Saturday, June 30, 2007

Page Six Calls

At the start of last week, there was a number that kept popping up on caller i.d. I didn't recognize it and figured "telemarketer."

On Tuesday, I was home when they called. It was Page Six. Of the "New York Post." I had called them with a tip on my husband Thomas Friedman and their reply had been to do nothing.
Apparently Thomas Friedman had now been spotted in drag throughout NYC so often that even "Gawker" was gearing up to run the story.

So there was Page Six on the phone needing an insider quote. I explained I would be mortified if my name ever turned up in the "New York Post." Citing the Judith Miller method of sourcing, I insisted that I be credited as "someone close to Thomas Friedman's wife." After I'd explained to them who Judith Miller was, they were on board with it.

Which is how they came to run this online Tuesday and in print Wednesday:

"She's devestated," explained someone close to Thomas Friedman's wife. "How would you feel if you married a man and discovered he was more interested in what was in your closet than what was in your heart? It's also true that, as a cross dressed, Thomas Friedman is more than a tad trashy. If you're husband is going to dress in women's clothing, you like to think that at least you can point to his sense of style. Instead, Thomas Friedman in drag looks like he's heading down the courtyard to pay the lease on the spot for his double-wide. He has gone from being her personal embarrassment to the embarassment of the 'New York Times.' There's even been loud whispers of drug use; however, he was wearing his red wig then and may have just gotten into that car crash because he was pretending he was Lindsay Lohan."

Thomas Friedman hastily scribbled his reply entitled "The Whole World Is Watching." He wishes. He wasn't even one of the main items on Page Six. I should've contacted Cindy Adams instead.

Thomas Friedman tried to not only paint me, his wife, as a perfect stranger, but as an embittered and pushy one. As he tales the tale, we bumped into one another at the airport and he was first in line. When it was his turn, as he recounts, I immediately insisted I was there first.

I knew what this was about. The flight attendents, in August 2006, running out of peanuts after they'd handed me mine. Thomas Friedman has hissed and squealed. Insisting on better service, insisting he was Marilyn Monroe, just because he was wearing a dress and a blonde wig, and that he deserved quality service. "Marilyn Monroe, my ass" became the catch phrase of that flight. Good times.

I didn't take his damn peanuts. They ran out.

I read the column as his attempt at issuing a warning to me: The World Is Watching. I reply back, The World Is Watching and You Should Be Very Afraid.

In the past, his xenophobia, war cheerleading, destruction of democracy and other themes could simply slide down the memory hole. Now it's out there, for everyone to see, for everyone to refer to.

His past columns read less like a resume and more like a criminal background check.

Thomas Friedman, the world is watching.

The last few years have not been kind and someone close to him, his piano player Nicky K?, might want to suggest to him that he abandon Marilyn Monroe, Goldie Hawn, et al and cross dress his own age. I believe Angela Lansbury is back on Broadway, for instance.

I further suggest that, as the illegal war he cheerleaded, grows more and more unpopular, he grasp that short of coming out of the right-wing closet, he really has no future. The paper really can't afford to hand over that 'prime real estate' to a gas bag who was so publicly wrong. Not as the country has turned against the war. Not when there will be future wars to sell. He's a marked man now.

Or, considering his penchant for Bette Davis, if he prefers a "Marked Woman."

That paper can't seel war, the destruction of democracy, the enslavement of the worker with gas bags who prompt laugher and not fear. When you've made yourself the world's joke, they kick you out the door. Just ask Gail Collins.

So, to my husband Thomas Friedman, I reply The World Is Watching. Yes, it's a tired phrase and we all remember Tiananmen Square but that's the phrase my husband used. All he has to offer now is tired retreads and laughter.

How long before the official announcement comes that he's leaving the paper to finish a book?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, June 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Liam Madden gets some news, tensions continue between Turkey and northern Iraq, Bully Boy's lips are flapping so you know what that means and more.

Starting with
Iraq Veterans Against the War's Liam Madden. Madden and two other members of IVAW, Cloy Richards and Adam Kokesh, have been targeted by the US military brass in an attempt to silence and cow them. They have been threatened with the loss of benefits (Cloy Richards is classified as 80% disabled), loss of their honorable discharges and more. Kokesh participated in street theater in DC and then found himself facing the theatrics of a kangaroo court -- proving there is no bigger drama queensthan those commanders in the marines. Kokesh recevied a general discharge from the IRR -- meaning he's twice discharged: honorably from the marines, general from the IRR -- and Richards reached an agreement where he would not wear any part of his fatigues in public (his mother, Tina Richards, now usually wears his Marine Corp boonie cover at rallies and marches). Madden was being tarred with the usual trumped up charge that fatigues are the equivalent of dress uniforms and the added bonus that his speech was "disloyal" (which may echo the questioning in Kokesh's kangaroo hearing where he was asked if he was "a card carrying member of Iraq Veterans Against the War"). Now comes the news via the AP's own Ethel Mertz (Heather Hollingsworth) that although "[a]n investigating officer had recommended in May that Liam Madden, 22, of Boston receive an other-than-honorable discharge, the worst discharge possible under non-court martial conditions" the Marines issued a press release stating "that they were dropping the case because they had 'received sufficient indictation' from Madden . . ." of something. Of what? Madden has been very clear that he'll come to terms with them provided they put in writing that he made no disloyal statements about the US. He tells Hollingsworth that he's received nothing in writing but, "I think it's a total victory. The country is on our side and it really puts the Marine Corps in a bad light if they try to intimdate".

