Saturday, March 29, 2008

How 'we' lose

It was all so depressing. Sunday the 4,000 mark for US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was reached . . . and passed. The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel was among the many who elected to ignore the milestone.

Katty-van-van is hardly the face of modern liberalism -- especially with that huge honker -- but she is the editor and publisher of "The Nation" and the whole silence was disturbing.

It was as disturbing as continuing to read though "How We Take Over" which was some of the worst rambling in book form I'd encountered since "The World Is Flat." It was as though the thing was written by a teenage Marxist addicted to commercial consumption. I began to fear that Katty-van-van was the true author.

"Take a completely unqualified and unknown candidate," the text argued, "and elevate him to godlike status via heavy drooling and panting. When he ends up in office, he will owe us and then we collect!"

"Too true!" Katty-van-van doodled in the margin along with a long passage about her "colored Mammy" and how "Daddy used to slap Mammy on the buttocks to make her feel more like a part of the family."

This was quickly followed by an even more disturbing 'footnote' where Katty-van-van lamented the passage of time that made her "bigger" and no longer able to play "pool" with her father as she did when she was a child. I was confused until I read on learned that Katty-van-van had sat in her father's lap as a child and the game played can politely be referred to "pocket pool."

The woman truly was sick.

And not just confessing to it, but confessing to why and why she had the need for so many Daddy figures in her life.

In the margins of a section on "economics," Katty-van-van wrote a detailed passage about how when Bambi was president, she hoped he brought back "plantations" and she got to be a house slave because "I was always a little envious when Daddy used to slap my Mammy on the buttocks." She imagined toiling happily in the "big house" while "the field" was harvested by "strapping bucks like Eric AlterPunk and John Nichols."

Leaving aside the fact that Katty-van-van was not only romanticizing the deplorable institution of slavery, she was sexualizing it; there was still the issue of how John Nichols could ever work a harvest?

Eric was a pip-squeak, true, but would John Nichols, wearing one of his delightful frocks, really be welcomed among workers?

I remembered an e-mail from John Nichols last week entitled "My Nam" where he compared losing his nipple to serving in Vietnam. Johnny had been in Katty-van-van's office, with paperclips dangling from his nipples for nipple rings, he'd be pressing his body against Katty-van-van's wall-size potrait of Bambi Obama when he realized Cathy Pollitt and I were watching. In his haste to run out of the building, he'd tripped on the tacky shag rug carpeting that Katty-van-van thought was the height of sophistication. (Rumor has it that Katty-van-van also thinks having her 'personal massage' device in avocado green passes for 'sophistication.') After tripping, he'd slid across the shag rug which had ensared one of the paper clips and, jerking free, Johnny had lost a nipple. He'd ended his e-mail with this: "John McCain thinks he's know suffering but I lost a nipple!" Yes, and his grip on sanity.

"How We Take Over" rightly predicted that Senator Hillary Clinton would be a formidable rival for their echo-chamber-created candidate. It listed her strengths:

*Experience
*Likeability
*Fighter

And quickly explained how repeating "Billary" and calling her a "bitch" repeatedly could be used to turn those strengths against her. They would destroy her through "a non-stop character assassination." ("Yes! Yes! Yes!" Katty-van-van wrote in the margins.) While they destroyed her character, they would offer nothing but "testimonials" about Bambi: "Think of it as a non-stop infomerical. And like those informericals, none of the 'witnesses' featured should be too smart. We don't want people to catch on to what is actually taking place. They must never question the character of the cult."

With that, it was 200 pages of 'policy' (it appeared someone had studied their Joseph Stalin) with a one page conclusion that argued "Now he's in the White House, we put him there and he has to listen!"

Leaving aside the fact that someone unworthy elevated by false praise into the highest office of the land would likely be taken in by the non-stop flattery and feel he owed nothing to anyone, I realized that "How We Take Over" left out one detail in their road to the White House: The Republican opponent.

So focused were they on discrediting Hillary Clinton and dusting off Kremlin style 'policies,' they'd forgotten that the road to the White House doesn't end with the Democratic Party.

