Friday, January 15, 2010

Tuesday, I'm voting for . . .

Friday! Weekend! :D Yea! Okay. I'll talk Big Mass politics (ton of e-mails on that) in a moment. But I want to note this by Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) on the Iraq Inquiry:

Stung by attacks that he was being too soft, Sir John Chilcot hit back. "We have not been trying to ambush witnesses or score points," he said. "We are not here to provide public sport or entertainment. The whole point of our approach has been to get to the facts."
That was before Christmas. His critics have since been largely silenced as the inquiry has been given illuminating, at times provocative, insights.
This week, it heard
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spin doctor, insist he stood by "every single word" of the now discredited Iraq WMD dossier, which even officials responsible for drawing it up, including Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, did not defend.
The next day Lord Turnbull, the cabinet secretary at the time, provided a refreshing antidote. He described Campbell's attacks on Clare Short, the then international development secretary, for being untrustworthy as "very poor".
In evidence as robust as anything Campbell offered, Turnbull praised Robin Cook, who resigned in protest at the imminent invasion. Cook was "absolutely spot on", said Turnbull. Cook died in 2005.
The inquiry is about to face its big test, whether its calm inquisitorial process is better than a more adversarial one, as it prepares next week to question Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, and Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw, then defence and foreign secretaries. They will be followed by Lord Goldsmith, then attorney general, and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, deputy chief legal adviser at the Foreign Office, who also resigned in protest at the invasion. Then it will be Blair's turn to appear.

I think the Inquiry lets themselves get pushed around. There's a committee member, Lyne -- Roderic Lyne, who is strong but, as I follow it, most let themselves be pushed around and the entire committee let itself be pushed around today (it's in C.I.'s snapshot which is reposted at the end).

We're really lucky on Friday nights because C.I. stops here before heading back to California and will use us (Iraq study group) as the test audience. She'll do a thirty to forty minute presentation on that day's hearing and touching on earlier things from the week but focusing on that day's. And then we'll have a thirty minute to one hour discussion about it. And from that, she'll go with what stood out. So we're the test audience. :D And happy to be it.

But we're lucky because, in addition to the snapshots, we get that presentation. And it's always funny. C.I. can shift tone from serious to funny so quick (and back). So that's cool. A friend of my dad's brought his brother tonight and this was the first time his brother (who's probably in his 50s) had heard that there was an Iraq Inquiry going on in London. He found it fascinating.

Big Mass. We hold a US Senate election on Tuesday.

I was planning not to vote. I supported Martha Coakley in the primary. Then she became a Barack groupie. (Running in the primary, she called out the 'health care' 'reform' -- those days are gone.)

I'm no longer staying home.

I'll be voting Tuesday.

For Scott Brown. The Republican candidate.



He's got a commercial that's airing here and it pisses me off -- it pisses a lot of us off. It's how Martha Coakley will be his 'helper' if we send her to Congress and how he wants to do this and he wants to do that and he needs Martha. Put "I" where "he" is because you know Barack's favorite word in the language is "I."

And that commercial just pisses me off.

He's not from Big Mass. He's not of our state. It's not our duty to support him. (We went for Hillary firmly in the primaries.)

As bad as the commercial is (and you can't avoid it, it's everywhere -- making her look like the Big Money candidate as well), we now are going to have to endure Barack coming to our state to campaign for her.

You know what? We've got terrorism issues, a failing economy and a lot more. How the hell does the just off his lengthy Christmas vacation Barack justify spending time in my state when he needs to be getting to work?

I'm sick of him.

I'm voting for Scott and I'm not the only one in my family. Some are split and may end up staying home. But more and more, we're stepping up for Scott. It was just my two uncles. Now it's them and me and seven other members of my family. And I bet you anything, when election day rolls around, it will be even more. Remember, I'm one of eight children and my mom is as well. My dad's got a big family but I'm not sure if it's online how big (if my mother hasn't put it up then he didn't want it up). We're an Irish Catholic family. My grandfather (mom's side) is voting for Scott. If he is (he's a Socialist), I think you're going to see a huge number of my family members deciding between now and Sunday that they'll vote for Scott Brown as well. Scott Brown says he'll be a vote against Barry's 'reform'. (I call it Barry's Big Business Give Away.) That's reason to vote. And now that Barack, who is not from here, thinks he can dominate our airwaves and come jetting in to influence our election? I'm voting for Scott Brown.

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

Friday, January 15, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, a witness testifying before the Iraq Inquiry reveals either extreme ignorance or a wilful desire to lie, tensions continue to flare over the efforts to ban Sunnis from running for office, and more.

Starting with the second hour of NPR's
The Diane Rehm Show when Iraq was addressed by Diane and Karen DeYoung (Washington Post), a little bit by James Kitfield and who the hell knows what David Wood was smoking, but he's not just stupid, he's ass stupid. Let's check in.

Diane Rehm: And Iraq also, large portions of Baghdad, shut down earlier this week. Why David?

David Wood: Well there was an incredible plot that was uncovered this week -- uhm -- i-in-in which there were going to be bombings of Iraqi government ministry buildings and then followed by a wave of political assassinations which clearly would have ignited a huge violent uhm situation. The Iraqi police intercepted the bombers on the way to the government -- to bomb the government buildings -- and to sort of stop the plot cold but clearly it's a real tinderbox in Iraq with the uh elections coming up in March and uh we saw just this week even more political struggle as the official government elections commission uh struck about 500 people off the elections list because of ties -- alleged ties to Ba'athist organizations.

Diane Rehm: So what is that going to do to those kinds of sectarian tensions?

David Wood: I-I can't imagine that they wouldn't inflame them.

Diane Rehm: Well exactly.

David Wood: Already you have people, where there have been protests -- and people uh really getting pretty angry. Saw one Iraqi quoted as saying "The Iraqi street is boiling" which I think is a very good summation. [C.I. note: That quote is
from Nada Bakri's report last week for the New York Times.]

James Kitfield: It's very bad news when you start -- the whole idea of this election -- it's only the second major election -- general election -- since the invasion -- 2003. The first one was boycotted by the Sunnis. It just sort of totally disenfranchised a major element of Iraq. The hope for the Americans was this would sort of -- that the Sunnis were going to take part and uhm so this electoral commission decision is very unhelpful. There's three days to appeal. I still have hope that we'll have some kind of influence to get an appeal of this so not so many parties and so many candidates are uhm are excluded. I also noted this week there was suicide bombings in Najaf very close to the Iman ali shrine which is sort of the most revered shrine in the Shia religion. That's kind of scary. Najaf has been very quiet for about three years. It reminds me of the Golden Dome attack. Once they took a very serious Shi'ite mosque and holy place they really almost ignited that civil war a couple of years ago so it's clear that this Sunni-Ba'athist, you know, irreconcilables are still out there and the question is who has the upper hand and they have so far not been able to ignite the kinds of sectarian violence we saw in 2006 and 2007. But they're still trying.

Diane Rehm: But US troops are withdrawing from Anbar [Province] at the end of this month. Isn't that correct?

Karen DeYoung: That's right. This is part of the gradual withdrawal. They're supposed to have all what they call "combat forces" out by August leaving about 50,000 troops. I think it's a little disingenuis to distinguish between combat forces and other forces. There will still be 50,000 US troops after August until the end of next year in Iraq. But I think this -- the next several days will be fairly critical in seeing whether this ban on about 500 senior politicians is lifted. I mean, it includes the head of the National Dialogue Front which is the biggest Sunni alliance and it basically means that-that if it's allowed to stand the Sunnis have really no chance of capturing a significant portion of power there and kind of opens the door to the continuation of sectarian strife and obviously there are certain elements, presumably in the Sunni community, that-that are interested in promoting this kind of backlash on both sides.

