Friday, January 21, 2011

Dave Lindorff: Racist idiot

Dave Lindorff's a joke. He's made himself that. Once upon a time, this community defended him. In 2008, we had to walk away from the crazy. By this point, Lindorff had already been fired from/quit In These Times over a correction they ran on his article. While insisting he was right and that the magazine caved, Lindorff's not picked up that subject again even though there are now medical studies on the issue. So was he wrong? Is he scared? I have no idea.

But the crazy we saw in 2008 was disgusting. As he attacked Hillary with any and every lie, people scratched their heads. He's not a Democrat. Why the hell was he doing attacks for the Obama campaign? And the answer came back. Barack, Dave Lindorff wrote, was "a Black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs, and who has relatives TODAY living in the Third World (Kenya)."

First, Dave, you little White ass, Barack's not "Black." He's bi-racial. I have a Black father, I have a Black mother. I am Black. Barack has a Black father and a White mother, he's bi-racial, he's mixed and he's yellow. White Dave don't know what his mouth is running off about.

Second, those relatives in Kenya live in poverty. Barack's never 'rescued' them even though he had a mansion (thanks Tony Rezko!) long before he was president.

Third, when anyone else notes Barack's drug use, the Cult of St. Barack tends to go nuts. But Dave, you're calling him a drug user. And what a stupid reason that was. It's not like Barack went to jail. It's not as if he showed any sympathy to drug addicts.

Dave Lindorff's 'Black . . . did drugs" nonsense really comes off racist.

But even more so at CounterPunch, where Whitey Lindorff thinks he can use the N-word.

White Lindorff, you can use that word as much as you want, but it just makes you a racist.

Dave Lindorff is insisting "Kill the" n-word was yelled in 2008 at a Palin rally. This is Bob Somerby taking on the drama:

PART 2—A KING’S HEIGHTENED DRAMA: It was the first thing we read in this morning’s Post—and it illustrates the problem. Yes, Thomas Boswell was writing about sports—about a subject we pursue for pure fun. But quickly, he heightened the sense of the drama surrounding the Rays and the Red Sox:

BOSWELL (10/18/08): Now, we can't lose. This weekend, we may watch as Boston runs its streak to an incredible 10 straight wins in ALCS elimination games. Bend the laws of probability? The Red Sox would mangle them. The odds of winning 10 straight games against roughly equal foes are about 1,000-to-1. The Sox have now pulled off eight such win-or-go-home LCS games in the span of just three Octobers.

Well, OK. But in fact, the odds against what the Sox have done (eight straight wins of this type) stand at 256-to-1. But why say that, when you can cite odds of “ about 1,000-to-1”—thereby letting you say “incredible,” thereby making your story more thrilling? We only talk about baseball for fun. But Boswell heightened the drama as he imagined what might yet occur.

But uh-oh! Colbert King also heightened the drama in today’s Post—but he was discussing the most serious topic in all of American politics. King was discussing race and race hatred. But even as he started his piece, the gent was embellishing wildly:

KING (10/18/08): "Kill him": the battle cry of a lynch mob and words yelled out by a man at a Sarah Palin rally in Clearwater, Fla., this month, according to my Post colleague Dana Milbank.

With this rhetorical sleight of hand, an unfortunate shout by one single person slid into “the battle cry of a lynch mob.” Having granted himself that advantage, King soon rendered a judgment which was, on its face, just absurd:

KING (continuing directly): Some observers claim that the proposed killing was directed not toward Barack Obama but at Bill Ayers, the co-founder of the radical Weather Underground that bombed public buildings during the turbulent Vietnam era. Ayers, now a college professor who has served with Obama and other noted Chicagoans in civic enterprises—and hosted a campaign event for Obama's initial run for the state legislature—is being portrayed by John McCain’s campaign as Barack's bosom buddy, the facts notwithstanding.

Whether the call for assassination was aimed at Obama or Ayers is immaterial. It represents a dangerous new low in American politics.

Surely, King can’t really believe that. He can’t believe that an unfortunate call by one nameless person “represents a dangerous new low in American politics.” King had massively heightened his drama in these first three paragraphs—but he wasn’t talking about baseball (where “kill the umpire” is a famous old cry). He was talking about our most serious subject—and doing so quite irresponsibly. Quickly, more sleight of hand:

KING (continuing directly): Tell a rabid audience that Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" (as Palin has done), imply that Obama is friendly with people out to destroy America (as she also has done) and what do you expect?

The ugliness is stunning.

In our view, Palin’s conduct has been inexcusable—as has that of McCain’s campaign. But King glided past the misconduct of the principals, instead inventing “a rabid audience,” one whose “ugliness is stunning.” In fact, this is an ugly, inept brand of journalism. And it’s bad for progressive interests.

Why is this bad for progressive interests? First, because you simply can’t build a progressive politics from the desire of people like King to overstate, mislead and inflame. King makes no factual misstatements here, as liberal leaders have frequently done in the excited march toward November (new examples on Monday). Everything he says can be defended as technically accurate—or as a statement of opinion, however baldly absurd. But King’s rhetoric encourages, almost demands, leaps of logic—encourages readers to think that one man’s cry makes everyone around him “rabid” (and perhaps “ugly”). We were specifically taught not to write or think this way in the ninth grade (by Peter Drobac). But people like King never stop.

Why is this bad for progressive politics? First, because you simply can’t build a progressive politics from the desire of people like King to make average people dumber. It’s dumb to think that one man’s cry turns thousand of others into “a lynch mob”—into “a rabid audience” whose “ugliness is stunning.” But beyond that, writing like this keeps a “culture war” going. The pseudo-right invented this culture war, because it can win no other way.

Why is work like this bad for progressive politics? Because many people will see the unfairness of King’s loud cries—and their hearts will harden accordingly. They will harden in their sense that there is no harbor for them on “the left”—in their sense that there is no reason to listen to liberal or mainstream complaints about the conduct of McCain and Palin. Some of those people would have seen what is wrong in the conduct of McCain and Palin—if King had bothered to dirty his hands explaining the misconduct to them. But they will recoil at the sheer absurdity of this column’s rhetoric—even as pseudo-liberal hearts are warmed. This leaves us caught in that “culture war”—the war the other side wants.

As a general matter, nothing is dumber than fighting on turf the other side has chosen. And that’s what pseudo-liberals do when they keep this “culture war” going—along with its familiar handmaiden, the journalism of perfect dumbness.

Why did the pseudo-right invent this war—invent the politics and journalism of dumbness? Because it can’t win on more traditional grounds, in which you stick to facts and logic, to saner types of assessment. The main thing wrong with what King writes today is its dumbness—its blatant lack of fair assessment. Beyond that, it keeps us from a saner discussion—a discussion in which, all polling shows, the more progressive side would most often win.

Dana Milbank's report has "Kill him!" shouted by one person. It's the only reported time this took place at a Palin rally -- reported in 2008. Some would argue crazy Gordon Duff 'reported' it. No, he repeated it -- including the n-word; however, he linked to an October story by Radar. That story no longer exists. Is it because it was false to begin with? I have no idea but I know Radar doesn't report, it gathers the reportingof others. It had no political staff. So since it published it's item at the same time the Washington Post's Dana Milbank posted the "kill him!" story, Radar most likely was re-reporting. Did they use the n-word? I would hope they didn't and Gordon Duff is so damn crazy that you can't trust him.

Just like Lindorff. So we've dismissed with the n-word issue. We'll now note that Palin may or may not have heard it -- which I believe Somerby did in some post. (The only other on this issue I can find right now is this one -- about yelling at a camera person, not at Barack.)