"These people are sick!" I yelled out loud, tossing the book to the floor.

"Betinna, what are you reading?"

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, March 28, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Moqtada al-Sadr is still standing and then some, Patrick Leahy attacks democracy, Barack Obama tries out another story about his relationship with Jeremaih Wright, and more.

Moving quickly. War resisters in Canada are attempting to seek asylum. They need support as a measure is expected to be debated next month. For those in Canada, the nation's Parliament remains the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=pm@pm.gc.ca -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (http://us.f366.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The assault on Basra continues. CBS and AP report that, added to the mix, "U.S. warplanes bombed sites in the southern Iraqi city of Basra overnight, targeting Shiite militia members". Robin Stringer and Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) cite UK Maj Tom Holloway stating that the US bombed "positively identified militia targets". Of course they did. And, no doubt, Basra being an inhabited city, they also cleared out all civilian populations as well, right? (No.) US planes aren't the only ones dropping bombs. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reported this morning, "British warplanes have carried out bomb attacks on Shi'ite militia positions in Basra, directly entering the fray for the first time since the Iraqi army began the crackdown in the southern city." Meanwhile Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) report, "U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand." Appeared to expand?

Tuesday, the word was that the British were sitting it out. And from the start we've heard of 'Commander' Nouri, rushing to Basra, to oversee the battle. A decisive battle, we were told. CNN gushed, "Al-Maliki is said to be personally overseeing efforts to restore order in Basra". That was Tuesday. By Wednesday (when it was obviously a failed effort) the Pentagon was hoping to grab some bragging rights but it was still "It's All Nouri!" -- and meant it in a positive manner. By Thursday, displeasure wasn't being murmured, it was being stated clearly and on the record such as when Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman (Washington Post) reported that "independent Kurdish legislator" Mahmoud Othman was quoted declaring, "Everybody is asking, 'Why now?' . . . . People have ill-advised Maliki. The militias like the timing. Iran likes the timing. They want to show there's no progress in Iraq." It was falling apart before the assault was ever launched. But as late as Thursday, that still wasn't grasped as evidenced by James Glanz (New York Times) reporting how "American officials have presented the Iraqi Army's attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own."

Today, Bully Boy declared at the White House that "any government that presumes to represent the majority of people must confront criminal elements or people who think they can live outside the law. And that's what's taking place in Basra and in other parts of Iraq. I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq. There have been other defining moments up to now, but this is a defining moment, as well. The decision to move troops -- Iraqi troops into Basra talks about Prime Minister Maliki's leadership." As usual, it would appear someone left Bully Boy out of the loop. "Criminal elements" echoes Nouri's statements throughout the week but let's note that if you're going to tackle alleged criminal elements, you give the Parliament a heads up. This is a turf war. Wednesday on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show featured McClatchy Newspapers' Leila Fadel.


Leila Fadel: Well Basra has been spiraling out of control for months now, the British military pulled out late last year basically handing it over to Shia militias in a city that are battling for power. Maliki, the prime minister here, finally declared a security operation on Monday night and the battle has been fierce mainly between Iraqi government forces and the Mehdi Army which is loyal to the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Basra is a strong-hold for the Mehdi Army and the Sadrists are saying this is a battle against them to consolidate power for their Shia rivals, the Supreme Council here in Iraq.

The latter would be the party that provides Nouri with his largest support these days after his own Da'wa party. Provincial elections are supposed to be held at year's end and this is seen as one of the primary reasons for the assault on Basra. Another reason was that US Gen David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are due to put on another show for Congress next month and Petraeus has actually grumbled publicly about al-Maliki. As have many Democrats and Republicans serving in the US Congress. If the puppet is fingered as one of the failures, how does that look for those pulling his strings? So this was a rock 'em, sock 'em p.r. bonanza. If you were an idiot.

