Saturday, October 19, 2013

Idiot of the Week and more

At WSWS, Thomas Gaist reports:

While expert sources acknowledge that the firings of Vice Admiral Tim Giardina and Major General Michael Carey constitute an unprecedented crisis in the US military, the media have accepted the US military’s presentation of it a matter of the two officers’ personal problems. Air Force General Robert Kehler’s assertion that both firings were the result of vaguely defined “unfortunate behavioral incidents” has been accepted, and the matter largely dropped.
Such accounts are not only not credible, they entirely evade the issues involved in the sudden cashiering of officers controlling the most powerful nuclear arsenal on the planet, capable of destroying humanity many times over. As military sources or specialists of military affairs acknowledge, the firings reflect a deep crisis of the US military. In such a situation, neither the possibility of potentially catastrophic technical problems with the US nuclear arsenal nor of threatened military action against the US civilian government can be ruled out.
A report on the firing of Vice Admiral Tim Giardina in the Marine Corps Times noted that such an event “is exceedingly rare and perhaps unprecedented in the history of U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all American nuclear war fighting forces, including nuclear-armed submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.”

I agree with him that the real story is not being told there.  So why did these two get fired?

Is there a nuclear reason behind it?

I have no idea.

I just saw this "Fresh Air Weekend: Billy Crystal And Graham Nash" -- so Graham Nash fans should tune in.  Did you see this:

The moral abyss that I refer to—here, not the callousness of turning away from the consequences of US financial decisions, but the absolute desensitization toward what has been left out: a nonnegotiable military presence which permeates consciousness, policy-making, the nation’s very identity, in disregard of all that is, or rather, could be, the moral obligation of government to its people and the world beyond.

It's from Norman Pollack's "Psychodynamics of US Default" at CounterPunch, another amazing column.

And let's move to the bad.  Idiot of the week.

My choice?

The Cult of St. Barack -- chiefly MSNBC.

They spent this week, as they had the previous weeks, whoring for ObamaCare.  Be sure to read Bruce Dixon's article on how awful ObamaCare is.  But the cult ignored reality and, yet again, rallied around the corporatist war hawk Barack.

They're idiots.  This week, and long into the future as well.  When they're little baby crawls out of the White House, they're going to have a lot to answer for because we needed Medicare For All but got a gift to the insurance companies instead.

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

Friday, October 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, ongoing protests in Iraq reach the ten month mark (where's the western press), Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi states he has evidence of Nouri al-Maliki's crimes against the Iraqi people, news of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, and much more.

Tareq al-Hashemi is one of Iraq's two vice presidents.  Sunni and a member of Iraqiya, he was targeted by Nouri in 2011 and has sought safety in the KRG and Turkey.  From yesterday's snapshot:

Today, al-Hashemi was supposed to participate in a human rights conference in Brussells.  Nouri's State of Law went into a tizzy.  All Iraq News quotes State of Law MP Salman al-Musawi insisting, "The participation of the convicted Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashimi, in a Human Rights Conference held by the European Union violates the sovereignty of Iraq."  Then the outlet reports the Iraqi embassy bragged that they had forced the cancellation of a press conference today by Tareq al-Hashemi.  NINA notes:

It is mentioned that a statement from the Office of Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia, said he has arrived to Brussels yesterday afternoon , at the invitation of the EU.
The statement added that al-Hashemi will attend today's formal meeting in the European Parliament, which will listen to his speech on the challenges facing Iraq. According to the statement.

Today AFP reports the Vice President did hold a press conference and he declared, "My case is politically motivated and the charges are absolutely fabricated. Nevertheless, I now express my readiness to return to Baghdad immediately ... in (the case) the EU guarantees a fair trial."  Middle East Monitor quotes al-Hashemi also stating, "The chances of just litigation are non-existent in Iraq when Chief Justice Medhat Al-Mahmoud is clearly complicit with the Prime Minister's Office, thus distorting the image and reputation of Iraq both domestically and internationally."

Even those who believe al-Hashemi is guilty have to, if they have any self-honesty, have to admit the Baghdad courts are a joke and Tareq was denied a fair trial.

In France, where they kiss in the main street, Francois Hollande is president.  Can you picture any French court denying to allow Hollande to testify as a character witness in a trial?  No. But Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was denied by the Baghdad court when he attempted to offer testimony on behalf of Tareq.  Equally true, by 2010, it was obvious that the Baghdad courts were not independent and were ruling for Nouri and against the laws of Iraq (including the Constitution).  As Congress was repeatedly informed in the last years of the '00s, the graft and corruption in Iraq included the judicial system.

The world looked the other way when  the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February 2012 at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi. Excuse me, that is wrong.  They reproduce what the judges said.  They failed to note the Iraqi Constitution -- which protects Tareq or anyone in office from being tried while they hold public office and which protects all with the belief of innocent until proven guilty.

Reuters and the others couldn't be bothered with facts or the law.  They couldn't even raise the issue of a group of Bahgdad judges declaring a person guilty before a trial had even started.  They were so up the ass of Nouri that they treated this moment as normal.

It was not normal.  Tareq was tried in absentia in a kangaroo court.  For those who've forgotten, al-Hashemi also asked that the trial be moved to another area of Iraq where Nouri did not control the judiciary.  That was refused.   Today Middle East Monitor reports:

During the conference, Hashemi revealed documents and videos proving the involvement of Al-Maliki and his office in acts of torture and serious violations of human rights. He explained that: "most of the detainees are innocent while the real criminals are still free with the knowledge of the security services. The major proof is the continued collapse of security; the incidents, assassinations and sectarian displacement, all with the support of Al-Maliki's security services."

In all the bad western media coverage of 2012, one lie after another was repeated as the 'indpendent' press conveyed Nouri al-Maliki's position like good little stenographers.  The steno pad, for example, was fond of repeating Nouri's lie that an arrest warrant was issued and then Tareq fled Baghdad.  Lie.  Dropping back to December 18, 2011:

AFP reports, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane was Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister whom Nouri has asked Parliament to strip the powers of. al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane. On today's All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

Nizar Latif (The National) observes:

Those moves have added to a fear among the prime minister's critics that he is seeking to eliminate rivals and consolidate power.Iraqiyya warned it would pull out of the coalition government unless Mr Al Maliki agreed to seek a solution that respects "democracy and civil institutions".
"Iraq is now in a very difficult position. This is a critical time," said Eytab Al Douri, an MP with the Iraqiyya bloc. "If solutions are not found quickly, Iraq will be heading towards sectarian and ethnic divisions, and a return to civil war."