Language warning, click here for The New Agenda post about the Barack Campaign site's featuring of a t-shirt calling Palin the c-word. Barack didn't call it out nor did Dave Lindorff.

Dave Lindorff is just a liar and a racist.

He's also stupid. Here he is from the CounterPunch garbage:

There are times, I would agree, when violent rhetoric can be akin to the proverbial shout of "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and such speech--the kind of speech that used to be used to rouse a crowd to become a lynch mob--should rightly be viewed as a criminal act. But riling up a crowd to kill somebody is different from riling up a crowd to, say, damage construction equipment that is about to destroy a poor neighborhood to make way for a casino development, riling up a crowd of workers to break into a plant and engage in a sit-down strike to prevent the shipping of the machinery overseas, or riling up a crowd to resist a forcible eviction in a foreclosure.

I'd argue that Lindorff's lies are attempts to work a crowd up to a criminal act. I'd further point out that only a dumb ass would bring up "Fire!" There was no case before the Supreme Court pondering whether or not you could yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. As we explained at Third in September of last year:

It was humorous to hear some on the left toss around, "Burning the Koran is like yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater." Though people know the "fire in a crowded theater" reference, most have no idea what they're talking about. We started asking people to explain to us what that meant. Repeatedly, we were told that someone had yelled "fire" in a crowded theater and the case had gone before the US Supreme Court at which point someone (some knew it was Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.) wrote the opinion. (Holmes actually wrote "falsely shouting fire in a theatre".) The case had nothing to do with a theater. It had nothing to do with someone yelling fire. That case is actually an embarrassment for the left.

During World War I, did people have the right to speak out against the draft, to encourage people (men only back then) to refuse to serve even if drafted? Charles Schenk of the Socialist Party was among those who thought people had that right (Emma Goldman and Eugene V. Debs are among the many others who agreed -- for the record, all writing this piece agree that the right exists). But the Court decided otherwise. And instead of truly addressing the issues, Holmes attempted to confuse it with his ridiculous comparison of "fire in a crowded theater." When the brief's tangental argument is better known than the issues at stake, that's your first sign that the Court decided wrongly.

Poor Whitey Lindorff. Stupid and a racist. But then, being a racist probably doomed him to stupidity from the start.

Whitey Lindorff, kiss my Black ass.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, January 21, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Tony Blair goes before the Iraq Inquiry again, Nouri's leadership may be in question, guess who has left Iraq (no, not US troops) and more.
Chicken Hawk Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry. Before we get to the latest round of lies from Blair, let's get into what happened inside the hearing and outside. Alex Barker (live blogging for Financial Times of London) reported, "Details are emerging from the room. The atmosphere was obviously more fraught than it appeared on telly. The mood changed as soon as Blair started talking tough on Iran. Peple began to fidget more and sigh. Then when Blair expressed regrets about the loss of life in Iraq, a woman shouted: 'Well stop trying to kill them.' Two women stood up and walked out; another audience member turned her back on Blair and faced the wall. As Blair began to leave the room, one audience member shouted 'It is too late', another said 'he'll never look us in the eye'. Then Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq, delivered the final blow. 'Your lies killed my son,' she said. 'I hope you can live with it.'"
Rose Gentle's son Gordon Gentle died June 28, 2004 in Basra at the age of 19. Before the hearing, she told Mustafa Khalili and Laurence Topham (Guardian -- link is video) that her son was the driving force in her actions, "It's definitely Gordon that kept me going." She is a co-founder of Military Families Against The War. After the hearing, she noted of Tony Blair, "I don't think I could ever forgive him to be honest." She explained, "He can look at his sons grow up, get married, have kids. We've lost that. We'll never have that."
Because of the illegal war (yes, it was illegal despite spin from the Independent's resident idiot columnist and others -- "just war theory" was not created in the post-WWII period) and those who started it and those who continue it, many have experienced the tragic loss Rose Gentle lives with. But, as she notes, Tony Blair is never haunted by the coffins.
Entrances and exits can be very telling. With a fake, plastered grin on his face and a security detail, Tony Blair walked briefly in the sunlight as cries of "WAR CRIMINAL!" were repeatedly and loudly shouted.
His entrance? Blair snuck in. Like the criminal he is. He snuck in and did so early thereby avoiding the protests. Still they turned out to bear witness on his War Crimes and the destruction that they brought about. Protestors chanted next to a man in a Tony Blair mask holding onto wooden bars (indicating Blair was behind bars).
Call: Tony Blair!
Response: Is a liar!
Stop The War was one of the organizers of the protests. Bryony Jones (CNN -- article has a photo of another man masked as Tony Blair behind bars) reports, "Protesters dressed in Tony Blair masks staged mock arrests as the former British Prime Minister appeared before an inquiry into the Iraq War. [. . .] Waving banners featuring bloody images of the carnage that followed, activists shouted: 'Blair lied -- thousands died' and "Justice prevail -- Blair in jail'." Ruth Barnett and Mark Stone (Sky News) note that Chickenhawk Tony is accused of sneaking into the Inquiry this morning to avoid the protest outside and they have video of protesters offering their take on Blair including this one, "Historians will judge him as a War Criminal as somebody who has lied to the public who has now -- He has -- Who tried to redefine the word lie: 'When is a lie not a lie?' And also I think history will judge him very, very harshly -- very harshly." Peter Walker (Guardian) reports on those protesting:

While many were clearly veteran activists -- the Socialist Workers party had a notable presence -- the crowd was mixed. Jackie, from Essex, had stopped by to wave a "Bliar" placard for 20 minutes before heading to her job at a City law firm.
"I'm not ashamed of it but I don't make a point of publicising it," she said. "I don't think there is much hope anything will come of this. It's all starting to look very much like an establishment cover-up."
More hopeful was the veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, who said he believed Chilcot's blocked attempts to release the former prime minister's correspondence with President George Bush, plus doubts about Blair's testimony raised by the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, indicated the establishment was starting to turn on Bair.
He said: "I'm not so interested in seeing him in court. I think Blair now knows that the infamy will follow him around forever. I think he's starting to realise that the end is not coming -- that lovely smile is not going to see him through this time,
"It's something of a Shakespearean tragedy. He came into power with such possibilities to transform the country. All those things he could have done and he squandered billions of pounds and thousands of lives to be a sort of second lieutenant to Bush"
Inquiry Chair John Chilcot noted at the start of today's hearing, "We heard some six hours of evidence from Mr Blair a year ago. We have also heard from many other witnesses and have amassed a very considerable body of documentary evidence. As I made clear in launching this round of hearings, there are a number of areas where we need to clarify what happened. We need to find the lessons to be learned and to do that we need to construct as reliable and accurate account as possible and reach our own conclusion." Did that happen?
Not for the public. But they did get to see Tony visibly squirming, his voice go to higher levels than normal and break little a pubescent boy's at one point. A few key exchanges. All testimony quotes are from the Inquiry's official transcript unless otherwise noted. And, also, we're not promoting Blair's book so I'll edit out the title.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: Mr Blair, the very powerful speech you made to the House of Commons on 18th March 2003 was of critical importance. Without Parliament's approval our troops would not have been able to participate in the invasion. In your speech you drew an analogy with the 1930s, the moment you said when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis. That's when we should have acted. This was not the first that analogy had been made. Jack Straw, for example, recalled the descent into war in the 1930s when he spoke on 11th February. Comparing Iraq with Nazi Germany has enormous emotive force with the British public. It also heightens perceptions of the level and imminence of the threat. In your book [ . . .] you say that you regretted and almost took out that reference and the almost universal refusal, as you put it, for a long time for people to believe Hitler was a threat. Can you tell us why you regretted saying that?
War Criminal Tony Blair: I think I actually said in the speech in the House of Commons on 18th March -- I don't have it in front of me -- we have to be aware of glib comparisons, but there was one sense in which I think there was still valid point to be made about how we perceive threat and that is in this sense, my view after September 11th was that our whole analysis of the terrorist threat and that extremism had to change, and at that point I was most focused on this, that the single most important thing to me about September 11th, as I have often said; that 3,000 people died, but if they could have killed 300,000, they would have.
And he went on to babble repeatedly and at lenght, a non-stop, stream of random babble, never addressing the question asked led to his declaring this final sentence, "So in that sense in a way I would say there is an analogy, but you have to careful of bringing it out too broadly, otherwise you make a point that suggests the circumstances of Nazi Germany were the same as Saddam Hussein and I didn't really mean to suggest that."
Committe Martin Gilbert: So that's what you regretted?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes, but I don't -- let me just make on thing very clear, I don't reget the basic point I am making, which is that this is a time in which even though many people would say this extremism can be [. . .]
And he continued to waffle. So the takeaway is that, no, Tony Blair didn't regret making the comparison. His ghost writer and publisher thought it would be a thing that would help paint him as someone who agonized then and now over the decision, someone thoughtful, but that's just not who Tony Blair is. He established and underscored that throughout the hearing.
Committee Member Martin Gilbert: The Cabinet paper for conditions on military action which was issued on 19th July 2002, a version of which has appeared in the press, recorded that you had told the President at Crawford in April 2002: "United Kingdom will support military action to bring about regime change provided certain conditions were met." Was that a turning point?
War Criminal Tony Blair: It wasn't a turning point. It was really that all the way through we were saying this issue now has to be dealt with. So Saddam either comes back into compliance with UN resolutions or action will follow.
So all along they were saying that Hussein had to be dealt with?
Next we'll emphasize this.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Just a short question on the Attorney General's involvement in advising on Resolution 1441, as you will have seen, Lord Goldsmith said in his statement that he was not being sufficiently involved in the meetings and discussions about Resolution 1441 and the policy behind it that were taking place at Ministerial level, and he says: "I made this point on a number of occassions." Given the importance that you have placed on Lord Goldsmith's understanding of the negotiations, why wasn't he allowed to be more closely involved in the negotiation of 1441 as well as in the discussions which lay behind it.
War Criminal Tony Blair: Well, I have to say I think I had more to do with Peter Goldsmith on this resolution than I can ever recall on any previous military action that we took. Now --
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: 1441?
War Criminal Tony Blair: Yes. Now I have read what Peter has said now, and obviously that's something it would be sensible to have the Attorney General -- I think in retrospect it would have been sensible to have had him absolutely in touch with the negotiating machinery all the way through, because I think then we wouldn't probably have got into the situation where he thought provisionally, at least, that we needed another resolution, because I think had he known of the negotiating history real time as we were going through it we could have avoided some of the problems later.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Yes. I mean, I think he would agree with you there. [. . .] I mean, in his statement he says that he wasn't involved in discussions about 1441. Between the time of his meeting with you on 22nd October, when he told you that the draft then in contemplation did not authorise the use of force, until 7th November when the text was, as he puts it, all but agreed, but you say you were very much involved with him over this resolution. These two statements don't seem to fit together.
War Criminal Tony Blair: No. What I am saying is I was more involved -- I recall having more meetings with Peter about the legality of this issue than I did on any of the other occasions. I did actually -- there was a meeting I think on 17th October, which we then minuted out, including to Peter, where we set the objectives for the resolution. Then he and I had the meeting on 22nd October, and -- I mean, I agree in retrospect it would be better if he had been there, because we would have then -- he would have been sensitised to the evidence that has been given to you by Stephen Pattison and by Iain Macleod, Stephen Patterson being the head of the then Department of the Foreign Office, and Iain Macleod being the legal advisor and the legal counsellor for the UN process and they explained why the Resolution 1441 did meet our objectives and significantly changed in the days leading up to its adoption.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: Iain Macleod is the legal counsellor advising Jeremy Greenstock in New York. The Foreign Office legal advisors working in London, Sir Michael Wood and those working to him, as has come out from the respective evidence, took a very different view. They took the same view as the Attorney General, and the Attorney General took the view, as you know, that at this time he took the view that 1441 did not authorise use of force unless there was a further resolution, but you have said in your statement that 1441 "Achieved our objectives". Now how could it have achieved our objectives if your Attorney General, your senior legal officer was telling you that it hadn't?
We're not wasting time dictating in Blair's fumbling response. If you know this issue is going to be raised -- and it was known, it was the biggest Blair story in the press all week long beginning at the start of the week, you do not show up and fumble and offer, "I mean, I can't remember exactly what I said after 22nd October [. . .]" You don't do that. Unless you're lying, there's no possible reason to do that. And if you're wondering about my critque of the rambling say nothing Blair, the Guardian headlines their editorial "Blair at the Chilcot inquiry. Jaw-jaw, war-war and law-law." From the editorial:

Whether he led straight, however, is more doubtful. It is becoming ever clearer that No 10 spun the country along, not merely by hyping intelligence, but also by committing to the Americans in private while at the same time insisting to people and the parliament that no decision had been made. The general idea of a promise as an undertaking that is not to be given until it is certain it can be honoured was yesterday turned on its head by Mr Blair. "I was going to continue giving absolute and firm commitment until the point at which definitively I couldn't," he explained. He was free, easy and indeed creative with the detail – for example, singling out Iraq's bar on scientists meeting UN inspectors as the "key issue" on the eve of war, when that problem had in fact been resolved by then. It will be open to the committee to damn him with the detail should it choose to do so.

The excerpts from the hearing I selected were are among the things that stood out to me. Joshua Norman (CBS News) was most focused on Tony Blair's claim that the "wretched policy of apology" (Blair's words) must end. And that and the Goldsmith issue are paired up in Emma Alberici's report for Australia's AM (ABC -- link has text and audio):
EMMA ALBERICI: A month before the Iraq war began in 2003, one million people marched through the streets of London.

Almost eight years later, there were barely 100 protesters gathered outside the conference centre at Westminster as Tony Blair returned to the Iraq inquiry for the second time.

The five member panel led by Sir John Chilcot were seeking some clarifications, specifically about private letters between the former Prime Minister and the then President of the United States George Bush - correspondence written, in the year before the war.

TONY BLAIR: So what I was saying to him is, 'I'm going to be with you in handling it this way', right? 'I'm not going to push you down this path and then back out when it gets too hot, politically, because it is going to get hot politically, for me very, very much so'.

EMMA ALBERICI: Earlier in the week, Tony Blair's own attorney general told the inquiry that Mr Blair's claims in the House of Commons that Britain did not need a United Nations resolution explicitly authorising force were not compatible with his legal advice.

Lord Goldsmith told the inquiry that he felt uncomfortable about the way the Prime Minister ignored his official legal advice when making his case for war to the British people.

Tony Blair, who is now the Special Envoy to the Middle East representing the United Nations, the US, the European Union and Russia, said the war in Iraq could not be used to explain the rise in Islamic extremism. And he told a shocked roomful of grief stricken relatives of those killed in Iraq, that the experiences there should not make the world reluctant to invade Iran.

And it's that never-ending impulse to send more people into war, a blood lust, that causes Catherine Mayer (Time magazine) to term Blair "unchanged and unrepentant."
Iraq Inquiry Digest's Chris Ames has been following the story since long before the Iraq Inquiry. At the Guardian, he shares his take:

The specifics and the evidence, including new evidence published today, are against Blair. The evidence makes clear that he was seeking regime change from an early stage.

