Friday, January 05, 2007

The First Factually Challenged Fool

I haven't left the apartment in days. Elaine says I'm not a shut in and just having a natural reaction to learning that Thomas Friedman and Nicky K kidnapped me. I can remember now, so clearly, that day in the parking lot when I was attempting to get to my car and instead got tossed into the back of Nicky K's Pinto by Thomas Friedman. No wonder Nicky K made such an effort at the Thanksgiving dinner to swear I'd never been in his Pinto.

As I'm adjusting to the news, I've taken to ordering take out. Wednesday night, I was waiting (and waiting) for my delivery from Joey Thai. I was waiting for my order of Pad Kee Mao and wishing I had asked for two spring rolls and not just one. Then I started thinking about how I should have ordered dumplings as well and was just about to call in an extra order when there was a knock at the door.

Grabbing my purse and heading to the door, I called out, "Who is it?"

There may or may not be a thin line between love and hate but thank God there was a locked door between me and my husband Thomas Friedman.

He tried to play it off at first, tried to disguise his voice, and call out, "Delivery."

I looked through the peephole.

Anyone his size delivery food would be expected to eat it long before it was delivered.

"What are you delivering?" I asked just to mess with him.

He shifted from foot-to-foot and then tried everything he could think of. It played out like the shark skits in the old "Saturday Night Live", where the shark tries to trick Gilda Radner or someone else with "Candygram," etc.

I played along for a bit but quickly realized this could be never ending and that, if and when, the delivery guy from Joey Thai arrived, Thomas Friedman would probably eat my Pad Kee Mao. All his scheming and lying probably increased his 'hearty' appetite.

"Thomas Friedman," I yelled, "I know it's you. I'm looking right at you."

"This is ridiculous, Betinna. Let me in!" he hollered back.

After I didn't say anything and didn't open the door, he began complaining about how humilitating it was for a man of his stature (was he making fun of his weight now?) to be standing out in the hall. This was not giving him "all the honors I deserve." (No, he wasn't making fun of his girth, he was just being thick headed.)

I let him yammer on with that nonsense for a few minutes before I told him to get out of the building before I called the cops.

"Have you called them?" he asked, his voice rising to such a high decibel that I'm sure dogs outside were barking. "Nicky K wants to know and so do I. We're good men, Betinna, honest men. You can't go to the cops."

He was practically blubbering at this point and I swear it looked like he was about to blow his nose on his tie before he found some crumbs on it that he began tasting.

"Thomas Friedman, you need to go."

He was mad now, screaming about how everybody has something they would redo if given the chance, whining about how "Every ten years we say to ourselves, 'If only we had done the right thing 10 years ago'." I had no idea what he meant. He'd kidnapped me two years ago so what all this talk of ten years ago was about or this need to speak in the plural "we" and "ourselves" was puzzling me. I have no idea where he was headed with it because all the sudden Thomas Friedman let a loud one rip.

The odor must have been so ghastly that it even got to him because he was doing windmills with his arm to get rid of the stink and I know from personal experience he usually either sleeps through that or else giggles.

In the hallway, he was looking around to see if anyone had heard the explosion?

"Thomas Friedman, no one needs you farting in the hallway, get out!"

"I did not do that," Thomas Friedman insisted nervously.

"Fine, you 'broke wind.' Now get out."

"I do not 'break wind.' I 'freshen the air'."

"Whatever, princess," I snapped back, "I'm dialing 9-1-1."

That sent him running.

Sadly, it was another thirty minutes before the guy from Joey Thai showed up. The order was wrong, but that was okay -- the mix up resulted in dumplings.

