Saturday, October 28, 2006

The column 'miracle'

I'm thinking of taking up smoking. I understand it shortens the life span and, between it and my husband Thomas Friedman's columns, I figure I'd be put out of my misery in six months top.

The wonderful days while he was gone? I enjoyed them. I thought I enjoyed them for all they were worth but now that he's back . . .

I see his columns as globalization run amuk. For two days a week, the rest of the world gets to know what it's like to live with Thomas Friedman. They may grimace and scowl as they attempt to read his poly-blend of new age meets neocon (gentically modified, I'm sure) but they can put it down. Me, I'm stuck with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

He drones on and on. He's on some bi-polar meds. Apparently, while he was cross-dressing as Trish Friedman, he attempted to mug the homeless, using a water pistol, and got picked up by the cops who sent him in for a psych consult.

He's been on the meds ever since. They make him very verbal. I never knew so many words could say so little -- despite the fact that I've suffered through his writing throughout my marriage. Somethings you only think you know.

"Allies Dressed in Green" was the latest punishment he inflicted upon the world. The paper refused to run it as was.

Why? Oh, don't think the "New York Times" was suddenly discovering a set of standards for their op-ed pages. The quantity, not the quality, was what had them upset. It was 62 typed pages, single space. It was as though he wrote it on a manic jag.

The first time he was asked to condense, he snarled, "Condense? It's not canned soup, Gail!"

Then he hung up on her. She's out in January, so he figures he doesn't need to listen to her. Gail went Bill Keller who called to say that the column needed to be cut to a reasonable length. Thomas Friedman spent ten hours editing and finally got it down to 61 pages.

At which point, Bill Keller drug me into it, begging me to edit Thomas Friedman's column.

"Can't you do it?" I asked.

He explained to edit the column, he'd have to read it and since Judith Miller left the paper, he's really been working at curbing his own masochistic tendencies.

So I grabbed a Sharpie, sat down at the kitchen table and spent five minutes pairing the 61 pages down to 12 paragraphs.

I reminded myself that if it made too much sense, it would upset his usual readers. So I turned it into a messy goulash of pro-nuclear industry (and left out his 17 pages on how this didn't apply to Iran), kept in one of his 136 references to 'Islamic radicalism,' and his section on Germany because I didn't think he'd insulted that country in some time. For easy laughs, I left in his latest attempt to become a linguist: "geo-greenism." He's very proud of that term. I'm sure he will be for at least 8 more months, at which point, he'll either have another bad phrase he's coined or purloined or he'll have noticed that he's the only one using the phrase.

I also eliminated the 22 pages on how, even though the anti-war voices were correct, they have no right to talk because "Nobody needs to be reminded they were wrong." He's still very touchy about that -- that so many were right all along about the illegal war and he was wrong.

I think after being called "fat ass," being told he was wrong about Iraq is the thing that ticks him off the most.

Bill Keller called as soon as I faxed the edited column over. He told me I'd performed a miracle. Performing a miracle on one of Thomas Friedman's columns?

I believe that requires either matches or a paper shredder.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister Kyle Snyder prepares to return to the US; a G.I. coffeehouse opens in Watertown, NY; Gerhard Schroder weighs in on the special relationship between Tony Blair and Bully Boy; the barking puppet of the occupation gets his leash yanked;

Tomorrow Kyle Snyder will return to the United States,
Mike Howell reports for the Toronto Star noting that Snyder notes war resister Darrell Anderson's decision to return to the US (Anderson returned September 30th). Like Anderson, Snyder elected to self-check out of the military. For Snyder, that happened in April 2005. As Snyder explains in Michelle Mason's Breaking Ranks, military recruiters were circling throughout high school: "I had just received my high school diploma. I get off of the stage and here's another recruiter right outside the door -- waiting for me. I look back at i now and everything that I'm going through, everything that I've worked through I can retrace down to that moment that I signed the f**king contract." Snyder has addressed how the military broke its contract with him -- such as by refusing to investigate incidents of violence targeting Iraqis.

In August,
Synder explained his decision to self-check out of the US military and go to Canada to Karen Button noting, "You know, if they want to help people in Iraq . . . imagine a 15 year-old kid, for the last . . . years all he's seen is [US] military personnel with weapons going through his city. How is that child supposed to believe that the man, in that uniform is helping him? Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convory of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation. That's where the American military messed up. Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation. They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

Kyle Snyder intends to return to the US Saturday and turn himself in. Michelle Mason's documentary
Breaking Ranks takes a look at US war resisters who have gone to Canada seeking asylum. In addition to Mason's film, more information on war resisters hoping to be granted refugee status (which the Canadian government has thus far refused to do, unlike during the Vietnam era) can be found at War Resisters Support Campaign.

Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Carl Webb, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Joshua Key, Katherine Jashinski, Ivan Brobeck, Robin Long, Kevin Benderman and Clifford Cornell are among those war resisters who have gone public. And that's only the names of those who have gone public. The war resistance within the military is a movement.

Earlier this week, US service members created a website, Appeal for Redress, and are attempting to collect 2000 signatures for their petition to Congress to end the illegal war. From Appeal for Redress :

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq

Many active duty, reserve, and guard service members are concerned about the war in Iraq and support the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Appeal for Redress provides a way in which individual service members can appeal to their Congressional Representative and US Senators to urge an end to the U.S. military occupation. The Appeal messages will be delivered to members of Congress at the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2007.
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message, click here.
The Appeal for Redress is sponsored by active duty service members based in the Norfolk area and by a sponsoring committee of veterans and military family members. The Sponsoring committee consists of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.
Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.
Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.
Several members of Congress have expressed interest in receiving the Appeal for Redress.
Click here to send the Appeal to your elected representatives.

Citizen Soldier announces the opening, today, of "the first soldiers' coffeehouse of the current Iraq war in Watertown, NY." More information can be found at Citizen Soldier and at Different Drummer, the name of the coffeehouse. It is a movement and for those wanting more information on the importance of the GI coffeehouse to a peace movement should view David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! documentary.

As resistance and opposition to the illegal war spreads throughout the world spreads, Bully Boy & Friends attempts to remarket/re-brand all week.
At the start, the US State Department's Alberto Fernandez was having to eat his own words ("arrogance" and "stupidity" used to describe the war) after the White House first attempted to claim that Fernandez had suffered from mistranslation. We also heard the announcement by Tony Snow, White House flack, that the phrase "stay the course" was being stricken from the official White House language. Wednesday, the Bully Boy attempted to show how involved and concerned he was with the war Wednesday by noting the "93" US troops who had died in Iraq this month when, in fact, the US military's official count before the speech, during the speech and until Thursday morning was "91." While the White House removed one phrase from the official lexicon, Donald Rumsfeld added a new one on Thursday, "Just back off."

While the US administration played word games and offered faulty numbers, chaos and violence continued in Iraq. Despite this,
Zalmay Khalilzad (US ambassador to Iraq) and George Casey ("top US general" in Iraq) held a joint press conference where they declared that success was yet again just around that ever elusive corner and it will only take a year to a year-and-a-half for it to show up. (For those who've forgotten, the illegal war began in March 2003.)

Meanwhile a US & Iraqi raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, led to a barking puppet of the occupation.
Nouri al-Maliki rejected the raid, rejected the notion that he (who holds the position of commander-in-chief of the Iraqi military) had been involved in the planning of the raid, and rejected the "timelines" and "timetable" speak that Khalilzad and Casey had told reporters of the day before.

his laughable Wednesday press conference, Bully Boy was asked why al-Maliki hadn't been included in the Tuesday press conference held by Khalilzad and Casey?
His response? "I have no idea why he wasn't there," said Bully Boy the 'decider' but not the planner. He added, "I have no idea. I'm not -- I'm not the scheduler of news conferences." Once again, out of the loop.

In Iraq today,
Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that Nouri al-Maliki issued "a joint statement with the U.S. ambassador [that] his government had 'timelines' for the resolution of the country's problems". The strings get pulled, the puppet plays along.
Macdonald notes: "The statement appeared aimed at dispelling the impression of mounting friction between Washington and its Iraqi allies". If the 'friction' is gone, does that leave only fiction? Bronwen Maddox (Times of London) labels the whole thing "Operation Cross Fingers" -- surely a 'strategy.'

Monday night in Baghdad, a US soldier went missing and is believed to have been kidnapped. AFP reports that the US military continues searching Baghdad "with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopter gunships" but the soldier has still not been located. AP reports that the soldier has been identified as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei.