Opening questions sought to establish when Blair took the decision to pursue a policy that was likely to lead to war and what part the cabinet played. Martin Gilbert asked exactly when Blair took this decision. Blair waffled and evaded the question.

When it came to the way that Blair kept most of his cabinet out of the loop, the tables were turned. Had the cabinet seen the March 2002 options paper, leaked but still officially unpublished, which set out the plan that led to war? Could Blair point to a cabinet discussion of the paper? He could not. So how did Blair expect the cabinet to take an informed view? Blair waffled further, disputing "the notion that people weren't debating and discussing the issue". The cabinet knew what the policy was.

Next week, hopefully Monday's snapshot, we'll address the remarks he made in relation to other issues and how Tony Blair may not be the poodle because a good argument can be made that he's the one who pushed and prodded War Criminal Bush along the path to illegal war. (Bush may have been a dupe, but he was a willing dupe.) And we'll close out on the Inquiry with Mary Riddell (Telegraph of London) offering her take:
The sheer gall of Tony Blair never ceases to startle. And he gets away with it. Once, the revelations emerging from the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war would have been dynamite. The attorney general's advice that the invasion would not, without a second UN resolution, be legal; the Foreign Secretary's worries about the whole enterprise -- these are yesterday's sensations, neutralised by time and by inertia.
And yet there is still something awesome about Mr Blair's intractability. On he marched, in thrall to the US president and unhindered by his supine government and a credulous opposition who have never squared up to their faults either. Blair's lack of remorse and his adamantine belief that he was right cannot be dented now. The loss of the lives of British forces and of Iraqi civilians were, in his view, a wholly necessary price.
To say that Blair is unrepentant does not begin to explain his intransigence. Having prosecuted one disastrous war, he is now squaring up for the next dust-up, with a renewed warning that Iran, a "looming challenge" has got it coming. With luck, the leaders who followed Blair, on both sides of the Atlantic, will shake their heads in disbelief at this madness.
On the second hour of today's The Diane Rehm Show (NPR), Diane and her guests Abderrahim Foukara (Al Jazeera), Elise Labott (CNN) and Moises Naim (El Pais) addressed Iraq. Pay attention to the style of the transcript, I'll explain why in a moment. We're starting with Elise Labot speaking of Lebanon.

Elise Labott: The fear is right now is -- the future of Lebanon is either in the hands of Syria or it's in the hands of Iran. And you have countries like France, like Saudi Arabia, and to some extent even the United States, that really hasn't given Syria a real firm message about meddling in Lebanon. That Syria might be more of a benign force back in Lebanon than Iran. I mean, it's certainly, as Abderrahim said, it's a football right now. Lebanese does not have the sovereignty of its own government, of its own people, because Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran. And Syria wants to meddle as well. So it's really -- the Lebanese people have been fighting for so many years for their own independence, even after the Syrians were thrown out in 2005.
Diane Rehm: And talk about a bloody fight, look at Iraq this week, Elise.
Elise Labott: Well, you had a bombing in Baghdad that killed 60 -- over 60 people as police recruits were waiting to sign up. This really shows that the government -- there's the idea that the government has been able to provide security and you saw that violence in Iraq, for the most part, has been decreasing. December was one of the least violent months since the war really began. But by showing that these police recruits are not safe, the government cannot provide security, they're trying to sow a little discontent with the government as the U.S. is trying to withdraw its troops.
Diane Rehm: And will that change the date at all for US withdrawals, Moises?
Moises Naim: Well, it depends because it's not only the bombs that killed the police, their recruits waiting at a police station on Tuesday. Yesterday, there was another attack on pilgrims -- on Shiite pilgrims going to Karbala in what -- it was a very important pilgrimage that was banned under Saddam Hussein.
Diane Rehm: And who perpetrated all of this?
Moises Naim: And so no one has taken credit for it, but is widely suspected that this is either Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia or remnants of the Ba'ath Party and Saddam Hussein's supporters. But the fact of the matter is that in -- yesterday, 52 people -- 52 innocent pilgrims were assassinated and 150 were wounded. Two days before 52 police recruits waiting to the -- at the police station were also killed. So if this continues, these are the typical events that spark reactions and counterattacks. And if the thing escalates, then I guess there will be some rethinking of what needs to be done.
Diane Rehm: Abderrahim.
Abderrahim Foukara: Well, two things. One is the United States and the other one is Iran. The United States -- the Obama Administration has been saying that Iran is no longer the war that used to be. And these events actually are a disavowal of that. Iraq continues to be a security problem, not just for the Iraqis, but also for the Americans. As to whether that's going to change the calendar, I don't think -- I personally don't think it will, particularly that now in the next two years -- we're already talking about the election of 2012 -- and the Obama Administration is on the record as saying that he's moved on. And I don't think he would want to make -- to go back to changing and fiddling with the dates in -- of withdrawing from Iraq. Iran. The event that Moises was referring to yesterday in Kabala has been a lot of fear that the Iranians have all this strength in their hand in Iraq. And just today we heard from the Iraqi government, basically, a position which is tantamount to giving the Iranians licenses to protect their own pilgrims in Iraq. And it just gives you the extent of the complexity of the situation and of the stronger impact influence that the Iranians wield nowadays in Iraq.
Why did I mention the style? If I'd done it, we would have included repeat words such as "the-the thing I wanted to note . .." That's not to pick on people, that's to give an accurate descriptionof the conversation. Also we all have various vocal tics and some times they are telling, some times they are interesting (some times they are irritating). So I didn't do that trancript. That's the show's transcript.

The program has always made a transcript available at a price Diane Rehm's program is now listen and text. Just go to The Diane Rehm Show website and chose the "transcript" option the way you would "listen." The program is now listen and text and available to all including those who cannot stream and those for whom streaming is useless due to hearing issues. Next Friday, we'll go back to transcribing but try to get the word out on the site offering transcripts.

Violence has swept and slammed Iraq all week. Yesterday's Karbala bombings continued the string of deadly attacks in Iraq. Ali Qeis and Liz Sly (Washington Post) report, "Despite initial reports that the bombings were suicide attacks, investigations showed that they were not, [Maj. Alaa al-] Ghanemi said. Two parked cars and a motorcycle had been rigged with explosives and detonated within quick succession in the three locations, he said." If true, that's even more damning for Nouri al-Maliki. See, when you're dealing with someone willing to take their own life, a considerable segment of the public will see that person as irrational and/or insane and they will allow that there's little you can do to put up prevention obstacles that would halt those people (that once they're in that stage, it's too late). But this wasn't someone waiting until the last minutes to run out among a crowd.

If these bombings were as al-Ghanemi describes, then they were planned ahead of time -- well thought out indicating not just a level or precision but a level of rationality -- and since they were done ahead of time, they should have been prevented by extra security measure which should have been taken due to the religious holiday and the knowledge that over a million Shi'ite pilgrims would be taking part in the religious observation. That steps were not taken reflects very poorly on Nouri. John Leland (New York Times) offers, "The annual pilgrimage, banned under Saddam Hussein, is expected to draw as many as 10 million people this year to the city of Karbala over 10 days. It has long been a target of sectarian violence. Until this week, the holiday had been free of major bloodshed, and Iraqi security forces had claimed progress in their ability to protect the populace from violent extremist groups." Those numbers, and the holiday itself, argue for governmental anticipation and preparation.

