), Al Anbar Province where there is conflict among the "Awakening" Councils and the Iraqi Islamic Party (both Sunnis) and it all comes down to who will control the resources. In the north, it's not just resources, it's a land grab (my thoughts and words, not Rubin's). Rubin notes "the Kurds are battling for hegemony in areas that lie along the border of their semiautonomous region. They are competing with Turkmens and Sunni Arabs who claim primacy of ownership to some of the same territory, particularly the city of Kirkuk and its surrounding province. Politicians have tried repeatedly since 2003 to reach a deal to resolve the disputes. But each effort has foundered on Kurdish ambitions to expand the Kurdistan region. For much of the past five years, the situation was tense but did not explode into ethnice violence. That changed in the last six months as attacks began on the party headquarters of different groups. Then in August, Kurdish soldiers in Kirkuk opened fire on Turkmens after a suicide bomb; the ensuing riot killed dozens of people. The violence spread. In early September in Khanaqin, a predominately Kurdish city that lies in neighboring Diyala Province, Iraqi Army tanks faced off against the Kurdish pesh merga, the Kurdistan security forces." On the issue of the Kurdish region, professional friend to the Kurdistan government, Peter W. Galbraith writes in today's New York Times, "You [Senator Joe Biden] have espoused a plan for an Iraqi confederation in which Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds could have controlled their own security forces in separate self-governing regions. The Bush adminsitration has created the Sunni army. Should we now encourage the Sunnis to form their own autonomous region, as allowed under Iraq's Constitution, and make the Awakening the army of that region?" No, Galbraith can't stop pimping the splitting up of Iraq. It's really the only topic Galbraith has. As noted last week, Galbraith wrote of John McCain, "He has denounced the Obama-Biden plan for a decentralized state but has said nothing about how he would protect Iraq's Kurds, the only committed American allies in the country." ["Is This a 'Victory'?" (New York Review of Books)]. It's really important for Galbraith to pretend that the "Awakening" Councils are supported by the people when that is not the case. They are thugs placed on the US payroll -- as both US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus freely admitted to Congress last April -- to get them to stop attacking US troops. They intimidate the people of the regions they allegedly 'protect.' But Galbraith's concern has always been (and remains) the oil-rich Kurdistan region.

Rubin doesn't touch on the 'handover' yesterday in Iraq in her article.
Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times) reports on the tension and suspicion the 'handover' of the "Awakening" Council to the puppet government has created: "Some leaders of the Sons of Iraq feel that the transition represents a betrayal by the U.S. The government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki also questioned the Sunni fighters loyalty to Iraqi forces and whether it can provide jobs and training for them." NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (Morning Edition) reported Monday where "Awakening" members in Diyala Province feel they are being targeted with violence and phony arrest warrants leading some to leave Iraq including two Garcia-Navarro spoke with who moved to Syria.

Garcia-Navarro reported on Iraqi widows for All Things Considered condemned to a trailer park in Baghdad with metal roofs that make it impossible to inhabit due to the heat and "with no electricity or running water." (This must qualify as 'helping' to al-Maliki.) Garcia-Navarro spoke with widow Hiba Attiyah who states, "When my husband was alive, I used to depend on him for everything. After his death, I've been through many black days and difficult times. My three boys did not come here to live with me in this trailer because there is not enough space. They live now with my mom and I don't get to see them much."

Two bombings in Iraq today managed to grab some press attention.
Corrine Reilly, Sahar Issa and Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) report the bombings took place "at Baghdad mosques" this morning "as Shiites marked the first day of Eid, a three-day celebration that follows Ramadan, Islam's holy month." Mohammed Abbas and Peter Graff (Reuters) offer, "A leg and other body parts could be seen more than 100 metres from where a bomber detonated a taxi after ramming it into a police vehicle guarding a Shi'ite prayer hall in the Zafaraniya district, said a Reuters TV cameraman at the scene. A vegetable truck used to carry away the bodies was covered in blood, and glass was shattered in surrounding buildings." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) adds, "Severed limbs littered the bloodied streets at the site of both explosions, while ambulances wailed into action, evacuating the wounded and the dead." Al Jazeera Magazine explains, "Security officials said a bomber blew himself up in a mosque in Jadida, a Shia district of southern Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 30. In the second attack, another bomber slammed his explosives-laded car into an Iraqi military armored vehicle at a checkpoint near a mosque in the nearby district of Zafaraniyah". CNN puts the death toll at "at least 20". Vanessa Gera (AP) quotes eye witness Ammar Hashim stating, "Pools of blood and the smell of burned flesh was everywhere and I saw a man of about 70 bleeding and lying on the ground from injuries."