Moqtada al-Sadr's power was at the weakest. He'd declared the cease-fire/truce with US and occupation forces in August of 2007. The truce was very unpopular in the Sadr City section of Bahgdad where al-Sadr's supporters were. al-Sadr wasn't there. al-Sadr was assumed to be in Najaf. So when Sadrists felt they were being openly targeted. Then came February when al-Sadr (still not home) declded to renwer the cease-fire/truce. Objections were strong before the truce was renewed and just the act of renewing it led "loyalists" to criticize al-Sar openly and to the press. al-Sadr's influence was diminishing. When a people feel attacked and their designated leader isn't with them, questions will naturally emerge and they were starting to. And possibly those in the US government who've long plotted the 'departure' of al-Sadr felt, "This is the perfect moment!" No, it wasn't. And whomever okayed the operation immediatly up to Bully Boy miscalculated (Bully Boy always miscalculates) because when someone you see as an enemy is naturally weakening themselves through their own actions, you do not 'assist' them by lifting them to a higher stature. That's what the assault on Basra did.

Maybe the hope was al-Sadr would stay silent. He didn't. He called it out. Who's winning hearts & minds in Iraq? Moqtada al-Sadr because, across Iraq, Iraqis saw only one person stand up to the occupation. Iraqis has seen Falluja slaughtered (twice), has seen their neighborhoods physically carved up with "Bremer" walls, they've seen that, five years after their country was invaded, not only are occupation forces still present (in direct opposition to the wishes of the Iraqi people) but Baghdad is pretty much off limits to most Iraqis. Who stood up? Moqtada al-Sadr.

Nouri al-Maliki painted himself into the corner as did the US. Wednesday on The Diane Rehm Show al-Maliki's ultimatums were noted.

Leila Fadel: Well Prime Minister Maliki is saying that he wants every weapon in the hands of the government. He wants all weapon smugglers, this is a very important city, 90% of Iraq's oil comes from there, it's a border town. It has the main port of Iraq there. And a lot of the weapon smuggling, oil smuggling happens there. And so the main families that deal with oil smuggling, weapon smuggling have been targeted in Basra. He has given what he calls outlaws 72 hours to surrender while the battle continues it seems that the main targets and the people fighting back are the Medhi army and the Sadrists are saying that they are the targets, the sole targets, of this operation.

al-Maliki was in no position to give ultimatums. But it was 'strong,' it was 'bravery' -- or that's how it was supposed to play. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) cited al-Maliki calling al-Sadr loyalists "criminal gangs". Leila Fadel (McClatchy) quoted Nouri insisting, "The government does not negotiate with a gang; the government does not sign understanding memorandums with outlaws." Big tough Nouri? Italy's AGI reports that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, has now extended his 'deadline' (April 8th now and not Saturday) and Al Jazeera notes that he declared, "All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially." al-Maliki's reputation was on the line, as James Glanz noted, and the US government knew for sure that their puppet was going to be able to pull this off but only because they've deluded themselves into believing that Iraqis see Nouri as a legitimate ruler. They dodn't. Protests started the minute the assault on Basra began. When Moqtada al-Sadr spoke out, the protests only got heavier -- across Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr called for a political solution and Nouri al-Maliki insisted he doesn't deal with 'outlaws' (which would mean he ignores his own ministries). Today in Iraq, al-Sadr's not only the one who stood up to the occupying powers (a big thing in and of itself), he's the one who did so and got concessions.

China's Xinhua noted the "extraordinary session" in the Iraq Parliament that Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called today and the press conference announcing it where he was joined by Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous prime minister) and others. AP reports that 78 members of Parliament were present and that the committee met for "about two hours" on the issue of Basra. Missing the point, as usual, at the White House Bully Boy was still issuing talking points, calling the assault "a test and a moment for the Iraqi government". If it was a test for Bully Boy he failed as he fell back on all his tired answers ("democracy" and mothers wanting their children to go to school are especially overused). Standing next to him was Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who avoided all questions on Iraq and only addressed that nation in his opening remarks where he mentioned "an assistance package of some $165 million" of which "a large slice" is planned to "train their people better in agriculture and in the wider economy." Train "their people better" in farming? Is Rudd unaware that Iraq was considered one of the breadbaskets of the MidEast?

