Friday, September 29, 2006

Islam and the Dope (Thomas Friedman)

Oh, how wonderful the days are now. I show up to sign for Thomas Friedman's check, cash it and that's pretty much the only time I have to think about him.

Except for Fridays.

Fridays, Mrs. K comes over breathless and full of ideas about how we can find our husbands.

During the week, I can usually put her off. She'll call and want to brainstorm and I'll lie and say I have another call, or tell the bathtub's overflowing, or say I have something on the stove, or, one time, in a pinch, when she was insistent upon coming over on Tuesday, I told her, "Great! Gail Collins is here and we're going to work on her eyebrows while I give her a binkini wax! I can use two extra hands!"

So I offer an excuse and Mrs. K falls for it and that's that.

Except Fridays.

I don't know what it is about Fridays.

Maybe that was "their night"?

Nicky K always looked the once-a-week type.

Or maybe it's just that Friday denotes the end of the week and she panics.

I know people like that. They're out of work. They lie around all week, sometimes looking at the wants ads but mainly watching talk shows on TV, then on Fridays, usually at 3:30 pm, they panic, hop in the shower, get dressed and, in those last minutes before five o'clock, make a mad dash to apply for something, anything.

Whatever it is, Fridays are the day Mrs. K won't be sent away.

I'd just gotten home from classes ten minutes prior. Just kicked off my shoes. I was trying to decide if I'd take a long, relaxing bath tonight or maybe go to a movie?

Elaine's been talking about her Iraq discussion group and with so much going on, I thought I'd order a pizza, take a shorter bath, get dressed and catch that. War resister Darrell Anderson returns to the United States Saturday and there's so much more going on.

But that was dependent upon Mrs. K not dropping by. I was really thinking this might be the week that she grasps the benefits to having Nicky K's check but not having to put up with having Nicky K.

But I was wrong.

She was banging on the door. Waving around the week's "New York Times." Talking about Nicky's colum or columns, I was still trying to figure out if I wanted pineapples with the Canadian bacon or not and not listening too closely, and talking about my husband Thomas Friedman's columns.

She was going on about the two of them being gone "weeks" and I was about to respond, with relief "Yeah, isn't it great?" when I remembered she didn't think so.

So I tried to look concerned. I tried to look worried. I only succeeded in making her think I has "a sour stomach."

After I assured her that I hadn't eaten any fresh spinach, I went to the kitchen to brew some coffee.

She's an attractive woman, you'd think she'd be making the most of it. When your husband walks out, it's not really cheating, right?

I know I'd been eyeing the guy in my class on The Morality of War and Nonviolence or, as everyone on campus has redubbed it, "How To Keep Your Mouth Shut" in honor of New School president Bob Kerrey and his late-life recall of the events from February 25, 1969.

I figured if it's still cheating when your husband walks out on you after a few weeks, surely, after a month, it can't be considered cheating.

That's when Mrs. K walked in.

I told her, "We're getting the checks, their columns are going into print -- obviously they're still both alive."

But as usual, she wasn't letting me off that easy. She sat down at the table and started reading the columns to me and I felt as though my kitchen had been invaded by a Jehovah's Witness. You know they mean well, you know they're trying to help, but you just don't want to hear that kind of talk from a stranger.

She gets to Thomas Friedman's Friday column, "Islam and the Pope," and my first though is, "Oh, he found a new way to attack Muslims."

Guess that whole expulsion during the Inquistion didn't matter so much if it meant he got to get a in a few slams at Muslims. For the record, that 'enlightened' quote that Thomas Friedman saw as just a way to kick-start a rap session, it predates the Inquistion by almost a hundred years. Maybe if Pope Benedict XVI quotes Ferrant Martinez next, Thomas Friedman will decide that's something to be outraged about? Or maybe he's just angling for the post of astronmer to the court?

Listening to his foaming over "elites" caused me to chuckle. He's a columnist for the "New York Times," it's not like he's a contributor to "Anarchist Digest".

If he'd been in the kitchen, I'd have asked him exactly when he thought we'd had a "meaningful dialogue" about "Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo or Palestine" in this country. How ironic that his column runs the day after both houses of Congress decide to trash habeas corpus.

But Mrs. K was working herself into a frenzy so I told her to drop back to that lie about "As someone who has . . . enjoyed the friendship of many Muslims there and seen . . ."

"He's had falafels," I explained. "He's talking about the guy in the park he buys the falafels from. That's the only Muslim Thomas Friedman engages with and, then, only because he can brag about 'ordering' a Muslim around. 'Falafel, pronto! And don't be stingy on the toppings!'"

