Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A lady never gobbles? Thomas Friedman does.

The heat in New York was getting to me, it was getting to Thomas Friedman too. So when my friend Elaine invited me along on a trip, I jumped at it. Sadly, you always take your baggage on any journey and, for me, that means my husband Thomas Friedman.

He swore he would be on his best behavior and I wanted to believe it possible. I just wanted to get out of New York so badly and away from the "ladies" of the War Paint Council. Thomas Friedman accused me all week of being jealous. I'll be the first to cop it, Thomas Friedman and the 'gals' out girly-girl me. True, I never felt I needed to prove my femininty but it's also true that they're distorted version of what it means to be a woman is pretty insulting. But there we were having fun on the west coast, laughing and joking -- I mean me with friends -- and there was Thomas Friedman pouting.

To get him to stop being such a drip, I told him we'd go buy a wig for him. Gail Collins still has his wig. Well a wig turned into a trip to Fredrick's of Hollywood and, several hours later, I should have grapsed that his promise to just 'doll up' in the privacy of our room was out the window.

But I didn't.

Last night was a wonderful party. I was laughing, I was drinking, for once no one was hollering "Betinna, help me flip over to my side, I have gas!" or "Betinna, grab the enema kit! I'm blocked again!" (well if you'd lay off all that canned cheese . . .) or "Betinna, the NAIR's burning! It's burning bad! I guess they aren't kidding when they tell you on the box not to use it down there!"

A man was flirting with me. It's been so long since I've even had a genuine compliment. Okay, Robert Novack did compliment on my eye make up last month but only because he wanted me to show him how to do his eyes similarly.

For just a moment, I was able to forget all about my life back home, about my husband who begs me to use a strap on (keep dreaming), about my husband who thinks we're in a competition to see who can be more lady-like, about it all.

Honestly, I was flirting back.

It may have been the alcohol, it may have been the feeling of freedom, but it was a moment that made me glad to be alive.

And then . . .

I made the mistake of looking across the room when I heard a commotion.

All dolled up, all padded and primped, there was Thomas Friedman in his platinum blonde wig, wearing the red dress that wasn't made out of latex but the fabric had a lot more give than I expected. He had several coats of foundation on and all I could think was, "Unlike me, he's not Black so he really shouldn't use my make up."
But he obviously had. On his face, on his shoulders. On his hairy chest (where it clumped and looked almost ridiculous as his dolled up face with the mustache).

"Has anyone seen Jack or Bobby?" Thomas Friedman asked in the most girlish, whispery voice he could manage.

Someone shouted out that the WB cancelled that show and Thomas Friedman shot a cross look before sashaying through the crowd saying, "I love you, I love you all."

"Who does it think it is?" asked the man who'd been flirting with me.

"Marilyn Monroe," I said grimly.

Marching over, I grabbed Thomas Friedman's arm and told him this wasn't a costume ball.

"I'm here to mingle," Thomas Friedman hissed. "Did you see how everyone turned and looked the moment I entered the room."

"You are embarrassing yourself!" I said as calmly as I could manage.

"Jealous heffer," Thomas Friedman snarled jerking free of my grip.

"It's your funeral," I told him as I headed off to the bar determined to get smashed.

As I tossed back one shot after another, I wondered how many women had to watch their husbands act coquettish with other men?

I got over my pity party quickly.

Mainly because if there's anything Thomas Friedman loves more than dress up it's playing War Hawk. The big talk was Ehren Watada, the brave young man who has refused to go to Iraq and is now facing an Article 32 hearing that will determine whether or not the military should move to a court martial.

Well a War Hawk like Thomas Friedman couldn't keep doing the breathy whispers when he could be squawking.

He started talking Ned Lamont who, a week ago, he didn't even know existed but, like every other gas bag, he got the e-mailed talking points. From Lamont he started lecturing about how the U.S. couldn't leave Iraq. (His previous column was a reaction to Gail having his wig, the minute he got a new one, he didn't need to antagonize her anymore.) As he went on and on about the debt we owe "the Arabs" while also tossing around the term "Islamic fascists."

A crowd was gathering which excited Thomas Friedman, he really thought he had the audience in the palm of his hand, but then the person throwing the party, C.I., called him out on his nonsense.