Tracey Shelton (Asia Times) offers:

Some blame the recent uptick in violence on the nascent administration that has yet to fill its top security slots, namely the ministers of defense, interior and security. There have been allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is keeping the posts for close confidantes, but others say the same partisan bickering that kept a government from solidifying for 10 months is preventing the appointments of these ministers - and endangering the public.
[. . .]
According to senior Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, among others who spoke to Asia Times Online, the clear instigator of these crimes is al-Qaeda and its affiliate ISA. However, as Othman pointed out: "They are supported by elements inside the security apparatus."
The claim of collusion within the ranks of the yet unformed government has become a rallying cry for Maliki's opposition - the Iraqiya bloc of mostly secular Iraqis and Sunnis led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi.
Iraqiya's chief security advisor, Hani Ashor, said many Iraqis have already been murdered due to intelligence leaks within their own government. He and other politicians are calling for the fast-tracking of appointments for the security portfolios.

CNN has a photo essay of the post-bombings scene here.

Friday's violence? We'll most likely hear about it Saturday. But there is big news today out of Iraq. Khaled Farhan, Suadad al-Salhy, Michael Christie and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) report that Moqtada al-Sadr, who returned to Iraq January 5th after being out of the country for over two years, has again left the country and gone back to Iran. For a brief visit? Time will tell. But even a brief visit won't play well with the throngs of admirers who gathered around him and treated his home coming as a major moment. They may feel a little silly now. Those who might have had questions before probably have more now. And al-Sadr may emerge with a reason to explain his sudden departure. But it wasn't strategically smart on his part if he was intending to become an Iraqi leader from inside the country of Iraq.
We'll note two upcoming actions in the US. First, this is the upcoming Iraq Veterans Against the War event:

February 25, 2011 9:30 - 10:30 am
Busboys & Poets, Langston room
14th & V st NW Washington DC
This report back will be to answer questions from media and the peace movement about the recent trip back to Iraq by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The war is not over but it is not the same as it was in years past. What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq?
How can we do reparations and reconciliation work?
Speakers are all returning from this delegation and include:
Geoff Millard (IVAW) Hart Viges (IVAW) Haider Al-Saedy (Iraqi Health Now)
Richard Rowely (
Big Noise Films)
The following month, A.N.S.W.E.R. and March Forward! and others will be taking part in this action:

March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.

The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.

While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.

Actions of civil resistance are spreading.

On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.

Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.

Click this link to endorse the March 19, 2011, Call to Action.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"Hu's On First, Americans On Second" (Hillary Is 44):

The screams of “Nazi”, like the screams of “racist” came in defense of the Obama health scam flim-flam. Last year and the year before last the fight was all about Obama’s big gift to Big PhaRma and Big Insurance. This year… well not much has changed. What has changed once again is what Evan Thomas chooses to tell us. Last year Evan Thomas loved Obama’s scam. This year, when it is too late, not so much:

“Sometimes criticism comes in the unlikeliest of places.

On Friday’s “Inside Washington,” Newsweek columnist Evan Thomas, once an editor at the magazine with a long track record of having liberal positions (even once having likened President Barack Obama to a deity), noted the modest improvement in the unemployment number reported on Friday. However, nearly a year after Obamacare was passed and signed into law, he admitted Republicans were right for voicing their opposition of it.

“It ain’t because of Congress,” Thomas said. “The unemployment will go down a little bit but the game in Washington will still be this unreal game. Health care though – I got to say, is one place where I think where Republicans are right.

Back in November 2009, Thomas admitted the health care reform bill had flaws, but still voiced his support for it. Now he has proclaimed it a failure.

The health care bill is a disaster,” Thomas continued. “We’re sort of slowly learning – it’s not working. It’s interesting – they’re implementing it and it’s not working out at all as people anticipated. There’s all sorts of wildly wrong projections. As it’s being practiced – it’s failed.”

Some of our readers might recall our article “After The Lovin’” in which we documented how Evan Thomas thought Obama was a Messiah only to tell us what he really thought when it was too late - after the election. Obama is “creepy” Thomas told us – after the election. Tom Brokaw didn’t know anything about Obama either:

Lovely. And don’t miss the tidbits about how none of them know anything about Obama’s attitude or policy towards China. That video is as fresh today as it was in 2008.

My only regret about Hillary Is 44's post is that they didn't tackle She-Hulk's awful dress. What the hell was that? Does no one know how to tell her, "Michelle, that dress is tacky beyond words?" I'm going to suggest that we tackle it at Third this week -- especially after reading some spinners online claim it was a wonderful dress.

"Stand Up for Women’s Right to Abortion Jan. 22-23" (Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait):

Dr. LeRoy Carhart, long-time colleague and friend of Dr. George Tiller (assassinated by an anti-abortion activist in May 2008) has remained undeterred in his life’s mission to provide women with safe, caring abortion services when they need them. YOU are needed in Germantown, MD and the DC area this coming weekend to stand up for Dr. Carhart and women’s right to abortion and reproductive control.

Abortion Providers are Heroes!

Anti-abortion groups from around the country will be converging on Washington, DC on January 24 for their annual “March for Life” in opposition to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Along with the larger mobilization, there are plans to directly target Dr. Carhart at the clinic he now works at in Germantown, MD. They must not go unopposed – people who respect the humanity of women and recognize their right to control their own reproduction must stand up to these bullies.

I hope I write about abortion more than once a year. But I'm wondering if I do? I'm the mother of three and I've never had an abortion but you better believe I value it and value that it's there. I was lucky in that my children were all wanted and resulted from love making with someone I loved (then). I was not raped. I was not put in a position where I had to think about whether I could afford a child or care for it. I was ready.

I also used birth control. My mother took care of that when I was in high school. I'm grateful to her for that.

I was once almost raped while still in high school and I could have ended up pregnant. If I had, I would have an abortion. If I was raped tomorrow and ended up pregnant, I would have an abortion. If I was pregnant and the doctor told me the baby had a condition that would prevent him or her from living to adulthood and spend all their time in pain, I'd have an abortion.

And I'm actually happy to know I can have one if I ever feel I need one. And I'm very happy knowing that (as it stands now), I don't have to explain myself if I have one or argue for reasons to have one. I don't have to pretend, I don't have to create a story. I simply have to exercise my right.

