Friday, December 01, 2006

Decking the Friedman

I'd been mulling over Elaine's suggestion of hypnosis all week. I did want to know what was lurking in the back of my head but I was also wondering if there was a reason I'd covered it up in the first place?

I mean, I can remember days when I used to wonder why Thomas Friedman wouldn't go around shirtless? Even when we were having sex. Then when he did take his shirt off and I saw, in direct sunlight, enough hair on his lower back to make a throw rug, I wished I'd never known the answer.

Fortunately, I was saved from considering it further when some kids on campus were talking about a hilarious new stand up act.

It was "the new Boart," they swore.

Some comic was dressing up as Diana Ross and blending comedy and music.

Well I love Diana so when they invited me to tag along, they only had to ask once.

There we were at someplace called Chunky's Rainbow Lounge and, judging by the man in Diana drag approaching the stage, "Chunky" was for the performer.

The wig was circa 1984. The song playing was from the seventies, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and the dress was enormous. Well, "chunky" might have been a nicer way to say "obese."

Over the speakers, I could hear Diana's vocals. The guy wasn't trying to lip synch, he wasn't even facing the audience. He sort of swayed back and forth or maybe the high heels just weren't made to support all that weight?

Every now and then he'd twirl some strands on the wig.

It was time for the first spoken part and here's where the guy turned to the audience and I spat out my drink.

The guy's face was Blacker than Diana Ross. That might not be a problem if he'd been black. But it was a White Man, one who looked as though he'd applied shoe polish to his face.

I'm not into minsteral shows, I think they're racist, but that's not why I spat out my drink.

"Diana" was babbling and I missed part of it:

It's off Broadway to Broadway.
For instance,
Airplane hijacking was perfected in the Israeli-Palestinian context,
As a weapon of terrorism,
Thank you, thank you, very much.
And then was globalized.
I love you.
I love you.

"Diana" was babbling on, making some sort of argument that hijacking was tested in the occupied territories and then exported. To "Diana," that meant it was "Off Broadway" and then went to "Broadway."

Now anyone with half a brain can tell you that the facts were wrong and the analogy was false. Dealing with the latter, it wasn't Off Broadway to Broadway that was being described, it was a Broadway show becoming a road show.

And this was immediately siezed upon at my table but I was too busy staring in horror at "Diana."

My husband Thomas Friedman had taken many things from me, robbed me of joy and laughter most days. But for him to dress up like one of my personal heroes was just too much.

He was babbling on about "my girls" and Flo and Mary weren't on the stage so who knows what he was talking about?

But I knew it had to end and had to end right away.

Which was how I found myself walking on stage, ripping the wig off his head as he gasped and punching him in the face.

That actually got a standing ovation.

After he was done screaming, we were backstage, he had an ice pack over one eye and was pacing back and forth, puffing on a tampon he pretended was a cigarette.

"I have a stalker! A stalker!" he said pointing at me.

"No, you have a mortal enemy right now," I replied. "Diana Ross? Off limits. Your black-face performance? Disgusting."

"I can't hear you," Thomas Friedman said moving his hands around. "I'm building a virtual wall to shut you out."

"Let me speak real slowly," I told him, "so that you can understand. You're not known for your racial sensitivities but unless you want to be the next Michael Richards, you stay out of the black-face, you understand me? Two people at my table have cell phones. I doubt 'The New York Times' will want photos of their 'star' columnist on the front of 'The New York Post' in black-face."

Thomas Friedman chewed on his bottom lip a moment before speaking.

"You just can't handle the fact that I make a delightful woman."

"Oh, no, oh no, you don't. You've already given columnist a bad name. You've given 'liberal' a bad name. You've given your paper a worse name. Don't drag womenhood into the mud after you."

"Oh, clever, Betinna. Clever. That's so funny it's . . . it's so funny. Who do you think you are anyway? Chris Floyd?"

"No, I'm the one in this relationship who doesn't try to be somebody else. I'm the one in this relationship who is happy with themselves and with their gender."

"Chris Floyd-er! I invented the Pottery Barn analogy!"

"Oh, well brag a little louder. Just like the Off Broadway & Broadway analogy, it's false. Pottery Barn doesn't have a 'you break it, you buy it' policy."

Thomas Friedman sulked a moment then pointed to my left hand.

"Can I have my wig back now?"

"No. Your Diana days are over."

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
December 1, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, early numbers for November indicate a dramatic rise (another dramatic rise) in the number of civilian deaths, does the puppet of the occupation feel the EARTH . . . MOVE . .. under his feet (nod to Carole King "I Feel The Earth Move"), and the James Baker Circle Jerk continues to raise eyebrows.

Alastair Macdonald (Reuters) reports that the Iraq Interior Ministry has released their statistics for November's death toll in Iraq, 1,850 -- and increase of 44% from their count of 1,289 for October. Macdonald reminds, "Although it does not appear to encompass all violent deaths in Iraq, the Interior Ministry's statistical series has reflected trends".

And for the living? Not much better as
Dahr Jamail discussed with Nora Barrows-Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday. Dahr explained how the violence was so common, the attacks so rampant, that for fear of their safety, many Iraqis no longer sent their children off to school (approximately 30% was the number given). On the topic of the daily violence and the people effected, Isam Rasheed (Alive in Baghdad) provides a video report from a clinic in Adhamiya where Ahmed Hameed (cigarette vendor) explains how a car bombing resulted in his hand and leg being lost, "I was working and someone left a car bomb. It blew up shortly after they had left. I woke up and found myself thrown against a wall beside my friend Shukri."; Shukri Abdul (owner of the Al-Areesh restaurant) then explains being outside his restaurant speking with an ice vendor when the car bomb went off "And I can remember landing on the ground. I was blown into the air, and when I landed, everything piled on top of me, the pots & corrugated metals." Shurki Abdul also lost his arm and foot and experienced severe damage to his back. This is the daily reality and, as Dahr pointed out, the only area under US control was the Green Zone section of Baghdad but now even the Bremer walls that wall off the section do not translate as 'safe.' Dahr spoke of speaking with a US marine stationed in Ramadi where he was part of 200 US forces expected to provide order to a city of 400,000.