The Baghdad authorities had Tareq.  They pulled him off the plane (and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq as well), held him for a few hours and then led to proceed to the KRG.  The next day, December 19, 2011, they issued an arrest warrant.  From that day's snapshot:

CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."

Somehow, Nouri's the western press, aka Nouri's steno pool, turned that into "a warrant was issued for al-Hashemi who then fled."

They were so eager to serve Nouri, they didn't even bother to get the timetable correct.

So it's no surprise they also ignored Tareq al-Hashemi's conflict with Nouri.

We didn't.

Because the conflict was long standing.  Just as Nouri became prime minister in 2006, Tareq al-Hashemi became vice president the same year.

They had many conflicts.  The most recurring conflict?  Over the abuse of Iraqis held in detention centers and prisons.  When  Ned Parker (the Los Angeles Times) and Human Rights Watch would reveal the secret prisons -- supervised by Nouri -- where torture took place, everyone would play dumb.  Except al-Hashemi who always had a public statement.  While prisons were otherwise ignored in Iraq, Tareq would announce he was going into one and taking press with him.  In other countries -- and this especially pissed Nouri and his State of Law off in 2010 -- Tareq's visits would include him discussing the abuse taking place in Iraqi prisons.  This was among the reasons, during the 8 month political stalemate of 2010 (Nouri had lost the parliamentary election but refused to step down as prime minister), State of Law was publicly denouncing Tareq and insisting he was not vice president (when he was and would be named to a second term in November of 2010).

I don't doubt that Tareq al-Hashemi has proof of Nouri's crimes against the Iraqi people.  In part because Nouri's so stupid and so crooked.  But also because Tareq's always been sharper than Nouri.  In 2009, when Sunnis were being marginalized in the upcoming elections (as voters), Nouri felt he had a clean sweep at victory.  But that fall, Tareq used his Constitutional power to stop the bill Parliament had passed and to demand that Sunni refugees had the same voting rights of Shi'ite refugees and other Iraqi people.  Nouri was not pleased.

But the steno pool couldn't -- or wouldn't -- tell you that.  They'd lie and type that he was the former vice president.  They could do that.  But he was never stripped of office.  (Failure to first strip him of office is why the verdicts against him have no legal standing.)  Nouri tried.  He spent months -- a little over five -- trying to have Tareq stripped of office and Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of office as well.  He failed in both cases.  In May of 2012, Nouri dropped his efforts to have Saleh stripped of office and, at the same time, the trial of Tareq (in absentia) also took place.  The two events were related.  Even after the Baghdad judges pronounced Tareq guilty in Februrary 2012, the trial didn't start.  Because Nouri knew he had to first get Tareq stripped of office -- and was convinced he could.  The trial only started after he faced the reality that it wasn't happening -- not for Tareq, not for Saleh.  Then, in violation of the Constitution, the trial began.

I know the press is largely stupid and rarely bother to look at the law.  But by the time Nouri was going after Tareq, even a lazy and ill-informed press should have known what's what.  In part because Nouri attempted to sue an MP only months before.  Sabah al-Saadi was the MP and his criticism of Nouri resulted in Nouri going crazy.   September 22, 2011, Nouri swore out an arrest warrant for al-Saadi. Let's drop back to the September 20, 2011 snapshot:

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports MP Sabah al-Saadi is stating there is no arrest warrant out against him and that the claims of one stem from Nouri al-Maliki attempting to cover up his own corruption and he states Nouri has deliberately kept the three security ministries vacant and he charges Nouri is willing "to sell Iraq to maintain his hold on power."  Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) observes, "The increasing violence is likely to be taken as a further sign of political gridlock in the Iraqi government, in particular the inability of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to name permanent ministers for the key security posts 18 months after the March 2010 elections."

So Sabah al-Saadi was arrested!


As an MP, he had immunity.  The Constitution guarantees him that -- guarantees Nouri that.  Only while in office, but it exists.  And the western press never bothered to tell you that fact.  Though they were frequently able to repeatedly lie and insist that Tareq was a "former" vice president.  Tareq is Vice President he's never been stripped of office.

December 2011, Nouri showed to the world his disrespect for the Constitution and his political rivals as he abused his office to target Nouri.  A year later, he underscored that point.  From the December 21, 2012 snapshot:

In Iraq, it's seasonal tidings.  Yes, that time of the year when Nouri uncorks The Crazy.  How bad is it?  So bad that rumors attach War Criminal Henry Kissinger's name to the current crisis.   Or, with a take from a different angle,  conservative Max Boot (Commentary) proclaims, "Ho hum, another holiday season, another power grab by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki."  AFP says the new crisis "threatens to reignite a long-running feud between the secular, Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc" and Nouri and his State of Law political slate.  What the heck are we talking about?  Look at this Reuters photo (individual photographer is not credited by the news agency or we'd note him or her by name) of the thousands who turned out to protest in Falluja today demanding Nouri al-Maliki resign as prime minister.
After morning prayers, Kitabat reports, protesters gathered in Falluja to protest the arrests and Nouri al-Maliki.  They chanted down with Nouri's brutality and, in a move that won't change their minds, found themselves descended upon by Nouri's forces who violently ended the protest.  Before that, Al Mada reports, they were chanting that terrorism and Nouri are two sides of the same coin.  Kitabat also reports that demonstrations also took place in Tikrit, Samarra, Ramdia and just outside Falluja with persons from various tribes choosing to block the road connecting Anbar Province (Falluja is the capitol of Anbar) with Baghdad.  Across Iraq, there were calls for Nouri to release the bodyguards of Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi.  Alsumaria notes demonstrators in Samarra accused Nouri of attempting to start a sectarian war.
So what happened yesterday?  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports:

Iraq's Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi said Thursday that "a militia force" raided his house, headquarters and ministry in Baghdad and kidnapped 150 people, and he holds the nation's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, responsible for their safety.
 Members of the al-Essawi's staff and guards were among those kidnapped from the ministry Thursday, the finance minister said. He also said that his computers and documents were searched at his house and headquarters. He said the head of security was arrested Wednesday at a Baghdad checkpoint for unknown reasons and that now the compound has no security.

Kitabat explains that these raids took place in the Green Zone, were carried out by the Iraqi military and that Nouri, yesterday evening, was insisting he knew nothing about them.    In another report, Tawfeeq quotes al-Essawi stating, "My message to the prime minister: You are a man who does not respect partnership at all, a man who does not respect the law and the constitution, and I personally hold you fully responsible for the safety of the kidnapped people."