Diane Rehm: And one other point, David Wood, on Thursday a Baghdad court sentenced 11 Iraqis to death. Why was that case so important?

David Wood: Well because, again, it's-it's -- you know -- Iraq is such a tinderbox and there's so -- such a struggle going on for power between the various sects that anything like that is a -- is a major excuse uh to take revenge.

Most of the time, I either know the guest or know of the guest on Diane's show. So when a friend with the show called to note Iraq was covered, I asked, "Who the hell is David Wood?" He writes for Politics Daily and, no, they don't have an Iraq correspondent. They don't cover Iraq. Everything the IDIOT said was never covered at the website. (It was never covered period because it's not factual.) Sweet Baby Dumb Ass writes 'pithy' little articles like "Taliban Cause Most Civilian Deaths, but U.S. Gets the Blame." Can we get that Debbie Downer sound in here?

Let's go through his nonsense:

Well there was an incredible plot that was uncovered this week -- uhm -- i-in-in which there were going to be bombings of Iraqi government ministry buildings and then followed by a wave of political assassinations which clearly would have ignited a huge violent uhm situation. The Iraqi police intercepted the bombers on the way to the government -- to bomb the government buildings -- and to sort of stop the plot cold but clearly it's a real tinderbox in Iraq with the uh elections coming up in March and uh we saw just this week even more political struggle as the official government elections commission uh struck about 500 people off the elections list because of ties -- alleged ties to Ba'athist organizations.

There is no proof of a plot. And there was no "interception." What supposedly happened is a tip -- and most reporters in the region believe the tip came in as a result of the fact that Nouri's now paying for tips -- and the tip may have been accurate, may not have been. Supposedly 25 would be criminals were arrested.

From the January 12th snapshot:

But the big news will probably be the ongoing crackdown in Iraq's capital.
Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report Baghdad is under curfew with at least 25 people arrested. What's known? Damn little. So you know the New York Times is all over it, pressed up against it, breathless and heavy panting. Today's groper is Timothy Williams. It's always cute when the paper goes weak knee-ed over claims instead of stating outright, "The following are claims by an installed government desperate to remain in office and we cannot verify any of what follows." So Nouri's image took a beating and now he claims he has stopped at least 4 -- count 'em, 4 -- suicide bombings today. You know what? The moon didn't crash into the earth today either. Maybe Nouri should claim credit for that as well. I'm sure the New York Times would breathlessly repeat it. The same Timmy that gushes today of how "the plot discovered by the Iraqi government on Tuesday would have been devastating if carried out." Much more devastating, of course, if it were a real plot. But Timmy can't verify that and why do reporting when there are so many fewer rules in 'reporting.' Besides, it's fun too! Watch: Timothy Williams denies rumors that he is pregnant with Nouri al-Maliki's child insisting that thus far, they've just done a half-and-half (mutual jackoff), government sources say. See! Fun!

An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers explains that the curfew lasted for two hours and that rumors flew like crazy:

["]The rumors today reminded me with those during Saddam regime when Saddam's followers used to spread rumors to control Iraqis and they strongly succeeded . Rumors are the most powerful weapons in Iraq an unfortunately, my people are very easy victims for this weapon.["]

Poor Timmy, from headline to text,
Chip Cummins (Wall St. Journal) does a much better job establishing what's known and what's claimed. Xinhua adds, "A police source told Xinhua that the Iraqi forces mainly focused their search operations on eastern Baghdad neighborhoods, including the Shiite bastion of Sadr City, which has long been the stronghold of Mahdi Army militia, loyal to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."

And let's note
Liz Sly and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) report:
Whether the alleged plot has been fully thwarted is open to question, however.The quantities of explosives uncovered would barely equal that of one of the recent bombs. The government did not specify whether the security forces had found the bombs purported to be circulating.
Get it? David Wood doesn't. What an idiot. James gets a lucky break because I don't have the time to dissect him. (However, non-Iraq related, he got off a howler and we'll address that at Third.) We will know that only Karen DeYoung appears to grasp what an allegation is while the men were happy to fling very serious allegations -- none of which they can prove -- at Sunnis.
Let's turn the continuing story of the banning of Sunni politicians (made all the easier when 'journalists' bandy about charges as if they're facts).
Marc Lynch (Foreign Policy) notes:

The story, of course, is the Committee's surprising decision to disqualify some 500 politicians, including the Sunni leader Saleh al-Mutlak and the
current Minister of Defense Abdul-Qadir Jassem al-Obeidi, from contesting the upcoming Parliamentary elections on the grounds of alleged Baathist ties. The Higher Election Commission disappointed many observers by accepting the recommendation; the issue now goes to appeal. Mutlak's list -- which includes such figures as former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and current Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi -- is talking about boycotting the election, which many fear could have a major negative impact on the elections and on longer-term prospects for Iraqi political accommodation. Not bad work for a zombie!
I say that it's the work of a "zombie" because the Accountability and Justice Committee, a relic of the Bremer era rooted in the conceptually flawed and badly politicized De-Baathification Commission, should be dead. It is
basically continuing to operate because the early 2008 legislation establishing its replacement never got off the ground, so the old team just stayed in place. It's most unfortunate that such a relic has thrown more fuel onto the fire of mistrust and institutional dysfunction... but hardly a surprise in the thinly institutionalized and still deeply polarized and hotly politicized Iraqi scene.

In a piece entitled "
Iraq's witch hunt continues" (Al Jazeera), Hoda Hamid notes the bulk of those targeted with bannings are "surprise, surprise" Sunnis and that Saleh al-Mutlaq's National Dialogue Front is "broad based, non sectarian party . . . unheard of in the new democratic Iraq" and that Sunnis are being prevented from participating due to a witch hunt. Dale McFeatters (Scripps Howard News Service) offers, "In any case, the chance of a Baath renaissance is increasingly remote. The threat of renewed sectarian violence is not. There is still time for the commission to reverse its ban and al-Maliki, the U.S. and United Nations should persuade them to do so." Al-Ahram explains, "It is widely believed that it is this alliance with Allawi that has prompted the present ban. Shia groups that control both the parliament and the government fear that even a moderate success of the "Iraqi List" formed by Al-Mutlaq and Allawi last November could bring the Shia-controlled government down." Martin Chulov (Guardian) quotes Sunni politician Osama al-Najafi stating, "There has been a drastic change in the political situation in Iraq. There will be a severe public backlash to this, reconciliation will end, and the election will fail. Any results will clearly be seen as illegitimate." Anthony Shadid (New York Times) offers, "Western officials and some Iraqi politicians have questioned whether the decisions by the Accountability and Justice Commission are even binding, and critics have acused its director, Ali Faisal al-Lami, of carrying out agendas of various Iraqi politicians and of Iran. A former chairman of the De-Baathifcation Comission, now disbanded, Mr. Lami spent a year in American detention on suspicion of aiding Iran." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) notes Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council member Mohammad al-Haidari claims, "The Baath party is worse than the Nazi pary." NPR's Quil Lawrence reported on the situation for All Things Considered today and noted that al-Mutlaq has his supporters including a man who "draws a distinction between al-Mutlaq -- who never left Iraq -- and exiles -- many of them Shi'ites -- who returned with the American invasion." He also has his detractors including an adviser to Nouri al-Maliki who sees al-Mutlaq as a Ba'athist and part of an effort to return to power.

Turning to London where the
Iraq Inquiry heard from Maj Gen Graham Binns and Lt Gen John Reith -- link goes to video and transcript option -- sort of. Reith demanded to testify in private and his wish was granted -- they did publish a transcript of Reith's testimony.

