Is Saudi Arabia the new Egypt?
That's what my husband Thomas Friedman wonders in "Abdullah’s Chance."
Is Thomas Friedman the new Larry King? That's what I wondered as I read.
It has the sort of snap and mock pith of a Larry King column.
Not a lot of thought, not a lot of originality. But what do you expect when you're comparing a country ruled by a royal family with a country that holds elections? Thomas Friedman can't see the distinctions because to him it's all the "other."
That's probably the most obvious thing about his writing and it makes you wonder just how loathed he is in around the world and whether people, the few who know of him, wish he'd stop stereotyping them and stop writing about them.
Nicky K was all worried this week because he's gotten a lot of nasty e-mails in the wake of Molly Ivins death. It's his own fault for distorting what she wrote a few years back. But he was sad and, now that he and Thomas Friedman are tight again, that meant Thomas Friedman to the rescue. He advised him, "Snap out of it, sissy. Go buy another hooker in the third world."
But Nicky K said he didn't really have his heart in that anymore. He said he was so down that he didn't even think he could churn out another column on Darfur that read exactly the other 131 columns on Darfur he'd written.
They started lamenting the fact that Bully Boy still hadn't declared war on Iran. A new war, they were convinced, would put a spring back in their step.
"Oh to be a columinst in Reagan Times," sighed Nicky K, "when every corner of the globe had one illegal war after another."
Thomas Friedman agreed and shared that if the US was at war with Syria right now and Iran and North Korea and Russia, no one would be complaining about Iraq at all.
"Reagan knew how to run the whole board," he said between shots of canned cheese.
They were tripping out on nostalgia and I was trying to study for an exam. Finally, I just put on Glady Knight & the Pips. Gladys was doing her version of "The Way We Were" and Nicky K and Thomas Friedman listened in rapped attention during the spoken word opening while Gladys was explaining that these were the good old days. I always thought she was cribbing from Carly Simon's "Anticipation," but if it got the whiners to shut up, whatever.
I was glad to hear Gladys shut them up -- though I could have done without the visuals of Thomas Friedman and Nicky F trying to get funky during "On and On" -- and, soon enough, Nicky K had found his sense of purpose and Thomas Friedman could face another day.
I realized two things from the whole experience.
First, when I make my life a little easier, it probably makes life much harder for entire groups of people that Thomas Friedman is then able to attack and attack freely. Second, all that crap he churns out isn't just hard to read, it's hard to write. Life really went sour for Thomas Friedman. He cheered on the illegal war. Then he kept promising a turned corner was right around . . . the corner. Now? He's the "international" columnist for the paper and he's been exposed as wrong on just about every topic and predicition. I thought about how much easier Judith Miller had it. The paper fired it. Like putting down a dying dog. Thomas Friedman? The paper kept sending him out to work the corner of Op and Ed to a smaller and smaller crowd of tricks and johns. He'd been in the life so long, he had to know Richard Gere was waiting in his future to rescue him. He was two to five years from becoming Robert Novak. When you hit that stage, business is so bad, you're turning tricks for quarters. No wonder he'd grown so mechanical.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, March 23, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the Pelosi measure passes in the House, the deputy prime minister of Iraq is wounded in an assassination attempt, new developments in the US military's harassment of Joshua Key, and voices opposed to the Pelosi measure that small media wouldn't bring you.
Starting with news of war resistance. Yesterday, a family in Toronto who had taken in US war resister Joshua Key and his family when they came to Canada seeking asylum explained how they were visited by three police officers (in plainclothes) saying that they were searching for Joshua Key. This echoed an earlier attempt to harass US war resister Kyle Snyder; however, Key and his family now live elsewhere, so the 'police' were unable to detain him. Today, Leslie Ferenc (Toronto Star) reports that not only does the Toronto Police say it wasn't them, there's "no record of local officers being dispatched" to the home.
Omar El Akkad (Globe & Mail) adds another detail to the story: "The U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed it is looking to question an army deserter now living in Canada about explosive allegations he made in his autobiography." El Akkad quotes Chris Grey as the person confirming. So were the three 'police' officers actually Toronto police are were they the US military?
