Saturday, February 28, 2009

Roundtable

Rebecca: We're doing an unplanned roundtable and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava and Jim, me, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Wally of The Daily Jot, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Ruth of Ruth's Report. I wanted to invite Jim to participate and he and Betty are on the phone from C.I.'s house on the West Coast. Cedric is participating by phone and all the rest -- including C.I. -- are here at Trina's home on the East Coast. I hope I remembered everyone This is another Iraq roundtable. Ruth, why don't you explain the reason for it?

Ruth: Today at Camp Leujune in North Carolina, President Barack Obama revealed his Iraq 'plan' and C.I. covers it in today's snapshot for those who need a reference or additional information. We are seeing the usual faux lefties, the usual play-members of the 'anti-war' movement emerge with their simpering statements and we are also seeing others make statements that are very disturbing. We are not cowards and we are not idiots so it is important that we speak up at a time when alleged voices of peace refuse to do so.

Rebecca: There are several people attempting to speak right now. I'm going with Jim who is not attempting to speak because of the fact that we're going with the speech and additional comments elaborating on Ruth can come in later. Jim?

Jim: Okay, I think the way this works is we're going to talk about the speech. And, I'll start with where I'm confused. We looked to see which 'left' outlets were talking about it. The Nation has an article by Robert Dreyfuss that does call out the speech and we don't normally link to him but it's "Obama's Iraq Plan Ain't It." But Dreyfuss writes, "Obama didn't say anything about the US-Iraq accord signed last year that sets a 2011 deadline for the departure of all US forces." Is that right?

C.I.: No, that's incorrect. I don't what's going on. Maybe he couldn't make it through the speech but he is wrong. Early in the speech Barack says, "And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011." That's not the only reference and, I believe this in the snapshot, the White House today has a set of talking points including Gates' press conference and including Barack's endorsement of the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. I don't know Robert Dreyfuss, I have no idea why he made that claim. I can provide other examples if needed but the speech is supposed to be up at the White House website and we can link to it. Barack addressed it. That's not defending Barack. The treaty's a joke, we've all said that since before it passed the Iraqi Parliament. I am not trying to pick apart Robert Dreyfuss' analysis -- which I haven't read and wasn't aware of before Jim brought it up just now -- but I am stating that Barack mentioned the SOFA. It's in the speech.

Jim: Dreyfuss doesn't buy the SOFA either and goes on to write, "Now, of course, that deadline was always seen, by both sides, as (shall we say?) 'flexible.' Prime Minister Maliki, bowing to the rising nationalist trend in Iraq, made it seem like that he wants American forces to leave, but he doesn't. In fact, his top aides have told people in Washington that they want American troops to remain in Iraq for much longer, as long as they continue to build up Maliki's armed forces." Comment?

Ava: I'm jumping in because C.I. and I are taking notes and C.I.'s giving me a look. We have heard -- C.I. and I, Kat and Wally -- what Dreyfuss is saying, we've heard that repeatedly from members of Congress and others. Is it true? We assume it is. That's always been the speculation in DC.

Rebecca: Okay. Stan?

Stan: I looked up The Progressive. They've got nothing on the speech. They've got movie talk. Ruth Conniff offered her stale attacks on Bill Clinton. Everything about Ruth Conniff is dead on arrival. So she's at the right magazine. It's not just that they don't have anything on the speech, they've got nothing on Iraq on their main page. They really are useless.

Rebecca: World Can't Wait?

Cedric: I had them and can't get them to display.

Mike: I'm having that problem too. Cedric texted me on and I tried to. I noticed this last week too, that Fridays the site doesn't load.

Cedric: But a link for them, please. They're not going to play Barack suck up. Elaine?

Elaine: I had United for Peace and Justice and they have nothing on the speech but I did find it curious that they refuse to take part in the March 21st action but are suddenly encouraging local actions. That doesn't just strike me as counter-productive, I see it as destructive, an effort to harm what The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War are organizing. From IVAW's announcement:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution, click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: www.pentagonmarch.org or www.answercoalition.org.


Rebecca: I agree with you, Elaine, that does seem like United for Peace & Justice -- long hostile to A.N.S.W.E.R. and filled with Barack enablers and cheerleaders -- Carl, Tom, Leslie, etc. -- are attempting to harm the turnout for the planned March action. Typical garbage from faux 'leaders.' Speaking of faux 'leaders,' another 'anti-war' group is CODESTINK. Trina?

Trina: The surprise here is that I'm going to ask for a link. They actually did something, I was surprised as I'm sure most of you are. They call Barack's speech today a, this is a quote, "broken promise." Good for them. Of course, I-Need-Attention Benjamin has to be her usual little suck up self and supply what I will term a whorish statement. She's useless, she needs to shut the hell up and take herself a long vaction -- provided her handlers will approve it for her. But Dana Balicki has a good quote on the speech at the start and then she goes all Medea on us: "And there hasn't been any word on military bases left in Iraq that will continue to drain billions of dollars from US taxpayers at a time where that money is very much needed at home. But the withdrawal, and a time line, is a baby step forward from past policies. As citizens, it's our job to move Obama to take giant strides." That's the full quote.

Kat: I'm reading I-Need-Attention Benjamin's nonsense over Trina's shoulder. That is such garbage that if I was standing in a room with Medea, I would pie her lying ass myself. Her premise is that after George W. we should be grateful. Meada, you stupid idiot, are you trying to sound like Nancy Pelosi? Answer that question. Shame on Medea, shame on everyone for acting like George W. Bush is the baseline. Were the last eight years that we objected objecting because Bush was an underachiever? No, it was because he was a criminal. It's not good enough for the left to say, "Barack's a little better than Bush." No, Bush is a criminal. Any sane person should be a little better. A little better doesn't cut it. The country should never again suffer under anyone like W. And we don't grade by comparison. We don't take the worst occupant of the Oval Office -- worse than Nixon according to John Dean -- and use him as the baseline. That's like saying, "We had a serial killer for a president but now we just have an arsonist so let's all be happy!" No, it's unacceptable. Just like Medea's cowardly bulls**t. Call him out. Stop this sniveling and cowardice, I'm damn sick of it.

Stan: I think Kat just nailed one of our problems. We had a psychotic, crazed killer in the White House and some want to act like since Barack manages to wipe away his drool on his own, we should be grateful. That is completely screwed up. Thank you for pointing that out.

Kat: C.I. on impeachment this morning. And I'm being nodded at by C.I. to explain. Bush is a criminal who should have been impeached. If we refuse to hold him accountable -- as may happen -- we're saying Bush acted 'normal' and 'acceptable.' When we use him as a comparison for Barack, to argue that Barack's better than Bush, we are degrading ourselves as a country and as a people. That's not good enough, that's not a standard. That is embracing and okaying the crimes of George W. Bush because we are treating them as normal by being 'grateful' that Barack doesn't do them.

Ruth: And I will add that the speech resulted in a standing ovation. Kat has done a wonderful summary but I do not believe it was planned. C.I. was answering a question --

Ava: About John Walsh's "Indict Bush and Impeach Obama: Liberal Leaders Betray Antiwar Cause To Serve Dems and Obama -- Again."

Ruth: Yes. And in the reply just took off.

C.I.: It wasn't planned, the energy in the room created it. Credit the people present for it.

Rebecca: C.I.'s being modest, as usual. It really was something and Kat's right to apply it here because CODESTINK is saying that they think George W. Bush is acceptable. When they offer those wimpy, 'it's a move finally,' embarrassing statements, they are putting a "CODESTINK approved" sticker on George W. Bush. They need to think about their actions -- but thinking has never been Medea's strong suit or Jodie's.

Trina: Do we want to link? We don't have to.

Rebecca: I'm gesturing to those present and everyone's shrugging so unless Betty, Jim or Cedric have an objection, the answer will be yes. At least they called it a broken promise and we'll applaud that they've finally done something, no matter how minor, with the hope that something else will follow. If it doesn't, screw 'em. But no one can claim we didn't attempt to be fair even with a group we've grown to despise. Marcia, you also had a website to check.

Marcia: I had Antiwar.com which is a site run by a libertarian, Justin Raimondo and he has a column entitled "The Silence of the Liberals." And I want to emphasize one section of it here:

Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?
Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."
In short: we aren't leaving.

Marcia (Con't): It's a very strong piece and Justin had a really strong article. And, I'm blanking on what Geoff Morrell said they'd do. But didn't he list it?

Mike: Yes, yesterday's snapshot contains that. This is Morrell at the Pentagon Thursday when CNN's Barbara Starr was asking the hard questions. Morrell, "And the three basic areas where those forces would concentrate -- and, again, this is something the president and the secretary have spoken to -- are, number one, continuing to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continuting to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continue to help them train and equip, and support them in their operations. Number two, this force of whatever size it turns out to be would also conduct intelligence-driven, warrant-based combat operations against -- against terrorists, and tehy would do so assisting Iraqi security forces, who would be in the lead. And lastly, they would be required to protect American personnel and other U.S. assets in Iraq. So those are the three fundamental areas. But, you know, I've heard all this talk about it's diseingenous to say that combat forces are being drawn down; all forces are combat forces, and those that remain will be combat forces."