In other reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing targeting "a U.S. military convoy" that destroyed 1 "U.S. army vehicle" and wounded two Iraqis. CBS and AP report that four US service members were wounded in the bombing.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attempted assassination of Sheikh Radhwan Izuddin in Nineveh Province which he "survived . . . with superficial injuries" and an attack on a minibus in Diyala Province in which 3 women, 1 man and 2 children were shot dead and two adults were wounded. On the minibus attack, Ken Sury (Waco Tribune) adds, "The dead were heading to Baquoba to visit relatives"


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

Turning to the US presidential race.
Robin Morgan has a column at Women's Media Center. Violet Socks (Reclusive Leftist) has a response. You can also see Marcia's "" and "." I'll address in part tonight in "I Hate The War." Robin's column is a very bad column. It will be addressed in part tonight because Jim's asked me to save a topic (as Kat noted Monday) for Third this weekend. After that goes up, Robin's column will appear even more uninformed. For now, you can read Marcia's "When feminist 'leaders' lie" and "Ralph Nader, HB Melissa, and more" Robin is a strong voice and real feminist leader (not a 'leader') so it's a damn shame she chose to publish that column. Again, we'll address tonight. For now, she's elected to play a round of "Bash the Bitch." It's not pretty. It is embarrassing and it is deeply harmful to feminism. And let's be really clear, no one would mistake Robin's column for a "catfight." It is "Bash the Bitch." Which is worse? "Bash the Bitch" is how you get women burned at the stake in earlier times. Today, you burn them with lies, half-truths and a double standard. My opinion, "Bash the Bitch" is much worse than a "catfight." Robin should have known better. Violet Socks also points out that while Governor Palin proudly defines herself as a feminist, Michelle Obama replied when asked that question, "You know, I'm not that into labels. So probably, if you laid out a feminist agenda, I would probably agree with a large portion of it. I wouldn't identify as a feminist just like I probably wouldn't identify as a liberal or a progressive." Well of course she wouldn't. Sexism is the theme of the Obama household. Many a foolish woman has said "well he has two daughters!" That has to be the most insane and ahistorical remark made yet. Are we supposed to believe that women just emerged in the last few decades? Men have always had daughters and sons. And sexism has always thrived. Get a grip. Your first clue was his insistence upon going along with Michelle to a job interview (Michelle's job interview). That tells you his actual opinion of women -- their abilities and their intellect. It would appear Robin's been bitten by the Sour Grape Girl syndrome. Hopefully, it's a 24-hour viral sort of illness. Semi-related, garychappelhill (The Confluence) has a post. It has nothing to do with this topic but a comment garychappelhill left on Riverdaughter's post resulted in a number of e-mails here. While the sour grape girls can't bring themselves to call out homophobia, a lot of people are suffering. Gary is a gay man and wrote of the damage done to the LGBT community in Barack's campaign. That topic will be brought up tonight but I probably won't have time to link to him and will probably focus more on lesbians than gay males so we're including a link to his post. A number of community members e-mailed afraid that he would stop writing. He's already written a post today. That's an understandable fear. Team Obama has run an ugly, disgusting campaign and the 'progressives' have refused to call it out thereby sending the message to so many people that they are unwanted. PUMA is only one response to the ugly campaign. There are a number of people who've been made to feel they do not fit in with the 'grand vision.' Sadly, Robin's very bad column will only further that impression.