And those December 21, 2012 protests?  Though the western press ignores them, they continue non-stop to this day.  This was the ten month anniversary of the start of them but don't expect to discover that via AP or any other US outlet which seems to see it as a point of pride that they really don't care -- not even to report on Nouri's efforts to ensure that reporters don't cover the protests.  You don't need to read Arabic to grasp how Nouri's forces treat the press, just look at the photo to this Kitabat report.

Embedded image permalink

Iraqi Spring MC reports protests took place in Samarra (above),  Falluja, in Ramadi, in Tikrit, and in Rawah, among other places.  Other places?  How about the KRG?  Erbil found protesters blocking the road and insisting the government provide protection for the people.  Alsumaria reports that an estimated 300 protesters turned out in Erbil.   National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Sheikh Mohammed Fayyad, one of the organizers of Anbar sit-ins ,said to NINA reporter : "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction.

Alsumaria reports that, at the Falluja protests, Younis al-Hamadani called for the government to disclose the status of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and that it is impossible to believe the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki do not know Talabani's condition.  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  al-Nujaifi has disclosed he attempted to meet with Talabani last spring on a trip to Germany but that Talabani's office refused to allow the meet-up to take place.  On the topic of al-Nujaifi, the White House issued the following yesterday:

Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi

Vice President Biden spoke today with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. The two leaders discussed events in the region and efforts to bolster moderate forces against the terrorists and other extremists targeting innocent Iraqis. The Vice President expressed his sympathies to the families of those killed in these cowardly attacks.  He also pledged continuing U.S. support under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help Iraq bring the perpetrators of these atrocities to justice.  The Speaker also discussed the important issues pending before the Iraqi parliament, including the law to govern national elections in 2014.  The two leaders noted the recent resolution from the Iraqi parliament, stating that these elections should be held no later than April 30, 2014, and the Vice President urged all of Iraq’s leaders to work together to finalize the election law as soon as possible.

Meanwhile Nouri's gearing up for his visit to the US. Alsumaria reports his visit will begin October 29th.  There are rumors of protests when Nouri meets with Barack on November 1st -- chiefly by the Ashraf community supporters who wear yellow when attending Congressional hearings.

Back to today's protests in Iraq, The Association of Imams and Khateebs released a statement noting that Nouri al-Maliki's government has not responded to the demands of the protesters that the innocent prisoners and detainees be released.

Cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr has publicly called for his supporters to be released from Iraqi prisons.  These are his followers who did not harm the Iraqi people but did resist foreign occupation.  They were long ago supposed to be released.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri has 'responded' to Moqtada's call.  Earlier this week, the paper reports, Nouri's SWAT goons entered  Camp Cropper Prison in Baghdad and beat up, tortured and electrocuted prisoners associated with Moqtada.   On protests,  The Voice of Russia reports today:

In August a number of individuals protesting in Nasiriyah and Baghdad were assaulted and detained by police. It followed reports that several provinces had refused to issue permits allowing people to protest. On 2 August Iraqi Security Forces in Baghdad are reported to have detained 13 people to prevent them from protesting against corruption and the deteriorating security situation in the country. Some of those detained also claim they were assaulted by security forces.
The British Government said: "We share Human Rights Watch’s concerns about this incident, and the government of Iraq’s use of regulations which allow police to prevent peaceful protest. We are also concerned by reports that Iraqi Security Forces raided Baghdadiya TV station offices on 13 September".

Al Rafidayn reports that, at the start of this week, KRG President Massoud Barzani declared he did not believe Iraq's political crisis could be resolved before the next parliamentary elections (which are supposed to take place April 30th) and he noted that some fear a civil war will break out before then.

Turning to violence, yesterday's snapshot included NINA reporting 10 Baghdad car bombings left 13 people dead and eighty-seven injured. AFP reports today that the death toll for the Thursday Baghdad bombings increased to 44.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 601 violent deaths so far this month.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued the following today:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Attacks During Eid al-Adha

October 18, 2013
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attacks across Iraq on Thursday, including the targeting of the minority Shabak community in the village of Mwafaqiya. These attacks killed over 50 and injured dozens of innocent men, women, and children. The United States stands with the Iraqi people against this violence and continues to work with the government of Iraq to combat terrorism and to bring to justice those individuals responsible for these cowardly attacks.  Such violence against innocent civilians is always abhorrent, but is particularly reprehensible when inflicted on the occasion of Eid al Adha. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish for a full and speedy recovery to the injured. 

On the violence,  NINA reports a Baghdad car bombing has left 12 people dead and twenty-three injured, a Tikrit bombing claimed 6 lives and left nineteen injured, and a Dour bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured.

Yesterday in Iraq, violence targeted the Shabaks. This led to, All Iraq News notes, a protest in Nineveh Province demanding that security measures be taken.   Today the religious minority under attack was the Yezidis.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 3 Yezidis were stabbed to death in Sinjar.

In 2007, Sean Thomas (Daily Mail) noted the Yezidis "number between 400,00 and 800,000" globaly.  The Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International states:

We Yezidis are an Ezidi speaking people who live principally in northern Iraq presently.  We number approximately 650,000 - 750,000 in Iraq; smaller populations live in Syria, and Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and  with more than 200,000 settled in other parts of the world especially Germany and other European countries such as the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria; small communities live in USA, Canada, Australia, etc.  We Yezidis are mostly a poor and oppressed people in today’s world without basic human rights recognition and protection from the International Communities, but we have a very rich spiritual tradition that we contend is the world's oldest people.  Originally we Ezidis are from the heartland of Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran) and also some live in India.  And about 900 years ago, we Yezidis also were living in Afghanistan (Kandahar), Yemen (Sinjar), Tunis, Morocco and Algeria, but unfortunately due to Islamic extremists and fanatics’ attacks against us, the Yezidi people were totally annihilated in those regions.  Well before this time, as far back as 4000 B.C., we Yezidis were living in the Middle East and playing an important role in the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Jewish civilizations. Today, we (the Yezidis) have the oldest religion in the world, contending that the truth of this is reflected in the antiquity of our calendar.  We can trace back our religious calendar 6760 years, thus making 2010 Calendar Era (CE), the Yezidis year of 6760.  In relation to some of the other major religions, our Yezidi Calendar is 4,750 years older than the Christian or Gregorian calendar, 990 years older than the Jewish calendar, and it is 5329 years older than the Muslim Calendar. In the past 20 years to present, especially since the internet has become the easiest way to find information regarding whatever a person wishes to search for.  We have seen that more than 99% of the writers accusing the innocent Yezidi as devil worshipers, this is absolutely pure fiction.  During the Saddam’s era, the Yezidis were misclassified as Arab in ethnicity by his political force.  Although Saddam has gone, but the KRG (Real Dictators) has come to power in Northern Iraq since 1991, and they also are forcing the innocent Yezidis to be misclassified as Kurdish; again this time under KRG’s brutal and dictatorial system. All these are misleading, untruth, and pure fiction information about the innocent Yezidis (Ezdae). 