Chair John Chilcot: There are, as you see, no members of the public in the hearing room for this session and it is not being recorded for broadcast. However, after the session, we will be publishing a transcript of the evidence you give, so that, at that stage, your appearance before us will become publicly known. Before the New Year, we heard from a number of military officers involved at senior levels in the planning of operations against Iraq, including the Chief of Defence Staff at the time, Lordy Boyce, and one of your deputies, General Fry. So this session will cover 2002 up to and beyond the invasion, covering the period of your tenure as Chief of Joint Operations. I remind every witness that he will later be asked to sign a transcript of evidence to the effect that the evidence they have given is truthful, fair and accurate. With that, I will hand over to Sir Lawrence Freedman. Sir Lawrence?

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Sir, I think the easiest way to start is perhaps if you could just take us through how you became aware of the potential need for planning in -- for military action in Iraq, and your awareness of the American plans. It would probably be best if you just take us through from the start.

Gen John Reith: May I just start by giving you sort of mood music at the time and our situation with the Americans at the time, so you get a better understanding, if that would be helpful?

So he gets to demand that he testify off-camera and he gets to decide how he'll start his testimony? Some call the Iraq Inquiry "the Chilcot Inquiry" -- apparently it should also be called "the Reith Inquiry."

He prattled on and on about his special relationship with US Gen Tommy Franks ("So I forged quite a good relationship with him, and, in fact, he jokingly used to call me his deputy commander, and I was very much seen by the Americans as the UK's global combatant commander.")

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Can I just pull you back a bit on that? Because there is a meeting at Chequers, I think just before the Prime Minister goes to Crawford, where Alastair Campbell, in fact, reports in his diaries about Tommy Franks' view from "our military man based in Tampa", which I think was Cedric.

Gen John Reith: It would have been Cedric at the time, yes.

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: And CDS was there and I think Tony Pigott as well. So what were they reporting on?

Gen John Reith: Cedric never gave me anything relating to Iraq. I presume that Cedric, again, had credibility with Tommy Franks, [redacted] and he may have given an opion, but it would have been a personal opinion, but he never actually raised it at as an issue with me.

The redacted portion is 36 spaces. For all the world knows, he was describing a deep, soul kiss with Tommy Franks. He was obsessed with Tommy Franks.

Gen John Reith: I tended to be very candid with Tommy Franks and I made it clear that there was no commitment from the UK. He used to rib me regularly that he was having to produce two plans, one with and one without the UK, but that he couldn't conceive that America's closest ally wouldn't go with them into Iraq if they went. That was his perspective. So, as we were developing plans --

Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: How did you respond to that?

Gen John Reith: I responded to it. I mean it was all done in a very jocular way, but I responded to it that nothing in this life is certain.

And, yes, that is accurate portrayal of the entire hearing. He did not know about the Crawford, Texas meeting between Bully Boy Bush and then Prime Minister Tony Blair "until somebody mentioned it to me yesterday."

The jaw should drop at that one. Now some may rush to Gen Reith and say, "Well of course he knew his prime minister was in the US at that time. He just means that, until yesterday, he had no idea it was at this meeting that Blair told Bush England would give whatever needed to the Iraq War" (one with no UN approval at that point and that would never get UN approval). You can say that. It's not very likely, but you can say that.

Reality: The Crawford meeting has been big news, BIG NEWS, in England throughout the Inquiry. Don't say, "Oh, yes, yes, with Alastair Campbell this week." No. Not just this week.

The committee members and witnesses have raised it repeatedly. David Manning testified November 30th (see
that day's snapshot). In his testimony, he noted:

The first evening, the President and the Prime Minister dined on their own, and when we had a more formal meeting on Saturday morning, which I think was the 6th, it was in the President's study at the ranch. There were, as I recall -- and I may be wrong about this -- three a side. I think it was the President, his Chief of Staff, Andy Card, and Dr [Condi] Rice and on our side, as I recall, it was the Prime Minister, his Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, and myself. We convened about half past nine, after breakfast, and began with the President giving a brief account of the discussion that he and the Prime Minister had had on their own the previous evening over dinner. He said that they had discussed Iraq over dinner. He told us that there was no war plan for Iraq, but he had set up a small cell in Central Command in Florida and he had asked Central Command to do some planning and to think through the various options. When they had done that, he would examine these options. The Prime Minister added that he had been saying to the President it was important to go back to the United Nations and to present going back to the United Nations as an opportunity for Saddam to cooperate.

That was the take-away from Manning's testimony and the press (the British press) were covering it like crazy. You can refer to
Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video), Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror), Kevin Schofield (Daily Record), Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian), David Brown (Times of London), Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) and Jonathan Steele (Guardian) just to start with. And this wasn't the first time it dominated the news cycle for the Inquiry. That was the week before when Christopher Meyer testified about Blair and Bush's agreement "signed in blood" (it really wasn't signed in blood, he was using that expression) and that got a huge amount of attention from the press.

Where has Reith been throughout all of this? If he's not even able to follow the headlines in the last weeks, how on the ball is he? It's just as likely -- some might say more likely -- that he's being dishonest. I don't know but it doesn't make sense and those who feel he may have been less than honest can refer to his exchanges with Committee Member Roderic Lyne where even the most basic questions (Lyne lays his questions out very clearly) were met with evasions and stumbles. Lyne would have to repeatedly clarify after a respone (usually in this form, "But . . . ") and the question he'd just asked was completely clear.

Maj Gen Graham Binns was much more straighforward and forthcoming with his answers. We'll note this passage on Basra.

Maj Gen Graham Binns: The security situation was difficult for us. Every move outside our bases required detailed planning and was high-risk. I thought that we were having limited effect on improving the security situation in Basra. 90 per cent of the violence was directed against us, politically there was no contact between us and the local provincial government, and coaltion-sponsored reconstruction had almost ceased.

That was how things were when he arrived but he credited his predecessor with putting in place a plan that allowed for some improvements. How much of an improvement? Asked how things were when he left, he replied, "So -- but I think it is fair to say that the security situation was such that we spent a lot of our time protecting ourselves."

Turning to US politics and the decade ended. A friend asked that we note Katha Pollitt -- a friend at The Nation -- from part one of her two part piece.
From Part one:

Sonia Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court. Before that, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin showed how far we've come--and how far we haven't. Between them they normalized forever the idea of a woman running for president and withstood a ridiculous amount of sexist garbage, from nasty cracks (from both sexes) about Clinton's legs, clothes, voice and laugh to tinfoil-hat accusations that Palin's baby was actually her daughter's.

