the new york times
thomas friedman is a great man
the common ills
the third estate sunday review
I took a taxi to the K's, wondering the whole way what was going on?
Mrs. K opened the door and just from her face, I could tell she was going through a hard spell. As someone who's done my tour of duty on the Dawn Patrol, I know the signs.
She led me quickly to Nicky K who was in need of a shave and should probably think about changing the yellowy-white t-shirt and the y-fronts with Spiderman on them. He was firmly planted in a bean bag chair, muttering to himself.
Mrs. K was explaining about the summer she was a nurse on a Grateful Dead tour and how she'd assumed that Nicky had been dared into dropping acid by Helene Cooper.
"I know she's on something, the way that head's always bouncing. And that jewelry is pure Haight-Ashbury. There's no telling what she slipped him. You know the rumor is she drives an 'art car'?"
As Mrs. K continued her nervous chatter, I looked at Nicky K. It was as though he was looking right through me.
He was mumbling and as I drew closer, he got louder.
"George Clooney's a Pretty-Boy-Come-Lately! I did all the work. I did it all. Me. Me! ME!"
I stared at him expecting his head to launch into Linda Blair spins.
Mrs. K moved next to me, "All he does is rage about George Clooney. But every now and then, he'll mention your name."
"ER! ER! ER! Facts of Life. Facts of Life. Roseanne. Rosanne. He's no man. He's no man. Cloo-ney. CLOO-nee. CLOOOOO-NEEEE."
"He's been like this for hours," Mrs. K whispered.
I patted her on the shoulder.
I understood just what was she was going through.
I gasped as Mrs. K nodded.
"But-teen-uh. Buh-teen-uh. MAAAAA. WAAAAA."
"Do you have any idea what it means?" Mrs. K asked.
I shook my head "no" and waited to see if he'd say anything else.
"Nicky," Mrs. K said, "Betinna's here."
Nicky K looked me up and down and slowly.
"It wasn't my idea," he whispered. "He made me do it. He made me. He said I was morally confused. He said I was scared to act. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to."
"Do what?" I asked.
Nicky looked over my shoulder gasped.
I looked over, saw it was Thomas Friedman and asked Nicky again, "Do what?"
But he couldn't answer because Mrs. K shrieked.
"What is it!" she screamed in horror staring at my bewigged husband.
"It's only Thomas Friedman," I explained trying to calm her.
He was wearing his form fitting white dress, his blonde wig, had applied his mole and several layers of lipstick. Honestly, it looked like he'd smeared cake frosting underneath that mustache.
I could understand why Mrs. K would be shocked.
Then I saw it.
In his right hand.
One of my tampons.
"Well, how cozy," Thomas Friedman hissed, gesturing wildly and puffing away on my tampon as though it were a cigarette. "So this is where the rats go when they abandon ship?"
"Thomas Friedman, cut the crap," I instructed. "Nicky K is very upset."
"Sh! Not a word from you, you little cheese eater."
"Why are you dressed like that?" Mrs. K asked still in a state of disbelief.
"Why are you dressed like that?" Thomas Friedman shot back in a mocking tone and gesturing wildly.
"He thinks he's Marilyn Monroe," I explained to Mrs. K.
"Enough chatter amongst the bit players," Thomas Friedman hissed. "What is going on here?"
"Look at him," I said gesturing to Nicky K. "He's freaked out. He's muttering on about George Clooney and about me and about MaMa or Wawa or something."
Thomas Friedman dropped his tampax.
He ran across the room -- he's grown quite agile in heels -- scooped up Nicky K, tossed him over his shoulder and ran out of the room.
"Where is he going?" Mrs. K asked me as we both ran after.
"I have no idea!"
We chased after him as he fled the house and up the street. Mrs. K was breathing hard.
"Hang in, there, he can't get too far in six inch heels."
Boy, was I wrong.
Six-inch heels or not, when that fat boy wants to get away, he can really run.
"Where are they going?" Mrs. K asked when we finally stopped to catch our breaths.
I had no idea.
I still have no idea.
I've tried calling Gail Collins and she plays dumb. She's ticked off because she finally realized that David Brooks thinks she's into beastiality.
"I think you tricked me, Betinna, or as the kids say, you 'punked' me. I'm no one's punk."
With that she hung up on the phone.
Mrs. K's worried to death about Nicky K. When she's not calling me, she comes over.
She paces a lot and mainly says, "Where could they be?"
She got all excited today when she saw Thomas Friedman's latest column.
I answered the door and she was waving the paper.
"Sao Paulo, Brazil! That's where they are!"
"The Energy Harvest" was the title.
"They aren't in Brazil," I explained. "He makes all that stuff up."
Mrs. K nodded and tried to smile but looked like she was about to cry.
Sighing, I looked through the column and said, "Sometimes there are clues in here."
Mrs. K cheered up and we headed to the kitchen for a pot of coffee. It was going to be a long morning.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 15, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq and among the dead are US troops; the count of discovered corpses in Baghdad continue to rise, meanwhile the latest US 'answer' is "Castle!"; war resister Darrell Anderson prepares to return to the United States; and Camp Democracy continues in Washington, DC.