Stuart Stevenson is the president of the European Parliment's Iraq delegation.  Last week, he wrote (The Hill) about the vast number of groups targeted and at risk in Iraq:

The Syrian conflict raging on the borders of Iraq has poured petrol on the flames. In Iraqi Kurdistan, one of the few havens of peace in the country, terrorists have infiltrated groups of refugees fleeing to safety, setting off a series of bombs in the Kurdish capital Erbil some days ago that killed six people and injured dozens, the first terrorist attack in six years. Kurdistan is now swarming with refugees, not only from Syria but from the rest of Iraq, where ethnic minorities as well as minority women and LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) individuals are daily at risk from targeted violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, harassment, intimidation, displacement, political disenfranchisement and social and economic marginalization. 
The many ethnic groups who for generations lived in peaceful harmony side by side with the majority Shia and Sunni communities now suffer systematic abuse. Despite being guaranteed safety and security in a multi-faith society enshrined by the Iraqi Constitution, the reality is much different. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of neighboring Iran and its hard-line mullahs, has become increasingly sectarian, ruthlessly removing all Sunni politicians from influential government positions and cracking down hard on dissent. The predictable Sunni backlash has unleashed a storm of violence, directed not only at the Shiite community but inevitably targeting ethnic minorities.
The Christian population of Iraq, once estimated at more than 1.5 million, is now down to less than half that figure, with many Christians fleeing abroad or to Kurdistan for safety. Soon, some people think that one of the oldest Christian communities in the world may become extinct. But they are not the only minority facing ethnic cleansing. There are only around 3,500 Mandean-Sabeans left from a previous population estimated at 70,000 a mere 10 years ago. Iraq’s Jews have suffered extreme persecution since the 1950s and now there are now only an estimated 10 individuals left living in the country from an original population of more than 150,000, although it is reckoned that many others may be in hiding, literally practicing their faith in secret in the privacy of their homes.
Other ethnic groups like the Turkmen, Baha’i, Shabak and Yezidi minorities all suffer discrimination, despite their rights being guaranteed in the Constitution. The black Iraqis, an ancient community of African slave descent, are regarded as inferior by many of their Arab neighbors and live as almost total outcasts, mostly in Southern Iraq, where -- despite numbering around 2 million -- they are denied identity documents, marriage certificates or even access to basic education for their children, and live in abject poverty.
Around the world, countries have often had wonderful sounding documents that outlined rights but were, in fact, not practiced.  As the illegal spying scandal has made clear US President Barack Obama -- 'the Constitutional law professor' -- declared the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution null and void, Americans are beginning to see how different the written law and that actually practiced by the government can be.

Turning to today's press briefing at the State Dept by spokesperson Jen Psaki:

QUESTION: The New York Times piece on Snowden today makes reference to his claims that while in Hong Kong, before going to Russia, he transferred information to other journalists at that time. We do know, of course, that the Consulate and whatnot had been alerted, and I’m wondering if there’s any information as to what the State Department had done at that time, whether there’d been any outreach to these journalists who allegedly received this information from him.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any new information. Obviously, as you all know, we work with journalists frequently when they’re reporting on stories, but in terms of what the statements were in The New York Times and the accuracy of those, I don’t have anything new for you on that.

QUESTION: But was there – was there any outreach by the Consulate in Hong Kong at that time to make contact with those journalists?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I’m happy to do that for you .

What's being discussed?  Kind-of-sort-of today's front page of today's New York Times has an article by James Risen on NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.  Risen interviewed Ed online, over several days.  Risen reports:

 He argued that he had helped American national security by prompting a badly needed public debate about the scope of the intelligence effort. “The secret continuance of these programs represents a far greater danger than their disclosure,” he said. He added that he had been more concerned that Americans had not been told about the N.S.A.’s reach than he was about any specific surveillance operation.
“So long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision,” he said. “However, programs that are implemented in secret, out of public oversight, lack that legitimacy, and that’s a problem. It also represents a dangerous normalization of ‘governing in the dark,’ where decisions with enormous public impact occur without any public input.”         

In the interview, he speaks of a climate of fear and intimidation at the NSA.  He explains that going through channels does not work -- through the examples of what was done to Thomas Drake as well as a minor spat he had with a supervisor when he (Ed) identified a flaw in the CIA software.  In 2009, while removing items that were not supposed to be on a computer, he came across an IG report on the NSA's illegal spying under Bully Boy Bush and discovered how pervasive and illegal the spying was.  He tells Risen he realized, "If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous."

Somehow this was missed by the press at today's briefing and in the 'reporting' by  the BBC, AP,  and Michael Winter (USA Today).   We'll close with two Tweets from YourAnonNews:

  • Why Is Preventing The Release Of The Senate Torture Report?
  • Head of NSA's Snowden task force will be next deputy director

  • Friday, October 18, 2013

    Graham Nash

    Graham Nash is a singer-songwriter.  He's been a member of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  He's written an autobiography entitled Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life.  He wrote the hit "Our House" ("is a very, very fine house . . .") and his solo album  Songs for Beginners is an all time classic.  He spoke with Fox News last week:

    FOX411: You became very political.

    Nash: I think it was from my sense of unfairness. My father went to jail for a $30 camera for a year [a family member had hidden the stolen camera in their house] and I always felt the justice system was buyable. Rich people don't go to jail, it's always the poor people.

    I got a call in 1968 from a friend of mine who said that the people who disturbed the Democratic Convention in Chicago needed money for their defense and would we come to Chicago and sing. When I heard about what happened to Bobby Seale, where they bound him and chained him and gagged him and called it a fair trial. That's not a fair trial. When you put Bradley Manning into a room with bright lights for 24 hours a day and strip him naked and humiliate him for a thousand days before his trial, that's not fair to me.