Good for Katha for decrying the sexism aimed at Palin -- a first for The Nation -- and for bringing up the nasty and disgusting rumors about Trig. Better if she'd named the pig who glommed on them in the fall of 2008 and continues to repeat them to this day -- at The Atlantic. What she won't scrawl across the women's room stall, we will: ANDREW SULLIVAN. That's the pig. For many years Anne Kornblut worked for the New York Times, she's now at the Washington Post. She has a new book out
Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win and she weighs in on the campaigns at wowOwow:

Covering the 2008 campaign day-to-day, it rarely felt as if Clinton or Palin was having a harder time of it than the male candidates Рwho were also under constant scrutiny. I was as skeptical as anyone of Clinton's claim, after one of the Democratic debates, that all the male candidates were engaging in the "politics of pile-on." Really? She was a woman under siege? She had been the frontrunner for nearly a year, raising record-breaking amounts of money. Later on, I was among the reporters who challenged the McCain campaign's complaint that Obama was referring to Palin when he talked about putting "lipstick on a pig." Really? Wasn't he using a common clich̩ to describe a policy proposal?
When I went back after the campaign was over, however, and read through all the transcripts, columns and stump speeches, interviewing dozens of campaign
aides who advised the candidates and prominent women who watched the race from the sidelines, there was just too much evidence pointing to the influence gender had on the race to pretend that it had been otherwise. Clinton was often reluctant to talk about being a woman, and worked so hard to compensate for the perceived shortcoming of being female that she came off looking, to many, too tough. "She didn't get there on her own," was a refrain I heard repeatedly, which although factually true failed to take into account the fact that she had, just a decade earlier, been criticized for not being enough of a housewife. Here she was taking heat for being too much of one.
Palin failed to prepare for the extra layer of questions that women get – as mothers, as wives, as candidates who are sometimes perceived as being less qualified – and was shell-shocked after her daughter's pregnancy was revealed, and when critics called her inexperienced despite her tenure as governor. She shouldn't have been so surprised; female candidates across the country had been through similar ordeals. But Palin and the McCain team learned the hard way that crying "it's not fair" is not a winning political strategy.

No offense to Anne but what women cried sexism -- or men for that matter -- with either campaign? While the campaigns were going on? Give me some names. Because as I recall it, sexism was fine and dandy and no one objected. Bill Moyers, for example, willfully and happily engaged in sexism on the tax payer dime and PBS airwaves (which, thankfully, he's now leaving). As I recall the same Bill Moyers couldn't stop screaming "racism!" One ism was to be called out, the other to be ignored or (in Moyers' case) added to. I appreciate what Anne's saying and I think her book's a strong read that many will enjoy but the above excerpt does not fully capture the landscape (which is difficult to capture in so short a space) and this goes to what we value and what we don't (
see last night's entry) and how a pedophile can be busted twice and still be treated as a 'good guy' and trusted voice. His third bust? Strange, Amy Goodman couldn't stop bringing the pedophile on her show but she hasn't found time in her headlines to note he Pig Ritter just got busted a third time. Or take FAIR -- allegedly Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting -- allegedly a media watchdog. One that didn't bark at sexism in 2008. Every week, the hosts of FAIR's radio show (Counterspin) noted real and imagined racism in the press that was harming St. Barack. Every damn week. Let's go to May 25th when Ava and I noted Counterspin's finally noting sexism against Hillary Clinton:

Last week, we noted that FAIR's radio program CounterSpin is happy to ignore sexism and, at the top of Friday's show, they appeared bound and determined to prove us wrong.Peter Hart: One of the most disturbing features of the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race is the way racism and sexism have been expressed. CNN viewers were treated to one pundit explanation that people might call Hillary Clinton a bitch because well isn't that just what some women are. Not everyone's so out in the open. MSNBC host Chris Matthews opened his May 18th show wondering how Barack Obama would connect with regular Democrats? Obviously code for working class Whites. This would seem to make the millions of Obama voters so far irregular. But then consider the May 14th op-ed by Washington Post Writers Group Kathleen Parker. She wrote about 'full bloodness' and the patriot divide between Obama and John McCain offering that there is "different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines through generations of sacrifice." This makes Obama less American than his likely Republican rival and his success part of a larger threat "There is a very real sense that once upon a time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity." Well thanks to The Washington Post, Parker's rant appeared in newspapers around the country including the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. We're not sure what those papers used for a headline but one blogger suggest [nonsense] would do. Parker's attack wasn't even new. Before in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan wondered if Obama had ever gotten misty thinking about his country's rich heritage. John McCain by contrast "carries it in his bones." There's an appetite in corporate media for such repellent ideas as Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell recalled, Noonan's column was praised by NBC's anchor Brian Williams as Pulitzer worthy.

And that was it. 25 words. Counterspin's ENTIRE 'coverage' of the sexism aimed at Hillary during her lengthy campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Even when they finally noted sexism (one example of it), notice that (a) they didn't tell you who made the remark, (b) they didn't tell you what program it was made on and (c) when they finally give (limited) time to sexism, they offer 25 words while providing -- in the same news item -- over 230 words on racism. But you do that and you note who said it and where when it's something that actually matters to you. When it doesn't really matter to you, you just toss out 25 words and pretend like you did a damn thing worthy of note. To provide some more context, if Keith Olbermann had said someone needs to take Barack into a room and only one of them comes out alive, FAIR would have screamed their heads off, but when he said about Hillary? Not a peep. Not a protest. That's how it went. Over and over throughout 2008. The sexism never ended, many of the 'left' took part in it and media watchdogs repeatedly looked the other way. Repeatedly? Maybe, like Barack, I should say "periodically"? Barack: "
I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal." Or when he said "the claws come out"? One of the strong women (there were a few) in 2008 was Marie Cocco and we'll make the time now to note how she wasn't silent. Marie Cocco "Misogny I Won't Miss" (May 15, 2008, Washington Post).

"I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign."

Marie Cocco's "
Obama's Abortion Stance When 'Feeling Blue'" (Washington Post Writers Group July 8, 2008).

Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating. During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure. One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."

And when the sexism was aimed at Palin, Cocco didn't play dumb or didn't go silent.
Marie Cocco, "
Sexism Again" (September 16, 2008, Washington Post Writers Group):

This has a lot to do with a graphic image of Palin I just saw in which she is dressed in a black bustier, adorned with long, black gloves and wielding a whip. The image appeared in the Internet magazine Salon to illustrate a column titled: "The dominatrix," by Gary Kamiya. Kamiya calls Palin a "pinup queen," and says she not only tantalized the Republican National Convention with political red meat, but that her "babalicious" presence hypercharged the place with sexual energy, and naughty energy at that. "You could practically feel the crowd getting a collective woody as Palin bent Obama and the Democrats over, shoved a leather gag in their mouths and flogged them as un-American wimps, appeasers and losers." That's some sexual mother lode. Dare I point out that I have never -- ever -- in three decades of covering politics seen a male politician's style, even one with an earthy demeanor, described this way? Salon editor Joan Walsh says she agrees the "dominatrix" piece had a "provocative cover,'' and that her columnists enjoy great freedom. "One day Gary (Kamiya) called Palin a dominatrix, the next day Camille Paglia called her a feminist." The magazine exists, Walsh says, to "push the envelope."No sooner did Walsh give me this explanation than another Salon contributor, Cintra Wilson, pushed that envelope again. Wilson described Palin as follows: an "f---able ... Christian Stepford wife in a 'sexy librarian' costume" who is, for ideological Republicans, a "hardcore pornographic centerfold spread." That is, when Palin is not coming across as one of those "cutthroat Texas cheerleader stage moms." What is it about a woman candidate that sends the media into weird Freudian frenzies?

Related, at
Women's eNew, Lisa Nuss calls out the bad makeover that turned high powered attorney and board member Michelle Obama into June Cleaver:

During Barbara Walters' interview with Michelle Obama last month, I never heard Walters say why she chose the first lady as the most fascinating person of the year.
I dug up the transcript, watched the video and confirmed that Walters never said why.
Michelle Obama did a lot that was fascinating before 2009.
After bootstrapping her way to an elite college and law school where she was outspoken about racism, she left corporate law for high-profile policy work in politics and health care and won a powerful corporate board position.
All the while she battled her husband to pick up his slack on the parenting and insisted on her own demanding career after his election to the U.S. Senate. She told Vogue in 2007, "The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill." She said she loved her work challenges "that have nothing to do with my husband and children."
Am I the only one who misses that formidable woman?