Dahr noted that move to pull forces out of Ramadi and the rest of the Al-Anbar Province in order to send them to Baghdad to secure the capital. Earlier this week,
Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post) reported on a Marine Corps intelligence report entitled "State of Insurgency in Al-Anbar" which tagged the area "a failed province," one that was beyond US control. Also earlier this week, Jonathan Karl (ABC News) reported that, in an effort to 'secure' the capital -- 'crackdown' in any version didn't, the Pentagon is weighing pulling the 30,000 US troops out of the province and redeploying them to Baghdad.

Also addressed by Dahr was the issue of the realignmment on the ground in Iraq's parliament where new alliances are being formed with Muqtada al-Sadr's group and Dahr wondered exactly how much longer the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, would be in place?
CBS and AP report that Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq's two vice-presidents, has stated "he wanted to see al-Maliki's government gone and another 'understanding' for a new coalition put in place with guarantees that ensure collective decision making" while Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie (handmaiden to the puppet) has said the fault lies with the presidency (a ceremonial position) and not with the prime minister he (al-Zuabaie) serves under. If the memo Stephen Hadley penned November 8th is taken at all seriously don't be surprised to discover US monies are being tossed around right now in an attempt to ensure that new coalitions will be to the US administration's liking. Tom Hayden (Huffington Post) examines the events and notes "the sudden move by al-Sadr's Shiite bloc, which pulled out of the Baghdad government over al-Maliki's meeting with Bush, provides the anti-occupation coalition with significant, perhaps decisive, power, if they choose to bring down al-Maliki's shaky coalition." [Hayden's earlier reports on the al-Maliki upset are: "U.S. Retreat from Iraq? The Secret Story" and followed that with "Documents Reveal Secret Talks Between U.S. and Iraqi Armed Resistance."]

Did someone say shaky?

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report a double car bombing claimed one life and left six family members wounded in the Sadiyah section of Baghdad; while mortar rounds "near Muqdadiya" killed three and left 14 wounded; and, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took two lives and left three wounded. CBS and AP note a car bomb in Baghdad ("near a fruit and vegetable market") that killed two and left 16 more wounded. AFP notes, "A bomb exploded in the centre of Baghdad on the east side of the Tigris river, killing three people and wouding 16, while another car bomb killed three people on the outskirts of the capital."


Alastair Macdonald and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) report: "Machinegun fire rained from U.S. helicopters in central Baghdad . . . the Interior Ministry said one soldier had been killed and nine people wounded, including five soldiers." Reuters reports three people were killed by gunfire (two police officers, one civilian) in Samawa.


Reuters reports that 20 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and fourteen in Mosul while noting the fourteen had been kidnapped on Thursday.

Thomas Wagner and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that, Thursday, "Hadib Majhoul, chairman of the popular Talaba soccer club" was kidnapped.

In addition, the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed during combatoperations here Nov. 30." The death brings to 2,888 the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war according to ICCC's count and CNN's as well. Twelve away from the 2900 mark.

This as
Antonella Cinelli (Reuters) reports that "Italy pulled its last remaining troops out of Iraq on Friday, lowering the tricolour flag at its base in the south of a country where 32 of its soldiers have died since the contingent arrived in June 2003."

Meanwhile, although the
Iraq Study Group has released its findings, people continue to ponder the James Baker Circle Jerk. As noted by Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today, the James Baker Circle Jerk is rumored to call for a 2008 'withdrawal' that is not, in fact, a withdrawal. It's a continuation of the air war that Norman Solomon has been describing for months now. It's also the James Baker Circle Jerk stroking themselves on the public dollar. The onanistic nonsense not only revolves around the air war, it also pushes embedding US forces with Iraqi police squads and forces.

For those who've forgotten how Patrick McCaffrey died and the battle his mother Nadia McCaffrey has had to fight to force the US government to get honest could see the 'suggestion' as worthy of suggesting. (Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, with the US National Guard, were killed in Iraq. The US government told the families that the two men were killed by 'insurgents.' In reality, they were killed, June 22, 2004, by Iraqi security forces they were training.)

Addressing the James Baker Circle Jerk on this week's CounterSpin,
Gary Younge (Guardian of London; The Nation) observed to Steve Rendall,, "The fact that this study group was necessary itself highlights a flaw in American politics. Democracy should have been able to deal with this, not an appointed study group." As Younge explained the responsibility the group was tasked with was Congress' own responsibility . . . until they outsourced it.

In peace news,
Aaron Glantz (IPS) reports that the revelations of the US government spying on peace activists is not slowly plans for the march in Washington, DC January 27th. Among the groups spied on were CODEPINK, United For Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, the War Resisters League and the American Friends Service Committee.

War Resisters League will be presenting Sir! No Sir! tomorrow (Saturday, December 2nd) at both seven pm and nine-thirty pm. This kicks off the War Resisters League and the Brecht Forum's Screenpeace: An Antiwar Film Festival that will hold screenings of other films on Fridays during January.

In other activism news,
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are asking for a National "Mandate for Peace" Call-in Day, Monday, December 4th. To sign the petition click here. To phone your rep and senators, you can dial 202-224-3121. PDA notes: "On Election Day, voters said enough is enough -- we want a new direction. Let's make sure Congress hears it again by jamming the switchboards on Dec. 4 with our pleas to bring our troops home immediately."

the washington postdafna linzerthomas e. ricks