    FOX411: It's amazing after all these years together you're still singing and speaking to each other.

    Nash: I don't hate my partners. I love them to death. We're human beings trying to get on with our lives, doing the best we can. I've been working with David and Stephen for the last forty years. I love them dearly. They're my brothers. Do we argue? Of course. Do we love each other? Of course. Do we realize the most important part of our relationship is music? Absolutely.

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

    Thursday, October 17, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq is slammed with bombings, NBC pretends to report on Iraq, Tareq al-Hashemi is back in the news, whose political career is said to depend on a medical report?, Ezra Klein and Glenn Thursh bicker, and more.

    I see NSA-whistle blower Ed Snowden as a hero.  Some do not see him as such.  I think he did the country (and the world) a great service by exposing the illegal spying.  Again, some don't feel the same.

    Today, when an NBC friend e-mailed me Geoffrey Cowley's long article kind-of about Iraq, I immediately thought of Ed Snowden's whose sacrificed so much to tell the truth.  I thought of him as Cowley tried to turn "Skip" Burkle (Dr. Frederick Burkle) into a hero.  Burkle was over Iraqi health in 2003 and has a great deal to say.


    Today when it doesn't really matter one damn bit.  Today when Bully Boy Bush's image and reputation is so destroyed that Cowley can do a 'serious' news piece that basically mocks Bush.

    Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal.  But the US press won't note that.  Like little cowards, they won't note it, but, like little cowards, they'll stick their tongues out at him.

    So Iraqi health was a failure and Burkle resigned from USAID as desired by the 2003 White House and now, ten years later, we're supposed to be impressed that he's telling (what he says is) the truth?

    I'm not impressed.  Ed Snowden blew the whistle.  Coward Burkle?  He waited until Bush was out of office and a public relations disaster to come forward.

    In other words, while Iraqis suffered, and he knew they were suffering, he refused to speak.  As Pat Benatar sang:

    It's a little too little
    It's a little too late
    I'm a little too hurt 
    And there's nothing left that I got to say
    You can cry to me baby
    But there's only so much that I can take
    It's a little too little
    It's a little too late

    Cowley wants to snicker (behind a straight face) about Bully Boy Bush's lies.  He's sort of like a 17-year-old just realizing "I'm coming" can be interpreted in many ways while his peers stare at him amazed that he's only just now caught on to that.

    If there's a reason to write about broken promises in 2013 -- broken promises with regards to Iraq -- one reason would be the Ashraf community who disarmed at the request of the US government and were promised protection (and were protected people under Geneva) but whom, since Barack came into office, have been attacked repeatedly.  As Betty noted earlier this week at her site:

    The US government gave its word to the Ashraf community.
    And now it doesn't want to keep its word.
    But it has not had the guts to say that.
    Maybe if, when Barack was sworn in back in January 2009, he'd announced that the promise was now broken, the Ashraf community would have had a heads up?
    Instead, they've been left with false hopes (and no protection).

    He wants to write about "the brain drain" in terms of the medical situation:

    Unfortunately, the wars that spawned Iraq’s myriad health challenges have also robbed it of the capacity to address them. The country has lost more than half of its physicians since 2000 (20,000 out of 34,000), and though 1,500 to 1,800 Iraqis are now completing medical degrees each year, a fourth of them are leaving the country. Dr. Nabil Al-Khalisia, an Iraqi physician who fled to the United States in 2010, has since surveyed others in Iraq and around the world, and his findings aren’t encouraging. As he told the Lancet in an interview published last week, more than half of the doctors he surveyed in June 2011 said they had been threatened. Of those still working in Iraq, 18% had survived assassination attempts and nearly half said they still planned to leave the country.

    What a stupid idiot.

    I hope he loathes Bully Boy Bush because, otherwise, there's no point to his article.

    Doctors are killed in Iraq all the time.  He can't tell you that.  Not even that, six days ago, a doctor was shot dead in Mosul.

    He pretends he's interested in the medical but can't tell you that and seems unable to utter the word "nurse."  No where are Nouri's failures in the last seven years more clear than with regards to nurses.  He's importing nurses into the country -- a country with an unemployment rate around 30% (unofficial).  Nouri's importing nurses and has been over seven years.  A nursing degree -- an RN -- is a two year program.  He's had seven years to fast track Iraq's large pool of unemployed workers into a nursing program that would do away with the need to import 60,000 nurses every few months.

    Most of all, if you're going to write about Iraq today you need to note reality on the ground -- especially when you open your 'report' with this 2003 quote from Bully Boy Bush:

    The Iraqi people can be certain of this. The United States is committed to helping them build a better future. We will bring Iraq food and medicine and supplies, and most importantly, freedom.

    Where's the freedom issue in your overly long article?

    No where to be found.

    Following the 2005 elections, Iraqi MPs wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari to be prime minister (to continue in that post).  He had rubbed the Bush administration the wrong way and they demanded it be Nouri al-Maliki.  In the 2010 parliamentary elections, Nouri's State of Law came in second meaning the Iraqi people were finally free of him.

    Except the Barack Obama White House wanted to keep him on.  So they overroad the votes of the Iraqi people, they overrode the Iraqi Constitution, they overroad the rules and spirit of democracy, went around all of that to broker a legal contract that gave Nouri a second term.

    That contract is why Iraq has had an ongoing political crisis for over three years.

    And when Iraqis try to protest, Nouri's forces attack them.  The most infamous example is the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured)."

    Marcia wrote about the attacks on protesters last night and she noted an August 31st report by Aswat al-Iraq:

    A number of casualties were reported in mid of Nassiriya city following clashes between SWAT forces and hundreds of demonstrators.
    The security forces used live bullets to disperse them, as reported to Aswat al-Iraq.
    Civil activist Bassam al-Jabiri told Aswat al-Iraq that 10 persons were injured for "unjustified use of force by SWAT forces".

    Marcia concluded, "People need to be aware of this and they especially need to be aware of it with Nouri coming to the US to meet Barack in about two weeks.  He is attacking the Iraqi people.   Our government doesn't need to schmooze him, they need to hold him accountable."

    Can NBC explain how you open with a 2003 quote about democracy in an article about failed promises to Iraq and never note the attacks on protesters?  Or how about how this article about Iraq 'today' can't mention Barack Obama who has been president for over the last four years of 'today'?

    Like most Americans in 2000, I didn't vote for Bully Boy Bush.  I didn't vote for him in 2004. Starting in February 2003, I spoke out against him, calling him out for war on Iraq.  I still speak about war on Iraq every week.  Bully Boy Bush isn't really my focus.  He is thankfully out of the White House.  NBC's filed something today.