Tonight Governor Sarah Palin debates Senator Joe Biden in the 'vice presidential' 'debates.' Palin is the v.p. nominee of the Republican Party, Biden of the Democratic Party. Today,
the McCain-Palin ticket picked up an endorsement from the Lowell Sun which notes Senator John McCain's work with Senator Ted Kennedy on immigration and with Senator Russ Feingold on campaign-finance reform and calls McCain "America's true-blue, principled maverick."

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Monet Drake (Howard University's The Hilltop) weighs in on her candidacy:
History is certain to be made this election, but not by Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin, but rather by the Green Party's Presidential nominee, Cynthia McKinney - a black woman. Cynthia McKinney, who was previously a Democrat, expanded her political views and won over the Green Party as the nominee for the presidential candidacy.She is a firm believer in the 2008 Green Party's Platform and a strong advocate for her "Power to the People" campaign. In a press release, her running mate, Rosa Clemente said, "Cynthia McKinney is a hero to me and many others across this country and around the world."McKinney has been actively involved in politics since 1986. She was born the daughter of Georgia state representative Billy McKinney. Previously a resident of Jamaica, she ran and won a seat in the House of Representatives representing Georgia along side her father, in 1988. She was elected the first African-American woman to Congress in 1992, however, just 10 years later, she lost her seat.Congresswoman McKinney has since been able to move forward and attempt to promote a new health care plan and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, key values set forth by the Green Party. In an International Tribunal Press Release, McKinney expressed her concern for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. "I am pleased to be among this tested and true group of activists who are committed to Katrina justice," McKinney said to dozens of supporters in the press release.

the US Senate passed a bail out measure late yesterday. Voting in favor of it were Senators Joe Biden, John McCain and Barack Obama. While they were all in agreement on the need or 'need' for the measure, many other Americans were not. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Team Nader issued this today:

NADER STATEMENT ON BAILOUT Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez vigorously oppose Bush's $700++ billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. "This is not just a bailout of Wall Street" says Nader, "It's a bailing out of the bankrupt Republican and Democratic policies that have led us to where we are today with Senators John "Deregulation" McCain and Joe "MBNA" Biden leading the way. Full Statement from Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez: "The revised bailout legislation is the same $700 billion piece of burnt toast, with some window dressing, sugar coating, and $150 billion of pork tax cuts covering everything from casinos to coal. But this isn't even the main course that Senate is serving up for Congress on Friday. The main course is on page 92 of the 451 page document: BORROWING LIMITS TEMPORARILY LIFTED. - During the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on December 31, 2009, the Board of Directors of the Corporation may request from the Secretary, and the Secretary shall approve, a loan or loans in an amount or amounts necessary to carry out this subsection, without regard to the limitations on such borrowing under section 14(a) and 15(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1824(a), 1825(c)). Translation: Bush, McCain, and Obama want Congress to co-sign off on the mother of all blank checks, paving the way for a sinking dollar and higher interest rates. By bumping the FDIC's line of credit at the Treasury from $30 billion to infinity, the FDIC assumes fiat powers to bailout to its heart content, leaving the taxpayer to pay the bill. This unacceptable unlimited right to ransack taxpayers would last until 2010. "The bailout ignores the needs of millions of swindled families facing foreclosure, and it squanders an opportunity to bring about real regulatory change, decisive shareholder power over their companies' bosses, and authentic taxpayer equity that would prevent economic crises like this from happening again. Wall Street's wildly overpaid bosses are addicted to speculative gambling with other people's money. When a drug addict is facing overdose, you don't give them more needles. According to Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: "The seizures and convulsions we have experienced in the debt and equity markets have been the consequences of a sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior, not a too-tight monetary policy. In the end, we're going to have to deal with the underlying stock of housing." "We need to protect homeowners and our neighborhoods first. That's why Nader/Gonzalez support introducing a law with a 5-year sunset clause that would provide homeowners facing foreclosure the right to rent to own their homes at fair market value. "Wall Street is out of control. We need to bring some sense of accountability, transparency, and law and order back to Wall Street's crooks and speculators, or they will desperately seek socialism to bail out their criminal corporate capitalism, going again and again to the taxpayer trough in Washington DC each time. That's why Nader/Gonzalez support a Wall Street speculation tax, starting on derivatives, which would make Wall Street less like Las Vegas, and generate enough funds to more than eliminate the federal tax burden on the first $50,000 of income for every working American.
Click here for Nader's Ten Point Plan