Ava and I observed of Barbara Walters' special, "Michelle Obama was the person of the year. Now that had us wondering because, outside of Lady Gaga and Sarah Palin, we were having trouble grasping what the women did in 2009 that made them fascinating? Gosselin is apparently fascinating because her marriage ended. The wife of a governor was termed fascinating by Barbara Walters because . . . her husband cheated on her? And she lived through it? (Was she supposed to commit suicide? After the special was broadcast, the woman announced she was divorcing the governor.) Silly us, we would have thought a person (male or female) actually had to do something in order to qualify as 'fascinating'."

TV notes and humor!
NOW on PBS begins airing on most PBS stations tonight (check local listings) and this week's program explores . . . Let's let them tell it:Is good journalism going extinct? Fractured audiences and tight budgets have downsized or sunk many of the fourth estate's major battleships, including this very program.This week, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to professor Bob McChesney and journalist John Nichols about the perils of a shrinking news media landscape, and their bold proposal to save journalism with government subsidies. Their new book is "The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again."John Nichols? He's an ethical voice? The idiot who said Wesley Clark was only running for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential election because he wanted Bush to win? (That's noted in the 2008 year-in-review with the title of the segment but we're not linking to trash so Google if you want it.) Remember when Barack got exposed for reassuring Stephen Harper's conservative government in Canada that although he was saying he'd do away with NAFTA he wouldn't. Johnny 5 Cents insisted that was a lie! And Barack would do away with NAFTA! And Hillary Clinton was the one behind this nasty rumor! And the one who was really talking to Canada! And he had the proof! And would be writing the expose! Of course, he never wrote s**t because he was lying through his teeth (egged on by Amy Goodman before the show aired -- though the crazy 2004 talk took place on air with Amy in December 2003 and he didn't need egging for that). John Nichols is a liar and an idiot. This is the man who -- when Samantha Power stepped down (she was not fired) from Barack's campaign for telling the BBC that his promise on ending the war in Iraq wasn't a promise -- published fan fiction as fact. One lie after another. (And he avoided the issue of Iraq.) He insisted that Samantha and Hillary were best friends! For years! They'd met once and only once. A fact Samantha herself had already revealed weeks prior on The Charlie Rose Show. But facts be damned, John Nichols had purple prose to produce.We've covered all the above in real time. We've even covered who he aimed all his anger and rage out for Congress' vote to approve the 2002 Iraq resolution. (Which member of Congress got trashed? Oh, not a member of Congress. It was Barbra Streisand's fault to hear crazy ass John Nichols tell it at The Nation.) [Her 'crime' was in donating her money how she wanted to and not getting permission first from John Nichols.]NOW ponders, "Should journalism get the next government bailout?" If John Nichols is your example of the heart and soul of journalism, not only should they not receive a bailout but they should also be shut down.Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Helene Cooper (New York Times), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Deborah Solomon (Wall St. Journal). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Linda Chavez, Melinda Henneberger, Irene Natividad and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's events on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
HaitiNews from the earthquake decimated country.
Football Island60 Minutes goes to American Samoa to find out how a territory with a population less than the capacity of a pro-football stadium sends more players to the NFL than any similarly populated place in America. Scott Pelley reports.
Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 17, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Thank you to
Trina and Mike and all the people in their Iraq study group for listening to me on the Iraq Inquiry and then helping me decide which points to hit in the snapshot. Thank you.

nprthe diane rehm show
sky newsruth barnett
richard norton-taylorthe guardian
martin chulov
60 minutescbs newspbsnow on pbsto the contrarybonnie erbe
washington week
anthony shadidthe new york times
the los angeles timesliz sly
anne e. kornblut
nada bakri
quil lawrence
al jazeera
marie cocco

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Big Mass election frenzy

Thursday. First up, a reader e-mails and he actually lives a few blocks from my folks (I didn't know that, he put his address in the e-mail). He is supporting Scott Brown in Tuesday's election. And he wanted to know if I would give a link to Brown's campaign site.

He also explained why he wanted Brown to win. It's a lengthy list that indicates he's put great thought into his vote and I find his point about the ObamaBigGiveAway (posing as 'health care' 'reform') being stopped in its tracks one I could support. He asks me to please think about voting for Scott Brown.

Where I stand, for those who are driving by, is I supported Martha Coakley in the primary. And then she turned into another Barry O. She loves ObamaBigGiveAway. She won the primary by speaking out against it. Now she's promising to vote for it -- even if the trashing of abortion rights is still in there (the thing she spoke out against in the primaries). So I don't see myself supporting Martha now.

What I expect to do is just skip the vote.

But I do appreciate Scott Brown's point. Two of my uncles (my entire family is Democrat or Socialist) are supporting Brown. For similar reasons to the e-mailer.

I am considering what to do.

An e-mail came in saying I should support the third party candidate. Joe Kennedy? I think he's running for the seat solely due to his last name (thinking people will mistake him as someone from Ted's family).

I'm not supporting Joe Kennedy, sorry. And I think third parties need to work harder at their candidates. Some candidates do a really good job of justifying why debates shouldn't be 'open to all.'

Heidi Przybyla (Bloomberg) says the race is a toss-up (between Coakley and Brown) at this point. Greg Hitt (Wall St. Journal) notes:

Even a close race in Massachusetts amounts to a victory for Republicans, something Democratic Party supporters know well. The Service Employees International Union is spending $685,000 on ads attacking Mr. Brown., the liberal advocacy group, is urging activists to support Ms. Coakley. "Can you chip in?" the group asks. An email fund-raising appeal Wednesday by Vicki Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy's widow, brought in more than $400,000 in just a couple of hours
Rep. Bill Delahunt (D., Mass.), a backer of Ms. Coakley, wouldn't predict the contest's result. He pinned blame on the national party and how it talks about its policies. "We live in—let's call it an era of populism. We arrived on that same wave, but we failed to remind people of why we're in the mess that we're in," he said.

Turning to Iraq, this is from an editorial in The Economist on the Iraq Inquiry taking place in London:

THERE have already been so many inquiries into the Iraq war (including one in the Netherlands that this week judged the invasion to have been illegal), and it was all so long ago, that many people thought the latest British probe, under Sir John Chilcot, would prove pointless. In fact it has already been informative, not least because some of the soldiers, spooks and diplomats who have given evidence have grown franker since retirement. On January 12th Sir John’s panel questioned Alastair Campbell, formerly the government’s main spin doctor. His testimony was a telling rehearsal for the imminent appearance of the star witness: his old boss, Tony Blair.

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

Thursday, January 14, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Najaf is rocked by bombings, Nouri targets more political opponents, more Iraqi executions announced, exploring the opposition to Avatar, Pig gets arrested (again!) for being a sexual predator (again!), and more.