    While they pretend it's a report on Iraq, it just reads to me like a lot of Bush hatred.  And I'm not going to defend Bully Boy Bush from that but I'm also going to pretend like it's got much to do with what's going on in Iraq today despite the lie in the subheading of "What are their lives like today?"

    What their lives are like today would include the Sunni vice president.  From the December 19, 2011 snapshot:

    CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."

    They were questionable charges to begin with and al-Hashemi could not get a fair trail in Baghdad. In fact, the Baghdad judges declared him guilty in February 2012 at their press conference and while one judge was stating that he had been threatened by al-Hashemi.  (The judge actually claimed to have been threatened by 'supporters' of al-Hashemi -- he can't even make the claim if press for proof that it was by a bodyguard of al-Hasehmi.) That was before the trial ever began.  Before hearing any evidence, the judges made clear that al-Hashemi was guilty.

    Moving on to the March 22, 2012 snapshot:

    Since December, those working for Tareq al-Hashemi have been rounded up by Nouri's forces.  At the end of January, Amnesty International was calling for the Baghdad government "to reveal the whereabouts of two women arrested earlier this month, apparently for their connection to the country's vice-president.  Rasha Nameer Jaafer al-Hussain and Bassima Saleem Kiryakos were arrested by security forces at their homes on 1 January.  Both women work in the media team of Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted by the Iraqi authorities on terrorism-related charges."  Yesterday, al-Hashemi noted that his bodyguard had died and stated that it appeared he had died as a result of torture.
     Alsumaria notes Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is calling for the international community to call out the death of his bodyguard, Amer Sarbut Zeidan al-Batawi, who died after being imprisoned for three months. al-Hashemi has stated the man was tortured to death. The photo Alsumaria runs of the man's legs (only the man's legs) appear to indicate he was tortured, welts and bruises and scars.  They also report that the Baghdad Operations Command issued a statement today insisting that they had not tortured al-Batawi and that he died of chronic renal.  They also insist that he was taken to the hospital for medical treamtent on March 7th and died March 15th. Renal failure would be kidney failure.  And that's supposed to prove it wasn't torture?
    If you work for an outlet that just spits out what you are told and didn't actually learn a profession, yes.  Anyone with half a brain, however, apparently that's half more than the average journalist possess today knows to go to science.  The Oxford Journal is scientific. This is from the Abstract for GH Malik, AR Reshi, MS Najar, A Ahmad and T Masood's "Further observations on acute renal failure following physical torture" from 1994:
    Thirty-four males aged 16–40 (mean 25) years in the period from August 1991 to February 1993 presented in acute renal failure (ARF), 3–14 (mean 5) days after they had been apprehended and allegedly tortured in Police interrogation centres in Kashmir. All were beaten involving muscles of the body, in addition 13 were beaten on soles, 11 were trampled over and 10 had received repeated electric shocks.
    Out of that group? 29 did live. Five died.  I don't think the Baghdad Command Operations created any space between them and the charge with their announcement of renal failure as the cause of death.  But, hey, I went to college and studied real topics -- like the law and political science and sociology and philosophy -- and got real degrees not glorified versions of a general studies degree with the word "journalism" slapped on it.  So what do I know?

    That's how Nouri gets rid of his political enemies.  (Tareq's biggest 'crime' may have been repeatedly highlighting abuses in Iraqi prisons.)

    Before the arrest warrant was issued, Tareq had traveled to the KRG where he was briefly a guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and then he became the guest of KRG President Massoud Barzani (after Jalal buckeled to pressure and refused to stand up to Nouri).  He has been living in Turkey.

    Violating the Constitution, al-Hashemi was tried for 'terrorism.'  Even worse, it took place in absentia.  Even worse, people were kidnapped and tortured (and at least one person killed) by Nouri's forces to try to get them to testify that al-Hashmie was a terrorist.  For all the nonsense, al-Hashemi is still a Vice President.  Parliament never stripped him of his title.  Nouri wanted them to but Nouri didn't have the votes.

    Today, al-Hashemi was supposed to participate in a human rights conference in Brussells.  Nouri's State of Law went into a tizzy.  All Iraq News quotes State of Law MP Salman al-Musawi insisting, "The participation of the convicted Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashimi, in a Human Rights Conference held by the European Union violates the sovereignty of Iraq."  Then the outlet reports the Iraqi embassy bragged that they had forced the cancellation of a press conference today by Tareq al-Hashemi.  NINA notes:

    It is mentioned that a statement from the Office of Tareq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia, said he has arrived to Brussels yesterday afternoon , at the invitation of the EU.
    The statement added that al-Hashemi will attend today's formal meeting in the European Parliament, which will listen to his speech on the challenges facing Iraq. According to the statement.

    The Vice President been sentenced to death by Nouri's court flunkies.  He has nothing to fear at present.  After the new Parliament is seated, he may have something to fear.  Until then, he remains a government representative and, per the Iraqi Constitution, Nouri's trials against him were illegal so, therefore, the verdicts have no legal standing.

    Reporting on 'freedom' in Iraq would also require noting, as Fakri Karim (Al Mada) does, the corruption and dealings of Nouri's son Ahmed. Maybe you even note Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq.  Or he's supposed to be.  Can you be the president of a country you're not in?  Last December, Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  For all nine months of 2013 so far, Jalal has been out of Iraq. Last month  Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi revealed he had attempted to meet up with Jalal during a visit to Germany last spring but was rebuffed.  Earlier this week, All Iraq News noted that cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr called out Jalal Talabani remaining president of Iraq, said a delegation needed to be sent to determine his status (and competency) and that the people of Iraq deserve a president.  All Iraq News today quotes Assyrian Christian MP Yonadim Kana saying that Jalal's post depends on what an expected medical report says.