It was pretty peaceful on Thursday. Then, Friday, the paper showed up and I laughed out loud as I read my husband's column, "The First Energy President." The "honors" he'd spoken of deserving were now being applied to Gerry Ford and the idea of either being worthy of honors was hilarious in and of itself but if there's a president in US history that Thomas Friedman most closely resembles, it's probably Ford -- the original accidental president. I saw he was all the way up the Bully Boy's chocolate wizz-way as he refused to use the scientific term "global warming" and instead went with the oil industies' term of choice "climate change." He shared the soft-headedness with Ford as well. Then he started into that nonsense he'd tried on me about "Every 10 years we say to ourselves, 'If only we had done the right thing 10 years ago'." It made no sense when he was applying it to two years prior when he kidnapped me and it made no sense when he was applying it to Ford's so-called energy plan from 1975 which, by my subtraction, was 32 years ago, not ten. He quoted Philip Verleger Jr. so much, Verleger should have received co-credit in the column's byline.

The most laughable thing may have been when he wanted to list all of Gerry Ford's examples of how to fix the energy situation and they included build 200 nuclear plants and create 250 new coal mines. Later, Thomas FriedBrain did note that coal wasn't really "clean energy" but this was from an "age when most people were unaware of" global warming. "Most people"? Well Gerald Ford was president and presumably "most people" he should have been consulting were scientists. The greenhouse effect was first described in 1824 so why it's too much to expect that a president of the United States in 1975, over a 150 years later, to be aware of global warming is beyond me.

In fact, let me do a lengthy citation here for Thomas FoolBrain:

Svante Arrhenius (1896), who coined the term "greenhouse effect," pointed out that the combustion of fossil fuels might increase the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and thereby warm the earth several degrees. Because the 19th century had experienced a cooling trend, however, others speculated that the oceans and plant life might gradually reduce CO2 levels and cause an ice age (Barrel et al., 1919).Throughout the first half of the 20th century, scientists generally recognized the significance of the greenhouse effect, but most thought that humanity was unlikely to substantially alter its impact on climate. The oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere, and physical laws governing the relationship between the concentrations of CO2 in the oceans and in the atmosphere seemed to suggest that this ratio would remain fixed, implying that only 2 percent of the CO2 released by human activities would remain in the atmosphere. This complacency, however, was shattered in 1957 when Revelle and Seuss (1957) demonstrated that the oceans could not absorb CO2 as rapidly as humanity was releasing it: "Human beings are now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment." Only then were monitoring stations set up to measure worldwide trends in atmospheric concentrations. By the mid 1960s, it was clear that Revelle and Seuss had been correct (President's Science Advisory Committee, 1965).

"Shattered in 1957." Not 1975. Noted by the President's Science Advisory in 1965, ten years before 1975. Though Thomas CrackPot may question my source, it's from the EPA's Global Warming page (which they no longer update). Gerry Ford should have damn well known what was "shattered in 1957" and backed up by the President's Science Advisory in 1965. But Thomas ManCrush is so eager to erect a new ManDate that he (again) ignores reality (as well as the safety risks of coal mines and nuclear plants). I'd write a letter to complain but if the paper fired Thomas BlatherMouth, who would foot my tuition?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, January 5, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, US war resister
Ehren Watada's pretrial hearing began yesterday, Bully Boy shuffles the deck while an "I told you so" travels across the Atlantic from France, and Ahmed Hadi Naji, who worked for AP, is discovered dead.

Monday, February 5th, the US military attempts to court-martial
Ehren Watada. Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Yesterday, at Fort Lewis in Washington, a pretrial hearing began that will determine what arguments are allowed in the court-martial and what arguments will be disallowed. The hearing was presided over by Lt. Col. John Head, the court-martial would have a jury made up of *a panel of* officers, and the AP reports that he will make his decision on "the parameters of the case" next week. Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that on Thursday: "Watada's parents sat in the back of the courtroom during the hearing, his father at times leaning forward on the bench with his hands clasped in front of him." As Linton Weeks (Washington Post) noted, Carolyn Ho, Ehren's mother, is a high school counselor who went on leave to raise awareness about her son and is on leave for the pretrial and the court-martial. Bob Watada, Ehren's father, has also been engaged in speaking tours around the country to raise awareness about Ehren and, for any wondering, Bob Watada recently retired (and recently remarried, Rosa Sakanishi, Ehren's step-mother, has accompanied Bob Watada on his speaking tours).