the common ills
the third estate sunday review
kats korner
mikey likes it
tony perrythe los angeles times
jeffrey fleishmanrick rogers
the new york timesalissa j. rubin
mcclatchy newspaperscorinne reillysahar issajenan hussein
deborah haynes
lourdes garcia-navarromorning edition
robin morgan

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Robin and Melanie

Hump day, hump day. And tomorrow's debate day. Gwen Ifill's really gotten herself into a pickle, hasn't she? She needs to step down and the funniest thing is that Team Obama isn't calling for her to do so. They're the ones hurt the most by allowing her to be the moderator.

But that's their dance. I'm not voting for Barack (or for McCain). Barack and McCain, The Bookend Boys. This is from Lance Selfa's "Why Won’t Obama Go for the Knockout?" and he's explaining how similar they are but I'll choose this section on Iraq:

What about the main foreign policy difference between McCain and Obama — the issue that has been the subject of the hopes of millions over the last two years — namely their attitude toward the war in Iraq?
Obama’s best barbs against McCain were the series of “you were wrong” charges Obama flung at McCain’s predictions that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” that the U.S. occupation would be welcomed and so on.
But that’s about the past. Regarding the future, Obama noted that “in 16 months, we should be able to reduce our combat troops.”
Perhaps lost on most listeners, Obama’s choice of the word “reduce” rather than “withdraw” may be a tip of the hand. Formerly, Obama had pledged to withdrawal “combat troops” from Iraq, which would have still left thousands of support troops and mercenaries deployed in Iraq. On September 26, he pledged only to lower the number of combat troops in Iraq.
We’ll see if this was merely a rhetorical misstep in the heat of a debate. But if it isn’t, Obama may be laying the ground for backing off even his original promise to withdraw combat troops within 16 months once he is president.
At that point, opponents of the Iraq war who voted for Obama may ask themselves just why they voted for him.

They're two sides of the same coin, and heads or tails means we lose. So vote for Ralph (like I'm going to do) or for Cynthia McKinney if you're someone wanting real change. They are the change candidates.

Just a point to add about the Gwen Ifill thing, there's another crowd you can laugh at: The press trying to protect her and act like this is normal. Especially the ones who say they know Gwen and she's whatever. Guess what, the debate isn't your dance. It's America's and all your "I know Gwen" doesn't mean s**t because she's not running for office. She's supposed to be seen as an impartial moderator. The first indication that she's not is her press buddies rushing to prop her up. The press proves that ethics are things for other people. They refuse to call out their own. So laugh at them.

Wired reports that CW is ordering a pilot for a show about Dick Grayson. If you're saying "who?" what the heck were you watching after you got home from school! :D Dick Grayson is Robin. I'm not into comics so I can't tell you what the hell Nightwing is. But I did watch Robin on cartoons and on the live action show. And did see the movies with Chris O'Donnell and his ridiculous nipple suit. My favorite show with Robin was probably Teen Titans but, after that, it would be the live action Batman where Burt Ward played Robin. And the CW show is going to be live action too, by the way. I have no idea who they'll pick for Robin but I hope it's not another Tom Welling like dufus.