There are women who are against abortion. I know that. And I can understand that. Provided? Provided they realize that not everyone thinks like them and the best thing is safe and legal abortions as an option. Trust women to decide for themselves whether it is the thing they need or not.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Thursday, January 20, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, more deadly suicide bombings slam Iraq, Tony Blair prepares to again face the Inquiry, the Inquiry releases a page of testimony which states Blair declared he wanted to go to war and then it was declared that no notes would be kept on that session, calls continue for Tony to release his private correspondence with George W. Bush, a woman from the right wonders where feminists are on the war (and she's correct to wonder), an hour of finger-pointing offers no illumination, and more.
Once again this week, Iraq is slammed with suicide bombings. Despite that, as Mark Leon Goldberg (UN Dispatch) points out, "It hasn't quite made the top of the news here in the United States, but Iraqi is in the midst of a very violent week. On Tuesday, at least 49 people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a line of police recruits in Tikrit. Yesterday, a suicide bomber driving an ambulance killed 15 people in Diyala. They were also lined up a recruiting station for security forces." And today? First up, Reuters notes a suicide bomber attacked a police station in Baquba. Counting 3 dead (plus suicide bomber) and twenty-seven wounded, Xinhua reports, "A suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into the checkpoint of the main entrance of the provincial headquarters of Diyala police and blew it up, causing severe damages to the surrounding buildings at the scene, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." Aseel Kami and Rania El Gamal (Reuters) add that "the attack took place in the centre of the city near government buildings, including police headquarters." Ali al-Tuwaijri (AFP) reports that 2 of the dead were police officers and the third was female Iraqi journalist "Wejdan Assad al-Juburi, [who] had been a reporter for the Iraq al-Mustaqal (Independent Iraq) newspaper.)" AFP adds, "A total of 255 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, according to the Baghdad-based Journalism Freedoms Observatory." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains the death toll is now at 4 and the number injured at thirty-three and reports another bombing: "Separately, a Shiite pilgrim was killed and nine others were wounded in southern Baghdad's al-Dora district Thursday when a roadside bomb struck a procession of Shiite pilgrims, who were making a three-day trek by foot to Karbala for Arbaeen, police said."
However, those bombings were quickly overshadowed by suicide bombings in Karbala. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports twin suicide bombers took their own lives, one after the other, as well as the lives of 45 Shi'ite pilgrims with another one-hundred-and-ten people injured. AFP states the bombers were in cars. John Leland (New York Times) counts three cars. BBC News has a photo essay here. Salar Jaff and Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) note that the death toll has risen to 56 and they quote survivor Ghassan Hashim explaining, "I turned and saw my wife covered with blood and she lost her leg! I lost control and fainted. I don't know where my wife is now. It was a mess and crowds were crying everywhere. It was like doomsday." Shashank Bengali and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy's Miami Herald) give the death toll as 63 and cite hospital officials and they observe, "The spate of attacks, which began Tuesday with a suicide bombing that killed 60 people outside a police recruitment center in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, mark the first major spike in violence since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unveiled a new government in December." Jim Muir (BBC News) warns, "The sudden flare-up of violence over the past three days is bad news for the fledging Iraqi government, for several reasons." Martin Chulov (Guardian) gets right to the point: "The sharp upswing in violence has happened as Iraq remains without ministers to fill the posts of defence, national security and the interior. They are regarded as the most critical positions in the government, yet the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is reluctant to name names more than three weeks after he formed a government and almost 11 months since a national election was held." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Al-Maliki serves as acting defense, interior and national security minister." Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) attempts to offer analysis but something's missing in his article or something's missing in his observations. He's commenting on Iraq's civil war (ethnic cleansing) of 2006 and 2007.
Could today's attack have that kind of impact? Probably not by itself. As recently as July of 2009, five Shiite mosques were simultaneously bombed in Baghdad, claimed 29 lives, and it didn't prompt major reprisals.
Today, Iraq has a fully sovereign government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a Shiite, and the party of the assassinated Ayatollah Hakim (since renamed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) has a major voice in government. Militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militiamen committed many of the atrocities on Sunnis during the worst of Iraq's fighting, has muted his rhetoric. Last week, in his first major speech since returning home from religious schooling in Qom, Iran he denounced sectarian violence and is giving signs that he wants to focus on a political route to power, at least for now.
Still, the symbolic power of the time and place of this bombing can't be ignored. Millions of Shiite pilgrims are descending on Karbala for Arbain, the culmination of a 40-day mourning cycle for Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad [. . .]
Do you see what's missing? He's saying a renewed civil war is not possible. Why? Because Shi'ites are in control of the government? I'm confused. Who was in charge in 2006 and 2007? Oh, right, same groups. It's not as if Sunnis were in charge then. And, oh, yeah, Sunnis the ones he leaves out when explaining (or 'explaining') why a civil war can't take place today. (And, no, his second to the last paragraph in the article doesn't explain 'right' the article.)
In addition, Reuters notes a Kanaan roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 pilgrim and left two more injured while, overnight, Baghdad "celebratory gunfire" resulted in thirteen people being wounded and Kirkuk "celebratory gunfire" resulted in two people being wounded. "Celbratory gunfire"? Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) explains that Nouri's outlawed it -- but apparently it's not enforced -- and quotes Nael al-Aboid insisting, "It is our tradition, to shoot our guns at all celebrations. Guns and swords represent the power of the tribes and the person himself. It is showing happiness, with a touch of manhood." Maybe there's been a little too much touching of manhood in Iraq?
Still on macho posturing, in England on Friday, former prime minister, forever poodle and eternal War Hawk Tony Blair is set to reappear before the Iraq Inquiry to offer additional testimony after his testimony last year just didn't appear to add up.
Stop the War UK is organizing protests against War Criminal Tony Blair.

Reasons to protest when Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 21 January:

QEII Conference Centre 8am-2pm
London SW1P 3EE

(Tube Westminster or St James's
Please publicise as widely as you can
Tim Shipman (Daily Mail) reports, "David Cameron yesterday called on the public to pressurise Tony Blair into disclosing his secret letters to George Bush from 2002 promising to go to war in Iraq. Downing Street insisted the former prime minister should drop his demands for secrecy when he testifies at the Iraq Inquiry tomorrow." From yesterday's snapshot:

Rosa Prince (Telegraph of London) notes today that the letters are quoted in recent books by Alastair Campbell (his published diary) and Jonathan Powell and she notes: "Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, criticised the ban. He said: 'It is a bit thick that Mr Blair and Mr Bush have been able to draw on these documents for their own memoirs and to be entirely selective in the use to which they have put them'." Rosa Prince goes on to demonstrate just how much Bush and Blair have quoted from the (private) letters in their books.

David Cameron is the current Prime Minister. With Gordon Brown (who was prime minister between Blair and Cameron) in the office, Blair might have hoped for some cover. Without him, Cameron is making very clear that this is not a "state's secrets" issue and that there is no reason the documents should be hidden from the public. Nigel Morris (Independent of London) reports:

The questions facing Tony Blair at tomorrow's Iraq inquiry hearing are piling up. It emerged last night that parts of Mr Blair's conversations with the United States President George Bush in the build-up to war were expunged from Whitehall records.
Sir John Chilcot's team also heard yesterday from a senior civil servant that Downing Street ignored Foreign Office warnings over publishing the infamously exaggerated dossiers on the threat from Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons arsenal.
Mr Blair's private secretary at No 10 routinely deleted any mention of his correspondence with Mr Bush from the Government minutes, the inquiry has found out. The disclosure will fuel anger over the failure to release the memos between the two leaders in the run-up to war, which could fill in gaps for when Mr Blair took key decisions over the war. David Cameron, challenged over the refusal to publish the memos, said that he was powerless to order their release.
At 4:30 a.m. EST, Tony Blair will be testifying and CSPAN 2 is supposed to carry it live. Before that happens, there's another revelation. Tim Shipman reports, "Downing Street ordered a cover-up after Jack Straw made an 11th-hour attempt to stop Tony Blair going to war in Iraq, it was claimed last night [it's morning in the UK]. Explosive anonymous evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry said Mr Blair responded to his Foreign Secretary by insisting that he wanted to go to war. Officials at Number 10 then allegedly ordered that no record was kept of the confrontation." PDF format warning, the document is here. And it is anonymous to the public but the Inquiry knows whose testimony it is.
In the US, Kelly B. Vlahos ( weighs in on the talk of a move towards women being in combat officially:
Combat is considered the "final frontier" for women in the military, though they have already been serving, albeit unofficially and off the books, in combat-related roles throughout the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It will be interesting to see if it again it becomes a cause célèbre for feminists at the level of say, the 1990s, when women like Democratic Rep. Pat Schroeder and Sara Lister battled openly against the he-skeptics in the Republican Party over gender discrimination in the ranks. The debate became a mostly academic, glass ceiling affair, and eventually opened up many new military positions for women, but not combat.
But that was then -- peacetime -- and this is now -- wartime -- and the feminists have, up to now, been pretty distant from the issue of women in the Global War on Terror, though women now make up some 14 percent of the total Armed Forces and 255,000 of veterans who have served overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq. Truth is, without a draft, the military would not have been able to fight the Long War without them. Women have been flying combat aircraft and serving as military police, gunners, interrogators and prison guards -- as close as it gets to the action.
"It's something whose time has come," said retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning of the Women's Research and Education Institute. She said ending the ban on women in combat would be "a logical outcome of what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Army and Marines have been essentially ducking the policy."
Indeed, everything looks "logical" on its face. Why wouldn't anybody want to be recognized and rewarded for the work they are already doing? No doubt women are missing out on valuable promotions and short changed in so many other areas. However, as the war zone has been going through a 10-year "shock integration" that they had themselves set into motion, feminists and many proponents of full combat equality for women have been rather quiet about all the bad things that have happened to women precisely because of their desire to be treated "just like men" in war.
Unlike Kelley B. Vlahos, I am a feminist. I have not advocated for full combat rights. If asked, I've stated of course women should be equal. Equality doesn't mean happiness. (Nor does it mean unhappiness. Happiness come from within.) Equality should mean fairness. Equality is a goal we should strive for. As Kelley notes in her title, combat is the "meat grinder." I don't know exactly what she wants feminist to have said or not said on this issue and that's not sarcasm. As she notes "feminists have, up to now, been pretty distant from the issue of women in the Global War on Terror". Off Our Backs did a great issue on these very issues and then, shortly afterwards, stopped publication. Once upon a time a number of feminists spoke out against the Iraq War. Robin Morgan, where did you go? Jane Fonda, am I wrong or did you say "Silence is no longer an option" when speaking in DC at the January 2007 rally? Did you not end with, "So thank you for being here and we'll continue to be here as long as necessary. God bless."? We'll continue to be here as long as necessary?
In less than a week 4 US soldiers have died in Iraq, another was injured, the way the week's shaping up the death toll for Iraqis could easily reach 200 or more by Saturday. Does that sound like the war ended? Because it doesn't from where I'm looking.
I'd love to be able to write, "Kelley, you're dead wrong." But when feminists -- especially when the very few that spoke out to begin with -- have nothing to say about the ongoing wars, they're abdicating a seat at the table that a lot of us marched, fought and suffered to have. So in the future, when you want to speak on an issue, how about letting us know if there's a sell-by-date? As in, "I'm saying 'you have me forever' in my speech because it's such a good line but I really just mean as long as a Republican's in the White House." Just give us a little truth in advocacy, please.
I can point to the strong feminists in this community and we're still outraged and calling out the wars. But outside of this community, where could I possibly point? CODEPINK? remembers their Afghan waffle and they won't take them seriously. Arianna Huffington doesn't claim to be a feminist (and I'll never forget when Cass Ellliot told Arianna how wrong she was on that issue) so we can't count her but she hasn't forgotten the Iraq War and hasn't stopped speaking out against it, to give her credit. Ms. magazine? Let's be kind and ignore the magazine (you're not missing anything -- except Ms. allowing a War Hawk-Council on Foreign Relations to preach what they're calling 'success' in Afghanistan) and turn instead to the tired magazine's very lively blog.
Here's one, Kelley! A feminist is writing at Ms. blog about this issue and her name . . . Well, his name. His name is Kyle Bachan. Good for you, Kyle and I firmly believe men can be feminists. But it is rather disappointing that a woman couldn't or wouldn't grab the topic.
We'll also give credit to Michaela A. Null. To the best of my knowledge, Michela doesn't sponsor or co-sponsor V-Day. She doesn't work with at risk young women. But she still found time -- while many who sponsor V-Day didn't -- to call out the nonsense attacks on the two women who may have been raped -- the nonsense attacks launched non-stop by Naomi Wolf these days. At the Ms. blog, Michaela A. Null rejects Naomi Wolf's latest which is to call for the names of rape victims to be circulated in the press:
Wolf suggests that shielding rape victims is outdated because, well, it's not like we live in the Victorian Era! This is a silencing argument that women hear all the time -- something to the tune of, "There has been so much progress for women. I mean, you can vote, what are you bitching about?" That would be like me saying to Naomi Wolf, "Worrying about government corruption is so outdated, it's not like we live in the McCarthy Era!" Of course, the McCarthy Era is a shameful piece of our history, but it does not mean the government never does anything wrong or unethical now and that people shouldn't be up in arms about wrongdoings.
So, according to Wolf-think, it's of little matter that those who make rape accusations are often re-victimized and harassed and vulnerable to further violence. To shield them from that is to treat them as though they are children! Equity, though -- as distinguished from equality -- is not about infantilizing a group of people and patting them on their heads: Equity is for grownups, based on the idea that in order to achieve a fair and just society, you have to account for the fact that some groups of people are oppressed, disadvantaged and do not have the same access to, say, bodily integrity, justice or safety that other groups of people have.
[. . .]
But for right now we don't live in that ideal world. We still live in a place where women's issues are seen as secondary and where victims of sexual assault are often treated dismissively, disdainfully and even violently. In order to do justice to women and to all victims of sexual assault, we must listen to them. Instead, Wolf is dead set on ignoring the voices of women and victims of sexual assault, publicly condescending to them and asserting over and over that her "23 years of experience" -- a phrase used so repetitiously it became the hashtag #23yrs on Twitter -- means she knows what's best for them and they don't.
I wrote at length about Katha Pollitt's ''Naomi Wolf: Wrong Again On Rape' (The Nation) in Polly's Brew. I'm not sure I ever noted it here. If not, Katha deserves credit -- big credit -- for that column. And for the previous one as well (which I did already note). But the reality is that, with very few exceptions (Katha being one of them), those that are supposed to be voices and leaders are no where to be found on these very important issues. In fact, Katha is the only "name" feminist to have called it out. (That is not meant as a slap in the face to Jill who does great work at Feministe or Jessica Valenti or Amanda Marcotte or any other strong women who became well known on the web and have not allowed their fame to silence them. When I say "name," I'm referring to the hiearchy roll call that exists in feminism -- which we usually pretend doesn't exist, but we all know does.) One publication that has not forgotten the wars or felt the need to fall silent because lefty men might not say nice things about you is Womens eNews and today they publish attorney and professor Wendy Murphy's analysis of what Naomi's calling for:
In a truly just world, no type of crime victim would have their name revealed without their consent. This would help redress growing concerns about threats and intimidation tactics from criminals who hope to escape responsibility for their violence by terrorizing victims into silence.
It's hardly a gender-specific problem, which disposes of Wolf's argument that concealing the identities of rape victims is a form of sexism.