The incident echoes an earlier one. Bill Kaufmann (Calgary Sun) reminds readers that it was February when police officers "barged into" Kyle Snyder's home "hauling him out in his underwear in cuffs without a warrant and valid legal reason. His crime that actually isn't one in this country: Refusing to rejoin his U.S. Army unit to maintain the futile occupation of Iraq.
. . . Snyder claims federal officials told him they'd been getting pressure from the U.S. military to do something about his two-year presence in B.C. Canada Border Service Agency won't comment, but if it's even remotely true, what does it say about over sovereignty?" Immigration official, Joci Pen has confirmed Synder was arrested at the request of the US military.
The US military maintains that they only want to discuss Joshua Key's new book, The Deserter's Tale, apparently they're not just the military, they're also an international book club. Maybe they grew interested when they read John Freeman's (Mineapolis Star Tribune) review? Or maybe it was the shout out from Newsweek that made them thing, "We need to read this book!" Or maybe it was the recommendation fo the John Birch Society? Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale has received good word from around the political spectrum.
Snyder and Key are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Dean Walcott, Joshua Key, Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Corey Glass, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake 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.
In today's violence (reported) in Iraq, an attack on Salam al-Zobaie, the country's deputy prime minister, is getting the most attention. In what's being reported as an attempted assassination, Salam al-Zobaie's home was targeted with one bomb while the mosque he was in at the time was also targeted with a bomb. Al Jazeera English TV reports that "many people are saying that this was an insider job" and correspondent Imad Shahib says that the mosque bombing was conducted by a man who blew himself up, "he's one of his guards." Robin Stringer and Heather Langan (Bloomberg News) note that the attack at th mosque took place "near the fortified Green Zone. AFP reports: "Zubayi, one of the most prominent Sunni Arab leaders in the Shiite-led government was rushed to a US military hospital in Baghdad with chest and face injuries after the bombers strcuk while he was performing Muslim prayers" and notes that at least six people are dead and at least 15 wounded. Elsa McLaren (Times of London) reports that Salam al-Zubaie was having surgery and also notes: "One aide said that the suicide bomber appeared to have been one of Mr al-Zubaie's own guards." Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that nine deaths are being reported by the police, up from six. Christian Berthelsen (Los Angeles Times) also reports the 9 deaths and that 14 are wounded and that the bomber at the mosque (the one some reports are saying was an aide to al-Zubaie) wore a belt filled with explosives.
This follows the attack (in the Green Zone) yesterday. Allen Pizzey (CBS News) observes, "And on the subject of targest, a short while ago a rocket slammed into the 'Green Zone' or, as the Americans prefer to call it, the 'IZ' short for 'International Zone', a word game that allows them to pretend someone other than America runs the place. The rocket, fired from across the rive, slammed in about 50 yards from where U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki Moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were meeting the press. Pool pictures from the scene showed the U.N. chief ducking, a not unnatural or unwise move, and then looking somewhat puzzled."
The Guardian of London reports that a Baghdad car bombing in the Sadr City neighborhood resulted in five deaths and 20 injured. Reuters reports one police officer dead and another wounded in a Yusufiya roadside bombing and three police officers wounded from a car bombing -- for some reason they use the term "suicide bomber" which seems to imply the bomber would be dead but, although using the term, they note: "The suicide bomber surivived the blast and was captured by police as he tried to run away."
Oh come on. What? You don't know the drill? There were no bullets exchanged on Friday! Seriously, Friday everyone cuts out early. McClatchy may file later today but everyone else pretty much ended the day several hours ago. (Around 7:00 pm in Baghdad, actually.)
Reuters reports: "The bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and her teenage daughter were found in Diwaniya, police said,"
Turning to politics, the Apologist, Tinker-Toy-Sell-Out-Boy, wants to tell everyone 'how it is.' How what is? How it is to be a Party Hack? Party Hack doesn't know how it is because Party Hack's not fought to end the war. Party Hack's fought to work for congressional candidates, party flacks' fought for his right to write really bad books, he just doesn't know a damn thing about the war. Thanks for sharing, Hack, now WalkOn, WalkOn.org.