C.I.: "You're insane. In one minute you're smearing Lebanon and in the next you're talking about the United States creating a nation state that will have divisions and arguments for years to come. You're endorsing a new long-term conflict by putting America in charge of who will be in charge of Iraq."

Thomas Friedman fell back on his generic talking point, "The world is flat."

"No, just your sense of proporition and perspective."

Thomas Friedman was pissed. He was mad. And the front of his dress had a little tent forming because nothing gets a War Hawk's juices flowing faster than conflict.

"Truth be told, some of the most constructive, on-the-money criticism over the past three years about how to rescue Iraq or improve the broader war on terrorism has come from Democrats like Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Bill Clinton," Thomas Friedman said with all the self-assurance a man teetering on four-inch heels can manage.

His remarks were greeted with hoots and laughter (reminding me of his entrance).

"Hillary Clinton? She's had no critique of the war! She's done nothing but prove that a woman can be as stupid, piggish and militaristic as a man. She's dragging us all a short way, baby," offered party guest Kat to shouts of approval.

Thomas Friedman smiled and twirled a lock of hair at being called "baby" as he prepared his response.

"Allow me to respond," Thomas Friedman said in attempt to pile on the charm but just looking foolish, "What should really worry the country is not whether the Democrats are being dragged to the left by anti-war activists who haven't thought a whit about the larger struggle we're in. What should worry the country is that the Bush team and the Republican Party, which control all the levers of power and claim to have thought only -- Oh! Shrimp puff!"

As Thomas Friedman gobbled down about twenty shrimp puffs in a row (in a very unladly-like manner), the room exploded in boos and hisses.

"You dope," exclaimed C.I. "You're the one who's not thought a whit. There is no larger struggle based on lies. You refuse to address the war you cheerleaded in terms of the lies told to the American people. You cheerleaded this war and you'd still be doing it if it had turned out differently. You're not bothered by the deaths, you're not bothered by the lies, you're a little brat whining that your team didn't win. Don't lecture others about what they have or have not thought or examined. 'The larger struggle' has to do with self-determination. That's basic in a democracy but a little liar like you doesn't give a thought to that. You're fine with any lie that gets your way. And you kid yourself that the lies are okay because of your concept of a 'larger struggle' which is nothing but xenophobia unleashed. Who-Who brought your here? How did you get into my home?"

At that moment, I wanted to dive under my bar stool and hide. Fortunately, I was spared the moment of someone pointing me out by the fact that the booze and the shrimp didn't agree with Thomas Friedman and he folded at the waist as he began hurling.

He continued hurling and clutching his stomach as people began moving away. Soon he was face down in his own vomit.

Sighing, I made my way over to him.

"Stupid desk jockey," sneered a woman looking down at him.

And to think, I'd been afraid he'd embarrass himself with his outfit. I foolishly forgot the power of his mouth.

Shaking his shoulder, I managed to rouse him enough so that he could stand on his own.

As we left the party, Thomas Friedman vowed his revenge. He would have the last word. And he'd do so by silencing the voices at the party. That's all his columns are, conversations with himself, stroking himself, the verbal equivalent of a jerk off.
Which is why I wasn't surprised to wake this morning and find him waving "Big Talk, Little Will" in my face. The title really applies to him if you think about it. I suggested that to him but the mind of Thomas Friedman is a thought-free zone.

"It's all there," he said in revision mode, "all the points I made last night that led to everyone cheering me on. I am the last honest voice."

I didn't have the energy for this. I was lost in thoughts of what-could-have-been? Like, what would have happened if I'd grabbed the inviation of that young man and snuck off? Or what if I was in my final semester of college and the end of this laughable marriage was in clear sight? Or what if Thomas Friedman just disappeared?
I don't mean he died, just ran off somewhere, Las Vegas, for instance, to pursue some dream of becoming a show girl and left me with the apartment in New York?

I snapped out of my day dreaming when I heard him say, "I want to thank you for not bringing up the fact that I embarrassed myself last night, Betinna."


Oh my God, Thomas Friedman was finally going to wake up reality. It was a long time coming but maybe people really can change?