The US military wants to reduce the court-martial to a "yes" or "no" -- Did you refuse to deploy to Iraq? They wish to prevent
Ehren Watada from explaining his decision -- in effect that are hoping to prevent him from making the best defense possible when he is facing six years in prison.

Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reported: "At a hearing Thursday at Fort Lewis, there was little dispute about the action taken by 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who last June refused to deploy with his brigade to Iraq. But defense and prosecutors sparred much of the afternoon about whether Watada's motives for opting out of the war should affect the outcome of a February court-martial trial that could result in a six-year prison term." If the military was interested in justice (and sure of their case), they wouldn't be attempting to shut down Watada's defense.

The prosucetor, Captain Dan Kuecker has stated, "
There is no rational doubt in this situation; . . . it's a lawful order." Were he as sure of himself as he pretends to the press, there would be no attempts to prevent Watada from explaining both his actions and the reasons behind them.

Watada explained the reasons most recently to Kevin Sites (Kevin Sites in The Hotzone): "I think that in March of 2003 when I joined up, I, like many Americans, believed the administration when they said the threat from Iraq was imminent -- that there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout Iraq; that there were stockpiles of it; and because of Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist acts, the threat was imminent and we needed to invade that country immediately in order to neutralize that threat. Since then I think I, as many, many Americans are realizing, that those justifications were intentionally falsified in order to fit a policy established long before 9/11 of just toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and setting up an American presence in Iraq. . . . I think the facts are out there, they're not difficult to find, they just take a little bit of willingness and interest on behalf of anyone who is willing to seek out the truth and find the facts. All of it is in the mainstream media. But it is quickly buried and it is quickly hidden by other events that come and go. And all it takes is a little bit of logical reasoning. The Iraq Survey Group came out and said there were no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and during 2003. The 9/11 Commission came out and said there were no ties with Iraq to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. The president himself came out and said nobody in his administration ever suggested that there was a link. And yet those ties to al-Qaeda and the weapons of mass destruction were strongly suggested. They said there was no doubt here were weapons of mass destruction all throughout 2002, 2003 and even 2004. So, they came out and they say this, and yet they say it was bad intelligence, not manipulated intelligence, that was the problem. And then you have veteran members of the CIA that come out and say, 'No. It was manipulated intelligence. We told them there was no WMD. We told them there were no tides to al-Qaeda. And they said that that's not what they wanted to hear'."

In essence,
Ehren Watada is on trial for the media -- the media that sold the illegal war and the media that told the truth (eventually for some) about it. So it has been surprising to see nothing on Watada in the leading independent magazines in 2006. In 2007, The Nation discovered Watada on page 14 of the January 8 and 15th double issue in an article written by Marc Cooper (click here for Yahoo version -- subscribers only at The Nation website). Like many Americans, Watada believe the spin/lies from the US administration (repeated near word for word by most media outlets with little skepticism). Like many Americans, he's since come to see that reality and spin were two different things.

This new awareness is reflected not only in the civilian population but also, as
Rachel Ensign (Citizen Soldier) reminds us, within the military as well: "A new poll conducted by the Army Times newspaper at the end of 2006 found that a majority of soldiers polled now disapprove of how Bush has conducted the Iraq war to date. . . . Only 41% of soldiers polled today think that we should have invaded Iraq -- down from 65% in 2003. This closely mirrors sentiment among civilians; only 45% of whom now believe that the war was a good idea."