CBS and AP report that Pelosi measure passed, 218 to 212. Yesterday, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor to offer "10 Consequences of A 'Yes' Vote:"
1) Keep the war going through the end of President Bush's term;
2) Provide money to fuel an attack on Iran;
3) Force the privatization of Iraqi oil;
4) Escalate the insurgency;
5) Increase the number of troops causalities in the middle of a civil war;
6) Increase the number of civilian causalities;
7) Create a demand for more troops;
8) Enforce cutbacks of the agenda of many in Congress because money that could be used for schools, healthcare, seniors and the environment would continue to be spent for war;
9) Forces the destabilization of the Middle East;
10) Erodes the public's confidence in Congress
CNN reports that before today's vote, Dennis Kucinich declared, "Four years ago we were told we had no alternative but to go to war. Now we're told we have no alternative but to continue war for another year ot two. The fact of the matter is we do have alternatives. . . . Congress has the power to stop funding the war. That's what we should do. That's what we should have done and that's what I'm going to continue to work toward. We have to get out of Iraq, period."
AfterDowningStreet.org notes US House Rep Mike McNulty's statement on why he voted against the Pelosi measure:
In the spring of 1970, during my first term as Twon Supervisor of Green Island, I testified against the War in Vietnam at a Congressional Field Hearing in Schenectady, New York. Several months after that testimony, my brother, HM3 William F. McNulty, a Navy Medic, was killed in Quang Nam Province. I have thought -- many times since then -- that if President Nixon had listened to the voices of reason back then, my brother Bill might still be alive. As a Member of Congress today, I believe that the Iraq War will eventually be recorded as one of the biggest blunders in the history of warfare. In October of 2002, I made a huge mistake in voting to give this President the authority to take military action in Iraq. I will not compound that error by voting to authorize this war's continuation. On the contrary, I will do all that is within my power to end this war, to bring our troops home, and to spare other families the pain that the McNulty family has endured every day since August 9th, 1970.
David Swanson (AfterDowningStreet.org) compiled a list of the Democrats who voted against the Pelosi measure -- Kucinich, McNulty, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Mike Michaud, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey -- and provides background on each of the eight.
Kevin Zeese (Democracy Rising) notes that Republican Ron Paul voted against the Pelosi measure because he has long opposed the illegal war, notes six Democrat War Hawks voted against it (John Barron, Dan Boren, Lincoln Davis, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson and Gene Taylor) because they love an illegal war and that US House Rep Paul Kanjorski missed the vote due to illness while Mel Watt missed the vote but says he would have voted for it if he'd been there.
As the Des Monies Register reported, Brenda Hervey knows what's at stake -- her step-son Michael Hervey was injured while serving in Iraq, so, on Monday she was at the offices of her senator Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin asking that they refuse to continue to fund the illegal war. Hervey is a member of Military Families Speak out, so is Laurie Loving who shares some of the letter she wrote to her US House Rep Mike Thompson: "It is not ridiculous to expect the Democratic leadership to end this war by not giving it one more penny. No money, the war ends. There will be money to bring the troops home. . . The House leadership is trying to get members who oppose the war, you, to support the appropriations bill by claiming it has provisions to support our troops. In reality, the bill allows the president to indefinitely extend the withdrawal date of August 2008 if the troops are 'engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations with global reach; and/or if the troops are 'training members of the Iraqi Security Forces.' This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years." A toothless, non-enforceable date of August 2008? Why would that be? So when Bully Boy uses the override they provided him with, they can point to that for the November 2008 election? Would they then say/lie, "We tried"?
They didn't try. They treated it like it was all a game and the only thing that mattered was setting up their own finger pointing for the 2008 elections.