Now let's talk music (I'm sick of the election, if you can't tell). Melanie is someone my folks loved so I love her too. "Peace Will Come" is probably my favorite song by her but there are a whole lot of her songs I like. "Brand New Key" went to number one so that may be the song most people know. But I really love singing along with "Peace Will Come": "There's a chance . . . peace will come . . ." It's a fun song to sing along with. Well Melanie's on the road in the US. This is from Roger Schlueter's "Melanie brings musical message to Mascoutah:"

Oh, sure, to the casual fan, the singer-songwriting hero to those in the flower-power generation dropped off the hit-radio radar soon after the novelty of "Brand New Key" wore off in 1972. But even through the "dark" days of the disco-techno '80s, she continued to sing of love and understanding, turning out a new album every year or two with her husband-producer of nearly 40 years, Peter Schekeryk.
The times may have been a-changin', but never her belief in her ideals. The woman once called the female Dylan became the first artist ever to perform at the opening of a United Nations General Assembly. She canceled a world tour to raise money for UNICEF. Just last year, she was named an honorary ambassador of peace after performing at the demilitarized zone in Korea, where her song "The Saddest Thing" has been a fixture on the South Korean charts for 30 years.

[. . .]
The experience proved so moving that she and her son, Beau-Jarrad, later found they independently had written parts to the song they now call "Motherhood of Love." A powerful call for healing, the piece features a Sanskrit chant that audiences around the world are now singing when she performs it in concert: "Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu (rough translation: May all the beings of all the worlds be happy)." You'll hear it and sing it during this weekend's concerts, which will be recorded.
In some ways, it's reminiscent of her first big U.S. hit, "Candles in the Rain," when she had the Edwin Hawkins Singers do the powerful "Lay Down" chorus. (Check it out for yourself at But now 61, Melanie thinks her music has only become fuller and her voice stronger with age.

It's a really good article so even if you don't know Melanie, check it out. If you do know her music, you'll especially love it. I'm trying to think what my second favorite recording is by Melanie and I think it's either "Lover's Cross" (which she didn't write) or "Beautiful People" (which she did). I'm going to wrap up. Long night.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq falls off the news radar, the big 'handover' takes place, and more.

Today was 'handover' for the "Awakeing" Council (also known as Sawha and "Sons of Iraq"). The Sunni 'movement' began in Al Anbar Province in 2005 when the US military put Sunni thugs on the US tax dollar payroll. Puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, who staffed his ministries with Shi'ite thugs, has long seen the "Awakening" Councils as a threat to his supremacy in the puppet government.
The late Lt Gen William E. Odom testifed before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee April 2nd and noted of the "Awakening" Council members:

Let me emphasize that our new Sunni friends insist on being paid for their loyalty. I have heard, for example, a rough estimate that the cost in one area of about 100 square kilometers is $250,000 per day. And periodically they threaten to defect unless their fees are increased. You might want to find out the total costs for these deals forecasted for the next several years, because they are not small and they do not promise to end. Remember, we do not own these people. We merely rent them. And they can break their lease at any moment.

The US has armed, trained and paid both sides in the conflict. Some might point out that to be 'needed' in the region, it helps to play both sides. During the same hearing, War Hawk Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations got the attention of Senator Barbara Boxer:

Barbara Boxer: Did you just say that Maliki uses the Iraqi security forces as his militia? Did you say that?Biddle: Yes.Barbara Boxer: If that's true and Maliki uses his military as a force to bring about peace -- that's scandalous and that we would have paid $20 million to train [it] and someone that we consider an expert says it's a militia, that's shocking.

Now the two extremist groups (neither of whom represent the bulk of Sunni and Shia Iraqis) are being 'partnered' and at a time when distrust runs high. Last month
Charles Levinson (USA Today) reported on some of the suspicions of "Awakening" Council members and quoted Mullah Shihab al-Safi stating of the al-Maliki government sudden rush to arrest "Awakening" Council members, "Our government is after us. We sacrificed hundreds of our sons to drive al-Qaeda out. Now the government says we are no different than terrorists." And this tension was well known long before today. Dropping back to the September 11 snapshot:

Meanwhile the "Awakening" Council is back in the news. These are the Sunni thugs on the US payroll ($300 a month for males, $280 for females) because, as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker told Congress repeatedly in April, paying them off means they don't attack US equipment or soldiers. That's a lot of lunch money to fork over each money to be safe on the 'playground.' Puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, has long been vocally opposed to the "Awakening" Councils. That's because he staffed with Shi'ite thugs. The two most extreme segments of Iraq are at war with one another. al-Maliki has made it very clear he has little use for the "Awakening" Councils and his staff has echoed that repeatedly. With US Senators and House Reps loudly objecting to the tax payer monies being spent on this program (one Petraeus hails) last April, there's been a push to have the puppet government (sitting on billions) pay the "Awakening" Council itself. (Senator Barbara Boxer was especially vocal in April asking why the puppet government wasn't paying them.) The new talk is that al-Maliki will begin paying them but distrust remains on both sides.