    Bombings went off throughout Iraq today.  The one getting the most attention is near Mosul.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a suicide truck bombing took place in Muwafaqiya Village, a Shabak village, which claimed 15 lives and left sixty people injured.  Zaid al-Sinjary, Raheem Salman and John Stonestreet (Reuters) quote former Mosul provincial council member Qusay Abbas stating, "At 6 am this morning, a suicide truck bomber detonated himself amidst the houses of my village. There are still some people under the debris of their houses."  AFP informs, "The 30,000-strong Shabak community mostly live near Iraq's border with Turkey.  They speak a distinct language and largely follow a faith that is a blend of Shiite Islam and local beliefs, and are periodically targeted in attacks by militants."  Rafid Jaboori (BBC News) explains:

    The Shabak people have lived for hundreds of years in and around the city of Mosul. But the absence of a proper census in post-Saddam Iraq means little is known about their numbers, and facts about the religious and ethnic identity of the community remain confusing.
    Early religious documents indicate that the Shabak were part of a Shia sect, with Sunni Muslims among them. However, after the fall of Saddam Hussein's secular but Sunni-dominated regime, the Shabak are regarded as mainstream Shia.

    Samer Al Bassam (CNN) reports the death toll has risen to 17 and includes seven children.

    Though it is the press focus, it's only one of today's bombings or acts of violence.

    NINA notes 4 Wadi Hajar homes blown up (all belonged to police officers) resulting in 4 deaths and leaving two children injured, Hamid al-Hayes' al-Bothiab home was attacked with mortars (he heads the of Anbar Salvation Council), a Tuz Khurmatu suicide bomber ("explosive belt") took his own life and the lives of 4 other people while leaving twenty more injured,  10 Baghdad car bombings left 13 people dead and eighty-seven injured1 police officer guarding the home of a police officer in Kirkuk was injured when assailants shot at him,  1 police officer was shot dead in downtown Ramadi, and an armed attack on a Falluja police checkpoint left 1 police officer dead and another injured.

    The Washington Post's Ezra Klein and POLITICO'S Glenn Thrush are in a debate.  

  • 2. If Ds succeed in making GOP dysfunction/Tea Party atmospheric issue in '16 (like Iraq in '08) Ryan's vote is serious ad fodder
  • But 2 things: 1. The default vote will have an impact on the atmospherics of '14, ask the R Senate candidates who voted yes
  • 140 ain't gonna cut it. I'll write a little response,but...

  • I'm not that interested but a marker was called in (asking me to weigh in) so I have to.  Thrush thinks the 2016 elections -- yes, he's crystal ball gazing -- could find a shutdown vote Paul Ryan made this month destroying his chances.  Klein disagrees and thinks 2016 will have other issues.

    Who's right?  Who's wrong?

    Klein is the bulk of his argument is correct.  Thrush ridiculously likens the shutdown to the Iraq War.  Some journalists are so stupid, aren't they?  A few weeks of a (semi) government shutdown is the same as years of war that left people dead on all sides?  That left the country trillions in debt?

    Glenn Thursh over-reached and didn't have the brains to say he was wrong.  "I was wrong."  It's three words.  He should learn to say them.  I say them all the time.  Smart people do.  Stubborn people don't.

    Thrush insists that Barack Obama's in the White House because of Hillary Clinton's 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq War.   On that, he's correct.

    He's especially correct because "Democrat: Name To Be Determined" was going to win the 2008 general election.  The only real contest was in the Democratic Party primary.  (The country was against the war, against the illegal spying, against Bully Boy Bush, etc.)

    But his claim to have spent so much time with Hillary's camp and Barack's camp?

    Losers rarely know why they lose.   It takes real honesty and objectivity which few have.  I heard, for example, John Kerry rationalize away his 2004 loss.  His argument was filled with justifications.  I heard Al Gore offer a penetrating look at how he lost.  The Supreme Court gifted Bully Boy Bush with the 2000 election.  Gore didn't word it that way or dwell on that aspect.  He talked about where he made mis-steps.  Al Gore is uncommon.  Most people are more like Kerry when it comes to self-analysis.

    So I really don't see what you'd learn from Team Hillary.

    Their leader learned nothing, certainly.

    Thursh may feel an affinity to Hillary because she also struggles with the words "I was wrong."  If she'd said them about her 2002 vote, Barack's 'issue' would have died there.  But she was too smug and too scared to say those words.  (Two people quit her campaign -- big election players -- in 2007 when it became clear she was not going to apologize for her vote and say she was wrong.)  Few candidates have ever been so stubborn (or so stupid). Thrush is not arguing that Paul Ryan would suffer the same stubborn streak, he doesn't even acknowledge that aspect.

    Hillary's vote did not kill her chances.  John Edwards had the same vote for the war.  It didn't kill his chances.  And cowardly lefties like Susan Sarandon lined up behind Edwards.  They still insist today that he would have been great.  It wasn't the vote, it was her refusal to say it was wrong loudly and clearly.  She never apologized for it, she did have an event where she addressed it in a snippy and defensive manner and that was it.

    The other thing is Hillary was the victim of sexim.

    "Racism's just as bad."  Robert Parry and his ilk were the ones turning it into, as one of them called it, The Oppression Olympics.

    No, in 2008, racism wasn't 'just as bad.'

    The Democratic Party primary was not a 'hotbed of racism.'  Democrats, Socialist, Communists and assorted other flavors turned out for the vote.  These were not racist people.  Many had spent decades fighting racism.  Some of them (wrongly) saw Barack as part of the Civil Rights Movement (helped by his lie that he was only born due to the march on Selma -- a march that took place years after he was born).  From the takedown of Republican George Allen over a racist remark through Don Imus, the '00s were repeatedly filled with members of the Democratic Party calling out racism.  The same cannot be said of sexism.  In fact, Don Imus proves that point.  As Ava and I wrote in 2007:

    Referring to the Rutgers' women's basketball team, he called them "nappy headed hos" as part of an exchange with a fellow pig (who had offered that they were "hos") in the midst of an infantile, "your mother" type exchange. What followed that was pressure from various groups for MSNBC and CBS to declare whether they stood with Imus or against him. Sponsors begn pulling their ads. (Proctor & Gamble was among the first to pull.) In the early days, a two week suspension was announced by MSNBC and CBS. This was followed by MSNBC's decision to no longer carry a televised version of the radio program and, then, by CBS cancelling the radio program.
    If you were late to the party and you've just absorbed all the above, take a deep breath, you'll need it.
    Imus and his piglets were White males. They were of the opinion that they were natural and universal and that anyone not like them was not merely "different" but had a bulls eye painted on.
    Where do you go from there? We thought FAIR but then we looked. This FAIR media advisory tells you that Imus had a "racial outburst." And sadly, this was true of much of the coverage. Women of all races were insulted in the exchange, African-Americans of both genders were insulted in the exchange. This goes to the issue of what we address (over and over) in the TV commentaries: "White male is not universal." White Straight Male is not universal. FAIR, in that action alert, wanted to tell you that it was a "racial outburst."