Starting in Iraq where
Hannah Allam and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that any hopes last week's announcement of parties and politicians banned from Iraq's elections (expected to be held in March) would be overturned appear to be over as it now appears that an additional 100 candidates may be announced banned shortly. Faraj al Haidari (Independent High Electoral Commission) attempts to spin frantically insisting that the efforts to disenfranchise are not aimed only as Sunnis. In 2005, a large number of Sunnis boycotted the national elections and hopes of higher participation this go round appear in doubt. Salam Faraj (AFP) reports a banning has been announced and quotes IHEC's Hamdia Husseini stating, "We have decided this afternoon to exclude around 500 names and political entities from the list of candidates." Michael Jansen (Middle East Views) sees no attempts at equality or protecting the public, only efforts to target Sunnis and eliminate them from the process: Whether this proposal is accepted or not by the election commission, it is clear that the US-installed Shiite-Kurdish rulers of Iraq do not intend to share power with anyone else. The de-Baathification committee -- renamed the Justice and Accountability Board - made this recommendation although its chief target, Saleh Mutlaq, was cleared to stand in Iraq's 2005 election and his National Dialogue Front won 11 seats in the 275-member assembly. Ali Lami, head of the panel, claims new information reveals that Mutlaq "is a Baathist and nominated himself as a Baathist." Mutlaq dismissed the allegation as "rubbish". He left the Baath party in 1977 before Saddam seized power, established a large farming business in the south, and made a great deal of money. His supporters point out that Lami has close relations with pro-Iranian factions and only retained his post because there was no agreement on a replacement. It may be significant that the new charge against Mutlaq surfaced after Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki paid a visit to Baghdad. Afif Sarhan ( notes, "Experts believe the ban would also stir a political storm for the Nuri Al-Maliki government" and quotes Ibrahim Suwa'id stating, "A ban like this, a couple of months before parliamentary elections, can bring a chaotic situation that the government will feel hard to succeed." Zainab Naji and Ali Kareem (Global Arab Network -- backed by US funds, FYI) note an emerging opinion that Nouri's worried that Ayad Allawi (who was prime minister before Nouri) could replace him and they quote Iraqi Organization for Media Development's Wathiq al-Hashemi stating, "Allawi's alliance poses a threat to other political powers, so any ban on one of his leaders [al-Mutlaq] is in the best interests of those powers [in power currently]. If Allawi withdraws from the elections, the political process will be in serious danger." Rebecca Santana (AP) interviewed Allawi today and he calls out the targeting of Sunnis: "This is a process of severe intimidation and threats. It's clear that they want to get rid of their opponents."

Leila Fadel and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) were observing, "Another major attack would have been particularly damaging to members of Maliki's coalition running in parliamentary elections. The coalition's candidates are campaigning on a security platform." Nouri's grandstanding for elections, as he tries desperately to regain his (false) image as the person who gave Iraq security, coincides with the announcement of executions. Al Jazeera reports that 11 men have been sentenced to death for the August 19th Baghdad bombings ("Black Wednesday") and quotes the judicial body's spokesperson Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar stating, "Today an Iraqi criminal court imposed a death sentence against 11 criminals who have been convicted of implementing, planning and funding the bomb events that targeted the finance and foreign ministries." Nada Bakri (New York Times) states al-Beeraqdar declared that an investigation into the August bombings were conducted for over three weeks -- turning up 'evidence' on the men -- and then the 11 men faced a trial. A two-week trial. A two-week trial. And all are convicted to death by execution? How very fortunate for Nouri's efforts to hang on as prime minister (the prime minister is selected by Parliament, FYI). The 11 sentenced to die join a long, long list of other guilty or 'guilty' persons in Iraq facing execution. Last month, Amnesty International issued the following:

Iraq is preparing to execute hundreds of prisoners, including 17 women, warned Amnesty International today, as it issued an 'urgent action' appeal to try to prevent the deaths. The 900-plus prisoners have exhausted all their appeals and their death sentences are said to have been ratified by the Presidential Council, meaning that they could be executed at any time. Amnesty supporters are contacting Iraqi embassies around the world, including that in London, in a bid to stop the executions. The condemned prisoners have been convicted of offences such as murder and kidnapping, but many are likely to have been sentenced after unfair trials. The 17 women are thought to include a group known to have been held on death row at the 5th section (al-Shu'ba al-Khamissa) of Baghdad's al-Kadhimiya Prison. Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said: 'This is a staggering number of people facing execution and the fact that the government may be playing politics over these cases is truly frightening. 'Wholesale use of the death penalty was one of the worst aspects of Saddam Hussein's regime and the present government should stop aping his behaviour. 'Instead of sending nearly a thousand people to a grisly death by hanging, the Iraqi authorities should halt all executions and impose an immediate death penalty moratorium.'Iraqi media reports suggest that the Iraqi government is currently trying to present itself as 'tough' on crime ahead of national elections scheduled for January. Iraqi opposition politicians have expressed concern that executions may be carried out to give the ruling party a political advantage ahead of the elections, and there have been calls for the government to temporarily suspend all executions. Amnesty is warning that Iraq's use of capital punishment is already spiralling. At least 120 people are known to have been executed in Iraq this year, greatly up on the 34 executions recorded during 2008. Iraq is now one of the world's heaviest users of the death penalty. After the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority suspended the death penalty following the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003, Iraq's subsequent reintroduction of capital punishment led to a rapid acceleration in death sentences and executions. Despite this, and contrary to some claims made by the Iraqi authorities, use of the death penalty has not seen a drop in crime levels in the country, with rises and falls in insurgency violence having no discernible relation to execution rates.

Violence begats violence?
Qassim Zein and Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) report Najaf was rocked by three bombings -- one right after the other -- as the day ended with 25 dead. Vendor Mohammed Sami was wounded in the bombings and he tells Adam Schreck, Sameer N. Yacoub and Hamid Ahmed (AP), "Many people came to save me. But after a few minutes the second explosion occurred and we all ran to the nearest alley to hide." The Hindu explains, "One of the blasts targeted a street leading to an important Shiite Muslim shrine, and two others hit a crowded vegetable market, together killing at least 12 people and wounding 20 more." Press TV's Wisam al-Bayati adds, "The market placed was packed with people when the explosion took place and most of the casualties were women and children." Leila Fadel and Saad Serhan (Washington Post) describe "body parts, broken glass and metal scrap from the car littered the street". Xinhua reminds, "Najaf is home to the mausoleum of Iman Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Mohammed. It attracts thousand of pilgrims every year."

In other reported violence . . .


Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing injured one Iraqi soldier. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports a Baquba cart bombing has claimed 2 lives with ten more people wounded in a market and six shops destroyed.


Reuters notes 1 man was shot dead in Mosul and a drive-by shooting claimed the lives of 1 man and 1 woman in Mosul. Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports high schooler Sameer Aziz was shot dead in Khalis ("Aziz's Sunni family was displaced for two years from their home during the sectarian strife in the past years and his family has just returned home as the city witnessed a relative calm in recent few months, the source said.") and, dropping back to Wednesday night, Sahwa leader Khalid Hardan was shot dead in Edhaim (his uncle was also wounded).

All last month, we had to endure a bunch of liars or idiots insisting the US was so 'noble' or uninterested in Iraq oil (hard to tell which assertion produces more laughs) and that was demonstrated by the US not being involved in recent biddings. You had to be really stupid not to notice the board of directors of those companies (identified as 'foreign' by the US press, they sure had a lot of Americans on their boards). Apparently all the laughs that could be have been wrung out of that so today
Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports, "A wave of American companies have been arriving in Iraq in recent months to pursue what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar bonanza of projects to revive the country's stagnant petroleum industry, as Iraq seeks to establish itself as a rival to Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer."

Meanwhile in the US former journalist Thomas E. Ricks has taken to huffing publicly about James Cameron's box office smash
Avatar. (Disclosure, I know Cameron and consider him a friend.) What could make a pudgy former journalist so angry? The answer is staring everyone in the face. Last week, Ruth noted WBAI's The Arts Magazine (airs each Tuesday from two in the afternoon until three in the afternoon) when Louis Proyect was the guest for the first half-hour.

Louis Proyect: And even though it's set some time in the distant future and on a distant planet, it's very obvious that it's about what's happening now in Iraq and Afghanistan. It just amazes me that anybody you know could think otherwise about this movie.