Nicholas Spangler and Mohammed al-Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) report that despite for-show motions in public on the part of the puppet government, "Awakening" Council leaders remain skepitcal (with one saying after the latest press conference, "I don't trust a word they say") that the puppet government will take charge and pay the 99,000 "Awakening" members or that 20,000 will be absorbed "into the police and army" starting October 1st. Thursday's press conference found Gen Abud Ganbar declaring, "The government has ordered that monthly salaries be paid until we can put (Awakening members) into security forces or ministires. Payments will continue until they find jobs." That leaves "Awakening" leaders skeptical and the reporters quote various voices explaining why including the claim that the puppet government has hired al Qaeda members. Khalid al-Ansary and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) report on the puppet government side where grave doubts are repeatedly raised ("But he also expressed distaste for some members of the predominantly Sunni Arab Awakening movement, an aversion shared by some other officials.") as is the argument that there is need "to weed out" certain members. In other words, Thursday's press conference reassured no one and the tensions remain.

September 23rd,
Erica Goode (New York Times) reported on the tensions in Baghdad as the transfer of "Awakening" to the puppet government approaches and notes that "Awakening" Councils in Adhamiya "have posed increasing problems. . . . Some residents complain that the men, not a few of them swaggering street toughs, use their power to intimidate people. Sometimes violence erupts." At the start of last month, Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) was quoting the "Awakening" Council spokesperson Mohammed Mahmood al Natah on his dismay over the 'handover', "We wanted it to be postponed but the decision had already been made by the government and we cannot change it." Despite the very public nature of the tensions and the fears on both sides, things appear to have been rushed through with very little planning.

Near the end of September, Lt Gen Lloyd Austin gave a briefing where he praised the "Awakening" Council and declared, "One of our primary focus areas as we move foward is transitioning the Sons of Iraq program to the Iraqi government. The volunteer movement that started in Anbar and spread across the rest of the country significantly contributed to the security successes that we are now taking advantage of. The Sons of Iraq have paid a heavy price fight al Qaeda and other insurgent groups, and it's important that the government of Iraq responsibly transition them into meaningful employment. Prime Minister Maliki has assured me that the government will help those who help the people of Iraq. And so next week in Baghdad the government will accept responsibility for approximately 54,000 Sons of Iraq, and we will be there to assist in the transfer." And yet for all the words expressed, no planning appeared to have gone into what happened next, a point NPR's JJ Sutherland repeatedly attempted to explore. The exchange ended with this:

JJ Sutherland: Sir, I understand that but I'[m saying, "What happens in October? I understand eventually you want to have them be plumbers or electricians. But in October, there are a lot of checkpoints that have been manned by the Sons of Iraq. Are those checkpoints all going to go away? Are they only going to be staffed by Iraqi police now? That's my question. It's not eventually, it's next month.

Lt Gen Lloyd Austin: Yeah. Next month the Iraqi government will begin to work their way through this. And there's no question that some of them, some of the checkpoints, many of the checkpoints, will be -- will be manned by Iraqi security forces. In some cases, there may be Sons of Iraq that will be taksed to help with that work. But in most cases, I think the Iraqi government will be looking to transition people into different types of jobs.

