Saturday, December 09, 2006

Choke a Moron and Send Him Packing

It's not like I didn't warn him.

That was my first thought when Mrs. K broke the news to me.

I was standing in my kitchen, looking out the window and listening to her over the phone as she passed on what Nicky K had told her.

He hadn't repeated his dress up moment, mainly because I snatched the wig off his head and refused to give it back, but word had gotten out and back to the "New York Times."

I tried to figure out what would have bothered Bill Keller the most? The fact that my husband Thomas Friedman was babbling in public dressed as a woman or the fact that he was in black- face? I was just about pin the bulk of the blame on the name of the establishment, Chunky's Rainbow Lounge, because we all know how concered about appearances Bill Keller, et al. are.
But then Mrs. K clued me in to the loud discussion Nicky K had overheard.

Turns out the reaction would have been the same if Thomas Friedman had done the same act, even in black-face -- though there was no reason for it, to the tune of "Where The Boys Are" and "Stupid Cupid." I gasped. Bill Keller was a Connie Francis fan!

Fanatic it turns out. He was already telling the people working for the arts section that there would be a big roll out for last century's yesterday's news, Gloria Estefan, when her vanity project came out --

"If it gets filmed," I interrupted Mrs K.

Estefan, like her hero Bully Boy, had seen her own popularity tank. Why she thought the American public that wouldn't buy her on CD was dying to see her soon to be fifty-year-old ass as the lead in a movie was a mystery to me and apparently to the film studios as well since they hadn't been lining up to bankroll a film on the life of Connie Francis -- regardless of whether or not it was written by Estefan.

I was telling Mrs K that at the least the Jets had gone away so you could hear "Crush On You" today and bop along with it as you went about your day. But Estafan? She'd broken up the fun group to chases after non-stop schmaltz as a steadily declining solo act.

"I think it's the drama queen connection," said Mrs. K noting that both Connie Francis and Estafan had an inclination to play up the 'drama.'

Which had us laughing and discussing how Francis' nose job scene -- the event that destroys the voice a few loved -- would play out? Would they play it straight? Did they really expect anyone to buy the I-had-a-nose-job-because-of-air-conditioning excuse? Isn't that like three steps below the lie of "deviated septum"?

Mrs. K was going on about how both women loved their wars and I was thinking about how War Hawks make the most mechanical singers and how any of the lousy middle-of-the-roaders Estafan foisted off on the public could have been brought to life by a real singer like Natalie Cole but just lay there and stunk up the airwaves when delivered by the Boredom Is Gonna' Get Ya Estafan.

"There's nothing worse than someone who doesn't grasp that their initial fame was a fluke and that everything after has been one long, slow public embarrassment," I said into the phone and it was like I was Penny Marshall creating a Lenny & Squiggy moment because just then Thomas Friedman entered the room.

"How dare you!" he gasped before turning on his heel and storming out.

Some days I think, "I long for caberet. Instead, my life is like a sitcom."

After I got off the phone with Mrs. K, I heard Thomas Friedman huff "Finally!" as he picked up an extension and began dialing.

I had no idea what he was doing home. I hadn't seem him since I'd de-wigged him.

He didn't look any worse for the wear. Probably ten pounds heavier. Which didn't surprise me because Mrs K had said he'd been eating fast food, going to McDonalds and ordering cheeseburgers, discarding the buns and licking the cheese off the hamburger patties.

What was the obession with cheese?

I wondered if his mother had called him her "little rat" when he was growing up?

Then I heard his voice break from the whispering. If he was getting louder, he was obviously up to no good. So I listened in.

He was yacking about the importance of "brutal honesty" which I doubt he applies to calls of "fat ass." Oh, and he was talking about me.

He was saying that the way he sees it, he's got ten months to "fix" things or he'll be stuck with me for ten years.

Apparently in the world of Fat Ass Friedman, I have no say in the matter.

But then, the colonized rarely gets a seat at the planning table.