But there is a valid reason to put a thumb on the scale for rape victims. The very nature of sexual violence, indeed the location of the "crime scene" on a woman's body, is such that a public trial is certain to reveal things that are not only highly personal but likely to be protected by statute, common law and even constitutionally-based privacy rights. Unlike robbery cases, rape prosecutions involve the revelation of things like whether the victim became infected by HIV or became pregnant or had an abortion. Because such facts are highly relevant, they must be revealed during the public trial.
Anonymity policies, therefore, are not about "protectionism" so much as due process. They make up for the fact that disclosure of private facts at trial involving a victim--who is not a party to the litigation and thus cannot even argue against disclosure--causes unavoidable harm to fundamental rights. Anonymity polices mitigate the harm by allowing disclosure of private facts without attaching those facts to a publicly-identifiable individual.
These are serious issues, they belong in the public sphere. But let's about the wasting of our public sphere. The polluting of it. On Morning Mix (KPFA's morning show), Mickey Huff and Adam Bessie kicked things off -- and into the gutter -- with a lot of huffing and finger pointing. Excerpt:
Adam Bessie: As you know, anyone with a thought and a connection to the computer can get onto the participatory networks -- Facebook, MySpace and so on. And what was fascinating in the research that we found, in a section called Junk Food News Feed is that [Bessie now yammers away about a male celebrity -- we're not interested] was covered less than the decision to pull out of Afghanistan by Obama [what decision was that Adam Bessie, you moron?] . However, when you looked at what people were talking and writing about on social networks and by the cooler, they were talking more about [male celebrity] according to a Pew study at that time. So basically what we found with the internet, again, was basically unprecious, anybody and everybody can get on there, is that people are really becoming what they eat and after years of consuming junk food news, now they go on social networks and you can create your own junkfood news. Instead of having to watch [female celebrity] on The Today Show, you can have your friend be [mispronounces female celebrity's name] or you can be [again mispronounces female celebrity's name] and write about the trials and travails of your own life or somebody else. And you can also write about celebrities. And so we're now -- The sea change I think we're seeing is that we're participating in this infotainment society.
You think? Adam Bessie surely is participating in it. First off, how is it news that many people are concerned with their own lives? Most people are concerned with their own lives. The Confessions was not Saint Augustine writing about Descartes, it was Augustine writing about himself. The idea that people would write about their own lives should not be shocking to an English professor -- even a junior college English professor. Second, Barack didn't announce he was pulling out of Afghanistan, he announced a troop "surge" into Afghanistan. Sorry professor, your example, which you bring up? You damn well better know what you're talking about. Third, the male celebrity? A sports star. Covered in the sports press during the 'scandal' but Adam Bessie forgets them, doesn't he?
Adam Bessie? Did he have anything to contribute other than a whiney voice and a lot of stupid? Nope. He and Mikey blathered away forever about Barack being compared to Hitler. They did this on January 20, 2011. Point? It was the exact same remarks and 'findings' Bessie already wrote about in this bad December 1, 2008 column at OpEdNews. Who's wasting time? Who's oversaturated with infotainment? (And, as usual, Bessie ignored that Bush was compared to Hitler during the eight years he occupied the White House.)
Then what did we get? Another junior college professor. This one couldn't pronounce "suggest" -- but for some reason included the term in the copy he wrote for himself to read aloud. Robert Abele offered commentary which was snide and ugly and his attempts to link Sarah Palin with the Tuscon shooting were appalling. He 'shaded' throughout. For example, he said right-wing radio is responsible for a number of Republicans believing Barack Obama is Muslim. But Abele didn't explain who was responsible for Democrats believing that. In fact, he didn't even acknowledge that the poll he was referring to found only 46% of Democrats stated Barack was a Christian. Take any of Abele's items and check Bob Somerby's archives at The Daily Howler -- you'll usually see how Abele shaded one thing after another with his half-the-story approach. And why the heck isn't Bob Somerby invited on the program to begin with? Oh, that's right, he's not condemning the people.
"It's so hard," huffed Kristina Borjesson, "to try and get these people to understand that there's a whole universe of information that they should be looking at . . ." And if you're feeling smug and thinking, "Yeah, Tina, sock it to those right-wingers!" . . . Well, you might want to pause. She was referring to the public. You know, "these people." So frustrating, so uninformed. Way to win people over, Borjesson. She then insisted she didn't watch TV news anymore because, in her opinion, "they've made themselves irrelevant with ranting [. . .] opinion journalism." Thanks for sharing your opinion which was opinion -- maybe even ranting? -- but wasn't news. Finger Pointer, condemn thyself.
"In the meantime," she called out from her high horse, "what's going on in Afghanistan? What's going on in Iraq?"
What is going on in either? You didn't find out from her or from the hour long Morning Mix. You know what? That's an hour of radio that we need. What you offered? We don't need that at all. Don't need it, don't want it. You had nothing to offer for a full hour. While slamming the MSM for wasting people's time, you had nothing to offer.
I can sit here all day and call out this outlet and that outlet for not covering Iraq but if I'm not covering it here, I'm a hypocrite because I'm in charge of what goes on here.
By the same token, they are in charge of what they do each Thursday on Morning Mix. Today they were full of themselves and how other people don't cover Iraq . . . as they refused to cover Iraq. Borjesson was insisting that even now we need to be covering the lies that got the US into Iraq. Well, Borjesson, where's that going to take place? You didn't go into those lies, Mickey didn't. But you finger wagged at everyone else, now didn't you?
Land of snap decisions
Land of short attention spans
Nothing is savored
Long enough to really understand
-- "Dog Eat Dog," words and music by Joni Mitchell, from her album of the same name
Which brings us to professional liar Greg Mitchell. (Liar? Changing your errors online after they're called out and 'forgetting' to note your changes makes you a liar.) Greggy wants credit for, well, let's let him tell it: "As I've done for more than seven weeks, I will be updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks all day, with new items added at the top." Oh, is he covering WikiLeaks' revelations? Writing about those?
He's not writing a damn thing. If you were generous, you'd call his bits and pieces "Tweets." It's basically a glorified gossip column with a dozen items.
Nothing is savored long enough
To really understand
Our focus is Iraq. When WikiLeaks did their Iraq release in October, we covered it for two weeks here (here and here) every day. At Third, Ava and I wrote "TV: The WikiLeaks reports" and "TV: Media of the absurd" on the media coverage in real time. The Nation and Greg Mitchell weren't interested in covering the Iraq leaks. Greg Mitchell's still not interested in actually covering anything. He's Louella Parsons offering chatty, breezy gossip items. Or, if you prefer, he's like a character in Heathers, rushing in insisting, "Did you hear? School's cancelled today because Kirk and Ram killed themselves in a repressed homosexual suicide pact."
Greg Mitchell showed up on Antiwar.Radio and the real decay of journalism is hearing the former Crawdaddy writer thinking his gossip blog on WikiLeaks is somehow covering something. He was bragging about how popular the tweets are. And that now he's turning "the live blog" into a book. How about you do something of value right now instead of finger pointing that "The media forgot about it" [WikiLeaks revelations]. And how awful that Scott Horton said that Greg was "doing great work." (In fairness to Scott Horton, he clearly hasn't read the "live blog" Greg Mitchell is doing.) What Mitchell does most days is a Julian Assange watch -- with the same whiff of sexism that was there in his Crawdaddy work and which he carried all through his career.
In every culture in decline
The watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine will be
Scorned and conned and cast away
-- "Dog Eat Dog"
And be sure that Greg will continue to scorn and con and cast away that which is genuine as he does his bad gossip column. (Which is not a "live blog." Someone explain the term to him. You live blog a trial. He could "live blog" the Iraq Inquiry. But just blogging during the day really doesn't count as "live blogging.") The interview with Mitchell is frightening for just what a condemnation it is of so-called independent media. Around the time Greg's confessing, "Frankly, I don't have time read everything I link to," you realize how little standards he ever had.
Since we're addressing Project Censored (the Morning Mix Thursdays on KPFA is a Project Censored broadcast), KPFA's Women's Magazine Blogspot outlined one of Project Censored's biggest problems back on January 3rd:
The Project Censored List of Top 25 Censored Stories of 2009-2010 includes not one story related to a women's or gender issue. NOT ONE! Does that mean women's issues get lots of attention? We don't think so. Instead, it points to the masculinist bias of even the progressive media and media watchdogs.
So producer Kate Raphael has produced her own quite inexhaustive list of censored or underreported stories related to women and gender in the last year. See what you think. If you want to comment on one of her choices or suggest one of your own, please email us at
Listen to the show, which also includes memorial tributes to Dorothy Height, Wilma Mankiller and Mary Daly.
The list below is not in ranked order, though Kate feels that Iraq does belong at the top.

-- The impact of 7 years of occupation on Iraqi women (Malihe Razazan of
Voices of the Middle East and North Africa comments)

Sexual assault in the military hits epidemic proportion (includes excerpt of report by Scott Shafer of KQED TV)
For the full list click here.