That was September 22nd and the US military was apparently operating under the notion that things could be figured ("begin to work their way through this") at some point in October.
Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported this morning on the new Pentagon report to Congress which cited the Pentagon's belief in the importance of the "Awakening" Councils and also noted the "[t]ension between the government and Sunni volunteers . . . in Diyala Province, where the Sunni population is fearful that the government is using military opeations ostensibly aimed at al-Qaeda in Iraq as a pretext to 'arrest, intimidate, or kill moderate Sunnis and SOI groups who are otherwise interested in participating the political process'." The Pentagon's report to Congress is [PDF format warning] "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" and it hails the "Awakening" Councils:

The emergence of the SoI remains one of the major developments of the past 18 months; however, the integration and employment of SoI remain a significant challenge. The SoI provide significant security benefits to their local communities by protecting neighborhoods, securing key infrastructure and roads, and identifying malign activity. What began primarily as a Sunni effort has now taken hold in many Shi'a and mixed Sunni-Shi'a communities as well. Today there are over 98,000 SoI contributing to local security.

If the Pentagon believes that one has to wonder how they missed the various "Awakening" Council members speaking to the press repeatedly about either being on strike (while at a checkpoint) because there was an arrest warrant out for an "Awakening" member or telling the press that they'd learned their checkpoint would be shut down after the 'handover'?

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) sketched out the basics, "Unemployment in Sunni areas remains high, basic services are still poor, distrust of the United States and the Shiite-led Iraqi government is widespread and fears of Shiite militias persist. On Wednesday, al Qaisi and 54,419 other men in Baghdad province will transition to Iraqi government control. That's more than half of the Sons of Iraq (SOI) who're now being paid by the U.S. military to protect neighborhoods -- and in some cases not to shoot at American troops." John Hendren (ABC News) reports: "Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told ABC News Iraq plans to give 20 percent of the nation's 100,000 Sons of Iraq jobs to the police force and army. 'I don't think that the Iraqi government neither the Multi National Forces could achieve such success and security without their participation,' al-Dabbagh told ABC News. But here in the small village of Jambariyah, an al Qaeda stronghold north of Baghdad until early this year, just one of 70 Sons of Iraq has been hired to date, and of the 1,200 in the city of Dujail, none." Despite those (and other) realities, the 'handover' took place today. Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) reports, "The handover of the armed groups was a low-key affair in Baghdad, where government offices are closed for a six-day holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The transition was largely symbolic, since the U.S. military plans to stay involved with the groups for several months as the Iraqi government begins paying their salaries and decides how to employ them." Last month, Erica Goode and Muhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) noted that Brig Gen Tarek Abdul Hameed declare that the puppet government in Baghdad would indeed pick up their payrolls for the "Awakening" Councils -- as did many outlets. However, Tim Albone (Times of London) explains, "Senior US military sources said that America would pay the salaries of any members of the force who did not find alternative employment." UPI cites KUNA to inform that, according to Maj Gen Jeffery Hammond, though the 'handover' took place today al-Maliki's government will not begin paying until November 10th. Meanwhile Nizar Latif (UAE's The National) offers this evaluation, "However, the US military and the Sahwa themselves are concerned that the Iraqi government may simply disband the councils and push the former insurgents back into the role of active insurgents. In essence it would be a repeat of a former devastating mistake, when America disbanded the Iraqi army in 2003, leaving thousands of trained soldiers without jobs and a score to settle against the US military."

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


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded four people .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Diyala Province that claimed 2 lives and four police officers wounded.

Moving over to the US presidential race.
David Hoff (Education Week) explores what the presidential choices mean in terms of the No Child Left Behind Act (also known as "No Learning, Just Crib Notes") since both GOP presidential nominee John McCain and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama support it. Hoff notes three who are for quality education (first step, end NCLB):

Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, says "federal policy needs to be transformed from one that uses punishments to control schools, to one that supports teachers and students; from one that relies primarily on standardized tests, to one that encourages high-quality assessments. Broader measures of student learning are needed that include reliance of classroom-based assessments along with testing."

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate, writes: "Turning education over to the federal government, as through such legislation as the No Child Left Behind Act has not worked. Trying to fix failing schools with more money and regulations also has failed to do anything other than waste taxpayer money without results." He proposes ending the federal government's role in education and turning decisions back to state and local governments.