"You really --"

"It's the falafel guy," I snapped thinking it would get rid of her.

Instead, she drags me to Central Park and we went off in search of the vendor. He confirmed that Thomas Friedman and Nicky K had been coming by.

"Usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays and your husband," he said pointing at me, "wears a black beret and leather waist coat."

Mrs. K looked to me for an explanation.

"He's obviously in Patty Hearst mode," I explained. "He thinks he's gone underground."

To myself, I thought, "Once a drag queen, always a drag queen."

Mrs. K wanted us to stake out the area and I had to explain to her, in not so delicate terms, that I had no intention of staying in Central Park until Tuesday.

She was more than a little sad but she'll get over it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 29, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the British military officers say out-of-Iraq, Medea Benjamin asks are you willing to "Give Peace a Vote"?,
is the US military writing off Al-Anbar Province, and tomorrow war resister Darrell Anderson is set to return to the United States.

CBC reports that, after eighteen months in Canada, war resister Darrell Anderson is readying for his journey home with his wife, Gail Greer, stating, "He needs to be home. This is not his home." [Note: CBC continues to list his wife as "Gail Green." US news outlets, other Candian outlets and her film credits list her as "Gail Greer." If Gail Greer is not the correct name, we'll note that in a future snapshot.] Darrell Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Anderson elected to self-check out of the US military and, as Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Patrick Hart, Kyle Snyder and others during this illegal war, head to Canada. Once there, he applied for legal status but, as with other war resisters, the government did not grant asylum. (This in marked contrast to Canada's actions during the Vietnam era.) Anita Anderson, his mother, tells CBC "there is no front line" in Iraq and that soldiers "are not supposed to be fighting this fight of war." If not arrested Saturday when he returns, Darrell Anderson intends to drive to Fort Knox where he will turn himself in. Information on Darrell Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.

Meanwhile, in England,
Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian of London) reports: "Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan. They believe there is a limit to wath British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsiblity for their own security, defence sources say." The report comes as Bonnie Malkin (Guardian of London) notes that "former foreign secretary Jack Straw has described the situation in Iraq as 'dire,' blaming mistakes made by the US for the escalating crisis." Straw has words of praise for former US Secreatry of State Colin Powell which is only a surprise to those who never noticed their mutual admiration society until today. The report that military officials want British troops out of Iraq (and into Afghanistan) has already led to a denial from Defence Secretary Des Browne who, AFP reports, denied the report on BBC radio.

While the truth battles spin, Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary general of the United Nations makes a call of his own.
Paul Vallely (Independent of London) reports
Malloch Brown has stated that it was Tony Blair's Iraq policy that "fatally undermined his position as Prime Minister and forced him to step down" and Vallely also quotes an unnamed "UN source" who declares of Blair, "But Iraq has finished him. Mr. Blair seems not to appreciate just how disliked and distrusted he is in other nations."

In the United States,
Reuters reports: "The U.S. Congress on Friday moved to block the Bush adminstration from building permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or controlling the country's oil sector, as it approved $70 billion for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." As Amit R. Paley (Washington Post) noted Wednesday when reporting on recent polling of Iraqis, ". . . the Program on Itnerantional Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found . . . 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country." Noting the polling, Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) notes: "The writing is on the wall -- and on page after page of report after report. All leading to the same inescapable conclusion. Iraq has made us less safe; it's time to bring our troops home." What will it take for that? Not buying into the fear mania, which is a topic Huffington addressed with Andrea Lewis today on KPFA, The Morning Show[and is also the topic of On Becoming Fearless, Huffington's new book]. [Remember that KPFA broadcasts are archived and you can listen to them, free of charge, 24/7.]

The US Congress' decision comes as
Robert Burns (AP) reports Army Col. Sean B. Macfarland ("commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division" in Iraq) stated that the resistance in Al-Anbar Province will not be defeated by American forces and will "probably" continue "until after U.S. troops leave the country". Most recent actions in Al-Anbar have revolved around Ramadi which is being carved up into a series of Green Zones (to little effect). [Currently at Alive in Baghdad, there is a video report on a man who was "Falsely Arrested and Abused In Ramadi.]

In the most noted violence in Iraq today, Kadhim Abdel has been shot dead.
CNN reports that "the brother-in-law of Judge Mohammad Orabi Majeed Al-Khalefa, was driving in Ghazaliya on Friday with his son aged 10 and another 10-year-old boy when their car was attacked. Both boys were wounded." The Australian combines AP and Reuters to note: "It was not immediately clear whether they were targeted because they were related to judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, who took over the Saddam trial last week, or if it was another of the sectarian attacks that have been plaguing Baghdad." (That statement is actually all AP.)