Madden and other members of
Iraq Veterans Against the War are currently conducting a summer base tour that takes them next to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, GA on June 30th at 7:00 pm; Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on July 1st at 7:00 pm; a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

And in news of resistance within the military (IRR is a way station -- Richard, Madden and Kokesh were all discharged and the brass had no reason to screw with them), we'll turn to Eli Israel. Eleonai "Eli" Israel is stationed and Iraq and has announced he can no longer take part in the illegal war. He is also a supporter of
2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel having noted, "I am taken away by the truth and clarity that is spoken by Sen. Gravel. He has my vote. The National Initiative that he proposes is what this country needs." And: "My paychecks currently comes from the Army. I have worked with and trained with Blackwater in the past, among others. I have seen this war (and it's orchestrators) from the inside out, and I'm telling anyone who has 'ears to hear', that Mike Gravel is the only voice of reason that is speaking." Those were both noted in May. In April, he posted, "My name is Eli Israel, and yes, you probably guessed it, I'm very much Jewish. I'm also a soldier in Iraq, and I'm also a HARD CORE Mike Gravel supporter." In an update at Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eli notes, "I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want) . .. It would have been a lot 'easier' for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more week, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience". Courage to Resist has more information here.

Eli Israel is part of a movement of resistance within the US military grows and includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Care, Kyle Huwer, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty 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, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

In Iraq, where all business seems to stop anytime Moqtada al-Sadr deliberates . . .
Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki is all but on his hands and knees regarding a planned al-Sadr march for next week (July 5th). Mike Drummond (McClatchy Newspapers) judged that "the march poses a test of his [al-Sadr's] popularity. A peaceful demonstration could arm him with broad political clout, which has eluded other Iraqi leaders so far, including Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. A low turnout could underscore the limites of Sadr's ability to marshal ordinary citizens." AP reported this morning that al-Sadr had called off the march and cited Sheik Asad al-Nassiri's statement: "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inablity to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement."

When not begging al-Sadr,
Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports, the puppet was attempting to sideline him via an attempted partnership with alleged moderate bloc in Parliament who would make it their business to take up the "oil revenue-sharing law". However Asad al-Hashimi remains 'at large.' With Iraq's Culture Minister out and about, better hide those copies of Ram in the Thicket. Worse for al-Maliki, as he's attempting to realign himself, BBC reports that the Iraqi Accord Front and its six minister "will boycott government meetings because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers." That would be al-Hashimi who, this week, suddenly became the main suspect in a 2005 assassination (he is now said to be in Jordan). Waleed Ibrahim and Alister Bull (Reuters) observe "the move is a blow to Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under U.S. pressure to push through laws" and that this is the second time the bloc has gone on strike this month -- last week they objected to the removal of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani who held the post of Speaker in the Parliament. In terms al-Hashimi, they further note that "there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police and court officials have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued for Hashemi."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 mortar attacks in Baghdad. CBS and AP report that "the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours". Reuters notes a Tikrit roadside bombing that left three wounded and a Kut roadside bombing that left a woman wounded. CBS and AP report a bombing on an oil pipeline in Haswa "spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire".


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 women ("one of them pregnant") and 1 man were shot dead in Baghdad, two police officers were wounded in Kirkuk and "A U.S. military convoy killed an Iraqi man in Al Rashad neighborhood, Iraq police said."


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses were discoved in Baghdad today. Reuters notes 3 corpses discovered in Balad and the corpse "of a university lecturer" found in Kut.

US military announced today, "Five Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a combat patrol in a southern section of Baghdad June 28. Small arms and rocket-propelled attacks followed shortly after the blast. Seven other Soldiers were wounded in the attack." The deaths bring to 3577 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and to 100 fatalties for the month of June. June is the third deadliest month for US service members so far this year. June 2007 is also the deadliest June for service members stationed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The attack was one of the combination attacks that isn't new and has been going on for over a year. BBC notes their "Baghdad correspondent Andrew North says that incidents like Thursday's, in which insurgents first use roadside bombs to attack US troops, then exploit the confusion afterwards to fire on them, have become more common. . . . Our correspondent says this is a sign yet again of how the conflict here keeps changing, with insurgents often one step ahead."