Prairie Miller: Yeah and then there's this attitude of rejecting this film outright because there's money behind it, there's Rupert Murdoch and whatever happened to the notion, the Marxist notion, of seizing the means of production? In this case of cultural production, you know, for other means. I mean this is amazing. He, Cameron has said about his film that there's a sense of e -- "There's a sense of entitlement. 'We're here, we're big, we've got the guns and, therefore, are entitled to every damn thing on the planet'." And incidentally, Cameron, who's a Canadian, he admirably dropped his application for American citizenship after Bush was elected in 2004 so there's much more than meets the eye concerning the attacks on this film.

Louis Proyect: Yeah. I'm glad we're in 100% agreement on this one because I thought we would be, Prairie.

Prarie Miller: Now you came up with some study about anthropological imperialist invasions. What was that about?

Louis Proyect: Yeah, right now, you have people working in Afghanistan -- and I think they were in Iraq as well -- who were anthropology professors who agreed to work with the military to win the hearts and minds of 'the natives.' And there's a huge controversy about this. They just had a convention of the American Anthropological Association where they-they went on record as being opposed to that. The idea is that what they want to use are what you might call professional techniques to figure out how to control a population combining measures that might improve their life somewhat but at the same time soften them up to accept a military occupation. And quite frankly, the-the anthropologists who are involved in this business are, you know, I don't think they have the right to teach. I mean, what they're doing, I think it's a kind of war crime. And Avatar deals with this because Sigorney Weaver, who's one of the major characters, is an anthropologist trying to pacify the local population. Well, I think your listeners would want to see the movie. I don't want to give too much away, too much of the plot. But it just has to do with how the professions in the United States, including psychologists by the way, who worked in Guantanamo, to-to get -- to make sure that torture was being carried out in such a way that people wouldn't be completely broken and capable of giving information. I mean, this is just horrible.

That edition of The Arts Magazine is
available at the WBAI archives for 80 more days.
To refresh, from the
December 3rd snapshot:

American Anthropological Association's annual meeting started yesterday in Philadelphia and continues through Sunday. Today the association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities issued their [PDF format] "Final Report on The Army's Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program." The 74-page report is a blow to War Criminals and their cheerleaders who have long thought that the social science could be abused or that the social sciences were pseudo sciences.

Only a small number of outlets have covered the AAA's findings. First up were
Patricia Cohen (New York Times), Dan Vergano (USA Today), Yudhijit Bhattacharjee (Science Magazine) and Steve Kolowich (Inside HigherEd). Another wave followed which included Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) reporting, "Today the program enjoys a core of supporters, but it's done little to address the concerns of anthropologists and, now, rising military complaints that the program has slowed the growth of the military's ability to train culturally sensitive warriors." Christopher Shay (Time magazine) added:

Two years ago, the AAA condemned the HTS program, but this month's 72-page report goes into much greater detail about the potential for the military to misuse information that social scientists gather; some anthropologists involved in the report say it's already happening. David Price, a professor of anthropology at St. Martins University in Washington and one of the co-authors of the AAA report, says the army appears to be using the anthropological information to better target the enemy, which, if true, would be a gross violation of the anthropological code. One Human Terrain anthropologist told the Dallas Morning News that she wasn't worried if the information she provided was used to kill or capture an insurgent. "The reality is there are people out there who are looking for bad guys to kill," she said. "I'd rather they did not operate in a vacuum." Price and other critics see this as proof that the anthropologists don't have full control over the information they gather and that commanders can use it to kill. "The real fault with Human Terrain is that it doesn't even try to protect the people being studied," says Price. "I don't think it's accidental that [the Pentagon] didn't come up with ethical guidelines."

David Price is a member of AAA and with
Network of Concerned Anthropologists. He reviewed Avatar:

Fans of Avatar are understandably being moved by the story's romantic anthropological message favoring the rights of people to not have their culture weaponized against them by would be foreign conquerors, occupiers and betrayers. It is worth noting some of the obvious the parallels between these elements in this virtual film world, and those found in our world of real bullets and anthropologists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2007, the occupying U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan have deployed Human Terrain Teams (HTT), complete with HTT "social scientists" using anthropological-ish methods and theories to ease the conquest and occupation of these lands. HTT has no avatared-humans; just supposed "social scientists" who embed with battalions working to reduce friction so that the military can get on with its mission without interference from local populations. For most anthropologists these HTT programs are an outrageous abuse of anthropology, and earlier this month a lengthy report by a commission of the American Anthropological Association (of which I was a member and report co-author) concluded that the Human Terrain program crossed all sorts of ethical, political and methodological lines, finding that:
"when ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment -- all characteristic factors of the HTT concept and its application -- it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology." The American Anthropological Association's executive board found Human Terrain to be a "mistaken form of anthropology". But even with these harsh findings, the Obama administration's call for increased counterinsurgency will increase demands for such non-anthropological uses of ethnography for pacification.

Thomas E. Ricks hates Avatar (and huffs and blogs to be sure we all know). Here's what those paying attention know: Ricks is this century's Walter Lippmann and that's not a compliment. He left journalism to whore for counter-insurgency. He has no ethical training and he thinks that general studies major (journalism degree) qualifies him for something. It doesn't qualify him for humanity and he's unable to address ethics. (Don't forget his stamping of feet at the AP last year.) He's a joke. He's a War Criminal now and he's joke.
Kelley B. Vlahos (Antiwar) addressed Ricks most recently earlier this week:In high school, there are always the Cool Kids. In the Washington military establishment, there are always the Cool Kids. Walking conflict ofinterest Tom Ricks loves to write breathlessly about Washington's prevailing Gang with the Name -- the COINdinistas -- most of whom now roost in the Pentagon or at the Center for a New American Security, which hired Ricks away from a full-time job at the Washington Post to do just what he's doing now: shamelessly promoting the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).But even the cool kids will eventually fall out of style. Like haughty Heidi Klum says, "In fashion, one day you're in, the next day you're out!" Perhaps that's why Ricks' latest Foreign Policy panegyric to his friends seems even more cringe-worthy and awkward than usual, mainly because this gushing yearbook entry -- dated December 2009 -- could have been written a year ago. Today, it tastes like slightly overdone steak. Stick a fork in it… you get the picture. Under the subheading, "Who knows everything there is to know and more about counterinsurgency and its current role in U.S. military strategy? These guys," Ricks effuses: "Pushed and prodded by a wonky group of Ph.D.s, the U.S. military has in the last year decisively embraced a Big Idea: counterinsurgency. Not everyone in uniform is a fan, but David Petraeus and the other generals in charge of America's wars are solidly behind it. Here are the brains behind counterinsurgency's rise from forgotten doctrine to the centerpiece of the world's most powerful military…"No. 1 on the list: Petraeus, or "King David," "who rules the roost," according to Ricks. He's followed by John Nagl, the former Army officer and Rumsfeld aide who now "beats the COIN drum" and might find himself in a "top Pentagon slot in a year or two"; Australian COIN-whisperer David Kilcullen, currently one of McChrystal's key eggheads, whom Ricks calls "the Crocodile Dundee of counterinsurgency"; Janine Davidson, a Pentagon policy-pusher who Ricks says is "now sitting at the adult table"; Dave Dilegge, editor of Small Wars Journal, which is "avidly read by everyone from four-star generals to captains on the ground in Iraq"; and Andrew Exum, another CNAS wonk, Iraq vet, and blogger, who "in his spare time has been known to play paintball against Hezbollah – no joke."