Let's stay with Bully Boy and mistakes. Not last Monday, but the Monday before (March 17th), Michael R. Gordon presented the usual unsourced junk his infamous for. But because it was pleasing, many picked up on it. Amy Goodman pimped it but, apparently grasping even her declining audience wouldn't accept a report from Gordo, just credited it to the New York Times. We didn't link to it the morning of the 17th, we're not going to link to it now. We noted the morning of the 17th, "At the New York Times Gordo's raving about his insider interviews and access. No link to trash. The thrust is that L. Paul Bremer issued a decree that disbanded the Iraqi military (true) and that this was something Bremer came up with on his own. Collie Powell declares that he was out of the country and called Condi Rice about it to object and Rice explained that it had already been done. The big villian of the piece is Bremer and Bully Boy is painted as someone who was apparently in a daze. (Maybe he was thinking of My Pet Goat?) How true is it? Who knows? It's Gordo and the ship is sinking so the rats are bailing. If Powell knew it was a mistake (as he insists to Gordo), then Colin Powell should have something in real time -- even as an anomyous source. That's the least he should have done. Anyone with real courage would have stepped down and gone public. Again, the ship is sinking and since Bully Boy won't be working anywhere, they'll finger him as out of it (which is believable) and make Bremer the fall guy. While Bremer wins nothing but boos and hisses here, it is equally true that anyone -- not just Bully Boy -- could have objected. (That includes but is not limited to Rice.)" It wasn't news. The tip-off should have been the byline if not the whisper nature of the story. But the paper then had to offer an editorial 'loosely based' on Gordo's 'reporting' entitled "Mission Still Not Accomplished" and Paul Bremer responded to the apportioning of blame Monday March 24th in a letter to the editor (A24). Bremer's claiming that there was no military to disband and we're not in the mood for that nonsense but we will note some of his comments just because the disaster that is the illegal war has many parents and none should be left off the hook:

I take strong exception to your assertion that I "overrode" President Bush's national security team on disbanding the Iraqi Army. Whatever one's view on the issue, there should be no confusion about the process leading to this decision. President Bush's instructions to me were to report to him through Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. I did.
[. . .]
On May 9, two weeks before the decision was made, I sent a draft order based on these discussions to Mr. Rumsfeld, copied to Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the Central Command, and other senior defense officials. A copy went to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq.
All had ample opportunity to comment on this and subsequent drafts of the order before it was issued on May 23. Defense Department civilian leaders and military staffs provided only minor suggested revisions.
On May 22, I briefed the president at a National Security Council meeting attended by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage; Secretary Rumsfeld; and General Myers. No one raised concerns or objections.
Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, says he was unaware of the plan; that is regrettable. But this suggests a problem with the interagency process in Washington.
General Myers told The New York Times (front page, March 17) that there had been no "robust debate" about the draft decree. If any top officials felt strongly at the time that the decision was misguided, as some of them now claim, they had every opportunity, and the responsibility, to make those concerns known to the Pentagon's leadership, or directly to the commander in chief.

Paul Bremer is correct that anyone wanting to claim they were out of the loop needs a better excuse. If Colin Powell wants to claim he was out of the loop, that's an issue with his then Deputy Secretary. Bremer is also correct that those opposed (none were) "had every opportunity, and the responsibility" to speak out. They chose not to. Now, as resume shock sets in and they realize what they own, it was very cowardly to try to add their blame to Bremer. Bremer's not innocent and bears responsiblity for his actions. But when you want to whisper and shove your blame off on someone else -- and you're in power -- you rush straight to Michael Gordon. And it's a sure sign of how pathetic Panhandle Media is that they merely stripped Gordo's name from it as they rushed to repeat it. Over and over. I'm unaware of anyone noting Bremer's reply which ran Monday and I waited until Friday to see if any would bother with "in an update to . . ." but none did.

Basra wasn't the only victim of a US air assault. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad bombings from the air with the US killing "3 gunmen, injuring 8" in the first instance and killing "12 people" with "60 injured" in the second. Robert H. Reid (AP) also notes the air bombings on Baghdad and refers to a Sadr City incident which may be the second one Issa noted or yet another bombing when "a U.S. aircraft fired a Hellfire missile in the Sadr City district -- the Baghdad stronghold of the Mahdi Army -- after gunmen there opened fire on an American patrol. The U.S. military said the missile strike killed four militants, but Iraqi officials said nine civilians were killed and nine others wounded."



Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .

Bombings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack "near Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's residence inside the Green Zone injuring 2 of his security detail," a Baghdad mortar attack on "the supension bridge (one of the entrances to the Green Zone) in Karrada" that wounded three people.

Shootings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Qurna city resulted in 5 losing their lives and injured two. Robert H. Reid (AP) reports armed clashes in "Mahmoudiya, Nasiriyah and Kut" resulted in "[a]t least 26 people" dead. Reuters notes 3 dead in an armed clash in Kerbala, 6 in an armed clash in Hamza and that "the mayor of Ghmash neighbourhood in Diwaniya" was shot dead today.

Kidnappings?

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 kidnappings of police patrols in Baghdad -- in one instance two police officers were released, in the other three are missing.

Corpses?

Reuters notes 7 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.

Today the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division-Center Soldier was killed as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device attack south of Baghdad March 28."

Turning to US presidential politics. US Senator Patrick Leahy attacked democracy AND LIED today. Johanna Neuman (Los Angeles Times) reports that Leahy is calling "on Hillary Rodham Clinton to drop out of the presidential race, saying there is no way the New York Senator can wrest the nomination from her rival Barack Obama." Let's remember that Leahy is the OLD FOOL who endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court. Now let's walk through slowly. A) If there's no way for Hillary to garner the nomination, what's the big concern with her dropping out? We'll come back to that. The Obama campaign got a spook today and are hoping the press doesn't get wind of it. B) If Barack has the nomination, it doesn't matter what Hillary does. C) Neither Hillary or Barack appeared able to reach the magic number of delegates from primaries or caucuses. Patrick Leahy needs to sit back down. His ass, like the rest of him, is obviously tired.

Let's cover the attack on Democracy angle. Vermont held their primary on March 4th. Leahy didn't think it was important to stop the process then, now did he? Today Bob Casey Jr. endorsed Barack. Let's see Bob Casey Jr. echo Leahy, let's see Bob Casey Jr. tell the voters of Pennsylvania that Hillary needs to drop out. Pennsylvania holds their primary on April 22nd so let's see Bob Casey Jr. stand with Leahy and see him tell the voters of his own state that they don't matter, that their votes don't matter and that their voice doesn't matter.

That is what Leahy is doing and everyone -- regardless of party -- should be offended by this attack on democracy. Now this nonsense was pulled on Al Gore privately in 2000. Leahy is so brazen that he thinks he can now do it publicly. Leahy is not the Director of Democracy and it's past time that he and others got that message. It's past time that someone held these little chiefs in check. And the people will. Leahy's not only offended Pennsylvania and all states and regions still to hold primary, he's also offending Vermont which is a state with a long history of allowing the process to go through. His offensive lies and attacks need to be called out.

Let's get it straight, the primary/caucus system is gamed over and over. But the lie those who don't live in Iowa or New Hampshire are told each election cycle is that their votes matter to. They're told that if it's ever close, they'll certainly get a say. They're told that just because the runway is cleared for Iowa and New Hampshire each year while everyone else is left in holding pattern, it's still fair, it's still equal. No, it's not. Which is why Bill Nelson is proposing legislation. But under the current system, the race continues. Under the current system, it's not expected that either Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton will meet the magic number of delegates required to win the nomination. The super delegates would decide the nominee.

Everyone knows that. Leahy knows that though he lies to make it look better for his heart-throb Bambi. As someone who is lobbying super delegates, you better believe I know it. But while that battle's gone on, a new battle emerged today, totally unexpected. It sent the Barack Obama campaign into a tizzy. On NPR's The Diane Rehm Show today, a caller named John from Dallas, TX spoke. He explained he supported Barack Obama. He explained he voted for him. He explained he caucused for him. He explained he was selected as a delegate to represent Obama. Most importantly, he explained he could no longer support Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton won the primary in Texas.