Michael Gilbert (The News Tribune) reports that, based on comments and questions during the pretrial hearing, Lt. Col John Head "likely won't allow Lt. Ehren Watada to defend himself" by making the case for his actions and why he acted as he did and that Head declared, "At this point I'm not inclined to grant a hearing on the Nuremburg defense." The Nuremburg defense is in reference to the Nuremberg trials during which soldiers stating that they were only following orders were told that was not a legal excuse for their actions. As Ruth noted, following the August Article 32 hearing of Watada, "The message that Lieutenant Colonel Mark Keith appears to be endorsing is follow all orders but, if it later turns out that they were illegal, you are on your own and will take full responsibility. At best, like with Lieutenant Calley, the War Monger in the oval office may pardon you after you are convicted. What is the message? Why teach the obligation to follow only legal orders, why refute 'I was only following orders' as a defense and then punish Lieutenant Ehren Watada for doing just that while advising him that it is not his place to make such a determination when, in fact, the invididual who obeys the unlawful order is the one who will be held responsible by the military justice system?"

Why teach? Refer to
Ruth's Report where she goes over retired Col. Ann Wright's testimony at the Article 32 hearing on what she taught soldiers at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg while teaching the Law of Land Warfare. Taught is FM 27-10 (Law of Land Warfare):

509. Defense of Superior Orders
a. The fact that the law of war has been violated pursuant to an order of a superior authority, whether military or civil, does not deprive the act in question of its character of a war crime, nor does it constitute a defense in the trial of an accused individual, unless he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful. In all cases where the order is held not to constitute a defense to an allegation of war crime, the fact that the individual was acting pursuant to orders may be considered in mitigation of punishment.

Ehren Watada could be prosecuted for actions committed during war by the above; however, the US military does not want to allow him to use the same law to defend himself. Only a fool would call that "justice." This is what Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, is noting when he told Linton Weeks, "The United States talks out of both sides of its mouth. We've prosecuted soldiers in other countries for following orders to commit war crimes. But God forbid you should use that refusal as a defense in this country."

Christian Hill (The Olympian) reports, however, that the military prosecution may have outfoxed itself: "The judge, Lt. Col. John Head, told prosectors that he was not inclined to grant the evidentiary hearing, but 'they opened the door for him allowing it by prosecuting his statements'" thereby making it "relevant. Some of those statements have become relevant by the sheer nature of how the government has charged this case."

Head was not referring to the charge of missing deployment but the charge ("conduct unbecoming") based upon remarks Watada made about the war such as ""
The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of Iraqis is not only a terrible and moral injustice, but it's a contradiction to the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes." Remember: A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College.

Ehren Watada's awakening mirrors that of many Americans. It also has echoes
in the growing resistance within the military to the illegal war as many resisters vocalize sentiments similar to Watada's (usually noting the works of Howard Zinn). Others that a part of this growing resistance within the military include
Kyle Snyder, Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on 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 this month.

While Watada faces court-martial for questioning the illegal war, France's president earns headlines for doing the same.
AFP reports that Jacques Chirac speech today revolved largely around the illegal war: "As France had forseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects . . . exacerbated the divisions between communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq. . . . It undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and independence." (Chirac's also getting attention for, in the same speech, calling for slashing corporate taxes.)

Before noting some of the violence today in Iraq, let's note December again.
Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) notes that the Iraq Interior Ministry's figure of 1,930 Iraqis dead for the month of December (an undercount) remains "a new high" for any month. Meanwhile, the count for US troop fatalities in Iraq for the month of December reached 115.


Reuters reports: "A roadside bomb struck a U.S. marine tank in the western city of Falluja on Friday", while a roadside bomb wounded four Iraqi soldiers and killed anohter in Baiji, and a roadside bomb in Kirkuk left two police officers wounded. Christopher Torchia (AP) reports
four Iraqis killed on the "outskirts" of Baghdad from mortar attacks.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Iraqi soldiers were shot dead in the Diyala Province. Reuters reports that "a former colonel" was shot dead in Mosul, as were a father and son in Iskandariya.