Little lesson today in: You are who you get in bed with. You are everything they were exposed to. So when someone's already has two arrests -- pay attention, Amy Goodman -- for attempting to have sex with a minor, you avoid them. You don't promote them as 'good' people. We've gone over that repeatedly but have to hit on it again today because Pig got busted and charged again.
Laura Rozen (Politico) notes it here. If we had a working left, a functioing one, Pig would have been shunned long ago. But see, when the victims would be female, so much of the left doesn't give a damn. That includes women, we've named Amy Goodman. There's Laura Flanders as well. Rachel Maddow. All these 'strong' women who couldn't say no to Pig and kept booking him on their shows. We've called it out repeatedly here while so many women have WHORED themselves and others. That's not to let the men off. But it's especially disgusting when women -- hey, Lila Garrett -- we're talking about your WHORING ASS too -- give space for sexual predators. From the February 5, 2008 snapshot:

What the election cycle has demonstrated on the Democratic side is how much women are still devalued and hated. Don't kid that it's not so. Like Laura Flanders has no problem bringing the Pig (twice busted for attempting to set up sex with an underage female online) onto her radio program, Common Dreams has no problem posting him. They've got him up today. But they didn't post Steinem and they didn't post Morgan. With Pig, we're supposed to overlook the busts. It's more important that his 'voice' be heard than that he's a predator and, thing is, women know that argument because we've heard it over and over, decade after decade. Gender is the greatest barrier. All women are told to wait -- over and over. Ask Flanders why she was so offended about Gary Glitter but thought nothing of repeatedly booking Pig on her program? Ask her to explain that. Ask Amy Goodman to. Ask Katrina vanden Heuvel why she, the mother of a teenage daughter, thinks his rambles are worth carrying at The Nation? Big media had the sense to wash their hands of him when the arrests came out. Not little media. Because you've got a lot of queen bees who won't use their voices, they don't want to look 'bitchy' or 'assertive' or 'demanding.' How's that working out for you?

For those who don't know, Laura wouldn't join us in protesting Pig. She kept bringing Pig on air. But in the dying days of her bad radio show, she wanted to insist that a sports team stop using a Gary Glitter song because . . . Gary was a sexual predator. It offends her . . . at sporting events. Apparently. Lila Garrett, Laura Flanders, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Amy Goodman and a host of others better be willing to note Pig's latest arrest -- this would be his third sexual predator arrest for those paying attention -- and maybe explain why they continued to publish him or bring him on as a guest? They also never called him out when he attacked
Cindy Sheehan. From the May 29, 2007 snapshot:

Now here's how polite society worked once upon a time, when someone was reported to have been twice busted for pedophilia, that was really it for them. They didn't get write ups, they didn't pen op-eds. They weren't invited on programs to chat. But for some reason, Pig Ritter is seen as a voice the 'left' needs to adopt. Scott Ritter was allowed to repeatedly attack Cindy Sheehan on his joint-tour in 2006 (The Sky is Falling Tour -- DVD set retails for $19.99 unless you're going for the NC-17 version) and everyone looked the other way and most of the press (big and small) just chuckled. That's why he felt brave enough to issue the nonsense in an interview proper (and one that didn't require him to be handcuffed -- how novel that must have been for him).The peace movement needs to be inclusive, no question, but that doesn't translate as: "Because we have the Peace Mom, we need to have the Pedophile Man." That's not inclusion, that's stupidity on ever level (including legal liabilities should anything happen to an underage female). We washed our hands of him a long time ago in this community. He is "pig" when noted here for any reason. His name is being mentioned here (for the first time since he went public in attacking Sheehan) only because there are some who seem unable to believe it could be true. Well it is. And it's equally true that you need to ask your outlets why they have repeatedly featured a man who will not explain his criminal busts and allows to stand the mainstream media's reporting that they were for attempting to hook up with young (underage) girls online. It is amazing that the same independent media that wants to scream 'crackpot' and 'crazy' to make sure they are not associated with certain groups is perfectly happy to break bread with a pedophile. Repeatedly.

The Sky Is Falling Tour? He did that with Sy Hersh. And I'd love for Hersh to claim he had no idea about Pig's history. He knew all about Pig's history and I'm laughing, Sy, because a lot of us warned you Pig would get arrested again. It's on you, Seymour, it's on your reputation now. We've noted this topic too many times to count and there's good chance we'll return to it tonight for "I Hate The War."

Wrapping up with two other things. First, independent journalist
David Bacon reports on the San Francisco Hotel Arrests (link goes to IATSE Local 477):

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm joined 1400 hotel workers and their supporters last week, as they rallied and marched to the San Francisco Hilton demanding a fair contract. Over 100 protesters, including Trumka and Wilhelm, were then arrested for sitting in and blocking the doors. The action culminated in the launch of a boycott of the hotel, one of the city's most luxurious.The Hilton march and arrests are a preview of a spring of growing conflict between workers and the giant chains that now own and operate the city's Class A hotels. Although San Francisco has seen more of that conflict over the last six months than other cities, it is now spreading around the country. By the summer, it may involve a confrontation between the hotels and over 40,000 workers in at least nine cities.

The contract with San Francisco's hotel union, UNITE HERE Local 2, expired on August 14. Since then, Local 2 has been trying to bargain a new agreement in the middle of an economic depression. Last fall Local 2 members struck, and then began boycotts, at three other Class A hotels - the Grand Hyatt, the Palace and the St. Francis.
San Francisco's largest hotels are demanding cuts in health and retirement benefits, and increased workloads, saying that the economic crisis has reduced tourism in the city. The luxury chains want workers to begin paying for their healthcare premiums -- $35/month this year, $115/month next year, and $200/month the year after. A typical San Francisco hotel worker earns $30,000 per year, and many can't work a full 40-hour week.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

Lastly, the
Detroit Green Party issued the following:For Immediate Release: January 10, 2010For More Information Contact:----------------------------Name: Derek GrigsbyCell Phone: 313-706-2985E-mail: dereknjck@yahoo.comDetroit Green Party calls for outlawing of utility shutoffs===========================================================Stop the killing of our innocent sisters and brothers!Outlaw utility shut-offs now!Detroit, MI January 10, 2010 – In the week that ushered in the New Year, at least eight people died in four Detroit fires.Why does this happen every winter in Detroit, over and over again?"Detroit is a city with poor people often unable to pay their utilities. If they get behind in their payments; it's pretty difficult to get caught up. So when water or gas or electricity is turned off, they have a choice of doing without or rigging something up. This kind of access to power leads to fires every winter," stated Detroit Green Party spokesperson Derek Grigsby. "DTE should be prevented from shutting-off electricity in the middle of winter. We should put the needs of ordinary people before the profits of a wealthy few."'In the latest case, the three people who died were using walkers. They weren't nimble enough to exit the house. By the time firefighters pulled two of the three out of the house and rushed them to nearby hospitals, they were pronounced dead.While the immediate cause of the fire remains under investigation, the underlying cause is that in the midst of a deep economic crisis, where effectively half the city's adult residents are unemployed, utilities are shut off for non-payment. Instead of a business-as-usual approach to people's needs, we need to adopt a strategy of saving people's lives by having a moratorium on the shut off of utilities and foreclosures.In the latest case, Marvin Allen, 62, and his brother Tyrone Allen, 61, both handicapped, along with Tyrone's girlfriend, Lyn Grier, 59, died without any insurance. The family asked that donations be made for funeral services to the Allen Memorial Fund at any Comerica Bank Branch. The Detroit Greens has made a contribution, and encourages others, including DTE, to do so.Detroit Green Party, a local of the Green Party of Michigan

mcclatchy newspaperssahar issahannah allemmiddle east viewsmichael jansenafif sarhanal jazeera
the washington post
leila fadel
aziz alwan
antiwarkelley b. vlahos
rebecca santana
nada bakri
timothy williamsthe new york times
zhang xiangxinhua
david baconkpfathe morning show