Starting with the violence (stick around for the 'answer'), CBS and AP report that five US troops died on Thursday ("making it a particularly bloody day for U.S. forces" -- well not to the New York Times) and that a marine has died today in al Anbar province. al Anbar? For those who missed it, Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported Monday that that Marine Col Pete Devlin's assesment "that the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and that there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there, said several military officers and intelligence officials familiar with its contents." Today Will Dunham (Reuters) reports: "U.S. commanders in Iraq have demoted their long effort to subdue insurgents in Anbar province . . . 'Baghdad is our main effort right now,' Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq."
Staying with the violence.
A senior Interior Ministry official remarks to Reuters, on the continued discovery of corpses, "Forty bodies, 60 bodies -- it's become a daily routine." Friday started with Rebecca Santana (AP) noting the discovery of 30 corpses in Baghdad. AFP gives the announced figures for the last three days as 64 (Wednesday), 20 (Thursday) and 51 (last 24 hours). In addition to those corpses which were discovered in Baghdad, Reuters reports that in Mussayab a corpse "with a missing head" was discovered.
Reuters reports one person was shot dead and five others wounded in Baghdad. AP reports the incident: "In central Baghdad, a gunman opened fire from the top of an abandoned building in a Sunni Arab neighborhood, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding five others, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali."
Reuters reports a car bomb in Mosul that left nine wounded, while, in Mussayab, a roadside bomb "late on Thursday" left three police officers wounded.
In addition, Al Jazeera reports that a US soldier is missing after Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad that left two troops dead on Thursday and 25 others wounded. AP raises the wounded from that bombing to 30 and notes the missing soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown".
AFP reminds: "The United Nations has also warned that Iraq could slide into civil war as the daily bloodshed shows no signs of abating despire political efforts for national reconciliation." CBS and AP report that John Bolton told the UN Security Council yesterday "that Iraq's sectarian killings and kidnappings had increased in the last three months, along with a rise in the numbef of displaced people."
So where does it stand? Even John Bolton's sounding alarms, US troops are pulling out of al Anabar, Reuters reports that the 147,000 American troops in Iraq are "the most since January," and the violence and chaos continue.
But don't fret 'a new plan' finally emerges as the 'answer.'
It's being called trenches which is really implying something it's not. When people think of trenches, they tend to think of trench warfare. What's being described is more along the lines of a mote -- AFP reports that Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf described it this way, "We will surround the city with trenches. The entry to the captial will be permitted through 28 roads, as against 21 at the moment, but at the same time we will seal off dozens of other minor roads with access to Baghdad."
Quote: "We will surround the city with trenches." That's the 'new plan.' Baghdad goes from capital to castle. But not overnight. Al Jazeera notes "an operation of this scale would take months to complete."
In the real world, Cal Perry (CNN) takes a look at the wounded US troops ("more than 20,000" have been "wounded in Iraq") at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
In peace news, Courage to Resist has reported that war resister Darrell Anderson will return to the United States (from Canada): "Support is mounting for Darrell and his courageous stand. Two events are planned in conjunction with his return to the U.S. In Fort Erie on Saturday, Septemeber 30 at Noon there will be a rally in Lions Sugar Bowl and then supporters, including Iraq war veterans and military family members, will accompany Darrell as he crosses the border back into the U.S. over Peace Bridge."
Other peace actions are going on and will be going on including a three-day event in NYC that begins this evening at 7:00 pm, continues Saturday at 7:00 pm and concludes on Sunday at 3:00 pm. What is it? The People Speak directed by Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati. This is a workshop adaptation of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States. The workshop will take place at The Culture Project's Bleecker Street Theater on 45 Bleecker Street. Tickets are ten dollars and can be ordered online here or here or purchased in person at the box office (box office does not take ticket orders). For those in NYC, or who will be during those dates, click here for a map. The presentation is part of the Impact Festival.
In Washington, DC, Camp Democracy continues, free and open to the public. Today's events have focused on Electoral Reform and include an 8:00 pm (EST) showing of the film Stealing America, Vote by Vote." Among those speaking today were Bob Firtakis. Saturday is peace day and will include Kevin Zeese, Nadine Bloch, Allison Hantschel. CODEPINK's Gael Muphy will report on the visit to Jordan at the start of last month to meet with Iraqis as well as the trip to Lebanon. And war resister Ricky Clousing will discuss the court-martial he's facing. (This may be the first major discussion he's given publicly on the topic since August 11th.)
And on Sunday, Camp Democracy will host a number of events and the theme will be Impeachment Day. Among those participating: Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Avery, Ray McGovern, David Green, John Nichols, Marcus Raskin, Elizabeth De La Vega, Dave Lindorff, David Swanson, Jennifer Van Bergen, Geoff King, David Waldman, Dan DeWalt, Steve Cobble, Anthony St. Martin, Cindy Bogard, Mubarak Awad, Susan Crane, Frank Anderson. The camp has daily activities and admission is free. A complete schedule can be found here. Free and open to the public with daily activites.
Finally, in Australia, ABC reports that Brendan Nelson (Defence Minister) will be expanding their role in Iraq when "Italian forces withdraw at the end of next month." Reuters notes this will be 20 troops added to "the extra 38 troops announced on Sept. 4". The 58 need to be weighed next to the intent, as Dan Box (The Australian) reported earlier this week, the Australian government wants to up the army from 2,600 to 30,000 ("its biggest intake since the Vietnam war")
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thomas e. ricks