    Calling a group of young women athletes "whores" is a "racial outburst"?  FAIR only made it worse using CounterSpin to promote the lie that women's groups had ignored what happened -- Kim Gandy had issued a lengthy statement and she was then the president of NOW.  But CounterSpin wasn't interested in interviewing her about the issue.   Or any woman.  They went with an African-
    American male who lied and lied again.  Women had been objecting but the way the Don Imus played out in left media, women had been silent.  CounterSpin issued no correction, FAIR issued no apology.  In fairness, when you're meekly confronted about your error by feminist 'leaders' you may not feel the need to issue a correction.  You had cowards acting as leaders including that idiot who cried in the halls of Congress, Kate Michelman.

    Kate Michelman is a gender-traitor and has always been one.  Weak elements of the feminist movement and a whole lot of men painted her as a 'leader' in the '00s.  She's never been a leader, she's a weak little back stabber and it's really telling of how little women's writing is valued that the most talked about book of the 90s was forgotten in the '00s.  I'm referring to Susan Faludi's Backlash.  (Not Carol Gilligan book that Jane Fonda continues to praise and looks like an idiot for doing so.  The book sold on sexism and Jane looks like an idiot for still praising that bad book In A Different Voice.  Gilligan used sexism to sell that book.)  Kate's in Backlash.  It's not pretty.  If people had paid attention, we wouldn't have been the only ones mocking Good Girl Katie.  She sold out women and did it because she wanted to be in Congress.  She played the Good Girl and when the opportunity finally came, the men in the Democratic Party did not stand by their promises to her and they backed a man and squeezed her out.  All the more embarrassing for NARAL Kate when the man is Bob Casey Jr. whose history (and that of his father) is not seen as strong on women's rights (including on abortion rights).

    Kate was among the 'leaders' who couldn't stand up for women prior to 2008.  So why was anyone surprised that Kate attacked Hillary's run?  Or that, in 2007, she endorsed John Edwards?  And when Edwards dropped out 'feminist' Kate then endorsed Barack?  Being a feminist did not require supporting Hillary but it is telling that these Queen Bees started off with Edwards and ran to Barack when Edwards dropped out.

    Time and again in the '00s, it was very clear that the left didn't give a damn about sexism.  That's why Amy Goodman with publishing regularly in Hustler magazine during this period.  Sexism didn't matter.  When it was time for 'feminist' issues on the left, the '00s were all about looking outside the country and ignoring what was going on in the US.

    And the discrimination wasn't just in the general public.  For example, a much passed around e-mail written by Gail Collins to a JW (I know the name, I'm protecting the person) found JW calling out then editorial page editor Collins because Maureen Dowd was on vacation -- the only female columnists -- and Collins felt that meant bring in more men.  In response, Collins flew off the handle in a dirty and inappropriate e-mail which included that she didn't think it was necessary for women to be represented on the op-ed pages of the paper.  This is a fairly infamous e-mail among feminists.  So imagine our distress when, mere months later, Ms. magazine elected to applaud Collins.  (And they've done it repeatedly since.  Collins can't write.  If she wasn't able to pretend to be a feminist, she'd have no book deals and no press coverage at all.)

    This is how 'leaders' behaved in the '00s.  Instead of calling Collins out for that e-mail, they covered for her.  Instead of calling FAIR out over the Imus lies, they looked the other way.  In 2006, at Third, we asked the question "Are You On CounterSpin's Guest List?" and, if you were a man, you likely were. When we wrote it, FAIR had just published a report on PBS' The NewsHour's lack of diversity in guests.  Guess what we found?  CounterSpin (FAIR's radio program) had a 1:3 ratio of female-to-male guests compared to The NewsHour's 1:4 ratio.  This is how little feminism mattered in the '00s.  CounterSpin had an awful record on booking women but got away with calling out PBS for the same awful record.

    Then there was the leading magazine of the left (in terms of circulation), The Nation magazine.  Headed by a woman, Katrina vanden Heuvel (pictured below with her staff!) (that's really not Katty we just felt it summed her up).


    And, in 2008, Katty van-van would start writing about "the women of The Nation" as they attempted to steer women to Barack.  It was laughable.  Christmas 2007, our gift to Katty was "The Nation featured 491 male bylines in 2007 -- how many were women?"  The year-long study we had done at Third found 491 male bylines to 149 female bylines.

    And this was at the 'leading' magazine for the left, this was at a magazine with an editor and publisher (Katty) who was a woman and who would brag the very next year (repeatedly) about how she and Betsy and assorted others were the dominating force of the magazine.

    Robert Parry, in 2008, felt he could openly mock women and felt no one had a right to point out that women were invisible at his site.  He apparently knew none nor wanted to.

    Or take Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive, giggling over a group whose initials were a four-letter word that started with a "c" and rhymed with "runt."  They were anti-Hillary and he loved it so much that the man in charge of the so-called progressive linked to the right-wing (and neocon) The Weekly Standard to promote the group.

    In 2008, race was not an issue for the Democratic Party primaries.  Gender was.

    Gender played into how Hillary was seen issue including Iraq.  CODESTINK swore they were against the Iraq War (having failed to object to Barack's sending Special Ops into Iraq in 2012, clearly they aren't against the war).  And they were going to bird dog to end the war!

    But really all they did was hector Hillary.  They weren't against Barack's Iraq votes.  (He voted to continue to fund the war repeatedly -- he was not in Congress in 2002 when the authorization vote took place.) Of course, when they launched the campaign against Hillary, they 'forgot' to reveal that  CODESTINK leader Jodie Evans was a bundler for Barack's campaign.  Revealing that might have revealed too much.  In 2011, Jodie Evans also got honest about her support for Barack in a few interviews where she declared, "I wanted to support a Black man for president."  (Barack is bi-racial.)  Strangely, however, she supported no African-American woman into leadership at CODESTINK -- going to the fact that while the left will support African-Americans in power, there's not a real push to help grassroots African-Americans into power.

    Sexism was a huge part of the reaction to Hillary.  Is Thrush saying sexism will play into the way Paul Ryan's vote will be seen?

    It's a stupid analogy and Thrush should have backed off of it immediately.  It's insulting.  As for Ezra Klein's claims about immediate issues?  That's what elections are about.  I loathe the way The Nation and others on the left have used fear tactics repeatedly but notice they want you to be scared of the now, not of what happened ten years ago.  Elections have a sense of immediacy about them.  This is not novel or new.  Klein's correct.