Betty: It's so stupid and this was the point that we all raised repeatedly -- with C.I. leading -- that it is word games. "Combat" or "non-combat." It's just a way to reclassify and keep troops on the ground. I want to insert Thomas E. Ricks speaking on Washington Unplugged, CBS News' online show, earlier this month, "But it was a false phraseology: 'combat troops.' Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat." It's word games and people are willing to play along. And they're taking his bad speech that they applauded today at face value. This is the same man who told them during the campaigns that he would put a 16-month plan into effect. He only hedged and hemmed when Hillary was out of the race. I don't know why we believe a word out of his mouth to begin with but when someone promises you 16-months and then they up it to 19, there's a problem if you can't grasp that you've been lied to and if you can't grasp that you need to be a little wary about future 'promises' from the same person.

Rebecca: Agreed. And we'll stay with Betty because she was the brave one who agreed to step into Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box to see how they handled it.

Betty: Well Arianna stuck her as in the air, scratched her paws in the kitty litter and walked off leaving her mess to stink up the entire net. Barack's speech is being treated as news and by that I mean they offer news links to it but apparently can't actually comment on it except for the rah-rah-rah VoteVets -- a Democratic Party enabler of some time. There is no critique, there is nothing. Apparently when she feels it is time to mock special-needs children, Arianna can go full out. When it's time to speak out against politicians who sell out the people and continue the illegal war, she needs to spend several hours with her scratching post first.

Rebecca: And Mike was going to check out Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Mike: They have a strong statement and I want to emphasize this section:

We must ensure that U.S. control of Iraq, which today is accomplished primarily through military force, is not maintained over the longer term through the use of more subtle legal, financial, economic, or political means. "The Iraqi people deserve the dignity of full sovereignty and control of their own nation," says Kelly Doughery, Executive Director of IVAW and former Military Police Sergeant, "and the only way to give this to them is by the immediate and complete withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq – this means withdrawing all military personnel, troops, and defense contractors, closing all military bases, ceasing air operations, and removing American interests intent on controlling Iraqi oil resources."

Mike (Con't): I wanted to include that section because there's a site that never cares about Iraq -- I believe it last wrote about Iraq . . . never. But this site is pushing the angle that Kelly Doughery is on board with Barack's 'plan' and she's not.

Ava: Mike, just to be clear, you're pronouncing her last name that way because?

Mike: That's how IVAW has it.

Ava: It must be a typo. We'll leave it that way in the quote from IVAW but her name is Kelly Dougherty -- with a "t" in the last name. It's not the end of the world and typos aren't uncommon in this community but when you said "Doughery" the second time, C.I. and I were wondering what was up with that.

Rebecca: Okay, Stan, I'm tossing to you for a grade.

Stan: CODESTINK gets a thumbs up for calling it out in an action alert that works if you pull out the quotes. We graded generously. Robert Dreyfuss is the only 'front pager' at a left site who called it out. We'll give him an A+. We give that grade out to IVAW and Antiwar.com as well. The Progressive, The Huffington Post and United for Peace and Justice receive failing grades.


Rebecca: I need Ruth, Trina and Cedric to speak during this section. We're getting close to the end and I need you three to up your participation. How about your impressions of the speech or 'plan' and I want to start with Cedric because he's participating by phone.

Cedric: I was honestly hoping he would surprise us. I was hoping what had come all week before his speech would end up being some elaborate fake out on the press and he would declare something that we -- those who want to end the illegal war -- could take some pride in. Why was I thinking that? There was no reason to think that and Barack certainly has done nothing to warrant hope. But it's the six year mark next month and I was honestly hoping that he would actually do something. It was fantasy, I wasn't being reality based. But I was hoping to find something to praise and I read the speech this afternoon and there was nothing to praise in it. It was very disappointing.

Ruth: Cedric, can I ask a question?

Cedric: Sure.

Ruth: You say this was a fantasy and it seems rather elaborate. Were you thinking of "I was wrong" statements?
Cedric: Absolutely. I was. I had this whole unrealistic day dream where I would have to post, "Hey, I was completely about Barack. Glad to be. I was a fool and I missed it." I actually did entertain thoughts that I would have to write something like that. So it wasn't a passing fancy, it was rather elaborate. It wasn't reality-based but, yeah, I was hoping that somehow the war would end.

Ruth: I can understand that. I'll focus on the actual remarks in terms of what the word assembly said to me. "Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end." How pompous can you be? I loved C.I. comparing it to the famous passage in Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and The Carpenter. That comparison works because that is a story geared for children and Barack gave a speech that was like he was speaking down to the country. I detected a lot of Bully Boy George W. in the speech. "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." That is just an annoying sentence to hear, just the word choice and the order. It grates on the ears. "Let me say this as plainly as I can". I believe that the statement which follows should make clear whether the words were plain. It was a bad speech and that section was like in a film where the leads have no chemistry so they have to keep telling the audience, "I am falling in love with you. I think we're in love. We are so happy." These are things you should be able to tell on your own. Trina:

Trina: Well, I didn't have the elaborate fantasy that Cedric did; however, there were times, brief periods of what-if in the lead up to today. Periods where I thought, "Maybe he'll surprise us." And, like Cedric, it had to do with my just wanting the illegal war to be over. It wasn't based on reality. It was more a desire to see the Iraq War ended. From the start, it was obvious nothing had changed. What worried me the most, at the end of the speech, was I couldn't tell if he believes most Americans are idiots or if he just doesn't care. The only reason that matters is because it might help for some level of understanding. But the 'plan' was a broken promise, it does nothing but continue the illegal war and it's not what 'anti-war' voters voting for him thought they were getting.

Cedric: Trina, you say a few minutes you'd have this fantasy. I was about three sentences in when I realized no fantasies were coming true. For you, when did the realization hit?

Trina: I watched it on TV and so for me the cue was the visual. He was doing that weird, snobby thing with his head. When I saw that posing, I knew nothing was going to change.

Rebecca: Jim had a question or comment -- probably for C.I. -- and I'm sliding to Jim while I try to figure out who else needs to speak. Elaine has a cold and I promised her she didn't have to worry so her one comment will be it unless she decides otherwise and she's shaking her head "no" so that's it from her. Jim?

Jim: The one area you, C.I., graded him well on was the refugees. I was wondering about that.

C.I.: Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN, made a fool and ass of herself at the United Nations yesterday speaking on that subject. Barack spoke better on that section. That wasn't me saying, "Great speech, Barack."

Jim: I know that. I'm just wanting to get this on the record because someone's going to e-mail.

C.I.: I did not think that was a great speech. The section highlighted was highlighted in contrast to Susan Rice's remarks which were supposed to be reflective of the White House and were not.

Rebecca: Okay. Betty, I'm looking at Ava and C.I.'s first pages and not seeing much by you. So how about you grade Barack and I'm sorry if someone else got left out.

Betty: I agree with C.I. on the refugee thing. And just to explain that, Susan Rice -- Condi II -- was calling for Iraqi refugees to return to Iraq. It is not safe for them to return. It wasn't just stupid -- her remarks -- they were dangerous statements. So, yes, I would say it's good to know that Barack's not trying to shove all the refugees back in Iraq the way Rice was. I agree with Ruth that it was poor word choices and poor assembly for the entire speech. He really reminded me of George W. Bush. He showed up to break a promise and tried to con us. Typical of the last eight years.

Rebecca: Okay and that's going to be it. Thank you to everyone who participated. All who read, whatever your own thoughts on today's 'plan' are, please make a point to discuss it with at least one person and help get Iraq in the focus.

Jim: Jumping in quick. Rush transcript. Typos are for your reading enjoyment.

Rebecca: Thank you! I forgot that. And at all sites but The Common Ills, today's Iraq snapshot will immediately follow.


"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, February 27, 2009. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces another death, Barack remembers a war drags on in Iraq (even if he forgets his campaign promise), Robert Gates goes off script, Susan Rice turns herself into the United Nations laughingstock, John Walsh replies to a war enabler, and much more.

Of all the things the left and the 'left' will have to live with in the next years, chief among them will be War Hawk Susan Rice whom they refused to call out. As
Mike noted last night, she's already echoing the last White House with her threats on Iran. CNN reports that in her same UN speech she "briefly" made time for Iraqi refugees: "She called on the international community to provide greater support to the millions of Iraqi refugees who have been displaced because of the war." She called on others?

How typical of Susan Rice. The US has done damn little and until the most recent fiscal year, didn't even meet their quota for allowing Iraqi refugees into this country. The international community has done for more for the Iraqi refugees. Last week, the
International Oranization of Migration declared Syria was home to 80% of the Iraqi refugees. Syria, Susan Rice, not the United States. Mundher Sahwi (Azzaman) reported Wednesday that Syria was stating their resources were "strapped" as a result of "spending up to $2 billion a year on Iraqi refugees and that its efforts to persuade donor countries and international aid organizations for help have almost gone unheeded." Syria, Susan Rice says you need to do more. Susan Rice, that's who. No, we're not particularly impressed with her here in the United States either. Yes, she has a highly abusive relationship with the truth.

Quote: "And we encourage members states to help Iraq strengthen its democratic institutions, bring its displaced citizens back home . . ." Stop the tape. That's what the War Hawk said at the United Nations yesterday. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the United Nations, and assorted other groups and organizations have made very clear that Iraqi refugees cannot go back. But that's what Susan Rice said yesterday. And everyone's talking about it. She made a FOOL out of herself and is now the talk of the UN. She DISGRACED the country by looking like the uninformed idiot she is. (Her quote was supplied by a friend at the UN.)