Mohammed al Awsy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 12 corpses were discovered in Baghdad ("2 sadr city, 2 dora, 2 amil, 2 jihad, 2 hurriyah, 1 kadhemiyah, 1 abu atsheer"). Reuters notes that three corpses were discovered in Iskandariya. And AP reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji, 28-years-old, "was found shot in the back of the head Friday, six days after he was last seen by his family leaving work". AP notes that he is "the second AP employee killed in less than a month" and that he is the fourth "to die violently" in the illegal war. They note that Ahmed Hadi Naji is survived by his wife, Sahba'a Mudhar Khalil, and his four-month-old twins, Zaid (male) and Rand (female). Christopher Torchia (AP) reports that Ahmed Hadi Naji had worked "for the AP for 2 1/2 years".

Aref Mohmmed (Reuters) reports that one "American civilian contractor and two Iraqi translators" were kidnapped in Basra today.

Changing focus . . .

So let's be really clear, torture in Iraq is rampant and that's because it's policy even though we have had a replacement of Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld who infamously told . . . general, retired, now retired, but at the time general, [Janis] Karpinski '
make sure this happens' regarding specific torture techniques that he wanted to begin using inside places like Abu Ghraib well that policy hasn't changed as I said, these people are still being tortured, they're just not letting people bring in their video cameras and their digital cameras so that the images can find themselves splashed across the screens of 60 Minutes II program, for example.

What is that?
Dahr Jamail speaking with Nora Barrows-Friedman on yesterday's
KPFA's Flashpoints (use either to listen to an archived broadcast -- Rebecca's "nora barrows-friedman interviewed dahr jamail on flashpoints" offers an overview of the interview).
For an hour, Nora Barrows-Friedman and
Dahr Jamail reviewed the year 2006 in Iraq, focusing on the death squads, women, children, attacks on civilians and much more.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Dahr, can you talk now about the permanent US military base structures this was being talked about openly and publicly in the spring of 2006. But how has that discussion progressed and what does a permananet US military base structure look like on the ground? How many are we talking here?

Dahr Jamail: We started out with over a hundred bases in Iraq and they are slowly consolidating this number down to, right now it's around, it was 53 last time I checked. So they're slowly consolidating them down and if people want an idea of what Iraq might look like in the next couple of years, well we just have to look at Afghanistan because that's where, kind of, this model started and there's a couple of years jump there. And if you look at Afghanistan, we've got, I believe, four major bases right around the area of where I believe the proposed pipeline's going to go. So we should expect something similar but more bases in Iraq. There's going to be, right now it looks like, between six and twelve, we're not real sure on the number, but between six and twelve of these permanent bases. The military and the corporate media won't call them permanent because they don't have to, because they just made sure that they would have permanent access into particular areas in Iraq and so there was nothing in the so-called constitutional referendum that took place on October 15 a year ago that banned access from a foreign country, that's why there was a lot of wrangling along that constitutional referendum and why even someone in the UN that I spoke with, I quoted him as saying there was 'undue, inappropriate, US influence on this constitution' and it was around Iraq's oil and it was also around permanent access. So as a result we have between six and twelves of these bases. Just to give you an example of what these bases look like there's one called Camp Anaconda which is actually an air field in Balad, just north of Baghdad, and Camp Anaconda is a base that has 250 of its own aircraft. Air Force officials there claim that it was the second busiest runway on earth. There are 20,000 soldiers on this base less than a thousand of whom ever leave whatsoever. There's a base exchange there where they sell televisions, iPods, CDs, DVDs, TVs, there's a first run movie theater, . . . very elaborate meals served by Kellog Brown & Root employing third country nationals which is kind of the way these people are referred to in Iraq by the contractors but really if we're going to call them what they are, they're slaves. They're people from places like India and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working for slave wages serving these very elaborate meals because with the cost plus fix fee contract that means that when Halliburton is serving these very elaborate meals the more money they spend in Iraq, the more money they make. So that's what's being served in a huge base like that. Soldiers actually gain weight and if they don't of course want any of that food or if they get burnt out on it like say you would at a college, for example, at a college dorm, well then they can go to the 24 hour Burger King, they can go to the Popeye's Fried Chicken, they can go to the Subway sandwich shop, and then wash it down with a latte from Starbucks. So that's just one of these bases to give you an idea, there's also AT&T phone home centers, there's also a Hertz rental car which I find kind of amusing because it's not like they're going to leave the base and go for a little drive in Al-Anbar Province but there it is, Hertz-Rent-A-Car, . . . I like to specifically name these companies so people can take note of that. So that's what these bases look like in Iraq and to contextualize that a little bit, it sounds a lot like some of these bases we have in Germany now, doesn't it, which have been there, what are we talking now, a little over sixty years, so just to give people an idea of what the situation is on the ground regarding the bases, we talk about the US' so-called embassy in Baghdad that's being built as we speak. This was a $572 million contract that was awarded to a very corrupt . . . Kuwaiti construction firm with very direct ties to the Bush administration and this is an embassy that's going to have room for between 3 and 8,000 government employees, it has its own school . . . so I don't think we should expect any Iraqi kids at this school, it has the largest swimming pool in the country, yoga studios, barbershops, beauty shops, its own water plant, it's own electricity plant, it has apartment buildings. And when it's complete, it will be, it's 21 buildings and the area will be the size of the Vatican City. So that's the so-called embassy that's being built in Iraq so if we talk about when are we going to withdraw troops and why aren't the Democrats talking about withdrawal, this sort of thing, instead why is there talk of a 'surge'? It's because we . . . just need look no further than the physical evidence on the ground, augmented by the US policy like the National Security Strategy and the Quadrennial Defense Review Report -- all of these signs point towards permanent occupation of Iraq just like we have in Germany.