These are some of the voices shut out by public radio and when I say "public radio," I'm, sadly, not talking NPR which did give Medea Benjamin the mike. Free Speech Radio News? Well yesterday, the 'report' was an editorial about how tough it is to be in Congress (health care for life -- our hearts bleed for those poor Congress members). And, in the best of the Sunday Chat & Chew 'balance,' listeners got to hear one person speak for themselves -- a Congress member who supported the weak Pelosi measure. That passes for "Free Speech Radio News" to someone. (Someone really dense and unfamiliar with the history of Pacifica Radio.) Now when you shut out the voices of the people as well as Congress members opposed to the measure, there's no way you can tell your listeners (and The KPFA Evening News demonstrated that yesterday and all week) that the so-called "benchmarks" come with an out-option for the Bully Boy to excercise. (Kat wrote of this yesterday.) These voices were apparently judged unimportant and the issues not worth raising.
Rae (rae's CODEPINK road journal) writes of taking part in an action at Nancy Pelosi's DC office yesterday:
I am crying because the Democrats' support of another $100 billion for the war means that thousands more kids my age will be killed--kid soldiers and Iraqi kids. Pelosi's support of Bush's request for money for war is a death sentence for thousands of kids. After weeks of cute, colorful, passionate actions in the halls of Congress, from caroling with the choir to valentine delivery to dog bones for Blue Dogs to pink aprons and brooms cleaning House, today was an action of a different tenor. I felt like the floodgates had come down and the halls of Congress were gushing with a bloody river. Maybe it sounds dramatic. But it felt like we were drowning in tears, in pain, in the realization of something very, very wrong. And the tragic part was that the two secretaries in Pelosi's office sat there chuckling and picking up phones, and the press liaison came out and answered reporter's questions with a blank face. My heart was pounding so loudly that I wondered why it didn't just crack the walls of the marble building. Those walls felt more sturdy and guarded than usual. How have our Democratic leaders become so enchanted by the Republican language? Pelosi has helped them back into a corner where Bush will emerge victorious. And the tragic thing is that they will tout this as a victory if it passes tomorrow.
I visited Anna Eshoo's office after the action, and her press secretary tried to explain to me why Anna is going to vote for this supplemental. He gave me the analogy of a football game, where one must work strategically one play at a time to get the ball up the field to the goal. Here's why I think that's a bogus comparison: The compromise that Pelosi and the Dems are voting for is not one step towards peace; it is one step towards prolonging violence and destruction, and killing innocent lives for nothing. The press liaison listened patiently to my opinion, and then told me that we have the same goal, just different tactics. But I am quite certain now that we don't have the same goal. The Democrats want to win. I want to see the killing stop. I want to welcome our soldiers home with open arms and fully equipped medical services. I want to see justice done to the administration. The Democrats, well, they want to win--this vote, the election in '08, the power. If Pelosi would have just come out and said, "Look, I know that this bill (or ammendment like Lee's) may fail, but I am going to take this stand because I believe in the courage of my convictions, because I am more committed to the will of my constituents and the integrity of justice." But we'll never get to find out what Dems would have done if the supplemental had been straight with Bush's desires. And now it's a mess.
It is a mess. And who usually gets stuck cleaning up the messes?
Women of the one world
We oppose war
Women of the one world
Dancers, sweepers, bookkeepers
We take you to the movies
Take you to the movies
Women of the one world
-- "Women of the One World," written and performed by Laura Nyro, Live at the Bottom Line
Let's note Anna Quindlen (UPS via Herald News) conclusions from last month: "The people who brought America reports of WMDs when none existed, and the slogan 'Mission Accomplished' when it was not true nor likely to be, now say that American troops cannot leave. Not yet. Not soon. Not on a timetable. Judge the truth of that conclusion by the truth of their past statements. They say that talk of withdrawal shows a lack of support for the troops. There is no better way to support those who have fought valiantly in Iraq than to guarantee that not one more of them dies in the service of the political miscalculation of their leaders. Not one more soldier. Not one more grave. Not one more day. Bring them home tomorrow."