The Green Party, which has nominated Cynthia McKinney to be its candidate, writes in its draft platform that "the federal Act titled No Child Left Behind punishes where it should assist and hinders its own declared purpose. It should be repealed or greatly redesigned." The federal government's roles should be limited to ensuring students across states have a "level playing field," the platform says.

Hoff notes that Barr and McKinney did vote for NCLB in 2001 while both were members of the US House of Representatives.
Anita Zimmerman (The Chetek Alert) covers many presidential candidates and we'll note this section:

The state's Green party has many of the same challenges. They don't get much media coverage, their candidates are rarely invited to debates, and their resources are too limited for national advertisement. Like the Constitution party, there are "scattered individuals" but no cohesive Barron County organization, says Jeff Peterson, co-founder of the Wisconsin Green Party. Peterson, a 20-year veteran of the party and a Luck resident, believes presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney appeals to urban voters and young people. Peterson's been "politicking from his computer," he adds. On the national level, the Green party's base is split between 20-somethings and 50-somethings, Peterson explains. While the party enjoys support on college campuses, it has never succeeded in garnering the 5-percent vote necessary to "unlock all sorts of resources," especially the monetary kind. Peterson's goal for the election is to "maintain a presence." Voters need third-party options, he believes, and candidates like McKinney, a former congresswoman from Georgia, take stances on issues Republicans and Democrats may not address.

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and
Team Nader's Ashley Sanders explains:

Many people tend to see the economic crisis as a problem from nowhere, divorcing it from the deliberate and systematic dismantling of regulation and oversight waged by the corporate sector in its fight for ever-greater profits. Many of these same people view Barack Obama's candidacy in similar but opposite terms, seeing him as the change candidate from nowhere who will save our economic and political our economic and political system--divorcing his hope message from his actual platforms and legislative history.
In part two of her February analysis of Obama's campaign, Pam Martens makes the connection between our rootless critiques of the economy and our rootless support of Obama. When the same people causing a crisis are funding the man claiming to solve a crisis, we can expect more of the same.

Governor Sarah Palin is the GOP nominee for vice president and
yesterday Katie Couric interviewed the McCain-Palin ticket for The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (link has text and video and click here for transcript):

"I do," Palin said. "I'm a feminist who, uh, believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed, and to try to do it all, anyway. And I'm very, very thankful that I've been brought up in a family where gender hasn't been an issue. You know, I've been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you're out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that."

the McCain-Palin campaign released the following:

Today, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Durant (Ret.) issued the following statement on Joe Biden's apparently false accounts of near-misses on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq:
"Senator Biden claimed at a debate last year that he'd been 'shot at' while visiting Iraq. And he has claimed repeatedly, most recently last week, that his helicopter was 'forced down' in Afghanistan -- leaving his audience with the impression that it was fire from the Taliban which had grounded the aircraft. Neither of these stories appears to be true, and Senator Biden has never accounted for the discrepancies.
"I've been on a helicopter that was 'forced down' by enemy fire, and I've been 'shot at.' Neither is easily confused with being caught in a snow storm or awakened by a loud bang in the night. Senator Biden has a responsibility to come clean on what actually happened, and explain why he would ever say such things to the American people. And with the Vice Presidential Debate coming up on Thursday, it is incumbent on the news media to ask Senator Biden the tough questions -- as they have so far failed to do -- and examine his responses closely for inconsistencies of the kind we've witnessed in recent months.
"The American people expect and deserve leaders who tell the truth about their record and their experiences, and a news media that holds all candidates -- no matter their party -- to the same standard."

When it was Hillary, it was BIG NEWS. Was it just because she's a woman? Was it just because the press wants to elect Barack? Tomorrow night Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are scheduled to debate. Prior to the start of the vice presidential debate,
(3:45 p.m. local time), Senator McCain will be participating in the Women's Town Hall Meeting in Denver.

mcclatchy newspapersnicholas spanglermohammed al dulaimy
leila fadel
the new york timeserica goode
mudhafer al-husaini the washington postann scott tysontim albone