"The currency of marriage is pain," he mused with self-enchanted wonder. He was talking about "knocking sense" into me and "the threat of pain," none of which worried me because I could take down Soft, Old and Pudgy with both hands tied behind my back. He was calling himself "Mr. Big" which clued me in that he must have spent the last week crashing on the pathetic and "Sex in the City" obsessed Gail Collins' couch.

As he went on and about "Mr. Big," I wondered why it was always the men with the shortest and stubbiest penises who were so obsessed with size? Then I remember what my grandmother used to say about people always wanting what they couldn't have.

I could hear her saying that in my head.

I could hear her speaking and she was speaking in English.

I could see her standing by her stove in what was your basic kitchen. She wasn't in a hut. Out her kitchen window, you could see cars passing on the street so she wasn't in a "backwater village" which Thomas Friedman repeatedly told me I'd grown up in.

I could see myself sitting at her kitchen table, coloring a picture and nibbling on one of her freshly baked cookies.

I could see her smiling at me and it just hit me how much she loved me and how everything Thomas Friedman had ever told me about the life I couldn't remember was a lie.

"Holy crap!" Thomas Friedman was screaming and I realized I had leapt across the couch, grabbed his neck with both hands and was proceeding to choke him.

Looking into his scared, old, fat and tired face, I saw the pathetic man he was and always would be and told myself, "Betinna, you don't want to spend your days in prison even if most of America would thank you for the mercy killing."

As soon as I got off him, he ran, limping, out of our apartment.

Opening the paper yesterday, I saw, to no surprise, he'd rewritten the whole thing and was back to talking "big." But I bet more than a few readers grasped that behind the hollow pose, he was one frightened, tiny, boy. He should be.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; US war resister Kyle Snyder continues speaking out against the illegal war; Bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter Peggy Poop demonstrates that not everyone ages well; over 200 protest the war in San Francisco;
you know it's ugly when the US military dubs children 'insurgents'; and the Rumsfled has one more persona to test before he bows off the public stage.

Starting with peace news within the United States. Kyle Snyder is currently traveling the West coast speaking out against the illegal war. Snyder was heavily and repeatedly targeted by a recruiter who promised the moon and delivered nothing. Because verbal agreements can be broken . . . on their end. On leave from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out and went to Canada in April of 2005. Happy there, speaking out, a job he enjoyed working with disabled children that paid well. Snyder began to consider returning to the United States. As October drew to a close, he did just that and on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering that the military that lied to him before had lied yet again.

On KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder. Barrows-Friedman noted his Army Corps of Engineers training and Snyder explained that he thought he'd be in Iraq doing construction "asphalt and concrete, laying foundations for schools, hospitals, roads." Instead, they made him a gunner and "an escort for high ranking officials." He saw a number of things in Iraq, reconstruction wasn't one of them.

Kyle Snyder: The things that I saw there for instance, you know, when we're told that we're liberating the people of Iraq and we're doing positive things you know I expect to at least see the civilians and stuff, you know, accepting us more. And basically accepting what we're doing. But children were flipping us off, they were begging for food and water almost all the time when I was out. I had seen people killed, I had seen people injured and it's just basically what led me to leave the war in the first place were the policies that drove the war. You know, when the Bush administration in 2004 and 2005 were saying 'We're liberating the people of Iraq' like I said I expect to see some of that happening. You know, no matter what rank you are, I think that we deserve to know why we're fighting. And basically it felt like a lie. It felt like a lie. And mainly because we couldn't explain what the mission was.

Despite a warrant for his arrest, Snyder's "going around speaking to povertized areas, mainly African-American and Latino communities, around the country because they're targeted by recruiters and I think that recruiters should tell people the truth." He didn't have that himself. No one was warning him. The mood of the country then was still Rah-Rah, he was targeted heavily in high school (recruiter evern came to his graduation) and he grew up in foster homes. Snyder knows what it's like to think some adult's really interested in you, really concerned about you, only to realize after they were just trying to hit their month's target goal.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And Kyle, if you were speaking with a young person who was considering joining the military right now, they were weighing their options, what advice would you have for them and what would you talk about with their families?