A number of women have been using their voices loudly and proudly (Ann Wright, Cindy Sheehan, Medea, Robin Morgan, Dahlia S. Wasfi, Missy Comley Beattie, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Diane Wilson, Kim Gandy, Laura Flanders, Kelly Dougherty, . . .) but if all the women opposed to this war would use their voices and own their power, the war would be over. The GI resistance is very important and it was important during Vietnam but it's equally true that women were actively leading the cry for an end to the war as well. It's the group that's always 'forgotten' by history.
Back to the Pelosi-measure, the Green Party noted, "If Democrats (inculding MoveOn) really oppose the war, they should demand a cutoff of war funding and the immediate return of all U.S. troops" and they note Cres Vellucci (press secretary of the Green Party of California and Veterans for Peace member) stating, "The Democrats' resolution is a piece of phony and meaningless antiwar posturing. By proposing a plan that effectively delays the withdrawal of U.S. troops until September 2008, Democrats are trying to set themselves up as the 'antiwar party' in the 2008 election, since it's obvious that President Bush intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq throughout 2008 and long after. If Democratic Party leaders really believe the Iraq War is a disaster -- as do the Green Party and most Americans -- they should support legislation compelling a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces and reducing war funding to the amount it takes to bring our troops home safe and sound."
Steve Kretzmann (Oil for Change) points out, "Among the many problems with the Democrats War Supplemental is the not so small fact that it endorses passage of the Iraqi Oil Law. 'Democratic leadership is actively handing over Iraq's oil to U.S. companies as some sort of war bounty,' said Antonia Juhasz, analyst with Oil Change International.
Not so fast, say Dem Leaders and allies. Their 'clever plan' is that Bush's benchmarks will not be met in the next eight months, after which, the bill will require withdrawal. Its the best they can get right now, they say. Problem is, it'll be game over and mission accomplished for Big Oil in Iraq in that time. The oil law is on a fast track for approval by the Iraqi Parliament within the next 2-3 months, and the Bush administration is leaning heavily on the Iraqi government for quick passage. October 1, which is the date that the Democrats set for the Benchmarks, is too late. The Iraqi oil law will be completed in 2-3 months."
As small media has largely hopped on board to sell the Pelosi measure (or at least not report on it), it's like a flashback to the 90s when big media sold NAFTA. Not everyone plays dumb. Aaron Glantz (IPS) probes the pork aspect of the bill: "Among the so-called 'pork projects' listed by Citizens Against Government Waste: 283 million dollars for the Milk Income Loss Contract programme, 74 million dollars for peanut storage costs, 60.4 million dollars for salmon fisheries, 50 million dollars for abestos mitigation at the U.S. Capitol Plant, and 25 million dollars for spinach" and quotes CAGW president Tom Schatz pointing out, "None of this has anything to do with the war."
Dave Lindorff (CounterPunch) speaks to what could have been done (as opposed to the sop tossed out) and concludes: "I'm fed up with the gutless mini-politics of this Congress. Who gives a damn whether they've passed a minimum wage bill? It'll never get past Bush anyhow. Neither will anything else of consequence that this Congress passes. Unless they start challenging the Bush administration directly and forcefull, Congressional Democrats aren't going to do bupkis in two years and people are going to start wondering why they were voted in in the first place. People might even start to think seriously about letting the Democratic Party just wither away. Wouldn't make much of a difference without it, really, and we might even come up with something better. It wouldn't be too hard to do."
Meanwhile, Iran is not in the Pelosi measure. Reports of the Iran and British conflict abound. AFP reports the 15 British soldiers captured in disputed waters as follows: "In southern Iraq, details of the incident in which the British sailors were detained by Iranian naval personnel remained sketchy." Not in the bulk of the Western media which, to read the reports, must be filed by eye witnesses, so sure of they of what happened. Uzi Mahnaimi (Times of London) earlier reported on the disappearances of "senior officers in its [Iran] Revolutionary Guard" noting: "One theory circulating in Israel is that a US taskforce known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG) is coordinating the campaign to take Revolutionary Guard commanders." The illegal war could expand at any moment and the Pelosi measure dropped Congressional approval for war with Iran.
joshua keykyle snyder