I leaned forward eagerly, ignoring the stench of his morning breath.

"I didn't conduct myself very well," he confessed sheepishly. "A lady never gobbles."

That was it? After everything last night, the only thing he was embarrassed was how he mainlined shrimp puffs like Chris Farley at an all you can eat?

A lady never gobbles? No, but a turkey does.

"Iraq snapshot"
Today, Wednesday, August 16, 2006, it's one day before Ehren Watada's Article 32 begins, a military inquiry learns that hypnosis was weighed as an option, chaos and violence continue in Iraq and curfews became the measure to address everything
as the whack-a-mole 'strategy' grows more ludicrous. If news of Karbala, Mosul and Basra don't drive that point home, Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reporting on the violence spreading outward from Baghdad should.
the Bully Boy reportedly frets about who's got his back and allegedly peruses Camus and attempts to market "Adapt & Win" (on the grave yard markers of "Adapt or Die"). And the war drags on.
Today is the day that the New York Times editorial board offered "
Meanwhile, in Baghdad . . ." which includes the following: "As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test." It's a day where the American military fatality count since the illegal invastion stands at 2604, a day where the wounded count since the beginning of Bully Boy's war of choice now numbers 19323. A day when Edward Wong and Damien Cave (New York Times) report that the July death toll for Iraqis at 3,438.
Tomorrow? Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing begins over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and his attorney, Eric Seitz, "
expects the hearing to be over in one day." Which is why it's important to get the word out. Speaking to Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) in June, Watada spoke of how speaking out publicly could result in retaliation: "I think they will do their best to make an example of me." And, as Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reported last week, the Army has now three times rejected Watada's offer of resignation leading attorney Seitz to offer that the military appears "To want to make a martyr out of him. If that is the case, then we are certainly eager to join issue with them because I think this whole episode is going to be much more embarrassing to the Army than it is going to be detrimental in the long run to Lt. Watada."
Cedric Moon (KGMB9) notes the hearing is to determine whether "Ehren Watada will stand trial over his refusal to fight in Iraq". Robert Shikina (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports that the hearing is expected to include only four witness: one called by the Army, three called by Seitz. Nina Shaprio (Seattle Weekly) has reported the three witnesses for Watada: "Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; Denis Haliday, a former United Nations assistant secretary general, presenting evidence on the same subject; and retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will talk about how she used to train soldiers to decline orders if they appeared illegal." Seitz told Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) that Army's witness will affirm that Watada did not board the buses with others in his regiment on June 22nd and that "the Army also plans to use news clippings and video news reports".
Why would the military have a need to make an example of Ehren Watada? As
Susan Van Haitsma (Austin-American Statesman) points out: "Watada joins a growing number of soldiers whose moral convictions are leading to punitive convictions in military courts. Many soldiers who have sought conscientious objector status have been denied it. Thousands of soldiers have gone AWOL as a result of the formidable legal blcks to establishing moral objections to the Iraq war. Many have sought refuge in Canada, though political asylum for U.S. military war resisters is not official there."
More information can be found at
Courage to Resist and
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD."
Some rallies going on today:

Seattle, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Intersate 5, at the entrance to Fort Lewis
Portland holds the second of its rush hour bannerings today at 4:30 pm on I5's pedistrian overpass
Kahului. Two events. Sign-holding at 4 pm on Kaahumanu Avenue. Teach-in at 6:00 pm, Maui Community College's Ka Lama Building Room 104A and Bob Watada, Ehren's father, will be at that event.