AP reports that a police officer died ("and two civilians injured") from a bombing in downtown Baghdad; while two Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in Anah from a roadside bomb (with two more wounded).


AFP reports that two police officers were shot dead in Dura. CNN reports that four people were shot dead in Balad.


AP reports that eight corpses were discovered in Iraq, three were discovered in Baquba and that two corpses "were pulled from the Tigris River in Suwayrah". AFP reports that two corpses were discovered in Kut. (The Times of London ups the Baghdad corpse count to ten.)

In peace news,
BuzzFlash declares the Dixie Chicks this weeks Wings of Justice winners for using their voices to speak truth to power. In 2003, the Chicks were savaged by some (and Diane Sawyer attempted a public shaming). They didn't back down and, to quote a song off their new, best selling CD, they're "not ready to make nice." [Click here for Kat's review of the CD.] The Dixie Chicks stood strong and a lot of people stood with them. There's a lesson in that.

CODEPINK is celebrating it's fourth anniversary on Sunday and Andrea Lewis spoke with Medea Benjamin about that today on KPFA's The Morning Show today. Addressing the organization's latest action -- Give Peace a Vote! -- Benjamin noted that: "We have November elections coming up and then we have presidential elections coming up and unfortunately If we don't translate the silent majority voice that's against this war into a voter bloc, we're going to be faced with another opportunity to vote for two major parties giving us war candidates. So Give Peace a Vote!is a way to say, 'I will not vote for anybody that does not call for an end to this war and no more wars of aggression.'"

Speaking with Kris Welch today on
KPFA's Living Room, Daniel Ellsberg noted the upcoming World Can't Wait protest (October 5th -- day of mass resistance), his being named as the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the importance of speaking out.

As noted by
James Glanz (New York Times) and Gritte Witte (Washington Post) this morning, American contractor Parsons has a 1/14 success rate for their construction projects in Iraq --- actually less than 1 in 14 because, as Witte notes, ""The one project reviewed by auditors that was being constructed correctly, a prison, was taken away from Parsons before its completion because of escalating costs." With that in mind, pay attention to Janis Karpinski (writing for The Huffington Post): "Our silence will beget more of the same and worse. We must find courage. We must stand up. One of the ways to do this is by screening and sharing a new documentary I appeared in called Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers -- which calls for a stop to the shameful war profiteering this administration has allowed to occur. We must speak up. We must because we are Americans and we know better than this. We can move beyond the shame only when we stop this from getting worse and participate in making it better."

Finally, next week, Bob Watada, father of
Ehren Watada, hits the road again to raise awareness on his son -- the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. After an Article 32 hearing in August, Ehren Watada awaits word on what the chain of command will do with the findings (court-martial, discharge him, ignore the findings . . .). Here are Bob Watada's speaking engagements for Monday through Friday of next week:

Mon. 10/2 8:30 am KPFK Sonali Kolhatkur
3729 Cahuenga Bl. West, No. Hollywood
Contact: KPFK 818-985-2711 email:
Tues 10/3 7:00pm ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
1800 Argyle Ave. #400, Los Angeles
Contact: Carlos Alvarez, 323-464-1636, email:
Wed. 10/4 12:00-2:30 pm Angela Oh's Korean American Experience Class
Life Sciences Bldg., RM 4127, UCLA Westwood Campus
Wed. 10/4 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
Contact: So Cal Library 323-759-6063
Thurs 10/5 5:00 pm World Can't Wait March & Rally
(March starts at noon at pershing S1/
Bob speaks in front of Federal Bldg 300 N. Los Angeles St. at 5:00 pm.
Contact: Nicole Lee 323-462-4771 email:
Fri. 10/6 7:00 am Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Bl., Los Angeles
Contact: Thalia 626-683-9004 email:
Fri 10/6 12:30 San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center
SFV Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St., Pacoima 91331
Contact: Phil Shigkuni 818-893-1851, cell: 818-357-7488, email

On a non-Iraq note, Lynda pointed out that a link was wrong this morning (and yesterday) so I'll note it here (it's corrected on the main site, but not on the mirror site)from
Ms.: "Before the new Ms. comes out on October 10, we're doing a last push to get signatures on our "We Had Abortions" petition. With our right to choose in danger, we at Ms. think it's important for us to take a stand now for abortion rights. We'd love to have your help!"