But never fear, Democrats are in power in the US Congress which translates as . . . a strongly worded letter.
CNN reports that "leaders of the new Democratic Congress" sent an open letter to the Bully Boy which "said increasing troop levels in Iraq would be a 'serious mistake'." That's telling him! (And shades of the letter Carolyn Ho got from Congress.) AFP reports that the letter states "it is time to bring the war to a close." And no doubt, this wouldn't have even happened were it not for the activists on Wednesday (sse Thursday's snapshot). Cindy Sheehan, who handled the press conference Yawn Emmanuel and other Congress members fled from, today on Democracy Now!, addressed the realities too many elected Democrats want to avoid: that the war is costing the US 10 million dollars every hour, that plans and programs will cost money and defunding the war needs to be placed 'back on the table,' that the people want the war ended and the Democratic Party was voted into office not to wait around for another laughable 'plan' from the Bully Boy, to get the United States out of the illegal war.

Meanwhile, in shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic,
AFP reports that Bully Boy nominated the now former US director of national intelligence John Negroponte to be the Deputy Secretary of State -- second to Condi -- while he "announced that he had chosen vice adminiral Michael McConnell, a former head of the National Security Agency, to replace Negroponte at the head of all 16 US spy agencies". And as Christopher Torchia (AP) notes,
generals John P. Abizaid and George Casey will be replaced shortly.

Returning to news of war resisters, earlier this week,
Mary Ambrose (New American Media) took a look at war resisters who seek asylum in Canada and noted the stories of Chris and Stephanie Teske -- Chris decided to self-checkout while stationed in Germany but US troops do not "have access to their passports" so, after deciding on Canada, Stephanie: "I cried a lot and told them we'd spent $3,000 on these tickets and my parents were waiting for us and frankly, we just got lucky."

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A sad and tragic milestone

This morning:

The 3,000 marker is right over his shoulder. The administration promised a cakewalk. They also promised WMDs and that didn't pan out either. The war was built on lies and now it's just built on the dead bodies of those unfortunate enough to be in the war zone.
As long as the war is allowed to drag on, the number of dead and wounded will only rise. America has turned against the war. At some point, citizens are going to have to demand that their elected officials respect them and end the illegal war.


The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war has now reached the 3,000.