Turning to world leaders do the craziest things . . .

As an election looms in Australia and (Australia's)
ABC News reports Labour's Kevin Rudd has declared John Howard (prime minister) will reduce the number of Australians stationed in Iraq "as an election ploy, but his overall strategy is to keep them there indefinitely." Last week, Bill Taylor's remarks, such as "The majority of Australians across the country would very much like to see us come out of that mess as soon as possible," caused a stirbecause it was seen as coming from within Howard's own party (Liberal). Ed Johnson (Bloomberg News) reports today that Alexander Downer, the country's Foreign Minister, has announced, "I made it clear that Australian troops would stay" in Iraq and dismissing Rudd's observations that any of the country's approximately 1,500 troops would be leaving Iraq.
That would be the same Alexander Downer who was in Iraq yesterday meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister to discuss trade.
Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which must be the country's equivalent of Liz Smith, announces, "Mr. Downer thanked Mister Zebari for the briefing he gave concerning the latest developments, and assured his country's obligations in supporting the new Iraq, and to develop relations between Canberra and Baghdad."

Moving from the satellite of Howard to the Bully of them all, Bully Boy gave more of the same yesterday at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.
Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times) report: "Mr. Bush in effect pleaded for more time on Thursday, saying that the deployments in Iraq he ordered in his so-called troop surge have only recently been completed and were already producing positive results. . . .Even at this pre-screened location, Mr. Bush faced some skepticism from questioners in the audience, including a woman who asked him pointedly if he was indeed listening to the advice of his commanders (yes, he said) and a professor who asked if the Iraq campaign was stretching United States forces too think to cope with other challenges elsewhere (no, he said)." Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) noted that Bully Boy wants the US to support death globally and focus locally as evidenced by Bully Boy's claim that "citizens are forming neighborhood watch groups" in Baghdad is a sign of encouragement. Ricks notes, "It is not clear what the difference is between those groups and armed militias, which U.S. officials have said in the past must be disbanded or incorporated into Iraqi security forces."
Flashback to almost exactly this time last year (July 2006) when al-Maliki was claiming his 'plan' would create just that -- only, they were all created. Bully Boy's seeing 'progress' in a questionable development and one that existed before the June 2006 'crackdown' began on Baghdad.
Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) points out that Bully Boy did his usual stunt: "Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida 'the main enemy' in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analaysts. The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues." And despite the fact that Iraq had no connection to 9-11. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) observed, "The President went on to say he views Israel as a model for what Iraq should become. Bush says Israel is able to carry out its democratic functions despite the constant threat of attacks." Along with the massive insult such statements are to the region (maybe Bully Boy feels at this late date, there are no hearts and minds left to win?), it's also true that the Israeli government is in the news today for actions/behaviors that hardly deserve copying. Donald Macintyre (Independent of London) reports how Moshe Katsav (Israel's president) "yesterday escaped jail by agreeing a plea bargain under which rape charges against him will be dropped. In return he is admitting charges of lesser sexual offences against former employees."

And turning to England, we find Blair-lite.
Kim Sengupta and Colin Brown (Independent of London) observe, "Yesterday should have been a day of political triumph for Gordon Brown. Instead events in Basra provided a brutal and intimate reminder of the scale of the challenge he faces in Iraq." Scott Kennedy, James "Jamie" Kerr and Paul Joszko, three British soldiers, were all announced dead. Andrew Pierce and David Blair (Telegraph of London) note that Jamie Kerr was "from Mr Brown's Cowdenbeath constituency" and that "Mr Brown, as a local MP, will now face the dilemma of whether to be present when the body of his constituent is flown home." Richard Beeston, Michael Evans and Melanie Reid (Times of London) quote John Paul Ward, Jamie Kerr's step-father, on the soldier's last phone call to his mother, "Jamie said being out there was not what he thought it would be. He didn't want to be there. He was more scared than anything else. He said he wanted to come home and I think being out there was a reality check for him."

For those who have forgotten, the 156 British troops who have died and the 3577 US troops who have died, the nearly one million Iraqis who have died, and others, all died because Tony Blair and Bully Boy insisted that Iraq had WMD and that we couldn't wait for a "mushroom cloud."
CBS and AP report: "The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close 'an appalling chapter' in his country's history."

Meanwhile, tensions between Turkey and the northern section of Iraq continue with
Reuters reporting that Masoud Barzani ("head of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq") has declared there will be a "catastrophe" should Turkey enter into the region.