That's why Leahy was sent out. Clamp down on this quick! Stop it before it bleeds further! Jeremy Wright is toxic and viral and it has destroyed Barack Obama. Not Hillary or anything she's said. The fact that Wright damned the United States of America is not going down easy despite media lies. The caller referenced an earlier section of the program and may have meant the embarrassing discussion of polls which included Obama's 'good' news from a PEW poll. 51% rated him well on his speech last week. But there's the other side which wasn't addressed on the broadcast. Seven percent didn't know. 42% rated Fair to Poor. The most heavily pimped speech of the campaign, by any candidate. The source of endless columns (bad columns) and non-stop gas baggery. The media was in full force on that speech, trying to shape the minds of Americans. But they didn't. 42% said Fair to Poor. (That's the general population but it's also the number for those self-describing as "Independent" in the poll.) When the US media decided to hop on board the selling of the illegal war, Bully Boy soared in the polls. 51% is very disappointing and that number is only going to continue to lower. Wright is toxic and viral and Obama showed no judgement.

That's what the caller told Rehm and her panel. And they characterized what he was going through as buyer's remorse. Wright has not gone away. He was back in the news for his "I will tour!" which didn't work out that well (it was cancelled for him but he tried to save face) and then came more offensive remarks including "garlic noses" for Italians. Jeffrey Weiss (Dallas Morning News) covers the religious beat and offers this prediction today: "Barack Obama will face more questions about Rev. Wright. Yes, Obama has disavowed the sentiments in the endlessly YouTubed excerpts. But the entire sermon offers a view of America and the American government that stands in sharp contrst to Obama's message. It's one thing for him to say he hadn't heard his pastor call God's wrath down on America that day. But surely some of the broader themes of that sermon about the role and history of the U.S. government were woven through other sermons? And we have not heard how or whether Obama took those up with his pastor and friend." On ABC's The View, Obama offered yet another version of conflicting stories passed off as truth. Today's lie is he would have left the church if Wright had "not retired" and that's a new one. It's equally true that it wouldn't take most people 20 years to make such a decision. Jake Tapper (ABC News) notes that he also claimed Wright "had said he had deeply offended people" and Tapper questions that only to get a "What he meant" from the campaign. Tapper notes:

Okay, except Obama wasn't "clearly" saying that at all.Here's a clear way to say that: 'Had the reverend not retired I would have confronted him about his remarks. If after that Wright still refused to acknowledge that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I think is the great character of this country -- for all its flaws -- then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church.'

Taylor Marsh tracks Obama's changing story and how this new "I would have left if he hadn't been retiring" nonsense is just that. Brad Warthen (South Carolina's The State) explores the offense of the most famous sermon Wright delivered (and then sold online):

But what Mr. Wright said is clear. The six-minutes-plus of context that went before "G** Damn America" was exactly what I would have guessed went before it. Essentially, it was a review of history, mixed with a small dollop of political partisanship (the comparison of not-so-bad presidencies with the current one). Short version: The government has upheld oppression of black people during the course of American history.
Folks, I'm an American history major, and I've lived in this country for most of 54 years. What part of the rather sketchy overview in that sermon do you think I didn't know already? If I'd been sermonizing, I could have added a lot to it -- including the fact that the blood offering of the Civil War, as horrific as it was, seems to have been an inevitable sacrifice to expiate the sin of slavery. And I would have said the evil didn't end there, nor could it, there being original sin in the world, and no one of us since Jesus Christ born free of it.
But I wouldn't have said "G** Damn America." Not in a million years. For me, the point of bringing up evil is to try to overcome it -- as I believe two people Mr. Darby mentions (King and Bonhoeffer) were trying to do.
Sorry, but I can't accept that the Rev. Wright was saying "things that challenge America to rise above its sins of prejudice and greed." No, if he'd said America was in danger of damnation, or headed straight thataway, rather as Jesus said to the Pharisees in the example cited by my colleague Warren Bolton this week, that might have been seen as a challenge, perhaps even a well-intentioned warning. (Personally, although he had more right, being God, than anyone else to do so, I don't remember Jesus ever damning anything more sentient than a fig tree.)
But Mr. Wright didn't call on us to do anything. Instead, he called on G** to damn America.