On Sunday,
Rebecca Webber (Parade magazine) reported on an Iraqi who was a US translator and recently left with his family: "They joined more than 4 million other Iraqis -- about one in six of the country's pre-war population -- who have fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis of the past decade. More than half of the refugees moved to safer areas in Iraq; a small number of those people live in makeshift camps. Two milliion Iraqis have left the country entirely. About 1.2 million are in Syria, half a million are in Jordan, and tens of thousands have ended up in Iraqn, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, according to the most recent numbers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)."

While Susan was lying through her teeth,
Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, was informing the United Nations Security Council that, "We have grounds for optimism" in Iraq. He did not push or allued to a need for refugees to return. In fact, none of the speakers made idiots of themselves the way Susan Rice did. Japan, Russia, China, Vietnam, Turkey, France, Uganda and others spoke. And only the United States is being laughed at because we sent an idiot who either is so dumb she doesn't know the fact she's supposedly addressing or she just doesn't give a damn. She's been dubbed "Condi II." Her big UN appearance, fresh in her job and she's the laugh of the United Nations. Well done, Barack Obama, way to change the face of the United States.

Refugees International currently has a form at their website allowing you to send a letter to US President Obama:

Five million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes and are living in desperate circumstances. By helping displaced Iraqis, the U.S. will help ensure a stable Iraq.
I urge you to craft a new U.S. policy to:
1. Assist Iraqi refugees.
2. Ensure a safe, voluntary return home when possible.
3. Pressure Iraq to meet its responsibilities to its own people.
4. Increase resettlement for those who can't go home.
Please show real leadership to resolve this humanitarian crisis.

Maybe point five could be added: "Please ask Susan Rice to step down before she turns the US into a big mockery"? The illegal war started in March 2003.
Refugees International noted in July of last year that the US had allowed "around 10,000 refugees" to come to the US and noted "the U.S. response is incommensurate with the scope of the need. . . . While the U.S. may achieve its goal of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees here in the current fiscal year" it did," the needs are much greater. We ask the U.S. to reconsider resettling 105,500 refugees from Iraq and, if necessary, to reassess this number for the next few years." Last August, Aaron Brown hosted a Wide Angle (PBS) on the Iraqi refugees. (Click here for recent episodes. Here for the specific episode.)

Aaron Brown: There's much we can argue about where the Iraq War is concerned but we can't argue about this: Millions of Iraqis now live as refugees because of the war. Hundreds of thousands have come here to Jordan and many, many more ended up in Syria a few hours away. [. . .] By my thinking, it's the most underreported story of the war because the consequences won't be appreciated for years to come. They were some of Iraq's best educated people. Its lawyers, its doctors, its teachers and accountants, some of the wealthiest but also some of the poorest. Sunni and Shia and Christian -- all religions really. Before the war some of them worked for Saddam's old Baathist regime, after the invasion, some worked for the Americans. Many were just caught in between. But here, they are all the same. They can't get jobs, their children have trouble getting into schools, families get separated, people get desperate. We've seen it time and again in our stay here.
and

UNHCR's Oula Ramadan is a registration clerk in Jordan and she explains that they are seen by refugees as the only ones who might be able to help, "so they come with hope. They tell you everything about their lives in Iraq, about their stories, about what happened to them there. And when you hear about the torture, when you hear about kidnapping, about killing in the streets, about militias, you feel like there is a lot of things you don't know if you don't get into these stories." Queen Noor of Jordan discussed the issue with Aaron Brown.

Queen Noor: The social exclusion and marginalization of young people as well as their parents, I think, is a very serious problem with potentially dangerous consequences. No one can afford to have a huge number of people feeling alienated and humiliated and desperate and hopeless.

Aaron Brown: People don't want to think of the consequences of this kind of neglect, but the consequences of hopelessness are real.

Queen Noor: I believe that in host countries like Syria and Jordan, if we are not able to attend to their basic needs and help to instill a sense of hope for the future we will face an even more uncertained and dangerous future.

Aaron Brown: Are you getting the attention you need from the Western countries, from America?

Queen Noor: The industrialized countries -- many feel that the United States and Great Britain and others have a special responsibility because it was their -- their policies in Iraq that -- that resulted in -- in these humanitarian consequences. There seems to be a lack of understanding of what the humanitarian consequences might be and what ultimately the political consequences might be of these humanitarian tragedies. It has to be looked at as in all of our interests to ensure that it doesn't further destabilize a region that is already racked with so much instability -- instability that has spilled over it's borders and outside of this region for far too long now. That I think is -- is something that I worry about every day.

In August, Brown noted that the United States had then accepted only 9,000 Iraqi refugees -- which was approximately one-third of the more than 30,000 referred to the US by the UNHCR. And Susan Rice wants to stand before the UN yesterday and insist that other countries need to do more?

Yesterday,
Susan Carroll (Houston Chronicle) reported on Rand Hikmat-Mahmood and her family -- a husband, a teenage son -- who are struggling in Houston and can't find employment:

Next month, Hikmat-Mahmood's family will reach the end of their rental assistance, and they still have no job prospects. She and a growing number of refugees are finding themselves in precarious financial situations as the economy has soured, and competition for once-plentiful entry-level jobs has grown amid rising unemployment.
Resettlement organizations are still reporting success in getting refugees employed on their way to self-sufficiency. But it's taking longer, and it's more difficult. Instead of having about 90 percent of refugees in jobs within about 45 days, the time frame now is about three or four months, Jolick said.
Himat-Mahmood didn't expect that she and her husband, who both hold doctorates in political science and taught in universities in Baghdad, would find jobs on par with those they left behind after fleeing Iraq for Jordan in 2006.
But they had hopes to find something by now.
"I didn't expect the situation would be so difficult," she said.

If something doesn't turn up soon, Carroll informs, the family will have to return to Iraq. How does Susan Rice intend to help that family?

And why is someone sending them to Houston? Fort Worth would seem to be only one example of a better location in that region due to the military bases because, with US troops to remain in Iraq for some time, it seems obvious that Iraqis could be utilized in training sessions informing service members of the customs, the reactions, the lay of the land. Rand Hikmat-Mahmood and her husband are educators and used to working with adults. It would seem a natural job for them to be working on a US base (if they wanted to) providing insight into Iraq and its regional neighbors. Susan Rice, are you going to do anything about that?

While Susan Rice laughable calls for a return to an unsafe land,
Mundher al-Shawfi (Azzaman) reports today that Abdulsamad Sultan, Iraq's Displacement and Migration Minister, has declared his ministry has no money and "could not afford paying the travel expenses of Iraqi refugees willing to return home." Sultan points out, "Iraqi authorities have done almost nothing to help Iraqi refugees in neighboring states despite unprecedented oil revenues in the past two years." For those who've forgotten, from the Feb. 18th snapshot: "And proving just how the al-Maliki government refuses to help the people of Iraq, Press TV reports that Iraq's Deputy Minister of Refugees and Displaced Persons, Asghar al-Moussawi is scapegoating those attempting to assist Iraqi Christians by insisting, 'To encourage a group of any particular faith to leave the country is against international law, and causes more harm than benefit to those people'." So said the Deputy Minister of a broke agency. Broke and broken.
Speaking of, Barack went to Camp Lejeune today and gave a speech. Pretty words. Let's give Barack some praise before divining into the ugly realities. He used "drawdown" repeatedly (and the White House wants that spelled as one word), more so than "withdrawal." It is a draw down that he is promising to begin. He (briefly) noted Chris Hill's many qualifications to be the US Ambassador to Iraq. And he spoke much more wisely about Iraqi refugees than did Susan Rice:

Diplomacy and assistance is also required to help the millions of displaced Iraqis. These men, women and children are a living consequence of this war and a challenge to stability in the region, and they must become a part of Iraq's reconciliation and recovery. America has a strategic interest -- and a moral responsibility -- to act. In the coming months, my administration will provide more assistance and take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting refugees; we'll cooperate with others to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees and displaced Iraqis within Iraq -- because there are few more powerful indicators of lasting peace than displaced citizens returning home.

"Few more powerful indicators of lasting peace than displaced citizens returning home"? So Barack's now supporting the right-of-return for all Palestinians? Good to know. (No, he's not supporting it.) Susan Rice, note Barack's words about "and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees and displaced Iraqis within Iraq" -- no one's laughing at him at the UN today. He's not been dubbed "Condi II."

Barack attempted to justify his breaking of his 'promise' during the campaign of 16-months withdrawal by pushing the blame onto the military commanders. Guess Barack's not "the decider." (When he introduced that element -- July 2008 -- into his talking points, Tom Hayden suffered an online meltdown but quickly recovered and returned to be Barack's "sweet ass girl.") In part of the speech, Barack attempted to speak to Iraqis directly and made assurances that really can't be made after you've indicated to the New York Times (as he did in 2007) that you'd like bases outside of Iraq -- Kuwait. When you've made that clear, your words about "no claim on your territory" aren't not going to be seen as genuine. If Barack was genuine, he should have added "or neighboring areas." Barack declared to the US military, "We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Huessein's regime -- and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government -- and you got the job done." Uh, no.