"On the one hand I had my duty as I knew it, to obey every order without question, to do what I was told, what everyone else was doing, goving over to Iraq and fight. On the other hand I knew that we were not fighting for Democracy, we were not fighting just terrorist, we were fighting an indigenouse insurgency who was resisting our occupation. And many lives were being sacrificed for what I thought was nothing. I came to the point where I could no longer look at the pain and suffering of so many members of the armed forces, os many families being devastated by these loses, and the grief and suffering of Iraqi citizens and all for what I felt was an intentional deception, to wage a war without any purpose, without any noble purpose."
Ehren Watada to Courtney Scott via Rougue Valley IMC
And today in Iraq?
BBC reports that eight died and 28 were wounded when a bomb went off in Baghdad. The Associated Press notes a roadside bomb in Hillah that killed three Iraqi soldiers (and wounded four more) and states that "[b]ombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi captial Wednesday". CBS and AP report that in addition to the bomb that killed eight in Baghdad, eleven more died (for the 19 total) via "[t]wo other bombs . . . in central Baghdad". [Reuters has just upped the total to 21 killed in Baghdad from bombings today.] Reuters notes that, in Basra, Yusif al-Mousawi ("general secretary of Tharalla Islamic Party") was targeted with two roadside bombs (he survived); in Kut, a roadside bomb wounded two police officers; in Jbala, a roadside bomb left three Iraqi soldiers dead while four were wounded; and, in Baquba, a police officer was killed by a roadside bomb that wounded three others. In addition, Damien Cave (New York Times) reports on the bombing of a memorial dedicated to children killed last summer by a car bomber (and, I believe one American soldier was killed in the bombing as well). Cave speaks with Muhammad Khaitan, whose his 14-year-old son Saif Muhammad died in last year's bombing, who declares, "All they left was the foundation. They don't want the next generation to remember how we suffered."
Meanwhile, as Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show noted, Basra is under curfew after the storming of a governor's office. Reuters reports that during the attacks on the city council and governor's office, one police officer was killed and five were wounded. The hour long fighting ending, AP notes, when British troops arrived. Reuters is a little more specific: "up to 180 British soldiers and 16 Warrior armored personnel carriers". By the way, in Basra fighting, rockets were used, the AFP reports. (We'll get back to rockets shortly.) And the answer to the violence? Curfew! curfew! curfew! as CNN reports. As the AFP notes, curfew's the sure cure for Karbala today as well -- in fact, forget 'crackdown' -- it's under "lockdown" -- consider it a lid tossed on a pot of boiling water. In Mosul, the armed fighting continued. AP places the death toll from the fighting at five. Reuters notes that these two cities follow the violence in Kerbala yesterday which Iraq's Defense Ministry says claimed the lives of 12 people yesterday. Finally, CBS and AP report that a "Danish soldier was shot in the back . . . in southern Iraq."
AP reports that three corpses were discovered in Kut ("bound, blindfolded . . . signs of torture").
Rockets? Poor William Caldwell IV, he was probably almost over Tuesday's sour stomach following his assurances that Sunday's most violent act in Baghdad was the result of a gas explosion. Well, someone pass him the Mylanta,
CBS and the AP are reporting that the group claiming responsibility for the attack has now released a video of "showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone." Because it was four Australian troops and not four American troops wounded in the Green Zone Sunday from a rocket attack, it appears that a number of people are unaware of the incident. That's allowed Caldwell to deny rockets and bombs on the Baghdad neighborhood and, then Tuesday, allowed the military to play the split-the-difference wherein they allowed that okay-bombs-were-used-but-that's-it! Eye witness testimony cites rockets. Caldwell better chug that Mylanta and hope those using rockets on residential buildings Sunday didn't tape their attack as well.
Of the four Australian soldiers wounded in Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone, three were released and able to return to duty, the fourth remains in a hospital in Baghdad.
Her name is Sarah Webster and Ian McPhedran (Australia's Advertiser) reports the injuries are minor but include "bruising and lacerations."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death in Baghdad of Jake Kovco continues and . . . Well, what do you say after the Major Michael Pemberton ("
head of the military police's special investigations branch") testifies to discussions of hypnotizing one of Jake Kovco's roommates? It's the headline, it's the lede where ever you look -- not surprising. But if we can move on that attempt (not implemented) to jog memory,
here's how Pemberton characterized his relationship with the army chiefs while conducting his investigation: "
I would use the term interference" (AAP). Australia's ABC reports: "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday, Major Pemberton said senior military officials in Baghdad ignored his instructions that the body was not to be moved, potentially destroying vital forensic evidence before his investigators arrived." "Backing up evidence given to the inquiry by another witness yesterday"? That was addressed in yesterday's snapshot when Soldier 46's testimony directly contradicted the claims of others that they hadn't been instructed to secure the death/crime scene.