Wright isn't going away. And let's be clear that what happened today was an Obama delegate -- voted for him in the primary, caucused for him -- announced on NPR that he wasn't able to support Obama and wouldn't be, that he was switching his vote to someone else. It's the story the campaign doesn't want noted.

Meanwhile, the following US military retired endose Hillary:
General Wesley Clark General Henry Hugh Shelton Admiral William Owens Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick Vice Admiral Joseph A. Sestak, Jr. Major General Roger R. Blunt Major General George Buskirk, Jr. Major General Paul D. Eaton Major General Antonio M. Taguba Brigadier General Michael Dunn Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote Brigadier General Virgil A. Richard Brigadier General Jack Yeager Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. Rear Admiral Roland G. Guilbault Rear Admiral Stuart F. Platt Rear Admiral David Stone

The lettter reads:

As retired flag and general officers, we have devoted our lives to our country. We have hundreds of thousands of men and women on the front lines that have done the same. At this critical time in our nation's history, our men and women in uniform deserve better than a presidential debate mired in trivia. The stakes are simply too high. As we are poised to choose our next Commander-in-Chief, we should not allow the media to divert attention from the real issues. What matters is who is ready and inspired to lead -- who can be Commander-in -Chief on Day One.
It is imperative that our new President knows how and when to use force and diplomacy judiciously, to know how to deploy the olive branch and the arrow. The President needs to be ready to act swiftly and decisively in a crisis. And we think our next President must restore our moral authority and leadership around the world with the courage to meet with our adversaries when appropriate, and the wisdom to pursue diplomacy wisely.
It is especially important to understand the military and diplomatic challenges facing us in Iraq, and to end the Iraq war responsibly and safely. It is also important to rededicate ourselves to winning in Afghanistan, the forgotten front line in our fight against terrorism.
In these critical areas, it is clear to us that Senator Clinton is the candidate best qualified to be our nation's next Commander-in-Chief.
We believe that she has real understanding of the military through her diligent service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She has worked tirelessly to ensure our men and women in uniform are properly trained and equipped to be sent to battle. And she has fought to make certain that they are treated with dignity when they return home. We have personally and closely observed her respect for our armed forces, and she has earned their respect. And ours.
We hope that as a country, we will now turn our attention to the critical issues that will determine the future of our great nation.




mcclatchy newspapers

Monday, March 24, 2008

4,000 is the US death toll in Iraq

Found in the paper:

The above is from Kari Lundgren's "Iraqi Attacks Kill 54 People; Green Zone Bombed, AFP Reports" (Bloomberg News). Thus far, MNF announces, "Four Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed at approximately 10 p.m. March 23 after terrorists attacked them with an improvised-explosive device in southern Baghdad while conducting a mounted vehicular patrol. One additional Soldier was injured from this attack." The 4,000 mark has been reached.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3988. And tonight? 4000 is the number.

The 4,000 mark has been reached. 12 US service members have been announced since last Sunday. Last week was the fifth anniversary of the illegal war and you saw how that played out. The "corporatist peace groups" are pimping "cost of war!" (Nancy Lessin is not part of a "corporatist peace group" -- we will be noting her Winter Soldier testimony in tomorrow's snapshot.) Your first clue came when Panhandle Media started pimping it. When The Nation decided to 'reflect' on Iraq and offered not one, not two, but three 'costs of war' pieces. It's not about the cost of war for those types, it's about the 2008 elections.They weren't interested in the dead and dying, just in a way to swing the elections. Which is why all the groups that ignored Winter Soldier (CODEPINK, MoveOn) are now on board with "cost of war"!

Meanwhile, the 4,000 mark has been reached and nearly 2 million Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war.

Panhandle media, pretending to care about ending the illegal war, offered up one column after another of 'reflection.' It's so much easier for those who don't care enough to pay attention to the Iraq War, to 'reflect.' It's so much easier to go back to 2002 or 2003 and act like they've 'covered' an ongoing, illegal war when they haven't done nothing (nod to Stevie Wonder).