WMD was the stated reason for the start of the illegal war and it's really beneath Barack's media image for him to lie like that. It's insulting and indicates a real lack of respect for the US military. There is no sovereign government in Iraq -- there's a puppet government that we propped up and the vice president of the United States is very aware of that and has spoken of it many times including publicly. But let's zoom in on "and you got the job done" to both. If the job's done, why aren't all US troops leaving Iraq right now?

Barack also declared that the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement will be followed and means that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. That is laughable to anyone with a memory. During the campaign of the general election, Barack joined Joe Biden in calling that treaty out, stated it was unconstitutional and declared he would fight any effort by Bully Boy Bush to push it through. Maybe the cobbled together speech (with poor transitions) left him doubtful? Best allusion in the speech? To Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and The Carpenter -- how appropriate that the absurd speech references Carroll who was far better social critic than was Orwell -- "Today, I have come to speak to you about how the war in Iraq will end." Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.

Someone ripped off Barack's wings and he can't fly. The person was US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who held a lengthy press conference at Camp Lejeune today. Status of Forces Agreement? What SOFA? Gates: "I think what he was referring to was that under the terms of the Status Of Forces Agreement, which is what we are operating under now, all US forces must be out by the end of 2011. It will require a new agreement -- or it would require a new agreement, a new negotiation -- almost certainly an Iraqi initiative -- to provide for some presence beyond the end of 2011. So in the absence of that agreement, in the absence of any negotiation for such an agreement, it is in keeping with the SOFA that, to say definitively, that we will be out at the end of 2011." Did you catch the qualifiers? Asked could the US remain in Iraq past 2011, Gates responded, "Well, I think we'll have to wait and see. I mean, it's a hypothetical. The Iraqis have not said anything about that at this point. So it remains to be seen whether they will take an initiative. I think what we should be -- my own view would be that we should be prepared to have some very modest-sized presence for training and helping them with their new equipment and providing, perhaps, intelligence support and so on beyond that. But again, it's hypothetical, because such a -- no such request has been made, and no indication that it will be at this point."

For the record, the White House is very proud of Gates' press conference and referring reporters to it. Leading everyone to ask: Did they monitor it? Do they have any idea what Gates said?

Barack stood up at the base -- in front of the world -- and said, that come 2011 all US troops out! And Gates is saying that, well, maybe they will be, and, maybe they won't be, and these things need to be negoitated, and . . .

Gates was asked about flexibility and on that he stuck to a talking points. He avoided noting that Barack has stated many times if things go badly, US forces go back in. Barack left that out of today's big speech as well. The press is running with the number 50,000 as the number of US troops left behind in Iraq after the draw down is completed. That is most likely a low-balled figure. (Friends in the administration tell me it's 60,000 -- leading me to believe it's actually 70,000.)

Until all US troops are out, they're at risk. Today the
US military announced: "BAGHDAD -- A Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldier died Feb. 26 from combat related injuries while conducting a patrol in Baghdad. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The incident is currently under investigation." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4252. And for those paying attention, since Saturday, there have been seven deaths of US service members in Iraq announced.

We'll come back to the speech but let's first note that March 21st an action takes place and organizations participating include
The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: www.pentagonmarch.org or www.answercoalition.org.

The speech was a bunch of pretty words short on facts and not bound to reality. Look for Tom Hayden to have a wet dream in print over it. Congressional Democrats have voiced differences. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has been clear since Wendesday that she does not favor leaving such a huge number of 'non-combat' troops in Iraq --
Anne E. Kornblut and Paul Kane (Washington Post) note Pelosi and others today. Yesterday US Senator Russ Feingold issued this statement on Barack's 'withdrawal:'After years of failed Iraq policies, I am pleased by reports that President Obama plans to significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by August 2010. Our presence in Iraq has cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives, overburdened our military, fueled anti-Americanism and distracted us from the global threat posed by al Qaeda. I am concerned, however, by reports that tens of thousands of U.S. troops may remain in Iraq beyond August 2010. I question whether such a large force is needed to combat any al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq or whether it will contribute to stability in the region.

Readers of the New York Times in print get Peter Baker's "Some Democrats Say Obama's Plan Would Leave Too Many Troops in Iraq." It's apparently a very bad report that must be buried so it's been vanished online.
This is not it, nor is this. Harry Reid's quoted in the article stating, "I have been one for a long time who has called for significant cutbacks in Iraq. I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I anticipated." Patty Murray states, "I want to hear what the president has to say about justifying whatever number it is that he has. I do think we have to look carefully at the numbers that are there and do it as quickly as we can." Charles Schumer declares, "Fifty thousand is more than I would have thought. We await the justification for why that would be." Only Jack Reed plays happy, of all the senators quoted, only Jack Reed wallows in his own (and Barack's) filth. It's a shame the paper has decided to bury Baker's story. Readers of the national edition will find it on A8. It was buried this morning, it still does not exist online at the New York Times; however, an NYT friend points out it is available at NYT's International Herald Tribune -- under the same headline. And for what reason would the paper toss it to an expected foreign audience and hide it from domestic online readers? "No comment."

"Non-combat." "Combat" forces are being withdrawn. Gates and Barack were on the same page with that talking point.
Thomas E. Ricks (author of the new book The Gamble) appeared on CBS' Washington Unplugged (click here for just the Ricks' segment) earlier this month and explained how Barack's 'promise' came across to Americans and 'combat' troops:Thomas E. Ricks: I think there well indeed might be a clash by the end of the year. Obama's campaign promise to get American troops out of Iraq in sixteen months was a fatuous promise. When Americans heard it, what they heard was I will have no American troops dying in 16 months. But it was a false phraseology: "combat troops." Well, newsflash for Obama, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. There's no pacifistic branch of the US Army. Anytime you have American troops out there, there are going to be some of them fighting and dying -- in counter-terror missions against al Qaeda, if you have American advisers with Iraqi troops, they're going to be getting into fights, some Americans will be dying. So I think we're there for a long time and as long as we're there -- unlike, say, the occupations of Korea, Japan and Germany, American troops will be engaged in combat. General Odierno says in the book he'd like to see 35,000 troops there as late as 2015. Well into . . . it will be Obama's second term. So I think that at the end of this year, you're going to see a conflict. Obama's going to want to see troop numbers coming down. Odierno, the other big O, as they call him in Iraq, is going to say, "Wait a minute, you're holding general elections here in December, in Iraq. That's exactly the wrong time to take troops out."

Ricks' new book has been discussed at Foreign Policy and Ricks has joined in on the book discussion. Regarding the SOFA, he write that "I just don't think it is that meaningful. As I watched it come together in Baghdad, it appeared to me to simply be a way of taking the American military presence off the table as a divisive issue in Iraqi politics. That is, it was much more about 2009 than about 2011. So I make less of it than others do. I might be wrong. Yes, I know a tremendous amount of time was spent on this at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, because I kept on hearing about it as I did my interviews last year. But expenditure of words is no indication of historical significance-just look at how screamingly irrelevant NATO is becoming, despite many speeches given in Brussels and at summit conferences. Similarly, in the book I didn't discuss the much-ballyhooed war czar, Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, because I didn't see that he mattered much to the course of the war." Prior to the speech by Barack today, he offered this predicition, "So I think he will have troops fighting and dying in Iraq for many years to come. Yes, he will get the troop numbers down. But no, he won't get out." Get out of what exactly? What is Iraq today? Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) wrestles with that question and offers (piece is clearly labeled commentary) his opinion:


Yes, Baghdad is better.
Still, there are hundreds of Iraqi soldiers in the crowded streets, armed and armored, checking parked car after parked car. Manning checkpoints that bring traffic to a standstill. Piled into the beds of pickup trucks, thickets of AK-47 rifles pointing out.
The blast this morning was close, a block away. It was right around 7 a.m. I was asleep. A boom, the rattle of the windows, the slight contraction of the chest that comes when a blast is near. This used to be how I'd wake every morning here.

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

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Thursday Mosul bombing that resulted in two Iraqi service members being wounded.

Turning to war resistance news,
AP reports that war resister Cliff Cornell, who turned himself in Feb. 10th at Fort Stewart, has been charged with desertion. James Branum is his attorney. PDF format warning, Branum recently wrote an article for On Watch (go through this link if PDF won't display) which Susan Basein has updated. The article is entitled "AWOL from the Army" and explains in the introduction:

This article is intended to provide an overview of the process that a lawyer or a lay military counselor would use in assisting a soldier who is AWOL (absent without leave), or considering going AWOL, from the US Army. While some of the ideas discussed here would be applicable to other branches of the military, it is imperative to understand that many of the procedures discussed below are unique to the Army and that anyone who is assisting a servicemember from another branch should get the latest information on AWOL/UA (unauthorized absence) policies from the sources listed in the addendum to this article.

We'll note another section, "VI. Mitigation and how to prepare it:"

In all AWOL cases, be it PCF or non-PCF eligible soldiers, mitigation is the key to getting your client the best outcome possible. Mitigation is a very broad concept, including almost anything that would help to explain why an offense should not be punished or should be punished with less severity than might otherwise be justified. Generally anything that would be grounds for a discharge (physical or mental health issues, family hardship, etc.) would be appropriate as mitigation, along with anything that would otherwise generate sympathy or understanding by the decision-makers in a case (e.g., command mistreatment of a soldier, failure of a command to stop mistreatment by fellow soldiers, etc.).