Kyle Snyder: . . When a recruiter comes up and talks to you, it's not because you're a special kind of person. It's not because you have any type of thing that some other human being doesn't. And a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds assume that, you know? 'Oh a recruiters talking to me because I have some kind of special ability that no other person has.' And they over-glorify it making you know basically the Army into Rambo-like figures and things that you know are in action movies when that's not the case. They really need to look at what they'll be doing. . . . You're a gunner, medic, driver or, you know, an escort. Those are the only four jobs that are in Iraq regardless of what you sign up to do. I'd say, you know, if somebody signed up no matter what branch of service, I'd say it's about an 80% chance you're going to Iraq as long as the Bush administration is in power. So they really need to look at that and understand that, yes, they're going to Iraq as long as, like I say, the Bush administration has their say, the war's going to last. So they just need to understand that. And I can understand people that do join the military and that believe in what they're doing but they need to understand people like me as well --that are lied to to get into the military. And, you know . . . I don't know. That's basically all I can say.

Kyle Snyder is a public US war resister. He is part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.

When asked to speak about this movement, Kyle Snyder noted, "There's over 8,000 AWOL soldiers in the United States right now, 200 in Canada, 38 have applied for refugee status in Canada and I'm hoping, you know, that they start coming out. And I know that some of them are going to be coming out in the next few months. . . . I could use Bush's words, 'Are we going to solve this problem now or are we going to wait for the next president 5 years from now, 10 years from now when 8,000 Iraq veterans are homeless or hiding in a corner because it wasn't taken care of like it could have been?'"

[Rebecca wrote about Snyder's interview here.]

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Tina Kim (WorldNow) reports on Appeal for Redress and notes that Jonathan Hutto and others involved with the appeal will be holding a news conference next Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to raise awareness on the project which is gathering signatures of active duty service members calling for the US troops to be brought home. The appeal will be presented to Congress in January. Jonathan Hutto was a guest last week on WBAI's Law and Disorder. [Mike noted it here.]

Today begins the National Days of Action to Support GI Resistance, called for by Courage to Resist, which run through Sunday the 10th. Indybay IMC notes: "Other Bay Area Events: On Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film 'Ground Truth' will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film 'The Ground Truth' will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

Sunday, the 10th, is also Impeachment Day and click here for David Swanson's overview of the goals and list of events. Action is needed to end the illegal war. And each day it drags on, more and more are wounded, more and more die.

They Kill Civilians, Don't They?

CBS and AP report that, on Friday, "20 insurgents, including two women," were killed in a US airstrike (in the Salahaddin Province). The US military has a breathless press release on it that's all blah, blah, blah until this line: "Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately." And children too, right?

CBS and AP note that the area's mayor, Amir Fayadh, says that "seven women and eight children" were killed. AFP reporters "found and photographed relatives weeping over several mangled bodies, including those of at least two children, near the ruined homes." AFP also notes that the US military's flack Christopher Garver denies children were killed, even when presented with photographic evidence by AFP. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the "charred and bloody blodies laid out" were covered with blankets and "An AP photo showed an Iraqi man who had pulled back one of the blankets and uncovered the face of one of the dead, who appeared to be a boy about 10 years old". Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports that "grieving relatives showed the bodies of five children wrapped in blankets to journalists."


CNN reports a bombing in Tal Afar that left three dead and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed four lives and left eight more wounded. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports: "On the outskirts of Baghdad, three mortar rounds hit a Shiite residential area, killing 25 men, women and children, and wounding 22" according to police.


Reuters reports that Human Nuri ("head of customs in the city of Najaf) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad while in another Baghdad incident an unidentified person was shot dead and three more wounded.


Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 7. The Soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol responding to a possible IED, south of the city, when a roadside bomb detonated, killing two Soldiers and wounding two others." And earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

And the US military boasted of entering Falluja General, a civilian hospital, on a whim. Blood donors were needed . .. maybe 'insurgents' were present! Screw the rules guiding civilian institutions in warfare, lock and load, baby, lock and load. And it's those incidents and many others that explain why the war is lost.

In legal news, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for excercising their right to free speech. To summarize the case so far, a dramatic recreation based upon the reporting of Samuel Maull (AP).



Typical municipal courtroom. Well, maybe not 'typical,' it is Manhattan.

We see the DEFENSE TABLE where FOUR WOMEN listen: PATTI ACKERMAN, MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE, MEDEA BENJAMIN and CINDY SHEEHAN -- attracitve women all. They stare ahead intently

FOUR WOMEN'S P.O.V. -- a gnome-like woman, in a faded, tattered Kerry-Edwards: 2004 t-shirt, BITTER PEGGY KERRY, sputters on the witness stand in front of D.A. HAN who smiles and nods in sympathy.

I was on my way to meet the group, to take their
petition -- then I saw --

Bitter Peggy begins sobbing. hands her a tissue. Bitter Peggy looks over at the defense table and glares.

Then I saw -- Peace Mom!

Bitter Peggy points a menacing finger. Cindy waves and grins sheepishly.


Free speech, peace doves, compassion
Peace Mom
Passion, peace sign, bravery
Is Peace Mom
She's tinsel on a tree . . .
She's everything an American should be!
If you find one to emulate
Only one to emulate
Let it be Peace Mom . . .
Peace Mom!*

Han smirks to the defense table as DEFENCE attorney rises and walks to the witness stand.

Bitter Peggy Kerry, you agree that you were
notified that a petition would be dropped off?

Yeah, so?

And you agreed to accept the petition?

What of it?

You were on your way to accept the petition and
then something stopped you.

Peace Mom.

Just the sight of Cindy Sheehan was enough to
make you break your agreement?

Damn right. "Peace"? Please. I'm bitter
and angry and mad at the world. Keep Peace Mom
away from me. Every where she travels, there's always
a chance that, at any minute, peace could break
out! I hate her. I hate her! I hate her!

Bitter Peggy goes into spastic convulsions while Defense looks on. Alarmed, D.A. Han leaps to her feet.

Your honor, a recess?

I'll get that Peace Mom. I'll get her. I hate
her. I hate her like I hate kittens and puppies.
And Christmas! And peace! I hate peace!
War! I must have war! I do want war, I do!
Screw Peace Mom, find me Kill Mom! I want
Kill Mom. Kill mommy! Kill mommy!


So ends the docu-drama recreation. [*Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff wrote the theme to the TV program That Girl starring Marlo Thomas -- who also was the executive producer of the show.]

In other news of courage, Steve Rubenstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the 200 plus people march yesterday from Grace Cathedral to the federal building downtown which was led by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus to protest the Iraq war. The Bishop was among those arrested and he stated, "God is with all who have suffered in Iraq. This war needs to be opposed. Even though there is widespread sentiment against the war, we need to continue to push for peace. There is good reason to believe this is an unjust war." Zach notes that Wendell Harper reported, from the protest, on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.

And finally, he's been the White Queen, the Scold, the Nag and, on his way out the door, the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided he wanted to try on one more persona: Axel Rose. Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Rumsfled thinks what the world . . . needs . . . now . . . is just a little patience. Just a little patience.
The tragically unhinged Rumsfled declared that Iraq was still 'winnable' "if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power." Rumsfled's "staying power" -- obviously in question now -- can surely take credit for the 655,000 estimated Iraqis killed during the illegal war. To the would-be-Axel-Rose, the world responds, "There's no room for you here, go away, girl, there's no room for you here" (White Stripes).

kyle snyder