You saw many of the 'peace' types not even offer a single thought on Iraq. They wrote about other things. But when they're next being interviewed, you better believe they'll hail themselves as voices calling for an end to the illegal war. It was the fifth year anniversary in the US on March 19th. (Worldwide it was the 20th for some, due to the time change.) Common Dreams is a US site. There was no reason to do anything but flood the zone with Iraq pieces. They went another way. They offered columns on Monsanto, an "Ode to Bear, Stearns," the Beijiing Olympics (Don't Watch!, they instructed) and two rejects from polite society (but cheered on by Panhandle Media) weighing in on the hula hoop of 'framing' for elections. (Yes, that hula hoop lost steam in 2004, as all hula hoops do. But until the next 'sure fire' craze -- that never works -- comes along, we're apparently stuck with it and the non-genius who created it. In ten years, people will read over that garbage and laugh at the ones promoting it.) They offered up eleven articles and Iraq wasn't even important to be the topic of all eleven on the day of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. They really are trash but Toad's one of the people who started that site.

Now if you watched TV last week and caught Bill Moyers Journal, you saw Bill Moyers, Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue address realities about the ongoing, illegal war. They weren't dusting off old pieces from five years ago, they were discussing today's realities. In addition, Moyers ended his program with a listing of the US service members who have died. Some stood up, some couldn't be bothered. The Nation felt the anniversary of the illegal war was the perfect time to offer a non-Democrat's crack-pot ravings that there was something nefarious about Hillary Clinton -- an open Christian -- belonging to prayer group, something Clinton had disclosed in her own autobiography but crazies just knew there was something there! "There must be! There must be!" squealed Stab sounding like a crazed Doris Day singing the theme to Pillow Talk. But if you were to line up every column Stab's written in the last two years, you'd notice that she's always got something to scribble about other than the Iraq War. (And regardless of the topic, it's never worth reading.)

The Olympics this summer, Panhandle Media told you, was just as important as an ongoing illegal war. There's no perspective because Panhandle Media's only interest in the Iraq War is how they can tie it to their pet causes that so few Americans care about on their own. "We must make connections!" they cry. So they write the article we noted two Saturdays ago whose title proclaims it to be about Iraq and the fifth anniversary of the illegal war but all they do is focus on Iran. Apparently, including Iraq and the fifth anniversary in the title, tossing two shout-outs to Iraq in bulletin points, made it 'timely' and one more way to push their pet issue.

It's why they love them some Bambi. In 2002, he gave a speech (where, as Ava and I point out, he accepted the same lies the White House fed the media about WMDs but instead argued for the existing sanctions to be maintained) and he's really not concerned himself with the Iraq War in the Senate (or much of anything in the Senate) and that's their guy! He's just like them! He focuses on everything except Iraq! Unless you have a time machine, 2002 was six years ago and there's no going back. Unless you have a time machine, 4,000 US service members and nearly 2 million Iraqis are dead and there's no going back. The illegal war needs to end and distracting people by lying for a candidate who supports counter-insurgency and mercenaries isn't ending the illegal war.

The dead are gone and the losses are real. They will only mulitply as the war drags on and lying for your candidate of choice, creating a myth around him, is not going to end the illegal war. They've never held him accountable in real time and they're not going to hold accountable anytime soon. They're just going to keep LYING and tell people if you vote for him the war ends!No, it doesn't. People end wars. People force their countries to end wars. And all the 'peace' 'leaders' pimping Bambi aren't trying to end the illegal war. 4,000 are dead now. Maybe it'll be a headline for Panhandle Media, maybe The Nation will even note it in real time this go round. They didn't when it was the 3,000 mark. Nor did Pacifica. Everyone was off celebrating New Year's Eve and then, apparently, nursing their hangovers. When the more recent mark came, they were writing odes to St. Bhutto. They always have their pet causes that are more impotant than ending the Iraq War. They always will. But you better believe when the illegal war ends they'll be claiming credit they don't deserve. (It happened after Vietnam as well.)4,000 are dead and that's being repeated because with Panhandle Media letting Iraq fall off the radar, many Americans don't even know the US death toll.