Cliff Cornell has explained in a PSA (see
December 19, 2007 snapshot for more on the PSA), "My first sergeant who's my higher supervisor, he got up in front of a formation and basically told us there was like two guys who applied for [CO] status. He got up there and told us those two guys who applied for it and that he didn't want anyone else to apply for it because we was going to Iraq whether we liked it or not." Cornell hails from Arkansas and self checked-out of the military January 8, 2005. Kristoffer Walker is the 28-year-old Iraq War veteran who announced he would not return to Iraq. Green Bay Post-Gazette reports, "Army Spc. Kristoffer Walker is trying to hire an attorney with experience dealing with the military in the wake of his decision not to return to his unit in Iraq."

Meanwhile
Antony DiMaggio (CounterPunch) explores the sameness at the White House and notes:

Despite the public's long-standing opposition to the war and support for a short timetable for withdrawal, Obama and his generals continue to defy public wishes as they debate whether the occupation will continue for another three years, six years, or indefinitely into the future. Much of the justification for this obstinacy is based on manipulation of available intelligence and from deceptively simplistic arguments that the 2007 troop surge "worked." Detailed analysis reveals that this deception is wide-ranging, as support for the surge spans across liberal and conservative mainstream media outlets.

The escalation ("surge") did not work. Those unhappy with the spin need to take it up with Barack who refused to answer that question repeatedly. Then he's saying the "surge" worked. Barack popularized that myth. (We can -- and have -- offered a detailed explanation of how the "surge" failed. We can also shorthand it: Bush started the "surge" so that the "benchmarks" could be reached -- they were not reached. Therefore the objective of the "surge" was not achieved. The "surge" was a failure.) That's a reality. More realities were in John Walsh's "
Indict Bush and Impeach Obama: Liberal Leaders Betray Antiwar Cause To Serve Dems and Obama -- Again" (Dissident Voice) and even more in his reply to PDA hack Laura Bonham (see yesterday's snapshot for more on Bohham). This is Walsh reply to Bonham:John Walsh said on February 26th, 2009 at 12:51pm #"P"DA is complicit in war.In response to Laura Bonham's claim that "P"DA is principled and consistent on the question of war, I have to ask, Is she kidding? Or whom does she think she is kidding?"P"DA supported John Kerry in 2004 when he ran on a prowar platform."P"DA supported Barack Obama in 2008 - even as he called for a 100,000 increase in men and women in the active duty army and marines and even as he called to step up the war on Afghanistan and Pakistan.So far as I know, "P"DA will not be joining the March 21 national mobilization in DC against what the mainstream media call Obama's war.Obama has been bombing Pakistan, an act of war, without any Congressional declaration of war, an impeachable offense. "P"DA has not called for impeachment.If Bush were doing any of this "P"DA would be yelling at the top of its lungs. But I hear only quiet when Obama does these things -- perhaps a few statements on the web site to cover their ass, but no action at all.As Eugene McCarthy, echoing Daniel Webster, said of the war on Vietnam, it went on because too many placed party over principle. That is exactly what "P"DA is doing.john walsh


Meanwhile in labor news, David Bacon offers "
Strawberry Workers in Santa Maria" (Political Affairs Magazine -- photos and text) which follows Guillermina Arzola of San Sebastian del Monte in Oaxaca as he and other immigrant workers toil in Santa Maria, California in the berry fields. As always, Bacon illuminates the realities in this 'hot-button' issue that tends to reduce the humanity at other outlets (intentionally or not -- but I'm not feeling very generous this morning so I'll say intentionally). These are very moving photos. David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).

Public broadcasting notes.
NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings) and they explore "Retirement at Risk:"In this struggling economy, boomers are rightfully worried about the funds they were counting on to carry them through the rest of their lives. Will they be able to afford their own retirement?NOW turns to two experts for help and insight: Amy Domini, a pioneer in the field of socially responsible investing; and journalist Dan Gross, who covers the economy for Slate and Newsweek.Read an excerpt from Daniel Gross' new book: "Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation"Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and I hesitate to say it but it has the makings of being a show worth watching this week. Dan Balz (Washington Post), Peter Baker (New York Times) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) will be on. Baker has been covering Barack's plan for 'withdrawal' and Martha, of course, famously told Washington Week viewers last month what was going to take place. From the last Washington Week for January -- Ava and I noted it here:Martha Raddatz: They laid out plans or started to lay out plans for the sixteen-month withdrawal, which President Obama says he wants, or the three-year withdrawal which is the Status Of Forces Agreement that the US has gone into with the Iraqis. And they talked about the risks with each of those. Ray Odierno, who is the general in charge of Iraqi forces, said, 'If you run out in sixteen months -- if you get out in sixteen months, there are risks. The security gains could go down the tube. If you wait three years, there are other risks because you can't get forces into Afghanistan as quickly.' So President Obama made no decisions. Again, he's going to meet with Joint Chiefs next week and probably will make a military decision. But also a key there is how many troops he leaves behind. That's something we're not talking about so much, he's not talking about so much. This residual force that could be 50, 60, 70,000 troops even if he withdraws --Gwen Ifill: That's not exactly getting out of Iraq.Martha Raddatz: Not exactly getting out completely.Washington Week also notes that Jim Lehrer will have an exclusive interview with Barack Obama on this evening's NewsHour.Moving over to broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, on 60 Minutes:The Man Who KnewHarry Markopolos repeatedly told the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernie Madoff's investment fund was a fraud. He was ignored, however, and investors lost billions of dollars. Steve Kroft reports.
Mexico's WarDrug-cartel fueled violence has turned into a war in Mexico, with thousands of deaths and the government battling well-armed gangs whose military-quality weapons come mostly from U.S. dealers. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports.
Bobby JindalHe's been called the Republican Obama and some think he may run for the presidency some day. But his opposition speech after the president's address to Congress this week caused some to say he's too young and inexperienced. Morley Safer profiles the governor of Louisiana.
60 Minutes, Sunday, March 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


Wrapping up, Liza Minelli tells Liz Smith, "
If you've got one foot in yesterday, and one foot in tomorrow, you're pissing all over today!" I know and like Liza and that's our entry point for a friend at wowOwow (which previews Liz's interview with Liza for Parade -- see your Sunday paper if it's one of the many that carries Parade or use link and Liz is now a contributing editor for Parade) who has asked twice this week that something be noted. wowOwow was mentioned in the New York Times this week as a result of the New York Post dumping Liz Smith's column (apparently under the belief that words confuse Post readers). Liz's columns will now appear at wowOwow (and across the country, she remains syndicated, in various newspapers). Joni Evans explained, "Beginning next week Liz Smith will be posting more news, hot gossip and opinions all the time on wowOwow -- free from the constraints of newspaper deadlines. Thursday" that's yesterday "will be the last Liz Smith column for The New York Post -- the first time in 33 years that Liz Smith's column will not be in a New York newspaper. This sad news for the New York print business is spectacular news for us. Our fabulous and beloved Diva of Dish will be here on wowOwow, posting exclusive-to-Liz breaking celebrity news as it happens. It will, occassionally, be highlighted with audio and film and all the tools of an Internet entrepreneur." Marlo Thomas, Cynthia McFadden, Joan Ganz Cooney, Joan Juliet Buck, Sheila Nevins and others try their hand at a Liz Smith type item at wowOwow today. For strangers who ask that something to be noted, even friends get put on hold. Again, I've been asked to note this all week and haven't had the time. It's better to note it today because Liz Smith hasn't died, she hasn't retired and, as she says today, in her first column free from the Post, "I have decided it is quite exhilarating to be fired, at the age of 86, from a job you've had for 14 yeras. Fortunately, I seem to be healthy so I'm forging ahead. I do want to say that I am in love all over again with ABC-TV's Bill Ritter, guardian of the six and 11 PM news in NYC, because in discussing the end of my affair with the New York Post tabloid, he described me as 'Eighty-six -- going on 40!' It was almost worth losing a salary and a daily tenure of 33 years in New York newspapers just to hear those words." We used to Liza as an entry point, we'll use someone else I know as an exit. Dee Dee Myers is the author of Why Women Should Rule the World -- just out in softcover after being a bestseller in hardcover -- and at wowOwow she elaborates on the book's topic and on Elena Kagan being named the US solicitor general:

The simple fact is: Men and women often experience the world differently. And that experience influences what we buy, what we read and what we watch, who we vote for and how we lead. It shapes our priorities and values. It makes us who we are. And when we include -- and respect -- these different points of view, we broaden the dialogue, expand the scope of inquiry, change the way we think. We make business more efficient. We make government more responsive. We get better science, better schools and better courts. It matters that there will be a woman in the solicitor general's office. And in the secretary of state's office. And in the speaker's office. And in countless other offices across the country. It matters not only because the women can do their jobs as well as their male predecessors. It also matters because they see things differently. Even if those differences start with something as simple as a tampon.



iraq
cbs newswashington unplugged
thomas e. ricks
cliff cornell
jim branum
david bacon
the newshour60 minutespbswashington weeknow on pbsdan baltzpeter bakermartha raddatzthe new york timespeter baker
the washington postanne e. kornblutpaul kane

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fairness Doctrine bites the dust

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Domestic Arts Czar" went up Monday and I'm noting it again.