The US press had trouble locating the 2800 mark for US troops who have died in Iraq -- a milestone passed this week. (In October 2005, passing the 2000 mark was news. Possibly the press is saving their energies for the 3,000 mark?)
2809 is the current toll since the start of the illegal war with 96 for the month. Or was until the US military announced: "A Task Force Lightning Soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was injured Thursday as a result of enemy action in Diyala province. The Soldier was transported to a coalition forces medical treatment facility and later died of wounds." That brought the monthly toll to 97 and the number who have died since the start of the illegal war to 2810. October has been the deadliest month for US troops serving in Iraq this year.

a British soldier died today near Basra due to "road traffic" according to the British Ministry of Defense. This brings the total British soldiers who've died this month in Iraq to two and the total since the start of the illegal war to 120.

Among the violence reported so far today in Iraq, is the death toll in Baquba where fighting broke out Thursday.
CBS and AP report that 43 people died ("including 24 officers" -- police officers).


CBS and AP report that, in the Diyala province, a group of nine mourners returning from a funeral in Najaf were attacked with four being shot to death and the other five being injured.


BBC notes five corpses were discovered in Mosul Thursday and that the city is now under a curfew and vehicle ban. Reuters notes that number of corpses discovered in Mosul rose to 12. AFP notes that, "Thursday and overnight," eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad.


Reuters reports the death of one woman "when two rounds slammed into the house of a Sunni Arab member of parliament, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, in the town of Mussayab".

The woman's death comes at a time when, as
Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports, the UN's executive director of the Development Fund for Women speaks out. Noeleen Heyzer states: "What UNIFEM is seeing on the ground -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia -- is that public space for women in these situations is shrinking. Women are becoming assassination targets when they dare dfend women's right in public decision-making."

Meanwhile a new book, Decisions: My Life in Politics, takes a look at the special relationship between Bully Boy of the US and Tony Blair of England. The book's author? Gerhard Schroder, the previous chancellor of Germany.
Jess Smee (Guardian of London) writes that the book takes a look at Blair's rush to please Bully Boy, that Blair now pays for the price for his role in the illegal war, and notes that Blair had no interest in Europe -- Gerhard writes: "Quite the opposite, the country will continue to protect its role as a translantic mediator, even if that is to the cost of the European decision-making process."

In abuse news,
Anne Plummer Flaherty (AP) reports: "The Halliburton susidary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday."

In England,
Michael Evans (Times of London) reports the latest on the seven British soldiers accused of abused prisoners in a Basra prison -- RAF soldier Scott Hughes has testified that he saw eye gouging of a prisoner and the prisoner being kicked "in the lower back". Donald Payne, one of the seven accused soldiers, has already pleaded guilty to war-crimes. In the United States, as Linda Deutsch (AP) reports, US marine John Jodka "pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of" Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52-years-old, in Al-Hamdaniyah.

In music news,
Lydia Howell (Pulse of the Twin Cities) interviews singer, musician, songwriter and activist Michael Franti who says of his trip to Iraq, "I got tired of watching the news every night with generals and politicians talking about the economic costs of war WITHOUT mentioning the human crisis there. Rather than sit around frustrated, I picked up a guitar and a camera, flew to Baghdad and played music on the street." Michael Franti & Spearhead's latest CD is Yell Fire!

Finally, Bob Watada began his latest speaking tour yesterday. He is the father of
Ehren Watada who is the first commissioned US officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Below are dates through Monday:

Oct 27, 7PM

Albuquerque, NM
Location: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice
202 Harvard Dr SE
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 63
Contact: Sally-Alice Thompson, 505-268-5073, 512-463-2014,

Oct 28, 1 -- 4:30PM

Houston, TX.
Sponsor: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War , Cy-Fair Democratic Club
Location: Live Oak Friends House, 1318 West 26th Street
Entertainment by Bill Passalacqua and Hank Woji, "Sir, No Sir"

Oct 28, 6:15PM

Houston, TX
Location: Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, 1031 East 24th Street. "Celebration of Resistance"Sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace Chapter 12, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Sherry Glover,,(H) 832-363-1741, (C) 713-929-1132
-Bob Watada, ---- David Rovics

Oct 29, 1PM
Austin, TXPM
Sponsor: Code Pink/Austin, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66
Contact: Fran Hanlon, 512-454-6572,
Peter Ravella, 512-220-1740Heidi Turpin, (C)512-565-2242,

Oct 29, 5:30PM
Austin, TX
Café Caffeine -- 206 West Mary
Sponsors: Code Pink, Veterans for Peace Chapter 66, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Doug Zachary,, (C) 512-791-9824
Heidi Turpin, (C) 512-565-2242,
Fran Hanlon (H) 512-454-6572, ,

Oct 30

Austin High Schools

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. RobinsonSponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

A full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.
More information on Watada and other war resisters can be found at
Courage to Resist.