"Domestic Arts Czar"

It's brilliant and worthy of noting again but my reason for doing so is because my father e-mailed me. My father who doesn't e-mail but apparently he thought it was cheaper than long distance. (I kid him about that, yes.) He had a question and I called him and explained it this evening but I'll go over it here in case anyone has a question and in case he didn't get what I was saying. (He kept saying, "It's another minute!" I was on my cell and not running up any additional charges.)

C.I. hasn't really commented on the comic. No, she hasn't. She's not going to either until Sunday. The White world -- hey, Kimmy Wilder! -- that just knows racism and just knows Al Sharpton's the one to listen to missed it but Al disgraced the Black community this week. He did with his nonsense about a comic, yes. But I'm talking about on TV. White America missed it. Ava and C.I. didn't and had announced last Sunday that they'd save any comments on Al until after they caught his song and dance this week.

So Sunday they'll weigh in. It will not be pretty.

Nor should it be. Thanks for disgracing Black America, Al Sharpton.

Again, I'm not talking about the comic though his actions there are disgraceful as well.

It sure is great to hear White Kimmy Wilder tell me what's what in the world of racism and to talk about Al and how wonderful he was. When he was calling gays "homos" in public? That was wonderful, Kimmy? Not paying his NY taxes -- and you do you realize how many hundreds of thousands he owes? That was wonderful, Kimmy?

Al Sharpton really needs to sit his ass down and sit a spell, a long spell.

He was a disgrace -- as Ava and C.I. feared he would be -- on TV this week. It was shameful. I watched it and couldn't make it through the entire broadcast but I'll let Ava and C.I. cover it Sunday.

They were not avoiding the topic; however, something on this week's TV schedule required that they wait until Sunday to address it.

This is Reuters reporting on the Bizarro World we live in:

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment on Thursday that would bar regulators from requiring broadcasters to give equal time to all points of view, a ban strongly supported by some Republican lawmakers.
The legislative amendment, sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reimposing the so-called Fairness Doctrine to all broadcasters. It was repealed more than 20 years ago.
Aides to President
Barack Obama have said he has no intention of trying to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, but that has not stopped some Republicans from raising the issue.

"Free Press" supports the ban as well. Our alleged allies. That piece of crap group was started by Robert W. McChesney, the breasty John Nichols and little Josh Silver. Back before he went bat-s**t nutes, here's Steve Rendall (FAIR) explaining "The Fairness DoctrineHow We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back:"


The necessity for the Fairness Doctrine, according to proponents, arises from the fact that there are many fewer broadcast licenses than people who would like to have them. Unlike publishing, where the tools of the trade are in more or less endless supply, broadcasting licenses are limited by the finite number of available frequencies. Thus, as trustees of a scarce public resource, licensees accept certain public interest obligations in exchange for the exclusive use of limited public airwaves. One such obligation was the Fairness Doctrine, which was meant to ensure that a variety of views, beyond those of the licensees and those they favored, were heard on the airwaves. (Since cable’s infrastructure is privately owned and cable channels can, in theory, be endlessly multiplied, the FCC does not put public interest requirements on that medium.)
The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows or editorials.
Formally adopted as an FCC rule in 1949 and repealed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan’s pro-broadcaster FCC, the doctrine can be traced back to the early days of broadcast regulation.


And once upon a time Free Press supported bringing it back as well which is why, in 2005, they published Steve Rendall's article at their own site. What changed? Barack doesn't support it and you know John Nichols -- who's been busy doing his we-must-we-must-we-must-build-the-bust exercises -- won't do a thing that might mean he won't be going to prom with Barry Obama this spring!

And, from NOW on PBS, this is background on the Fairness Doctrine:

History of the Fairness Doctrine
You may remember hearing about Sinclair Broadcast Group in October 2004. They attracted attention from other media outlets when they announced plans to air STOLEN HONOR, described by some as an "anti-Kerry documentary." Ultimately, the documentary was not aired, as critics called for balance from Sinclair by way of programming that showed the other side of the story, calling on a principle called the "fairness doctrine." While this doctrine is no longer enforced by the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it hasn't faded from public discourse. What is the history behind this doctrine?
The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, called for stations to offer "equal opportunity" to all legally qualified political candidates running for office. (Learn about the history of
televised presidential debates.) The idea was to ensure even-handedness in a time when available frequencies were limited. This federal law did not apply to news programs, interviews, and documentaries. During the 1940s, stations were prevented by the FCC's "Mayflower Doctrine" from editorializing, but by the end of the decade, the ban had softened to allow editorializing only if other points of view were also aired to balance those of the station.
In 1949, the FCC adopted the fairness doctrine, a policy that viewed station licensees as "public trustees" and, as such, responsible for addressing controversial issues of public importance. The key requirement was that stations allowed opportunity for discussion of contrasting points of view on these issues.
Later, in 1967, two corollary doctrines were added. The first was the political editorial rule, requiring that if a station editorialized either for or against a candidate for public office, the station had to notify the disfavored candidate within 24 hours and allow him/her to reply to the editorial; the second was the personal attack rule, which states that when a person or group's character or integrity is impugned during the discussion of a controversial issue, the station must notify the person within one week, and offer a reasonable time for response.
By the 1980s, many stations saw the FCC rules as an unnecessary burden. Some journalists considered the fairness doctrine a violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and free press; they felt reporters should be able to make their own decisions about balancing stories. In order to avoid the requirement of presenting contrasting viewpoints, some journalists chose not to cover certain controversial issues at all. In addition, the political climate of the Reagan administration favored deregulation. When the fairness doctrine came before the courts in 1987, they decided that since the doctrine was not mandated by Congress, it did not have to be enforced. FCC suspended all but the two corollary doctrines at this time.
As this was happening, Congress passed a bill to make the fairness doctrine into law. However, President Reagan vetoed the legislation and there were insufficient votes to override the veto. In 2000, when the FCC failed to justify the two remaining corollary rules, the political editorial rule and the personal attack rule were repealed.
Efforts to resurrect the fairness doctrine have come up again and again before Congress, but no bill has yet been passed. Read a conversation between Bill Moyers and
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter about her latest effort, The MEDIA Act.
For further research, visit our
FCC and media deregulation resources.

When did it cease to matter? When the 'left' got on board with a Republican posing as a Democrat. Musn't rock the boat in Barack's bi-racial, bi-partisan world. The changeling wouldn't like it.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, February 26, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the Pentagon admits Iraq is still a war zone (admits under pressure, but admits nonetheless), England admits to taking part in renditions by turning over prisoners in Iraq to the US (the prisoners then whisked off to Afghanistan), Robert Gates announces that there is a change or will be or he's got a committee working on it or something, and a 'leader' disgraces themselves as they attempt to bicker and dicker with John Walsh at Dissident Voice.

The UK Secretary of Defence is in the news today due to revelations he disclosed to the House of Commons today.

Sec of Defense John Hutton: During the final stages of the review of records of detentions, we found information about one case relating to a security operation that was conducted in February 2004, a period which honorable members I'm sure will recall saw an increased level of insurgent activity as the transfer to Iraqi sovereignty drew closer. During this operation, two individuals were captured by UK forces in and around Baghdad. They were transferred to US detention in accordance with normal practice and then moved subsequently to a US detention facility in Afghanistan. This information was brought to my attention on the first of December, 2008. And I instructed officials to investigate this case thoroughly and quickly so I could bring a full account to Parliament. Following consultations with US authorities we confirmed that they transferred these two individuals from Iraq to Afghanistan in 2004 and they remain in custody there today. I regret that it is now clear that inaccurate information on this particular issue has been given to the House by my department. I want to stress however that this was based upon the information available to ministers and those who were briefing them at the time. My predecessors as secretaries of state for defense have confirmed to me that they had no knowledge of these events. I have written to the honorable members concerned, correcting the record, and am placing a copy of these letters also in the library of the house. And again, Madame Deputy Speaker, I want to apologize to the House for these errors. The individuals transferred to Afghanistan are members of Laskar-e-Taiba, a proscribed organization with links to al Qaeda. The US government has explained to us that they were moved to Afghanistan because of a lack of relevant linguists necessary to interrogate them effectively in Iraq. The US has categorized them as unlawful enemy combatants and continues to review their status on a regular basis. We have been assured that the detainees are held in a humane, safe and secure environment meeting international standards which are consistent with cultural and religious norms and the International Committee of the Red Cross has had regular access to the detainees. A due diligence search by the US officials of the list of all those individuals captured by UK forces and transferred to US detention facilities in Iraq has confirmed that this was the only case in which individuals were subsequently transferred outside of Iraq. This review has established that officials were aware of this transfer in early 2004. It has also shown that brief references to this case were included in lengthy papers that went to then-Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary in April 2006. It is clear that the context provided did not highlight the significance at that point to my right honorable friends. In retrospect, it is clear to me that the transfer to Afghanistan of these two individuals should have been questioned at the time. We have discussed the issues surrounding this case with the US government and they have reassured us about their treatment but confirmed that, as they continue to represent significant security concerns, it is neither possible or desirable to transfer them to either their country of detention or their country of origin.

The "then-Foreign Secretary" was Jack Straw, the then-Home Secretaries were David Blunkett and Charles Clarke. Were? 2004 is the year at issue, despite Hutton's reference to 2006, and Blunkett was the secretary until resigning in November of 2004 after his affair with Kimberly Fortier (married to Stephen Quinn then and now) was non-stop news for months and months. Clarke takes over mid-way through December 2004. During the 2004 period, Geoff Hoon held the post Hutton does now (Sec of Defence).
David Byers (Times of London) appears to go with the 2006 date when naming who was in what position -- possibly due to the papers crossing desks in 2006 -- and Byers notes the Tory reaction to Hutton's admission via Crispin Blunt, "This statement avoids the principal public issue, which is the charge about complicity by United Kingdom forces operating in Iraq outside the multinational division south east. This is a glaring hole and must be addressed." Blunt (rightly) wanted to know what the ministers were doing in 2004 when this took place, "It is at the very least unfortunate that both officials and ministers overlooked the significance of these cases, nor least since the issue of rendition was already highly controversial." James Kirkup (Telegraph of London) notes, "Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, called for a full Government inquiry into all British links to rendition operations" and also Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti declaring, "This was rendition. It was transfer of prisoners of a kind which had previously been denied." And it was most likely torture.

It was not, as Hutton infers, following Geneva. The
January 9th snapshot notes Patrick Leahy's Senate Judiciary Committee releasing three documents (all PDF format) and we emphasized the March 18, 2004 document "Re: 'Protected Persons' in Occupied Iraq." This document was written prior to the transfer, in the year of the transfer. Then-Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith wrote the memo. Goldsmith memo clearly excludes the category the two Laskar-e-Taiba members would be in from the Geneva Conventions. The group's name can be translated to Army of the Righteous or Army of the Pure and they were founded in Afghanistan and are thought to be based and operating from Pakistan currently. On the last day of 2008, the New York Times ran an article by Richard A. Oppel Jr. about how US officials believe the ISI (Pakistan's version of the CIA) was providing protection and intelligence to Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are considered a terrorist organization by the UK, the European Union, Australia, the US, India and Russia, among others. In his statement today, Hutton avoided mentioning the nationality of the prisoners transferred. It is unlikely his omission was accidental. Depending on their nationality, they have less and less 'rights' under US interpretation. (For example, an Iraqi would have more rights than a Pakistani as the US elected to misinterpret Geneva in 2004.) Since he has repeated US government claims to the House of Commons and, in fact, vouched for them, Hutton should be asked to provide the nationality of the two prisoners transferred. No prisoner transferred to Afghanistan from Iraq was 'assured' of any of the rights Hutton claimed. And the reason for the transfer ("linguistics") was and is laughable. Hutton either played the fool or tried to play the House of Commons for the fool.

Moving to the US where one liar-in-chief has been replaced another.
Earlier this morning, Barack Obama held a press conference and was asked by Ed Henry (CNN) about the ban on photographs of coffins at Dover? Barack insisted that "we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don't want to give you an answer now". The next day, Robert Gates would announce the Pentagon would be doing a review. Yes, that did make Barack a liar -- for claiming a review was ongoing when it had not been started. Credit to Jamie McIntyre (American Journalism Review) who refused to give up journalism for hopium and instead noted, "The president responded with a classic dodge . . . While President Obama artfully avoided making a promise he might not want to keep, Henry had skillfully fulfilled one of journalism's basic functions: holding elected officials accountable for their own words. It's unclear whether the policy was truly under review before Henry's query put the president on the spot, but by the next day it plainly was." (During the canonization of Saint Shinseki, McIntyre also refused to play along and called out Juan Cole and others on their 'creative' narratives which did not stick to the public record.) Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates declared today that the ban was being dropped . . . sort-of.

That's always the problem with the Hopey Changey administration, nothing's ever done, it's almost done. In this case Bobby Gates didn't return the country to the policy previously in place, he just decided a new policy has to be created.
Ken Fireman (Bloomberg News) explains Gates is saying "if their families agree" then photos of the coffins can be taken. That's insane for a number of reasons. First, coffins plural is often the case. So Mr. X says no and every other family says yes, what happens? Or, as CNN points out, "Advocates of opening the base to coverage point out that the unmarked coffins make it impossible to identify specific remains." Can't ask Gates because despite the claims of many outlets (Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, etc.) there is no policy in place. As Ann Scott Tyson notes, Gates stated he needs "a group of advisers to come up with a plan on how to implement the new policy". His exact words, not in the Washington Post piece, were, "I have tasked the working group to examine ways in whichw e might futher assist the families of those who made the surpreme sacrifice for our country" and he promised that they would meet the task quickly ("short deadlines").

Myron Pitts (Fayetteville Observer), when not bickering with readers, finds the time to praise Barack for the non-decision (Barack, that is kicking the can) and also to look heavenward and gasp about "a brighter light" that is now to "be shined on the financial costs of war, too. On Tuesday, the president said in his speech that the budgets for Afghanistan and Iraq will no longer be discussed and consider separately from the larger budget. This is also a good move. By keeping off the budget its most expensive items, we as a people do not have a true estimate of the financial hole we are in." "We as a people"? As opposed to "we as a" what? Bad writing isn't Myron's only problem. At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Geoff Morrell (like Gates, he is a Bush era holdover) was asked about this 'brighter light' and whether or not Americans might see it in fiscal year 2010? Morrell replied, "I am going to try to be as respectful of the process as I can be. I believe OMB [Office of Man and Budget] is going to have an announcement tomorrow about top-line figures for agencies throughout the government. I believe they will also announce a supplemental figure for this department for FY '10. So I do believe there will be a war supplemental for FY '10." In other words, Myron, you won't be seeing the "brighter light" anytime soon. Morrell continued, "Beyond that, the desire is, yes, to try to get away from supplementals and take those costs -- those recurring, predicatable war costs, seven, eight years into these conflicts -- and move them increasingly into the base budget." Morrell was couching in that statement -- "desire" being the key word. He continued to do so noting that a budget from the Pentagon for the wars is "our best guess" and "our best estimate" and "an educated guess, but a guess nonethelees and a placeholder" . . . In other words, Morrell doesn't believe the supplemental requests are going away. And, Myron, burying the costs of two wars into the Pentagon's general budget doesn't allow for any more sunlight -- especially when those working on the budget will now have to sign non-disclosure forms and risk, as CNN's Barbara Starr pointed out today, criminal penalties.

But as Morrell put it when asked about how this "level of secrecy and control" being promoted by the new administration fits with a claim of transparency, "I don't think the administration has been advocating a -- transparency in national security matters." Morrell was quite the dancer today as he agreed that these were not top secret issues but the fact that are not "marked 'secret' . . . [is] all the more reason for a nondisclosure agreement so that those matters could not be discussed as well."

After that song and dance, it was time for Morrell to provide another one.

CNN's Barbara Starr: My question on Iraq and residual forces, regardless of what withdrawal schedule is announced, everyone seems to agree -- and I think you guys have said it -- that there will be some residual force in Iraq for some period of time. Can you help people understand what those forces who will stay behind, what they will do, what their job will be and ho much they still may -- on a given day -- be in combat?

Geoff Morrell: Again, I -- I guess there will be an announcement this week from the White House about a way ahead in Iraq, and it could very well deal with residual forces as well. I can just speak to what the president and what the secretary have said about this in the past and they've both been forthright about their belief that a residual force of some size -- and the secretary has spoken in - in terms of tens of thousands of forces -- will be required after combat brigades have been drawn down, or draw down and out of Iraq. And the three basic areas where those forces would concentrate -- and, again, this is something the president and the secretary have spoken to -- are, number one, continuing to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continuting to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces, continue to help them train and equip, and support them in their operations. Number two, this force of whatever size it turns out to be would also conduct intelligence-driven, warrant-based combat operations against -- against terrorists, and tehy would do so assisting Iraqi security forces, who would be in the lead. And lastly, they would be required to protect American personnel and other U.S. assets in Iraq. So those are the three fundamental areas. But, you know, I've heard all this talk about it's diseingenous to say that combat forces are being drawn down; all forces are combat forces, and those that remain will be combat forces.

Morrell then got lost in that and attempting to sell "enablers" or "support troops" as the terms for the media to use as he insisted that carrying "a sidearm" in a theater of war does not mean you are part of "a combat mission." Starr didn't let him dance so easily.

CNN's Barbara Starr: But then let me ask you, if you're saying these US troops in these type of functions, which you've just said will be equipped with sidearms -- not equipped for combat. Nonetheless, sadly, it's probably likely that some of them will lose their lives at some point in the coming years in Iraq. For purposes of that, will these troops have -- if they are killed by enemy forces, will they be killed in combat? Will these people -- will this be a war zone for them?

Geoff Morrell: I think Iraq will -- is still considered a war zone. Yes.

CNN's Barbara Starr: So these people, if they perish in this, they will be killed in combat?

Geoff Morrell: But, Barbara, we have people who are right now performing support missions -- support functions -- who, sadly, have been killed in theater and they are considered killed in combat. Yes. [. . .] Or killed in action, I should say.

Yes, Iraq will still be a war zone. The Pentagon grasps that, even if some news outlets do not.
Peter Baker and Thom Shanker (New York Times) cover the non-withrawal 'withdrawal' this morning and note an announcement is expected Friday. Thomas E. Ricks (author of the just released book The Gamble) says, "Watch this phrase: 'Residual force.' I think it will be President Obama's term for what he hopes to have in Iraq by the end of next year." As Ricks has long noted elections are supposed to take place in December (though, it being Iraq, who knows when they may take place) and Baker and Shanker note that the plan Barack will present allegedly requires no significant departures prior to the elections. Baker and Shanker note that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker fo the House, isn't apparently going to skip happily along with something just because Barack wants it. The reporters quote her stating, "I don't know what the justification is for 50,000. I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000." By refusing to end the illegal war immediately, Caren Bohan and Jeff Mason (Reuters) report Barack plans to spend $140 billion this year alone on continuing the killing in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Patrick Worsnip and Eric Walsh (Reuters) report something even more distrubing, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, and noted War Hawk and Liar, Susan Rice declared at the UN today, "Our bilateral security agreement with Iraq will frame the path ahead." Really? That's what Barack wants to send out? "We're going to use George W. Bush as our role model?" Really? What a proud moment for all the members of St. Barack's Cult.

In the real world today . . .

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that cliamed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left ten people injured, another Baghdad roadside bombing which wounded three police officers, a Mosul roadside bombing which injured three people and another Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured.

Meanwhile
Campbell Robertson and James Glanz (New York Times) report on Iraq's budgetary and monetary problems -- and, the reporters say, the need for a dependancy upon something other than oil -- such as agriculture. But if things are so bad economically, how can Iraq be having a new housing boom? Oh, that's right, they aren't. It was just another lie from crazy Patrick Cockburn.

An MP remains on the run.
Marc Santora (New York Times) covers the missing Iraqi MP as do Tina Susman and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times). "He" is Mohammad al-Daini who has been publicly accused by al-Maliki's government of various crimes in what can only be an attempt to try him outside a court of law. For the record, law enforcement does not play confessions when announcing suspects. Evidence is introduced in a court of law. Proving how for-show the whole thing is, Santora notes al-Daini was under 'surveillance' and his departure to Jordan could hardly have been unknown. But it wasn't until he was in Jordanian air space that the order came to "turn this crazy bird around, shouldn't have gotten on this flight tonight" ("This Flight Tonight," Joni Mitchell, first appears on Blue). His flight then returned to Iraq and he is now 'missing.' Susman and Salman pick up there noting that there was no arrest of him nor was he taken into custody or detained when deboarding in Iraq. His own security detail greeted him and escorted him from the airport. Now a 'manhunt' is ongoing. (See Rebecca from last night on that and use the link she provides.)

Though he can't be found, someone appeared in court today. Last night
Mike noted Quentin Wilber (Washington Post) reporting on Dutch citizen Wesam al-Delaema whow as to stand trial today in the United States on charges of "conspiring to murder U.S. citizens and possessing a destructive device during a crime of violence." That would be in Iraq, where al-Delaema was born. James Vicini and David Storey (Reuters) report that he entered a plea of guilty and will be sentenced April 15th but will serve his time in the Netherlands under a deal made between the two countries.

In rumor news,
UPI reports that one time CIA asset Iyad Allawi, now head of the Iraqi National List, denies a conspiracy to oust Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister (a post Allawi once held) and notes that any no-confidence vote Parliament might take is not a conpiracy
but "a democratic practice that is approved by the constitution."

Turning to the US and those 'leaders' of the peace movement -- those self-appointed 'leaders.' Insert the line Judith Beasley (
Lily Tomlin) offers in The Incredible Shrinking Woman (written by Jane Wagner who has a birthday today) about seeing "a grown woman cheapen herself by lying to her neighbors." Why? Because Laura Bonham's done just that. Bonahm, the communications coordinator of 'Progressive' Democrats for America takes to the comments of John Walsh's Dissident Voice article to lie and lie again. She's either lying or brain dead. We'll just focus on one: "PDA did not endorse Obama; he did not meet the criteria." Presumably, Laura can remember Steve Cobble, who co-founded PDA and who wrote "Barack the Vote In the Remaining States" which PDA published March 24, 2008. "To me," Steve wrote, "that says it's time to help Senator Obama win the nomination. It's time for those of us who support Obama in PDA to help 'Barack the Vote' in the remaining handful of states." (Typical of Steve -- and of Pathetic Democrats of America -- only in pushing a man could they "make history during this incredible race.") On the same day, the only pro-Hillary article by PDA was published (US House Rep Jim McGovern's column). They didn't endorse, mind you, they just spat on Hillary every day by republishing the idiotic ravings of John Nichols -- ravings we may revisit at Third on Sunday because they do not and did not pass a basic fact check. Norman Solomon -- Pathetic Democrats of America member and Barack delegate -- and many others were able to serve up crap over and over but there was no endorsement? Or are we pretending Tom Hayden's disgusting endorsement doesn't count? Pathetic Democrats of America endorsed Barack Obama and they did so in word and in action -- they did so by reposting "Clinton's Cringe-Worthy Moment" and all the other garbage they hurled at her. Laura, you're a liar. That's the one thing a 'communications coordinator' cannot be known as. Instead of showing up to whine "Don't blame us for the War Hawk Barack," you should have taken some damn accountability. Your pathetic organization should have taken accountability for its non-stop LYING.

That includes reposting John Nichols bad garbage that is riddled with errors. It includes posting Dave Lindorff's lie October 16th where he claims he was going to vote for Ralph Nader but had just decided to vote for Barack ("Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama on November 4"). Dave Lindorff decided by at least February 2008 to vote for Barack. David is "
The Sad Rot of the Left" for those idiots who haven't caught on yet. That's his e-mail bragging about Barack as "a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs". That's Dave's garbage and PDA and Dave can lie all they damn well want but I've read Dave's entire e-mail and not just the section Third chose to publish. Dave LIED October 16th and PDA let him LIE. Progressive Democrats of America is nothing but liars and until they get accountable, nothing's going to change.

I was being kind -- mainly because I like Norman -- and ignoring his column at CounterPunch yesterday but, Laura, when you LIE, it has consequences. So let's go to
Norman Solomon's column where he writes:

I don't often make predictions, but I'm confident about this one: Within a few years, some members of Congress, and leaders of some progressive groups with huge email lists, will look back with regret as they recall their failure to clearly and openly oppose the pivotal escalation of the Afghan war.

Norman might have helped the country had he not made 'predictions' about Barack throughout the primaries including before he saw fit to inform his readers he was already a delegate for Barack. While I agree to a large degree with what Norman says in the paragraph above the thing is, I said that. I said it throughout 2007 and 2008. Norman didn't say a damn word. He was far from alone. Barack's desire to 'surge' in Afghanistan is not something that just emerged in 2009 or immediately after the election. Barack was always upfront about it and the left ignored it. Phyllis Bennis (whom I like) looked like a real fool frequently in 2008 giving lukewarm support to Barack when she should have been calling him out instead of pretending she was Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice choosing which of her children would live: Iraq or Afghanistan?

Laura's a fraud and fake. John Walsh has written about Barack's craven and gutless positions on Iraq and Afghanistan and documented the sell-outs who allow the positions to go unchallenged -- which includes PDA -- and Laura's off yammering about Israel. Yammering about every damn thing under the sun except, you guessed it, the IRAQ WAR.
Laura wants people to visit PDA's home page. I'm counting 21 articles on the home page and not one about Iraq. Pakistan? You got it. Iraq? No. You can find the closet case whose gay ass needs to be outed dithering in his usual manner, for example, but you can't find Iraq. And, point of fact, when a man's over sixty-years-old and identifies as a 'progressive,' he needs to take his ass out of the closet and if the words "I am gay" are too much for him to manage, maybe he needs to be outed? (The man is not named in this entry. His visits to gay bookstores across the country are legendary because the only thing his hands don't touch are the books -- unless he's autographing one.) But that's typical of PDA, where every gathering turns into a truth game.

What PDA can't do, the grown ups can. March 21st an action takes place and organizations participating include
The National Assembly to End the Wars, the ANSWER coalition, World Can't Wait and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Here's IVAW's announcement of the March action:
IVAW's Afghanistan Resolution and National Mobilization March 21stAs an organization of service men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, stateside, and around the world, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War have seen the impact that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the people of these occupied countries and our fellow service members and veterans, as well as the cost of the wars at home and abroad. In recognition that our struggle to withdraw troops from Iraq and demand reparations for the Iraqi people is only part of the struggle to right the wrongs being committed in our name, Iraq Veterans Against the War has voted to adopt an official resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people. (To read the full resolution,
click here.) To that end, Iraq Veterans Against the War will be joining a national coalition which is being mobilized to march on the Pentagon, March 21st, to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and further our mission and goals in solidarity with the national anti-war movement. This demonstration will be the first opportunity to show President Obama and the new administration that our struggle was not only against the Bush administration - and that we will not sit around and hope that troops are removed under his rule, but that we will demand they be removed immediately.For more information on the March 21st March on the Pentagon, and additional events being organized in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orlando, to include transportation, meetings, and how you can get involved, please visit: www.pentagonmarch.org or www.answercoalition.org.



iraqthe new york timespeter bakerthom shankerjohn staubercaren bohanjeff mason
thomas e. ricks
the washington postann scott tyson
the new york timesmarc santorajames glanzcampbell robertson
the los angeles timestina susman